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  #51  
Old 01-07-2011, 03:38 AM
Mississippienne Mississippienne is offline
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2. Emperor Basil I of Byzantium

Okay, in all honestly I could fill this list with just Byzantine bad girls and bad boys, but Basil I really deserves his moment in the spotlight. Basil broke damn near every law of man and God, and screwed blue and tattooed everyone in his path, and not only did he prosper for it, he became one of the most powerful men on planet Earth.

Basil's origins were as complex and obscure as the theological dispute between the Catholic and Orthodox churches. When he became emperor he had his chroniclers retcon his origin 1 so the official story was that he was of royal descent, which is totally bogus, and that he was divinely-ordained by God to become emperor, which if true suggests that God either was having an off day or has a hell of a sense of humor. Anyway, from patching together a couple of different sources we can get a more-or-less probable account of Basil's early life: he was born of Armenian parentage in Macedonia, and in 856 he went to Constantinople to make it in the big city, Midnight Cowboy-style.

Now the Byzantine emperor at this time was Michael III, who was a couple of years younger than Basil and a massive disappointment to everyone. He loved drinking, horse-racing, and consorting with his bodacious half-Greek, half-Swedish girlfriend, Eudokia Ingerine 2. This greatly displeased Michael's mother, the dowager Empress Theodora, who decided to make her son settle down by finding him a suitable wife. She put on a sort of 'Miss Byzantine Empire' pageant, at which Eudokia Dekapolitissa was chosen, and married to Michael. Michael was underwhelmed and preferred shacking up with his original Eudokia.

When Michael got tired of hearing static about it, he murdered his co-regent, Theoktistos, and shut his mother and sisters up in a nunnery. He then continued partying like a rock star. Michael was an eccentric fellow who liked dressing up like a priest and roaming the city singing lewd songs, and in drunken rages he would condemn to death anyone who was handy.

Basil blew into town and was discovered sleeping on the front steps of a church by a priest named Nikolaos. Impressed by Basil's good looks and physique, Nikolaos took him in off the streets. Basil traded up from him to the wealthier Theophilitzes, who "had a great interest in well-born, good-looking, well-built men who were very masculine and strong", according to the chronicler Theophanes Continuatus. While on a trip to Greece with Theophilitzes, Basil met another young man named Ioannes, and was so beloved by him that Ioannes' mother, a wealthy widow named Danelis, showered him with gifts.

Basil returned to Constantinople, and while hanging out at church one day, he happened to catch the eye of the Emperor Michael III himself. Michael got a good look at him, decided he needed some of that in his life, and went straight to the abbot and "asked if this young man might be given to him." Basil moved into the palace with Michael, where he impressed everyone with his skills at taming horses and also his talent for stripping his clothes off, oiling himself up, and then wrestling with other oily, tanned, half-naked men.

Basil, Michael, Eudokia Ingerine, and Michael's sister Thekla began living together in a big happy foursome. Since he was unable to marry Eudokia Ingerine because he was still shackled to Eudokia Dekapolitissa, Michael had Basil marry her. Eudokia gave birth to three sons, the paternities of whom are very questionable 3. Michael and Basil also bonded by murdering the caesar Bardas together. Ah, romance.

But in a twist worthy of the trashiest telenovela, Michael had a wandering eye and Basil was the jealous type. Basil caught a nobleman named Basiliskianos flirting with Michael, and became worried when Michael invited Basiliskianos to his place to try on the imperial shoes 4.

In September 867, Basil and Eudokia got Michael roaring drunk at dinner, and Basil tampered with the lock on Michael's door so that it wouldn't work. Then Basil, joined by his brothers Bardas and Marianos, burst into Michael's bedroom and murdered the hell out of him. Michael became the only Byzantine emperor to be assassinated by his gay lover over shoes. Eudokia Ingerine, who was then heavily pregnant with her third son Stephen, came immediately to be crowned empress 5.

Things didn't go altogether smooth. Eudokia Ingerine had an affair with a dude named Niketas Xylinites, who Basil forced to become a monk in revenge. Basil's beloved eldest son and heir, Konstantinos 6 died in 879 and Basil went half-insane with grief. This left the second son, Leo, who Basil despised, as heir. Leo was bookish, willful, and had a girlfriend, Zoe Zautzaina, that Basil disapproved of. When Leo refused to get rid of Zoe, Basil snatched him up by the hair, dashed him to the floor, and beat him bloody.

When Basil found Leo carrying a knife on him in 883, he had him locked in a room of the palace for the next three years and considered having him blinded. Leo was saved when Basil was suddenly killed in the world's most suspicious hunting accident 7 in 886. His successor Leo VI became the only Byzantine emperor who may have been fathered by not one, but two other Byzantine emperors. The mind boggles.

