GEN-MEDIEVAL-L ArchivesArchiver > GEN-MEDIEVAL > 2006-09 > 1159044184
From: "Chris Dickinson" <>
Subject: Re: use of word, "pretender"
Date: Sat, 23 Sep 2006 21:43:04 +0100
References: <VN-dnbVBzd4Gs4nYRVny2Q@bt.com> <006201c6df1b$44b40f80$6401a8c0@HP>
Diana Gale Mattheisen wrote:
>> One of the simple facts of politics is that people and countries make
>> titular claim to things that they have no practical control over, with
>> varying degrees of theoretical justification and of political
>> manipulation. I don't think that one can make moral judgements
>> about this - at what point did the English monarch's claim to be
>> King of France become contemptible?
>But of course we can and do make moral judgments. One person's champion is
>another's terrorist. One person's religion is another's nonsense. It all
>depends on your point of view. Thank you for reminding me that is the
Yes, I wouldn't dream of suggesting that one can't make moral judgements
about historical characters (or, indeed, living ones!).
However, the further back in time you go, the more difficult it is generally
to make judgements that are fair or that have purpose.
I'm quite happy to say that there is absolute good or evil that transcends
environment, but there's a middle area that is very difficult to judge. We
use moral judgement, much like flipping a coin, to make easy decisions about
complex issues - and that has huge practical value in an immediate
environment; but not so much when we can stand back and consider the
evidence (having done so, yes, we can stand back and say so-and-so is a
monster). The point is that we don't need to react instantly to historical
characters and, given our very distant perspective, we shouldn't do so
without due cause.
So far as the pretension to titles is concerned, I wouldn't judge that on a
moral scale of 1 to 10 that this is much to get worried about.
>What about someone who has no blood-right to being king vanquishing the
>king and taking his place claiming to be the rightful king? He's not the
>out of power, he's the one in power, but shouldn't be. Is he a pretender?
>not an outright conquest because he claims to be in power rightfully.
It is interesting that people or dynasties that take power by force (or just
achieve power) usually try to find a legitimacy of some sort. So, for
instance, medieval monarchies looked back to the Roman Empire (Holy Roman
Empire, Kaiser, Tsar) or to God (crowning ceremonies), later dynasties to
Charlemagne, the Normans married into the Anglo-Saxons and the Tudors into
the Yorkists. Power always needs spin.
|Re: use of word, "pretender" by "Chris Dickinson" <>|