Writing Saturday: K is for Kings

1:00 AM

Absolute power corrupts absolutely  ~ John Acton

It is hard for us in America to even wrap our brains around the idea of an absolute ruler. Really, we complain that our police, judges, and elected officials have too much power. We have no understanding for what it is like to live under a dictator or a king. We have no concept of a culture that blindly accepts the orders above them.

When reading fiction set in the Middle Ages I was struck with how rebellious the fictional characters where. If you study the time (or read well researched books like In Search of Adventure) you will find most people never questioned the authority above them.

It was called the Dark Ages for a reason. The literacy rate was so low; it makes our inner cities look amazingly well schooled. The Bible? The only people who had access to God’s word were a few priests who could read Latin.

Because of this, the masses looked to the Pope and the King as God’s appointed voices in their lives. To question them would be likened to questioning God.

Yes, there were some rebellions, but it was mainly between the nobles, squabbling for more control. The peasants, for the most part, accepted their lot as God ordained and accepted the king’s word as absolute.
There were some wonderful rulers, but absolute power to often corrupts absolutely.

Do you think you would have fought for more rights in you had lived in the Middle Ages?

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  1. hmm..... I might have fought for more rights, but I'm not actually sure!!! Sitting safely here commenting on your blog I think I would, but then...? I don't know if I would fight for more rights when confronted with the real situation.

  2. Interesting post. As a woman, I probably would resent the absolute authority of a husband who was lawfully endowed to hurt me, disown my children, and assume my property. That is, if he was that sort of man. If he was kind, I probably would have no resentment against his absolute authority. But who knows? My mindset would have been different.

    Just FYI, the Dark Ages and Middle Ages separate very early on. :) They do overlap, but aren't the same era. :)

    Thanks for your kind reference to my novel. :)

  3. That is a very good point. That was the life they knew, they accepted it because nothing had ever been different. It was just how things were for them.