Remember General Trimble!

Monday, July 17, AD 2017

The battle was over and we had won it handsomely. General Ewell moved about uneasily, a good deal excited, and seemed to me to be undecided what to do next. I approached him and said: “Well, General, we have had a grand success; are you not going to follow it up and push our advantage?”

He replied that General Lee had instructed him not to bring on a general engagement without orders, and that he would wait for them.

I said, “That hardly applies to the present state of things, as we have fought a hard battle already, and should secure the advantage gained”. He made no rejoinder, but was far from composure. I was deeply impressed with the conviction that it was a critical moment for us and made a remark to that effect.

As no movement seemed immediate, I rode off to our left, north of the town, to reconnoitre, and noticed conspicuously the wooded hill northeast of Gettysburg (Culp’s), and a half mile distant, and of an elevation to command the country for miles each way, and overlooking Cemetery Hill above the town. Returning to see General Ewell, who was still under much embarrassment, I said, “General, There,” pointing to Culp’s Hill, “is an eminence of commanding position, and not now occupied, as it ought to be by us or the enemy soon. I advise you to send a brigade and hold it if we are to remain here.” He said: “Are you sure it commands the town?” [I replied,] “Certainly it does, as you can see, and it ought to be held by us at once.” General Ewell made some impatient reply, and the conversation dropped.

Major General Isaac R. Trimble

There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves
Or lose our ventures.
Brutus, Julius Caesar, Act 4, Scene 3
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2 Responses to Quotes Suitable for Framing: William Shakespeare

  • I am re-reading the new, Mark Lee Gardner, Rough Rides book because (I am a retired, useless drain on society) I wanted info to “judge” whether TR did his heroics (and he was very heroic in Cuba – he led from the front and was on horseback, “Little Texas,” or moving along the lines upright at all times in heavy small arms/arty fire while ordering his troops to not take unnecessary risks) because of political ambition or his drive to be a “man” as he saw it.
    .
    He and a great soldier, Leonard Wood (an MD who was awarded the MoH for actions in the Geronimo Campaign) recruited, organized, trained and equipped the 1st US Volunteer Cavalry Regiment. His “volunteers” (cowboys, miners, lumberjacks, Ivy League football players, lawyers, et al) were at the forefront of the victorious fights around Santiago with the Army regulars.
    .
    I am convinced TR did it out of his life-long drive to be a “man.” I think his political ambition was a derivative of his drive to be a “man” as he defined the term.
    .
    IMO TR earned an MoH for Cuba, but was denied – political and Army jealousy(?). He finally, posthumously received it late in the 20th century.
    .
    TR chapter heading quote: “I put myself in the way of things happening, and they happened.”
    .
    “He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again. … ” Hamlet, I, ii. Not to worry. America is in process of banning manhood from the public sphere.

  • You are now what I hope to be some day T.Shaw! My motto will them be: “I’m retired. Don’t ask me to do anything! And get off my lawn!”

God for Harry, England and Saint George

Sunday, October 25, AD 2015

 

The Saint Crispin’s speech gets most of the attention in Henry V, but I also always admired the “unto the breach” speech.  The performance of it by Jamie Parker, love his interaction with the audience, is the way the speech should be delivered:  a full throated rallying cry:

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead!
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man,
As modest stillness and humility;
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger:
Stiffen the sinews, conjure up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favoured rage:
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let it pry through the portage of the head,
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o’erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O’erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill’d with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide;
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English,
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought,
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument.
Dishonour not your mothers: now attest,
That those whom you call’d fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture: let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit; and upon this charge,
Cry ‘God for Harry! England! and Saint George!’

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Ides of March: Continuing Fascination

Sunday, March 15, AD 2015

CASSIUS

Stoop, then, and wash. How many ages hence
Shall this our lofty scene be acted over
In states unborn and accents yet unknown!

BRUTUS

How many times shall Caesar bleed in sport,
That now on Pompey’s basis lies along
No worthier than the dust!

CASSIUS

So oft as that shall be,
So often shall the knot of us be call’d
The men that gave their country liberty.

 

 

 

I think it would have amused the Romans of Caesar’s generation if they could have learned that the assassination of Julius Caesar would eventually receive immortality through a play written more than 16 centuries after the event by a barbarian playwright in the Tin Islands that Caesar had briefly invaded.  It would have tickled their well developed concept of the ludicrous, judging from Roman comedy.

In the above video William Shatner gives a pretty poor rendition of the Mark Antony speech.  Charlton Heston, below, shows him how it should be done:

 

 

It is strange the fascination that the assassination of Caesar, more than twenty centuries ago, continues to exert.  Popular historian Barry Strauss has just released a book on the assassination of Caesar, to join the ranks of the many volumes on the subject that came before.  (Strauss is a first rate historian, and I have purchased this book although I have not yet read it.)  Why should this assassination remain of interest?  I think the clue is Dante placing Brutus and Cassius, the chief assassins, in the maws of Satan in his Inferno.  Dante was a partisan of the Empire, and thus the murders of Caesar, the man who gave the dying Republic its final, fatal blow and set the stage for the Empire, were worthy to be placed in the mouths of Satan, along with Judas who betrayed Christ.

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30 Responses to Ides of March: Continuing Fascination

  • It is surely one of the ironies of history that Jean-Paul Marat should have written in his newspaper, “The People’s Friend,” the wish that all citizens “carry in their bosoms the dagger of Brutus.”

    After Charlotte Corday’s arrest for fatally stabbing that self-styled Tribune of the People in his bath, a copy of Plutarch’s Parallel Lives was found in her lodgings, bookmarked at the lives of Dion and Marcus Brutus. No doubt she had studied it with pleasure and profit on the long stage-coach journey from Normandy to Paris.

    Lamartine wrote of her, “In the face of murder, history dares not praise, and in the face of heroism, dares not condemn her. The appreciation of such an act places us in the terrible alternative of blaming virtue or applauding assassination.”

  • This event had to happen to make Gaius Octavius the “Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus” and prepare the Roman world for the coming of the Christ Child.
    .
    Note the phrase “Divi Filius” in the title for Augustus. It means “son of a god.” But who is the true Son of God?
    .
    Irony abounds greatly in all this. Some Roman senators by murder tried to restore freedom and the Republic, but instead they got Imperium ruled by a politically acclaimed Divi Filius. The real Filius Die ironically was born during the reign of this politically acclaimed Divi Filius, and it was He and His work which eventually led to the triumph of true freedom over a dictatorial empire.
    .
    Ironically the real Son of God, like Julius Caesar, was betrayed by a close friend. But when He died came freedom, whereas when Caesar died came Imperium.

