Kronos MT20

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Within One to Five Working Months Long Distance Travel in Ancient Rome

Short Distances, Longer Odds

From Sea to Shore in the Long Eighteenth Century

Devient Femininity in Postwar Japan Sexual or Sexist Expression?

Feelings of Presence and Distance In Early Medieval Europe

Contents 1 2 3 8 10 12 15 21 26 28 32 38 45 46

Editors’ Letter Phoebe Hyun Co-Head Editors’ Letter Laura de Lisle & John Merrington Atlas Unplugged Isaac Hawcock & Manny Campion-Dye Short Distances, Longer Odds Morgan Breene Albert Camus’ Exile Jake Levine Within One to Five Working Months Luke Bateman Debate: ‘This House believes Richard III killed the Princes in the Tower’ Laura de Lisle & Sam Harper Feelings of Presence and Distance John Merrington Letters of Love and Separation Joana Neves Teixeira The Church Across Asia Benjamin Sharkey Anarchy in Antipode Alexander Kither A Woman’s Heart and the Autumn Sky Ryan O’Reilly Review: I am Anastasia Phoebe Hyun Review: Aristocrats Helena Aeberli

The Team Editor-in-Chief Phoebe Hyun Co-Head Editors Laura de Lisle John Merrington Secretary Devanshika Bajpai

Editors James Morran Patrick Hayes Elizabeth Down Nathan Hewitt Social Media Director Morgan Border

Artistic Director Isabella Lill Illustrators Fred Seddon Sophie Park Justin Lim Front cover and inside front cover by Isabella Lill Back cover by Fred Seddon

Editor-in-Chief ’s Letter PHOEBE HYUN Welcome to the first issue of Kronos Magazine, a history publication made by and for Oxford students! The idea for Kronos started when I realised that Oxford University lacked a place where students could write about all periods of history outside the academic setting. I wished to create a space where both history and non-history students could expand upon their passion for the subject. A society within which we could explore the problems of our present with solutions from the past. It was at this point that I decided to found a new magazine. Initially, however, my head was full of uncertainties. Would anyone want to write for us? Would I find anyone who would be as passionate as I am about this project? Would it ever get published? Therefore, it was with trepidation that I first posted an advertisement inviting other students to become a part of this magazine. Contrary to my concerns, however, the response I received was incredibly enthusiastic, and as a result, I was quickly able to form a team of 13 brilliant editors and illustrators. It was only thanks to their dedication and skill that we were able to edit, lay-in and publish this magazine during a worldwide pandemic. I am immensely grateful to everyone on our team. In particular, I would like to thank our Artistic Director, Isabella Lill, for singlehandedly putting together a new layout for our first issue. Thank you to our Head Editors, Laura de Lisle and John Merrington, as well as all our


Editors, James Morran, Patrick Hayes, Elizabeth Down, and Nathan Hewitt, for your unending dedication. Our Secretary, Devanshika Bajpai, and Social Media Director, Morgan Border, were also instrumental in ensuring the team ran smoothly and that we were advertising effectively. It was also due to the fantastic skill and effort of our Illustrators, Sophie Park, Fred Seddon, and Justin Lim that we have a magazine as beautiful as it is. Finally, a very special thank you to Professor Zaman, our supervisor, for having

faith in us and giving us unlimited support at every step. This issue, containing the hard work of every editor, contributor, and illustrator on our team, is brimming with 13 excellent articles and accompanying vibrant artwork. Today is, of course, only the beginning; from this point forth, we will be publishing an issue per term. I hope you enjoy what we have put together here for you, and see you all again in Hillary! Art by Sophie Park

Co-Head Editors’ Letter LAURA DE LISLE & JOHN are constructed and contested. MERRINGTON Alex Kither’s contribution on the tangled lives of French political Readers will no doubt have prisoners and indigenous New guessed already that this issue was Caledonians in the aftermath of shaped by the period in which it the Paris Commune charts the was conceived. Distance has taken ways in which physical separation on new aspects in the past six constitutes an important element months of forced isolation, many of the psychological discipline of which have been particularly which legal systems bring to bear interesting from a historical against citizenries. Ryan O’Reilly, perspective. The fault lines of meanwhile, teases out the blurred the unprecedented globalisation boundaries between feminist of the last few decades have been resistance and social conservatism uncovered, the belief that we could in the Pink Film movement in ever crush the physical distance pos=t-war Japan. Isaac Hawcock separating opposite sides of the and Manny Campion-Dye’s globe exposed as fantasy. Space, study on maps likewise invites and the time it takes to move across us to consider how historical that space, haunts us, because we actors’ experience of space is simply can’t overcome its tedious shaped through its normative reality (at least, not until we work cultural representations. Luke out how to teleport). The best we Bateman and Morgan Breene’s can do is communicate with each contributions – on ancient Rome other across the divide, as we’ve and on seafaring in the long done for centuries. eighteenth century, respectively While on the one hand – offer important insights into these contemporary concerns the ways in which space as a attune historians’ sensitivities to physical rather than constructed untapped aspects of historical presence has throughout history experience, it is also true that confounded human agency. Jake historical enquiry can offer fresh Lavine’s study of Albert Camus’ perspectives on our present exile draws out the mundane, lived anxieties surrounding distance by reality of carrying on one’s life far placing them in the longue durée. away from home. John Merrington A focus on distance hence has the and Joana Neves Teixeira’s duel effect of illuminating both contributions on early medieval past and present. Distance has Europe and modern Brazil, been a good topic to think with, respectively, consider letters as a too, because it is so multifaceted. mechanism for enabling actors to Each of our contributions in its extend their social presence across own way addresses our central great distances. Merrington’s theme, but in doing so they interest in the ways in which make fertile inroads into various early medieval Christendom subfields. reconfigured relationships with Several of our space is shared by Benjamin contributors use distance as a Starkey, who considers the routes gateway into exploring the ways which connected the vast Christian in which hierarchies of power diaspora of medieval Asia.

Perhaps the central upshot of this collection of essays is that distance is both conceptual and physical; it is produced and experienced both within the cultural sphere and in the embodied world. The theme of distance hence sharpens our toolkits by helping us to recognise that the world of ideas and the physical world – so often contrasted to one another – are inseparable and mutually constituting. The phrase ‘uncertain times’ has been repeated so often that it’s essentially meaningless now, but we hope that our regular slot at the back of the magazine, ‘Historical Debates’, will provide a measure of stability. We’ve chosen the mystery of the Princes in the Tower for this issue because it’s at once reassuringly unsolvable and endlessly fascinating – like an optical illusion, the facts look completely different depending on which side you’re coming from, as Sam Harper and Laura de Lisle show. We’ll never know what happened to those two boys, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still write about them.


Altlas Unplugged Cartography and Experience through Time BY ISAAC HAWCOCK & MANNY CAMPION-DYE “A map was a fine thing to study when you were disposed to think of something else…” (George Eliot, Middlemarch) It is a well-known but nonetheless interesting fact that it is impossible for a two-dimensional map to preserve both the scale and the shape of what it is representing. It just cannot be done - the act of going from 3-D to 2-D involves some kind of ‘projection’, which can at best preserve one of these two features. Modern maps tend to opt for shape, which leads to Greenland looking about the same size as Africa, despite having a land mass fifteen times smaller. This matters because maps influence how we see the world. Distortions like this affect our perception of, amongst other things, distance. And therefore, our well-known fact tells us something we rarely think about: maps are not objective, scientific representations of the world, depicting things simply ‘as they are’. Rather, map-making involves choices (only one of which is the kind of projection used). In this article, we aim to highlight the contingent nature of maps. By exploring their history, we want to show that maps are products of the societies they were made in; and that those societies are also, to an extent, a product of maps. We select three periods, all critical-points in the history of cartography. And in exploring and comparing the map-making of Classical Antiquity, Medieval


