Email: darkblogules at yahoo dot com
All email will be assumed to be for publication unless otherwise requested.
What's in the banner?
Friday, January 09, 2004
Former Python Terry Jones has a book and TV series out, called Medieval Lives. Niles and I are big Monty Python fans, and so he taped the shows for later viewing.
I was much less eager to see them, knowing that Jones is a lefty moron. Take for instance this childishly insulting take on the then-impending Iraq war. I feared his views would taint the TV show. Jones did not fail to disappoint.
So, the first installment we see is on knights. You may have heard that knights had to abide by a code of chivalry---defending the weak, widders n orphinks and damsels and such like. This was society's way of soaking up the extra testosterone sloshing around in knightdom, which is what forced them to be all warlike.
[It would be cruel of me, at this point, to note that Jones's delivery suggests he does not have this problem.]
But mostly knights ignored all that chivalry crap, in favor of head-choppin'.
The Crusades---on which Jones has a previous book / series---are described thusly (paraphrased): The Pope decreed that henceforth killing was not a sin if the victims were non-Christians. So thousands of young knights poured eastward to the Holy Land to chop some heads. Before, killing required that a knight do penance; now, the killing was the penance."
And that, my friends, was the entire motivation for the Crusades: head-choppin'. And an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.
But it wasn't just the simplisme that grated, it was the judging of 11th century people by 21st century standards. Oh, they were so warlike, those brutes! And all this religious nonsense! Didn't they know that God is dead? What's all the fuss about? Switch to decaf!
Aside from that, the show was filled with Gilliam-type animations and weird visual and sound effects, which got old real fast. As I told Niles, I actually felt less well-informed after I'd seen it, as if the show had sucked knowledge from my brain.
This review says that Jones has a degree in medieval studies, though this bio says his degree is in English. The review notes the same failings I did, but ends up recommending it. Right now, Niles is in the living room watching the next installment by himself.
In short, if you want an entertaining and informative look at the Middle Ages, you're better off watching Monty Python and the Holy Grail.