  • Opps, make Filius Die into Filius Dei – fat fingered the keyboard.

  • Seeing Shatner makes me picture Caesar bleeding on the Senate floor while Bones (Caius Aclespius?) declares, “He’s dead, Jim.”

  • What is interesting is Shakespeare’s take on it. Brutus attempts to appeal to the nobler sentiments of the people, and is confident that his oratory which appeals to their patriotism, addressed as it is to ‘Romans, countrymen and lovers’ will convince them of the logic of his arguments. It appears to have done so, and he then becomes over-confident and leaves the field to Antony who cleverly inverts the opening to ‘friends, Romans, countrymen’ and then cynically works on the sentimentality and cupidity of the mob.

    Brutus is indeed honourable, but naïf; Antony is manipulative and cynical. His chilling words after the plebs have departed on their murderous rampage are: ‘Now let it work – Mischief, thou art afoot, take now what course thou wilt!’ The first victim of popular justice is an innocent poet who happens to share a name with one of the conspirators.

    The very first scene of the play has Flavius and Murellus castigating the people for their fickleness.

    Brutus believes that the Republic he believes in is based, in theory at least, on the general will of the people. Shakespeare’s message is that the people cannot be relied on. How right he was.

  • “Shakespeare’s message is that the people cannot be relied on. How right he was.”

    Shakespeare’s true sentiments of course will never be known. He was a subject of Bad Queen Bess and being in favor of a Republic would not have been the safest of political persuasions at that time, especially someone like Shakespeare dependent upon court patronage.

  • Shakespeare’s view of society was shared by most in the sixteenth century and can be inferred by the words he puts into Ulysses’ mouth in ‘Troilus and Cressida’:

    ‘The heavens themselves, the planets, and this centre
    Observe degree, priority, and place,
    Insisture, course, proportion, season, form,
    Office and custom, in all line of order.

    Take but degree away, untune that string,
    And, hark, what discord follows! Each thing meets
    In mere oppugnancy’

    It is of course the authentic Catholic view (whether or not Shakespeare was a Catholic is still disputed) and is echoed in Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poem ‘Tom’s Garland’. Violent disorder was prevalent in Shakespeare’s day and he would have observed the London mob in action.

    ‘Bad Queen Bess’, like ‘Bloody Mary’ is the sort of epithet that merely indicates the prejudice of those who use it. Elizabeth I, like her contemporary Catherine de Medici was a ‘politique’ – she was not interested in religious persecution for its own sake. English history has managed to free itself from four centuries of Protestant propaganda, and the last thing we need is for Catholics to weigh in on the other side.

  • “Bad Queen Bess’, like ‘Bloody Mary’ is the sort of epithet that merely indicates the prejudice of those who use it. Elizabeth I, like her contemporary Catherine de Medici was a ‘politique’ – she was not interested in religious persecution for its own sake.”

    Rubbish. Her anti-Catholic laws speak for themselves. Her claim that she did not seek mirrors into men’s souls was tripe. She viewed the Catholic Church as a threat to her throne and the best that Catholics could hope for was to hear Mass from a priest on the run from her spies.

    As for Shakespeare, the argument has been made that he was a republican in his sentiments:
    https://books.google.com/books?id=EAuvCFM2S34C&pg=PA603&lpg=PA603&dq=shakespeare+was+a+republican&source=bl&ots=tBfc14FHVC&sig=eJ4JCaNTHnYF_41Y_t16UhfJibg&hl=en&sa=X&ei=_yMGVYfiNOG0sAS09oFw&ved=0CCkQ6AEwBDgK#v=onepage&q=shakespeare%20was%20a%20republican&f=false

    Since he was living in Tudor England under a tyrant who clapped members of Parliament into the Tower for speaking their mind, I submit that it is impossible to guess his true sentiments since he was most definitely not a free man.

    “At the opening of the 1593 Parliament Elizabeth warned that freedom ‘to saye yea or no to bills’ did not include licence ‘as some suppose to speake … of all causes’, nor ‘to frame a forme of relligion, or a state of government’, adding that ‘no king fitt for his state will suffer such absurdities’.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Wentworth

  • The anti-Catholic laws I referred to:

    “The Penal Laws began with the two Statutes of Supremacy and Uniformity by which Queen Elizabeth, in 1559, initiated her religious settlement; and her legislation falls into three divisions corresponding to three definitely marked periods:
    •1558-70 when the Government trusted to the policy of enforcing conformity by fines and deprivations;
    •1570-80 from the date of the excommunication to the time when the Government recognized the Catholic reaction due to the seminary priests and Jesuits;
    •from 1580 to the end of the reign.
    To the first period belong the Acts of Supremacy and Uniformity (I Eliz. 1 and 2) and the amending statute (5 Eliz. c. 1). By the Act of Supremacy all who maintained the spiritual or ecclesiastical authority of any foreign prelate were to forfeit all goods and chattels, both real and personal, and all benefices for the first offence, or in case the value of these was below 20 pounds, to be imprisoned for one year; they were liable to the forfeitures of Praemunire for the second offence and to the penalties of high treason for the third offence. These penalties of Praemunire were: exclusion from the sovereign’s protection, forfeiture of all lands and goods, arrest to answer to the Sovereign and Council. The penalties assigned for high treason were: •drawing, hanging and quartering;
    •corruption of blood, by which heirs became incapable of inheriting honours and offices; and, lastly
    •forfeiture of all property.
    These first statutes were made stricter by the amending act (5 Eliz. c.1) which declared that to maintain the authority of the pope in any way was punishable by penalties of Praemunire for the first offence and of high treason, though without corruption of blood, for the second. All who refused the Oath of Supremacy were subjected to the like penalties. The Act of Uniformity, primarily designed to secure outward conformity in the use of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, was in effect a penal statute, as it punished all clerics who used any other service by deprivation and imprisonment, and everyone who refused to attend the Anglican service by a fine of twelve pence for each ommission. It should be remembered that the amount must be greatly multiplied to give their modern equivalent.
    Coming to the legislation of the second period, there are two Acts directed against the Bull of Excommunication.:
    •13 Eliz. c.1, which, among other enactments, made it high treason to affirm that the queen ought not to enjoy the Crown, or to declare her to be a heretic or schismatic, and
    •13 Eliz. c. 2, which made it high treason to put into effect any papal Bull of absolution, to absolve or reconcile any person to the Catholic Church, or to be so absolved or reconciled, or to procure or publish any papal Bull or writing whatsoever.

