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Old 06-24-2011, 09:18 AM   #1
Galadriel
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What fantasy book have you read that gave you the same 'feel' LotR?

When I read 'Lord of the Rings' I get a distinctive feeling. It's sort of a mixture between nostalgia, bliss and wistfulness. Unfortunately, no other fantasy book has managed to give me the same experience.

What about you?

Edit: Sorry, meant to say 'feel as LotR.'
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Old 06-24-2011, 09:48 AM   #2
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There was no other book that made me feel exactly the same as LOTR (or other legendatium books) did. However, many of Jack London's books made me think about and compare the two authors and what they "try" to make the reader believe, all that different-perspective-thing... They are just as deep/"philosophical" as LOTR, but in a different sense...

But Jack London's stuff isn't really fantasy. More like History Fiction...
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Old 06-24-2011, 09:05 PM   #3
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What fantasy book have you read that gave you the same 'feel' LotR?

The Once and Future King by T.H. White. Funnier and in many ways sadder than Lord of the Rings. In any case, the best modern adaptation of the Arthurian cycle.
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Old 06-26-2011, 06:07 AM   #4
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The Once and Future King by T.H. White. Funnier and in many ways sadder than Lord of the Rings. In any case, the best modern adaptation of the Arthurian cycle.
I'm reading that It's very nice. Though the Robin Hood bit was a tad tiresome
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Old 06-26-2011, 06:31 AM   #5
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Ah the Orkney Faction, the only clan who can compare with the sons of Feanor; and I've always been in love with Morgause

I'm currently eating my words, swallowing Kuru's and reading George R.R.R.R. Martin at delirious speed. The prose isn't pretty but the plot and grandeur of conception is like drowning in Malmsey wine
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Old 06-26-2011, 09:38 AM   #6
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and reading George R.R.R.R. Martin at delirious speed. The prose isn't pretty but the plot and grandeur of conception is like drowning in Malmsey wine
'R.R.R.R Martin'. Lol.

Yes, his plot is very good, though did you really get the same feeling as when you read Lord of the Rings? I found reading ASOIAF very...different. Very dark and dingy.
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Old 06-26-2011, 06:23 PM   #7
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Definitely not. On the other hand few books do, or should, produce in entirety the same feelings as other books

There are some very interesting things Martin actually does better than Tolkien - politics etc - but in all artistic fields he trails
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Old 06-26-2011, 06:37 PM   #8
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Agreeing with Anguirel about Martin doing "politics etc" better I'd like to add that there is a clear difference of the culture and "age" he writes - and a different tradition of fantasy-writing (which was more or less non-existent by the time of Tolkien).

Martin looks refreshing in many fronts and that I think makes him good today. And I do agree also on the fact that he lacks some of the artistic stuff, finesse, detail, poetry...

But he doesn't arouse the same or similar feelings. Just because of the differences of time and tradition. And continuing from where Ang led us; who would want to experience the very same in the first place?
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Old 06-27-2011, 04:29 AM   #9
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Definitely not. On the other hand few books do, or should, produce in entirety the same feelings as other books
You're right; I should have said a 'similar' feel in the first place, but the hidden question was 'was any book able to satisfy you as much?'
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Old 06-27-2011, 05:32 AM   #10
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Having been rather obsessed by George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series recently I feel like adding my two cents. Martin definitely gives a totally different feel than Tolkien, yet in some ways he is closer to Tolkien than most contemporary fantasy writers. It is because of the depth and the scale of his creation, and how the world feels so very real. True, he doesn't have Tolkien's skill and interest in linguistics (which is something he seems to like to repeat in interviews) or mythological depth, but I find his cities, families, people, institutions, society and religion exceptionally well thought of. Like Ang and Nog have said, he does do some stuff better than Tolkien - if we can compare them, after all, their styles are completely different although both fall under the genre of fantasy.

As for who creates a similar feeling as Tolkien, I have two names in mind although for very different reasons. Ursula Le Guin, a genius in her own right, is the only one who can rival (and don't kill me, maybe surpass) Tolkien in writing grand-scale bittersweet mythological fantasy that you simply cannot forget and have to love. Like Tolkien, she has the gift of combining legendary and philosophical stuff with a good plot and interesting characters and balancing with it neatly without making it too shallow or alternatively pompously boring. Suffice to say, I admire her greatly.

The one who can reach any kind of Tolkieny feeling in a very different way is Guy Gavriel Kay. He helped Christopher Tolkien with constructing the Silmarillion and you can see how deep he is in the Tolkienian mythology if you read his earliest novels, The Fionavar Tapestry trilogy. He doesn't really add anything new though, just recycles some of the coolest ideas from the Silmarillion alongside with more epic fantasy stuff and even King Arthur. I think The Fionavar Tapestry is slightly over the top and it would be very easy to criticise it, yet it still is a very good series, mostly thanks to Kay's touchingly epic writing style and his beautiful language. (I have to say though that I prefer his latter novels.) Those two things are actually why Kay is in a way closest to Tolkien in the contemporary fantasist: his writing is sometimes like reading a poem, and when he writes epic, it is very epic ŕ la Rohan had come at last.
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Old 07-05-2011, 01:48 AM   #11
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I know it's not fantasy at all, but I get a lot of analogous vibes from Frank Herbert's Dune. At least from the first four volumes of that series.
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Old 10-19-2013, 09:25 PM   #12
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As far as engrossing me into the world that is made, the only other fantasy book series to ever do that to me other than Tolkien was Glen Cook's Black Company series. The writing is nothing like each other, for one is smooth and eloquent, while the other is rough and direct. But I got involved in the story and the characters of botk much to the same degree..
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Old 10-23-2013, 02:09 PM   #13
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Ah the Orkney Faction, the only clan who can compare with the sons of Feanor; and I've always been in love with Morgause
When I first read The Once & Future King earlier this year, I couldn't get over how much they reminded me of clan Fëanor.

