Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Medieval - Impossible To Do Without Christianity

This is somewhat a spin off from a topic I read on Pussycat Catnap's blog here.

I agree with her on much of what she states. So this is not really a response to her blog, as it is a spin off. My comments there formed the basics for this.

What I mean to say is, that the period and genre of fiction known as Medieval in RP often has very little to do with the actual period that people try to present.  And I do think that one particular problematic area is that people rarely want to put in the religions of the time.  Particularly, in Medieval/Dark Ages period, Christianity was forming a certain dominance among the warrior king ruling class clans of the time in Europe, primarily around France and Italy, and somewhat in Britain, but the isles were much more the territory of the savages, and didn't really get the polishing up of culture until the 12th century with Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regnum Britanniae.  But even there, the Britain legend and folklore was given an additional boost from the 12th c. French writer Chretien d Troyes, who added to the Arthurian narrative Lancelot and the Holy Grail - two most distinguishable elements of that comprised the more Eurocentric strand of Medieval literature.

Also, when considering a 'tradition' of the time, one would have to be accurate about what period the RP is. For instance, if a sim were to say they are a Medieval RP of English Tradition, then by what English Tradition - the Anglo-Saxon, or the Middle English period?  There is a difference by a few centuries, and most RP is closer to the Middle English as it is just before the Renaissance period that more prominently influences people's vision of Medieval RP.  But, unfortunately Renaissance period is not Medieval, and most Medieval RP should not call themselves Medieval, but much more a revisionist history of the Renaissance, as the RP does reflect on the time in fantasy and fiction, as well as certain structures for the RP's own elements that have nothing to do with any historical nature of genre or period.

Now much of the problem with RP in the revisionist fantasy of it, is that it often excludes the very huge 600 lbs gorilla that is the Christian traditions throughout the narratives and history of the time that they want to play in.  And yet, it is Christianity, with both the internal and external battles of the period and culture in Medieval Europe that that made medieval literature what it was.  Christian warrior kings that were partially tyrants that demanded their subjects to be Christian or die, and yet protectors of their realms from the brutal savages of the Northwest, as well as yet another conquering religion of the Muslims to the Southeast.  All this would fit perfectly for an RP, and there is plenty a rich source of history to back any sort of frame of reference for how to play out the Medieval period and play by the 'true' and 'pure' rules of the genre.

Now, I'm not saying that Christianity is the only element of the medieval times.  Yes, there were druids, and to have any sort of Arthurian legend, you cant deny them, nor the focus of Avalon, the lady of the lake, and Excalibur.  Yet, one can't deny the driving force of Lancelot and the Holy Grail either. Just as there were warrior knights of the clan, there were also the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller.  And where there were druids taking religious vows, there were also Medieval Monasteries and Nunneries.

There's all sorts of resources, with all sorts of angles to take the Christian tradition in Medieval RP.  Without having that particular aspect of Medieval times, one is eliminating a very important part of the era.  And while maybe some want to water down the period for modern political correctness reasons, they are doing a huge disservice to history and understanding of the period.  Sure, people may like the more secularized version of Medieval RP, but they aren't really getting the fullness of the Medieval period.  But further, they are not getting the Medieval period at all.  Instead, they are getting a revisionist fantasy that claims to be Medieval when, at best, it's a revision of Renaissance without the Reformation, and the Age of Reason without the underlying faith that that people were trying to seek out a better reasoning of or from.

In short, one takes out a huge chunk of the drama of the day, when they don't allow to be in place the most prominent religion of the period of RP they propose to play.  Maybe it's because the people who RP aren't all that much fans of religion in general, or at least Christianity.  But without one of the dominant forces of influence of the period, you don't really get the period at all.  You just get a fantasy of fictional revisionist history that is anything but Medieval.

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