Digitized manuscripts contains mountain of incredible artwork that can’t be found through Google, Pinterest or other regular search engines. You need to know the back alleyways of the Internet to find those gems.
This video introduces you to a few of those little known paths and explains you the shortcomings of mainstream search engines and why you need to look beyond them. Websites introduced in this video:
I was on Twitter the other day and shared a meme of mine in which Plato talks with the devil. The person whom I sent the meme then asked me what I first constructed as a troll comment: “Why is the devil black?” We find many things on Twitter and I first thought that my interlocutor was leaning toward a slightly veiled racist comment. He kept asking, however, why was the devil pictured as black? That’s when I remembered that the devil is mostly depicted in red today and it hit me that it could be a legitimate question to understand why the devil was pictured as black in medieval manuscripts.
Keep in mind that I’m an ass. As advertized!
The Devil’s Color Today Is Red
I mean, I should have connected the dots faster! I’m Belgian and our national football/soccer team is called the ‘Red Devils’. They’re quite famous nowadays: Eden Hazard (Real Madrid C.F.), Romelu Lukaku (F.C. Internationale Milano), Dries Mertens (S.S.C. Napoli), Axel Witsen (Borussia Dortmund), Vincent Company (formerly at R.S.C. Anderlecht) and Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City F.C.). All of them are international superstars! When I went to Naples recently, I discovered that talking about the Red Devils was actually a great way to connect with locals (thank you Dries Mertens!).
When I went to Naples recently, I discovered that talking about the Red Devils was actually a great way to connect with locals (thank you Dries Mertens!).
Also, if you look for devils on Google image search, you’ll only see the color red in the matching results. Red is the color of Hell because it is the color of fire and Hell is constructed in our heads as a place full of fire since it is located at the core of the Earth, deep under the surface (whereas angels have white wings since they live above the clouds).
However, red was not always the Devil’s color. I remember watching an old documentary—that I’m too lazy to track down—which told how he was depicted in green a long time ago. Nevertheless the color red caught on a bad reputation in the 16th century among Protestants because it was the color of the people who supported the pope*. Protestants also focused on a passage of the Apocalypse read that red was the color of the beast that rides the whore of Babylon. The color that she also wore herself:
I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet colored beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.
And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet color.
~ Book of Revelation, 17:3-4.
Nevertheless the color red caught on a bad reputation in the 16th century among Protestants because it was the color of the people who supported the pope.
As the historian Michel Pastoureau reminds us, Martin Luther saw Rome as
the new Babylon. Red was therefore the color to avoid at all cost. It comes as
no surprise then that the color red gradually became more and more associated
with the devil and evil. Even in the Catholic world, only women would later be
allowed to wear red, that’s probably why pink is today seen as a color for
little girls whereas blue is the color of little boys. But more on that later.
Back to red devils, they are so popular now that they dictate the features of fictional characters when they’re supposed to be threatening, dangerous and evil. I’ll take only one example in that regard and that is the case of Darth Maul in Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace. A most scarlet face hides under his black hood. He even has horns on his head instead of hair to fully assimilate him with a demon from the underworld. As soon as the audience sees his face, they know he’s an evil character and can’t be anything else but evil. It is an easy, clever and straightforward representation. If we were to extrapolate about the color red in the Star Wars universe, unless when Queen Amidala wears it (and maybe in a few other occurrences), it is quite clearly linked with evil whereas the color blue, a celestial color, represents the good. As Anakin Skywalker slowly transforms into Darth Vador, though he still wields a blue lightsaber, his eyes turn red. That aesthetic is carried on in the latest episodes of Star Wars and is fairly obvious to spot when Kylo Ren and Rey are facing each other in Episode VIII: The Last Jedi.
If we were to extrapolate about the color red in the Star Wars universe, unless when Queen Amidala wears it (and maybe in a few other occurrences), it is quite clearly linked with evil whereas the color blue, a celestial color, represents the good.
Michel Pastoureau & Dominique Simonnet, Le
petit livre des couleurs. Paris: Points, 2004.
What the Color Red Meant in the Middle Ages
Before the 16th century and prior to the Reformation, however, the color red was the noblest of all, second only to gold—and white, maybe. Red is the color of blood and the only blood that mattered was the blood of Christ, who died to save us all, according to Christian theology. It reminded its martyr. It was holy and sacred.
Seraphs, which are described as the angels who were the closest to God, were depicted with red wings in medieval manuscripts when they were not exclusively red! Various illuminations depicting the hierarchy of angels in Heaven systematically color the seraphs in red, at the very top of the celestial ladder, right next to God. I’m not making this up, look at the illuminations for yourself.
Similarly the highest ranked clerics of the Church wore red gowns. They
still do. I’m talking about the cardinals of the Catholic Church, of course,
that even have a shade of red, a red bird (the northern cardinal) and fishes
displaying red scales (the cardinal tetra) named after them. According to
Catholic theology, the Church on earth is supposed to reflect the heavenly
Church of God and his angels. The pope equates God in this parallel and the
cardinals equate the seraphs. Anyone who’d consider the Church not worthy of
this holy comparison—because the earthly Church, reportedly founded by Christ
himself, is supposed to be holy by definition—put himself in great danger. Such
was the case of John Wycliffe, an English theologian who was personally
protected by the King and therefore avoided ecclesiastical prosecution.
Wycliffe wrote that the Church on earth couldn’t compare in terms of holiness with
the heavenly Church of God. It gave birth to the long-lasting heresy of the Lollards,
which would be persecuted and repressed violently.
As Michel Pastoureau reminds us, in his short and delightful book I’ve already referenced above, red was also the color worn by women on their wedding day, especially by brides from the lower social class.
The point I’m trying to make is that red was seen as a holy and prestigious color in the Middle Ages. As Michel Pastoureau reminds us, in his short and delightful book I’ve already referenced above, red was also the color worn by women on their wedding day, especially by brides from the lower social class.
I’ve done a quick research on that in digitized manuscripts and sure thing, we don’t see a single bride in white! White—as it is commonly known—became the traditional color of wedding gowns during the 19th century. Women were invited to wear their most expensive and lavish dress on their wedding day during the Middle Ages and red pigments were particularly expensive, beyond the fact that the color red carried a highly spiritual meaning. As for jewels, women often borrowed from their relatives on their big day but mostly they wore crowns. I’ve seen a few examples of golden and blue dresses—in one case I spotted a green dress. However, if the bride is not wearing any red herself, the groom or the witnesses would wear it instead. Red was the color of weddings!
Red was the color of weddings!
Which brings us, naturally, to the infamous “Red Wedding” written by G.R.R. Martin in his novel series A Song of Fire and Ice—adapted for television in Game of Thrones. I will only mention it to stress how that wedding didn’t fit any properly medieval setting. Rarely do we read about weddings ending ugly in medieval chronicles. A wedding was a sacred ceremony, not only a feast but a holy moment well defined and framed by the Church. Any crime committed during a wedding would have resulted in the most pernicious and vicious excommunication. Carrying on sieges and battles on holy days were already the mainsprings of bad reputation to knights and military commanders. Joan of Arc suffered such a fate when she led the siege of Paris on a day devoted to the Virgin Mary. Straight out murders and massacres on wedding days would have caused the utter destruction of anyone’s reputation and it would have cost him all his allies. This was not a smart move. It is funny how sometimes G.R.R. Martin properly draws from medieval history, like when he writes about the death of Robert Baratheon during a wild boar hunting party, yet more often than not he stretches away from historical veracity to come up with his own symbolism. The Red Wedding is red because of all the blood that was shed. Weddings were red in the Middle Ages because most people dressed in red on such occasions and the color red carried a noble spiritual meaning.