I agree with Morth though; it does have a similar feel to LOTR.
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Old 10-24-2013, 04:31 AM   #14
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I am currently reading The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay, and seconding Lommy (who, as it happens, recommended the book to me), I must say for myself that if there was ever an author who gave the feel at least a bit similar to Tolkien, it is Guy Gavriel Kay in The Fionavar Tapestry (I have read other book by him before, but it was very different, most of his other books are the sort of "history-inspired fantasy"). But the Fionavar Tapestry is unbelievably similar, something between Silmarillion and LotR. I guess it has a lot to do with the fact that GGK helped Christopher Tolkien with the revisions of the original Sil. But I really, really recommend it - after just reading the first volume. It has the sort of "old fantasy world" with good vs. evil, but not just like some random Dungeons and Dragons-style thing, but really, very much like LotR/Sil. And there are the themes and feelings which one generally associates with LotR and Sil, too. Besides, it is incredibly epic, almost over the top, but that makes it only good. I am glad I overcame my disbelief when I heard the plot summary - don't trust first impression. It is really worth reading it all. And once you are halfway through, you can't get away from it anymore.

And let me underline once again. I have never, ever encountered anything that touches Tolkien in the same way. Everything else is either too superficial (all the general Dungeons and Dragons stuff, or even things like Raymond E. Feist), too 'grimly realistic' (Martin), too naive (Eragon), or simply lacks the depth.

Not to say it doesn't have flaws, and there is obviously still something it lacks in regards to Tolkien, but it gets as close as one can. The semi-naive approach (since it was apparently GGK's first book) at times is counterweighted by the "deep moments" - which come mostly later in the book, but... they totally make up for it.
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Old 11-11-2013, 06:42 AM   #15
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I like George R.R. Martin's work very much. In many ways, I think his world is deeper than Tolkien's. But it does not quite give me the same feeling as Tolkien...
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Old 12-19-2013, 06:02 AM   #16
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I like George R.R. Martin's work very much. In many ways, I think his world is deeper than Tolkien's. But it does not quite give me the same feeling as Tolkien...
I'm curious to know what the difference in feeling was.
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Old 12-21-2013, 09:15 AM   #17
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Martin's work is more grey and grimy. Unlike Tolkien, there is little by way of clear cut right and wrong or good and bad.
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Old 12-22-2013, 07:12 AM   #18
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Martin's work is more grey and grimy. Unlike Tolkien, there is little by way of clear cut right and wrong or good and bad.
That's an interesting thing to say. I don't think I'd call, say, the Fëanorians good or bad. I think we sometimes over-simplify Tolkien's works, because there is a lot of emphasis on 'doing the right thing' - at least, that's my impression.
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Old 12-22-2013, 07:14 AM   #19
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I'm curious to know what the difference in feeling was.
It is difficult to put into words, but I will give it a go.

Tolkien's writing has a lyrical beauty of sorts that Martin just cannot match. I think he has drawn so much from our common literary heritage that it is almost impossible to read any of his works without feeling the resonances with previous works of literature, like Tennyson's 'horns of Elfland gently blowing'. I am not saying that he would have consciously created such resonances, as some modern authors may deliberately seek to do, but that, given his background, it would have probably come naturally to him, in the same way that one cannot read the poetry of Keats without at least subconsciously being reminded of the imagery of Shakespeare.

Martin's writing is different, and his is a modern novel written for a modern, 21st century reader. I think it is a great deal more realistic with a better sense of time and distance. The lack of a clear-cut distinction between Good and Evil characters and the literary device of telling the story from different points of view really makes for a good read, but, as I said, it does not have the same 'feel' as Tolkien.

I hope this makes some sense.
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Old 12-22-2013, 07:25 AM   #20
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Martin's writing is different, and his is a modern novel written for a modern, 21st century reader. I think it is a great deal more realistic with a better sense of time and distance. The lack of a clear-cut distinction between Good and Evil characters and the literary device of telling the story from different points of view really makes for a good read, but, as I said, it does not have the same 'feel' as Tolkien.

I hope this makes some sense.
It definitely made sense. Though I'm curious to know why we'd think of Martin's work as 'more realistic', simply because it is generally dark. Having said that, Martin's work entertains me, but it doesn't inspire in me the almost fanatic loyalty that Tolkien's does, especially The Silmarillion. The reason is that, for me, the message Tolkien gives is: "Yes, the world is terrible, and you probably won't get rewarded for being kind - in fact, you'll probably come to a sticky end. Be kind anyway." That might be an idealistic thing to say; but in this respect, Tolkien's the kind of person I may just follow to the ends of the earth.
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Old 12-28-2013, 06:55 PM   #21
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That's an interesting thing to say. I don't think I'd call, say, the Fëanorians good or bad. I think we sometimes over-simplify Tolkien's works, because there is a lot of emphasis on 'doing the right thing' - at least, that's my impression.
In my mind, the distinction is not about whether the characters are right or wrong / good or bad, but whether there is such a thing at all. In ASOIAF, it's not clear there is.
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Old 12-28-2013, 07:54 PM   #22
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In my mind, the distinction is not about whether the characters are right or wrong / good or bad, but whether there is such a thing at all. In ASOIAF, it's not clear there is.
The thing about ASOIAF is that it allows contradictory "goods-and-bads", contradictory worldviews, to coexist. Most often a piece of writing takes on one worldview; while it might not be exactly what the author believes, or not all of what he believes, it is the view presented in the work. But in ASOIAF, you get the glorification of different points of view and thus different standards. Thus, no point of view is right or wrong, and each character has his own definition of good and bad, so no overall definition for the book. I don't find this a bad thing - in fact, I always struggled with the inability to put all one's contradictory fancies and beliefs into one work, and ASOIAF gives a great answer and does a great job of that - but it is quite un-Tolkien.
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Old 12-28-2013, 08:06 PM   #23
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It is difficult to put into words, but I will give it a go.

