Oracle of History

Guiding you through the ages

Vive La Révolution!

Most people know about the bloody revolution that overthrew the monarchy in France, but not everyone knows the gory details. There is more than meets the eye to this legendary event in european history.

Warning 

The subject matter I am going to discuss may upset people with weak stomaches and sensitive dispositions. You were warned!

Mme la Guillotine

The woman, the myth, the legend.

La Guillotine became the infamous torture device that would become the one player in the Revolution to outlive them all! 

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Originally created by a French surgeon and a German engineer, it was popularized during the French Revolution as an equalizer. Before the Revolution, the poorer you were, the more gruesome your execution was. When the monarchy was overthrown, the Guillotine became the “humane” way to execute everyone, making them all equal in death.

It may seem odd, but this was one of the justifications for the reign of terror, leading to the death of around 20,000 people. At least  3000 of those were executed in the heart of Paris on the Place de la Concorde. In fact, there were so many executions that they needed to constantly move the Guillotine to stop it from sinking into the soggy ground.

….you can imagine the rest.

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What makes this all so intriguing is that the French government still used the Guillotine as a public form of execution until 1939. The last private one was in 1977!

Public execution in 1896

Public execution in 1896

That is truly keeping their bloody past alive!

MTV Cribs, French Royalty edition  

Joking aside, French Royalty were in pretty big trouble by the time the Revolution came around.

Why?

Because they were spending more than they could afford and letting poor people starve to death.

This is a pretty simplistic way of looking at it, but here are 3 main reasons why the French had had enough :

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The French Royalty were spending more than they could afford! France was broke after being involved in two expensive wars – the 100 Years War and the American Revolution. Yet they were still building castles and having feasts. This was in contrast to the general populace who were starving!

Deux  

Natural disasters and bad weather lead to a really poor crop yield that year. This nearly tripled the price of every day bread, meaning that only the rich could afford to buy it.

This is why rumors had spread that the current queen, Marie Antoinette, had reacted to the news that the people were starving with “Let them eat cake.”

I am here to debunk that rumor. She never said that and there is no proof that she ever did. The quote comes from the Confessions by French writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau in which an anonymous noblewoman vents. The book was actually written in 1778 – a whole year before she supposedly said it.

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All were not equal. The lower classes were 98% of the population, but they had no power in comparison to the nobility and the clergy.

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These three factors created a ticking time bomb that only needed a little nudging for an explosion!

Back to the Future

If you’re ever in Paris and interested in seeing remains of the city from the French Revolution then I would definitely suggest wandering around the Latin Quarter. 

Why there?

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Well, Paris had a major revamping in the 1860s, making it the uniform like city that we know today. Before that, the city was still in the medieval state with narrow and winding streets. The problem with that layout was that it allowed the city to be very dirty, facilitating the spread of crime and disease.

During the French Revolution, these narrow streets also made it very easy to create a barricade.

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Thus the success of the Jacobins!

Bonus

For those of you who are actually interested in a brief break down of the French Revolution here is a good recap to put this post in context :

 

What have the Romans ever done for us?!

Some people may have noticed that the scientific/archaeological/historical community has gone a little crazy recently due to the discovery of a large amount of lead in the ground in an archaeological area of the city of Rome.

What does this mean?

Nothing at all. To be honest, this discovery only serves to confirm what we’ve known for a very long time. Life expectancy was very short in the time of the Roman Empire.

Much like the Second World War and asbestos, lead was used on everything during the time of the Ancient Romans. This was before science could have informed them of the unhealthy effects – like death. That’s why I am so unsurprised by the findings. Lead pipes were an essential building material back then, especially for aqueducts and their elaborate plumbing system.

It really reminds me of this :

The argument seems to be that this is a main reason for the fall of the Roman Empire. Although I’ve seen plenty of  counter arguments, emphasizing that there is no indication of deterioration of mental or physical health as a result of leaded water.

Inbreeding within the senatorial elite took care of that.

Caligula : The poster child against inbreeding

Caligula : The poster child against inbreeding

This topic was of double interest to me because I’m currently reading the book Pompeii by Robert Harris. It’s about a young Aquarius, the engineer in charge of an aqueduct, and his quest to repair an aqueduct, while racing against the clock before Vesuvius erupts. The interesting part is the detailed description of how the plumbing system works.

