There was a star danced, and under that I was born.

Much Ado About Nothing movie poster

A quick review of Joss Whedon’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing”

 

This movie, released in 2013, was filmed at Joss Whedon’s home with a few of his close friends.  Amy Acker plays the role of the quick witted Beatrice, who has decided never to marry after being hurt by love previously.  Alexis Denisof takes on her would-be wooer, Benedick.  The two utilize both entertaining verbal repartee as well as physical comedy.  I particularly enjoyed the scene where the Prince, Leonato and Claudio talk about Beatrice’s supposed love for Benedick and we get to see Denisof rolling around just outside the patio door.  It reminded me a bit of laser-tagging Barney Stinson (portrayed by Neil Patrick Harris, who, as a Whedon actor, I was hoping to see make an appearance in this film) with exaggerated ninja-ing and dramatic barrel rolls.

Also particularly entertaining was Nathan Fillion, who did such an amazing job playing the dunce Dogberry, as though he were the straight man of a comedy duo.  His timing and delivery helped him to steal every scene he was in.

 

All in all, I really enjoyed this film, but as it is quite late, I’ll be heading off to bed.  Hopefully tomorrow I can either watch more Shakespeare, explore a bit of Milwaukee’s history, or get even more studying for the GRE done!  Wish me luck!

 

Joss Whedon at the Globe

 

 

I saw a tweet today…

You know it’ll all end well when that’s how I open a post.  I saw a tweet today that featured a portrait of James VI/I of Scotland and England.  While that is all well and good, and I am very glad that he got a bit of publicity today, the author of the tweet continued on that it was he who first thought to bring the two nations together under one monarch.

James was particularly fond of the idea of a “Great Britain,” and while he did unite the two nations (of course along with Wales and Ireland) under one crown when he ascended the throne of England in 1603, he was not the first monarch of the Isle to take action with that end goal in mind.  The ascendancy of the Stewarts was the inverse of the fortunes of the Tudors, whose last monarch, Elizabeth, passed her crown on to James.  The first Tudor king, though, Henry VII, also held dear the dream of a united kingdom of Great Britain.  Why else, would one imagine, he marry his eldest daughter, Margaret, not to the French, the Spanish, or a German prince, but to the Scottish King?  Any of their future children would carry the blood of both the Tudors and the Stewarts, bringing the two dynasties an intimate connection which later came to fruition with James VI.

Without the ambition of Henry VII, there would not have been a Stewart claim to the English throne, or at least as legitimate as the one James possessed through his descent from Margaret Tudor.

Of course, there had been marriages between the royal families of Scotland and England before, such as the marriage of Joan Beaufort and James I, but she was not the daughter of a ruling monarch, she was only his half-niece.  She did, however, have royal blood and was a descendant of Edward III through her father’s line.  Another example of the English royals marrying into the Scottish ruling family occurred much earlier, with the marriage of Joan of the Tower, the youngest daughter of Edward II and Isabella of France to David II of Scotland (the House of Bruce).  Margaret of England, daughter of Henry III and Eleanor of Provence, married into the Scottish royal family by her marriage to Alexander III.  Joan, a daughter of John of England, married Alexander II.  I could go on, but the point is adequately made.

Marrying into the Scottish royal family wasn’t a new idea in by Henry VII’s time, actually, it seems to have been almost a traditional practice (especially if one had a daughter named Joan!).  Henry VII, though, hoped to have Scotland under his thumb more directly by having his eldest daughter marry her King, whereas most of the aforementioned marriages were between Scottish monarchs and younger daughters of English monarchs.  In an interesting turn of events, it was not Scotland under England’s rule, but England under the rule of a Scottish king that brought together the two nations in a more peaceful manner than had been experienced previously.  The Wars of Scottish Independence had, for a time, brought both nations together, but in a forcible manner, unlike that which passed under James VI.

 

This is particularly important to remember, especially tonight, when the Scottish people are voting in the largest referendum to date in their history.  Scotland has a proud and vibrant history, and it is because of that history that the citizens of Scotland are voting tonight.

I cannot make any claim as to how I want to see this turn out.  I certainly have my own opinions, but it is up to the Scots, tonight, to decide for themselves.   I just hope that they remember how it wouldn’t have been the United Kingdom without a Scottish monarch to bring it all together (even if it had been an aim of the English monarchs for centuries before it actually happened).

