Hey diddle, diddle, right in the middle!
I like my history raunchy ~ & I do not like politics! History as she is all too often taught is the history of politics & events ~ & why should any of us care about any of it? BUT, when history is the history of people rather than things all that changes. Which is why I am enjoying Ranulph Fiennes Mad Dogs & Englishmen so very much.
It is, first & foremost, a family history but when you can number amongst your ancestors a murderer, a wife poisoner, a poacher, England's greatest female traveller of the 17th century, an extortionist Lord High Treasurer, teen cousins who eloped, a noble lord who was hanged for manslaughter,& another who was hanged for adultery with the King's wife, plus many who won famous battles as well as the women who spawned half the medieval Kings of England, well history is likely to mean something different than to the rest of us poor plebs. My lot tended to be the lot the English were stomping on.
So what have I learnt? Well, the politics of the times have fallen nicely into the realm of a major family squabble that got rather out of hand. The stakes rise when you can lose your head for being born in the wrong family at the wrong time! The Wars of the Roses finally makes sense. The whole caboodle is only what you could expect of a lot descended from William the Conqueror, who was quite the nastiest piece of work to ever sit on the English throne. Look up what happened at his burial some time. Way too gross to write here!
Anyway....Edward the 3rd. And we do remember from our history, don't we girls, that the longbow was attribued to England's military success during the medievial period? Star & I were doing archery for a bit. Those fancy leather bits on their forearems? They're there for a reason! A bowstring pinging you there leaves the most glorious bruise! Edward paid his archers 6pence a day. Remember when you could buy an icecream for sixpence? Most of his archers came from Wales. Or Cheshire. Or somewhere else where the inhabitants were considered expendable. And they practised from an early age. The government went so far as to pass laws expressly forebidding other sports such as cockfighting & football because it distracted people from archery practise. However all this practise resulted in deformed people who could fire as far as 400 yards fairly accurately at the rate of an arrow every 5 seconds. That's 6 times quicker than a crossbow. You were all just dying to know that, weren't you?!
Then there's Henry the V & VI with Fiennes not only dabbling in the real history but scampering through Shakespheare as well. And at this point, thanks to a succesion of kings who thought they should own France as well, & the internal politics of a nation that was never adverse to lopping of the heads of its kings, 5% of the King's army consisted of murderers & outlaws redeeming themselves through military service. Seems like a good idea to me. Three quarters of the army at this stage consisted of archers ~ who were mostly professionals. If you had to fight being an archer was the thing. The Irish were your cannon fodder regular foot~soldiers & fought barefoot with only a dagger while a knight, who mostly did not fight mounted, might be better protected by his armour but was disadvantaged by the simple fact that if he fell over it required 2 men to lift him up again & he was so incapable of movement once fully armed he was likely to drown in a puddle. Tales abound too of knights suffocating, unharmed in any other way, having been unlucky enough to land at the bottom of a pile of fallen comrades!
I'm still reading & giggling. All history should be taught like this. And yes, technically it is Wednesday in Australia but Blogger says otherwise & I was otherwise occupied yesterday!