Tolkien's writing has a lyrical beauty of sorts that Martin just cannot match. I think he has drawn so much from our common literary heritage that it is almost impossible to read any of his works without feeling the resonances with previous works of literature, like Tennyson's 'horns of Elfland gently blowing'. I am not saying that he would have consciously created such resonances, as some modern authors may deliberately seek to do, but that, given his background, it would have probably come naturally to him, in the same way that one cannot read the poetry of Keats without at least subconsciously being reminded of the imagery of Shakespeare.

Martin's writing is different, and his is a modern novel written for a modern, 21st century reader. I think it is a great deal more realistic with a better sense of time and distance. The lack of a clear-cut distinction between Good and Evil characters and the literary device of telling the story from different points of view really makes for a good read, but, as I said, it does not have the same 'feel' as Tolkien.

I hope this makes some sense.
ASOIAF is terrible when it comes to realism, time and distance. Martin does not even bother to give dates or actual distances because it does not make sense.

The problem I find with Martin's work is that all the characters are so flawed they become unlikeable. With the exception of a couple of the children I don't care who lives or dies.
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Old 12-29-2013, 06:32 AM   #24
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ASOIAF is terrible when it comes to realism, time and distance. Martin does not even bother to give dates or actual distances because it does not make sense.

The problem I find with Martin's work is that all the characters are so flawed they become unlikeable. With the exception of a couple of the children I don't care who lives or dies.
Would you mind if I asked what you meant by 'realism'? I think you're the first person I've come across who has actually said that.

That's funny! I like his characters because they're flawed. They make for interesting reading.
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Old 12-29-2013, 07:57 AM   #25
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Would you mind if I asked what you meant by 'realism'? I think you're the first person I've come across who has actually said that.

That's funny! I like his characters because they're flawed. They make for interesting reading.
Since it is fantasy the magic is not the problem. Rather the super human childen, the super human small person, the unrealistic distances, all characters being too flawed, the incredible plot devices guys like Littlefinger need to succeed.

It's a good book and enjoyable, but you have to constantly suspend your sense of belief chapter after chapter.

Flawed characters are okay, but when Ned and Davos look like saints compared to the rest then there is a problem. The show has actually had to whitewash so many characters to make people care about them.
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Old 12-29-2013, 09:48 AM   #26
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Flawed characters are okay, but when Ned and Davos look like saints compared to the rest then there is a problem. The show has actually had to whitewash so many characters to make people care about them.
I don't know. I cared about Ned because I really did like him at the beginning of the series, and I care about Davos because he's a character who has his own narration, but I can't say I like Davos very much, and part of that is because he's trying to be the virtuous saint. I like many characters better than that twain. I don't think that Martin purposefully painted others black so that these two can look white. I doubt that these two are meant to be pointed out as the "good people" (as discussed in previous posts, there are no "good" and "bad" standarts). Also, you have others who have some claim to virtue or innocence. Take Daenerys. Take Brienne. I stopped liking Daenerys after a while, but I like Briene very much despite her naive trust in the world. Moreover, the whole point of splitting the story into perspectives is to make each one believable/likable/existent. If Martin's goal was to make the "good" ones shine, his whole book structure loses its point.

So I think that this criticism is invalid, considering how many flawed or odd/unfitting-into-typical-standarts characters are likable and not all of the virtuous ones are. It depends of you whether you like them or not, but your own point of view isn't everybody's, so how can you make this objective claim?
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Old 12-29-2013, 10:00 AM   #27
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I don't know. I cared about Ned because I really did like him at the beginning of the series, and I care about Davos because he's a character who has his own narration, but I can't say I like Davos very much, and part of that is because he's trying to be the virtuous saint. I like many characters better than that twain. I don't think that Martin purposefully painted others black so that these two can look white. I doubt that these two are meant to be pointed out as the "good people" (as discussed in previous posts, there are no "good" and "bad" standarts). Also, you have others who have some claim to virtue or innocence. Take Daenerys. Take Brienne. I stopped liking Daenerys after a while, but I like Briene very much despite her naive trust in the world. Moreover, the whole point of splitting the story into perspectives is to make each one believable/likable/existent. If Martin's goal was to make the "good" ones shine, his whole book structure loses its point.

So I think that this criticism is invalid, considering how many flawed or odd/unfitting-into-typical-standarts characters are likable and not all of the virtuous ones are. It depends of you whether you like them or not, but your own point of view isn't everybody's, so how can you make this objective claim?
No viewpoints are objective when judging a story. To claim there is no such thing as "good" or "bad" is not true. Characters like Roose, Ramsey, Gregor and Cersei are without bad.

I never said that he made the other characters so black as to make Ned and Davos look good. Nor do I think Davos is trying too hard to be good. He is just doing what the average person does. Loyal to his family and king.

Martin tries to write "realistic" characters, but they are all so bad they become cartoon villains.

Anyway it's a matter of personal choice.
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Old 12-29-2013, 10:56 AM   #28
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No viewpoints are objective when judging a story.
In that case, do not speak for pther people liking/disliking other characters.

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To claim there is no such thing as "good" or "bad" is not true.
Is there evidence to that in GOT+etc?

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Characters like Roose, Ramsey, Gregor and Cersei are without bad.
Really?

And if you meant that they are without good, I disagree. Except for Ramsey. That guy is the only one that strikes me as pure evil.

The thing is, every character has his own good, his own ethical code. For some it is some abstract belief (eg: Ned). For others its what benefits their survival. Yet others don't even think in terms of what's good and what's not, but what is realistic and if it's worth doing it (eg: Baelish). This is the beauty of ASOIAF, that it allows for all these moral codes to coexist. You have Jack London's law of club and fang, but you also have Tolkien's gentler perspective, and many others besides.

