History Is Fantasy
Hi Samantha’s blog people! Nice to meet you! When Samantha asked me to write a guest post for her blog she added, “… my blog is mostly about fantasy” at the end of her request. And I thought to myself, what better crossover could there be between Fantasy and Historical Romance than my subject of choice, Medieval History? Because there was a time (called the Middle Ages) when they were in essence one and the same.
Every Monday on my blog is Medieval Monday, and if you’ve ever read any of those posts then you know that I am a champion of the Medieval Peasant. Peasants made up 90% of the population of the Medieval world. They were simple, industrious, uneducated, and fun-loving. Most peasants never traveled more than 25 miles away from home in their lives. They believed devoutly in the mysteries of the Medieval Church with a home-grown taste of “the old ways” thrown in. So what do you get when your world is populated by uneducated people with vivid imaginations fueled by superstition who never venture far from home? You get dragons, fairies, and magic.
Yep, what we now call Fantasy was, in fact, a unique kind of reality to the average man and woman of the Middle Ages. Without the benefit of modern science, fantasy was the best explanation for anything that didn’t make sense in the world. Your average Medieval peasant would have heard stories of strange animals in remote foreign lands brought back by crusaders, pilgrims, and an occasional trader. Without pictures to show then they would have relied on their imaginations and local creatures to fill in the blanks.
|A friend drew this. Isn't she talented?|
So did fairies, sprites, elves, and other intelligent creatures associated with the land. They were responsible for good and bad luck, for crops failing or thriving, for items going missing and things suddenly appearing just when they were needed. I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of the Changeling Child. These poor kids probably had some kind of psychological disorder, autism or ADD or something along those lines. But in a world that didn’t know what autism was the only viable explanation was that the fairies put a spell on them or a bad spirit stole their soul or they were possessed. The fairy folk and their mischievous ways were the most real explanations these people had.
Of course, people could also use this to their advantage. One of my favorite stories of “possession” in the Middle Ages is the oft-used excuse some girls had for mysteriously getting pregnant. A perfectly good girl with a sterling reputation who would never dream of committing a sin could actually get away with using the excuse that a spirit of some sort lay with her during the night and that she was in no way responsible for the outcome. And people bought it. Well, I’m sure someone knew the truth when those stories were concocted, but many a reputation was saved by believing in the fantasy element.
So really there isn’t much difference between the facts of Medieval history and the imagination of Fantasy. It’s all in how you perceive the strange world around you. Personally, I think a lot is lost by our modern society that has a scientific answer for everything. It’s so much more invigorating to imagine and to dream.
Thanks for having me over for a visit! I hope to see you again soon.
All About Merry