    The penalties of Praemunire were enacted against all who brought into England or who gave to others Agnus Dei or articles blessed by the pope or by any one through faculties from him.

    A third act, 13 Eliz. c. 3, which was designed to stop Catholics from taking refuge abroad, declared that any subject departing the realm without the queen’s licence, and not returning within six months, should forfeit the profits of his lands during life and all his goods and chattels. The third and most severe group of statutes begins with the “Act to retain the Queen’s Majesty’s subjects in their obedience” (23 Eliz. c. 1), passed in 1581. This made it high treason to reconcile anyone or to be reconciled to “the Romish religion”, prohibited Mass under penalty of a fine of two hundred marks and imprisonment for one year for the celebrant, and a fine of one hundred marks and the same imprisonment for those who heard the Mass. This act also increased the penalty for not attending the Anglican service to the sum of twenty pounds a month, or imprisonment till the fine be paid, or till the offender went to the Protestant Church. A further penalty of ten pounds a month was inflicted on anyone keeping a schoolmaster who did not attend the Protestant service. The schoolmaster himself was to be imprisoned for one year.

    The climax of Elizabeth’s persecution was reached in 1585 by the “Act against Jesuits, Seminary priests and other such like disobedient persons” (27 Eliz. c. 2). This statute, under which most of the English martyrs suffered, made it high treason for any Jesuit or any seminary priest to be in England at all, and felony for any one to harbour or relieve them. The penalties of Praemunire were imposed on all who sent assistance to the seminaries abroad, and a fine of 100 pounds for each offence on those who sent their children overseas without the royal licence.

    So far as priests were concerned, the effect of all this legislation may be summed up as follows: For any priest ordained before the accession of Elizabeth it was high treason after 1563 to maintain the authority of the pope for the second time, or to refuse the oath of supremacy for the second time; after 1571, to receive or use any Bull or form of reconciliation; after 1581, to absolve or reconcile anyone to the Church or to be absolved or reconciled. For seminary priests it was high treason to be in England at all after 1585. Under this statute, over 150 Catholics died on the scaffold between 1581 and 1603, exclusive of Erizabeth’s earlier victims.

    The last of Elizabeth’s laws was the “Act for the better discovery of wicked and seditious persons terming themselves Catholics, but being rebellious and traitorous subjects” (35 Eliz. c. 2). Its effect was to prohibit all recusants from removing more than five miles from their place of abode, and to order all persons suspected of being Jesuits or seminary priests, and not answering satisfactorily, to be imprisoned till they did so. The hopes of the Catholics on the accession of James I were soon dispelled, and during his reign (1603-25) five very oppressive measures were added to the statute-book. In the first year of his reign there was passed the “Act for the due execution of the statute against Jesuits, seminary priests, etc.” (I Jac. 1, iv) by which all Elizabeth’s statutes were confirmed with additional aggravations. Thus persons going beyond seas to any Jesuit seminary were rendered incapable of purchasing or retaining any lands or goods in England; the penalty of 100 pounds on everyone sending a child or ward out of the realm, which had been enacted only for Elizabeth’s reign, was now made perpetual; and Catholic schoolmasters not holding a licence from the Anglican bishop of the diocese were fined forty shillings a day, as were their employers. One slight relief was obtained in the exemption of one-third of the estate of a convicted recusant from liabilities to penalties; but against this must be set the provision that retained the remaining two-thirds after the owner’s death till all his previous fines had been paid. Even then these two-thirds were only to be restored to the heir provided he was not himself a recusant.”

    Bad Queen Bess is a mild term for her considering the above.

  • I’m waiting for Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Caesar. It’s sure to be the last word on the second or maybe third greatest conspiracy in history.
    .
    Depending on how you rate the landing on the moon, of course.

  • Don, you must surely be aware that in 16th century Europe religious toleration was the exception rather than the norm. As far as I am aware, the only state that practised it was the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569-1795). St Thomas More regarded religious uniformity as essential to the integrity of the state.

    There is no point in your adumbrating 16th century statutes which prove nothing unless they are put in context. Mary Tudor burned Protestants and her half-sister had Catholics executed for treason; I’m not arguing in favour of either, but the underlying rationale was the same – they threatened (or seemed to threaten) the body politic. The situation, both internal and external, in the 1580s is sufficiently well known and I shall not insult your intelligence by pointing it out.

    That you dismiss arguments with which you disagree as ‘rubbish’ does not incline me to take you seriously as an historian. You have considerable knowledge, but see history in polemical terms. Your take on the American Revolution bears this out.

    I hold no brief for the Tudors (Welsh usurpers) but Elizabeth was probably the best of them. American conservatives like yourself find themselves in a quandary; they have to define themselves in terms of a revolution and a republic yet both of these are difficult to square with conservative political thought.

    ‘Rubbish’ , I hear you cry. But think on it, the point may have more validity than you are prepared to admit.

  • American conservatives like yourself find themselves in a quandary; they have to define themselves in terms of a revolution and a republic yet both of these are difficult to square with conservative political thought.

    That would be because Progressives, socialists, communists and other assorted collectivist types mis-appropriated “liberal.”

  • “Don, you must surely be aware that in 16th century Europe religious toleration was the exception rather than the norm.”

    Indeed, along with other terrible infringements upon human liberty.

    “There is no point in your adumbrating 16th century statutes which prove nothing unless they are put in context.”

    Indeed, and Catholics under Bad Queen Bess were treated as criminals if they dared follow the religion of their fathers. That is the context. It was her religious policies that forced Catholics to look for foreign assistance, and who can blame them. It is interesting that many Catholics did stay loyal to her, which just goes to show that some people will salute whatever regime is in power, no matter how they are treated. Roper in his life of Saint Thomas More, written during the reign of Queen Mary, mentions that Saint Thomas More predicted that there would come a time when Catholics in England would pray for the tolerance that Henry VIII was then denying heretics.

    in regard to the Tudors, the best of a very bad lot, and the smartest of them, was Henry VII.