The Red Wedding (in A Song of Fire and Ice) is red because of all the blood that was shed. Weddings were red in the Middle Ages because most people dressed in red on such occasions and the color red carried a noble spiritual meaning.
Red Beasts and Black Beasts
Red was the color of the divine, a color that carried prestige and meant
power. If the Good, the Bad and the Ugly were medieval colors, the Good would
be red, the Bad would be black, and the Ugly would be another tale entirely—though
he could also be black. Such a definition helps us understand how animals were
categorized in the Books of King Modus
and Queen Ratio. The author, presumably Henry of Ferrières, divides
commonly hunted forest animals into two sorts: the redbeasts (the noble ones)
and the black beasts (the nasty ones).
The five red beasts are the following: the deer, the doe, the fallow deer, the roe and the hare. The five black beasts are as follows: the boar, the sow, the wolf, the fox and the otter. One could argue that the fox is a red beast but the terminology here carries meaning beyond the sole color of the animal’s fur. The Books of King Modus and Queen Ratio is not only a hunting treatise, it is also an allegorical tale. Every time King Modus explains how animals are to be hunted, Queen Ratio delivers the symbolic and spiritual meaning of those animals according to the Christian faith and the Catholic dogma. That’s why she argues that if the deer has ten pikes on his antlers to defend himself from harm, the Christian has the Ten Commandments at his disposal to shield himself against all evil. The deer not only belongs to the “good beasts”, it is a Christological beast, whereas the boar is an evil animal that guards the satanic tree of the Devil’s Ten Commandments. It all belongs to the rhetoric that our world is merely the projected shadow of a higher one: God’s own realm.
What’s funny though is that in most manuscripts containing the Books of King Modus and Queen Ratio I
found out that the boar was represented upon a red background (see above). So
there may be more to red that I let on is this blog post. Indeed, as you can
also see in the few illuminations depicting St John that I’ve encountered, the
devil taunting him as he writes the Book
of Revelation is not systematically black, he can also be red! Oh, the
flimsiness of cultural and representation studies. What’s funny with the Late
Middle Age allegoric literature is that anything could be seen as godly or devilish
depending on the author’s intent as long as it respected or reminded the
Catholic dogma in any way, shape or form. Even the fornication tales of Jupiter
could carry a divine meaning to the more daring of medieval scholars. They
wrote several books around that theme—but as Maz Kanata puts it in The Force Awakens: “That’s a story of
Going Full Circle: Black Beasts as the Beast
Boars, sows, wolves, foxes and otters were all considered as pests to
get rid of. They were deemed dangerous. It was indeed a risky venture to hunt
the wild boar in the forest, as many romances told and several dead kings provedto
be true.Age of Empires 2 players
must also be very careful when hunting the wild boars in the Dark Age.
Such beasts, the black beasts, were thought to stink, to bite, to destroy
everything in their path. It comes as no surprise then that the Beast, the incarnation of evil,
would adopt their features and characteristic. The Beast had to be black. And
since it was formerly an angel, it had wings! But not any wings: bat wings.
Bats didn’t have the best reputation during the Middle Ages depending on
where they lived. In Northern Spain? They were loved—but more on that in a
minute. In Northern France? Not so much. To begin with, bats hairless, which is
the reason why they’re called “bald mouse” in French (“chauve-souris”), and it
gave way to several interpretations. Not all of them favorable to their kin.
Bats are naked as the alcoholics and the gluttons are naked from selling even
their clothes in order to give way to their addiction. That’s how the Ovide moralisé puts it*.
Moreover, the Latin word for bat is “vespertilio”
(in Old French it was still “vespertille”). It meant “the bird that flies at
night” or the bird of darkness. Bats are pleased to live in the dark and they
wouldn’t have it any other way. They flee the light. Such are the sinners, who
run away from knowledge and the holy beacon of faith and truth that was the
The Beast, who’s dark and black and master of evil, only has bat wings
as a natural conclusion of the medieval symbolism I presented here to you. It
answers the question why the devil was black in medieval manuscripts instead of
red but it does not end this blog post. Here comes the bonus section for those
who stuck until the end!
The Devil may have turned red, sure, yet he still appears in black today
but in disguise, with another name and under another mantle. At night, he roams
the streets of a major city that is infested by criminals. He tracks them down
and give them Hell. You know that new devil yourself. His name is known to you.
Batman, he is called. How did he acquire such a name? The legend says that
Bruce Wayne was pondering at night how to inflict fear to criminals. In his
office, he gathered his thoughts.
“Criminals are a superstitious cowardly lot, so my disguise must be able to strike terror into their hearts. I must be a creature of the night, black terrible… a… a…”
As if in answer, a huge bat flied in the open window.
“A bat! That’s it! It’s an omen..; I shall become a bat!”
And thus is born in this weird figure of the dark… this avenger of evil: the Batman.
~ DC #33, Nov. 1939
However, Bruce Wayne was certainly not the first person to have a bat
fly in and become an omen. Oh, no! Such a fate happened to King James I of
Aragon in the 13th century. Remember when I told you that bats had a
good reputation in Northern Spain? Here is why**.
King James was in his tent, just as Bruce Wayne was in his office. King
James pondered about the upcoming battle, just as Bruce Wayne pondered about
his upcoming crusade against criminals. The word crusade is almost too fitting
here since King James was readying himself against Moorish enemies. As he
spotted the bat, he figured it was a good omen—just as Bruce Wayne did—and he put
the symbol of a bat on the top of his banners the next day. The battle was won
and since then bats have been figures of good luck in the region of Valencia
and Barcelona, even to this day!
I started mentioning a football/soccer team. It is only fitting that I’d end up with another: the Valencia C.F. which celebrated its hundred-year anniversary this very year! If you look at their jersey, you’d see a bat on the top of their flag. As a matter of fact, it clearly reminds Iberian medieval coat of arms, where bats were not uncommon but very much present (I’ll let you look it up for yourselves).
Oh, the flimsiness of cultural and representation studies!
On a final word, I leave you to reconsider the hypothesis advanced by Gabriel Iglesias aka Fluffy. Could Batman be Mexican? King James spoke a kind of Spanish. Therefore Batman might very well be hispanic! Enjoy the video.
* More on that: Angela Calenda, “La métamorphose des Minéides en chauves-souris dans l’Ovide moralisé”, in Reinardus. Yearbook of the International Reynard Society, 28 (2016), p. 23-30.
** More on that: Denise
Tupinier, “Origine et signification de la Chauve-Souris dans les provinces du
Levant espagnol”, in Publications de la
Société Linnéenne de Lyon, 54-2 (1985), p. 52-56.
I’ve been meaning to write this blog-post for a looong time. Actually, it is where it all started for me and my online Asinus persona. However, the more I delved into the topic, the more I discovered that the sum of my knowledge was close to nothing… I had to watch more videos and read more. All in all I spent several hundred hours on that very particular subject. I hope you will appreciate my findings. Please, let me know if I’ve forgotten anything! I will update my post accordingly. Thank you for reading and see you soon on my next blog posts.
This blog post is dedicated to _LilTrouble, the kindest of all Age of Empires 2 streamers, who makes her streams feel like you’re in a lounge having a good time with friends.
The first time I restarted Age of Empires 2 for an online game with my father and his colleagues, I just did nonsense. I sent my scout straight to my allies. I scouted my base with my villagers. I found three turkeys and didn’t look for the fourth one (though you always find cattle in even numbers). I just didn’t what a build order was!
I got my ass served to me a few times by my father’s colleagues and I decided that I couldn’t suck at some twenty years old game anymore. My pride was tickled and it had to be answered. I started to learn what a build order was.Matthieu Macret puts it best:
“A build order defines the sequence in which buildings are constructed, units are produced and technologies are researched. Build orders target a specific strategy, such as rushing or timing attacks.“
Age of Empires 2 is a Real Time Strategy game that works on a very simple principle: the more ressources you have, the more military you can produce.