But above all, I want you to remember these remarkable facts: In just a few short years Basil had gone from a country bumpkin to a kept man to the ruler of the Byzantine Empire.

So here's to you, Emperor Basil I, you remarkable slut.

Footnotes:
1. Kinda like how John Byrne retconned Spider-man's origins.
2. Her father, Inger, was a Varangian in the emperor's service, and her mother a Greek court lady.
3. Eudokia may not have known. The sons were Konstantinos (born about 865), Leo (born 866), and Stephen (born 867). A fourth son, Alexander, was born in 870 and was the only one who was without a doubt fathered by Basil.
4. Is 'trying on the imperial shoes' a euphemism for something?
5. The other Eudokia was packed off back to her parents.
6. His mother was Eudokia Ingerine, although some historians have invented a fictious first wife for Basil and assigned Konstantinos to her. There is no indication in the sources that Konstantinos' mother was anyone other than Eudokia, which also means that his paternity was doubtful. This makes Basil's hatred for Leo and Stephen all the more bizarre and creepy.
7. The only witness to Basil being killed by a stag was Stylianos Zautzes, the father of Leo's honey Zoe.

Last edited by Mississippienne; 01-07-2011 at 03:42 AM. Reason: sp
  #52  
Old 01-07-2011, 09:40 AM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
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4. Is 'trying on the imperial shoes' a euphemism for something?
Well, the whole story is full of heels.
  #53  
Old 01-07-2011, 01:08 PM
Mr. Excellent Mr. Excellent is offline
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Mississippienne, I'm greatly enjoying your posts. A question on Basil I, though: How well-documented is the whole "slept to the top" thing? I ask only because (as I'm sure you know) that was a common barb hurled at both men and women in antiquity. What was the joke about Caesar? "Every woman's man, and every man's woman," I believe.
  #54  
Old 01-07-2011, 06:27 PM
Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor is offline
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No time for a charming lady like Elizabeth Bathory?

Well, "charming" within certain definitions of "charming", anyway....
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  #55  
Old 01-07-2011, 06:36 PM
Der Trihs Der Trihs is offline
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No time for a charming lady like Elizabeth Bathory?
Possibly too well known for the "unfairly obscure" standard.
  #56  
Old 01-07-2011, 06:52 PM
Inner Stickler Inner Stickler is offline
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Erzsébet Báthory and Elizabeth Bathory refer to the same person. The latter name is simply an anglicisation.
  #57  
Old 01-11-2011, 08:19 AM
Shirley Ujest Shirley Ujest is offline
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Do you have a blog dedicated to this loveliness? If not, you really need to get one. I'll even learn how to subscribe and stuff.

I LOVE THIS sooooo much.
  #58  
Old 01-11-2011, 09:18 AM
Maeglin Maeglin is offline
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It works for subject other than history, too... My father learned latin by means of Procopius of Caesarea's "The Secret History." Nothing some good old (really old) fashioned pr0n to get the students interested!
That must have been tough to do, since the Secret History is written in Greek, not Latin.
  #59  
Old 01-11-2011, 09:51 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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Next time the Goth kings of Spain There are entries on a couple of the ladies (term used in its widest possible definition) in a book of minibiographies my mother has... running into those sort of made me regret that we didn't even get the GKs mentioned in class! Then again, when my parents did, it was just a matter of memorizing and reciting their list, not learning which queen had had incestuous relationships with half her male relatives. A pity.
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Old 01-11-2011, 10:35 AM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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Possibly too well known for the "unfairly obscure" standard.
Also not really "medieval". Too late and too famous!
  #61  
Old 01-11-2011, 09:33 PM
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As if the stories aren't awesome enough, the presence of footnotes are sending me into paroxysms of joy. Can't wait for #1.
  #62  
Old 01-12-2011, 12:41 AM
Sage Rat Sage Rat is offline
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I'm not sure that I'm seeing many of these as Villains. Vseslav of Polotsk seems to be guilty of little more than having a scary sounding name and being a thorn in his brothers' sides. Marozia di Roma didn't do much but sleep around a lot. Emperor Basil killed his lover in a jealous rage -- which isn't terribly nice, but hardly the peak of villainy.

I'm not complaining, mind. They're each interesting, I'm just wondering if there's some villainy that you forgot to mention or if you mistitled the thread, where you should have said "Six unfairly obscure medieval scalawags".

Last edited by Sage Rat; 01-12-2011 at 12:42 AM.
  #63  
Old 01-12-2011, 04:07 AM
Mississippienne Mississippienne is offline
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Sage Rat, I must respectfully disagree. Of the three you mentioned, Vseslav was the least villainous, but like all Rurikid princes he spent most of his career leading armed insurrections, cleaving faces open with axes, and sacking cities. Him reputedly being a dark sorcerer is just the cherry atop that crazy sundae.

