There is nothing beyond my own personal history. There is nothing beyond my own line of sight. There is nothing that I haven’t seen, touched, heard or smelt. I make the world as I move through it. I erase blackness as I see things. What I record will be the truth for all others who receive my record and choose to believe it. Startrek is real to some people. What happened in the middle ages? What really happened? What happened to who? The middle ages of what. Who can really say? Anyone can say what ever they want. But we have to be careful when we try to write history and we try to make believe that history is real. I like to forget about that. It feels uncomfortable to think of. What if everything about history is wrong? I don’t want to deal with it. I don’t have to either and usually I try to avoid it. Trying to learn about the dark ages forces me to question the validity of recorded history as a record of fact instead of fiction. When we account for an entire period of history with documents that are so personal and so fantastic, it would be irresponsible of me not to question the entire practice of a recorded history as an actual fact. History is folklore. History is myth. History is politics. History is opinion. History is power. But if there is one thing that the middle ages have taught me, it’s that history can never be fact. The world was flat until it wasn’t. And people die for questioning history. Because reality depends on facts and history of facts. I’m not interested in changing that. What would be the point? And what alternative is there to this illusionary reality, our fictional history must be seen as factual. We have to believe. And I want to believe, in order to do that I want to review a few things. First I want to take a look at a couple of major source texts from the Middle Ages and try to make some assumptions about any prevalent attitudes that may have existed about life, politics, and religion and mostly about reality and the concept of fact. These source texts make up a lot of what we assume life was like during this time period. The two texts I want to review are The Song of Rolland and Le Mort d’Arthur. The second thing I want to look at is an interview that I conducted. I had a friend get drunk and watched two mainstream movies back to back. Both movies were set during the Middle Ages. The first movie was about the crusades and one person’s personal story within that time. The second movie was about King Arthur who may or may not be a real person, but still is a central figure in the history of the middle ages never the less. I asked my friend to watch these two movies both in a row and while drinking. Three days later I interviewed him about it. At first I would assume that these being movies and the fact that their made in Hollywood and for a main stream audience that there should be little if any truth to them. Usually that is the case with a movie of this type. But under the circumstances, those being that these are movies based on text that are them selves questionable, I am willing to accept the depiction that these movies provide. And further more I am willing to accept a second hand account of the movies provided to me by someone who saw them drunk. Any other explanation of King Arthur or the Holy Crusades is for all purposes, equivalent. And lastly I would like to say a few words about having faith in things, even if they don’t make sense and why it is important to have faith.
The Song of Rolland is an epic poem that was written in the 11th century. It’s supposed to be about a battle that Charlemagne’s army fought against Muslim armies. The poem is in the voice of Roland who is supposed to be the Marquis of Brittany in service to Charlemagne. While there is no concrete evidence that Roland ever existed and the battle that the poem depicts didn’t involve Muslims but actually Basques the poem is still considered to be the first important work of French poetry because it is considered a classic example of the virtues of chivalry. It is far more likely to have functioned as propaganda for the Christian’s Crusade against Muslim faith. The poem is full of bloody details of the epic battle where people’s heads are split open by famous swords and the French army is faithful to the king and to god even in the face of certain death. And in the end the Christians win every thing and 100,000 Muslims and Jews are baptized. I’m not going to compare this to anything from our time, it would be easy, but I’m not going to. I wonder two things. First I wonder why this is considered important poetry and not important propaganda. Second I wonder if people thought of this as propaganda. My assumption is that people never thought this was real and most people couldn’t read. Of all possible reasons to fight a crusade do not thing that the actions of this hero weighed too heavily on a crusader’s mind. What items of pop culture will our future historians dig up about us and turn into cults or crusades or religions?
Le Morte d’Arthur (The Death of Arthur) was written by Sir Thomas Malory. It was a compilation he made of some French and English Arthurian romances. Le Morte d’Arthur is the best-known work of English-language Arthurian literature today. Most modern Arthurian stories use Malory as their source. In its time, Le Morte d’Arthur would have been read as stories. I’m not sure if people who were reading these stories thought of them as true or fiction. I don’t think it would be important to differentiate between real or fake except that now we look back to these stories of king Arthur to try to see what life was like during the middle ages. What would the future think of our time if they only had an action movie to use for clues?
With the Song of Rolland we are at least starting out with some fragment of some something that might have happened maybe, but what about Le Mort d’Arthur? The story of king Arthur and his holy knights of the round table is a total fabrication. Refined through centuries of retelling and elaboration. This is Western Europe’s crude and lowbrow answer to the Greek mythologies. The main difference being that when I ask people about King Arthur, most if not all believe that King Arthur was a real person. They aren’t sure who or what he is but there is some idea of King Arthur in the back of their minds somewhere in their early memories mixed up with Robin Hood and maybe some other Disney movies. People don’t this that there was really a Medusa; people do think that there was an Arthur. And for most this is based on a movie or cartoon. I was surprised at first, angry even, but after I thought about it there really isn’t much difference between the Greek myths and the western European myths. They are meant to be believed and they are but in a different way. We don’t believe in King Arthur the same way that we believe in Napoleon. I don’t know how we believe, but this is how it was a powerful tool. Just like today when we can fight a war against terrorism or drugs. If as an authority figure I can mange to get you to believe in something that doesn’t exist, then I can bend and change that something at will to suit my needs. When we are going to war against the Muslims I can make it that King Arthur or Rolland also fought bravely against the Muslims and for good reasons. That it is our right as inherited from them to also fight the Muslims and it is our duty to fight bravely in order to honor those brave hero’s that we have woven into our folklore.
