dhampyresa: Paris coat of arms: Gules, on waves of the sea in base a ship in full sail Argent, a chief Azure semé-de-lys Or (fluctuat nec mergitur)
Gather round. It's time for me to go tl;dr about the Paris Commune.

A lot has been made of the Paris Commune, for various reasons -- mostly because it's where Marx derived the term "communism" from -- and it's been romanticised a lot. I'll say upfront that I'm not exempt from said romanticisation, but I'll try to be as objective as possible (keyword being "try"). I don't doubt there's much better historical scholarship on the Commune than what I'm about to write, but I've got a book of collected and contextualised first-hand accounts ("La Commune de Paris racontée par les Parisiens") next to me and I'm ready to roll.

So let's roll! )

No lie, "The Paris Commune survives somehow" is right up there with "Carthage wins the Punic Wars" as far as my favourite alternate history scenario go.

* Louise Michel's really rad. She asked to be shot along with the rest of the Communards -- "Puisqu'il semble que tout cœur qui bat pour la liberté n'a droit aujourd'hui qu'à un peu de plomb, j'en réclame ma part" ("Since it seems every heart that fights for liberty is today given only lead, I demand my share") -- was deported to New Caledonia, sides with the Kanaks against the French government, returns to Paris accalimed by the crowd (shouting "Vive la Commune!" and "Down with the assassins!") and becomes an anarchist. She never stopped fighting. Podcast on Louise Michel (in French).

(I'm also really fond of La danse des bombes, a song based on a poem by Louise Michel.)

dhampyresa: (Quit killing people)
For [personal profile] hokuton_punch . (I'm sorry I forgot about the talking meme for a while there. All posts forthcoming, I swear.)

I have a whole historical tl;dr post about Mehmed, Radu and Vlad, as well as some more talk about the time period (15th century Wallachia/Ottoman Empire)/what Vlad and Mehmed might be like without Radu in this reading wednesday post (under La croisade des Carpathes).

Long story short: Radu cel Frumos is the youngest brother to Vlad the Impaler. As children they were sent as hostages to the Ottoman Empire, where they met Mehmed. Despite a rocky start (RADU STABBED HIM AND RAN UP A TREE), Radu and Mehmed fall in love. Then they go to war against Vlad, somewhere in there Constantinople becomes Istanbul and biological warfare is invented.

Here's the bit I have to confess that I know less about Mehmed and Radu than I do about Vlad, because Vlad being "Dracula" was my in into this part of history, but I'll try my best to talk some more about Mehmed and Radu anyway.

A thing I've seen coming up over and over again in fiction about the period, mostly in regards to Vlad -- because Vlad is the one that's had the most fiction written about him, because "Dracula" -- but occasionally in regards to Radu as well, is that they were sexually abused as children while with the Ottomans. (Looking at you Helsing, looking at you Chronicles of Legion*, etc.) As far as I can tell from primary sources there's no evidence of this. So unless I missed something, a bunch of authors just decided to add this. Because I guess being torn away from your family and held hostage against your country's nominal freedom is not a tragic enough backstory (so let's add some shitty, xenophobic clichés).

At least a few of these work actually conflate Murad and Mehmed (for those keeping score at home: Murad is Mehmed's father), in which case I can see why 'Radu gets into a relationship with the Sultan' could get really creepy. On the other hand, while I'm not saying there wasn't any power imbalance in the Mehmed/Radu relationship -- because there was -- the actual age difference is only about five years and sources seem to point at the relationship being Radu's idea, past that initial STABBED HIM AND RAN UP A TREE incident.

I don't think the Mehmed/Radu relationship was as straightforward as "they were in ~love" or "Mehmed pressured Radu into it". Most notably it's hard to tell how Radu felt both on account of how there aren't that many sources and how if Radu had any reservations about it he sure as well wasn't gonna say anything. What I'm pretty confident about is that Mehmed, at least, really loved Radu. Look. Mehmed was married four times and he had a harem yet his relationship with Radu is a constant for years.

But let's take a step back from the personal and look at the political for a moment.

I don't think it'd be much of a surprise to tell you that religious wars were all the rage in the Balkans in the 15th century. Christendom hates the Ottomans because they're Muslims, the Ottomans hate Christendom because it's not, the Orthodox hate the Catholics who hate the Orthodox (and prettymuch everyone hates on the Jews, big sursprise there). It's basically a clusterfuck/powderkeg of proto-nationalistic sentiment, xenophobia and religious fanaticism. In other words: if people aren't killing each other left and right, it's because veryone's already dead.