Now, I know the book is fictional, but the research seems reasonably solid. I was struck by how impressive these structures were, but also how fragile the system was. One breach along an aqueduct and the whole thing goes down with a bang.

Quite a gamble!

The point is that everything back then was dangerous and finding extra lead in the ground is the not the Rosetta Stone to the fall of the Roman Empire.

Bonus

From Zero to Hero: The Birth of Superheroes

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In the era of the superhero franchise, many don’t seem to know the historical backdrop that led to the stardom of some of the world’s most iconic characters.

Prepare for your minds to be blown!

The truth is that some of these guys became superhero giants for a reason. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether it’s due to content or just good timing.

Holding Out For A Hero

Let me take you back to 1933, a year many high schoolers may know as the year of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. It was also the year the character of Superman was created by two young men from Cleveland Ohio, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

What do these two events have to do with each other?

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Well, this may surprise you, but I can make a direct connection between the rise of Hitler and the popularization of Superman. The main ingredient? The need for hope!

Picture the scene – Adolf Hitler, practically a nobody, blitzes through Europe and manages to create an entire doctrine based on fear…successfully.

By the time 1939 came around, no one had managed to stop him. He was the ultimate villain who had yet to face his superhero arch nemesis. A fact which may have been troubling to the children of the U.S.A whose only interaction with the man was through the radio news bulletins.

In fact, some may argue that if Hitler had successfully taken over Europe that his next stop would have been the U.S.

BONUS : If you want an idea of what a Nazi controlled U.S. would have looked like then I would definitely check out the mini series “The Triangle.” It’s about the Bermuda Triangle and although it is a mediocre show I would watch it for the one scene with the alternate universe of Nazi America – Super trippy and scary!

Thankfully, Superman comes onto the scene as a comic book in 1938. A natural superhero, his mighty powers and caring heart make him the perfect specimen of American creativity to defeat the evil Hitler – well, the idea of him at least!

Thus hope was born once again!

Although it is not said explicitly, I truly believe that the reason why Superman became as popular as he did was because he managed to bring hope to children and adults alike during a dark time in world history.

Captain America 

Much like Superman, quite a few people dislike Captain. His backstory isn’t dark and he gains his strength in hope – not in revenge.

Once again I will shatter your illusions and tell you that he is a dirScreen Shot 2014-04-17 at 13.45.32ect response to World War 2. When the character first appeared in 1941, he was an instant success. Mostly because he symbolized the troops still fighting.

If Captain America could defeat the Axis villains then so could the fathers/brothers/husbands out there now.

To prove my point, check out this great cartoon from Dorkly that could say it better than I ever could.

This is all to say that there is more to these “bland” characters than meets the eye – at least from a historical perspective.

The Aftermath

So what happened after World War 2?

Well, people got more cynical. They were disillusioned by their government through easily accessible information via television and a propaganda free press. The Vietnam War changed the way Americans saw warfare forever.

Children and Adults were no longer looking for their perfect warrior. They wanted heroes that were more like them – with flaws and all.

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This paves the way for characters like Batman, Spiderman and even Iron Man. These were superheroes they could relate to. “Normal” guys who had to rise from the ashes after great tragedy. There is also a moral ambiguity to these characters that show that they’re human.

Except for the fact that both Batman and Iron Man were billionaires, I see their point.  I think one of the reasons Batman is still so popular today is that he lives in a world that’s not so different from our own, but with gadgets and crazy villains!

In the same way, Spiderman is about a teenage boy who gets bitten by a radioactive spider. His story is the fantasy of every bored high school student. Thus the popularity of spidey grew!

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Bottom line, we like to feel connected to fictional characters, and after World War 2 we no longer aspired to the super soldier.

We were looking for the hero we deserve 😉

Do you think we’ve found it?

Bonus

Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag, A History : A Pirates Life For Me!

With the release of the trailer for Assassin’s Creed Unity, the new game set at the time of the French Revolution, I decided to delve back into my series on the history behind the Assassin’s Creed Franchise.

