Print Story Sad stories of the death of kings
By TheophileEscargot (Sun Oct 08, 2017 at 02:16:13 AM EST) Reading, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "The Death of King Arthur", "Richard III and the Princes in the Tower". Links.

What I'm Reading
The Death of King Arthur. Poet Simon Armitage translates/adapts a Middle English 1400s poem usually called "Alliterative Morte Arthure" which predates Malory's version.

I had a look at the original but it's frustratingly on the edge of readability: some lines are perfectly intelligible, others use too many unfamiliar words. Just a couple of centuries later and you're in familiar Shakespearian English, but this I think falls over the line.

The poem is quite bloodthirsty with lots of gruesome Homer-esque wound close-ups. There are few supernatural elements apart from prophetic dreams. It deals mostly with a Continental war fought by Arthur against the Roman Emperor "Sir Lucius Iberius" (apparently a historical person who was a Roman official but not an emperor), who foolishly demands tribute from Arthur. Arthur wins the war but trouble has been stirring at home.

The poetry is effective but feels a bit clumsy at times: not sure how much is the translation and how much the original. It's easy to read with a strong Anglo-Saxon-style rhthym.

The poem doesn't feel like a classic: it gets a little repetitive and the characters are sketchily drawn. Overall though it's an intriguing and entertaining read, though rough round the edges.

What I'm Reading 2
Richard III and the Princes in the Tower by A.J. Pollard. Short history of the king that acknowledges uncertainty but basically upholds the standard view. It was written before the body was exhumed, and as was usual points out the lack of contemporary evidence of any deformity, speculating that the hunchback was just a metaphor.

Pollard looks at the likely murder of the two princes and affirms that it was all but certain that Richard had them killed, and that the killing was well outside the norms of the age. It's true that adults who had declared hostility were sometimes killed according to the "laws of battle". Richard was willing to simply have nobles murdered without trial, and in killing actual children under his care was doing something shocking even then.

Other than that he was a capable ruler, and took lots of steps to enforce a fairly neutral justice. It's impossible to say whether this was pure pragmatism or genuine concern, but he remained popular in the North where his power base was, and among the lower classes.

His short and troubled reign didn't give him time to achieve very much: while he seems to have been capable at what he did, he didn't leave behind more than a minor legacy.

Overall a decent history: short, lucidly written and seems to have solid scholarship as far as I can tell. Pollard is an expert on the period not a generalist: it's rare for a specialist to write so well for a mass audience.

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Sad stories of the death of kings | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden)
too many unfamiliar words by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #1 Sun Oct 08, 2017 at 10:27:38 AM EST
In high school we read bits of the Canterbury Tales, the middle english was more understandable when read aloud.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

Imagine there's no countries by priestess (4.00 / 1) #2 Sun Oct 08, 2017 at 03:23:23 PM EST
It's easy if you try.

No social support system or market regulation,
Above us only the ruthless exploitation of global corporations.

Nation states are pretty awful, but we don't seem have anything to replace them with yet and the rule of law is pretty useful most of the time.

Chat to the virtual me...

Depends if corporations can exist without states by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #3 Sun Oct 08, 2017 at 10:47:29 PM EST
The usual left-anarchist line is that corporations cannot exist without states. (E.g. the state enforces property rights, workers could just take over the corporation if the state wasn't there.)
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Hah by Merekat (4.00 / 3) #4 Mon Oct 09, 2017 at 03:05:55 AM EST
Without states, the cost of enforcement for corps would go up ok, but the cost of certain regulations would go down, so corporate militia could simply replace state for things in the interest of corporates.

Left anarchists have their heads in the clouds. The heads of right anarchists are somewhere else entirely.

[ Parent ]
Corporate militia by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 2) #6 Tue Oct 10, 2017 at 12:26:36 AM EST
In right-libertarian/anarcho-capitalist thought, there will be "private security firms" who will enforce property rights and contracts, but not just take over feudalistically despite being militarily powerful and motivated by greed because... reasons?