As for Marozia, let's recap, shall we?
-- Seduced one pope and bore a son by him
-- Two seperate attempts to depose another pope, one successful, resulting in that pope's murder
-- Rigged elections for the next couples of popes
-- Installed her own son as pope
-- Became queen of Italy for like an hour and a half before being captured and imprisoned by her own son

And Basil killed his gay lover over shoes. Okay, okay, he was understandeably jealous, and probably worried that Michael was planning to replace him with Basiliskianos. But still, it takes some nerve to straight-up murder your lover, who also happens to be the emperor of Byzantium, ursurp his throne, bang his mistress AND his sister, and replace his dynasty with your own. Not to mention that Basil was about thisclose to having his son Leo put to death before his convenient death. I mean, if he's a scalawag I'd hate to know what it takes to be a villain.
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Old 01-12-2011, 09:18 AM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
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Are we still anticipating villain number one?
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Old 01-12-2011, 10:33 AM
Maeglin Maeglin is offline
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[

And Basil killed his gay lover over shoes. Okay, okay, he was understandeably jealous, and probably worried that Michael was planning to replace him with Basiliskianos. But still, it takes some nerve to straight-up murder your lover, who also happens to be the emperor of Byzantium, ursurp his throne, bang his mistress AND his sister, and replace his dynasty with your own. Not to mention that Basil was about thisclose to having his son Leo put to death before his convenient death. I mean, if he's a scalawag I'd hate to know what it takes to be a villain.
Well, you did kind of include the most salacious and tendentious details from pretty unreliable sources while leaving out the things we actually know about with confidence: Basil's successful wars, his revival of Roman law, and for awhile, he even recovered Cyprus. It's not for nothing that he began the dynasty frequently considered to be the golden age of Byzantium. Even the reign of Michael has been looking pretty good lately: once you do a little source criticism on the pro-Basil propaganda, you can see that he really was a pretty good ruler. Most of the telenovela stuff is, sadly, probably fiction.

Do you have the latest treatment by Tobias?

Last edited by Maeglin; 01-12-2011 at 10:34 AM.
  #66  
Old 01-12-2011, 01:45 PM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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Most of the telenovela stuff is, sadly, probably fiction.
It is sad, isn't it? I was reminded of this the other day reading about the HRE Henry IV. As noted in his wiki page, Henry's great opponent ( well, one of several ) Rudolf of Rheinfelden was accused of kidnapping the emperor's sister and basically extorting his way into the the title of Duke of Swabia. Except that the majority view these days is that was very likely Henrician propaganda and that whole episode never happened. Rudolf just appears to have been particularly well-qualified to be granted that post, which appears to have included taking in hand the occasionally turbulent Kingdom of Burgundy ( Rudolf had allodial lands straddling the border ).

It's unfortunate that at least some of the fun stuff seems to be inventive fiction by folks with axes to grind. For example the story of Edward II taking a hot poker up the rear might be true ( it is mentioned in 5 of 25 or more sources ), but it also might be derived from later propaganda designed to blacken his name ( via its implication of anal rape and linking that with charges of sodomy ). Far to often it is simply impossible to tell.

Still, I think many of these sort of stories are too good not to repeat .
  #67  
Old 01-12-2011, 01:52 PM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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It is sad, isn't it? I was reminded of this the other day reading about the HRE Henry IV. As noted in his wiki page, Henry's great opponent ( well, one of several ) Rudolf of Rheinfelden was accused of kidnapping the emperor's sister and basically extorting his way into the the title of Duke of Swabia. Except that the majority view these days is that was very likely Henrician propaganda and that whole episode never happened. Rudolf just appears to have been particularly well-qualified to be granted that post, which appears to have included taking in hand the occasionally turbulent Kingdom of Burgundy ( Rudolf had allodial lands straddling the border ).

It's unfortunate that at least some of the fun stuff seems to be inventive fiction by folks with axes to grind. For example the story of Edward II taking a hot poker up the rear might be true ( it is mentioned in 5 of 25 or more sources ), but it also might be derived from later propaganda designed to blacken his name ( via its implication of anal rape and linking that with charges of sodomy ). Far to often it is simply impossible to tell.

Still, I think many of these sort of stories are too good not to repeat .
My favorite is the one about how Cathrine the great died, the one involving the horse ... definitely not true, but boy does it get repeated.