This time, we travel to the golden age of piracy in the early 1700s with stories of buried treasure and debauchery.

NOT.

The truth is, pirates were not as exciting as we make them out to be, but they do have some interesting stories and backgrounds that should be shared with the world.

It takes a particular type of person to lead a life of piracy so let’s discover who these people really are.

Note : Most of the information below will be in the video above, but there will be some extra facts that didn’t make it so if you’re really interested – Read on!

DISCLAIMER

All of this information is based on a book called “A General History of Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates” by one Captain Charles Johnson.

Some historians believe that Captain Johnson is actually Daniel Defoe, the author of Robinson Crusoe. Therefore, there’s a fair chance that some of this is made up.

If that’s the case, then he should be applauded for his expansive imagination.

Blackbeard 

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Real name : Edward Teach

He terrorized sailors on the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea from 1716 – 1718.

As a privateer, his patroness was Queen Anne of Britain. This gave him leave to plunder and destroy any French or Spanish ships in his way. It was also why he named his ship Queen Anne’s Revenge.

Now it’s important to know that these three countries (Britain, France and Spain) were constantly at odds with each other over disputed territory in the new world. Sailors who knew the regions well were often hired out to serve on behalf of their country.

Thus privateers were born! To sweeten the deal, privateers were allowed to keep any plunder they “found.”

As you can tell, the line between pirate and privateer is thin.

Black beard had a very specific technique when he boarded an enemy ship. It was his signature. He would kill the man behind the wheel first, from far away, then board the ship up close. This would stop the ship, and the plunder, from getting too far away once they were locked in battle.

He was one of the most feared pirates during the golden age with many different conflicting rumors on how evil he was. Some said it was all artifice, with him putting rope in his hat to look demonic. Others swore that he cut off the fingers of those captives who refused to give over their loot.

Finally, he died in battle after the Governor of the Bahamas crashed his retirement party.

Benjamin Hornigold 

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He began his career, as a privateer, as second in command under Blackbeard. He was a British pirate from 1715 – 1718.

After that, he changed sides and became a pirate hunter, betraying his friends and mentor.

In a weird turn of events,  he died in 1719 after he was shipwrecked against a reef during a hurricane.

Some may say karma, but who really knows….

Jack Rackham a.k.a Calico Jack 

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He was Quartermaster under Charles Vane before he got a ship of his own.

After years of piracy, he was pardoned by the Governor of New Providence. While he was there, he managed to find time, in between trips to the brothel, to lure the young Anne Bonny away from her sailor husband.

Thus begins the greatest love story ever told!

He was the only pirate captain to have two females on board, but that’s an other story.

An other interesting fact about Calico Jack is that the modern symbol for piracy, the Jolly Roger, was his flag.

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Each pirate had their own recognizable symbol to strike fear and recognition in the heart of their enemies.

Supposedly, when Blackbeard raised his flag. Everyone surrendered.

Charles Vane 

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He was infamous for being cruel, reckless and ignoring the pirate code.

There’s not much more to say about him, but there is one funny story.

Charles Vane was shipwrecked on an abandoned island, left to die.

A Royal Navy ship happened to pass by and Vane asked for passage to the closest port, but the captain immediately recognized him and chose to leave him on the island to die as punishment for his crimes.

Soon after, a second ship passed and saw the wreckage. This time, he was not recognized and managed to get on board. Unluckily for him, ship number 2 bumped into ship number 1, revealing his true identity.

He basically had the worse luck in the world.

Anne Bonny

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She was the bastard daughter of the maid and master of the house. To save her family from embarrassment, she was dressed as a boy and introduced as a cousin.

Due to her odd upbringing, she became sort of the wild child, sleeping around and hanging around sailors. This is how she met her husband and later her lover Calico Jack.

She apparently tore apart mannequins and used animal blood to stage murder. No wonder the merchants were terrified of her!

We must take a step back, however, and remember that history is often written by men. This means that women are often characterized as either pure matrons or wild succubi. There is no middle ground, but as a woman I can say that most of us are more complicated than that.

When Calico Jack was sentenced to be hanged, his last wish was to speak to Anne Bonny. Ever the sentimentalist, Anne Bonny’s last words to Calico Jack were : “If you had fought like a man, you need not have been hang’d like a dog.”