Mehmed conquering Constantinople in 1453 does nothing to help matters, obviously. But 1463 is when it gets interesting.

In 1463, Mehmed publishes an edict that reads "I, sultan Mehmet, inform the entire world that those who posses these imperial edicts, the Bosnia Fransiscans, are in my good graces and do hereby command: let nobody bother or disturb neither those mentioned nor their churches. Let them dwell in peace in my empire. And let those who have become refugees be allowed to do so and be safe. Let them return and let them settle in their monasteries without fear in all countries of my empire". It's not the first time Mehmed's tried to calm down religious tensions in his empire (there are sources that go back at least to the fall of Constantinople), but it's the first time he's made it official. I would be very very surprised if Radu had nothing to with any of this.

In 1462, Radu gets to become voivode of Wallachia by taking the title from Vlad, with Ottoman backing. If getting into a relationship with Mehmed was political gamble, it's one that paid off. (But he could have ran away to Vlad and Vlad would have taken him in -- for sure before the Night Attack, and maybe even after -- and he didn't.)

The other explanation for Radu's loyalty to the Ottomans is Stockholm Syndrome and/or the Ottoman devshirme brainwashing. Radu is five years old when he gets to the Ottoma court. Children taken by the devshirme are usually six years old -- then they get brainwashed into loyal Ottoman janissaries. (The Ottoman Empire is really good at making janissaries.) That Radu end up as Janissary commander would lend weight to this.

Rau might have loved Mehmed too. After all, Vlad was there, at the beginning, and I find it very hard to believe Vlad would burn down Earth and Heaven if he thought he needed to to protect his brother. (See for example how he treated the boyards who tortured and murderd his brother Mircea.) Vlad never attacked Mehmed personally, though. Even during the Night Attack, where Vlad conducted the reconnaissance HIMSELF, Mehmed wasn't killed.

In all likelihood, Mehmed did love Radu, but Radu's feelings for him were a complicated mess of love, Stockholm syndrome and political gambling. We'll never know for sure, but it sure is interesting.

*I'm actually posting this now, before I do a review of Chronicles of Legion, because Chronicles of Legion is basically ALL VLAD AND RADU ALL THE TIME (+ body horror and vampires).

dhampyresa: (Quit killing people)
*dodges fish*

I kid. I just dug up some history tl;dr I wrote a while back, so I'm just going to copy-paste it here, in case it's of interest to anyone.

(Okay, so basically every time I’m going to ask people to talk to me, shit is going to get in my way? Okay, then.)

Favorite female historical figure

Dido of Carthage )

Historical figure I never expected to like as much as I do

Fucking Augustus, man )
dhampyresa: (Sarcasm shall be the way)
Alright everybody settle down, it's story time! I'm going to talk to you about the Arthurian legend as I know it in the hope of making you see how wrong on the internet you are.

But first, some context: my first memory of anything Arthuriana related is being wee (let's say six years old or so) and reading a book. I'm pretty sure the book was La Forêt aux 100 sortilèges or at the very least another from that line of illustrated choose-your-own-adventure books. I was reading the book and I stopped. I carried the book all the way to where my mother was, taking care not to lose  my place.

The book was wrong.

On the double-page spread, one I can still see in my mind, the choice you had to make was how to save an emprisonned knight of the round table. So far, so good, right? No, because Morgane had put him there and that simply couldn't be right. I mean, water is wet, fire burns, Morgane is good, everyone knows that.

So I asked what was wrong with the book, why was Morgane evil in it? "Sometimes, in books, Morgane is evil."

That was the moment I started paying attention to Arthurian legend(s).

What's interesting to me, though, is that I have absolutely no recollection of ever learning about Morgane, Viviane and Merlin before this incident -- it was just of those immutable facts of the universe that you just know. Because of this, there are moments in what I'm going to retell where I could tell you who told me (my uncle, my grandma, my great-uncle, that one dude from [town on the other side of Brittany where they get the story wrong]...), but mostly I can't, so you'll just have to take my word for it that that's how the story goes.

(I don't know if you've ever tried to build a narrative out of oral tradition, but it's hard and I'm no Elias Lönnrot. Also, I translating from French and breton French at that, so cut me some slack. Seams are gonna show.)