  • ‘Bad Queen Bess’, like ‘Bloody Mary’ is the sort of epithet that merely indicates the prejudice of those who use it.
    🙂
    What rankles me about this statement John, is that there is, after all, absolute Truth. Ultimately opinion and prejudice about reality don’t matter, and it is perfectly fine to acknowledge “Good” and “Evil” or in this case, “Bad”.
    I can understand wanting to be dispassionate about the study of history, and detached, but- we do only study history Because we are interested in Life, necessarily marked by Good and Evil.

  • Maybe this is just my take on the movie, but in “Gladiator” (with Russell Crowe), didn’t Commodus’ sister basically resurrect the Republic, with the help of the Senate (Derek Jacobi) at the very end ? My impression is that such was her intention at least. I found it fascinating “revisionist” history — meant to appeal to a “r”epublican society and audience ? I was amazed the powers that be in Hollywood allowed such sentiment to be portrayed.

  • Gladiator was an immensely entertaining movie, but had little to do with History. Commodus’ assassination opened a cycle of civil wars that ended with the triumph of Septimus Severus as Emperor. With his reign the Empire became largely a military dictatorship, with the legions making and unmaking emperors, often with dizzying speed, as the chaotic third century in the Roman Empire would demonstrate.

  • Donald R McClarey wrote, “With his reign the Empire became largely a military dictatorship…”

    The empire was a military dictatorship from its inception, although Augustus and his immediate successors were rather good at concealing the fact. The Commander-in-Chief of the army (which is what the word Emperor (Imperator) means, exercised a universal, despotic authority and his instrument of government was the army.

    What changed was the rôle of the Prætorian Guard within the army itself.

  • “The empire was a military dictatorship from its inception”

    Not really. Under the Principate the Army was a factor, but rarely a decisive one. With the exception of the Year of the Four Emperors, the Army largely had no control over who became Emperor, Claudius after Caligula being the last adult male in the imperial family and Nerva succeeding Domitian after a court, not Army, plot succeeded in assassinating Domitian. I view the Principate as coming to an end with the civil wars following Commodus.

  • Given the harsh laws explained above, how the recusant English, Welsh and Scottish Catholic families survive?

  • “The empire was a military dictatorship from its inception”
    Not really. Under the Principate the Army was a factor, but rarely a decisive one.

    See how well Augustus disguised the cold hard facts of power?

  • CAM asks, “Given the harsh laws explained above, how the recusant English, Welsh and Scottish Catholic families survive?”
    Enacting laws is one thing and enforcing them quite another. In Scotland, only a single priest, Saint John Ogilvie SJ was martyred. He was arrested in Paisley and executed in Glasgow.
    North of Stirling, people were Catholic, Episcopalian or Presbyterian by clans and septs and the courts were heritable jurisdictions of the chiefs. Outside the few cities – Aberdeen and Inverness – government was forced to work through shifting alliances with these chiefs.
    During the reigns of Charles I and Charles II, the government was only too anxious to enlist the aid of the Catholic clans against the Covenanters.
    The fact that, in 1716, Bishop Thomas Nicholson was able to open a seminary at Scalan, near Glenlivet in Banffshire, on the Duke of Gordon’s land for the training of Gaelic-speaking priests for the Highland mission shows how brazenly the laws were set at defiance.
    The British government treated the Highland clergy with unexampled savagery after the failure of the ’45. Of the priests who had accompanied the Prince, Rev Mr Colin Campbell of Morar was murdered on the filed of Culloden, shot down by Hessian mercenaries, whilst trying to rally the fugitives for one last charge. Rev Mr Allan MacDonald, rector of the seminary at Scalan, near Glenlivet was imprisoned for a year in a military garrison and then ordered to leave the country. Scalan itself was burned on the orders of the Duke of Cumberland, as a “nest of traitors.” Rev Mr Aeneas McGillis of Glengarry was put to the horn (outlawed) and fled the country. Of those who had stayed at home, but had “prayed for the Pretender,” Rev Mr Neil McFie of the Rough Bounds, Rev Mr Alexander Forrester of Uist and Rev Mr James Grant of Barra were bundled on board ship and deported to France, without the formality of a trial. Rev Mr William Harrison of the Rough Bounds was later captured carrying Jacobite dispatches and similarly deported.

    Bishop Hugh had to rebuild the Church more or less from scratch. Himself the son of Alexander MacDonald of Morar and of Mary, daughter of Ranald MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart, he recruited mostly among the Highland gentry; ordained ad titulum patrimonii sui and unpaid, they stayed with relatives, or with influential friends, and served their native place. Thus we have Alexander MacDonald of the Scotus family living in Knoydart; Austen MacDonald of Glenaladale in Moidart; Allan MacDonald of Morar’s family living in the Morar area; James MacDonald, son of John MacDonald of Guidall in the Rough Bounds, and so on. Bishop Hugh was succeeded by his nephew, John MacDonald.

  • He tamed the Army so well that there was no dispute that Tiberius would succeed him, and after Tiberius, Caligula and after the assassinated Caligula, Claudius. It took the murderous incompetence of Nero to shake the system of Augustus, and even then the Army was quickly relegated once again to its subordinate role from Vespasian to Commodus.

  • Unless they were extremely wealthy or lucky they didn’t. Some immigrated to colonies. It was a very long and tough time until the repeal of the laws on inheritance and owning property with the Catholic Relief Act of 1778. Even so, it was over half a century until the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829.

  • You say Principate, I say military monarchy; you say Dominate, I say military autocraty. The difference between the Severans and their Julio-Claudian and Flavian predecessors is that the former never felt the need to disguise the basis of their regime.

  • Before 193 the Emperors controlled the legions. After 193 the legions often controlled the emperors.

  • Donald R McClarey wrote, “It was a very long and tough time until the repeal of the laws on inheritance and owning property with the Catholic Relief Act of 1778.”

    In Scotland, many Catholics refused to take the oaths under the Relief Acts of 1778 and 1791 until the death of the Cardinal Duke of York on 13 July 1807. The Sherriff Court books show a great increase in people taking the oath in the autumn of that year.

