Thursday, 19 July 2012

Geek squad

I'm a history geek. Medieval history. And my favourite time period is the Plantaganet Empire in Western Europe, especially the reign of Henry II. Well, it's Eleanor of Aquitaine, his wife, that I love the most, but really I just love the whole thing.

I'm not afraid to admit that I own three medieval dresses, one of which my dad bought me in Carcasonne, the medieval French town where they filmed Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, which was pretty much my favourite day ever.

I've probably lost a few readers with that last revelation, but it's the truth and it's me. If it makes me a loser, then I'm a proud loser.

Anyway, why am I telling you this?

Well, in the 1170's when Henry II was king he had a massive bust up with Thomas Becket. Thomas Becket, (who was a bit of a knob if you ask me), ended up being murdered by some knights who thought they were doing the king a favour because Becket was causing him so much trouble. Some people think Henry even ordered his death. The point is they had a huge falling out that lasted years and years. Which is quite sad, really, because they used to be really close.

The really short version of why they fell out was this; When Thomas Becket became Archbishop of Canterbury he started shaking up the church a bit. At the time, if monks and priests were corrupt, abusing their power or doing anything naughty there were two systems to process justice, which often compromised each other. Thomas wanted naughty priests tried in the church court because the church had ultimate authority under those in holy orders, but Henry wanted them tried in a secular court because he thought, well they're not that holy if they're raping nuns, are they? And also, most of them just get a tap on the wrist and told to do some penance or pilgrimage if they go to church court. In fact, the case that started all this off was actually a rape case and the priest got away with it because he was tried in an ecclesiastical court.

Henry and Thomas tried to sort things out by drafting the Constitutions of Clarendon, but Becket got killed or martyred, whichever way you want to look at it, before it ever really resolved itself.

Ok, so again - why am I telling you this?

I've always wanted to go back in time and experience the complexities, the people, the politics etc of that time and know what it was like. The last few days of work in Zambia has been buzzing because the situation that my bosses are dealing with is soooooooooooo similar and it's making me feel like I'm in medieval times. In fact, I think I should wear a medieval dress at the next board meeting.

I'm working with land disputes, which are complicated enough, but to add to the mix - tiny villages that are experiencing land disputes try the dispute in what's called a 'traditional' court. It's presided over by the Chief and the head of the village, but it's all based on ancient custom, tradition and history. But there are those that think they should be tried in a district law court or a provincial court if needs be. These are based on modern, national laws. The problem is the little villages don't feel like a national government could pay heed to tradition and custom, and the national government have to have a balance between that tradition and the conventional, accepted laws of the country.

Plus, most of Zambia is rural.

Hmmmmm....what to do? Well, the situation needs it's version of the Constitutions of Clarendon, which is basically what I'm helping to do.

How amazing is that? I didn't even need a time machine! Tomorrow, I'm going to ask the board to dress up as knights and talk Olde Worlde while they work just to satisfy my inner geek.

The biggest differences and major disappointments are;

1. It's the 21st century
2. I'm not Eleanor of Aquitaine

Apart from that, I'm buzzing.

Tomorrow we have a meeting with all the villagers in a certain village who are going to present their ideas and arguements for what they want in the draft plan.

I've got a feeling this might be one of the most boring posts that most of you have read on this blog, but it's by far my favourite. I got to say Eleanor of Aquitaine three times and mention Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.



  1. I would also like to invite people to comment with their favourite quote from Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.

    I'll go first.

    'All's's Duncan!'

  2. you cant beat that cis history lesson and laughing at the same time. do you want me to send over your medieval dress? love you your mummy

  3. lucy - here are some to get people started...

    'He's full of piss and wind'
    'I have a brother?....I have a brother.'
    ' Alls well, its duncan.'
    'because allah likes wondrous variety.'

    Im going to watch it now, just for you!'

  4. Yes! Of course, I'd forgotten about Allah! 'Did God paint you?'

    Hehe. I love it - keep it coming, please!

  5. hehehe, not geeky at all lucy, i share your love of the medieval, even though i dont know half as much as i would like to. and i MUST have a try on of your dresses!!! i have always wanted to dress up medieval style! interesting blog to me! christie xxx

  6. keep your blogs coming girl + don't feel far away you're connecting with us all through your joyous blog! <3