Once I acquired that little piece of knowledge, I went on to learn that boars, that I had always ignored, were to be hunted and their food collected. Hunting wild boars is however a dangerous activity in Age of Empires 2. That’s why I had always avoided it altogether in the past. Was it really necessary, though, to change my habits to improve my gameplay?
Sorry to be blunt but first I thought I should serve you with a long ass demonstration. Eventually I decided against it. Age of Empires 2 is a Real Time Strategy game that works on a very simple principle: the more ressources you have, the more military you can produce. There is an element of sheer strategy to the game, but on the long run the player that has the best economy usually wins.
You just can’t ignore the free food boars represent. You need it.
How to get it, however, is another matter… for which I’m fully prepared to go on for a bit and boar you with details.
Welcome to our class of Heraldry 101, young Padawan. I’m glad you made it on time. Today, we’ll discuss why the kings of France preferred a flower over, say, some powerful predator like the lion or the bear. I mean, isn’t it weird? And even weirded when you think that Charles VI chose winged deer as his emblem instead of… I don’t know… winged wolves, or dragons?
Torture came into fashion in the 13th century for very specific reasons. Namely, the (re)discovery of Roman law and its implementation by the Church. The 1215 Latran council recognised that trials by ordeals were a thing from the past and that since they were rational and modern beings, it was time to move on.
People of the Middle Ages enjoyed having a garden as much as we do today, if not even more. They had no TV nor printing press to distract them. Spending some time in the yard after a long day of work was quite the release. Friars were invited to have a gentle stroll in their gardens instead of napping after dinner. The rose already obsessed many people for its unique scent and beautiful shape.
How to Hunt Wild Boars in Age of Empires 2?
Toying with Danger
Hunting a wild boar is a dangerous business! You can help out your villagers by researching loom and grant them extra hit points and armor. However, loom costs 50 gold and researching it could slow your build order down if you aim for very early aggression. Also, sometimes you just don’t have the time to have it researched before you have to lure boars. It can happen on a Nomad map, for example.
Just watch the following clip from T90 Official YouTube channel and witness how Lierrey turns a bad start around with two successful very early boar lures.
Lierrey is a pro-player and he makes it look very easy though he comes close to lose a villager. However, many a player have lost many a villager in unsuccessful boar luring attempts.
A few weeks back, a new meme was born to mock William McNabb who went on Twitter and asked the following in the wake of two more U.S.A. mass shootings and argued in favor of assault weapons: “Legit question for rural Americans – How do I kill the 30-50 feral hogs that run into my yard within 3-5 mins while my small kids play?“
I’m not making this up. I found the original tweet back for you.
It became an instant internet success (click on the link to read Joey Cosco’s very entertaining account of this viral moment). Of course, since Age of Empires 2 players have to face the danger of wild boars every early game, they just had to join in on the fun and they came up with some memes of their own.
Not to hit you too hard and too soon with some concrete historical knowledge, but it was actually well-known in the Middle Ages that wild boar hunting was a dangerous business. The sole encounter of a sus scrofa (to call the wild boar by its latin scientific name) could lead to an ineluctable death. I just happen to know of a few stories about muredrous medieval piggies.
Should I briefly narrate two of those stories to you?
The Pigs that Killed Kings
October 13, 1131. Paris.
The City of Light was still haloed in darkness but the sun was high and bright on that fine and long-forgotten Tuesday. Prince Philip was only fifteen years old but he rode his horse as proud as a peacock.
Soon the name “Philip” was just as common as “Eudes” or “Raoul”.
He had many followers behind him. Not only was he a Prince, you see, he was actually a King. He’d been introduced to the fine art of ruling the realm at the ripe age of three years old. Six years later, he’d been coronated and anointed along his father at Reims. The rolls of chancery called him rex designatus or rex junior. His kingly title was therefore the most official thing.
Prince Philip was born on a windy day. His father was fat and his mother ugly. His Greek name was yet quite uncommon for his time, though he’d been called after his grand-father, Philip I.
Philip I had had a Byzantine princess for mother. Some unverifiable sources state that she descended from Macedonian Kings of old. That’s why, maybe, she gave her son the name of Alexander the Great’s father. It quickly caught up, however, and soon the name “Philip” was just as common as “Eudes” or “Raoul”.
Since he’d been anointed at Reims, Prince Philip was believed to have curing powers that he could channel through his hands. It was a gift that all the Kings of France shared and it made him a holy man despite his youth.
Never a death was deemed more unjust than this one. It was describe with the all the darkest words known to the Latin language: misera, miserabilis, horrenda, horribilis, atrox, turpis, ignominiosa, invidiosa, sordida, infamis, immunda.
Until the age of seven, Prince Philip remained in the company of ladies, that fed and cared for him. From then on he had the task to educate himself and to become a man. Such a noble achievement could only come through the arts of horse riding and weapon-wielding. It comes as no surprise then that Prince Philip, aged fifteen, ventured outside Paris on a hunting party.
Or maybe did he just escaped the city for a ride in the countryside with his friends? We do not know. Meanwhile, his father remains very busy in the capital, mustering his troops to face a few rebellious lords.
As evening lights dawned on Paris and the sun descended below the horizon, Prince Philip came back from his ride in the countryside and passed through a suburb. That is when the accident happened.
It all flashed in a minute and there was nothing anybody could have done.
A pig ran into the legs of Prince Philip’s steed. The horse panicked. The young King lost balance and fell from his horse. His head hurt a rock. The steed then trampled Prince Philip, fell and crushed him.
Philip’s fat father and ugly mother also decided to conceive a new child and to name him after their first born.
The fifteen-years-old King was somehow still alive and was brought to the nearest house but he was certainly doomed. His father was informed of the accident, rushed to his bedside and cursed the devil-sent pig.Prince Philip died overnight. The pope, who was en route to Reims, changed his travel plans to attend Prince Philip’s funerals in Paris.
Never a death was deemed more unjust than this one. It was describe with the all the darkest words known to the Latin language: misera, miserabilis, horrenda, horribilis, atrox, turpis, ignominiosa, invidiosa, sordida, infamis, immunda. It left a stain on the new regal dynasty that was difficult to overcome. However, the Capets managed to get over the dishonor Prince Philip’s death caused. He was buried within the next twelve days and his little brother, Louis, was anointed at Reims by the pope himself, shortly after that.
Philip’s fat father and ugly mother also decided to conceive a new child and to name him after their first born. This second Prince Philip, who never became King, received powerful ecclesiastical charges. Nonetheless he gave up the bishopric of Paris to Pierre Lombard. But that, my friends, is a story for another time.
Do you want to know more about the pig that killed a king? I would advise you to read Michel Pastoureau’s monograph: Le roi tué par un cochon (Paris: Seuil, 2015).
The next story, for now, will tell you how Philip the Fair died, two centuries after Prince Philip, in 1314. It was more epic, however, since this time it happened during an actual hunting party, in a deep dark forest and not in the suburbs or Paris. It also enflammed the rich imagination of several great contemporary novelists of ours, as you shall see.
November 4, 1314. As the cold winds of winter closed in on the kingdom of France, its king chose to lead a hunting party in the cursed forest of Halatte. That is where Louis V met an untimely end in 987. The forest of Halatte had already taken one king. It could take another. Philip the Fair, however, didn’t let it scare him away. He plunged into the forest and hunted a wild boar with the vigor of a young man. He found a beast. He injured it. The beast threw itself under the feet of the king’s steed. Then, just like Prince Philip in 1131, Philip the Fair failed to maintain his balance and fell over. He broke his leg and the wild boar charged him. The beast was slain but King Philip IV proved to be badly injured. He was carried out of the forest and brought to Fontainebleau. He wished to stay alive until the day that a specific holy saint was celebrated. However, he died from his injuries a few days before the date. Many clerics saw that as a form of divine punishment. Philip the Fair hadn’t been very protective of the Church. He’d minted counterfeit money and robbed the Templars of all their belongings after he destroyed their order.
