Monday, December 22, 2008

Bits of History

Speaking of the Fourteenth Century, which some historians have compared to our own Twentieth (that's the last one, not the 21st--this is yet to unfold), and of Religion and Chivalry, the dominant political idea of the ruling class, in A Distant Mirror, Barbara Tuchman writes:

King Arthur's knights adventured for the right against dragons, enchanters, and wicked men, establishing order in a wild world. So their living counterparts were supposed, in theory, to serve as defenders of the Faith, upholders of justice, champions of the oppressed. In practice, they were themselves the oppressors, and by the 14th century the violence and lawlessness of men of the sword had become a major agency of disorder. When the gap between ideal and real becomes too wide the system breaks down...the sword is returned to the lake... Violent, destructive, greedy, fallible as he may be, man retains his vision of order and resumes his search.

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