Tag Archives: middle ages

Four Things in War Movies That Would Never Happen

movies, war, fighting, chevalier, horses, swords, armor, king arthur, battle, mayhem

Clive Owen in King Arthur

I love historical films, or period piece movies, where the setting is of a different time and especially of a different culture. Once you go pre-Industrial era you’re dealing with huge (or sometimes small) battles involving cutlasses, swords, spears, maces, arrows, catapults, boiling oil, inaccurate muskets, canons and a whole host of hand to hand combat. With the medieval era or early there is still this romanticism about the noble knight, a holdover from Victorian notions that Hollywood has embraced. Sure, war scenes have become gorier, with bodies being skewered and sliced, and blood spraying everywhere. Reality would be the reason the directors would give. But even they fall victim to romanticism, so that even if a movie looks historically accurate in terms of costume and setting, they’ll veer in actual actions and attitudes.

  1. The mounted fighter will leap off his horse to battle the hordes on the ground. Not in a million years. The difference between a mounted fighter and one on fought was astronomical. Horses and armor were so expensive that those who had these items were pretty much guaranteed to be knights. The term chevalier comes from the Latin caballarius meaning horseman. It was the French word for knight and a noble. Because of the expense of a horse the knight would not give up his mount easily, nor would he lose the advantage he had of literally being head and shoulders above the crowd. It meant superior mobility, better viewing of the battle and powerful blows from above. The knight would stay mounted as long as he could, until he was either pulled off his horse or his horse was killed.
  2. The noble knight wears no helmet in battle or tears it off in the final face-to-face with the foe. So, what is the point of wearing armor if you remove parts of it, especially when fighting the more experienced warrior? Armor, like those horses, was expensive and you didn’t want to lose your helmet amongst the gore on the field. Not to mention, leave you head bare to being sliced up? I’ll mention here too that the helmets are usually tied, buckled or clipped on to stop them from toppling off with any knock. Maybe not all were, but they would have covered the faces and necks and would not sit jauntily atop the head. I’m no armor expert but I know enough that you have to affix your armor so it stays in place. Clive Owen as Arturius (Arthur) above wore his helmet in battle but his dying comrades didn’t always.
  3. Armor is black, especially if you’re noble or a bad guy. Before about the 1600s black was a dye color that was extremely difficult to procure, if you could get it at all, and came from black walnut and oak galls. It was therefore very expensive. If you managed to get some of this dye,would you waste it on armor when it was going to get scuffed and hacked at? No. You’d use it on your clothing. The lower classes got the more washed out colors of blue, green, brown, yellow and pink. No one would have black armor unless the metal itself was black and that too would have been rare. Even if movies have no battles this is the biggest mistake made.
  4. Traveling through the snowy, cold mountains with your cloak billowing behind you, if you’re wearing one. Early armor was made of leather boiled in beeswax. Then there was chain mail and later, plate metal. Some armor could be a combination of two or three of these things. Any metal was cold so warriors always had padding beneath, for keeping the metal off the skin to stop chafing, bruising and cuts, and to insulate. If it was cold enough to wear a cloak and still need to wear your armor while traveling through hostile territory, you would have it billowing nobly behind you. What’s the point? To look like Superman? It certainly wouldn’t serve the purpose it was made for, which was warmth. Everything in those early centuries was handmade and not cheap to replace.

I’m sure there are more inconsistencies and inaccuracies in those movies that show battles. I won’t even touch on the World War movies as I don’t watch many of those. If you have any pet peeve with Hollywood’s mutilation of history, let me know.

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Glasgow and the End of the Journey

Today is Canada Day and I’m off travelling out of town. So here is the last of my journey to Ireland and Scotland from Fall 2007.

Our last day in Glasgow started with the museum and then we went off to St. Mungo’s religious museum. Housed in the oldest standing building in Glasgow, it was a fairly bland exhibition and the building wasn’t that interesting. So we walked up the street and over to the Glasgow Cathedral, but it was late in the day and it turned out it closed at 4:00. The guy was really just locking up so he said you have five minutes.

I zoomed around taking pictures, without actually really looking at the place. The Cathedral is supposed to be one of the few gothic cathedrals in Scotland, especially one that is whole and still used. It was built in 1471 and really is a fine example of gothic architecture. I wished I’d had more time to actually look.

Ireland 2007–Glasgow

After that we tried to find our way back to Will and Erin’s. Unfortunately I’d forgotten their phone number. We also got lost because a helpful lady had told us what bus to catch back but it turned out there were two buses with the same name and a different ending, thus splitting and going varying routes. Which meant backtracking.