The untimely death of Philip the Fair and his harsh political choices actually gave birth to the legend that he’d been cursed by the Grand Master of the Knights Templar when the latter was burned at the stakes by order of the king. That curse then supposedly ran through many generations and it ultimately led to the Hundred Years’ War.
Well! This is all fine and dandy, but let’s get down to business and talk about wild boar hunting in Age of Empires 2.The best way to collect their food is to lure them.
Legit question for Dark Age villagers: “What’s that all about?”
The Overall Concept
Let’s say you’re new to Age of Empires 2.
How do you hunt a wild boar? Do you send all your villagers right next to it, shoot it down, and transport the food back to your town center like a fresh newbie? Or better yet, do you build a mill next to the boar to facilitate the food gathering?
In AoE2: Definitive Edition; a villager must only shoot a boar once to get it to chase him/her; a military unit, however, attempting to lame a wild boar, must hit it twice “to make it personal”
I know the wild boar is dangerous. I know kings have died because of it. I know very well that a single AoE2 villager stands no chance against such a beast. Yet, it is a villager alone that you have to send towards the wild boarfrom which you wish to collect food in order to create more villagers or early militia units.
goes, your villager. Look at him. Look at her! Your villager walks towards the
wild boar with a bow in its hand. What do you
If you want to lure a wild boar to your town center so that its food can be directly collected there, you villager will have to shoot the beast twice. Not once. Twice. If your villager injures a wild boar with only one arrow, the boar will not follow him or her. You need to tickle the beast for good. However, as soon as the boar has been shot twice, your villager must go back to your town center.
[Edit: This is no longer the case in AoE2: Definitive Edition; a villager must only shoot a boar once to get it to chase him/her; a military unit, however, attempting to lame a wild boar, must hit it twice “to make it personal”]
your villager is stupid because it is, indeed, a fact. Your villager will keep
firing at the wild boar until he or she dies unless instructed otherwise. So
don’t forget your boar hunting villager as you build a lumber camp, send
another sheep to slaughter, or scout the enemy base. It will cost you food and
Assume that your villager is stupid because it is, indeed, a fact. Your villager will keep firing at the wild boar until he or she dies unless instructed otherwise.
Once nearing your town center, your injured
boar hunting villager (for he or she will take a few hits!) can jump into it and your villagers butchering sheep right on that very
same spot can now draw their attention to the beastly wild animal and kill it.
The job, finally, is done. However, so many things can go wrong… So here are a few more tricks to add your skillset if you want to become a top AoE2 player.
As I’ve stated before, boar hunting is some seriously dangerous business in Age of Empires 2. Many things can go wrong and any little mistake can slow you down by messing up your precious build order. You need to be careful, however, you can’t be solely focussed on your boar hunting business as you’re boar hunting.
I know. It can be confusing but pro-players call it APM. Actions per minute. How many actions can you achieve under one single minute? In RTS games, the more, the better.
While you’re boar hunting, you still have to manage the rest of your economy, keep an eye out for your enemy, build, scout, collect other ressources. The Dark Age isn’t as easy-peasy as it seems, nor as quiet. The five first minutes of a game can sometimes definitevely show if you’ll win or lose twenty to forty minutes later!
The Farm Trick
As far as I’m
concerned, Age of Empires 2 is an
exploration game as much as a strategy game. I remember spending hours, as a
kid, exploring every single corner of the map with my scout. I was pretty
devoted to the task. I wouldn’t multitask. I would only scout. I was also super
focused on the technologies that widen your line of sight like town
watch or town patrol.
Because who needs horse collar
and double-bit axe?
If you ever
play against me online, be sure I’ll outpost rush you before I ever tower rush
you. I know. I’m lethal.
The fog of war is really what separates the wannabe pros to the real pros.
rather surprised to meet people online who hated the fog of war with their
guts. They only wanted to play on all-explored or all-visible maps. And it had
to go fast, too.
bully my slow villagers. I don’t even pay them any wages. Fifty food is all they
get to last the thousand-year span from the Dark Age to the Imperial Age…
the fog of war is really what separates the wannabe pros to the real pros. I
mean, look at The Viper. Not only is he, like, super cute—Debbie, beware. He’s so
cool behind his glasses that he’s like a blond Sakamoto.
The Viper, also, is obsessed with his boars. So much, in fact, that he slaughters them all mindlessly and yet still wonders where they all are every once in a while.
also, is obsessed with his boars. So much, in fact, that he slaughters them all
mindlessly and yet still wonders where they all are every once in a while. Location,
location, location. The Viper is always very concerned with finding his wild
boars. Now, if you happen to have
scouted your entire starting base and you can’t find them, maybe that’s
because they’re hidden in a little fog of war pocket. And if that ever happens,
The Viper has a trick up his sleeve that
can be useful to you: just build a farm over the fog of war to spot your
missing wild boar.
This is a
very neat trick and one does not need witchcraft to conjure it. In order to lift the fog of war by placing
a farm foundation, you need to place it on at least one tile of explored map
area. That’s all folks!
wonder. Why put a villager in danger if you can send your scout to lure a wild
boar to your town center? Poke it twice, turn back and gallop towards your town
center: job done! But, is it? The problem with the scout is that he’s too fast
for the boar. Meaning a wild boar pursuing a scout will quickly lose sight of
it and, at that point, drop the chase to return to its starting position.
The problem is, as T-West the Wise teaches us, that a regular AoE2 wild boar has a three tile line of sight. If you venture out of that three tile radius, the boar stops pursuing you.
interesting thing is this.
A wild boar shares the line of sight of every Gaia unit on the map. This includes deer, wolves, birds, and even holy relics! Therefore, once you hit a boar with a scout, as long as that scout remains into the line of sight of any Gaia unit, the boar will continue to chase you.
It can be
quite tricky to master the skill of getting a wild boar to chase you beyond its
own line of sight. The following clip shows the pro-player MbL failing at the
attempt. And yet, MbL is usually so successful in AoE2 boar hunting that he got nicknamed ‘the Boar Whisperer’ and
the ‘Master Boar Lamer’.
wrong for him here is that his scout, which tries to lure a second boar to the
town center, didn’t enter the three tile line of sight of the first boar that
was being lured by a villager. He left the three tile radius of the boar it was
supposed to lure and failed to remain into Gaia’s line of sight. Therefore, the
second boar returned to its starting position.
The scout may be too fast for a boar to pursue, but the boar has no problem to chase down a villager and rip it into pieces. Nevertheless, you feel confident enough to send out a villager to lure a boar. You know you won’t forget that villager and make it turn back on time to save his or her life. But, will you? There are many sounds in Age of Empires 2 that can rattle you and distract you from your wild boar lure. I guess you know them all by now.
sending a villager to lure your second boar, the most probable sound that will
distract you is the population limit alert. You’re being housed. Deal with it
urgently or fear that your town center will remain idle a second to long.
build a house? Nice.
you hear this…
Because of your bad APM, you couldn’t save your villager on time. He or she’s been killed by the boar. What a disaster, loss of time and resource. You should just call the GG right now and forget about this whole mess.
else could have distracted you. If you’ve send a villager to build a forward
barrack, you have a 100% chance that this villager is going to be attacked by a
By the time
you go and deal with it, again, your boar luring villager will be dead.
13. Sure! Blame
it on your ISP.
all. If you’re playing a team game, or a diplomacy game, maybe another player
is trying to show you something on the map, and you hear that sound.