But in the actual anarchistic societies, while they're not complete utopias; warlords, gangs and corporations don't seem to take over. It's more often totalitarian states that destroy them: the fascists with 1930s Catalonia, the Leninists in 1920s Ukraine.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Actual anarchy? by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #7 Tue Oct 10, 2017 at 02:53:37 AM EST
As you say, we don’t really get a chance to see how long term anarchy plays out. But I predict like every other system to date a drift to tribes formed of whatever is the active currency of power.

[ Parent ]
Works pretty well for Zomia / feudal states too by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #8 Tue Oct 10, 2017 at 07:53:31 AM EST

Iambic Web Certified

[ Parent ]
Rule by private security firms by ucblockhead (4.00 / 2) #9 Tue Oct 10, 2017 at 12:25:44 PM EST
Stephenson's Snow Crash is the best description of it, though I suspect some on the libertarian side miss the satire.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Of course by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #5 Mon Oct 09, 2017 at 10:32:17 AM EST
Nation states didn't replace anarchy...they replaced government by personal rule, i.e. feudalism, and before that, classical imperial rule.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Daughter of Time by ana (4.00 / 1) #10 Wed Oct 11, 2017 at 07:09:39 AM EST
I learned most of what I know about Richard III and the princes from Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. It's interesting that 500+ years later, conclusions about that affair still depend on what color of roses one prefers. It's understandable that Shakespeare's play on the subject blames the House of York, since the Tudors were his patrons (and very much in power).

If I recall correctly, when the body was exhumed recently, R3 did in fact show signs of scoliosis or something such.

I guess my question is this: is there new evidence that's been turned up in the last 40 years or so? I see the book was written in 1951, so 65 years.

Or get rabies. Also don't do that. --scrymarch

I think this book was 1991 by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #15 Sat Oct 14, 2017 at 03:13:16 AM EST
Yes, they recently exhumed the body and found he had scoliosis which explained the hunchback rumours. For as long as I can remember until then historians had been insisting that there was no contemporary evidence of any abnormality and implying that it was just Tudor propaganda. So I'm now assuming all the other cool stuff pooh-poohed by historians is true too...
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Nations by Herring (4.00 / 2) #11 Wed Oct 11, 2017 at 01:17:45 PM EST
I have long suspected that the reason the British tend towards a broader strain of nationalism than other countries is because the border is pretty clear - being the sea.

When I was at Mega Corp, I remember throwing the idea at our team leader - who was Slovak. He was able to go quite a way back in history on what did or didn't constitute Slovakia other the years. Even nations like Italy and Spain are fairly recent inventions.

I realise this is a bit tangential to the argument over whether nation states are a good thing. Personally, I think you have to have some sort of democratic control which is superior to business interests. This is what makes Investor-State Dispute Settlement type agreements feel so dodgy to a lot of people.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

Counterpoint by Dr Thrustgood (4.00 / 1) #12 Thu Oct 12, 2017 at 07:28:36 AM EST
There's just as much stupid nationalism in other countries, it's just their media doesn't have wider coverage thanks to e.g. not being written in English, or majority of people who have such views not speaking good enough English to get into arguments online about it.

I mean, who's going to cover all the Polish papers pushing "Poland for the Polish!" bullshit?

[ Parent ]
Well, by Herring (4.00 / 1) #13 Thu Oct 12, 2017 at 04:23:44 PM EST
that's why I went for "broader" rather than "deeper". There are some extremist nationalist movements in a lot of European countries, but there doesn't seem to be the broad sense of what the nation is that you get in Britain.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
Not a nation by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #14 Fri Oct 13, 2017 at 12:27:53 AM EST
I contend it is not due to being on the island, but having come off it to such a dominant extent and then dwindled back. English nationalism is bigger than the island.

[ Parent ]
Sad stories of the death of kings | 15 comments (15 topical, 0 hidden)