    The laws against Catholics owning or inheriting land had long been a dead letter, thanks to the ingenuity of conveyancers. Their methods included manipulation of the feudal law: the insertion of a mid-superior, where land was held of the Crown, the use of precepts of clare constat from the superior to avoid the process of service of heirs by a brieve from the Chancery, and the assignation of open (i.e. unexecuted) procuratories of resignation and precepts of sasine.

    In addition, they employed strict settlements to ensure that no one ever acquired a greater interest than a liferent, hedged around with irritancies and resolutive conditions and that the land was encumbered with family charges, in the form of tacks or leases, ground annuals and heritable bonds. Indeed, not a few Protestant landowners availed themselves of these devices to prevent their heirs changing the course of descent and generally to keep it free of their acts and deeds and diligence of creditors.

  • After 193 the legions often controlled the emperors.

    If by often you mean 235-285, sure. 375-476 in the West, too, I suppose. But that to my mind just reinforces the link between military command and political rule. Tacitus and the whole secret of empire thing, you know?

  • The legions lacked the ability to make and unmake emperors during the principate with the exception of Nero, and most of the principate emperors were not soldiers with the exceptions of Vespasian,Titus and Trajan. The soldier days of Tiberius were long behind him by the time he became Emperor.

  • The legions lacked the ability to make and unmake emperors during the principate[.]
    .
    What the legions lacked was an awareness of their ability to make and unmake emperors (Tacitus’s secret of empire). So a better way to express the point you made might be that during the period of the principate, the emperors were sufficiently secure in their control of the legions that, for the most part, ambitious generals could not leverage their control the legions to turn them against the emperors.
    .
    Augustus was never much of a soldier, true, but he made sure that the legions were commanded by relatives who were, e.g. his step-sons Tiberius and Drusus, and his son-in-law Agrippa. Tiberius’s soldiering days weren’t that far behind him, as he came out of retirement to put down the Pannonian revolt in AD 9. Also, there’s a school of thought that holds part of the reason the empire passed to Nerva was because he more or less immediately designated Trajan his heir. The implication of course being that if Trajan hadn’t been in the line of succession, he would have seized the Empire. I’m not fully familiar with that argument, however. Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius both had more military experience than your comment would suggest.
    .
    Finally, I think you’re underestimating the significance of the tendency of the empire to fall into civil war every time the succession broke down. Arguably, Nero’s greatest demonstration of incompetence was in taking his own life. The eastern legions might have backed him against Galba and Vitellius if he’d shown some grit. Civil war was avoided in AD 96, sure, but that’s the exception that proves the rule. Civil War broke out in 191 with the assassination of Commodus, and again in AD 235 with the assassination of Severus Alexander. The period 235-285 is more or less one of continuous civil war as ambitious generals rise and fall (you’re only as good as your last victory). Diocletian restores order in what is indisputably a military dictatorship run by a military junta. And while he attempted to effect an elaborate settlement of the empire, it almost immediately broke down upon his retirement in AD 305. It was another twenty years before Constantine controlled the entirety of the empire.
    .
    The larger point being that control of the army was the basis of political power throughout the Imperial period, principate, dominate and tetrarchy. I’m thinking we more or less agree on that, but we’re emphasizing different aspects of that reality. Which is why I think M. P.-S. is largely correct in describing the empire as a military dictatorship, albeit one in which the early dictators felt it prudent to wear business suits togas instead of uniforms the military cloak.

  • Thank you for the explanations on Scottish and English recusants.
    I may be off topic but the following is an important date in the history of The Church in the US: March 25, 1634 the Ark and the Dove, with 3 Jesuits and Catholic English and a few Scots, landed on St. Clements Is, MD wherein a Mass for the Feast of the Annuciation was celebrated. There was religious freedom to a degree in that the Catholic colonists could practice IF they were inconspicuous and left the Protestant colonists alone. The oldest churches in So Marylalnd are Catholic, not Episcopalian. and the Carmelite monastery is still occupied with an increasing number of 3rd Order layman.
    .

Triggers for the Bard

Thursday, May 29, AD 2014

 “Don’t step on the toes of the dog lovers, the cat lovers, doctors, lawyers, merchants, chiefs, Mormons, Baptists, Unitarians, second-generation Chinese, Swedes, Italians, Germans, Texans, Brooklynites, Irishmen, people from Oregon or Mexico. The people in this book, this play, this TV serial are not meant to represent any actual painters, cartographers, mechanics anywhere.”

Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

One of the more ludicrous current fads on the academic left is the demand for trigger warnings.  Apparently some precious snow flake might recall bad memories by being exposed to literature much beyond twitter scrawls, hence the demand that, for example, Milton’s Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, be prefaced by warnings that it might trigger bad memories in those still in recovery for those told to “Shut up and sit down !” at Catechism or Sunday School back when they were seven, or that Satanists might have memories of insults tossed at them by Christians intolerant of those who worship absolute evil.  Of course all of this is being done as yet another way of ensuring that the political shibboleths of the moment of the left will never be forgotten for a nano second, especially when perusing literature that might engender political heresy.

Doni Wilson at The Federalist helpfully suggests nine trigger warnings for Hamlet:

1) If you have ever seen a ghost, and were scared out of your mind even though smart enough to get into a university (hey, Horatio and Hamlet were getting all smartened up at Wittenberg!), then YOU MIGHT WANT TO SKIP ACT ONE SCENE ONE because maybe a ghost appears.  Now I don’t really believe in ghosts, and I have never seen one, but maybe you have, so obviously I cannot relate to your level of trauma, and I have no idea if you will get all pale and speechless while reading this scene, never to be the same, so here is your trigger warning.  You’re welcome.  I am super relieved we are not reading Oedipus Rex.

2) Although you might think Hamlet is really obsessed with his mother and Ophelia and how they behave, if you have been in a war, heard of a war, object to war, fear war, or have even been in favor of a war, you might not have caught this, but those night-time security guys are awake ALL NIGHT because Denmark is, how shall I say it?  They are having a martial conflict with Norway.  If you don’t know what “martial” means, then you have probably not been traumatized.  If you thought I wrote “marital,” then you might have been, but that is a whole different trigger warning.  I am getting to them as fast as I can.  War is horrible, and in Hamlet most of it is off stage, but still.  You need to know.

3)  If your Mom married your wily uncle pretty quickly after your Dad was murdered, and you thought that was kind of, well, unseemly, then this might not be the play for you.