I think that really sums up her state of being : fierce

James Kidd / Mary Read 

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As a kid, Mary Read was dressed as a boy and rented out to rich households as a servant to help her family make ends meet.

At the age of 13 she secured herself a position as a gun powder boy on a ship, starting her career on the high seas. From then on she went by the pseudonym James Kidd.

Nobody suspected her because she “swore like a sailor” and was always the first to volunteer for dangerous tasks.

She was so convincing that Anne Bonny developed a crush on her. Scared of being found out, Mary Read was forced to reveal her sexe to Anne. She supposedly revealed her breasts as proof.

The two women became even closer as a result and according to some (male) historians they became lovers *rolls eyes.* This sparked the jealousy of Calico Jack to the point of murder. To stop an incident from happening, Mary was forced, once again, to reveal herself.  She supposedly revealed her breasts a second time.

Despite the sexism of the time, both women thrived in this environment, becoming part of a legacy of strong women in history.

Just for fun 

Happy Pirating 🙂

Medieval Manners 101 – Ignoring the giant monkey in the room

Every once in a while I decide to explore a museum by myself and it always leads me down a rabbit hole of adventure.

That’s because history = FUN

The lucky winner today was the Musée de Cluny!

It’s a medieval museum on the grounds of an old abbey in the middle of historic Paris.

What I love about the middle ages is that this period in history was like Game of Thrones, but so much better because it’s real.

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My trip to the museum reminded me of how crazy those lords and ladies could be. So I thought I would share the crazy.

Lady of the Unicorn 

The Cluny Museum is actually famous for having this mysterious tapestry of a woman with a unicorn. There are 6 panels – 5 of which actually illustrate the 5 senses.

The sixth is, however, a mystery. The label reads “A mon seul désir,” which basically means “This is my only desire.” The woman is leaving a tent and giving away an expensive looking necklace.

What does this mean? Nobody knows! Investigations must be made, I think.

What struck me the most, however, was the fact that the tapestries featured many different animals that you don’t normally see in medieval imagery.

The unicorn is an obvious one, but each panel also featured a monkey!

I was listening to an audio guide while I was looking at the Lady (and her menagerie) when I noticed that the guide completely skipped over the fact that there are monkeys in the tapestry!

No mention of symbolism or significance – nothing!

So let’s play a game.

I’m going to show you pictures of the tapestry. Let’s see how many you can find.

Bonus if you can tell me the significance 😉

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Sense of Touch

My only desire

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Sense of hearing

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Sense of smell

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Sense of sight

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Sense of taste

Monks are people too!  

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Have you ever had to stand and pray for hours at a time?

I’m guessing not.

Those poor medieval monks did though…

Which is why I was pleasantly surprised to see that they cheated!

Yes, as you can see, they had a very small ledge on the underside of their folding chairs so that they could rest, while still looking like they’re standing up.

Genius!

Where old meets….old (?!)

One of the cool things about this museum is that it actually takes up three buildings. One of which is an old Roman bath!

Note : The French are very picky about their ancient Roman history and say “gallo-romain,” which specifies to the roman province of gaul. It’s their equivalent of saying Roman Britain.

There is actually a room where you can see the divide in between the medieval abbey and the Roman baths.

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Roman Wall

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Medieval fortifications (Roman wall behind me)

I think it’s very cool that you can see the fluidity of change and how we reuse urban space over time.

Bonus picture! 

There was a part of the museum that showcased tapestries that are meant to represent the daily life of the nobility. 

I came across this gem :

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Sorry for the poor quality, but as you can see it’s a woman taking a bath with a bunch of people around her, including musicians.

All I could think when I saw this was how awkward it must have been like this :

Farewell Lords and Ladies, until next time!

  

“Lovers are like bees in that they live a honeyed life,” and other wisdom from Pompeii

The quote in the title is quite ironic, considering that we all know what happened to the city of Pompeii. It’s actually a graffiti preserved by the ashes of Vesuvius.

They were poets back then too!

If you didn’t realize already, last night I went to see the movie Pompeii, with Kit Harington and Emily Browning.