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He is just doing what the average person does. Loyal to his family and king.
Does the average person really do that? You may think so from a 21st century perspective, but to be honest, I think that Martin's idea of peasants caring about 1) their lives and 2) their crops/lands/livelihoods/etc is more realistic than peasants really caring who their lord is - so long as that lord treats them ok. In this sense, Martin is more realistic than Tolkien. As for the aristocracy, there are all kinds. Some that are loyal to their lords (that are present in both authors' works) and some that are loyal to themselves (ditto). The difference is that there are less of the latter in LOTR+others, and much more in GOT+others.

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Martin tries to write "realistic" characters, but they are all so bad they become cartoon villains.
Personally, there are very few I would call absolute villains, and even fewer are cartoon villains.

Because of the whole perspective thing, you get to see the goodness in many initially bad characters, and even if they don't have so much of it, you get to see and understand their thoughts and feelings and their philosophy. If you see it through ther lens, maybe it's not that bad after all, or bad from an abstract objective "good" but not from the "good" of reality.

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Anyway it's a matter of personal choice.
Agreed.
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Old 12-29-2013, 11:51 AM   #29
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Does the average person really do that? You may think so from a 21st century perspective, but to be honest, I think that Martin's idea of peasants caring about 1) their lives and 2) their crops/lands/livelihoods/etc is more realistic than peasants really caring who their lord is - so long as that lord treats them ok. In this sense, Martin is more realistic than Tolkien. As for the aristocracy, there are all kinds. Some that are loyal to their lords (that are present in both authors' works) and some that are loyal to themselves (ditto). The difference is that there are less of the latter in LOTR+others, and much more in GOT+others.
ARTHUR: Please, please good people. I am in haste. Who lives in that castle?
WOMAN: No one live there.
ARTHUR: Then who is your lord?
WOMAN: We don't have a lord.
ARTHUR: What?
DENNIS: I told you. We're an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week.
ARTHUR: Yes.
DENNIS: But all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special biweekly meeting.
ARTHUR: Yes, I see.
DENNIS: By a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs,--
ARTHUR: Be quiet!
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Old 12-29-2013, 12:34 PM   #30
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In that case, do not speak for pther people liking/disliking other characters.
I can speak for the other people I have discussed this with.
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Is there evidence to that in GOT+etc?
Yes, because it's up to the reader to decide what is good or bad. Roose Bolton murdering peasants and then raping their wives puts him in the bad category.
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Really?

And if you meant that they are without good, I disagree. Except for Ramsey. That guy is the only one that strikes me as pure evil
Cersei, Gregor, Roose, The Goat, the Bloody murmers etc. As for being pure evil, I never said such a thing. I don't think such a thing exist, but when you do enough bad actions, I believe you can be placed on the evil side.

Sauron has more good in him that a lot of those I listed.
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The thing is, every character has his own good, his own ethical code. For some it is some abstract belief (eg: Ned). For others its what benefits their survival. Yet others don't even think in terms of what's good and what's not, but what is realistic and if it's worth doing it (eg: Baelish). This is the beauty of ASOIAF, that it allows for all these moral codes to coexist. You have Jack London's law of club and fang, but you also have Tolkien's gentler perspective, and many others besides.
Every character in every story acts according to their own code. It's very simplistic to think that anyone sets out to be evil. That being said when you keep doing evil actions you are going to be judged as bad.
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Does the average person really do that? You may think so from a 21st century perspective, but to be honest, I think that Martin's idea of peasants caring about 1) their lives and 2) their crops/lands/livelihoods/etc is more realistic than peasants really caring who their lord is - so long as that lord treats them ok. In this sense, Martin is more realistic than Tolkien. As for the aristocracy, there are all kinds. Some that are loyal to their lords (that are present in both authors' works) and some that are loyal to themselves (ditto). The difference is that there are less of the latter in LOTR+others, and much more in GOT+others.
This is Martin's greatest failing. He is a pseudo historian and has actually not delved very deeply into what people thought at the time. People have not changed in the last 1000 years. Don't you care about who rules your country? Don't you care about if the laws are just? It's true that primary concerns maybe about self interest, but greater issues matter too. For a medieval audience the two were linked.

Loyalty to the Lord was incredibly important. You only need to read accounts of how people gladly died for their liege Lord. You get those out to further their own interest, but to think this applied to the majority is like thinking that the millions that volunteered to fight in the First World War were not patriotic.
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Personally, there are very few I would call absolute villains, and even fewer are cartoon villains.

Because of the whole perspective thing, you get to see the goodness in many initially bad characters, and even if they don't have so much of it, you get to see and understand their thoughts and feelings and their philosophy. If you see it through ther lens, maybe it's not that bad after all, or bad from an abstract objective "good" but not from the "good" of reality.
Being completely evil is something that probably does not exist. When half the villains are worse than Sauron then there is not much good in them. Seeing why someone acts does not excuse their actions. Ramsey raping women or Cersei murdering innocent babies to massage her ego does not get better, because we see her point of view.
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Agreed.
Yep.
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Old 12-29-2013, 03:19 PM   #31
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This is Martin's greatest failing. He is a pseudo historian and has actually not delved very deeply into what people thought at the time. People have not changed in the last 1000 years. Don't you care about who rules your country? Don't you care about if the laws are just? It's true that primary concerns maybe about self interest, but greater issues matter too. For a medieval audience the two were linked.