James IVMargaret Tudor

A Quiet Week

This week I have been working hard on studying for the GRE, which has been an adventure in and of itself.  Learning more about my weaknesses and strengths as a student and academic is an interesting exercise and has proven to be surprising and difficult.  Regardless of my own Sisyphean trials these past couple weeks, I have been working to stay connected, at least marginally, to the community from Kings and Queens 3.  One of the best ways to do that has been via Twitter, and from there, I found a fascinating tidbit to share with you today.

 

Beyond the Dark Ages- A nunnery by any other name 

 

In this post, Sarah Greer give a little information about what she studies, female monasteries.  Not nunnery?  Well, a nunnery and a monastery were two different things! She does a great job of explaining why she uses the term “female monastery.”

Review and Rambling: Crown of Thistles – The Fatal Inheritance of Mary Queen of Scots

Crown of Thistles: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary Queen of Scots (or in the US Tudors vs. Stewarts: The Fatal Inheritance of Mary Queen of Scots)

By Linda Porter

Crown of Thistles cover

In the course of my hiatus, I had the opportunity to read a few books that’d been on my “want” pile, and at the very top was Crown of Thistles, which I purchased on my trip to England earlier this summer.  I’d already read the other “fun” book I purchased at the same time, a biography on Queen Matilda, whose husband was King William I of England.  I’d wanted to get one in temporal area of research and one out.  I was quite pleased to find one that seemed to be about Mary Queen of Scots, mother-in-law to Anna of Denmark, whom I presented a paper on this summer.

After presenting and having the opportunity to talk shop about history with the other presenters, I’ve become more resolved to look at not just English history, as I’ve done previously, but also Scottish.  Scottish history is a rich and vibrant field and I want to continue my study looking at royalty, the construction of feminine identity and authority, and educational history, especially in context of the other monarchy on the island and in relation to those on the continent.

So this book Crown of Thistles, fits in quite well with my geographic focus and my focus on royal studies.  Originally, from the title, I thought it was primarily going to be about Mary Queen of Scots, and a focus on her relationship with Elizabeth I of England, but I was mistaken.  From the start, I was annoyed that we were reading about Catherine de Valois, Queen Consort to Henry V, and James III, but I was drawn in to Porter’s prose with her flair for bringing these historical characters to life as flesh and blood people and realizing where she was going by starting so far in the past.

By starting in the 15th century, she carefully sets up the tempestuous relationship between the two dynasties, and then carefully gives us background and biography on each of the rulers and other main players in the government and society.  I was glad, it was a breath of fresh air, to read about Scottish monarchs James III, James IV, and James V.

Also written in great detail was the Battle of Bosworth Field, as well as the rest of Henry VII’s exile and battles for the throne.

Pulling together these two seemingly disparate threads to put light on Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth was an interesting approach, and although I’d wanted more on Mary, there are other sources which fall under that heading, like Lady Antonia Fraser’s work, or John Guy’s.  This put her childhood in France in context with the ambitious nature of her mother and brought to life the Auld Alliance.  As a reader, she helped me to understand that while the story can seem simple, it is infinitely more complex than it seems, and to bring an understanding of the people, as living-breathing people, can grant the reader more clarity.

 

I would whole heartedly recommend this book, with the caveats that it is 1) not just about Mary Queen of Scots, and 2) for a trade paperback, REALLY long.  It reads quickly and is not overly difficult.

My Most Sincere Apologies, Dear Reader…

As may have been obvious if one compares the dates of this post and the last, there has been a bit of an unintended hiatus on Semper Eadem.  A bit of personal history  and explanation, if you’ll indulge me – I just moved from Marquette, Michigan, which is located in the beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan. My current location is Milwaukee, where I am working full-time and preparing applications for graduate schools.  In the course of moving, I found a fabulous little apartment close to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where my partner is pursuing his PhD and where I work, but there was one small snag… no Internet access.  We tried, for a month, to get the local Internet oligarchy to bestow us with the world outside of our own… but it took my partner’s and my own combined efforts to get any traction.  Finally, after hours of phone calls, unfulfilled promises, and angry tweeting to get Internet into our small studio.

So now, with some fantastic speedy interwebs access, I am returned to life online!