4)  If you, as an American, have been to France, and had French people be really rude to you, there is this little moment where Laertes actually asks permission to go back, and so that might just be too much for you.  Just sayin.’

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7 Responses to Triggers for the Bard

  • I could have used a few trigger warnings in my day as an English major. Warning: This class will assign literature and criticism that is offensive to good taste, lovers of language, logical thinkers, those with common sense, and anyone who holds Western culture in high esteem. Proceed at your own risk.

  • … or the msm could place one in the top left corner of most of what is reported!

  • Fortunately I have not had such problems as a Dickinson undergrad thus far, Mrs. Z. I’m on my way to being an English major and I have had thoughtful, challenging classes from brilliant professors. In my most recent class, we read Shakespeare’s sonnets, Forster’s A Passage to India, Othello, and a large amount of literary theory and criticism, from Brooks to Said. Everyone in our class talked during discussions, and we all wrote formalist and new historicist papers as well as critical editions. The English department at my college is first rate.

  • Trigger warnings for graphic scenes depicting various forms of sexual assault make sense.

  • Glad to hear it, Rodney. There were really only a few classes that would have required my warning. Many of my courses were great, and blessedly a political.

  • “…hence the demand that, for example, Milton’s Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, be prefaced by warnings that it might trigger bad memories in those still in recovery for those told to ‘Shut up and sit down !’ at Catechism or Sunday School back when they were seven…”

    I was told at certain meetings at 28 years of age to take the cotton out of my ears and stuff it in my mouth. No one cared if my tender feelings were hurt, and my mentor actually took some pleasuring in ensuring that I actually felt something instead of the mere the numbness that comes with being the intoxicated recipient of constant sentimentalism. His mentor was a Franciscan priest and my Confessor who agreed with this approach 100%.

598 Years Since Agincourt

Friday, October 25, AD 2013

We are in God’s hand, brother, not in theirs.

King Henry V

The anniversary of the long ago battle of Saint Crispin’s Day gives us yet another opportunity to recall the immortal “Band of Borthers Speech” that Shakespeare put into the mouth of Henry V, a speech that could put fight into a dog dead three days, or, mirabile dictu, even a live Congress Critter:

WESTMORELAND. O that we now had here

    But one ten thousand of those men in England      

That do no work to-day!

  KING. What’s he that wishes so?

    My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;      

If we are mark’d to die, we are enow

    To do our country loss; and if to live,

    The fewer men, the greater share of honour.

    God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.

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8 Responses to 598 Years Since Agincourt

  • Shows you can win most of the battles and still lose the war.

  • If Henry V John had not had such an untimely death, I wonder if he could have held everything together. Probably just as well for England that he did not have the opportunity. I can’t help but think that an Anglo-French kingdom would have ended up with England getting the short end of such a dual monarchy.

  • Could the English have ultimately won the Hundred Years War?

    France is a very large country to occupy and hold and it would have meant maintaining both the intrinsically unstable Burgundian alliance and the treaty made with James I of Scotland. Neither, I believe was very likely.

    The ultimate loss of the Hundred Years War ended in catastrophe for the English – and an English defeat was morally certain after the raising of the siege of Orléans on 8 May 1429, the Loire Campaign, the victory of Patay and the anointing of the Dauphin at Rheims with the oil of Clovis as Charles VII, roi très-chrétien in the summer of that year.

    Andrew Lang, Scottish and thus impartial, has described the aftermath: “They were all lost. The curse of their cruelty did not depart from them. Driven by the French and Scots from province to province, and from town to town, the English returned home, tore and rent each other; murdering their princes and nobles on the scaffold, and slaying them as prisoners of war on the field; and stabbing and smothering them in chambers of the Tower; York and Lancaster devouring each other; the mad Henry VI was driven from home to wander by the waves at St. Andrews, before he wandered back to England and the dagger stroke—these things were the reward the English won, after they had burned a Saint. They ate the bread and drank the cup of their own greed and cruelty all through the Wars of the Roses. They brought shame upon their name which Time can never wash away; they did the Devil’s work, and took the Devil’s wages. Soon Henry VIII was butchering his wives and burning Catholics and Protestants, now one, now the other, as the humour seized him.”

  • “Scottish and thus impartial”

    Considering the Olde Alliance between France and Scotland MPS, I assume that was typed with tongue planted very much in cheek.

  • Auld Alliance or no, after the Scots’ defeat at the Battle of the Herrings, Beaufort had secured a non-aggression pact with James I, with the help of some well-paid lobbyists among the nobles and, I am sorry to say, churchmen, at the Scottish court.

    The Scottish free companies fought on, of course. When the Dauphin refused to give the Maid money to pay them, after the raising of the siege of Orléans, it was one of their leaders, Sir Anthony Kennedy, who told her, with a guffaw, that they did no need paying to fight the English. I am sure Lang would have approved.

    Kennedy’s descendants are neighbours of mine in Ayrshire and still use the arms granted them by Charles VII.

    http://tinyurl.com/on6zqpa

    To persuade an old freebooter like Kennedy to do anything for nothing really was one of the Maid’s miracles.

  • King Henry’s speech is fit to commemorate for another October 25th military anniversary, namely that of the 1944 naval action off Samar (in the Phillipines), in which a small force of destroyers and destroyer escorts fended off an attack by Japanese battleships and heavy cruisers with such ferocity that the attacking force — believing they were being opposed by heavy units — withdrew without proceeding to their final objective, which was the invasion beachhead at Leyte. American losses were destroyers Johnston and Hoel, destroyer escort Samuel B. Roberts, and escort carrier Gambier Bay.

    (The entire incident is chronicled in Hornfischer’s _Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors_. A recent addition to the literature on this action is _For Crew and Country_, which focuses on the role of USS Samuel B. Roberts.)

  • The Hundred Years War established two things.

    1. It was against God’s will that the same man be both King of England and King of France.

    2. England had a right to occupy large parts of France – during World War II, not five hundred years before.

Happy Birthday to the Bard! Glad He Isn’t Here!