The problem with much of this stuff is that it originates from folks with axes to grind of course - but it may be the best source on that person. An example of this is the Secret History of Procopius, which is an obvious hatchet job by someone with a deep loathing for the emperor Justinian - but the author is also the primary source for the same Justinian ...
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Old 01-12-2011, 03:14 PM
Maeglin Maeglin is offline
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The problem with much of this stuff is that it originates from folks with axes to grind of course - but it may be the best source on that person. An example of this is the Secret History of Procopius, which is an obvious hatchet job by someone with a deep loathing for the emperor Justinian - but the author is also the primary source for the same Justinian ...
This is only true if you limit yourself to historiography that has been translated into English. The reign of Justinian is staggeringly well-attested. We have archaeology, an entire jurisprudential corpus, bureaucratic documents (including the de magistratibus of John the Lydian), the lost but often-quoted Syriac history of John of Ephesus, and the works of several other Greek historians typically not translated into English.

The Wars of Justinian is in most respects a much better source than the Secret History, even as far as Procopius goes.

Last edited by Maeglin; 01-12-2011 at 03:15 PM.
  #69  
Old 01-12-2011, 03:22 PM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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This is only true if you limit yourself to historiography that has been translated into English. The reign of Justinian is staggeringly well-attested. We have archaeology, an entire jurisprudential corpus, bureaucratic documents (including the de magistratibus of John the Lydian), the lost but often-quoted Syriac history of John of Ephesus, and the works of several other Greek historians typically not translated into English.

The Wars of Justinian is in most respects a much better source than the Secret History, even as far as Procopius goes.
I'm saying Procopius the author is the best source, which I don't think is really questionable - not (lord forbid!) the Secret History. He was a direct eyewitness to Justinian's reign, was secretary to Belisarius, and wrote extensively about it - including the Wars of Justinian you cite, among other works.

Sure, there are other sources, but none were so highly placed.
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Old 01-12-2011, 03:28 PM
Mississippienne Mississippienne is offline
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Well, you did kind of include the most salacious and tendentious details from pretty unreliable sources while leaving out the things we actually know about with confidence: Basil's successful wars, his revival of Roman law, and for awhile, he even recovered Cyprus. It's not for nothing that he began the dynasty frequently considered to be the golden age of Byzantium. Even the reign of Michael has been looking pretty good lately: once you do a little source criticism on the pro-Basil propaganda, you can see that he really was a pretty good ruler. Most of the telenovela stuff is, sadly, probably fiction.

Do you have the latest treatment by Tobias?
Okay, Maeglin, first of all, this is meant for entertainment, not to do a thorough and in-depth biography of each and every person. Hell, I tried to go more in-depth in other threads and no one cared. I'm doing this for the lulz, not for a dissertation. I'm a Doper, not a History Bitch.

Secondly, I never said anything about him being a terrible ruler. Please be re-reading my post. The most I said was that he rose from pretty much being a country bumpkin to being one of the most powerful men on Earth. You could do terrible things and still be a decent ruler (and in fact, some of the most gentle rulers were too weak to protect their people).

Thirdly, my sources include Luitprand of Cremona, Theophanes Continuatus, and Genesios. Fricking take it up with them, okay?

Last edited by Mississippienne; 01-12-2011 at 03:30 PM. Reason: sp
  #71  
Old 01-12-2011, 03:28 PM
Maeglin Maeglin is offline
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I'm saying Procopius the author is the best source, which I don't think is really questionable - not (lord forbid!) the Secret History. He was a direct eyewitness to Justinian's reign, was secretary to Belisarius, and wrote extensively about it - including the Wars of Justinian you cite, among other works.

Sure, there are other sources, but none were so highly placed.
Highly placed, sure, but also full of lies and misrepresentations. We don't presume that Procopius was the best source just because he was there, but because we can confirm much of what he says from other sources.

From your remark, it sounded like you were talking about a particular piece of historiography, not a person. You said that "stuff" originates from folks with axes to grind, but it may be the best source material, for example, the Secret History. Please forgive my confusion.
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Old 01-12-2011, 03:35 PM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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Highly placed, sure, but also full of lies and misrepresentations. We don't presume that Procopius was the best source just because he was there, but because we can confirm much of what he says from other sources.

From your remark, it sounded like you were talking about a particular piece of historiography, not a person. You said that "stuff" originates from folks with axes to grind, but it may be the best source material, for example, the Secret History. Please forgive my confusion.
No prob - I guess my point is this: we know (assuming that Procopius is indeed the author of the Secret History) that he hated Justinian with a passion. He's as biased as they come, capable of outrageous distortions. And fun!

Yet in his other works, he's the best possible source for the reign - he was highly placed, an eyewitness, secretary to Belisarius, and a professional historian.

If even someone as (on paper) 'good' as Procopius could 'be bad', we have no idea how 'bad' any of the other sources are ... about whom we know even less.