In which Morgane is good and Merlin is not AS IT SHOULD BE )

Okay, that should cover most of it, I think. (Also the Fisher King/le roi pecheur is Perceval's grandfather.)

dhampyresa: (Bad Wolf)
Today, I'm going to talk about one fascinating episode of French history.

The year is 1764 and the place is Gévaudan, a cozy little region in the south of France.

The Beast of Gévaudan's first official victim was killed on June 30.

Three years of terror, murders and unkillable Beasts follow )


I'm not saying it was werewolves, but...
dhampyresa: (Quit killing people)
Following the 101 primer,I will now answer some follow-up questions.

Does anybody know why Hannibal didn't march on Rome when he could? And also exactly under what circumstances did Hannibal and Scipio die the same year, were they in completely different places fighting other people or..?


Why did Scipio's relationship with Rome get sour?

Delenda Carthago est! )

How come Scipio and Hannibal didn't cross paths in that last war of theirs?

Not An Expert TM )

Childhood shenanigans of yore?
dhampyresa explains the First Punic War )

Could you tell us more about Hannibal's family? Like, his father got a kingdom in Spain?

The family )

The kingdom in Spain )

Also, what do you think the powers that be in Carthage think was going to happen with Rome? In not helping Hannibal there, they passed up on an opportunity to storm Rome and possibly crush their enemy. Were they that certain of their ultimate victory in the conflict? Was it just unthinkable to them that Rome would win?

Psychology of Carthage, Rome and Hannibal )

What did they look like? How do you picture them for shipping purposes?

100% legit scholarship )

Are there other members of Hannibal's army named besides Maharbal and his brothers Hasdrubal & Mago?

Meet the people who are even worse at names than the Romans )

I have feelings. SEND HELP.
dhampyresa: (Quit killing people)
I am here to talk about the clusterfuck that is the Vlad Tepes/Mehmed the Conqueror/Radu cel Frumos relationship.

I hope you will forgive the informal tone of this and any possible mistakes, because it's not my area of expertise (for a given value of expertise), but I will try my best to explain why this period of Wallachian/Ottoman histoy is super interesting!

Said period being the 15th century )

So there you have it. This is what Wallachia/the Ottoman Empire looked like in the 15th century.

And now I will go meet with some friends and then see Mad Max:Fury Road in theaters for the fifth time.
dhampyresa: (Default)
There was a war for the throne of France, and all three contenders were named Henri! There. Done.

Long story:
The War of the Three Henris )

FRENCH HISTORY, EVERYONE! It's not just a mess in the XIXth century.
dhampyresa: (Quit killing people)
So I ended up writing a 2k primer on Hannibal Barca and Scipio Africanus yesterday, ending at about midnight last night, which is why it only occurs to me now to share it with y'all. Because, you know, I have a lot about feelings about these two? And now you can have context!

(Because not everyone is as familiar with generals from the Second Punic War as you are, dhampyresa. I mean, seriously. It probably says a lot about me that the only thing I had to look up for this was troop numbers at Trebbia.)

I ship it so very hard, btw )

So yeah, that's the story of Hannibal Barca and Scipio Africanus.

I skipped a lot of stuff, like the thing with the oxen and did you see how much I glossed over Ilipa? Ilipa! I love Ilipa! It's my favourite after Cannae. Plus, I, like, gave zero background on the political landscape of Rome and/or Carthage at the times and didn't talk at all about strategies or troop movements or or or! This is very abridged, but hopefully still gets to the core of the story.

(Some follow-up questions)

But hey! Have some links for sticking with me all this time:
A post where I talk about why I ship them
A movie where Alexander Siddig is Hannibal
Some cartoons explaining the Punic Wars
A song about Hannibal
One of my favourite poems which takes place immediately before Trebbia

Also! Have I mentionned yet that the meeting at Ephesus has been described as "Hannibal discreetly courting Scipio? Because it was.

So there you go, then.
dhampyresa: (Quit killing people)

[personal profile] sineala : I wish to hear all about your love for Hannibal and Scipio (or Hannibal/Scipio, as the case may be).

Hannibal, Scipio and me )

TL;DR: If you don't think Hannibal and Scipio faked their deaths to run away together, you're WRONG WRONG WRONG OMG HOW CAN ANYONE BE SO WRONG?


dhampyresa: (Default)

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