My sister was done. We had to walk about three blocks to catch another bus, after doing a partial return route. She thought we’d been walking for hours when it was less than ten minutes. 🙂 A very drunk Scotsman chatted with us (we had to catch a bus outside a pub, of course) and it turned out it was the other bus stop across the street from the pub. So he was a very drunk, yet helpful Scotsman.

So we finally made it back, with Will and Erin wondering what had happened to us. The next morning we flew out on Air Transat but not without issues. My sister had called them several times before she’d left and confirmed how many bags she could take on the plane, and on carry-on. She confirmed with the person on the phone and asked about leaving from Scotland. He confirmed with his supervisor that yes, she could take a bag and her camera bag as well.

Well, it turns out they have their own rules. My sister ended up paying overweight baggage because of it and was rightfully furious because she had to pack one bag into everything else. My recommendations: don’t fly Air Transat if you’re flying more than two hours. The seats are small even for someone 5’4″. If you need a special diet, they’ll lose it or muck it up badly. And someone travelling with you will probably get a special diet they didn’t order, as I did. They’ll tell you one thing and do another and not be the least helpful or apologetic for it. The seat selection (if you want to sit with the person you’re flying with) cost extra so that super cheap flight turns out not that cheap in the end.

Europe and Great Britain especially have tighter baggage allowances and the airline won’t always know what it is or get the info confused. The attendants on Air Transat were very nice and helpful but everything else convinced me I won’t be flying with them again.

At least the return trip was more pleasant. The plane wasn’t completely full so I went and chatted with this Scotsman, Ian MacIntosh who lived in Calgary. That way, my sister and I both had extra room.

Over all, Ireland was a great trip. The trip was from Sept. 26-Oct. 16. I want to go back and explore more of western Ireland and some of the south. I think I’d fly into Wales and then from Wales to the west of Ireland. Of course I’ll have to buy a camera again, but that’s a tale for tomorrow…

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Sex and Politics

As long as there have been people, there has been sex, obviously. But as long as there have been more than two people having to get along in a group, there have been politics. And I’m betting that as long as there have been politics, sex has often been involved.

Sex has been exchanged for power for millennia. Look at the Egyptians. They married brothers and sisters to keep the bloodline pure and royal. All in the family. And throughout the middle ages brides of nobles and royalty were locked into marriage contracts with other rulers so that borders could be expanded, loyalty could be guaranteed and tithes could be exchanged. For the little people, the peasants, they got to arrange their own marriages in most cases.

I’m sure there were illicit affairs happening in the 19th century. After all, the Italian Renaissance of several centuries before was known for the nobles being married to one woman and having several mistresses along the way. Even the Borgia popes had mistresses. Sexually transmitted diseases, gonorrhea, syphilis, etc. were widely known and spread. In fact, I believe it was syphilis that was called the Neapolitan disease because it was rumored that Italian sailors went to foreign ports, brought back the disease and spread it through the known world in seven years.

Along came the 20th century, North America. JFK was purported to have had an affair with Marilyn Monroe and also with other women. He wasn’t the first, nor the last. Then came the famous Cinton-Lewinsky affair. Or maybe it was just a blowjob. I don’t know if she inhaled or not. Millions of dollars was wasted of the taxpayers’ money to find out if Clinton had sex with Monica. (And what kind of freak keeps a semen crusty dress anyways? That is particularly disgusting.) Polls showed that really, the public didn’t care.

Truth is, human nature/culture often includes affairs outside of marriages, whether known about or not. People joked that the Europeans wondered what was wrong with US presidents if they didn’t have a mistress. (I’m not sure if women were allowed equal on-the-side benefits or not, but I doubt it.) That Europe rolled their eyes at all the “scandal” of presidential love affairs. The Italians would know; they’ve been doing it for centuries.

When it comes down to it, what does it matter who a person sleeps with, as far as politics are concerned? Affairs should be between the politician, their spouse and any other directly related parties. It should not include the public or the media. The nation should keep its nose out of the politicians’ bedrooms. The only exception would be if state secrets were being divulged to any lovers. Maxine Bernier, Canada’s “past” foreign affairs minister had a girlfriend where he left his important papers laying about. Whether she stole them or he was just careless, in either case he was dealing with important state papers.

But over the years, at various levels, political officials have lost their jobs because they were with prostitutes or had affairs. And really, I don’t care what they do on the side as long as they do their jobs well. Not one person could stand up to scrutiny that dug into all corners of their lives. And then it comes down to, who judges and on what grounds? Sex and power. Sometimes sex is used to gain information. And sometimes it’s used to be with the powerful and famous. But I’m all for seeing how all our politicians do in politics and n leaving their bedroom antics alone.

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Filed under Culture, family, history, life, people, politics, sex