I agree that the truth can only be arrived at by rigourous consultation of all sources - but for some persons, the sources lack. You can believe the few commentators who exist, or not.
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Old 01-12-2011, 03:44 PM
Maeglin Maeglin is offline
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Okay, Maeglin, first of all, this is meant for entertainment, not to do a thorough and in-depth biography of each and every person. Hell, I tried to go more in-depth in other threads and no one cared. I'm doing this for the lulz, not for a dissertation. I'm a Doper, not a History Bitch.
Good grief, no one is asking for a dissertation. I like entertainment, too. But at least that's usually clearly labeled "historical fiction." If you want to pass on great stories by people who wrote a century after the events they describe, power to you. But it might be nice to say so, especially among Dopers who may care about such things. If someone were writing a funny series about some scientific topic, for example, I think we'd at least expect the poster to get the science right or be pretty up-front about where the simplification occurs.

Quote:
Secondly, I never said anything about him being a terrible ruler.
I never said you did. I'm not trying to rehabilitate Basil's character. I just care about what we know with some certainty versus what was written substantially later by tendentious people who didn't know anything. That's all.

Quote:
Thirdly, my sources include Luitprand of Cremona, Theophanes Continuatus, and Genesios. Fricking take it up with them, okay?
Sadly, they're dead.
  #74  
Old 01-12-2011, 03:57 PM
Mississippienne Mississippienne is offline
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Look, whatever. If you know better, you write it.

I work hard on these to make them entertaining because I know there's a couple of posters who really like these threads, and from the hope that it will spark some interest about these historical figures, and what I get is "OMG you didn't mention X, Y, or Z!" What, should I devote a paragraph to Basil's fiscal policies? No one cares! I do the best I can with the sources I have available; I don't have a university library, or access to journals.

Last edited by Mississippienne; 01-12-2011 at 03:58 PM. Reason: sp
  #75  
Old 01-12-2011, 04:41 PM
sitchensis sitchensis is offline
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Gosh Maeglin you’re really smart too…

Okay now can we get back the wonderful thread Mississippienne was writing.
  #76  
Old 01-12-2011, 05:03 PM
Maeglin Maeglin is offline
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Look, whatever. If you know better, you write it.

I work hard on these to make them entertaining because I know there's a couple of posters who really like these threads, and from the hope that it will spark some interest about these historical figures, and what I get is "OMG you didn't mention X, Y, or Z!" What, should I devote a paragraph to Basil's fiscal policies? No one cares! I do the best I can with the sources I have available; I don't have a university library, or access to journals.
What you are getting is "OMG you are passing off what is certainly false for something true." That's the issue. This fiscal policy stuff is a bit of a red herring.

I don't see why this is any different than writing about science or contemporary history. It's great to write an accessible story that will stimulate peoples' interest, but it should at least more or less be true. If I were writing a biography of some recent figure, say JFK, and I cherry-picked stuff from sources written by conspiracy theorists, I think readers would have every right, especially on a forum like this, to point that out.

If you do find a journal article that you'd like, I, um, might be able to help you out with that. Educational purposes and such.
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Old 01-12-2011, 05:10 PM
OtakuLoki OtakuLoki is offline
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Gosh Maeglin you’re really smart too…

Okay now can we get back the wonderful thread Mississippienne was writing.
Very well said.


Or to put it another way: I'm here for entertaining scurrilous historical stories. Historical rigor is not necessary, and frankly the sort of vetting of sources that Maeglin is talking about far exceeds any real interest I'd have in these topics. I don't expect a thousand or two thousand word essay to fulfill the standards I'd bring to historical research. As long as I'm convinced that Mississippienne is being generally faithful to known sources, I'm not going to worry about what dissenting sources a rigorous search may bring up.

We're not trying to rehabilitate Richard III, or damn him, either. If I want the more exact details, I'll go hunting. For this, simply being pointed to some of the more interesting stories from history is all I'm hoping for from this thread. Which desire is being most entertainingly supplied by our OP.
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Old 01-12-2011, 06:19 PM
Inner Stickler Inner Stickler is offline
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Yeah, look, if you want to start a thread about historiography practices or Basil's rule, great. Don't be farting up this thread with nitpicking at someone who has taken a great deal of time to make a fun and engaging thread.

Mississipienne, please continue with your kickass stories.
  #79  
Old 01-12-2011, 10:26 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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In 999, Fulk Nerra caught his wife, Elisabeth de Vendôme, in bed with a shepherd boy and had her burnt alive at the stake, in the process burning most of the city of Angers to the ground.
Any idea what he did to the shepherd boy? And was this the Fulk of Angou who married Melusine the Devil's Daughter? If so, he had really bad luck with women.

Basil II was no shlump himself- he gouged out the eyes of hundreds (by some accounts as many as 9000) Bulgarian p.o.w.s, sparing one eye for every tenth man. The one-eyed soldiers led their comrades the thousand miles or so home. His niece Zoe I've written about several times on board- she was kept a cloistered virgin until she became empress at 47 or thereabouts, then married an old man she hated who became emperor through his marriage to her, and when she didn't liek that she made her teenaged toyboy emperor and let his brother, the eunuch John the Orphan-master, rule while they played. The problems came when his other eunuch brothers were just as corrupt as John but nowhere near as capable, played Lucy Ricardo ("I wanna rule the Eastern Empire toooooooo!!!!!") and advanced a nephew, all while her toyboy husband Michael IV learned he was dying and got religion.