Europe, and the Late Renaissance, we aim to excavate and expose the politics and power underpinning the map. We begin our story with Eratosthenes’ world map of 250 BCE. While this is certainly not the first recorded map, it marks an important point in cartographic history, becoming a standard for centuries after it. As the chief librarian at the Library of Alexandria, Egypt, Eratosthenes was famed for his intellectual achievements in mathematics and geography. His position at the library placed him not only at the center of Hellenistic intellectual culture, but also in the imperial base of the Macedonian Ptolemaic Empire the second largest bloc to survive the splintering of Alexander the Great’s empire. Eratosthenes used his unique position to create a hitherto unparalleled map of the world. Although Eratosthenes’ map sadly does not survive, from written accounts we know the process he used to create it. Christian Jacob’s essay ‘Mapping the Mind’ discusses these sources, and what we can learn from them about ancient mapping practices. He explains that Eratosthenes’ personal experience travelling was limited, and that to make his map he relied on a vast number of secondary reports stored in or brought to the library. These texts were myriad: descriptions of the flora and fauna of parts of Asia, collected in Alexander the Great’s conquests; Greek accounts of the city-states; the navy’s survey of the Mediterranean. Eratosthenes

would cross-reference and compare these reports, with parts used or dismissed based on a series of mathematical tests and reliability checks. The resulting map was a kind of collage, drawing on every kind of available evidence, locating and naming both regions and peoples. 200 years later, the Greek geographer Strabo articulated the philosophical view underlying Eratosthenes’ project, “our senses report the shape, colour, and size of an apple, and also its smell, feel, and flavour; and from all this the mind forms the concept of the apple . . . And men who are eager to learn . . . trust as organs of sense those who have seen or wandered over any region, no matter what, some in this and some in that part of the earth, and they form in one diagram their mental image of the whole inhabited world.” Both Eratosthenes and Strabo relied on a worldview of centre and periphery. Alexandria was the centre, the “mind”, interpreting the periphery, the “senses”. The periphery was only intelligible contingently, on the centre’s terms. It is hard not to draw a parallel to the very literal centre/periphery dichotomy that comes with empire-building, where many of the most important decisions for the administration of the provinces are taken by distant bureaucrats in the empire’s capital. Thus the map symbolised Alexandria’s preeminent standing, intellectually and militarily. Its Library aimed to be the place where all knowledge, Greek and barbarian, was collected; its em-

A modern facsimile of the Hereford Mappamundi, photo by Jimfrost, liscenced by CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

pire controlled a sizable portion of the Mediterranean, with lands stretching from Northern Africa through parts of Asia Minor to islands in modern-day Greece. It is important to understand that Eratosthenes’ map was not used for strictly practical purposes. It

was part of an intellectual process by which enemies could be named and located, thus subjectified and, potentially, subjugated. It was a way of de-distancing foreign lands, and bringing them symbolically under Alexandria’s influence. It is no coincidence that in

the map, the world’s land masses form the same shape as the city of Alexandria itself: the Macedonian military cloak. Fast-forward one and a half thousand years or so, and the field of cartography changes completely. As religious fervour


blended with temporal geopolitics, the heavily Christian intellectual culture of Europe had produced a new kind of map: the mappaemundi. These were world maps, produced by ecclesiastes for didactic purposes throughout the medieval period. When historians began studying the mappaemundi in the nineteenth century, they judged them unfavourably based on the standards of contemporary cartographic practice. Indeed, historian Raymond Beazley wrote in 1897 that, “The non-scientific maps of the later Middles Ages . . . are of such complete futility . . . that a bare allusion to the monstrosities of Hereford and Ebstorf [two of the most famous mappaemundi] should suffice.” Attitudes since then have greatly changed. During the last quarter of the twentieth century many historians of cartography sought to rehabilitate the mappaemundi. They argued that these maps served a particularly medieval and ecclesiastical purpose. David Woodward in his essay ‘Reality, Symbolism, Time, and Space in Medieval World Maps’ argued that by judging them on “their own terms” we can move past accusations of “futility”, to explore their unfamiliar purpose and the worldview underpinning it. Take the Hereford map. At a substantial 1.5 by 1.3 meters, it is the largest surviving mappaemundi, and is currently displayed in Hereford Cathedral, England. The Hereford map, and others like it, do not attempt to represent the world in a scientific manner. Steeped as they are in the Christian tradition, they depict the world in those terms. The Hereford’s circular shape, which earlier historians took as evidence of ignorance of the world’s sphericity, is actually drawn from classical and biblical tradition. Similar in-


fluences also determine the Hereford map’s three-section structure: Asia at the top, separated from Europe in the bottom-left by the Don River, and from Africa in the bottom-right by the Nile, with the Mediterranean lying between Europe and Africa. This type of design is often referred to as a ‘T-in-O’ structure, where the separation of continents refers to the division of peoples into the descendents of the three sons of Noah: Shem, Japheth, and Ham. The ‘T’ rendered by the map’s rivers and seas represents the tau cross, in much greater use during the medieval period. This symbol was said to have marked the foreheads of the Israelites to indicate they should be spared during the Siege of Jerusalem. The symbolism of Salvation is even more explicit in the Ebstorf map, where Christ was superimposed over the world. Hence what might first strike us as just an unawareness of the relative position of continents is actually a result of the mappemundi’s unique intellectual underpinning. We want to suggest that viewing the mappaemundi as either accidentally or deliberately misrepresenting geographic reality is to misinterpret them. This dichotomy assumes that there is a fixed experience of geographic reality to be depicted, while these mappaemundi teach us that the purpose of maps changes fundamentally over time. They express a medieval Christian experience, which converges the spatial, temporal, and spiritual. For contemporary ecclesiastes, there was no clearly delineated boundary between these elements; none was ‘less real’ than any other. This synthesis of spaces was further emphasised by the inclusion of Eden in the extreme east (top) of the Hereford map, which itself was based

on the lines from Genesis “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden”. We claim, therefore, that it would be wrong to simply call the mappaemundi inaccurate: because ideas of accuracy necessarily raise the question, ‘accurate to what?’

The 1650 Leo Belgicus map made by Joannes van Deu

And the mappaemundi were accurate - they were simply accurate to the ‘reality’ of medieval ecclesiastes. Like other artefacts produced by the Church, the purpose of the mappaemundi was not simply to represent experience but influence it. Mirroring Christ’s teaching that he was less concerned about where a temple was constructed, as the motivation for building it

(John 4, 19-24) the ecclesiastics were trying to inculcate in viewers the notion that material existence was contingent on spiritual forces, eliminating the distance between the two. The Church used representations of distance to – quite literally – assert their worldview.

hidden meanings in the familiar. When something seems natural, it can be challenging to interrogate because it is so difficult to imagine how it could have been otherwise. But by looking at the emergence of modern maps, we can reveal their contingent nature.

utecum and Claes Jansz Visscher

It was not until the early modern period that the first recognisably ‘scientific’ maps were produced. We want to emphasise that this aspect, however, does not make them any less laden with their intellectual and political context. More recent maps just pose a different, and perhaps harder, question: not how to interpret the alien, but how to decrypt the

