Sunday, July 08, 2012

Modern day trial by champions at Wimbledon

In the year 1028 in Angoulême, near which historic city I now live, the ruler of Aquitaine, Count William fell ill, having only recently returned in triumph from Jerusalem. As Richard Landes describes in his book Relics, Apocalypse and the deceits of History, in a section titled 'Unintended Consequences of Triumph: Envy, Ambition, Disaster'  as follows:

"the Count's illness was mysterious, it slowly sapped his strength and wasted him before the eyes of his people..... according to the Count's son and heir Alduin, William was a victim of sorcery. The accused women refused to confess forcing a trial by combat"

Any may read what followed from page 180 onwards from this Google Book link.

In one of the footnotes to this entire sorry story, (as first recounted by eye witness, Ademar of the Abbey of St-Cybard that lay just outside the city ramparts of Angoulême,) R.I. Moore describes these events as giving birth to an era of a "persecuting society". As such they therefore mark a dreadful moment in history,   the result of superstitions regarding the new millennium, still ongoing after almost thirty years  and the populism brought on by the hyping of relics all as described by Richard Landes in the extracts from Google books.

As our modern day Champions take to the Centre Court of Wimbledon this afternoon; I will be torn as to where to place my support being British, but thoroughly shamed at my country's chosen course during my lifetime and having seen the best example as to an alternative way lying within Switzerland, with its direct democracy and their resulting society and chosen direction. That is the rub with trial by combat, it is not the individuals taking part that determines whom you support, but the cause they represent. I am forced to support the gentlemanly Federer against my fellow Brit Murray, in spite of the long gap way back to 1936 since last we had a Wimbledon Champion, could such a gap not therefore be somehow significant? Would a Murray victory signal a change of direction for Britain, or was that perhaps delivered by the Englishman, Jonathan Marry, in the Gentleman's Doubles last evening perhaps?

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