Last edited by Sampiro; 01-12-2011 at 10:30 PM.
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Old 01-13-2011, 12:26 AM
Oslo Ostragoth Oslo Ostragoth is offline
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Originally Posted by Inner Stickler View Post
Yeah, look, if you want to start a thread about historiography practices or Basil's rule, great. Don't be farting up this thread with nitpicking at someone who has taken a great deal of time to make a fun and engaging thread.

Mississipienne, please continue with your kickass stories.
Seconded. As long as the stories Miss tells aren't complete fiction, I can let my imagination run wild about the bad old days and enjoy them.
  #81  
Old 01-13-2011, 02:03 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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*eagerly awaiting number one*
  #82  
Old 01-13-2011, 02:44 AM
Kamino Neko Kamino Neko is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mississippienne View Post
Basil

[snip]

Eudokia Ingerine

[snip]

Eudokia Dekapolitissa

[snip]

Basiliskianos
Is Eudokia a name or a title? (A quick Google is suggesting name, but giving just enough evidence that it could be a name-turned-title, like Caesar) Because if it's the former, the naming of the people involved in this debacle is kind of eerie.
  #83  
Old 01-13-2011, 04:01 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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It's a name, but no more eerie than running into a mess set in, say, Mexico with a Francisco, Paco, Lupe and Lupita, or one in Catalonia involving Jordi, another Jordi, did anybody need a third Jordi?, a Montse and a Montserrat. Or one involving Spaniards about 20 with a Yeni, a Jenifér (pronounced with a hard J) and two Rubenes...
  #84  
Old 01-13-2011, 07:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Tamerlane View Post
For example the story of Edward II taking a hot poker up the rear might be true ( it is mentioned in 5 of 25 or more sources ), but it also might be derived from later propaganda designed to blacken his name ( via its implication of anal rape and linking that with charges of sodomy ). Far to often it is simply impossible to tell.
With modern forensics, couldn't examination of Edward II's skeleton settle this issue? Let's root for a lawsuit, perhaps brought by Roger Mortimer's heirs, to exhume the royal corpse!
  #85  
Old 01-13-2011, 07:30 AM
Cicero Cicero is offline
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I always liked the unfortunately King Arses of Persia- however he was well before these times.
  #86  
Old 01-13-2011, 08:06 AM
JRDelirious JRDelirious is offline
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Having fun with these, Mississippienne. Are you a Will Cuppy reader? These bios give me a pleasant The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody vibe.
  #87  
Old 01-13-2011, 11:10 AM
Maeglin Maeglin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oslo Ostragoth View Post
Seconded. As long as the stories Miss tells aren't complete fiction, I can let my imagination run wild about the bad old days and enjoy them.
Knock yourself out. But they are pretty much complete fiction.

Imagine if someone wrote an entertaining, engaging bio of President Obama on the SDMB and used FreeRepublic.com as the main source without even telling anyone. Imagine it's also not a parody piece, either. Suppose the bio is honestly passed off as truth.

It wouldn't be nitpicking to point out that no, Obama was not actually born in Kenya, is not a fundamentalist Muslim, and is not a member of the Communist Party. It wouldn't be shocking if people were a bit skeptical, and maybe after the author mentioned that the source was a bunch of freepers, they might feel a little misled. Nobody's asking for a huge amount of historical rigor here, just a basic separation of what we know from fantasy.

It's not nitpicking to tell another adult that Santa Claus doesn't exist or that you can't learn much history by reading The Lord of the Rings. If this poops anyone's party, well, sorry.
  #88  
Old 01-13-2011, 11:14 AM
Mr. Excellent Mr. Excellent is offline
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Originally Posted by septimus View Post
With modern forensics, couldn't examination of Edward II's skeleton settle this issue? Let's root for a lawsuit, perhaps brought by Roger Mortimer's heirs, to exhume the royal corpse!
Not if the poker only did soft-tissue damage, I suspect.
  #89  
Old 01-13-2011, 01:43 PM
seanchai seanchai is offline
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Maeglin, whether or not you're enthralled by these tales, others, including myself, are enjoying them.

Please understand that we've completely taken a shine to Mississippienne's tales.

We understand that you are not of the same opinion. Stop raining on our parade - if you upset M enough that she stops telling her stories, we won't be cheering you on, eh? You aren't in her league as an entertainer.

As she says, she isn't writing an historical thesis, but sharing some of her own research / enjoyment of medieval European history.

