Age of Intrigue

While looking at my blog stats I noticed that people had clicked over from the following: an online RPG based in the Restoration period!

Welcome to the Age of Intrigue. This is a historical variant palace politics play-by-post game. We start with a snapshot in history (The Restoration under Charles II of England), and use the past history leading up to game start, including many historical figures as non-player characters, but throw in a healthy dose of fictional characters and deviations from history. Freed from the shackles of actual history, anything can happen. The King could be assassinated. A fictional character could rise to Lord Chancellor. No English history scholars will be at an advantage and we make no apologies for any aspect of the game that deviates from “actual history.” It is the uncertainty about the present and the future that adds zest to a game.

The reign of Charles II was selected because it is a grand moment in history in which corruption was rampant and political and religious intrigues dominated the court. Much as Dumas gave life to a court in France, we give life to a time in English history where the monarch yearned for divine rule, a Parliament was trying to maintain some semblance of power, the arts and sciences were reborn, religious intolerance was barely contained, and the end of a tyrannical and Puritanical rule caused the most libertine period in English history. Virtue was replaced by hedonism. Loyalty gave way to scheming, while duty gave way to ambition.

Come join us in the Age of Intrigue and see if you can survive in a palace of passions, plots, power.

Sounds, well, intriguing

Published in: on July 30, 2008 at 9:59 am  Comments (1)  
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Are British Historians the Best in the World?

Asked Juliet Gardiner in the Sunday Times yesterday. I couldn’t help feeling like channeling the spirit of Al Murray, the Pub Landlord here, ‘Yeah, mate, British historians, best in the world. Glass of wine/fruit-based drink for the lady?’

In the article, Andrew Roberts called (I assume tongue-in-cheek) for a regulatory authority to protect ‘proper historians’ from the incursions of ‘amateurs’. Forgive me if I am wrong, but isn’t Roberts an ‘amateur’ in the sense that he did not receive formal training as a professional historian? Sure, he’s got a first-class BA in history, but so have a lot of people (Al Murray for instance). Does that mean Al Murray is a proper historian?

Published in: on July 28, 2008 at 9:25 am  Comments (1)  
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Cromwell carnival anyone?

As I’m sure everyone knows, it’s the 350th anniversary of Cromwell’s death this year. I’ve been thinking about organising a mini-blog carnival on Cromwell (assuming nobody else has got there first) so drop me a line if you are interested in contributing. I’ve been in touch with a few Cromwell scholars, including Tom Reilly, author of Cromwell: An Honourable Enemy which caused quite a stir when it was originally published and is being re-issued this year. I’m hoping to put a up a few short articles on Cromwell by people like Tom here to get debate going.

I’m not going to suggest themes – let your imagination run riot.

The Royal Touch

I’m currently reading Anna Keay’s The Magnificent Monarch, which contains the following fascinating fact about Charles II use of the ‘Royal Touch’. Keay estimates that Charles touched near on 100,000 subjects for the ‘King’s Evil’ over the course of his reign, meaning that roughly 2% population at the time took part in this ritual.  Aside from demonstrating the importance that both king and public attached to the ritual, it’s also a powerful illustration of the degree of contact between the monarch and the people at this point in time. There’s something to think about here in terms of my James II paper, I think. Though the circumstances of James’ captivity in Kent were exceptional, the closeness between king and public was not.

Published in: on July 27, 2008 at 11:21 am  Comments (2)  
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Patrick Wright’s website

Is over here. There’s a sort-of-blog, a comprehensive archive of his writings (including a timely re-issue of this piece on the early 90s property crash), and transcripts of ‘conversations’ with the cultural-archaeologist about his work.

Sylvia Pankhurst website

I’ve just come across the excellent Sylvia Pankhurst website, which includes biog, details about the annual festival and a great picture gallery. My favourite is this parlour game (you’ll need to scroll through to the appropriate image) developed by the Suffragettes called ‘Pank-a-Squith’ (geddit!) which turned the struggle for the vote into a precursor of ‘The Game of Life’.

Britain’s Worst Monarch

Over here, the BBC have picked up on English Heritage’s competition to find Britain’s worst monarch. It’s gone down to a shortlist of three with Ed II, Mary QoS and George IV all vying for the top spot.

On the comment strand, it’s nice to see that belief in the ‘Norman Yoke’ is alive and well.

“William I. For his illegal invasion of England. For the introduction of feudalism. For the loss of freedoms under Norman oppression. For the introduction of the first national database – doomsday book. Loss of allodial title

A couple of votes for Charles I, though, personally, I would go for James II as most useless Stuart (dealt a much stronger hand at his accession -packed Parliament, standing army, stronger grip on Ireland and Scotland, relatively healthy royal finances – yet manages to chuck this all away in a mere three years.)

David Davis and Magna Cartaballs

Over at the New Statesman, Simon Hooper has kindly linked to my earlier comments about Davis’ ‘defence’ of Magna Carta.

Gerrard Winstanley Law of Freedom in a Platform wordcloud

Earth, Land, Law, Commonwealth, Freedom, People. As you might expect.

Officers’ Agreement in Word Cloud form

Published in: on July 12, 2008 at 2:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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