". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Monday, November 17, 2014

Reign - Season 2 - Episode 7 - Prince of the Blood

Writers of Reign, to play nicely with history, to the satisfaction of everyone who watches, you need to know your history.  When it comes to this era you really need to know the history of protestants everywhere, and France's protestants in particular, as well as the history of the RC Church -- because all of this period is opening the gates into the century we know as the Wars of Religion.

Which perhaps might be taken as a caution that perhaps pitching a show as "fun entertainment" in which all the primary figures are hip deep in the blood, torture and plunder that are the Wars of Religion is not a good idea after all.  Especially as one of the primaries at least shall soon be dead, and the other gone back to Scotland to tread her inevitable road to imprisonment and losing her head.  This is not fun.

So, for starters here's something you all needed to know before you began writing: the protestant movement in France, the converts to Calvin's version of protestantism and reform, known as the Huguenots, did not begin with "the people."  In fact, "the people," the peasants, were strongly anti protestant.  They wanted to keep their rituals, their feast days, their Virgin, their priests, their cathedrals and beautiful music and the theater of the mass.  They preferred their Church so much, that they were terrific auxiliaries to the throne's slaughter of  the Huguenots.

The second thing you needed to know before you began writing was that in France, as in England and Germany, the Huguenots were both a religious and political movement.  That the nobles aligned with the crown would find them a credible threat to their power and authority is precisely because so many of the one million plus converts in France were nobles and wealthy merchants.

So, Reign writers, you see  all that courtly handwringing that if "the people" who had converted to protestantism weren't put down and punished, conversion cantagion of the body politic might spread to the nobles is o so badly wrong, that the entire idea of fun entertainment goes up in the flames of the noble's burning chateaux.   This is why, ultimately, Catherine and Charles are for the pogroms -- to remove these dangerous elements, who have both wealth and power, from their kingdom.

As well, there are other deadly intra-conflicts and intrigues, as many of those aligned with the crown, scheme to take it for themselves, as Charles is so young and the Queen Mother is still a hated Medici Italian, with all her grasping relatives grabbing money, land and power.  This was already going on while Henri II still lived.

O, and Condé, Louis I, Prince of the Blood, military leader of the Huguenots?   He gets whacked by the Guises, fighting to save de Coligny (who also gets whacked) at the battle of Jarnac.

Condé was a hunchback and by the time we see him on Reign he looked like this.
Condé didn't look like this.
What you all needed to do, Reign writers, was read the definitive history, The Huguenots, by Geoffrey Treasure.  Or -- maybe you did, but you all just don't care because, hey, Wars of Religion, they are such fun entertainment!  Who cares how much the suffering and brutality mattered to the formation of the political and economic movements of the time, the effects of which did so much to create the Europe, North America, the Caribbean and South America, at least, in which we live today.

The thing about the 16th - 17th Wars of Religion is that they were not fun for anybody, including those wearing crowns, see: Mary Stuart losing her head, for instance. This did not take place in an historical sidebar to the reign of Glory the Virgin Queen. These events were all interconnected.  Without the wars of religion at this time, Mary wouldn't have been such a tempting figurehead around which the French and other Catholic powers to rally to replace Elizabeth on England's throne.

The response to that is, as has been seen before -- hardly anybody knows this so who cares?   Anybody who does know isn't our audience, so stop being such a huffer and puffer.  We've made a GREAT story here.

Well, I dunno about that. It sure does look like your reliance, such as it was, upon a few historical details instead of doing the work of entirely reimagining a historical era into a historical fantasy world, you all have written yourselves into a corner in the dungeon of non-renewal.

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