Tuesday, April 23, AD 2013

Today is the 449th birthday of William Shakespeare.  The above video is from the hilarious The Bard episode of The Twilight Zone broadcast in 1963.  William Shakespeare is brought by magic into modern times and works as a script writer for a television show.  Burt Reynolds gives an absolutely dead on impersonation of Marlon Brando.  Rod Serling poured into the script his own frustrations as a television writer and the episode can be taken as a searing, albeit humorous, critique of the level of literacy of what was being broadcast.  I have always found the episode a hoot, but now my enjoyment is tinged with sadness with the knowledge that most television programs from that era read like Shakespeare compared to the toxic dump that is most television fare these days.  I am glad that Shakespeare is not around to see it.

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Ides of March: Antony Explains it All

Friday, March 15, AD 2013

I think it would have amused the Romans of Caesar’s generation if they could have learned that the assassination of Julius Caesar would eventually receive immortality through a play written more than 16 centuries after the event by a barbarian playwright in the Tin Islands that Caesar had briefly invaded.  It would have tickled their well developed concept of the ludicrous, judging from Roman comedy.

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4 Responses to Ides of March: Antony Explains it All

  • I always rather liked the story of the British lady, who had just witnessed Sarah Bernhardt’s impassioned, almost hysterical rendering of Cleopatra’s reaction to the defeat of Anthony at Actium – “How different, how very different is the home life of our own dear Queen.”

  • We were watching Mark Antony’s big speech from the Charleton Heston version with the kids last night. I hadn’t seen that one before, but I was quite impressed with what he did with that scene.

    Several years back, and my wife and I were watching the BBC/HBO series Rome, I was getting more and more curious as to how they’d deal with the Mark Antony speech which Shakespear has made so famous. I thought the handling was hilarious and deft: They skip it entirely and then have Mark Antony saying (to Brutus?) after the riot that obviously resulted from his speech: “Well, perhaps I overdid it a bit.”
    To which the reply is, “I should bloody well say you did!”

  • Roman politicians had two types of oratory: one for the Senate and one for crowds, or pre-battle speeches. Antony had probably made a number of pre-battle speeches to his legions over the years, so he probably had a fair amount of experience in playing the emotions of lower class Romans.

    This was wonderfully examined by Graves in Chapter 9 of I Claudius where Livy and Polio, one of Caesar’s legates, are having a conversation about history and Polio says that the pre-battle speeches that Livy puts into the mouth of historical figures are false. He recalls a speech by Caesar prior to the battle of Pharsalus which was relaxed in tone, Caesar using a turnip he was eating as a comic prop during his speech to his men. He mimics Pompey’s suicide speech after he loses the battle and stabs himself with the turnip to the cheers and laughter of his men. He ends the speech by telling them that no one can beat Caesar and his legions to the raucous applause of his men. The best Roman speeches never made it into the histories.

Body of Richard III Identified

Monday, February 4, AD 2013

History is always a subject without end.  The body of the last Plantagenet king of England, Richard III has been identified:

 

“The verification came after scientific tests were used to match DNA samples taken from Canadian-born Michael Ibsen, a direct descendent of Anne of York, Richard’s elder sister.

“For me it’s an absolute privilege to be a part, even in a small way, of such a historically significant series of events,” said Ibsen, a furniture-maker in London.

The debate that has risen out of this finding has provoked the nation to rethink the legacy of Richard III, cast in British history by Shakespeare as a deformed villain, who locked his young nephews — rivals to the throne — in the Tower of London, where they are thought to have met their demise.

Richard III’s grave, which was found underneath the Leicester site in the remains of Greyfriars friary, had been lost during the religious reforms of Henry VIII. Richard, the last king of England to fall on the battlefield, was slain in the 1485 Battle of Bosworth Field while defending his crown against the raiding upstart, Henry VII. He was famously depicted in Shakespeare’s “Richard III” crying out before his death: “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!””

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Coriolanus

Thursday, August 25, AD 2011

Though the great houses love us not, we own, to do them right,

That the great houses, all save one, have borne them well in fight.

Still Caius of Corioli, his triumphs and his wrongs,

His vengeance and his mercy, live in our camp-fire songs.

Thomas Babbington Macaulay

The above film is being released on December 2, 2011 here in the US, and I am greatly looking forward to it.  Coriolanus is one of Shakespeare’s plays that is not performed as regularly as other plays of the Bard, which is a shame, because it is a powerful play about love and hate.  Gnaeus Marcius is a Roman patrician who fought in Rome’s wars shortly after the expulsion from Rome of the last of the Tarquin Kings and the foundation of the Roman Republic, conventionally dated at 508 BC.  Our ancient sources in regard to his career are plentiful, including Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Livy, Appian and Plutarch.  Unfortunately these writers wrote 450-600 years after the time of Coriolanus, and early Roman history is almost impossible to distinguish myth from fact.

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9 Responses to Coriolanus

Agincourt

Saturday, April 2, AD 2011

 

Something for the weekend.  Agincourt by the ever talented folks at History for Music Lovers, to the tune of As Tears Go By, by Marianne Faithful.

October 25, 1415 was an amazing day for the English.  The English longbow had long proved in the Hundred Years War to be a devastating weapon in the hands of skilled archers, but rarely had the English faced such long odds as they did at Agincourt.  Approximately 6,000 English, exhausted and worn from their march, faced approximately 30,000 French.  About five out of six of the English were archers with the remainder men-at-arms, knights and nobility.  The French had about 10,000 men-at-arms, knights and nobility, and 20,000 archers, crossbowmen and miscellaneous infantry.

The English established their battle line between the woods of Agincourt and Tramecourt, which offered excellent protection to both of their flanks.  The English archers made up the front line with stakes set in the ground before them to impale charging horses.  Archers were also placed in the woods to provide flanking fire against advancing French.  The men at arms and knights and nobility, were divided into three forces behind the archers.  They fought on foot.

The terrain between the woods that the French would have to cross in their attack of the English consisted of newly ploughed, and very muddy, fields.  Having walked through muddy fields on several occasions in rural Illinois, I can attest that simply getting from point A to point B in such terrain can be exhausting, let alone fighting at the end of the tramp through the morass.

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4 Responses to Agincourt

  • John Keegan’s book, The Face of Battle, has a fair (I assume it’s factual) depiction of the battle and the men.

    Another famous battle and example of Catholic courage is depicted in Ernle Bradford’s, The Knights of the Order, chapters 19 through 23. It tells the story of the famous siege of Malta. The siege was endured about 70 years after Comumbus’ discoveries and 23 years before the tragedy of the Invincible Armada in 1588.

  • Excellent post.

