Sunday, 27 May 2012

Baldwin IV

It was discovered that Baldwin IV had leprosy, when his teacher noticed that when he and the other boys were playing and pinching each other, he felt nothing. Where he got it from it doesn't say, but it is assumed it was passed by some servant or person working around him. The leprosy did not set in for several years and as a young man he won his first battle against the Muslims.

Leprosy attacks the hands and toes, therefore in the beginning, he had to learn to ride a horse by using his knees rather than his reins. Even though he had leprosy, he still fought in battles, however he was at risk of when being knocked off his horse, he would not be able to get back on again.

In my research I have no come across anything that says he wore a mask, and the only picture I have seen is a medieval drawing, showing a normal man in bed with fair hair.

His sister Sibylla had trouble finding a husband because she was thin, an unattractive trait at that time. However she begged Baldwin to allow her to marry Guy because he was good looking. It was a mistake for Baldwin because Guy was feckless.

Baldwin died of his illness before he saw what was to become of them.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Culture Shocks - The Mongols

I'm not really too happy about this new Blogspot change but one must make do.  This is a bit of an informative post, since now a year after my graduation, I now feel at ease enough to get back into doing a little self study.

I do love history, but when looking for books outside of academia, I rarely find anything satsifying. I'm not too intrested in what battle was won or lost, rather I'd prefer to know about the peoples and customs. A very good source of this then is to look at journals of those who travelled and experienced those things first hand.

The first I came into contact with this. It was with "The Voyage of the Alceste etc. etc." when my professor recommended it, in order to see what the first westerners thought of the asians they met. Of course throughout the book, the captain thinks that it is necessary to judge all the foreign women of whom he comes across in looks, which makes me laugh.

The women themselves are just as curious, he details how, even if they were hidden away, when they arrived, these women would break free of their bondage and run to catch a glimpse of them.

Since recently I've been thinking about Mongolia, through the artwork of a certain person and since I remember that when I studied religion, it was the Shamanistic mongolian religion that I found the most strange and interesting. I therefore read the journal of a monk who was sent by the pope in order to secure Christendom against the threat of the Mongol invasion.

When in Hungary myself, I often saw statues and saw that it was a big theme for the Hungarians about "barbarians" invading from outside. I read that if the Emperor of the Mongols at that time had not been "supposedly" poisoned then Bathy's golden horde would have extended beyond Hungary but because of that he withdrew. Something I think that Niccolo Machiavelli would have said was his greatest mistake.

Anyway upon reading this I came across some other themes that fitted in with what I had been reading in a Manga called "Bride's tale" by Kaoru Mori. When studying I found that, in inner asia, there were two sorts of people, those who lived in smaller tribes and were of no particular threat and those who had the larger "clans" which created such beings as the huns and mongols. Anyway, I assume but I have no reference for this, that the family in Bride's tales is of the smaller tribe but that they share the same traditions.

Indeed in the last book, it tells the story of Talas (maybe a reference to a battle fought) who was married into a family and as each brother died of some strange illness (black widow ha) she married each of them in turn.

In Christendom (though again I cannot be bothered to dig out a reference for this, but I remember when doing the tudors that this was a bone of contention for Henry VII when taking Catherine as his wife) this was seen as incest - that is, the wife of a brother marrying his brother after death. This then leads us to an intresting story which John the monk tells us in his journal.

It seemed that under the Mongols there were various russian states, which wanted to keep their own dukedoms even though they pledged allegiance to the Mongols. Whether this was a good policy or not, you will have to read "The Prince" to decide. When upon the death of one of these dukes, the duke's brother and his widow, came to Bathy and asked that they retain his dukedom even after his death.

Of course in their tradition it is normal for the brother to marry his brother's widow, in order to keep everything "in the family" as it were (again I have no reference, but if you read Kitagawa's book, Religious traditions of Asia, you may find it in there) so he said that this brother in order to keep the dukedom must marry the widow.

The widow, in a fit of gutsy which I admire, said that she would rather die. However for some reason the mongols took it upon themselves to make sure that this happened. The details are a little hazy, but John writes down that the poor man "confined" and is crying and begging not to be forced to commit incest with his brother's wife. I think that the phrase "held down" is also used.

I remember that when reading a book about Eleanor of Aquitane (since no one deems it fit to write anything about the "loser" king Louis VII) that the pope also intervened in their sexual problems...

It is intresting to read, as I seem to have forgotten that there was a China before the manchu's took it over and next up is to catch up on what happened to Kubilai Khan.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Should I be worried?