Loyalty to the Lord was incredibly important. You only need to read accounts of how people gladly died for their liege Lord. You get those out to further their own interest, but to think this applied to the majority is like thinking that the millions that volunteered to fight in the First World War were not patriotic.
I would suggest your historical viewpoint is a tad naive, particularly in regards to the medieval mind. Peasant uprisings against their "liege lords" were savage and pervasive across the European continent: the rebellions of Wat Tyler and Jack Cade in England, the Jacquerie in France, the Ciompi in Florence, and any number of workers' rebellions in Flanders and Burgundy. Violence and oppression was the the rule against the serfs in the Middle Ages, hence the rise of cities with thousands of workers fleeing manorial farms to escape their masters, who met this flight with repressive work laws and insuffereable taxation on everything from the hearth to salt to the heriot at death.

What any of this has to do with the thought processes of soldiers in WWI is anybody's guess.
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Old 12-29-2013, 03:47 PM   #32
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I would suggest your historical viewpoint is a tad naive, particularly in regards to the medieval mind. Peasant uprisings against their "liege lords" were savage and pervasive across the European continent: the rebellions of Wat Tyler and Jack Cade in England, the Jacquerie in France, the Ciompi in Florence, and any number of workers' rebellions in Flanders and Burgundy. Violence and oppression was the the rule against the serfs in the Middle Ages, hence the rise of cities with thousands of workers fleeing manorial farms to escape their masters, who met this flight with repressive work laws and insuffereable taxation on everything from the hearth to salt to the heriot at death.

What any of this has to do with the thought processes of soldiers in WWI is anybody's guess.
Peasants rising against oppressive conditions is hardly proof that they did not care or have any loyalty to their Lords. It just shows that they used force and violence when pushed too far. This has nothing to do with peasants wanting to have the rightful rulers in charge or being loyal. I never claimed the peasants were happy to be oppressed. The discussion was about their feelings of loyalty and allegiance to the king or the Lord.



You mention the Tyler revolt, but from the accounts we have, even after they stormed the Tower of London, they showed a great deal of reverence to the king. Richard II was not even a good or popular king, but he stopped the people rioting and they did not kill him when they had him at this mercy.

The comment about World War I is very relevant, because nationalism as it is today was a fairly modern concept which grew in the late 18th century. For a long time the King was the nation. The feelings people had today for their country was similar to what they had towards their leaders.
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Old 12-29-2013, 07:39 PM   #33
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Peasants rising against oppressive conditions is hardly proof that they did not care or have any loyalty to their Lords. It just shows that they used force and violence when pushed too far. This has nothing to do with peasants wanting to have the rightful rulers in charge or being loyal. I never claimed the peasants were happy to be oppressed. The discussion was about their feelings of loyalty and allegiance to the king or the Lord.
You are projecting a feeling on a whole population that simply was not there. It is a myth. There was continual revolt against the Count of Flanders by the weavers of Ghent, who followed their purse strings and supported the King of England and his endless supply of wool. France itself had no unity under a French King until the English had so exploited and ravaged France in the 14th century that the peasants chose despotism over having their villages burned and their daughters raped. In any case, Henry V's early death had more to do with France's consolidation, and it was more a wily centralization of huge duchies (Brittany and Burgundy were two) by the French monarchy than any sense of "patriotism". Also, the Swiss booted out the emperor and sundry lords quite early on and Bohemia was often a class battleground.

Of course, there was constant revolt among the Irish, Scots and Welsh, who never took kindly to the "liege lords" that were forced on them.

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You mention the Tyler revolt, but from the accounts we have, even after they stormed the Tower of London, they showed a great deal of reverence to the king. Richard II was not even a good or popular king, but he stopped the people rioting and they did not kill him when they had him at this mercy.
And yet it seemed they learned their lesson and did nothing when Henry IV had Richard II strangled a few years later.

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The comment about World War I is very relevant, because nationalism as it is today was a fairly modern concept which grew in the late 18th century. For a long time the King was the nation. The feelings people had today for their country was similar to what they had towards their leaders.
I would suggest the French decapitated that idea in 1789. And a small band of Russian extremists exploded that myth altogether during WWI.
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Old 12-29-2013, 07:58 PM   #34
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You are projecting a feeling on a whole population that simply was not there. It is a myth. There was continual revolt against the Count of Flanders by the weavers of Ghent, who followed their purse strings and supported the King of England and his endless supply of wool. France itself had no unity under a French King until the English had so exploited and ravaged France in the 14th century that the peasants chose despotism over having their villages burned and their daughters raped. In any case, Henry V's early death had more to do with France's consolidation, and it was more a wily centralization of huge duchies (Brittany and Burgundy were two) by the French monarchy than any sense of "patriotism". Also, the Swiss booted out the emperor and sundry lords quite early on and Bohemia was often a class battleground.

Of course, there was constant revolt among the Irish, Scots and Welsh, who never took kindly to the "liege lords" that were forced on them.
The nobility fought over many things and often had conflicting loyalties. People were loyal to their Lords and fought under them. Where did I ever say the middle ages had a sense of "patriotism"? I have actually said the opposite. Whilst there was a national identity for certain countries, England being the most notable, there was very little patriotism or nationalism. The loyalty we have today was more often given to individual families.

The defeat of England in France had more to do with the trouble raising taxes and the death of Henry V than any growth of nationalism.

A "Liege Lord" forced on you is not the same as a Lord you believe has been put there. Even back then you needed good PR to invent a reason why you had taken over land. What do you think the Bayeux tapestry was?
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And yet it seemed they learned their lesson and did nothing when Henry IV had Richard II strangled a few years later.
A very different situation entirely. A war between two cousins, both the grandsons of a beloved king causes a lot of conflict. Especially when the reigning king is incompetent.