You check it out, you’re APM is still shit because you’re below the 1.5k ELO despite the fact that you’ve played AoE2 non-stop for six months, bim, you’re boar luring villager is… yet again… dead. Do you feel the rage building up?
More seriously, what do you do? Please, follow The Viper’s advice and save your villager’s life with the neat and amazing ‘house trick’. Basically, what you have to do is to place the foundations of a house over a boar to stop it in its course. It is, however, very difficult to achieve properly. Your execution must be on point.
What does a diligent scout do? He scouts, he attac, but most importantly, he circles bac!
task your scout different missions at the beginning of a game. Scouting your
base should be your first priority to find out your starting cattle (sheep, or
turkeys, or cows, or whatever), your main and secondary golds, your main and
secondary stones, several wood lines to chop wood from and, of course, last but
not least, your boars. There should always be two (or more, depending on the
map) not too far away from your town center.
elementary scouting is out of the way, here are a few things your scout can do.
can go on and locate the enemy base. An early scouting of your enemy can also
inform you of his/her strategy depending of his/her build order. Do you see a
barrack already up? Beware of the drush.
You’ll soon have militia units heading your way to disturb your economy. Do you
spot villagers mining stone in Dark Age? Beware of the trush! You’ll soon see enemy villagers going forward to build
towers in order to deny you the access to your own resources. Therefore it is
useful to send your scout towards your enemy and see what’s what.
your scout can do more.
your enemy base, he can hit one of your enemy’s wild boar and try to bring it
back to your own base. It is tricky, though, because you’ll have to cross the
entire map. More on that and the laming of boars in the next section of this
blog post, though.
your scout can also play the good stay-at-home scout and ‘push deer’ towards
your town center. It is very tricky to do. Maybe I’ll develop on it in another
another use of a stay-at-home scout is to save your villagers from boar
attacks. If you manage to place your
scout between your boar luring villager and the wild boar chasing him or her,
you can slow the boar down and save your villager’s life.
point, the boar has been located, successfully lured and brought back to your
town center. There is only one thing
left to master: how to look like a total pro. You can weaken the wild boar you
lure with town center fire to prevent your villagers to loose hit points and
keep a full health. It is especially practical if you expect early
aggression from your opponent and fear that he will ‘snipe’ your weak villagers.
traditional build order will have you to assign your six first villagers on
sheep and the following four on wood. That’s when you’re supposed to go lure
your second boar. I don’t wait that long myself: I send my seventh villager
straight to the nearest boar I found. I don’t know if it really matters, I’m
not a pro-player. However, as you lure your first boar to your town center, you
can garrison your six butcher villagers in your town center and weaken the boar
by firing it twice. Be careful, though,
if you kill the wild boar with the town center its food will be lost! I
leave Spirit of the Law give you the full detail of it.
The following post found on St Andrews blog briefly introduces you to one of the most fascinating writer of the late Antiquity: Faltonia Betitia Proba. I mentioned her (and mispronounced her name) during my first stream about Pagan Gods in Medieval Manuscripts. Enjoy the discovery if you didn’t know her!
I was first told of Proba by Pierre-Augustin Deproost, teacher at the Université catholique de Louvain, as we shared a train many years ago. Check out his personal webpage about Latin authors, from Virgil to Thomas More (in French).
The most famous female writer from Greco-Roman antiquity would have to have been Sappho, the lyric poet from the island of Lesbos, but for womens history month I’m going to shout out for a Latin author by the name of Proba.
Faltonia Betitia Proba was born to an aristocratic Roman family early in the fourth century. This was a period of great religious flux, and Proba herself converted to Christianity. We know of two works by her: a lost work on the war between Constantius II and the usurper Magnentius, and the extant cento Probae. A cento is a work composed of resequenced lines (or half-lines) from an existing work, arranged to create a new narrative.
Proba’s cento of nearly 700 hexameters resequences verses from classical Latin literature’s canonical highpoint…
In manuscripts of old lie forgotten truths. Men, beasts and angels alike have turned away from such ancient knowledge.
It was formerly believed that our world was but a mere reflection of another world, a better world, a divine world. “My kingdom is not of this world,” said Christ to his disciples (John, 18:36). What did it mean? Medieval scholars pierced the mystery, they thought.
Everything we see, touch and feel on Earth would only be the bodily reflection of a pure and divine concept. Once you understand that worldly facts and earthly beings are symbols to decipher, then everything is open to interpretation. The divine truth hides everywhere.
Only the highest scholars and theologians could delve into the exercise of unearthing the word of God beneath the “mirror” that is our world. Nonetheless they tracked God down to the darkest corner of creation. By the 13th century, even pagan myths dating back from the most ancient times were worthy of investigation.
Many ideas were written down. Many manuscripts were compiled. Some of them contained The Books of King Modus and Queen Ratio. A strange work indeed! This is the story of a young man who wants to learn how to hunt. He finds King Modus. The latter teaches him everything he knows. How to pursue deer, how to beware of boars, how to track down wild cats, how to catch birds, how to train dogs and falcons. Everytime King Modus teaches something to the young man, though, Queen Ratio takes it as an opportunity to teach her own bit.
King Modus knows everything about the worldly forest but Queen Ratio perceives God’s actual truths beyond what hides in the forest. Why do deer have antlers on their head? It serves as a symbol of God’s many teachings. The deer defends itself with its antlers just like a good Christian knows how resist temptation thanks to the Ten Commandments.
Queen Ratio says:
“Les dis branches que il a sus son chief li furent donnees de Dieu Nostre Sire pour soi deffendre de trois anemis, ce sont des gens, des chiens, des leus. Et ches dis branches representent les dis commandemens de la loy que Jhesu Crist donna a homme pour soi deffendre de trois anemis, c’est de la char, du dyable et du monde.“
“The ten antlers it has on its head were given to him by God, Our Lord, so that it could defend itself from three enemies: the people, the dogs and the wolves. Those ten antlers symbolises God’s Ten Commandments, that Jesus Christ gave to mankind to repel three enemies: the flesh, the devil and the world.”
However, right after she talks about the deer and the “red beasts”, Queen Ratio warns against the “black beasts”, known for their strong and repulsive smell. Chief among them stands the wild boar. It is as abhorrent as the deer is magnificent. It breathes the Ten Commandments, not of God, but of the devil itself. Manuscripts have depicted Queen Ratio’s words as the drawing of a wild boar defending the bottom of a dark crooked tree. On the top of that tree sits the devil and every branch carries one of his nefarious commandment.
They read as follow:
C’est mon premier commandement | Que l’en maugree Dieu souvent.
 Here is my first Commandment: swear upon God’s name as often as you can.
Fai a ton corps tous ses delis, | Il n’est point d’autre paradis.
 Grant your body as many delights as possible; there isn’t any other heaven.
Visite souvent mon ostel, | C’est la taverne et le bordel.
 Come visit me often: I dwell in pubs and brothels.
Se tu veulz estre en mon memoire, | Si t’aflube de vaine gloire.
 If you wish me to remember you, cover yourself with vain glory.
Desprise de tout povre gent | Et n’aime rien que or et argent.
 Despise all poor people and love nothing but gold and silver.
Se tu n’as du tien, pren l’autri |Sans rien rendrë, ainsi l’otri.
 If you have nothing for yourself, take it from another and give nothing back.
Se ton pere te fait riote, | Si li met sus, que il redote.
 Should your father argue with you make him fear you.
En lieu du servise devin | Faut jeter hasart sus le vin.
 Wine serves a better purpose for witchcraft than it does for holy mass.
Se caraus crois et sorcheries, | Tes volentés sont acomplies.
 Believe and witchcraft and violence: your shall be fulfilled.
Se tu as deffaute de mise, | Si te pren aus biens de l’eglise.
 Should you be short of gambling money, steal it if from the Church.
