15 June 2018

The Rape of Clio

Apparently, there has been a 're-enactment' in Gloucester of the funeral of Aethelflaed, daughter of Alfred the Great, and a mighty Queen.

I have only been able to find a brief video clip; but it suggests rather massively that the Officiant was an Anglican womanpriest dressed in an anachronistic cope, who proclaimed lingua Anglica "may she rest in peace and rise in glory".

Public announcements were made honouring those who took part in the 'Suffragette' movement.

The event also seems to have involved 'Franciscans', 'Dominicans', and women 'Religious' dressed as such persons were in the early decades of the twentieth century.

Mockery is easy; but I think all this precisely encapsulates modern attitudes to History: the idea that the Past in simply the Present, dressed up perhaps in whatever the children have left in the dressing-up box. Or in what has been hired from a theatrical agency.

My suspicion is it that Modern (wo)man could not handle the truth that the Past may really be an extremely foreign country; and that, as C S Lewis argued, its very differences may be the most important gift that it can offer us.


Kamil M. said...

Not that I would defend this (post)modern narcissistic recreation of history, but when we look at Rembrandt's or Breughel's paintings, they also seem to construe e.g. biblical scenes with comfortingly familiar forms of human life. I wonder where is the proper limit here? Or maybe after the development of historical awareness every such misrepresentation is doomed to strike us as untrue?

Sprouting Thomas said...

It always depresses me to hear of this sort of thing, since one can't help but think of all the Masses for founders and "all other our benefactors" which are simply not being said. Let us hope they were said for long enough...Those poor Tudors like Prince Arthur, with their very late chantries, who got so little "value for money".

Banshee said...

That is not how actual historical reenactments work.

That is how playbaby, uncommitted, past-resenting reenactments work.

It is a great shame, because your UK Saxon military reenactors, as well as the craft and ordinary people reenactors, are known over here as being extremely committed and authentic to a fault, as well as being fun people and generous with their knowhow. The Norse and Roman reenactors are also regarded with awe. (We save our awesome for buckskinners, black powder, American Civil War, and other U.S. historical periods, although some of our medieval recreation groups are good in an uneven way.)

To be fair, any reenactment of presentation of historical religious belief tends to become fraught with pitfalls and offensive to somebody. Usually it cannot be done except as a group project by like-minded people, such as the folks who get together and sing the Hours at medieval camping events. And even that can be deemed controversial, whereas muezzin calls when people are trying to sleep in, or neopagan witch ceremonies, are totally okay.

Sigh. (Based on experiences twenty years ago, not anything up to date.)

Banshee said...

Anyway... Most women doing reenactment/recreation are either interested in the sport elements (fighting, archery, riding), crafts (usually those traditional to women, although everybody thinks woman smiths are cool), dressing up to the nines in fabric arts, and/or flirting.

Even the craziest SJW types want to act like women, in ways discouraged or devalued by modern society, and to explore how medieval women were really not all that oppressed. (Also, one learns to appreciate the modern conveniences.)

So yeah, I am sure that even SJW neopagans were annoyed by the Anglican clergywoman, because she was not playing the game. Worse, she was ruining things for everyone else.

Alan said...

Aethelflaed was actually the first woman known to have been called a lady - "myrcene hlefedi" - Lady of the Mercians. Whether she was a queen is a moot point.

Reenactment events always present small or large problems. I've seen Anglo-Saxons with specs, a lady commanding the cavalry at a siege of the castle in Ashby-de-la-Zouch (Aethelflaed would have been OK with that) and have heard Sarum Masses celebrated in modern church Latin.

Jhayes said...

It appears that while the procession bearing the body of Aethelflaed from the Gloucester Docks to St Oswald's Priory was intended as a reenactment, the doings upon the arrival at the priory were not and were characterised as "The Rev Canon Nikki Arthy gave a solemn memorial speech in honour of Aethelflaed." (wearing a modern cope).