The Magna Carter is but one example of the king being defeated and not being replaced.
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I would suggest the French decapitated that idea in 1789. And a small band of Russian extremists exploded that myth altogether during WWI.
This was not during the middle ages and a lot of things had changed. The growth of nationalism (not national identity), the questioning of religion, the growth of the middle classes, urbanisation and the belief in democracy.
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Old 12-29-2013, 11:01 PM   #35
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The nobility fought over many things and often had conflicting loyalties. People were loyal to their Lords and fought under them.
A genereralization that does not hold up under scrutiny. The "people" were no more loyal than the ever-shifting nobility. One look at post-Black Death Europe and peasants fleeing manor holdings en masse seeking higher wages and freedom from the rigid tenancy of their feudal overlords would show that. To which "people" and "which "lords" are you referring to, and what time period and place? You hold an idealization that is about as true as saying "all U.S. citizens are and have been loyal to the federal government."

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Where did I ever say the middle ages had a sense of "patriotism"? I have actually said the opposite. Whilst there was a national identity for certain countries, England being the most notable, there was very little patriotism or nationalism. The loyalty we have today was more often given to individual families.
Again, to whom are you referring? Your ever-shifting argument is as confused as it is confusing.

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The defeat of England in France had more to do with the trouble raising taxes and the death of Henry V than any growth of nationalism.
Yes, that was part of my argument. What is yours, exactly?

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A "Liege Lord" forced on you is not the same as a Lord you believe has been put there. Even back then you needed good PR to invent a reason why you had taken over land. What do you think the Bayeux tapestry was?
When, in particular, did peasants think a lord was not forced on them? I am sure the nobility would stress their belief in a god-given right to rule, but I'm not sure their tenants would be on board.

And the Bayeux Tapestry was a wondeful bit of propaganda by Norman adherents of William the Bastard (probably his half-brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, but nothing is certain). That it resided in Normandy and not in England leaves some question as to its power as a piece of propaganda, since those subjugated probably never saw it.

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A very different situation entirely. A war between two cousins, both the grandsons of a beloved king causes a lot of conflict. Especially when the reigning king is incompetent.
Edward III and his unpopular mistress were largely ignored the last 20 or so years of his life. Edward did not die beloved.

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The Magna Carter is but one example of the king being defeated and not being replaced.
The "Magna Carter" is a hip hop album. I believe you mean the "Magna Carta".
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Old 12-29-2013, 11:07 PM   #36
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Yes, because it's up to the reader to decide what is good or bad. Roose Bolton murdering peasants and then raping their wives puts him in the bad category.
I disagree. I think that the foundation of what is good is laid out by the author. The reader may agree or disagree with the author and discuss characters' actions as good or bad, but the author still holds the steering wheel when it comes to judging good and bad. By bringing a bit of sympathy he can turn a villain into a tragic hero.

That is why Sauron is evil, period. This is the foundation laid out by Tolkien. But Martin lays out a whole different foundation.

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Every character in every story acts according to their own code. It's very simplistic to think that anyone sets out to be evil. That being said when you keep doing evil actions you are going to be judged as bad.
Once again, according to judgement dealt out based on some objective Platonic good. The only problem is - in Martin's world, it doesn't seem to exist much except in naive minds.

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Don't you care about who rules your country?
To be honest, no, not really. Especially in the modern political setup. So long as it doesn't affect me in a negative way I don't really care who my country of residence elects as the Prime Minister. To be even more honest, I don't really see much difference between all these parties when it comes to action. But I am quite cynical about politics, so let me not delve there deeper and go off on yet another tangent.

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Don't you care about if the laws are just?
Justice is another concept that we tend to take as absolute, but is not that clear-cut in GOT. I always thought that it was unjust to do the King's justice on that crazed man of the Night's Watch at the very beginning of the series. He was telling the truth, and it was real madness born of real fear of real events that caused him to flee from the wall. He didn't intentionally break his vow. And is it just not to be given a second chance in his circumstances?

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It's true that primary concerns maybe about self interest, but greater issues matter too. For a medieval audience the two were linked.
I'm not a historian, but I often wonder about how much were the lower classes even aware of the greater issues?

Quote:
Loyalty to the Lord was incredibly important. You only need to read accounts of how people gladly died for their liege Lord. You get those out to further their own interest, but to think this applied to the majority is like thinking that the millions that volunteered to fight in the First World War were not patriotic.
My main questions would be, why did they die for their liege lord? What made them so unselfishly loyal? I would imagine that in addition to whatever feelings they had for the lord, there is the knowledge of the carnage and rape to follow if in a war their side was overwhelmed.

The WW1 is from the patriotic era, which encouraged widespread ideals which were not present to such great extent before and are still not present in nature. Feelings of unity of a people peaked when the said people were threatened by a common foe. Gratitude to a country I just don't see existing beyond gratitude to the soil of your farm/village.

Quote:
Being completely evil is something that probably does not exist. When half the villains are worse than Sauron then there is not much good in them. Seeing why someone acts does not excuse their actions. Ramsey raping women or Cersei murdering innocent babies to massage her ego does not get better, because we see her point of view.
For me, it changes everything. If you are told "this guy is evil", he will be evil. But if you are told "this guy did evil deeds because of [insert a personal reason]", he does evil deeds but is not evil in my eyes. The best Tolkien analogy I can think of is my favourite villain hero from his works that has been the cause of several debates: Turin. Does he do much good? Well, what he does is mostly just what an average person would do. Some splashes of going beyond that. Quite a lot of bad deeds and bad choices. Many people conclude that while he has some merits, he's a bad person. I prefer to say that while he has some unpleasant qualities, they should not be judged as black and white, since he's not a bad person really. He has the right idea, he just goes about it the wrong way. The reader knows what he does not and can view things objectively. He can't. So give him some slack! Would you do much better if you were in his place with his history and without your objective reader's knowledge? --- so similarly to my defence of Turin, I would defend many half-villains of GOT. The thing about that book is that in its setting, there is no GOOD, so it is hard to judge anyone by it without bringing them into a different context.

