Once upon a time, there was a colony that revolted against its ancestral kings and established itself as a republic. The people of the former colony constituted a government in which the men of the republic voted for their administrative officials by tribe, each of which was determined geographically, not ethnically or by kinship groups. Having established a government, the new state began extending its authority by conquest and trade, until eventually it controlled a vast region previously occupied by multiple peoples, including several older empires. Although citizenship was initially limited to the members of the founding tribes, over the centuries, as more and more nations were absorbed (or coerced) into the empire, the franchise was extended even to those whose ancestors had no association whatsoever with the founding of the state. These new citizens saw themselves as fully “native,” regardless of where they came from, within or without the empire. They adopted the language and
1. When white women (see Marie de France and Eleanor of Aquitaine) invented chivalry and courtly love , white men agreed that it was better for knights to spend their time protecting women rather than raping them, and even agreed to write songs for them rather than expecting them to want to have sex with them without being forced. 2. When white men who were celibate (see the canon lawyers and theologians of the twelfth century and thereafter) argued that marriage was a sacrament valid only if both the man and the woman consented , white men exerted themselves to become good husbands rather than expecting women to live as their slaves. 3. When white women (see Christine de Pizan, Mary Wollstonecraft, and the suffragettes) invented feminism , white men supported them (see John Stuart Mill) and even went so far as to vote (because only men could vote at the time) to let them vote, not to mention hiring them as workers and supporting their education. And before you start telling me a
I miss the good old days. You remember. Back when the only thing people knew about the Middle Ages is that they were Dark and filled with evil barons wresting a living off the back of their serfs, not to mention lecherous clergy imprisoning young maidens so as to rape them and then accuse them of witchcraft. You remember, right? What it was like when the Middle Ages were Dark? The Roman Catholic Church made slaves of everyone, stripped them of their sense of dignity and independence and made social status a matter not of achievement, but birth. The Church hated science and industry and did everything in its power to keep people in chains. It guarded its authority with the sword and the stake, stifled all innovation, and fed the common people lies. And why were these Ages so Dark? There were no universities, no towns, only castles with dungeons. Monks huddled in their cells thinking dark thoughts about sin, while Vikings stormed across the countryside, raping and pillaging and ca
Professor Kim READ FIRST: Why Dorothy Kim Hates Me , The Color of the House of the Lord It’s back to class for those of us who teach in medieval studies, and my medievalist colleague Dorothy Kim , Assistant Professor of English at Vassar College ( pictured in 2014 ), wants to make sure you understand the stakes . The medieval western European Christian past is being weaponized by white supremacist/white nationalist/KKK/nazi extremist groups who also frequently happen to be college students. That does sound bad. But, wait, it gets worse! Don’t think western European medieval studies is exceptional.... ISIS/ISIL also weaponizes the idea of the pure medieval Islamic past in their recruiting rhetoric for young male Muslims. If the medieval past (globally) is being weaponized for the aims of extreme, violent supremacist groups, what are you doing, medievalists, in your classrooms? Because you are the authorities teaching medieval subjects in the classroom, you are, in fact, ide
Imagine being Chaucer before The Canterbury Tales . Nobody you know writes poetry in English . Certainly nobody you know writes poetry in English in iambic pentameter. For centuries, the literati have written in Latin (or French), but you, Chaucer, have the idea of writing in English. (Middle English, for you literary types.) Great literature. High symbolism. Various characters in all their embarrassing and heroic complexity. Except you do it in English. Even worse, you do it in rhyming, metered verse. Your first effort involves an animal allegory — a parliament of birds . Nobody reads it. (Well, not as many as you’d hoped!) So you seek adventure in other ways. And lose all your clothes gambling. Which means you end up on a road somewhere in France, naked, trudging. When a not-knight comes along with his fellow servants and rescues you, if you will forge for him patents of nobility. You spend the next year writing heraldic introductions for him and proofs that he is of the nobility .