Let me just begin by saying that it was an entertaining movie. It’s a summer blockbuster…in winter. I’m not sure why they decided to release a fictionalized story about the last hours of the city, but there it is.

NOTE : If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, be ready to see Jon Snow all grown up – shiny 6 pack and all.

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Nothing wrong with a little bit of eye candy, but as a history nerd it is my duty to point out the major historical inaccuracies.

You’re welcome 🙂

S.P.Q.P – For the Senate and People of….Pompeii? 

One glaring thing that basically ruined the entire movie for me was the supposed warfare between the people of Pompeii and that of Rome.

Emily Browning’s character, Cassia, says “I am not a Roman – I am a citizen of Pompeii.”

Now it’s true that the Romans were not always appreciated, particularly in those provinces under direct Roman rule. However, if you were within the boundaries of the Empire, not a slave, and born to a Roman family – you were a Roman citizen.

early roman society

Her family was also very wealthy and her father was clearly the government official of Pompeii. This would have meant that he either was educated in Rome or was sent to Pompeii for his diplomatic posting.

So no matter how much you whine Cassia, you are still a Roman citizen!

That’s all I have to say.

Purple is more than just a color 

Purple was the color of the Emperor and Senatorial elite.

So why was this guy wearing it?

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This is the best photo I could find, but his tunic underneath his armour is purple.

NOTE: Senators wore white togas with a purple sash. Emperors could wear entirely purple outfits.

He seems to be neither.

 Just for fun 

If you haven’t already, I would highly suggest you look at this list of Pompeii Graffiti – it’s hilarious, but NSFW so beware!  The brothel graffiti is especially funny!

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All in all, the movie was entertaining, but the historical reality is so much more interesting!

Did Mulan Really Defeat the Huns?

With the popularity of Frozen I thought it would be a good idea to take a step back and look at one of the most badass Disney Princesses out there: Mulan.

Mulan

Is she real?

Well, unfortunately the only “proof” we have that she existed was an ancient Chinese ballad/poem that we think was written sometime between 386 and 533 A.D. (Wei Dynasty).

Since it is a folk tale, there are countless interpretations of the story. In simplistic terms you can say it’s China’s version of the story of the fall of Troy.

No one knows if it really happened, but it’s a nice story with a moral lesson.

So what is the Legend of Mulan trying to teach us?

Like any good folk tale, the story of Mulan is meant to impart an important moral lesson. In this case, honor your family and your country, preferably at the same time. Not everyone will have the courage to join a war to save their father, but it does make it clear what the values were at the time.

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The original poem has an obvious sexist tinge to it that isn’t as present in the Disney movie, which is a good thing. For one, Mulan’s name is rarely used in the poem. She is referred to as “daughter” most of the time. The story also opens with her weaving and ends with her doing similar female approved activities, returning to her role as female of the household.

This wouldn’t have upset as much if it weren’t for the fact that she supposedly spent 12 years in the army without being caught – yes, 12 years and was only discovered because her old army buddies came to visit her later.  You would have thought that she would have had issues with re-adapting to female life, but it was as if she were unchanged by the experience.

I don’t know about Mulan, but when I hang around guys a lot I develop similar mannerisms and habits – as you would with any group of friends.  So, excuse me as I suspend my disbelief for a second.

That being said, in the legend, Mulan is already versed in martial arts and horseback riding thanks to her father. So she didn’t really need to be whipped into shape like in the Disney version, but it did produce a kickass song!

Of course, this is meant to tell little girls that you can bring honor to your family, as long as you go back to your assigned gender roles once you’re done.

I think the big draw of the Disney movie is that it gives a positive role model for young girls without being preachy. Mulan chooses to go to war to protect her father, but she also grows as a person through this experience.

The poem is obviously revolutionary, telling the story of a girl who disguises herself as a boy and is successful, but the character feels fairly static. A vessel to teach a moral lesson. It’s a common storytelling tool from the past, mostly because this was the only way to really ram in a point. Most people wouldn’t have had enough education to be able to read so ballads were an effective way to spread stories and create popular culture.

In the end, I hope it’s true and if it’s not…

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Making Anime History

I’ve recently gotten back into anime. Maybe it’s the long hours spent in front of the computer, but there is something satisfying about being able to watch a comprehensive story arc in the space of 15 mins or so.

