Thursday, August 15, 2013

Royals in the 12th Century Were Terrible People

The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there;From The Go Between, L.P. Hartley
I know that we are not supposed to judge people in history, but I seem unable in this case not to do so. I have been reading Eleanor of Aquitaine: By the Wrath of God, Queen of England by Alison Weir. I just past the bit describing King Richard the Lionheart ordering the massacre of thousands of Muslims -- men, women and children -- after the fall of Acre. And I really find these folk too often detestable.

They are engaged in interminable wars, either aristocrats of comparable rank using their armies to fight each other, or aristocrats of higher rank seeking to impose or restore authority over aristocrats of lower rank. When not engaged directly in warfare they seem to be encouraging others to war.

They seem willing to do anything to increase their wealth and power. Sons and fathers betray each other, wives and husbands betray each other, brothers betray each other.

Incest seems common. With sufficient power, they rape women and take the wives of associates as mistresses. Daughters and sisters are bartered in marriage for land, wealth or influence. Mistresses are installed in nearby residences in full knowledge of spouses.

Children are pawned off as soon as possible to servants, and when old enough to travel sent to other nobles to raise. The illegitimate children of extramarital liaisons are brought into the household and rivalries encouraged among children.

When not engaged in war, they love to fight in tournaments. Happily illiterate, time is spent hunting (apparently for the love of killing large animals).

When supposedly involved in sacred crusade, they bicker, backbite, sulk and desert.

Terrible people!

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