In England, the Netherlands, France, and Spain there was an important shift in mapmaking over the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. There developed a new regularity in cartography, an explosion in maps using the same generalised symbols, uniform measurements, and demarcations that we see in contemporary cartography. From the late fifteenth

century only 12 regional and national English maps survive; this leaps to 200 in the early sixteenth and 80 in the late sixteenth century. Similarly, in the Netherlands, during the Dutch Golden Age, the low-lying polder regions were extensively mapped by the Waterschap (local water authority), leaving a large corpus of cadastral maps (used for financial administration). How do we explain this simultaneous, sudden, and crucially international development in mapping? Some turn to traditional historiography, attributing these changes in map production to technological and informational innovations made during the Renaissance period. But stopping here risks making the connection between technology and practice one-way. This naive view sees technology as developing in a vacuum, emerging fully-formed into the world, and where it is put into its obvious or ‘natural’ usage . To understand the ideological factors which incentivised certain kinds of map, and aided their production, we must move beyond the cartographer’s office. John Pickles in A History of Spaces points out how national and cadastral maps developed alongside a new conception of space, primarily triggered by the emergence of three factors: proto-capitalist economic relations, greater political centralisation, and imperialist expansion. The former is illustrated by the cadastral maps of the Netherlands, demarcated into areas based on the division of private property. This was necessary for commercial reasons, not only to determine who was entitled to profits from some reclamation schemes, but also to advertise the land to potential buyers. Therefore, space took on new meaning; it became commercialised, and was increasingly


viewed as a resource. It could no longer be ‘just space’, it had to be used. Correspondingly, the cadastral-style map began appearing in other countries whenever a similar commercialisation of the land occurred, for instance, in England during the Enclosure Acts of the late eighteenth century. Another impetus for cadastral maps was the development of national taxation. The Dutch cartographer Daniel Schillincx’s 1617 map of Putten, Netherlands, was commissioned for this purpose, and went on to enjoy around 250 years’ use by the authorities. The emergence of systematic taxation, which necessitated the cadastral maps, was a major aspect of political centralisation. Meanwhile, the national and regional maps in England, most notably Saxton’s 1579 map of England and Wales, were a different expression of centralisation. Their visual uniformity, with consistent symbols for trees, villages etc., subtly suggested: ‘every part of the nation is, at its core, the same; therefore, they can all be ruled in the same fashion’. We argue that the naturalisation of this style, and its continuation into the present, is not evidence of its intrinsic intelligibility, but rather implies that contemporary society and the early modern period share a common attitude towards land. The benefits for the elites of propagating this attitude should not be underestimated. Despite Saxton’s map initially being commissioned for military purposes, and as such containing potentially sensitive information, it was publicly circulated late in Elizabeth’s reign. The positives of disseminating the map, thus allowing its symbolism to diffuse, were judged to outweigh the risk of the possibility of its misuse. This stratagem of uni-


formity was also used for imperial purposes, with Dutch, English and Spanish imperialists all drawing up maps of their territories. John Smith’s map of Virginia (1612), much like Saxton’s depiction of England, is uniform with a set of visual symbols. It suggested to the viewer that not only was Virginia like England, and hence could be ruled like it, but also that it was tamed and controlled, and therefore useful for commercial reasons. A similar idea of control is emphasised by Smith’s exclusion of tribal influence from the map, aside from those groups that cooperated with European imperialists. Groups which England did not officially recognise were marginalised and unrepresented. Ultimately, the sort of maps we are now familiar with, with their uniform measurements, their generalised symbols, and their subtle exclusions, can be just as didactic as Eratosthenes’ world map or the mappaemundi. These examples show us the way that maps correspond with worldviews of the time. This can be more or less obvious, and more or less conscious. It is easy for us to see now the symbolism underlying the shape of Eratosthenes’ map, or the religious agenda of the mappaemundi, while the political implications of a single ‘tree’ icon are perhaps more obscure. Still, you might be thinking: these are maps of the past! The problems with them are obvious, and surely simply by removing these problematic features, we can transcend them, to reach the ‘true’ map, the map that represents but does not propagandise. But which map represents the world as it is, wholly and completely? Perhaps it is the map Jorge Luis Borges describes in his story On Exactitude in Science, when the “Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the

Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it”. Perhaps the only ‘true’ map is the territory itself. The main point is this: we need to interrogate maps, to question them, to ask them what they are trying to do and why they are trying to do it. Maps can of course prove useful, but we must recognise that a map that is useful for one thing will be worse than useless for something else. This sounds obvious. However, it is all too easy to slip back into seeing maps as objective, apolitical representations of distance, rather than as objects which are designed and produced for a specific purpose. Maps influence us, change the way we think about space and see the world, and they are far from neutral. Art by Isabella Lill

Short Distances, Longer Odds From Sea to Shore in the Long Eighteenth Century

Model boat, surf boat from southern India known as masula (or masulah) © The Trustees of the British Museum

BY MORGAN BREENE Intercontinental travel has almost always been a tedious and potentially life-threatening endeavour. Vast distances on the open ocean confound human conception—no landmarks, no guarantees of safe passage or a timely arrival at a preferred destination. The way historians think about the impact the dangers of sea-travel had on the development of the British empire, however, overlook or underestimate the final hurdle of any voyage: the passage in small boats from ocean-going ships through the surf to dry land. In the Age of Sail, built harbour installations, such as docks and breakwaters, were not always available in foreign ports. Instead, boats were used to transport goods and passengers between ships and land. The in-between spaces in which these boats travelled were comparatively small, but surpris-

ingly difficult to cross; boats often faced strong surf, riptides, unexpected shallows, rocky shorelines, and hungry or poisonous marine life. Madras (modern day Chennai) is a prime example of the impact of environmental limitations faced by Britons attempting to cross from sea to shore. Established in the 1640s as an East India Company settlement, Madras became one of the most important trading ports in British India. It is located on the Coromandel Coast on a straight, sandy stretch of coastline with no natural promontories to protect the beach from a continuous triple bar of heavy surf. This surf was infamous amongst the ever-increasing numbers of European visitors in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Mrs Eliza Fay recorded in her journal in 1780 that she had been taken aback by the surf, calling it a “great evil”, and “not only

alarming but dangerous”, while other travel writers, such as Hobart Caunter and Julia Maitland, called it ‘formidable’ and an “insurmountable impediment”. Despite the danger, however, all arrivals to the port had to travel the last half mile from ship to shore in local boats, known as masulas— no functional breakwater or docks existed at Madras until the turn of the twentieth century. Throughout the 250-year delay between the founding of the port and the completion of harbour installations, the risks of the surf zone were keenly felt by merchants and visitors. The export company Parry’s of Madras, established in 1796, estimated that 90% of all cargo losses occurred in the Madras surf, rather than on the high seas. Local boatmen and divers were paid a premium for recovering lost anchors and supplies—the Oriental Commerce, published in 1813, recorded an award


of “one pagoda (approximately eight shillings) per cwt. [hundredweight] …for each anchor”. Accounts of deaths by drowning in the surf and the potential of shark attack also spread in newspapers including the Madras Mail and Bombay Times. British tourists and merchants in Madras risked more than life and property in the crossing between ship and shore, however. They were also forced to confront their own culturally ingrained prejudices against the technological expertise and navigational skill of non-European boat-builders and sailors. Travel writers regularly described masula boatmen in racist or dehumanising terms, focusing on the colour of their skin, their near-total lack of clothing, and their singing which, to travel writer Mary Sherwood, sounded more like “wild howlings”. And yet, British commentators were utterly reliant on these boatmen and masulas to reach the shore. European-style ship’s boats, which were heavily constructed using metal nails and internal frames, were too rigid to survive the constant beating of the surf. In 1848 Captain Christopher Biden, the Master Attendant of the Madras port, went so far as to publish a warning against crossing in European boats in the Bombay Times, writing that “the incautious use of ship’s boats… have been attended with accidents and a very narrow escape from fatal results; I hope such perilous encounters will operate as a salutary warning to Commanders who frequent this coast”. Masulas, on the other hand, while alien in form to the British observer, were perfectly suited to the surf. Box-shaped with high sides, lightly built, and, most importantly, sewn together, rather than fastened with nails, masulas could bend and withstand the multidirectional forces of the


waves. British attitudes towards masulas and boatmen shifted over the nineteenth century. Early travel accounts often extolled the skill of the masula boatmen and the suitability of the boats to the surf. Hobart Caunter, who crossed in a masula in the early 1830s, recalled:

“It is really astonishing to see with what dexterity the boatmen manage these awkward-looking machines…bringing them safely on shore through a surf that would appal (sic) the stoutest heart which had never before witnessed nature under any similar aspect of her power and her sublimity”. Later writers, however, became increasingly concerned with

the optics of British reliance on local boats and boatmen in such an important colonial port. Writing of masulas in 1834, John Malcolm expressed his amazement that “notwithstanding their superior science, Europeans have been unable, during an intercourse with India of two centuries… to bring into successful practice, one improvement”. An anonymous editorialist published in the Nautical Magazine in the 1840s put it more plainly, writing: “…the defect in [British] boats, tends in some measure to give barbarous people a somewhat mean opinion of our boasted superiority”. By 1869, the Madras Mail had branded the masula boatmen “a floating nuisance”. Nevertheless, masulas manned by local boatmen remained essential to the continuation of trade through Madras. The role of Madras as a major export centre and seat of government for both the East India Company and the British Raj meant the ship to shore crossing through the infamous surf was unavoidable for thousands of Britons and other Europeans travelling to India. Though a short distance, the reliance on the irreplaceable masulas challenged the preconceived notions of British passengers by exposing them to new means of constructing and piloting boats. The danger posed by the surf was both physical and psychological—not only were lives and livelihoods on the line in the shallows, but also culturally ingrained worldviews, prejudices, and notions of Western technological ‘superiority’. The risks of sea-travel extended beyond the long-distance traversal of the high seas, to the much shorter, but still impactful, crossing from ship to shore. Art by Isabella Lill

Albert Camus’ Exiles Immobilisation in Le Panelier, 1942

BY JAKE LEVINE On 11 November 1942, the writer Albert Camus, having spent the autumn in the sleepy hamlet of Le Panelier in south-central France, included a rather distraught entry in his notebook: “11 November, Like rats!” Earlier that same day, the Wehrmacht had responded to the Allied landing in North Africa on 8 November by crossing over the demarcation line that separated Nazi-occupied Northern France from the Vichy-governed South and bringing the entire country under German rule. As a result, Camus’ native Algeria was now cut off from mainland France and on the opposite side of the war. Faced with the reality of indefinite separation from his homeland, Camus could not help but feel trapped on the isolated plateau of Vivarais-Lignon that Le Panelier called home. With winter coming, and the heavy snowfalls endemic to the landscape expected, this feeling only intensified. Camus had come to Le Panelier late in the summer of 1942, having suffered from a flareup of tuberculosis and ordered by his doctor to recuperate in high altitude. The location had a familial connection; his wife Francine’s aunt Marguerite was married to the actor Paul Œttly, whose mother ran a boarding house in the village. The plan, though nebulous, was for Camus to spend around two months convalescing there while visiting nearby SaintEtienne every 12 days for pneumothorax injections to treat his affected left lung. In a letter to his

mentor Jean Grenier, he outlined his hope of returning home before winter arrived, which he believed would be “too harsh” for his Mediterranean temperament. Born 7 November 1913 to a family of impoverished means, Camus grew up in the Belcourt district of Algiers, a multiethnic working-class neighbourhood. He did so without a father, who died at the Battle of the Marine in 1914, and with a mother who was illiterate, mute, and partially deaf. His early works, L’envers et l’endroit (1937) and Noces (1939), bear testament to that upbringing. In a lyrical style intermixed with a dose of autobiographical realism, they describe a childhood of poverty but genuine happiness – a youth spent on the sun-soaked beaches of Algiers, in the alleyways of the city’s quartier pauvre, and among the Roman ruins of Tipasa. For the young Camus, these works articulated an acute perceptiveness to the transience of life and a heightened sense of attunement with nature; they also pointed to a lucid awareness of

mortality – something that he had carried since the earth-shattering tuberculosis diagnosis he had received at only 17 years old. His interests were not limited to the metaphysical. Indeed, Camus was anything but an ‘armchair philosopher.’ His political activism was ubiquitous: he flirted with Communism from 19351937; his 1936 play on a mining strike in Spain, Revolt in the Asturias, drew the ire of Algiers’ mayor and was even briefly banned; and his crusading editorship of Alger-Républicain and its afternoon edition, Le Soir-Républicain, from 1938 to 1940 saw the paper shut down by the wartime censors. In the meantime, he continued to write and eventually secured a job on the French mainland at the newspaper Paris-Soir through his friend and former colleague at Alger-Républicain, Pascal Pia. Arriving just in time for the German invasion in the spring of 1940, Camus was witness to the Fall of France. He lost his job at the end of the year and returned to Algeria, where he settled in Oran until his health crisis brought him back to the French mainland in 1942. It was to be a defining year for Camus. Not yet 30 years old, he was beginning to make his mark on the French literary scene. Through Grenier and Pia, he was well-connected to the Parisian world of letters – notably the writer and activist André Malraux and former Nouvelle Revue française editor Jean Paulhan. Their assistance helped bring his work to the reader’s room of the publishing giant Gallimard, where it was


read with enthusiasm. By the time Camus had arrived in Le Panelier, The Stranger had been published and his essay on the absurd, The Myth of Sisyphus, would soon follow suit. While recuperating, Camus planned to continue work on a play tentatively titled Budejovice (later The Misunderstanding) and a novel that would eventually become The Plague – though at the time, he was considering calling it “The Prisoners.” His initial impressions of Le Panelier were largely consigned to his appreciation of the landscape. Lonely, but enchanting, he found the bucolic atmosphere appropriate for an interim of rest and relaxation. From the village he had a stunning view of the dramatic scenery and as the seasons began to change, he observed the beauty of the autumn foliage. “The landscape blossoms with leaves,” he wrote, and “[the] plateau is covered with a thousand flames of a second spring.” Around this time he began preparations for his voyage home and during a trip to Lyon he purchased a ticket for a steamer leaving Marseilles towards the end of November. But all this changed after 11 November, 1942. The German presence in the former free zone had made such plans impossible and left Camus marooned in la métropole under precarious circumstances with no clear sense of direction. This marked a watershed moment in Camus’ experience of World War II. Ever mindful of events, he had been attuned to the reality of the war since its outbreak (first as a journalist, then as a witness), but until this point, there had always been some respite from its reach in his daily life. The war may have been proceeding at full throttle, but Camus had still been able to practice some limited semblance of normalcy. In Oran,


he still met with friends, pursued job opportunities, and enjoyed the freedom of movement – all under the auspices of Vichy and the circumstances of the Occupation. Now with his plans (and he himself) immobilised, these habitual customs of normal life felt far away. In their place, the confusions and uncertainties of war reigned, pervading every facet of Camus’ day-to-day existence. There was no escape. This was evinced by the physical reminder of his isolation, of being exiled amongst the misty summits and slopes of Le Panelier, which had begun to take the appearance of a mountainous limbo in his mind’s eye. In the aftermath, Camus pursued a number of options, often in consultation with the well-informed Pia, who by this point was involved in the resistance group Combat. In a letter dated 14 November, Pia suggested that he follow the official advice offered by Vichy for all stranded Algerians: contact the prefect of their location for further instruction. They also considered the possibility of Camus escaping back to Algeria via neutral Spain, but eventually deemed it too risky an endeavor, especially with Camus’ fragile health. There was also the issue of funds; Camus had no discernible income. Aware of this, Pia contacted both Malraux and Paulhan, who in turn, relayed this to Gaston Gallimard, the head of the publishing house. It was eventually agreed to provide Camus with a monthly stipend and to bring him onto the payroll as a reader. As to be expected, this was a turbulent time for Camus and in the weeks that followed, he became increasingly anxious. His thoughts were heavy with the pangs of separation – from his family and friends; from his livelihood; from what he thought had been his

life’s trajectory. He worried that he would be stuck in Le Panelier for the winter and thus isolated from the intellectual world he had just gained a foothold in – to that end, he reached out to Paulhan to see if it were possible to find a job in Paris. More than anything, he was concerned for his wife, whom he could no longer contact due to the severance of the postal links between France and Algeria. Coupled with the overall uncertainty of his situation and the utter helplessness he felt in the face of the larger historical currents guiding it, this left Camus rather despondent. A 30 November letter to Grenier succinctly encapsulates this: “I hardly have any plans. Wisdom would be to last as long as possible here and to take care of myself…In any case, my situation is difficult.” Turning to the dramatic landscape that had earlier seemed to represent the peaceful solitude of a brief respite but now served as a cruel reminder of an indefinite exile, he concluded: “Here it is cold. Snow, frost, many long months before seeing the sun again.” His melancholy continued as winter set in, but was accompanied by a grudging acceptance of the situation. In his correspondence with Pia, he mentioned the financial benefits of remaining in Le Panelier (Madame. Œttly generously split the cost of living with Camus, as opposed to charging him a separate fee). He was also awaiting the arrival of a pass that would allow him to travel over the militarized border between the Northern and Southern Zones, and thus to Paris. Meanwhile, Camus would “try to heal [himself] for some time, then find a job and resume what [he] dare not call a normal life.” Even

within the minutiae of day-to-day planning, he could not escape, nor accept as the ‘new normal,’ the disruption that the seismic currents of the war had affected on the everyday existences of the French, Camus included. He hunkered down, reading the Kierkegaard that Pia had sent him as an early Christmas present, while attempting to distract himself from the enormity of the situation through his writing. But even then, he found himself overwhelmed. In a 11 December letter, he complained to Pia, “I returned to my work to force myself to escape all this news that has bogged me down…If only I had news of my family!” He began to incorporate elements of this reality into his fiction; Budejovice, for example, borrowed its setting and sense of isolation from the mountainous Haute-Loire (and a temporary title of The Exile). The Plague was especially reflective of life in France during this tumultuous period and later conceived as an allegory for the Occupation