Further readings: ~ Michel Pastoureau, Le Cochon. Histoire d’un cousin mal aimé (1999). ~ Les livres du roy Modus et de la royne Ratio, éd. Gunnar Tilander, Paris, Société des anciens textes français, 1932, 2 t.
[This blogpost was originally uploaded on June 18th, 2019, then substantially revised on June 6th, 2020]
As promised, here begins a very short history of the early Dukes of Bohemia, from Vratislav to Bretislav. Hang on to your hats, fasten your seatbelts, grab your popcorn and enjoy some Crusader King 2 worthy storyline.
living in the first half of the 10th century, hated the Franks. He
married a pagan princess to upset their plan of world domination and she was a
fine young woman, but she evolved into a bitter old mother. When Vratislav
died, his son Václav became Duke of Bohemia. That’s only logical. However, the
latter saw many political upsides to embrace Christianity and he founded a
rotunda church, right there in Prague. In doing so, Václav also recognized the
authority of the Holy Roman Empire over his Duchy and for many years, Christian
matters in Bohemia were overseen by Imperial churchmen. This whole situation
enraged Ludmilla, Václav’s mother. She plotted to get her first-born and she
enlisted the best man for the job, Václav’s own little brother, her second son,
was shrewd. Boleslav was smart. He agreed to murder his brother. He carried the
deed. He became Duke of Bohemia, hurray! However, he was too smart to backtrack
on his brother’s spiritual choices and he embraced Christianity so hard that he
promoted his murdered brother to sainthood. #Paradox
From that point onward, St Václav, better known as St Wenceslaus West of the Rhine, became the spiritual patron of Bohemia. All Bohemian Dukes and Kings had to worship him dutifully to secure their dynastic propaganda of power.
was quite the state builder. Beyond handing Bohemia a spiritual patron, he also
insured his control of the land by building strongholds all over the country.
He built the stronghold in Prague, too. He was nicknamed ‘the Cruel’ when
people found out that he had quite an expedite way to deal with his political opponents.
To be clear, he gifted them with the same fate that he’d offered his brother. Eventually,
Boleslav also tried to free Bohemia from the Holy Roman Empire grasp by
reaching to Bavaria and helping the Magyar migrate West. However, Otto I was a
bit of a tough nut to crack. The Magyar were utterly crushed by the Imperial Army
at Lechfeld in 955 and Bohemia was forced to provide troops. It was clear from
that point onwards that Bohemia would be part of the Holy Roman Empire because
of its Christianization. There was no escape from it.
succeeded to his father. He maintained friendly relationships with the Holy
Roman Empire, but most of all, he secured access and control to the silver
mines of Kutná Hora and it would greatly benefit to Bohemia in the centuries to
was the next Duke of Bohemia. Nicknamed ‘the Red’ because he had red hair—what
do you want me to say?—Boleslav was a gentle fruitcake. He reigned only a year
or two that he already tried to strangle his brother Ulrich and castrated his
other brother, Jaromir. Both fled to Bavaria and the Bohemian nobility chose to
overthrow their tyrant by inviting Vladyvoj to the throne. Vladyvoj took on the
Duchy of Bohemia as an imperial fief from the German King, Henry II, but
he died shortly after that. Jaromir and Ulrich still out of the picture, Bołeslaw the
Brave, King of Poland, swooped in and took over. Bohemia was from now on into a
personal union with the Kingdom of Poland, and free from the Empire. There was
no way Bołeslaw would bow to the Emperor. It would be as if the King of England
bowed to the King of France only because he holds a fief of the latter.
the Hundred Years War started!
as Duke of Bohemia was much shorter. Jaromir was quickly put in charge of
Bohemia and the Duchy reconciled with the Holy Roman Empire. Then Ulrich took
over and ultimately his son, Bretislav I, inherited Bohemia, which he ruled for
twenty years from 1034 to 1055.
Bretislav wished to steal a page from Bołeslaw’s book and refused to pay tribute to the Empire. It cost him dearly. He ended up walking barefoot through Regensburg, wearing a penitentiary sack, begging for pardon. The Emperor granted his pardon and Bretislav swore his total allegiance to his suzerain. Bohemia was definitely part of the Empire, it wouldn’t be contested anymore, yet all those wars forged the Duchy as a stable and powerful polity. It wouldn’t be long before it was elevated to Kingdom. Well, two centuries basically. But who keeps count?
The Vyšehrad Codex (National Library of the Czech Republic, XIV A 13) is probably the most valuable manuscript preserved in the Czech Republic. Researchers believe that the manuscript is the coronation evangelist of the first Czech King Vratislav I (as Prince II), or that he has composed it to commemorate this event.
The Czech King Vratislav I (ruled as Prince Vratislav II from 1061) was crowned on June 15, 1086 at Prague Castle. The Evangelist contains excerpts from the Gospels that were read at the Mass during the church year. […] The Visegrad Code was originally created without a specific purpose, into stock. Later, approximately one third of the Code was hastily completed on order from Bohemia. It also contains a reading on the feast of Saint Wenceslas, the patron saint of Bohemia, who opens the initial D-ixit with a depiction of a throne prince who, as a gesture of his right, expresses his consent to the act of Vratislav’s coronation and symbolically passed it over to the government.
Further Readings: ~ Nora Berend, Central Europe in the High Middle Ages. Bohemia, Hungary and Poland, c.900-c.1300. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. ~ Peter H. Wilson, Heart of Europe. AHistory of the Holy Roman Empire. Cambridge [MA]: Belknap Press, 2016.
I enjoy browsing digitized manuscripts so much that I lose my sleep over it. A few days ago I started a best off of Alexander the Great’s illumination in medieval manuscripts. That when I observed for myself that he is depicted as a 14th-15th century knight in full armour in most of pre-Renaissance manuscripts and we even find him depicted jousting against his enemy, King Porus!
scholars like André Petit or Frédéric Duval have thought hard and long about
those medieval so-called anachronisms. They came up with such complex theories
about the concepts and representations of time that I couldn’t properly
translate them in here. Not to say that I didn’t understand what they wrote
under the obvious influence of crack… But they certainly had a long hard puff of
the good shit.
From my readings I can give you four reasons as to why Alexander the Great (d. 323 BCE), Julius Cesar (d. 44 BCE) and King Arthur (supposed to have lived during the 5th and 6th centuries) were depicted as full-on 15th century knights by 15th century illuminators.
#1. Another perception of the passing of time
living at the end of the Middle Ages sensed no rupture between the Classical
Era and their own times. They didn’t know about our very 19th century
fashion of cutting History into three to four main periods. They hadn’t all
heard nor agreed to Petrarch’s claim that following the fall of Rome—that he
himself dated back to 96 AD, by the way, and not 476 AD—Europe had sunk into some Dark Age… What really differentiated
the Renaissance humanists with their intellectual predecessors, who also knew
their Classical texts by heart, was that very feeling of rupture, that urge to
find again what had been lost for they entertained that proto-romantic idea of
loss. Medieval scholars and humanists—for the Middle Ages had its own humanists
indeed—had a different relationship with Antiquity. They lived by the metaphor
of dwarves standing on the shoulders of giants: they were not as great as their
Roman founding fathers, but thanks to them, they could see farther than mankind
ever could before.
#2. Linguistic issues
scholars knew pretty well that the world was in a different state during
Alexander’s times. When reading their books in Latin they were very conscious
that some of the words that they were encountering used to describe realities
that no longer existed. That was the whole meaning of their numerous glosses.
Historical, judicial and literary Latin texts were sometimes heavily annotated.