I asked my friend to get drunk and watch two movies set in the Middle Ages. I wanted to find out what the movies were about and so I figured I could interview my friend about them in a couple of days. The first movie I asked him to watch was called Kingdom of Heaven. The second movie I asked him to watch was called King Arthur.
My friend told me that Kingdom of Heaven is about “the Crusaders and they’re converting people to Christianity and like there’s a bunch of stuff about like Holy Wars and stuff like that.” I was excited to hear about that because I don’t know too much about the feudal history between Christians and Muslims and I would like to know more. He told me that the morel of the movie was to be the most pure as you can and do your job right and not mess with the surfs, the lowly dudes. You’re supposed to protect them, even though you could advance if you didn’t. If you were a scoundrel you would get all these advancements but that wasn’t what you should do. If you make deals with other people and not worry about like protecting and even like marauding like innocent people. So from that I understand the Christian crusades were about protecting helpless people. Pretty interesting. Here is what he has to say about the movie, King Arthur:
“It’s about this group of knights. And they didn’t like spell it out very well but it seems like they were attached to like the roman dudes like spreading religion or whatever. And that wasn’t their homeland so they were trying to finish their goal so they could go home right that was like part of it but also it was the same thing that Arthur character was just trying to do right by everybody and make his, like he got this little dump hole of land and he tried to make it better provide water and do all this cool stuff to protect his people and the other dudes were just making crazy like scandalous decisions, just like this one guy was super scandalous just waiting for the king to die so he could take over the thrown, which he did but he was just like evil and like jacked stuff up all the time.”
He told me that King Arthur and his knights, after they were done protecting the wall of Brittany, had to ride down to Jerusalem and fight the Muslims. That’s interesting; I didn’t know that King Arthur was ever in the Middle East.
I think I should learn to embrace things for what they are and not try to argue for things to be different. God has his reasons for things and if he wants us to believe in fictional works as real history then I should get to know these fictional texts and learn my lessons from them. Because remember if we don’t look back to history we are doomed to make the same mistakes.
There are certain things that we have to believe in. There may seem to be questions and inconsistencies in these things but we must let the strength in our belief persevere. We must remember to have faith. Because god would want us to be that way. You may at times wonder why some people are rich and some people are poor. Well don’t worry about that. God has his plans and he had reasons for creating noble blood. Remember to keep your faith in god because he is our creator. You may wonder why there are people who don’t believe in the Catholic Church. That there are some people who even believe in some other notion of god. Well remember you must keep you faith. God has his reasons for every creation in the world. If not for any other reason, a heathen is created to test a Christian’s faith. A test that must be overcome if one hopes ever to enter into heaven. You may wonder why god made a difference in the sexes. You must have faith that god has his reasons for everything.
The pope of the Catholic Church is the father of us all. That is because he is the closest to god. The king is his helper and together thy try their best to carry out gods wishes. There are a lot of people in god’s kingdom and it would be impossible for just two men to present god’s word to everyone. That is why god has created noble blood. Nobility was created to take care for the common man because noble blood is endowed with a special closeness to god. It is the duty of us all to donate as much as we can to the church, the crown, and our local governors. Charity is a Christian miracle. This is the way that anyone even the common man can find a way to help god ensure all of our safety.
There will come a time when the heathens will try to concur the holy catholic empire. This may in fact happen several times. Don’t let this weaken our faith in god. Remember that we are his children and he would let nothing come into existence that wasn’t good for us. Think of this rampant spread of heathenistic paganism as simply a test of our good faith to god and also a chance to glean the riches from these barbarians so that we may be enabled to donate even further to god and the Catholic Church. These pagans are in need of help. We will lift them of the riches that burden their mind and in that relief they might find the inspiration to see the light of the only true god. And if there are still too poisoned we may help them further by releasing their souls from their defective bodies and letting them go up into heaven or down to hell if still they resist the wonderful bosom god’s love.
It may seem in times of hardship that the burden is not distributed evenly amongst all of god’s children. That the noble class may find hard times a little more manageable than some of the more common people. This may seem to be unfair. But we have to remember that god has a plan for us all and that hardship is just another way of remembering the feeling of the closeness to god. For god does not forget anyone and when we feel things strongly it is god’s special attentions that enable us to feel that way, weather it be happiness or hunger, love or jealousy. We feel that way because god wanted us to. And let us not forget that the noble blood was created by god to watch over and protect the common man and when the common man is in a state of suffering the noble class feels that pain as a mother feels her son’s pain also.