    I love the way the History teachers get the essence of major event in 3 minutes.

    Henry V was in a bind. He was being chased by a larger French army that move dfaster than his army and could defeat hin in open country. Almost by luck he stopped at Agincourt where the woods protected his flanks. He did not have food more than two days and would have to move into open ground in a losing race to Calias if the French did not attack him. All the French had to do was sit and wait. The reason Henry V moved forward was to provoke the French. Luckily patience is not a French virtue.

    Keegan’s face of Battle is an accurate and excellent description of the battle. This is a ground breaking book that looked at the ‘face of Battle” in a very clinical manner. Do not read on a full stomach.

    Bernards Cornwell’s novel <a href=http://www.amazon.com/Agincourt-Novel-Bernard-Cornwell/dp/0061578908/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1301777975&sr=1-1-spell in additon to placing one in his view of the cultural milieu sets of the context of the campaign and battle in an entertaining style

  • Thank you Hank for first making me aware of History for Music Lovers. If the French had simply raided Henry’s army with small parties, and cut his force off from villages and towns where they could get resupplied, they would probably have bagged the entire English army with minimal French casualties. King Henry’s gambit at Agincourt to advance was a daring one, but it played upon the French dilemma of a large hit to the morale of their army if they seemed to be backing down from a much smaller English army. Morale in medieval battles was all important, as the troops were usually ill-trained except for the knights and men-at-arms, and once a force panicked, it was almost impossible for it to be reassembled before a battle was completely lost.

6 Responses to Henry V Times Four

  • “Once more into the breach, dear friends! Once more! Or, we’ll fill the hole with our English blood.”

    These are examples of the “classic” pre-battle pep talk. The lethal “Win one for the Gipper” speech.

    The English word “hub-bub” comes out of unjust confiscations, invasions and massacres the saxon committed in Ireland, especially in the reign of Elizabeth I.

    The foul villains and their mercenaries observed the Irish chieftains, minstrels and pipers harangue the clansmen. The Erse word for victory is “abou.” Often “abou”, or some other clan motto/slogan, would be chanted to arouse the blood lust necessary for (most) men to hack each other to pieces. Also see Wallace’s speech at the first big battle scene in “Braveheart.”

    O’Donnell abou!

  • Mr. McClarey,

    I’ve come to respect your knowledge of history and your insights. I just wanted to get your honest opinion on one issue. As I understand it, Catholic doctrine would say that wars of aggression are not justified (most of the time). Though I enjoy Shakespeare’s plays, it bothers me that Henry V was fighting a war of aggression – hence, an unjust war.

    From Henry V’s point of view, the war was about his (legitimate?) claim to the French throne. But from the point of view of the French peasantry, whichever dynasty sat on the French throne did not really make any difference in their lives. They were merely caught in the middle; the longer the war lasted, the greater the collateral damage to French civilians. Besides, Henry V already had the Kingdom of England. Hence, it was just pure greed driving Henry V to claim the French throne.

    I would appreciate your opinion on this.

  • Centinel thank you for very kind words and for inspiring a forthcoming post! The more I thought about your question the more complicated my answer became and only a post length reply, which I will attempt to do in the next week, will do it justice. The short answer is that Henry V, by the just war analysis of his day, had a defensible claim to be fighting a just war, while under the just war analysis of our day his war would be unjust. However, there is much more to say than that, and I will attempt to do this intriguing question justice in my forthcoming post.

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4 Responses to What is a Youth?

  • Ah, restrainedradical, you mention my favorite film about the law!

    I rather follow the Joe Pesci mode of less is more in opening statement, although when I was a young attorney I am afraid that my openings my first time or two resembled those of the hapless public defender.

  • Ha. That was my first thought when I saw the title of the post too, restrained. Great movie. Not familiar with this version of Romeo & Juliet.

  • “I remember my youth and the feeling that will never come back any more –the feeling that I could last for ever, outlast the sea, the earth, and all men; the deceitful feeling that lures us on to joys, to perils, to love, to vain effort –to death; the triumphant conviction of strength, the heat of life in the handful of dust, the glow in the heart that with every year grows dim, grows cold, grows small, and expires –and expires, too soon, too soon –before life itself.”
    Conrad, Joseph

    “Youth is wasted on the young.” Yogi Berra

Age of Kings?

Thursday, June 11, AD 2009

  

I love Shakespeare and I love history, so I naturally glommed on to Shakespeare’s An Age of Kings (Richard II, Henry IV, Henry V, Henry VI and Richard III) after it was released by the BBC in this country.  The plays are divided into 15 episodes, a total of 947 minutes.  First broadcast in 1960, the plays present a galaxy of British actors and actresses who later went on to build outstanding careers.  The two standouts are Sean Connery as Harry Hotspur,   and Robert Hardy as Juvenile Delinquent turned Hero King Henry V.   It should be remembered however that these were originally broadcast in 1960 and the visual quality is often not of the best.  Nonetheless, mediocre black and white visuals detract not a whit from the superb performances.  This would be a good set for homeschooling parents who wish to introduce their kids to Shakespeare.

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5 Responses to Age of Kings?

  • Got another Brit series for the older younguns- I, Claudius from the mid 70s. Actually shown on CBS along with the public teevee stations. Seriously fine. Perhaps the best ensemble series about sociopaths before The Sopranos. Fun to see Patrick Stewart- later as benevolent Captain Picard and wise Professor Xavier- as a Roman thug. And John Hurt with a masterful over-the-top performance as Caligula. Five stars.

  • I loved I, Claudius.

  • Visual quality?

    I hope you’re aware of the fact that most classic films are predominantly of the black/white variety and by far engagingly more magnificent than any of the deplorable refuse that is produced these days, even with the high-tech, high-definition regalia.

  • I am aware of the silver screen e., and that period had quite a few masterpieces and quite a few clunkers. BBC TV broadcasts in the early sixties lend new depth to the phrase “muddy image”. I enjoy the series but prospective buyers need to know what they are getting.

  • “…and quite a few clunkers.”

    True, but there seems several hundreds more today than yesteryears.

    “…lend new depth to the phrase ‘muddy image’.”

    Thanks for the fair warning.

    About BBC broadcasts in its early years, is it just me or has their programming suffered tremendous decadance over the decades?

    I can’t recall watching a decent program on the Beeb since Jakobi’s Cadfael days.