It has been a week since I returned from my vacation and I haven’t got down to editing and posting my photos or blogging about my days in Krabi. Oh the burden of a day job and motherhood responsibilities…
Although I should rather correct myself and explain that I haven’t been updating my blog because for the passed whole week I have been reading. I completed two novels by Philippa Gregory entitled The White Queen and The Other Boleyn Girl. Prior to this, I have never heard of these titles or the author but now I have become an addict to the history of British monarchy.
What was deliciously addictive and enchanting about Philippa’s books is the historical background behind them and the plight of queens and women in general during the 13th and 14th century. As previously established, I am a sucker for history although I never did previously pay much attention to history of the Britain.
Since this is history itself, let me share a few thoughts about the books and lessons that can be learnt and applied for the present.
1. In The White Queen, the protaganist is Elizabeth Woodville, crowned Queen of King Edward IV. She was a commoner who caught the eye of the young king who was fighting to unite the lands under the house of York against the overthrown King Henry VI under the house of Lancaster.
Elizabeth was rumored to be the descendent of the water goddess Melusina and could have possessed some supernatural powers aka witchcraft. During the course of the story, there were several instances where she exercised some of her ‘powers’ and called forth the elements to aid her cause or to curse the people who had caused her harm.
The irony of this is that more often than not, the curse or the power ended up turning itself on her or her family.
I think an important lesson is to never take justice into our own hands. Our curses of vengeance usually end up harming us more than the object of our hatred. As Christians, it does us no good to hate our enemies as it only grips us in an endless cycle of grudge and unhappiness and this tears us away from communion with God.
2. In both books and probably throughout the history of mankind, the pursuit of power is always the drive that makes people perform unspeakable acts of evil .
But it is a poignant reminder that the power achieved is never quite enough to compensate the loss of one’s soul. And with inevitable death, the whole power struggle starts all over again and more people are killed, sacrificed, murdered and more souls corrupted.
For instance, King Edward’s claim for the throne resulted in the destruction of the brotherhood between the three sons of York when their ambition devoured each other up. Elizabeth’s fight for her son’s birthright resulted in the deaths of her brothers, father and her sons and a life full of turmoil compared to just remaining as a commoner.
In The Other Boleyn Girl, Anne Boleyn spent seven years seducing and enchanting King Henry VIII while plotting to reform the church and overthrow the queen. She was finally crowned queen but was no more happier than when she wasn’t. In three short years, everything that she fought for came to naught.
In her quest to annul the king’s previous marriage, she set herself up to be thrown aside as easily by King Henry VIII. Queen Anne was tried unfairly for treason and adultery and executed for these charges.
3. One thing I noted during the medieval times was how important the will of God is in kingship. The king is ordained and anointed by God to lead the kingdom and he is almost regarded as God’s representative to mankind. In this aspect, there is often little question about commoners paying due reverence and taxes to their king. This is also prevalent in Indian and Chinese empires.
In the Bible, it is also agreeable between the books of Judges and 1 and 2 Kings, that God gave the Israelites kings to rule over them. And these kings were chosen and anointed by God Himself.
What I find interesting is that we don’t see this in our present society anymore. While it is probably for good that absolute monarchy is abolished, the governments that have taken over don’t see it as their sacred task and responsibility ordained by God to do what is right for the people. In that sense, leadership has become secularised.
Is this good? In the absence of the moral guidelines provided for in religion, where do we find them? Are our rules and civility determined now nothing more than what men deem fit and correct? And seriously who died and made us gods in our own eyes?
I agree that throughout history, men did abuse religion and the will of God to sway people’s minds over many issues. But without religion and belief in God, we are no better. Worse since our moral values have plunged over the cliff and there is nothing to stop us in the name of freedom and rights to all men.