Mississippianne, do go on with your entertaining historical tales. I, for one, enjoy a great story and don't have to run to the library to back check each fact.

However, do be warned - you're tickling an interest in more European history. I'll never be anywhere near your level of knowledge, or come close to your ability to tell a story. However, if I start collecting a library on your era of history, I shall blame you for another reading frenzy!

On with the show!

an seanchai

Last edited by seanchai; 01-13-2011 at 01:43 PM. Reason: inability to spell
  #90  
Old 01-13-2011, 03:20 PM
Sampiro Sampiro is offline
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Originally Posted by Shirley Ujest View Post
Do you have a blog dedicated to this loveliness? If not, you really need to get one. I'll even learn how to subscribe and stuff.

I LOVE THIS sooooo much.
Or podcasts. It's WAY better than the Stuff You Missed in History Class blog (whose hosts I detest- way too Delicious Dish meets sorority girls).
  #91  
Old 01-14-2011, 07:19 PM
Nametag Nametag is offline
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Sorry, but I'm going to have to weigh in on Maeglin's side. I was enjoying the stories as much as anyone, until I read the one about Marozia, and saw that chestnut about Sergius III and the second "Cadaver Synod"; I then realized that stories that were virtually certain to be untrue were being fobbed off as historical fact. I don't like being lied to.

I'm not suggesting that Mississippienne shouldn't tell these stories; they're great fun, and I appreciate both the work that went into learning the history and typing them out, and the wit and verve she tells them with. I don't think Maeglin is suggesting it either. I think both of us are saying that a few words in the OP, about discredited sources or history written by enemies, would have been nice.
  #92  
Old 01-14-2011, 10:31 PM
Hedda Rosa Hedda Rosa is offline
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I am enjoying these posts and take them as I do any historical fiction - more or less representative of the period, while possibly not applying the most rigorous academic standards. The point is to first entertain and secondly intrigue enough to inspire future research on the part of the reader. Any number of historical fiction authors are more or less based on biased or discredited sources; still, if it is a thumping good tale and makes me go and research the real history for myself (with whatever primary or secondary sources as are available), so much the better.

Maeglin next time I personally would love to hear your suggestion of alternate sources without all of the pooping on everyone's fun.

And just to share, a related podcast I have been enjoying.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/e...ns/id303246052

Last edited by Hedda Rosa; 01-14-2011 at 10:33 PM.
  #93  
Old 01-14-2011, 10:33 PM
Inner Stickler Inner Stickler is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nametag View Post
Sorry, but I'm going to have to weigh in on Maeglin's side. I was enjoying the stories as much as anyone, until I read the one about Marozia, and saw that chestnut about Sergius III and the second "Cadaver Synod"; I then realized that stories that were virtually certain to be untrue were being fobbed off as historical fact. I don't like being lied to.

I'm not suggesting that Mississippienne shouldn't tell these stories; they're great fun, and I appreciate both the work that went into learning the history and typing them out, and the wit and verve she tells them with. I don't think Maeglin is suggesting it either. I think both of us are saying that a few words in the OP, about discredited sources or history written by enemies, would have been nice.
Then start another thread somewhere else. It's tacky to spoil the mood of this one.
  #94  
Old 01-15-2011, 09:43 PM
seanchai seanchai is offline
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I'm still waiting for #1 - c'mon, Mississippienne, we're still waiting

an seanchai
  #95  
Old 01-16-2011, 06:01 AM
Mississippienne Mississippienne is offline
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What makes me angry is that Maeglin's comments might make readers assume that I just flat-out made this stuff up. For those who would like to take a peek at the sources I used to write about Basil, here ya go. Have at it:

Vita Basilii (Life of Basil), commissioned by his grandson Konstantinos VII Porphyrogenitus, is the 'official' account of Basil's rise and reign. This tells us of Basil meeting Nikolaos, Theophilitzes, and his 'spiritual' union with Danelis' son.
The Continuator of George the Monk also backs up VB when it comes to Nikolaos and Theophilitzes.
Theophanes Continuatus tells us of Theophilitzes' penchant for handsome young men.
Luitprand of Cremona gives us the story of Michael spotting Basil at church and being so taken with the way Basil "excelled all others in physique" that he went to the abbot to see about getting and keeping him.
Leonis Grammatici Chronographiatells us that Basil married Eudokia (though continuing to share her with Michael) and was also given Michael's sister Thekla as a concubine. Leo and the Con. Geo. Monk (above) give virtually identical accounts of how Basil entered into a spiritual union with Nikolaos in church and also how they liked to frolic together in bathhouses.
Genesios talks about Michael's adoration for Basil and the many honors he gave him.