Young university students learning Latin were not only studying a new language,
they were also discovering a different world. They could even, I bet, differentiate
the various meanings that one single Latin word could cover if written in a classical
text or in a medieval texts. That was not a problem. However, to translate
Latin texts into vernacular languages came out as quite a challenge from the 13th
to the 15th century for French, English or German were “poor”
languages when compared to Latin. They didn’t beneficiated yet from a fixed
grammar or an extensive scholarly vocabulary. That’s why the pontifex becomes the bishop, the praetor becomes a provost
and the miles (originally the foot-soldier!)
becomes the knight. Medieval scholars
could still tell the difference of course, but this constructed a
representation of Antiquity that was “very close from home” for non-erudite
#3. Capitalizing on a sense of legacy
men read the stories of Alexander and Arthur, they certainly wished to picture
themselves along those mighty heroes, fighting side by side with them on their
way to immortal glory. As a matter of fact, aristocrats would very often play
the part and dress up as Arthurian knights for jousting events or knightly tournaments.
They were dressing up alright, but they were fighting for real. Back in the 13th century, when Wace translated
into Anglo-Norman Monmouth’s Historia Regum
Britanniae, he did it with a purpose: to prove that Henry II Plantagenet
was the rightful ruler of England as per a translatio
imperii, a “shift of power” from East to West which made England the natural
heir of both Troy and Rome through the figures of Brutus (the Trojan legendary
founder of Britain) and King Arthur. If such characters were to be depicted the
same way late medieval Kings of England were, then it would be much easier for
the latter to claim their legacy. So that’s what happened. Alexander, David,
Caesar, Arthur and Charlemagne were all depicted in a way that made them
somehow familiar. It would even further the idea that knighthood was a concept impervious
from the passing of time: good Kings and noble knights had always existed. It
was up to the new generation to carry on their long-lasting and exemplary tradition.
#4. History as a set of examples
who do we see when we look at Alexander or Arthur in medieval manuscripts? Is
it really Alexander? Or Arthur?—Does it even matter? What we actually see is
the concept they symbolise: a most perfect King. It is very important to
remember that History had a very clear purpose in the Late Middle Ages. It
served as a set of good and bad moral examples. The real truth behind every story
were not the facts they told, but the message they carried. Our very world was considered
to be only the mirror of another and higher reality known as God’s own realm. The
Matrix was the shit. Charles IV of the Holy Roman Empire believed that himself
as we can read in his autobiography. He starts by reminding that we have two
faces or two shapes. One, anchored in this very world, means nothing in itself.
However, as it fulfils God’s will then it can serve a purpose and escape the
void that is the matter. Medieval scholars went as far as to give theological
meaning to Alexander or Caesar’s adventures. Such was the real purpose of their
story. Factual accuracy had nothing to do with it.
When the Portuguese humanist Vasco de Lucena decided to translate Alexander the Great’s biography for Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, at the very end of the 15th century, he frowned upon the many tales that surrounded the Macedonian monarch. He bluntly rejected the romances as any kind valid historical source. Alexander was no more to be equal to Lancelot or Tristan. He had to be more. He had to be real, historically accurate. Vasco de Lucena returned to the source that he deemed the most reliable, the biography of Quintus Curtius. He followed a “scientific method” establishing Alexander’s reign period thanks to the Bible and cross-referencing other classical sources. It was the beginning of a new era but it would yet take some time for the classical aesthetic models to impose themselves and cast away the charming gothic depictions of antique heroes, as the Burgundian manuscripts holding Vasco’s translation show.
A Companion to Alexander Literature in the Middle Ages. Edited by Z. David Zuwiyya. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2011.
Frédéric Duval, “Comment interpreter les anachronismes ? Le cas de l’histoire romaine écrite en français au début du xiiie siècle”, in Anabases (2008), 8; online edition.
Alexander the Great was a very popular hero in Medieval Litterature, nothing short of a Marvel or DC character. As a matter of fact his true story was slightly forgotten and casted away in favor of wonders and legends.
Here under you’ll find my personal best off of medieval illuminations telling the fabulous stories of Alexander the Great in various manuscripts. Expect this best off to grow over time!
A great man can only have a great birth. It is said that Buddha was born he looked around and then took 7 paces in the direction of the 4 cardinal points. Just like that. He was born and he could already walk up straight.
The Legend of Alexander’s legendary birth however draws closer to Suetonius’ reported tale of Augustus’ birth [Suet., 12 Caes., 2:94]:
I have read the following story in the books of Asclepias of Mendes entitled Theologumena. When Atia had come in the middle of the night to the solemn service of Apollo, she had her litter set down in the temple and fell asleep, while the rest of the matrons also slept. On a sudden a serpent glided up to her and shortly went away. When she awoke, she purified herself, as if after the embraces of her husband, and at once there appeared on her body a mark in colours like a serpent, and she could never get rid of it; so that presently she ceased ever to go to the public baths. In the tenth month after that Augustus was born and was therefore regarded as the son of Apollo.
Similarly, Alexander’s birth is linked to a divine figure of the Sun and results of a sexual act with a ‘serpent’. Well, in his case, it was no less than a dragon which got involved!
Nectanebus was an astrologer who predicted to queen Olympias of Macedonia that she’d be visited by Amon in the form of a dragon and that she would give birth out of their union. However, Nectanebus got tired of waiting and turned into a dragon and visited Olympias at night. According to that story, Alexander is therefore a bastard!
Why are you so shocked? So was King Arthur. Read Geoffrey of Monmouth [Hist. Reg. Brit., 8:19]:
After this victory Uther repaired to the city of Alclud, where he settled the affairs of that province, and restored peace everywhere. […] The Easter following he ordered all the nobility in the kingdom to meet, in order to celebrate that great festival, in honour of which he designed to wear his crown. […] Among the guests was present Gorlois, duke of Cornwall, with his wife Igerna, the greatest beauty in all Britain. No sooner had the king cast his eyes upon her among the rest of the ladies, than he fell passionately in love with her, and little regarding the rest, made her the subject of all his thoughts. She was the only lady that he continually served with fresh dishes, and to whom he sent golden cups by his confidants; on her he bestowed all his smiles, and to her addressed all his discourse. […] A whole week was now past, when, retaining in mind his love to Igerna, he said to one of his confidants, named Ulfin de Ricaradoch: “My passion for Igerna is such that I can neither have ease of mind, nor health of body, till I obtain her: and if you cannot assist me with your advice how to accomplish my desire, the inward torments I endure will kill me.” […]
Merlin, therefore, being introduced into the king’s presence, was commanded to give his advice, how the king might accomplish his desire with respect to Igerna. And he, finding the great anguish of the king, was moved by such excessive love, and said, “To accomplish your desire, you must make use of such arts as have not been heard of in your time. I know how, by the force of my medicines, to give you the exact likeness of Gorlois, so that in all respects you shall seem to be no other than himself. If you will therefore obey my prescriptions, I will metamorphose you into the true semblance of Gorlois […]; and in this disguise you may go safely to the town where Igerna is, and have admittance to her.” The king complied with the proposal, and acted with great caution in this affair; [then he] underwent the medical applications of Merlin, by whom he was transformed into the likeness of Gorlois. […] The king therefore stayed that night with Igerna, and had the full enjoyment of her, for she was deceived with the false disguise which he had put on, and the artful and amourous discourses wherewith he entertained her. […] She refused him nothing which he desired.
The same night therefore she conceived the most renowned Arthur, whose heroic and wonderful actions have justly rendered his name famous to posterity.
Oh, because you thought Jon Snow’s story and the ‘R + L = J’ theory was an original idea? You thought works of fiction never saw a bastard prince secretely being the actual heir to the throne prophesied to save or take over the world? Yeah. Sure!
Ever since Jesus, magical bastards that can survive or come back from death tend to be plentiful and rather generic. Yet we love them. We can’t help it.