This is probably the first time I could use the "at first I was like X and then I was like X" meme, I heard about AC3 being annouced, I was never much of a fan of that franchise. I only got into the first one because a friend at uni had an Xbox and the crusades are kinda my thang. I played AC2 but it was kinda... a man's game, with all the "hello ladies" shenanigans. I was like give me a kick ass female character please -_-, everyone was like a prositute in that game, even the nuns lol. Then I heard that AC3 was gonna be about the US revolution, of which I know nothing about, except the US won and that was the beginning of the Empire's downfall muhahaha. Anyway I thinking.... oh noooo... this is gonna be so AMERICAN -_-, UK is gonna come out like rapists and etc. The us flag on the cover kinda put me off too. However then I find out that the main character is half native/half english and I was like, maybe illicit love child of native american roots who is one hell of a looker, yes please. I have not seen older!connor but I hope he keeps his braid thingies hehe. I might just play for the hotness :P.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

I'm too nice to play Skyrim.

For a while I had heard about Skyrim coming out, eventually it did and I was happy. I had played Morrowind, I had played Oblivion and so I was content to download this and play to my heart's content. I forgot however the horrible sickness I got with the other two games. I remember in Morrowind, the game used to scare me shitless, maybe it was the fact that, it's a first person perspective, I don't know but I hated it, my god how I hated that game, I'd quickly rush through dungeons using tcl, I didn't even play the end boss properly. Somehow I had forgotten about that and all I had in my memories were rosy happy times, reading books in Vivec's library. Then out came Oblivion, boy I was happy! I thought yay, another game. I enjoyed it... until the Oblivion gates opened up. How I HATED them, I wouldn't go through them unless it was plot related and even when I had to oh how I hated it. I'd tcl them too, just to get to the end.

So I realised... I hate this franchise, I hate it so much. I hate doing dungeons, I hate the darkness of it, I hate the monsters, I hate the first person view.

Of course I forgot about that with Skyrim, I even remember thinking "oh these dungeons are ace, why did I hate them before" of course now I remember -_-, I remember like a fox. I hate the Daedra, I hate how evil they are, I hate how when i'm playing the dark brotherhood, I actually feel the guilt of an assassin. I hate how death was treated. I hate the undead, oh how I hate them, they scare me, i'm petrified. I hate doing bad things, I hate the darkness of it. There's a daedra that's a ruler of rape... enough said. But I still forced myself through the whole of the dark brotherhood quests, I forced myself to do the Daedra quests... at one point you met a cannaibal and she invites you to trick someone to her lair and eat them. She insinuates that as a child, I may have eaten a sibling out of fear of starvation. At that point I think I had reached my limit.

I give kudos to Bethesda, your world is too real for me and that world scares me. I don't know if i'll go back. I think I need some nice nancy drew games to ease my nerves. I feel i've let my gender down in hating skyrim and being such a wimp but i'm sorry, i'm just too soft and too good hearted.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Little Red

From this short story easy we discern
What conduct all young people ought to learn.
But above all, young, growing misses fair,
Whose orient rosy blooms begin t'appear:
Who, beauties in the fragrant spring of age,
With pretty airs young hearts are apt t'engage.
Ill do they listen to all sorts of tongues,
Since some inchant and lure like Syrens' songs
No wonder therefore 'tis, if over-power'd,
So many of them has the Wolf devour'd.
The Wolf, I say, for Wolves too sure there are
Of every sort, and every character.
Some of them mild and gentle-humour'd be,
Of noise and gall, and rancour wholly free;
Who tame, familiar, full of complaisance
Ogle and leer, languish, cajole and glance;
With luring tongues, and language wond'rous sweet,
Follow young ladies as they walk the street,
Ev'n to their very houses, nay, bedside,
And, artful, tho' their true designs they hide;
Yet ah! these simpering Wolves!
Who does not see
Most dangerous of Wolves indeed they be?


Sunday, 11 September 2011

Review: The Dwelling Place

It had happened one day at university. I finally managed to get the tv working. Only one channel worked, and on this channel was a film "The Dwelling Place" me and my flatemate both love costume dramas so we were happy to watch. We only caught the end. A young girl standing on the moors, suddenly a weedy blonde young man arrives, he askes her if another man truly had claim on her, she smiles, in a way that I had never seen, it's a refreshing smile and says that that other man loved the mill more than her. The man asks for her hand in marriage and she agrees. I'm set here, for one: the girls smile and secondly the young man, the hero, doesn't look like an ordinary hero, he's weedy, he looks like a kind guy. The kind of heroes I like lol.

Therefore I decided to get the book. Or rather my mother bought it for me because I had no money.

It turned out to be a Catherine Cookson. When I told my mother this she burst out laughing and I was a little petrubed, she told me all the plots were the same, a poor girl managing to come out on top with lots of money. I however stood by it and she got me a copy.