Now frankly, taking all these sources together gives ME a pretty clear picture of who Basil was and what he did. It's also worth noting that quite a few historians have mentioned the exceptionally homoerotic relationship between Michael and Basil, which is hinted at about as boldly as anyone could've by Luitprand. Romilly Jenkins seems to have been the first to accuse Michael of 'homosexualism' (sic) with Basil back in the 1960s, and others, including John Boswell and Dr. Shaun Tougher, also discuss it.

Mostly, though, I don't want anyone leaving this thread thinking that I just made a bunch of crap up and posted about it. If you don't think Luitprand was telling the truth, or even just repeating a saucy story he heard, fine. But I'm basing what I wrote on the best sources available to me. If Maeglin wants to write a thread rehabilitating Basil's image, he's welcome to it.

Last edited by Mississippienne; 01-16-2011 at 06:02 AM. Reason: sp
  #96  
Old 01-16-2011, 06:13 AM
Mississippienne Mississippienne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tengu View Post
Is Eudokia a name or a title? (A quick Google is suggesting name, but giving just enough evidence that it could be a name-turned-title, like Caesar) Because if it's the former, the naming of the people involved in this debacle is kind of eerie.
Eudokia and Basil are both names. Byzantine women, at least the highborn ones, only had a pool of like five names to choose from (Anna, Eudokia, Maria, Theodora, and Irene are maybe the most common). In this they were slightly better off than their more Western European sisters, who at any given time all seemed to have been christened with the same three names.

Byzantine men were slightly better off than the women when it came to naming, but not by a whole hell of a lot. Really I should call Basil by his proper Greek name, Basileios.
  #97  
Old 01-16-2011, 10:45 AM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mississippienne View Post
What makes me angry is that Maeglin's comments might make readers assume that I just flat-out made this stuff up. For those who would like to take a peek at the sources I used to write about Basil, here ya go. Have at it:

Vita Basilii (Life of Basil), commissioned by his grandson Konstantinos VII Porphyrogenitus, is the 'official' account of Basil's rise and reign. This tells us of Basil meeting Nikolaos, Theophilitzes, and his 'spiritual' union with Danelis' son.
The Continuator of George the Monk also backs up VB when it comes to Nikolaos and Theophilitzes.
Theophanes Continuatus tells us of Theophilitzes' penchant for handsome young men.
Luitprand of Cremona gives us the story of Michael spotting Basil at church and being so taken with the way Basil "excelled all others in physique" that he went to the abbot to see about getting and keeping him.
Leonis Grammatici Chronographiatells us that Basil married Eudokia (though continuing to share her with Michael) and was also given Michael's sister Thekla as a concubine. Leo and the Con. Geo. Monk (above) give virtually identical accounts of how Basil entered into a spiritual union with Nikolaos in church and also how they liked to frolic together in bathhouses.
Genesios talks about Michael's adoration for Basil and the many honors he gave him.

Now frankly, taking all these sources together gives ME a pretty clear picture of who Basil was and what he did. It's also worth noting that quite a few historians have mentioned the exceptionally homoerotic relationship between Michael and Basil, which is hinted at about as boldly as anyone could've by Luitprand. Romilly Jenkins seems to have been the first to accuse Michael of 'homosexualism' (sic) with Basil back in the 1960s, and others, including John Boswell and Dr. Shaun Tougher, also discuss it.

Mostly, though, I don't want anyone leaving this thread thinking that I just made a bunch of crap up and posted about it. If you don't think Luitprand was telling the truth, or even just repeating a saucy story he heard, fine. But I'm basing what I wrote on the best sources available to me. If Maeglin wants to write a thread rehabilitating Basil's image, he's welcome to it.
Frankly, I do have access to the library at Yale, and I can fact check for myself, thanks very much.

Go back to recounting tales, I want some entertainment!

Procopius really was a nasty worm, wasn't he? Talk about a backstabbing bitch...
  #98  
Old 01-19-2011, 05:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mississippienne View Post
... "from her early youth, [Marozia] had been inflamed by the fires of Venus"; Marozia set her sights on none other than the pope himself. She flashed him her tits, and soon Sergius III was shacked up with her in happily unwedded bliss.
...
Pope John X forced Marozia to look at the mutilated body of her husband and take heed; that just seems to have pissed her off.
Marozia turned right around and married Guido of Tuscany in 925. They moved against Pope John X, seized him and threw him into prison, where he was then smothered.
We're still awaiting nomination #1, but if we have to vote now, my vote is for Marozia. Consider it the romantic in me.
  #99  
Old 01-27-2011, 08:18 AM
Cheez_Whia Cheez_Whia is offline
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We're still waiting for number one! Pretty please?
  #100  
Old 02-21-2011, 03:50 PM
gallows fodder gallows fodder is offline
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Bumping this a month late -- who could be worse than these five already mentioned?

PS. Somebody needs to make a biopic on Fulk Nerra, tout de suite.
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