It may also be that I am suffering from a serious case of wanderlust and I’m desperately trying to immerse myself in an other culture.  Subtitles for the win!

Let me preface this by saying that I’m no expert. This is a combination of what I’ve read and what I’ve seen. No hate please!

Anime, Japanese animated films and T.V. shows, are very different from their western equivalent.

Why you may ask?

Well, because their society and culture is entirely different. It also has a very specific style that is supported by an entire industry.

So, where did it come from?

My research has led me to believe that the beginning of the anime industry was during World War 2 when Japanese animators were influenced by the comic strips and cartoons of the west.

Thus Japanese illustrators began to serialise their stories in newspapers. This would later lead to the creation of the manga, which is the Japanese style comic book that is so popular today.

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Soon after, in the 1950s and 60s, animation studios began to appear in Japan with the aim of producing  films that could rival Disney.

Over the years, the style and stories became more refined. Like any industry there are some good ones and some bad ones, but it’s also such a big industry that you can basically find anything you could ever want….and I mean anything….*shudder*

The official “boom” came in the 1980s when many anime T.V. shows were brought to the U.S. and became incredibly popular.

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Sailor Moon is the one of the most obvious examples. I still remember watching Sailor Moon as a kid in the 90s and I lived in France!

What I find the most interesting is that, although the Japanese Anime Industry is independent of the U.S. animation market, there are moments where they are dependent on each other.

For example, the creation of the sequel to Full Metal Alchemist, Brotherhood, was partly attributed to the huge success of the original series in the U.S.

The Japanese studio then realized that success = money.

That being said, it is an entirely different culture. Western parents often think that anime = cartoons, which isn’t necessarily the case. A lot of the time adult themes are openly addressed in these shows.

Currently, I am watching a show called Diabolik Lovers. It’s about a young girl who was groomed by her father, a priest, to serve as a sacrifice for a house full of vampires. She is then sent to live with them.

Yes, yes, I know it sounds awful, but what shocked me the most was the almost rapey nature of the show. These incredibly “attractive” vampires basically force themselves on her while saying things like “I know you want it” and “you can’t get away from me.”

N.B. they are referring to blood sucking and not other things, but the vibe is still super creepy. I wonder if there are any studies on the psychological impact of something like this…

This is in contrast to a show like Vampire Knight, which is about a school that is separated between Day Class students (who are human) and Night Class students (who are vampires). Somehow it’s less creepy. I think it’s because these vampires are shown to have redeeming qualities, distinguishing between “good” and “bad” vampires.

You can already see the difference in the openings!

On the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got shows that are very positive and fluffy. They make you want to puke rainbows!

I’m thinking in particular of something like Uta No Prince-Sama or Brothers Conflict. Both based on Visual Novel games. It’s a reverse harem plot, which means there is one girl surrounded by many guys.  Although the plot lines are always ridiculous, I enjoy watching them because it’s something that is never done in western animation. It’s exotic to me!

Either way, it’s an industry that is very unique. It completely suspends your disbelief.

Guy with green hair? Seems legit.

Love hexagon troubles? Create a boy band.

The cultural heritage of animation is very interesting since it influences children and adults alike. It has even greater power when you think of how it can spread through the internet.

And so, I leave you with one of the more epic anime intros I’ve seen:

And we’ll never be royals (rooooyals!)

I have a thing for historical dramas – it’s an open guilty pleasure. I’m talking more than just Downton Abbey though.

I’ve watched some bad ones in my time…really bad ones…

I actually had a professor at University who was famous for his rant against the movie Troy with Brad Pitt and its historical inaccuracies. I always thought it was funny, as a history student, that anybody would take that movie as fact, but there are some gullible people in this world…

Anyway, the purpose of this post is to have a “Let’s be honest talk” about one such drama.