(among other artistic intentions). Camus’ detailed outline for the second version tellingly states, “What seems to me to best characterise this era, is separation. All were separated from the rest of the world, from those they loved or from their habits. And in this retreat they were forced, those who could, to contemplate, the others to live a tragic bestial life. In short, there was no middle.” Albert Camus would remain in Le Panelier until November 1943, when he was offered a permanent job at the Gallimard office in Paris. By that time, he had transformed his immobility into activism, contributing to the clandestine resistance paper Combat. He would ride the wave of such involvement to the heights of fame in post-war France. But such a grand trajectory was far from envisioned by Camus in the immediate aftermath of his exile. His responses to the challenges of November 1942 were largely made ad hoc. He

attempted to navigate the overwhelming uncertainty of a novel situation as best as the circumstances allowed while keeping his options open. He did so by turning towards the familiar, his preexisting relationships and connections, and the mundane, the small, practical, everyday activities that were still feasible. In the face of the larger historical currents of war and occupation, he acted within the constraints placed upon him and approached developments in the only way possible: as they came. Faced with the heavy weight of history, it was in the day-to-day that Camus found some respite, however limited, and more importantly, some sense of a path forward. If there is a lesson to be gleaned here, it is rather banal, yet important. As Camus would later explain in the spring of 1943, “History is turned upside down, but the little life continues.” Art by Sophie Park

Within One to Five Months Long Distance Travel in Ancient Rome

BY LUKE BATEMAN In 196 BCE, the Ancient Mediterranean was changing. Recent victory in the Second Macedonian War had brought Roman influence into the Aegean Sea for the first time, upsetting the existing power balances and changing the nature of diplomacy. Although Greece and the Italian peninsula remained geographically distant, diplomatically they grew closer than ever. This article considers two specific case studies, a Greek representative travelling to Rome, and a Roman representative travelling to Greece, to

show how this closing of diplomatic distance created both challenge and opportunity. Prior to the second century BCE, politics on the Mediterranean was split between the West and the East. Historically, there had been some commerce and military engagements between the Italian peninsula and the Greek world; however, regarding treaties, involvement in diplomacy, and other forms of political integration, the West and East remained separate. While fledgeling Roman hegemony remained limited to the Western Mediterranean, Eastern diplomacy hung in the bal-

ance of powers between King Philip of Macedon (who exerted influence over most of mainland Greece), King Antiochus of the Seleucid Empire (modern Syria and Turkey) and the Ptolemies of Egypt. However, this all changed with the Second Macedonian War (200-197 BCE). Rome, after several years at war in Greece, had finally defeated King Philip in 197, thus taking over his influence in the region. Their conclusive victory opened the door for the Romans to become directly involved in the affairs of the Eastern Mediterranean. The impact of Rome’s arrival was twofold. First, Rome had up-


set the triangular balance of power. By weakening Philip of Macedon, Rome made it now possible for other powers to expand. Most notably, emboldened by his recent victories against Egypt, King Antiochus - by threatening to invade Greek states on either side of the Aegean - aimed to expand the grasp of the Seleucid Empire into Greece. This in turn contributed to the second impact of Rome’s arrival. As the new victorious power, Rome became the centre of appeal for Greek states in need of aid. Where previously the Greek states had been in a different political world to Rome, they now had the opportunity to interact and negotiate agreements, alliances and protection. As King Antiochus moved west, the number of states that appealed to Rome for aid increased rapidly. Yet, even while Rome and Greece grew diplomatically closer, they remained geographically distant. With new mapping software developed by Historians and IT specialists at Stanford University, it has now become possible to calculate the accurate distance between different parts of the Ancient Mediterranean; for example, it projects that the distance from Corinth to Rome was roughly 900 miles. Thus, a round trip would have been over twice the length of the UK! It is difficult to calculate precisely how long this would have taken to travel but rough estimates can be made. In his book, Ships and Seamanship in the Ancient World, New York University Classics professor Lionel Casson surveyed various reports of travel across the ancient Mediterranean to calculate average speed for a private, non-military ship. Casson found that in favourable conditions speeds of between 4.5 and 6 knots (5 and 7mph) were common, whilst in less favourable conditions with hideous winds and thick cloud complicating navigation, average speed could fall to between 2 and 2.5 knots (2.5 – 3mph). For a round trip from Corinth to Rome an idealistic jour-


ney would last 10 days, whilst in the worst case, it could take a month! When one considers the range of locations that were now impacted by Roman policy, the sheer scale of long distance diplomacy becomes apparent. From Alexandria, the capital of Egypt, to Rome and back was 2,870 miles. From Byzantium, the northern reach of the Aegean, to Rome and back was 3,400 miles. For a letter to be sent to the Senate and a reply to be received, a Greek state could possibly wait more than two months! It thus becomes apparent that no matter how close states may have become diplomatically, the question of geographic separation was unavoidable. One way Greek states could conduct long distance diplomacy was to send a representative to Rome. In 196 BCE, the city of Lampsacus (in the Dardanelles of modern Turkey) did just this. Earlier that year, King Antiochus had sent soldiers to invite Lampsacus to join the Seleucid empire peacefully; the implicit threat was that the second invitation would not be as polite. The Lampsacenes refused but were critically aware that against the superior power of Antiochus’ army they were unlikely to retain independence. Needing the promise of protection from a power that could challenge Antiochus, the Lampsacene council hurriedly sent an envoy to Rome. The envoy, named Hegesias, ended up on an exceptional journey of 4,200 miles, taking detours to central Greece and modern Marseille to gain support before eventually visiting the Senate in Rome. Although the length of the journey was extreme, the record of the journey (a marble inscription made by the Lampsacene council) shows Hegesias employing methods that were common amongst most long distant diplomats. For example, to counteract a sense of separation between geographically distant states, Hegesias often emphasised a sense of shared kinship. His first stop on the journey was to ask a

