Saturday, August 22, 2009
Lady Godiva, an eleventh century Anglo-Saxon woman, rode through the streets naked to protest the heavy tax burden placed upon the townspeople by the lord of Coventry, who was also her husband.
It seems a good visual accompaniment to "The English Ladye and Knight" playing by Loreena McKennitt. If you're given to it, please listen to her song.
Here's Loreena's commentary:
In the song "An English Ladye", this is a segment of a very long narrative poem by Sir Walter Scott called The Lay of the Last Minstrel and what fascinated me by this corner of this long narrative, it's situated at Carlisle Castle. Now, Carlisle Castle is built on an ancient Celtic settlement site so there was that kind of Celtic archaeological moment. But also in the story it reflects upon a sort of Romeo and Juliet story where a Scottish knight falls in love with an English woman, and follows a theme that love often transcends cultural barriers. And in this story, the brother of this English lady finds it intolerable that his sister should be in love with a Scottish knight and he murders his sister. The Scottish knight comes and then murders the brother and then in this depth of passionate grief, he decides to go on and fight a war for the love of this woman that died. And then in the last verse you hear that he goes off to fight this war in Palestine. And what's quite fascinating is that of course Palestine is a place that is very much in our contemporary minds and lives, and the troubles there. And I just thought it was an interesting note, you might say, where yes, this is a historical piece of literature but in actual fact, as with history, history is never really truly dead, that history is really the underpinnings of our contemporary times. And the poem also caused me to reflect on certainly one of the reasons why some people go off to war or have gone off to war.