[Insert flashback music here]
I was eleven years old when I first saw Dynasty Warriors. It was the last day of school, someone had brought in their brand spanking new Playstation 2 and knocked out a few rounds of Dynasty Warriors 2. They played the Yellow Turban Rebellion level, Sun Shang Xiang confronted them, and I fell in love. It is many years later and Sun Shang Xiang is still my go to character when I start a new game. Dynasty Warriors (and later Kessen 2) fostered a love of a period that I probably wouldn’t have been exposed to, otherwise.
I’ve written before about how the games Mount and Blade and its sequel, Warband, are a, shall we say challenging, experience for the female character. Set in the fictional kingdom of Calradia during the 13th century this ARPG is practically a medieval simulator. After statting up your character you can go on to raise an army, gain support from neighbouring lords, engage in political intrigue, manage fiefs, I could go on. Continue reading →
Unlike most of the posts I write, this one is not tied into something in modern media, I just happened to be researching prostitutes (as one does), and thought I’d share because it’s my blog and why not? Ha!
Researching prostitution during the Middle Ages is not an easy ask, particularly in Medieval England. Prostitution was not necessarily a woman’s sole career choice and there are many examples of women who used prostitution to supplement their everyday income. A lack of centralised law across England provides a consistently different attitude towards prostitutes across the country, an attitude which was already significantly different to that on the continent. As a general rule Europe seemed to be far more lenient and accepting of the occupation as a necessary public utility and, although many countries engaged a policy of restriction, it was aimed against the clientele of the prostitutes and not the prostitutes themselves. In particular married men, clergy and Jews were forbidden to patronise them and faced heavy fines if caught doing so, while the admitting brothel faced no repercussions for allowing them entry.
The Mistresses of Henry VIII attests that while the lives and personalities of Henry VIII and his six wives are well documented, Henry was involved in numerous affairs with women who have been largely forgotten by history. Hart’s book claims to ‘rescue’ these women from ‘obscurity’ relating the tales of Henry’s lesser known lady loves. How far she succeeds in this endeavor however, is debatable. Continue reading →
The position of royal mistress, even a recognised maîtresse en titre was fraught with difficulties. The lucky, or perhaps more aptly, unlucky woman would have to work tirelessly to maintain the king’s interest. She would have to dispose of rivals without reducing herself to nagging the king or displeasing him in any way lest she herself be dismissed. Her political adversaries would be constantly trying to replace her and this was without the most basic demand of satisfying the king’s every whim. It is no wonder that some mistresses made bids for the throne, some successful others less so. At least as queen she was, in theory, unassailable or at the very least granted a measure of security her previous position would not have allowed her. Here we take a look at some of the women who tried to make the leap from first lady at court to first lady of the land, some of whom succeeded, others however were less than successful. Continue reading →
The Encyclopedia of Mistresses: An Under-the-Covers Look at the “Other Women” of History’s Most Influential Men. (2001)
In an ambitious project, Dawn B. Sova put together The Encyclopedia of Mistresses in 1993, which as you might expect is a collection of encyclopaedic-esque entries for women who have gone down in history as ‘the other woman,’ covering an impressive time period; from the early Greek age to the 20th century. Although I bought this book for my first thesis (a look at the position of the ‘mistress’ in Medieval England up to Anne Boleyn) it is in no way academic and very accessible to any reader. Continue reading →