Roman fleet commander stationed in central Greece to write a letter to the Senate vouching for Lampsacus. In order to win the commander’s respect, he emphasised that the Lampsacenes were ‘kinsmen of the Romans.’ Lampsacus was situated in the Troad region, from which Rome claimed pseudo-historical heritage through Aeneas of Troy. Though this appeal to kinship was tenuous, by rhetorically emphasising their shared blood and origin Hegesias was able to bridge the vast geographic distance between his people and Rome. It was to further strengthen this connection that Hegesias took another 1,500 mile detour to Marseilles. Marseilles held an alliance with Rome, so being able to demonstrate a shared kinship between Marseilles and Lampsacus (as both had been founded as colonies of Rome) was another way to bring Rome and Lampsacus together. Additionally, at each stage, Hegesias collected letters of assurance from those willing to support Lampsacus. These were presented to the Senate as declarations of support from across the Mediterranean, a way of compiling geographically diverse testimonies. Later, they were deposited in Lampsacus’ ‘public archives’ to act, like the inscription of the journey itself, as proof of Rome’s protection, even from afar. Appeals to kinship and letters of assurance were used by countless other envoys and diplomats throughout this period as ways of bringing states diplomatically closer even when geographically apart. Eventually, the Roman Senate referred Hegesias to their representative, Titus Quinctius Flamininus, in Corinth, Greece. Traditionally, scholars believed that in these early years of Roman imperialism the Senate conducted its foreign diplomacy centrally from Rome, but in recent years this argument has been rejected. Now, it is believed that as much as Greek states sent representatives to Rome, Rome redirected representatives

back to Greek states. As established, the distance between Rome and Corinth and back was 1,800 miles which, even in the best conditions, would take 10 days to travel. It was inconvenient, and in some cases impossible, to wait so long for messages to be sent back and forth between Rome and the Greek world; decisions needed to be made quickly and effectively. The easiest solution for the Romans was to place ‘ambassadors’ abroad to act on the Senate’s behalf, invested with its power and representing its interests. As Titus Quinctius Flamininus demonstrates, however, it was possible for these representatives to exploit such power for their own benefit. Flamininus was characteristic of many Roman senators and diplomats in this period. He came from an elite family that craved the glory and wealth that came with foreign military command and had highly distinguished himself during the Second Macedonian War. The end of this conflict in 197, then, posed a problem: he could no longer glorify himself through military victory. For Flamininus, as for many ambitious Romans over the coming decades, long distance diplomacy posed the solution. Using his experiences from the war to claim himself as an expert in Greek affairs, Flamininus went alongside 10 commissioners to Corinth in 196 to represent the interests of the Senate, although he ended up also serving his own. A few months after his meeting with Hegesias, Flamininus appeared at the Isthmian Games, where all the major diplomatic representatives of the Greek states were assembled, to declare the Senate’s policy granting “the freedom of the Greeks.” The declaration, in theory, broke the Greek states free of any obligations to Macedon, Rome or other powers. This is not the place to discuss the declaration’s validity (we shall leave the reality of the claimed liberation of a people recently invaded by an ambitious imperialist power to the reader’s discretion); rather, we are

going to consider its impact. On the one hand, Polybius (a relatively contemporary Greek historian) suggests Flamininus aimed “to create genuine affection and respect for the Roman name among all the Greeks.” This is certainly what Flamininus claimed; in an inscribed letter to the Chyretiai in Thessaly, he desired for his reader to “know our nobility” and see that Rome set “the highest premium upon kindness and love of glory.” Yet the distance from the Senate meant that Flamininus could twist senatorial policy to serve his own interests. In the words of Plutarch (a much later Greek writer who composed a biography of Flamininus), the declaration of freedom was presented as “his gift to the Greeks.” Indeed, statues were erected to Flamininus in Chalcis, Corinth, Gytheion, Delphi and Scotussa, glorifying the individual Flamininus rather than the Senate he represented. This was encapsulated in a coin produced in this period, the first to depict a living Roman. The coin, inscribed in Latin, bore all the trappings of senatorial authority but was never circulated in Italy. Instead, Flamininus’ kingly portrait was distributed throughout Greece with all the power of the Senate but none of its interference. For an ambitious man like Flamininus, the distance from Rome allowed

him to refract senatorial policy for his own agenda. Thus, as the Mediterranean grew more diplomatically interwoven, the remaining obstacle of geographic distance presented both challenge and opportunity. On the one hand, as states entered new diplomatic networks, they had to develop methods to manage negotiation over thousands of miles. On the other hand, for the ambitious envoys willing to endure long and perilous journeys, this was a perfect time for self-glorification on an increasingly international stage. The case studies perfectly demonstrate this. When Hegesias and Flamininus met in early 196, they were acting as representatives of two states over 1,400 miles apart, with different laws, geographies and ways of life. Yet, they met because their states had approached the challenge of long distance diplomacy in similar ways, and we know of them because they were both immortalised in stone for their diplomatic enterprises. Despite being from opposite sides of the Mediterranean, the twin experiences of Hegesias and Flaminius are testament to how states in 196 were growing closer than ever. Art by Sophie Park


IV and Lady Eleanor Butler was dug up, proving that Edward’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was bigamous, and their children BY LAURA DE LISLE therefore illegitimate. (A rumour It’s tempting to believe in even circulated that the late king the version of Richard III that Jim himself had been illegitimate – Howick plays so well in the Horri- easier to believe when you comble Histories song, purely because pare the 6’4” blond Edward IV the evil monster of Shakespeare’s play is so prevalent in British culture. Surely Richard III can’t have been as bad as all that, we think, scoffing at Thomas More’s descriptions of a “malicious, wrathful, envious” little man. Surely this man didn’t kill his nephews to take the throne for himself. Unfortunately, sometimes myths are built around a kernel of truth, and Richard III murdering the Princes in the Tower is one such kernel, even if we tend to get the details wrong. Technically they weren’t both princes, which was the whole problem: Edward V, the son of Richard’s elder brother Edward IV, was already king of England, but at 12 years old, he was too young to rule under his own power. That meant a regency, with good old Uncle Richard as Lord Protector. So far, so good. Unfortunately, Edward V’s extended family on his mother Elizabeth’s side, the Woodvilles, weren’t big fans of Richard. He knew he would lose the immense amount of power he had built up as his brother’s premier magnate in the north when with his 5’8” dark-haired father.) the young king was crowned, Who else could step up but Edwhich the Woodvilles insisted ward’s loyal younger brother, should happen as soon as possible. the last legitimate son of York? The date of Edward V’s An assembly of lords and comcoronation was set for 22nd June moners declared Richard king on 1483. 12 was unusually young for 25 June; he was hastily crowned a king, but the Woodvilles were on 6 July. But there were still happy to rule through their sci- those pesky kids to deal with. Richard III had a strong on until he reached maturity (and maybe even after that). Richard motive for ensuring that a tragic had to act fast. An obscure mar- accident befell Edward V and his riage contract between Edward younger brother Richard, duke


of York (they didn’t have in the late Middle Ages). Richard claimed to have moved them into the Tower of London in August 1483 for their own protection, but they were never seen again. The concern that a potential rebellious faction might attempt to break them out,

‘This House believes R Princes in t


or launch a coup in their name, must have weighed heavily on Richard’s mind. He had seen how mercy towards a deposed king could backfire – in 1471, Edward IV had been briefly overthrown by his former ally the earl of Warwick, who reinstalled the conveniently-still-alive Henry VI on the throne. If Edward had killed Henry when he’d become king back in 1461, he wouldn’t have been deposed, and he and Richard

wouldn’t have been forced to take refuge in Burgundy for six months. Edward IV retook the throne, of course, but Richard’s roll call of supporters was far shorter than his brother’s. Having his nephews murdered was the safest option. But then why didn’t he produce the boys’ corpses to dis-

His followers stressed his resemblance to his father in contrast with his elder brother’s unusual appearance: here was a true son of York, a loyal soldier infinitely preferable to a Woodville puppet. Parading the boys’ bodies around London might have undermined this image just the tiniest bit.

Richard III killed the the Tower.’

suade rebellious nobles? Simply put, it wasn’t a good look, kicking your reign off with the murder of a 12 year old and a nine-year-old. They might have been inconvenient political obstacles, but they were still children. Richard’s main obsession was legitimacy, believe it or not – he presented himself as the continuity candidate, the king who would restore England to her former glory after thirty years of intermittent civil war.