At first I was rather bored, a typical set up, a young girl loses her parents, she had to look after the children. They can't live in the house so they have to live in a cave on the moor. Of course there's this farmer guy, who instantly loves her because of her beauty and because she's so self-sacrificing (this will be a trope throughout the rest of the book). He helps her to building a sort of shack thing and survive for the first few months

Now I didn't mind it so much I was happy to go along with it. Anyway it started to get interesting when the twins from the manor appear. I wrote my university thesis on gender role swapping and so I was happy when she described the boy and girl twin as having their genders switched. I love that kind of hero, a beta hero, I hate alphas. In fact I prefer the woman in be in charge usually :P hehe.

Anyway the two twins have a lot to drink and go rambling when they come upon Cissie (the girl) anyway some point early on the sister (I can't remember her name so i'll call her Jo) had caught Cissie's little brother poaching and Cissie had fought her off and humilated her. So she has a go at her again when she sees her, tries to attack her, the brother gets inbetween and in some sort of Shoujo-esq trope ends up falling on top of Cissie.

This is where the shoujo-esq stops. Because he starts groping her and his sister eggs him on, because of course he's a virgin and he's scared etc. etc. Then he apparently rapes her. It wasn't explicit in the text, it was only later on when her brother tells Matt (the farmer) that I realised that he had actually copulated. Anyway, their father comes along and stops then and sends both of them away. This is the part where I stopped liking Clive. I liked him when he was sensitive and painted all day and all night. Then he does this to Cissie and I was trying to get my head around it.

I know people are weak and I know it was different back then but... I dunno. Then to add insult to injury, he goes on a ship as punishment and comes back as a jerk ass. Yeah, he comes back and sees Cissie's child who his father has taken and is all "oh well, I probably have other bastards in all the brothels i've been in herrr durrr"

The thing I like about CC as an author is that she had realistic characters with weaknesses. It's a lot for me to ask that he wasn't whoring it up while at sea, since every sailor and his dog did it (if the historians are to be believed) but he had so much potential and then he gets "hardened". I don't know how I feel about characters being "hardened". This was a huge problem for me, with Twelve Kingdoms, because Yuko stops being a sympathetic school girl and starts being a very cold, calculated and strong individual. I liked that she became strong but there was nothing left in her that was human. Coming from our era and going into a medieval type world, she has no qualms about killing other humans which she does at the beginning. In fact she becomes very boring after she has her buddhist type purifying of the mind.

Later on even after he admits he loves Cissie he still has mistresses and in this case, this book is the complete and utter opposite of Jane Eyre. It's ok that the mr. whatsisface had mistresses before Jane because he was all messed up and stuff, but after, oh no that's a big no no. I mean yes it's realistic... but is that really what I want? realism?

The ending is not at all like the movie. She marries Matt (wtf) and they have a crappy marriage (which I liked because yeah again realism) but then he dies and she mets up with the brother and he asks her to marry him. Oh and the son never loves her, ever (her son I mean) that she had with Clive. So in that respects it's kind of like Vanity Fair, except I kind of liked Amelia, despite her naivity and Dobbin <3. The thing that horrified me was the line at the end of the book however that:
"she'd been nobodies except that man's since he'd mated her"

Throughout the book I was in two minds about the rape, on the one hand it was rape on the other hand CC states several times that Cissie sort of enjoyed it. Does the sort of count? really?? I mean as a staunch Feminist can I accept this? So although I really liked this book. I feel very... confused over it.

Also If I had been Cissie I would have a) given my son away to stop my brothers and sisters from starving b)locked matthew out and never let him in again the effing tease c)never would have given my son back d) taken clive's offer of the house but refused to be his mistress and demanded marriage even if I was of lower class and needed to be "educated".

I am therefore... concerned but I read the book in two days, so I did enjoy it. I'll watch the film now and hopefully, that will smooth out the edges and make it into my favourite films list.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Stand Up

A blogger writes about how the Globalization effect is changing our media and making us brain dead, to American tropes. I couldn't agree with her more.

I’m tired of plots that value individualism and egotism above all else; of heroes that always have to be the masters of their own fates, to be active and not take anything that life deals at them lying down (whereas most of the time, we lie down, we accept, we deal with what we have been given); of heroes that have to be strong and only take marginal help from others to solve their own problems; of heroes that have a destiny, and of movies and books in which breaking up with all traditions is good so long as one finds and follow one’s own path (there are a lot of cultures where breaking up with traditions isn’t necessarily a good thing, and no, this doesn’t mean that they’re evil and backward). I’m tired of how genre(s) put(s) a disproportionate value on heroes who are active and not passive (and, by extension, belittles and dismisses every use of passive voice, and always asks for sentences to be frenetically punchy); of how the most important thing that can happen to a person is to be “given their own story”, as stories weren’t made up of a mosaic of people all interacting together; of how teams exist only either as a background and foil for a single hero, or as a compendium of individuals, each fighting to be outdo each other in stupid displays of heroism

Now i'll return to my Chinese novel, my Japanese tv show and my European books.