I’m looking at you, Reign 

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The premise (shamelessly taken from Wikipedia):

Set in 1557 France, the highly fictionalized series follows the life of Mary, Queen of Scots, at French court while she awaits her marriage to the future Francis II of France, to whom she has been engaged since they were six. At court, Mary has to contend with the changing politics and power plays, as well as her burgeoning feelings for Francis and the romantic attentions from Francis’ bastard half-brother, Bash. Francis’ mother, Catherine de’ Medici, is secretly trying to prevent the marriage due to Nostradamus’s prediction that the marriage will lead to Francis’ death. The series also follows the affairs of Mary’s Scottish handmaidens Kenna, Aylee, Lola and Greer, who are searching for husbands of their own at court.

The problem: 

It’s a product of the CW, which means attractive 20-something-year-old actors playing horny teenagers. It’s great if you’re a 14-year-old girl, but not so much if you’re a historian.

The solution:

I will selflessly sacrifice my afternoon to bring you the real story of Mary Queen of Scots and her motley crew.

So let’s begin…

Mary Queen of Scots

REIGN

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  • She was original promised to the English King (Henry VIII)’s son, the future Edward VI
  • Catholics opposed the plan, taking her back to Scotland where they arranged an alliance with France instead (France was a Catholic country)
  • She moved to the courts of France in 1548 (at the age of 5) when she was engaged to the French Dauphin, Francis. She never lived in a convent!
  • She didn’t marry him until 1558, but was only Queen of France for a year. Francis died of an ear infection in 1560
  • Returned to Scotland, married twice and was finally executed in 1587  for suspicion of involvement in an assassination plot against Queen Elizabeth I
  • She was a red head

Sidenote: All the suspicion against Mary was based on the fact that she was Catholic. Ah, religious upheaval…

Francis II 

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  • Son of King Henry II of France and Catherine de Medici
  • He was sickly and weak
  • Took over the throne, at the age of 15, after the accidental death of his father
  • He was only King for 18 months – died at the age of 16 from an infection

Nostradamus 

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  • He wasn’t a young hunk in the court of France
  • He would have been middle aged by the time Mary was in France
  • He was, however, a French apothecary and a seer
  • Famous for his book of prophecies
  • Real name is Michel de Nostredame
  • He did not predict the early death of Francis

Catherine de’ Medici

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  • Her father was the famous Lorenzo de Medici of Florence
  • Nostradamus was not her confidant
  • The King did have an affair, leaving her sidelined until she started producing children
  • Acted as regent for her second son, Charles, who took the throne after Francis died

Ladies in waiting

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  • Yes they most likely existed…
  • ….but their names were most certainly not Lola or Kenna

This is only a fraction of what is wrong, historically, with this show. I just don’t want to bore you will all the details. However, if you’re looking for Pretty Little Liars set in a historical time period then this is the show for you!

Happy viewing 🙂

Back to the Future and other stories

While scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed I came across a funny post courtesy of the geek culture king, George Takei.

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It made me laugh because even though modern fashion can be weird at times, we’re a long way off from wearing that. I have my own issues with 80s fashion anyway so this prediction is pretty funny.

It’s futurism at its best!

For those who don’t know, futurism is when you are concerned with the events and trends of the future, or which anticipate the future.

This made me think, are there any other equally strange predictions out there?

The answer is – oh yes(!), and it’s a beautiful thing! The internet always sends you down a rabbit hole of “wonders.”

So here are a few for your enjoyment:

Artist prompt 

The French artist Villemard drew in the 1910s what he thought the year 2000 would look like.

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Many in the early 1900s thought that the future was in the sky, which isn’t too far from the truth. However, I’m still waiting for my hover car. Get on it science! Also make underwater croquet happen.

It’s American Football…in space! 

There’s not much more to add about this, except that this prediction was made in 1981…

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…what kind of drugs were they smoking, again?

What if Bioshock’s Rapture were real? 

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In the 1960s, it was thought that the next frontier was underwater. Much like the gold rush that moved people to the west coast of the U.S. in the 1800s, engineers believed that a similar thing would happen in the depths of the ocean with oil and other minerals.

They took it so seriously, in fact, that General Motors’ booth at the 1964 World Fair in New York City had an entire exhibit dedicated to underwater home designs (picture above).

And just for laughs….

While researching this topic, I came across this gem. Ads in the 1960s are the best. I always love hate how wonderfully sexist they are! Be sure to watch the other parts too because it only gets better!

Bonus Vid

For the “oldie” in all of us

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