Thursday, March 30, 2017

New Biographical Article: The Unlikely Man Who Popularized The Stories Of King Arthur—Geoffrey of Monmouth

(Painting of King Arthur by N.C. Wyeth (1882–1945), from Sir Thomas Mallory, [Public Domain] via Creative Commons

In 12th-century Britain, a peculiar churchman, historian and teacher named Geoffrey of Monmouth launched the mystical tale of King Arthur and the magician Merlin on its path to world acclaim with the debut of his book, The History of the Kings of Britain. Though the adventures of King Arthur and his chivalrous knights were eventually accepted and admired in Britain, the road to acceptance was rough. Geoffrey of Monmouth’s writing was initially widely criticized in the British scholarly world, but it found quick admirers in medieval French literature and poetry. Later, the tales of King Arthur sluggishly crept back to Britain, only becoming truly mainstream after the 16th century with the help of literary masters such as Shakespeare, Wordsworth and Tennyson.

Continue reading about the odd pseudo-history book that popularized the stories of King Arthur, HERE.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

New Article: Monsters of Münster

An Unbelievably Bizarre Anabaptist Rebellion

  (German city painted by Sebastian Münster (1488-1552), [Public Domain] via Creative Commons)

During the 1530s, a strange occurrence blandly labeled the Münster Rebellion broke out in the city of Münster, within the region of Westphalia (modern northwest Germany). For the multiple-year rebellion, Münster was basically turned into a theocracy ruled by a group of over-zealous Anabaptists—a Protestant Christian sect disliked at the time by both Catholics and other Protestants. In the case of the Münster Rebellion, however, religious debate turned into religious oppression, and a battle of theology devolved into bloodshed and war.

Continue Reading about the strange Münster Rebellion, HERE.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

New Biography: Saint Augustine (354-430 CE)

A Wayward Son Who Became One Of Christianity’s Most Influential Figures
(Saint Augustine, painted by Antonio Rodríguez (1636 - 1691), [Public Domain] via Creative Commons)

Augustine was born in 354 CE to a Roman family living in Algiers. His mother was a Christian, and it is thought that his father converted to the religion on his deathbed. Suffice it to say, Augustine was exposed to Christianity from a young age. As a child, Augustine was made a catechumen—a person learning about Christianity before baptism—but he decided not to go through with it, and sought spiritual enlightenment elsewhere. 

Continue reading about the odd, but inspiring, Saint Augustine, HERE.

Friday, March 3, 2017

New Article: Emperor Commodus—History Is Better That Fiction

The Real Emperor Commodus Was Much More Bizarre and Odd Than The Way He Is Portrayed In Film

  (Bust of Commodus photographed by Wolfgang Sauber in the Antiques Museum in the Royal Palace, Stockholm, via Creative Commons (CC 1.0))

Film Portrayal
After watching the 2016 Netflix miniseries-documentary hybrid about Commodus called Roman Empire: Reign of Blood, I began to think about the ways Emperor Commodus has been depicted in film. In the hit movie, Gladiator, released in 2000, Commodus was portrayed as an incestuous snob who murdered his father, the great philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius.  At the end of that movie, Commodus was killed in a gladiatorial battle with the masses of Rome in audience. It made great cinema, but it was hardly a factual depiction of Commodus’ reign.

Netflix’s Roman Empire: Reign of Blood was much more factual, but there were noticeable differences between what the historians featured on the show said, compared to how the filmmakers recreated the scenes. The information provided by the historians was spot-on, but the filmmakers could not help but make the scenes more elaborate. The two scenes that really stood out in this regard were Commodus fighting as a gladiator and the depiction of his assassination. In the show’s gladiatorial scenes, Commodus was shown to be in dramatic (mostly fair) fights, but historically, Commodus likely only fought the crippled, the injured or the incapacitated in the arena. If he actually fought against skilled opponents, he would win by forfeit without any real combat. As to Commodus’ assassination, Gladiator and Roman Empire: Reign of Blood, both set the scene up as a final hand-to-hand combat showdown between the emperor and a gladiator, while history claims that Commodus was strangled by his wrestling instructor while bathing.

Yet, criticism is not the aim of this article. In the following paragraphs, read about the life and reign of Commodus and determine for yourselves if the historical Commodus is more interesting and bizarre than the interpretations provided by filmmakers.

Read about the real Emperor Commodus, HERE.