Richard might not have made use of his nephews’ remains, but they would eventually resurface. In 1674, the skeletons of two children were found buried underneath a staircase in the Tower of London. They were proven to be related to each other, but unfortunately Charles II had them interred in Westminster Abbey before their identities could be determined, and both the Church of England and the Queen have refused all

attempts to unearth them since. Come on, though. Two child-sized skeletons buried underneath the Tower of London, proved to be related to each other. It would be a staggering coincidence if they weren’t who we suspect they are. Of course, it is entirely possible that, as author Philippa Gregory postulates in her historical novel The White Queen, one or both of the boys was smuggled out of England and replaced by a hapless peasant child (fans of Game of Thrones will spot a similarity with Theon Greyjoy’s execution of two local boys dressed up as the youngest Stark heirs). Two notable pretenders, dubbed Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, caused trouble later on during Henry VII’s reign; we’ll never know for sure whether they were the lost sons of York. Nevertheless, whether the boys that were killed were Edward and Richard or not, Richard (and the rest of the world) believed they were, which is what counts. Just because he may have failed at murdering his nephews doesn’t mean that he didn’t try to. The big hole in either side of this argument is the lack of contemporary evidence. When Henry VII came to the throne in 1485, he didn’t look into what had happened to the boys. There’s an argument to be made that he didn’t want to investigate because it was likely that either Edward or Richard might still be alive and capable of challenging him for the throne – and therefore Richard couldn’t have killed them. However, just because Henry was anxious about the possibility doesn’t prove that the boys were alive. It was the Middle Ages, so you couldn’t just run a DNA test. That means nobody can say for certain what happened to the Princes (or rather, King and Prince) in the Tower – Richard was acquitted of


their murder in a televised mock trial in 1984 on those grounds. But the solution which seems most likely to be true is the simplest: Richard needed his nephews gone, so he had them killed. All this isn’t to say that Richard was the monster Shakespeare and the Tudors made him out to be. He hadn’t been plotting to take the throne for years – his actions in 1483 were prompted by circumstances unfolding around him, not by a mad lust for power. The great irony is that he was a much better magnate than he was a king, and he would have preferred to stay in the north, where he was known for good governance. But he couldn’t maintain his position in the north under a Woodville-dominated monarchy, so he was forced to choose between taking the throne and losing everything. He didn’t kill his eldest brother – Edward IV really did die of a cold, the only thing he caught on a fishing trip in April 1483 – nor his next-oldest brother, George, duke of Clarence. Clarence’s mental state had been going downhill for years by the time Edward executed him: in 1477, Clarence was convinced that his wife Isabel Neville had been poisoned by her lady-in-waiting, Ankarette Twynyho, so naturally he tried the woman for murder and executed her. He also plotted against his elder brother, as he had done during Warwick’s rebellion, but Richard wasn’t whispering in Edward’s ear that he should kill him, and he didn’t have Clarence drowned in a vat of wine. And he definitely didn’t propose to Anne Neville over the corpse of her first husband. Her death in March 1485, preceded by that of their only son, weakened Richard significantly. Even his supporters could see that Richard’s position on the throne, sans wife and heir, was more pre-


carious than ever; this was one of the major reasons that he lost the Battle of Bosworth, as fewer nobles turned out to fight for him. Therefore, it would have made no sense for Richard to kill his wife – unlike his young nephews. A lot of what most people think they know about Richard III is Tudor propaganda. Henry VII, a man with a shaky claim to the throne who’d grown up mostly outside of England, had to disparage the previous king as much as possible. But the problems that the continued existence of two royal heirs posed to Richard’s position were simply too great for him to ignore, particularly with his intimate knowledge of what could go wrong if they were allowed to live out their days in the Tower. They were never seen again after August 1483 – or, at least, nobody who could prove that they were one of the boys was ever seen again. The lack of contemporary evidence means that the historical debate will keep on raging, but the fact remains that Edward V and Richard, duke of York, disappeared, and their uncle was the person with the strongest motive to kill them. Thus, the myth of Richard III as the arch-villain of the Wars of the Roses was built around that kernel of truth.

AGAINST BY SAM HARPER The true circumstances behind the disappearance of Edward V and his younger brother Richard in the summer of 1483 can never be known for sure. Nevertheless, the case that Richard did not kill the Princes in the Tower has never received the consideration it deserves. Most are unanimous in their verdict that Richard III ordered the murder of the Princes to cement his power.

It seems the simplest explanation and as such is rarely questioned. Why is this the case? Modern perceptions of Richard are inescapably shaped by depictions which have virtually no grounding in the truth. Ask the average Brit to picture Richard III, and chances are they imagine a hunchbacked, hideous, monster of a man. Influenced by a school curriculum obsessed with the Tudors and their legacy, most see the Battle of Bosworth as the triumph of the fundamentally good Henry Tudor over the corrupt, power-hungry Richard. It seems reasonable to let such an interpretation reinforce its chilling conclusion: Richard murdering his young nephews in cold blood. Those with a more sympathetic view of the king are frequently mocked as “Ricardian loons” (coined by David Starkey), while the classic historical comedy series Blackadder features a benevolent Richard III as a ridiculous example of rewritten history. It is about time that Richard III got the fair trial that has too often been denied him. Therefore, before I argue for his innocence, it is vital to dispel any false preconceptions. Richard’s nefarious reputation today mostly stems from his depiction in Shakespeare’s eponymous play. Shakespeare’s Richard is a hunchback with a withered arm, born with a full set of teeth at birth and forever rendered inhuman, a “lump of foul deformity” (I:ii). Richard states in his opening soliloquy “I am determined to prove a villain” (I.i) and proceeds to murder the princes and confess to many more murders, of his brother George, Duke of Clarence, of Henry VI and his son Edward... the list goes on. And yet none of these accusations have any basis in fact. Given that Shakespeare wrote his tetralogy of history plays (Hen-

ry VI parts 1-3 and Richard III) in the 1590s, with Elizabeth I, the granddaughter of Henry Tudor, on the throne, it seems that it was in the Bard’s interest to depict Richard as the despicable foe to the noble founder of the House of Tudor. Indeed, Shakespeare’s anti-Richard connections run deeper. A prominent patron of his was Fernando Stanley, a direct descendant of Lord Thomas Stanley, Henry Tudor’s father-inlaw, who famously switched allegiance from Richard to Henry at Bosworth. As for Shakespeare’s sources, they were also tainted by Tudor bias; the basis for events in the play was Thomas More’s The History of King Richard III (c. 1516), written in the reign of Henry VIII and so very unlikely to sing Richard’s praises. Tudor sources appear to be the reproduction of rumours without any discernible evidence for their claims. Additionally, More’s account was meant to be more of a manual on moral guidance than a rigorous historical record, and as such relied on the Tudor rumour mill to turn conjecture into historical fact. A fairer assessment of Richard III’s character is difficult to come by in narrative sources, but the facts of his life dispel most of More and Shakespeare’s accusations. Richard served the princes’ father Edward IV loyally in the Wars of the Roses, was rewarded for his service with control of the Council of the North from 1472 onwards and was designated as Lord Protector before Edward’s death in 1483. Other murders attributed to Richard in Shakespeare’s play are pure fantasy - Edward of Westminster was killed at Tewkesbury in 1471, while Richard’s brother George was executed by Edward IV for treason in 1478. The recent dis-

covery of Richard’s remains under a Leicester car park revealed scoliosis of the spine, but none of the other deformities Shakespeare so vigorously emphasised.

Such a history of slander, exaggeration and falsehood brings me to my central argument. Once the idea that the princes’ murder was consistent with Richard’s character has been debunked, there is no conclusive evidence that he sent them to their deaths, and the multiple alternatives available cast considerable doubt over the theory of their murder. Of course, it is indisputable that the princes were held in the Tower of London after being declared illegitimate in June 1483 and that they were never seen again after August. But automatically concluding their murder from the disappearance rests on three grounds: negative preconceptions about Richard III’s character (addressed above), Occam’s Razor - the idea that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one - and the advantages of murdering the princes which

could serve as motive. Occam’s Razor appears convincing - the princes disappeared under Richard’s supervision, so he must have ordered their deaths. Rumours about the prince’s deaths circulated from 1484 right up to More’s recounting of them, but a closer look at the context of their disappearance and the actions of those close to them reveal circumstances that were far from simple. Elizabeth Woodville would surely have been concerned that two of her children had disappeared, and deeply suspicious of her brother-in-law. Why then did she send her three younger daughters into Richard’s care at his court in the spring of 1484? Further, as Matthew Lewis points out, why did Woodville keep one of Richard’s books in her personal collection, her name signed beneath his? These decisions are surely not those of a woman whose sons had been murdered. Most glaring of all, the princes’ mother never mentioned the supposed deaths of her sons before she died in 1492, even when in a position of relative power as the king’s mother-in-law. As Jack Leslau so succinctly puts it, “When a mother does not claim that her sons are dead or missing, we may reasonably conclude that her sons are neither dead nor missing”. Other elites of the time were similarly silent on the matter, even when it would have been beneficial to reveal their fate. Would Henry VII have had a decade-long diplomatic struggle with the famed pretender Perkin Warbeck if there hadn’t been considerable chances of their survival? In addition, Henry never acknowledged their murder and no masses were said in the princes’ names during his reign. If we apply Occam’s Razor beyond the isolated event that most would be familiar with, designating their