Nectanebus Prophesies Alexander’s Birth
Nectanebus Lays with Queen Olympias
Nectanabus Keeps Flirting in the Shape of a Dragon
The Legend Refuted
As the 15th century went by and the Renaissance grew closer, scholars were tired to see fables get the better of the nobility’s knowledge of History. Vasco de Lucena decided to refute the legends regarding Alexander the Great and to translate Quitus Curtius Rufus’ biography of the Macedonian king. Nevertheless, his erudite translation was illustrated with well-known legendary tales. His work states how Alexander the Great couldn’t be born from a dragon. Vasco de Lucena even goes as far as to quote the Holy Scriptures to do so. Yet, the illuminations made to embellish several of the manuscripts containing his work still act as reminders of Nectanebus’ fabled fatherhood.
“Go West, young man!” did they say in 19th century Northern America. During the European Middle Ages, however, it was more like “Go East, young man!” And so did Alexander. Did he expect to face dragons, giants and other monsters on his way to conquer India? As you can see, he seemed pretty well prepared, even to meet naked damsels in the woods!
Joan of Arc
never failed to be breezy and impertinent when faced with her social higher-ups.
That is one of her predominant character trait which makes her so charismatic.
She was blunt. She was fearless. She bowed to no one but the King. She was fine
damn ready to kick some ass and to admonish anyone whom she felt had crossed a
line. She certainly was one of a kind.
Joan Meets Jean de Metz
“Should I lose my feet I’ll walk on my knees.”
de Metz first met her back in Vaucouleurs, where her journey started, she was
wearing a threadbare red dress. “What are you doing here, darling?” he asked.
She answered in a straightforward manner: “I’ve come here to talk with the Lord
of Baudricourt, so that he would send me to the King. He won’t hear me, but I’ll
get there. Should I lose my feet I’ll walk on my knees. No one in the world,
nor any King, nor any Duke, nor any daughter of the King of Scotland, nor anyone
else, can take back the realm. The King shall have no succour but mine!” Jean
de Metz fell head over heels for Joan. He escorted her himself to Chinon after
he had her dressed as a man. He would then follow her for several months .
Joan riles the Duke of Lorraine
they left Vaucouleurs for Chinon, Jean de Metz went with Joan to meet The Duke
of Lorraine. The latter had invited the Maid to his court because he thought
she could be a healer of some sort. She candidly told the Duke to ditch his
mistress and be faithful to his wife. Then she went on to ask if René of Anjou,
the Duke’s future son-in-law, could accompany her to Chinon. The ten years old
prince belonged to the highest nobility. He was cousin to the King. Joan really
got some nerve. Yet her request was unabashedly denied .
Joan Flames A Theologian
“I speak better French than you”
eventually made her way to Chinon and met the King as she promised she would.
At that point she was requested to meet theologians to vouch for her visions.
Pierre Seguin was amongst those theologians and mighty doctors of the Church. He
asked Joan which dialect she spoke. “I speak better French than you”, she
replied, for he had a southern accent. He carried on to ask Joan to give a sign
that she was indeed sent by God. She came out as sharp as a knife. “I didn’t
come here to grant you tokens from God. Send me to Orleans. I’ll show you the
sign you’re looking for. ”
Joan of Arc Mocks Dunois
“I come by God’s own guidance, which is far safer and wiser than yours.”
on to Orleans. On her way over there, the French army rode up to the East of
the city to cross the river Loire. It pissed Joan, for John Talbot and his
troops were sitting West of Orleans. If there was ever a fearsome captain, it
was John Talbot. I found various occurrence of French armies avoiding him or fleeing
upon his arrival to avoid to face him. Yet Joan had wished to meet him head on.
She walked right to the man responsible of the coward itinerary, the Bastard of
Orleans himself. “Is it on your advice that we cross the river here and not
where Talbot and the English are?” The Bastard was rather startled to be addressed
in such a fashion. “Yes it was!” he boasted. Joan put him back to his place: “Know,
Bastard, that I come by God’s own guidance, which is far safer and wiser than
yours. Right at that moment, the winds which had been unfavourable to cross the
Loire turned and made the crossing possible. The Bastard couldn’t believe in
his own eyes. From that moment onwards he had faith in Joan .
Joan got captured in Compiegne, after she helped to liberate Orleans. Once
captured and faced with her enemies, however, Joan didn’t tune down.
Joan Knows What Awaits Her
“I know very well that the English will have me killed”
Back in the
15th century, the English already used to yell “God damn!” whenever
something displeased them. Therefore the French came up with a derisive and derivative
nickname for them: they called the English the “Godons”. Joan hated anyone to
call out the name of the Lord in vain, but she called the English Godons
herself. She did so, although imprisoned in a cell, right in front of the earls
of Stafford and Warwick, who ranked amongst the most powerful men of England. “I
know very well that the English will have me killed. Yet a hundred thousand Godons
couldn’t take the kingdom.” Stafford got so mad he draw his dagger with the
clear intent to kill her. Warwick through herself in front of Joan to protect
her. He would later protect her too from rape. You see, Warwick was of a sound state
of mind. He wanted Joan killed properly: on the pyre like a heretic after a due
trial to rob her from her mystical charisma .
Joan Faces Her Judges
“Should you tear my limbs apart…”
however kept a full grip of herself when she met her judges: an army of
theologians from the University of Paris who longed for her death. They tried
to catch her off guard with theological traps when asking her if she believed
she had received the grace of God. “I don’t know if God granted me his grace.
If he has, I pray that he keeps to do so. If he hasn’t, I pray that he extends
it to me,” she answered. Then they asked if Saint Michel was naked when he
visited her. She thought the idea utterly ludicrous: “Do you think Our Lord doesn’t
have clothes for him?” Eventually she was threatened with torture. She feared
nothing. “Should you tear my limbs apart or split my soul from my body, I
wouldn’t tell you otherwise. Should I tell you otherwise, then I would always
argue that you forced me to.” They ruled out torture. They went for entrapment.
At the end Joan was burned because she took on her male clothes after she swore
she would not put them on again. If there ever was a thin pretext to kill
someone, it was that one .
How Joan Ghosted Her Best Friend…
around eighteen years old when she went on her quest to rescue the King of
France. She was no more than nineteen when she died. She answered to the
powerful and the wealthy with nothing but confidence and cheek. Yet, there is
one person she didn’t dare to face, Hauviette. The latter said: “I’ve known her
since I was a child. We grew up together, you see. We had a fun sleeping next
to each other in the same bed when we were kids. Joan was good, pure and sweet.
She liked to go church. People often made remarks about it and she felt a bit
ashamed… She was like any other girl. She’d tend to her house and to her father’s
cattle. She could spin wool too. There was a big tree not far from the village.
We called it the tree of the fairies. We’d go there, with some bread and some
nuts, and we’d play. We never saw any fairies. There was none.” Then, she added:
“When Joan definitely left the village, she told me nothing. I only learned
afterwards that she was gone. I cried a lot. She was so good and I loved her so
much. She was my friend. ”
 Jules Quicherat, Procès de condamnation et de réhabilitation de Jeanne d’Arc. Paris: Jules Renouard, 1861-1869. Cf. t. 2, p. 436.  Ibid., t. 3, 87.  Ibid., t. 3, 204-205.  Ibid., t. 3, 4-5.  Ibid., t. 3, 122.  Pierre Champion, Procès de Condamnation de Jeanne d’Arc. Paris: Honoré Champion, 1921. Cf. t. 2, p. 42, 151, 252-253.  Quicherat (1861-1869), t. 2, 417-419.
Régine Pernoud & Marie-Véronique Clin, Jeanne d’Arc. Paris: Fayard, 1986 Philippe Contamine, Olivier Bouzy & Xavier Hélary, Jeanne d’Arc. Histoire et dictionnaire. Paris: Robert Laffont, 2012 (coll. Bouquins).