lliira: Fang from FF13 (Default)
[personal profile] lliira
This isn't a paper or an essay. It's a way to use imagination to try to describe to people who may not know much about history why certain people did something that some people find utterly confusing today.

On one side we have a bishop, surrounded with silks and expensive mistresses, born in the aristocracy, learned in multiple languages, in history, literature, mathematics, philosophy, and rhetoric, well-fed, well-traveled, warm, and secure. On the other side we have a peasant who's given birth eight times and has one living child, who cannot read and write even her own language, who knows nothing but what her priest and lord tell her and what she's learned in her own life, part of which is to avoid the lord and his friends at all costs because they can rape her with impunity. We have a sailor who has three earrings, two tattoos, and avoids going to church by being at sea most of his life. We have a prostitute -- not an expensive courtesan like someone whose services the bishop would use, but a woman with multiple diseases, who's had multiple painful and dangerous abortions, who's been a prostitute since she was nine years old because that's the only way she could survive. (She's often visited by the sailor.)
And then we have the middle. The miller's wife has given birth six times, and four of her children have lived to adulthood, because there hasn't been an epidemic and the miller can feed and clothe his family and patch his roof. The miller and his wife have their own room, separate from the children. They are wealthy by almost anyone's standards, but they want more.  The miller is an odd man; he learned to read and write his only language, but he taught not only his sons, but his daughters and wife as well. They only know a tiny bit of Latin, and don't have any way to learn more unless one of the boys joins the church, which would cost the miller all of his savings. 

These odd people -- the millers and merchants and glovemakers and blacksmiths -- seem to be getting more populous. And they aren't grateful just to be left alone, and they don't put up with being raped and conscripted. They think the bishop should not have all the silks and mistresses, they think the lord shouldn't rape anyone, and they have the energy and time to say so. They don't think much of the peasants, the sailors, and the prostitutes, but they don't see why they should let the bishops hoard all the knowledge to themselves, either. The bishops refuse to give it up, so they're going to take it.

This is an era in which people are hanged for translating the Bible into their own languages. Because the bishops can see that the middle class is rising, growing more powerful, and the lords seem to be compromising with them in order to take power away from the church. The lords are willing to give up some things, like the right to rape with impunity, to get the middle class on their side. But all the bishops have is religious knowledge, and they had been misusing it to hold onto their power for centuries. The lords are nodding sagely when the miller says he wants a Bible for his children, and seeing an opportunity to kick the church out of the law. Many local priests even seem to be taking the side of the middle class -- some are even taking the side of the peasantry! And the last time the bishops sent a witchhunter to that prosperous village up north, the townsfolk drowned him. 

Date: 2012-06-01 12:41 am (UTC)
deird1: Faith looking thoughtful, with text "deep thought" (Faith thought)
From: [personal profile] deird1
Well put...

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