I’ve been staring at this blank page for about an hour.
Well, the good news is that it’s no longer blank.
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There’s more good news. Our refrigerator has been repaired! The LG service crew replaced the compressor and reset the ice maker last Tuesday. It looks like that saga has come to a satisfactory end. Lea is pleased and as any married guy knows, if your wife is happy, it’s the only thing that matters.
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It took about five seasons of binge watching on my part, but I finally got Lea hooked on Game of Thrones. Just in cases you don’t know what I’m talking about, Game of Thrones is a TV adaptation of several epic fantasy novels by George R. R. Martin.
Yeah, he’s a weird looking guy
I joined a GoT Facebook page, which I immediately regretted doing. It wasn’t just the stupid commentary this time. These fanatic fans seem to be in a serious need of actual lives. They. Are. Fuckin’. Out. There. I’ll probably leave the group when I finish writing this post.
Facebook is full of those quizzes, like, Which GoT character are you? I’ve never taken one of these quizzes, but if I had to pick a character, it’d be Tyrion Lannister.
He’s mostly terrible at fighting. He’s a short, quick-witted smartass, and he drinks and knows stuff. Except for the drinking part, he’s totally me.
The GoT story takes place on the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos in a setting that very much resembles the Middle Ages of our Earth. While the story contains common fantasy elements, such as swordplay, magic, and dragons, those elements are somewhat downplayed in favor of political intrigue and human drama in a struggle to sit upon the Iron Throne.
You don’t have to travel to a fictional universe to encounter plots and schemes to sit on the high throne. Historically speaking, monarchies have been our longest form of government. Theoretically speaking, they were also the most successful form of government on this planet.
During the Middle Ages of our Earth, that was how politics worked. In a kingdom ruled by a king or queen, they held the reins of power. And power evidently made the world go ’round back then.
Well, it probably still does…
History is full of stories about plots to usurp the throne and overthrow the king. A lots of people with claims to the throne spent their fortunes and their lives scheming to put their royal asses on the throne. It might have been good to be the king, but it was also probably a lonely place to be.
Being a king or a queen isn’t as big of a deal anymore. As our global system of government has evolved, royal status has meant less and less. Except in England.
Game of Thrones is an engaging story. What makes it unique, at least as far as I’m concerned, is the usual Fantasy genre distinctions between Good and Evil are very blurred. They’re so blurred that I’m not sure if any of the supposed good guys are actually good. And there’s a lots of sex and nuditity.
Well, some of the bad guys are really evil. I have to admit that I took a great deal of delight in watching them get killed to death. Especially King Joffrey Baratheon–First (and Last) of His Name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm–that sadistic little fuck. And Ramsay Bolton, who made my skin crawl every time he appeared on screen.
In essence, if you combined Dallas and The Lord of the Rings, you’d get Game of Thrones. And in that sense, GoT appears to be a serious cautionary tale about the pitfalls of having unprotected sex with your sister.
At least two of the kings in the story are completely off of their royal rockers, probably as a result of noble family inbreeding and incest. The only good thing about the mad kings is they both end up getting dead. The bad thing about both of them is thousands of good people end up also gotting dead because of them.
But you don’t have to travel to a fictional universe to encounter this sort of thing either. Royal intermarriage between family members was once a common practice on this very planet.
Mausolus, the ruler of Caria was married to his sister, Artemisia II. When he he died in 353 BCE, his grieving widow had a huge tomb built in the city of Halicarnassus. It was one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.
The Mausoleum of Helicarnassus
Royal inbreeding has been cited as one of the reasons for the decline of the Roman Empire. The pharaohs of ancient Egypt as well as the Ptolemaic rulers in Egypt were often married to their brothers or sisters as a way to keep political power consolidated within the family.
Queen Victoria of England was a major proponent of pure blood lines. She married her cousin Albert, and the two had nine children who then passed hemophilia to royal families throughout Europe.
Remember the Romanovs?
The Russian Imperial Family
And then there were the Habsburgs. Some of you might ask, Who the fuck are they? Ever hear of Marie Antoinette? She was a Habsburg.
Marie Antoinette, Archduchess of Austria, Queen of France
The House of Habsburg was one of the most influential and distinguished royal houses of Europe. The throne of the Holy Roman Empire was continuously occupied by the Habsburgs for three hundred years. The house also produced emperors and kings of Bohemia, Croatia, England, Germany, Hungary, Illyria, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain. As well as the rulers of several Dutch and Italian principalities. And the rulers of the Second Mexican Empire.
Hey, they were busy, and clearly, very motivated…
Following the reign of Charles V in the 1500’s, the dynasty was split between its Austrian and Spanish branches. Although they ruled distinct territories, they nevertheless maintained close relations and frequently intermarried.
Unfortunately for the Habsburgs, it wasn’t just the crown that was passed down from generation to generation, but also a series of genes that produced birth defects. This inbreeding caused this royal family to exhibit a number of peculiar physical traits, especially one known as the Habsburg Jaw. The most prominent indicator of the family’s inbreeding is what doctors refer to as mandibular prognathism.
This condition is marked by a protrusion of the lower jaw to the point that it’s significantly larger than the upper jaw and creates an underbite sometimes bad enough that it can interfere with your speech and make it difficult to fully close your mouth.
Some of the Habsburgs rulers and their infamous jaws.
The last Hapsburg ruler in Spain, Charles II, was such a genetic trainwreck that he could barely speak and couldn’t walk unattended.
Mental illnesses also ran rampant throughout many European royal families, leading to some very odd behavior. For example:
Charles VI of France. He inherited the throne during France’s long conflict with England, the Hundred Years’ War. He initially appeared to be a sane and capable king and then while on a campaign in the forest of Le Mans, he had some sort of “seizure.” He violently attacked his traveling companions, killed four of them, and almost killed his brother, Louis.
King Charles VI of France
From then on he was subject to periodic fits of violence, and his everyday behavior became more bizarre. He took to running wildly through the corridors of his palace and sometimes seemed unaware of his own name, or that he was even king – though he did once appear to claim to be Saint George. The Mad King also suffered from the delusion that he was made of glass and could shatter at any time.
Christian VII of Denmark. He would often throw food at his dinner guests, but kings can be real jerks sometimes. His reign seemed otherwise pretty normal, until the masturbation started.
King Christian VII of Denmark
On the bright side, he didn’t usually do it in front of visiting dignitaries. What he did was leapfrog over them when they bowed to him, and sometimes he’d slap people in the face in the middle of a conversation for absolutely no reason.
Tsar Paul I of Russia. He had what can only be called an attitude towards his guards, and not a good one. He might have had a good reason for it because the palace guards had been instrumental in the bloody coups and palace revolutions that marked 18th-century Russia. But Paul developed an obsession with the fine details of their ever-more elaborate uniforms and insisted that they be kept in pristine condition.
Tsar Paul I of Russia
Anyone who fell short of his ideal was liable to be flogged, sometimes by the tsar himself. He insisted on full parades outside his palace even in the depths of the Russian winter, and once sent a regiment off to march all the way to Siberia before changing his mind and sending word for them to turn back.
If you’re like me, you’re wondering where in the hell I’m going with this, and I have to admit that I have no idea. I’m sure I have something else to write about beyond Game of Thrones and royal incest and insanity. I just don’t know what it is yet…
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Upon further review, I don’t have anything else to write about. I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s history lesson.