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I would suggest the French decapitated that idea in 1789. And a small band of Russian extremists exploded that myth altogether during WWI.
Well said.
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Old 12-30-2013, 06:59 AM   #37
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I disagree. I think that the foundation of what is good is laid out by the author. The reader may agree or disagree with the author and discuss characters' actions as good or bad, but the author still holds the steering wheel when it comes to judging good and bad. By bringing a bit of sympathy he can turn a villain into a tragic hero.
I am not sure this is true. No matter how much an author tries he cannot create morality completely contrary to that of the time. A hero, who goes forward raping and murdering is never going to be considered good.
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That is why Sauron is evil, period. This is the foundation laid out by Tolkien. But Martin lays out a whole different foundation.
I disagree here. Sauron is evil, because of his actions. Tolkien may lay out the his beliefs as to why a character is evil, but it's up to us decide.
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Once again, according to judgement dealt out based on some objective Platonic good. The only problem is - in Martin's world, it doesn't seem to exist much except in naive minds.
There are many different arguments for where good arises from. Whether it is universal truth, a fleeting culture of the time of the adherence to human progress; it is something that exist outside the literature. In Martin's world it does exist and he even lambast characters like Gregor and Ramsey.
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To be honest, no, not really. Especially in the modern political setup. So long as it doesn't affect me in a negative way I don't really care who my country of residence elects as the Prime Minister. To be even more honest, I don't really see much difference between all these parties when it comes to action. But I am quite cynical about politics, so let me not delve there deeper and go off on yet another tangent.
I am very cynical when it comes to politics, but the question is not about a new legitimate Prime Minister being elected. It's about someone rigging the elections. If such an even was to be made public there would be an outcry. Humans have not changed and when you want to rule, you need to give the people a reason. These days it's the idea that you were democratically elected in the past it was inheritance.
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Justice is another concept that we tend to take as absolute, but is not that clear-cut in GOT. I always thought that it was unjust to do the King's justice on that crazed man of the Night's Watch at the very beginning of the series. He was telling the truth, and it was real madness born of real fear of real events that caused him to flee from the wall. He didn't intentionally break his vow. And is it just not to be given a second chance in his circumstances?
I don't take justice as absolute and I don't think many people take it as a given. There are a lot of grey areas about what is just and that is why so many countries have different laws. One country may have the death penalty for murder and another not. If justice is an absolute, we are not evolved yet to see through the mist.

Turgon's execution of Eol would be considered unjust by some or the way Denethor planned to deal with the Southrons. Conflicting views about what is just is not something found in just ASOIAF.
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I'm not a historian, but I often wonder about how much were the lower classes even aware of the greater issues?
Harder to say, because they were illiterate and history was written by the elite. Still there are surviving court documents of peasants going to trials. In tough times the most important factor is survival. However, when things went wrong they would often blame things on an unjust king. When things began to fall apart from the Franks many people considered it a divine punishment from God, because of the sexual immorality in Charlemagne's court.

Macbeth set slightly after this period is another example of the break down of kingship resulting in nature collapsing.
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My main questions would be, why did they die for their liege lord? What made them so unselfishly loyal? I would imagine that in addition to whatever feelings they had for the lord, there is the knowledge of the carnage and rape to follow if in a war their side was overwhelmed.

The WW1 is from the patriotic era, which encouraged widespread ideals which were not present to such great extent before and are still not present in nature. Feelings of unity of a people peaked when the said people were threatened by a common foe. Gratitude to a country I just don't see existing beyond gratitude to the soil of your farm/village.
People had loyalty to the country, because humans have always wanted to attach themselves to something greater. Back then it may have been as simple your village, but the Lord was the personification of your area. When a family had ruled over your village for hundreds of years, your personal identity became tied to them.
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For me, it changes everything. If you are told "this guy is evil", he will be evil. But if you are told "this guy did evil deeds because of [insert a personal reason]", he does evil deeds but is not evil in my eyes. The best Tolkien analogy I can think of is my favourite villain hero from his works that has been the cause of several debates: Turin. Does he do much good? Well, what he does is mostly just what an average person would do. Some splashes of going beyond that. Quite a lot of bad deeds and bad choices. Many people conclude that while he has some merits, he's a bad person. I prefer to say that while he has some unpleasant qualities, they should not be judged as black and white, since he's not a bad person really. He has the right idea, he just goes about it the wrong way. The reader knows what he does not and can view things objectively. He can't. So give him some slack! Would you do much better if you were in his place with his history and without your objective reader's knowledge? --- so similarly to my defence of Turin, I would defend many half-villains of GOT. The thing about that book is that in its setting, there is no GOOD, so it is hard to judge anyone by it without bringing them into a different context.
It's funny you mention Turin, because your opinion of him is very different from the authors. Previously you had said that your viewpoint is dependent on what the author sets out as good. Here you think that Turin was a bad person. Tolkien on the other considers him as one of the greatest heroes of all time.

Elrond one of the wisest and greatest loremasters ranks him with all the great heroes.

"I will say that your choice is righ; and though all the mighty elf-friends of old, Hador, and Hurin, and Turin, and Beren himself were assembled together, your seat should be among them."

Your opinion of Turin is different from that of Tolkien's. My opinion of Turin also differs from yours. Though he has his flaws I ultimately consider him good and a hero.

In ASOIAF there is good. There are just few good characters, which is what causes the disconnect for me. To use a real world example, reading Mein Kampf does not lessen my disgust and abhorrence to Hitler.

Even in the context of ASOIAF: Ramsey chasing women like dogs and then raping them, Roose murdering a husband and then raping the wife, Cersei ordering babies and their mothers to be killed, Jorah selling people into slavery, Aerys planning to burn down an entire city etc, these are all terrible actions.

Tolkien better than Martin knew truly what war was and what it could do to people. In a brutal world many people lose their head, but in Martin's world far too many of the characters cross the line too often for me.
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Old 12-30-2013, 07:30 AM   #38
cellurdur
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Originally Posted by Morthoron View Post
A genereralization that does not hold up under scrutiny. The "people" were no more loyal than the ever-shifting nobility. One look at post-Black Death Europe and peasants fleeing manor holdings en masse seeking higher wages and freedom from the rigid tenancy of their feudal overlords would show that. To which "people" and "which "lords" are you referring to, and what time period and place? You hold an idealization that is about as true as saying "all U.S. citizens are and have been loyal to the federal government."
Yes it's a generalisation, but it would be accurate to say that the majority of citizens have been loyal to the Federal government.
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Again, to whom are you referring? Your ever-shifting argument is as confused as it is confusing.
No you brought in words like patriotism, which I actually said did not exist. Instead of nations people were loyal to Houses. This is precisely why bad monarchs were replaced with other members of the family. Just think about the logic today. Can you imagine a situation where the people of Libya fight to remove Khadafi and then place his son in charge? A bad leader would be overthrown, but loyalty to the family remained.
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Yes, that was part of my argument. What is yours, exactly?
No I brought up the taxes. You seemed to think that I had mentioned nationalism, even though I had said nationalism as we know really took off in the 18th century.
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When, in particular, did peasants think a lord was not forced on them? I am sure the nobility would stress their belief in a god-given right to rule, but I'm not sure their tenants would be on board.
Peasants probably thought their Lords were not forced after long periods of subjugation, decrees from religious figures and brutal suppression. After a few hundred years of a House in charge, in begins to be the norm. People were on board a lot more than you think and that is why it worked.
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And the Bayeux Tapestry was a wondeful bit of propaganda by Norman adherents of William the Bastard (probably his half-brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, but nothing is certain). That it resided in Normandy and not in England leaves some question as to its power as a piece of propaganda, since those subjugated probably never saw it.
In the case of William the Conqueror he went to great pains to appease the people. He gave several reasons why he had been promised the throne. Only declared himself king after the Witan ratified it, was anointed by English clergy, had the blessing of the pope and married into the English royal family. These are the actions of a man, who wants to establish legitimacy. In the end that was not even enough and he decided to brutally crush the peasants in the North.


As for the Bayeux Tapestry, we don't know where it displayed originally. It's widely agreed that it was made in England and would not surprise me if it was displayed there for some time before being sent to France.
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Edward III and his unpopular mistress were largely ignored the last 20 or so years of his life. Edward did not die beloved.
Edward III was not ruling towards the end of his life and a lot of tragedies like the Black Death had befallen , but he was still beloved and remained so. A lot like with King Richard I, it is a fairly modern phenomenon in criticising the two. Both of them remained wildly popular and Edward III was thought as the best king since King Arthur.
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The "Magna Carter" is a hip hop album. I believe you mean the "Magna Carta".
Yes mistake, but the point still stands. A very, very bad king was defeated and on his knees. Not only was he a bad king, but he had proven time and time again to be dishonest and untrustworthy. Yet the barons still let him remain king. Can you think of any modern setting where a country removes their leader to put one of their relatives in charge?
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Old 12-30-2013, 11:54 AM   #39
Erestor
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I have to say, I'm more in support of Cellurdur's view. Morthoron, you seem to look at those revolts as commoners rising up against their lords, but the truth is much more complex. In fact, medieval revolts were very diverse in their social ranks: an allegiance between nobles, peasants and burghers were rather the rule than a rarity. Of course, these groups acted out of self-interest (the reason why in the late middle ages, so many revolts failed because there was no unity on interlocal levels - between cities for example - while their rulers gained much more power). Also, most revolts were conservative by motivation. Like Cellurdur said: they didn't want to change the system, they wanted to keep it.

I'm especially familiar with the revolts in Flanders. One example that stands out in this perspective - even more than the Magna Carta - are the revolts against Willem Clito. Willem Clito acted as an oppressor, but the reason why the revolt started was because he did not abide the rights given to the people, which were part of the system. This case is rather interesting because of a speech of Iwein of Aelst, in which he states the people are sovereign, it's the people who choose their lord. However, the principle of having a lord is not questioned at all, and it's stated that as long the lord keeps his promises, the people would and should be loyal to him. This mindset, which was very traditionalistic, was also the prime motive for the Brabant Revolution of 1789. Even the German Peasant's War of 1525, in which the abolishment of serfdom was asked, first started because the rights given to the people were broken.

Also, there is one particular study from Bas van Bavel about revolts in the Low Countries which I find interesting to quote in this case.

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All five rebelling regions had in common that a relatively large share of the land was held in free ownership by the ordinary rural population, without large-scale manorialism or strong lordly power. In Drenthe and Holland even the great majority of the land was owned by peasants, at around four-fifths of the land. The situation in these regions was not found in all parts of the Low Countries. In several regions, as in Salland, the Guelders river area, the Hesbaye, or Zeeland, this share was only a quarter of the land or less, with most of the land in the hands of noblemen and religious institutions. This clearly differed from the landownership structures in the rebellious regions.
This conclusion is rather striking, especially when it's placed against the idea of medieval revolts as acts of serfs who wanted to be free. In fact, these findings seem to support the idea that (two-folded) loyalty was important.
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Last edited by Erestor; 12-30-2013 at 12:00 PM.
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Old 12-30-2013, 12:50 PM   #40
Aiwendil
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And the Bayeux Tapestry was a wondeful bit of propaganda by Norman adherents of William the Bastard (probably his half-brother Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, but nothing is certain).
This is way off topic, but I feel obliged to point out that, while the Bayeux Tapestry was almost certainly commissioned by the Normans, it is far from clear that it is a piece of propaganda. In many ways, it deviates from the Norman point of view seen, for example, in William of Poitiers. For instance, it seems pretty clear that in the tapestry, Edward the Confessor nominates Harold as his successor on his death-bed, while William of Normandy claimed that Edward had always intended him (i.e. William) to be his heir.
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