death as the simplest explanation simply does not hold up. Similarly, the case for Richard III securing his place on the English throne by killing the two individuals with superior claims collapses under scrutiny. Carrying out the boys’ murder in order to cement his position on the throne would only have made sense if Richard had revealed their bodies, with an alternative explanation for their demise. There existed precedent for this; previously deposed kings such as Edward II and Richard II had been imprisoned, and likely murdered, but had always had their bodies revealed with the possible murder covered up as having been natural causes. Even if Richard did murder the princes, covering it up as a disappearance only weakened rather than strengthened his position on the throne, with the controversy likely contributing to the rise in support for Henry Tudor up to the Battle of Bosworth. Despite the common assumption that Richard was able to cement his authority through the murders, ultimately A.J. Pollard argues “the belief that he had murdered his nephews seriously handicapped Richard’s efforts to secure himself on the throne he had usurped”. Additionally, the tainting of Henry VII’s reign by a succession of pretenders like Simnel and Warbeck is testament to the importance of confirming the death of one’s political rivals. Furthermore, if the murder of his rivals was part of Richard’s masterplan, then he made an absolute hash of it - all 17 of his other nieces and nephews were still alive at his death, including Elizabeth of York, whose marriage to Henry ultimately gave the Tudor line royal legitimacy. Therefore, I believe he did not have sufficient motive to murder the princes.


The above criticism naturally leads to a new question: what was the Princes’ actual fate? The short answer is, of course, that we don’t know; the meagre evidence we have is invariably fraught with conjecture, caricature and lies about Richard which convince many of his guilt. I would argue that the burden of proof in this matter lies with the accuser, and I believe I have shown there can be reasonable doubt of Richard’s guilt. However, some of the alternative theories concerning the Princes deserve an explanation. Theories that Henry VII or the Duke of Buckingham were responsible seem to go too far, and into the realms of conspiracy theory; others are even more implausible suspects, as any access to the Tower during Richard’s reign would have had to involve his complicity. I think the most plausible theory, fitting best with the circumstantial evidence I have laid out above, is that they lived on in hiding under false identities, with the full knowledge of Richard, Elizabeth Woodville, and perhaps even Henry VII. Woodville’s lack of public outcry over the fate of her sons, coupled with her probable forced retirement to Bermondsey Abbey in 1487, suggests a collective agreement with Richard that her daughter and son-in-law wanted to keep secret for fear of Henry’s usurpation, leading to her exile to the abbey. Richard’s network of confidantes seemed wellplaced to facilitate the disappearance of the boys, with his sister the Duchess of Burgundy and the dozens of nobles in his northern heartlands well-placed to secrete two young boys. Further, there was a precedent for such actions; Henry IV sent the heir presumptive Edmund Mortimer and his younger brother into hiding fol-

lowing his 1399 coup until his death in 1413, meaning Richard had an existing model for how to deal with rival heirs that didn’t involve murder. Further speculation concerning the princes’ false identities has been dubious at best, with tangible evidence of their fate lacking. Nevertheless, Henry’s actions during the 1490s, his anxieties and the amount of money invested in countering Perkin Warbeck’s threat and overseas support suggests the pretender could have genuinely been Richard, Duke of York. Even if Warbeck was an imposter (which seems almost certain) Henry’s behaviour at the very least suggests the survival of the princes was possible. None of the alternative theories are supported by sufficient evidence for me to be wholly convinced of their truth. However, one simple question remains concerning the burden of proof in this matter: could you convict Richard of murder in a court of law? It is convenient to jump to a straightforward conclusion, a conclusion which fits with your perception of Richard as an evil, hideous despot. I by no means argue that Richard III was benevolent- merely that he was a man shaped by tumultuous times, who should be held suspect but not immediately condemned. With all the alternative explanations, the strange behaviours of those near to the princes, and the clear biases of pro-Tudor sources based on rumours and falsehoods, the only certainty is that there is insufficient evidence to conclude that Richard killed the Princes in the Tower. I therefore ask my reader to extend Richard an olive branch and refuse to condemn one of England’s most misunderstood kings. Art by Fred Seddon


Feelings of Presence and Distance

The Letters of Einhard of Seligenstadt (c. 770-840 CE) BY JOHN MERRINGTON Living as we do in an age where people, goods and information seem to move at a dizzying speed, we commonly think of life in medieval Europe as static by comparison. Although this big picture may hold true, it is important to remember that distance could be compressed or enlarged in various ways in the Middle Ages, as it can today. On foot, at the best of times, a healthy person in a hurry could move at 15-20 miles per day. A wealthy individual using multiple horses might reach double this speed. By ship, a person could even travel up to 100 miles in a day. For elite individuals, there were other ways to overcome distance: sending messengers or writing letters enabled a person to communicate without having to make the journey themselves. Thus, in the early Middle Ages as in the modern world, the wealthy distinguished themselves by their ability to conquer distance. Given that early medieval travel was physically demanding, illness or disability could leave a person effectively immobilised. When the Welshman Asser, friend and biographer to Alfred the Great, king of Wessex (849-99 CE), departed England, he told Alfred that he would return in six months, ‘assuming my life is spared’. Asser was right to be cautious: on his way home to Wales he was struck down by a fever that left him incapable of travel for


over a year, meaning he missed his appointment, although he escaped with his life. Journeys could be dangerous too, especially at times of political instability. When the ninth-century abbot Lupus of Ferrières wrote to a friend asking him to send valuable books over land, he warned: ‘I urge you to choose a road that is safe... You must seek a cortege large and strong enough to keep off robber gangs or, if it becomes necessary, to drive them away.’ It is unsurprising that the prospect of a long journey filled many with dread. Nevertheless, early medieval people were often compelled to travel. I shall argue that what motivated them to do so was the fact that they associated proximity with power – both spiritual and political. Medieval Christians believed that the saints would reward those who undertook long and arduous journeys to visit them at their shrines. In fact, traffic to and from Rome to visit the tombs of martyrs was so great that travel-guides were written from the seventh century onwards, some of which still survive. It was worth travelling to be near to kings, too. In an age with fewer state institutions, ritualised encounters with the ruler were central to bolstering the political legitimacy of the major landholders who served him. To be far away from the royal court was to be cut off from channels of resources and information. So, just as distance evoked feelings of fear, closeness tended to denote power. Early medi-

eval men and women, however, had competing demands on their presence. Like people today, they sometimes found themselves being asked to be in two places at once. The predicament of distance was that to move closer to one node of power meant moving away from another. In the letters of Einhard, the lay abbot of Seligenstadt, we see one particularly well- documented individual attempting to negotiate the dilemmas related to distance and proximity. Einhard was born around 770 CE under the rule of the Frankish king (and

Arm reliquary, thought to have been produced c. 1230 i

later emperor) Charlemagne. By the time of Charlemagne’s death in 814, the Frankish empire had reached a size that no European land empire would match until the time of Napoleon. Most of modern-day western Europe from the Pyrenees and central Italy in the south to Saxony in the north, from Aquitaine in the west to the modern-day Czech Republic in the east, were directly subject to Charlemagne’s rule. As a youth, Einhard was sent by his parents to the monastery of Fulda where he was educated in Latin, the early medieval language of literacy. Einhard came to the royal court at Aachen in 791, a place teeming with intellectual activity and in which he thrived. Charlemagne’s generous patronage of scholars has caused modern historians to dub this era the ‘Carolingian Renaissance’. In his biography of Charlemagne – often characterised as the greatest

in the Meuse Valley, modern-day Belgium

literary work of the early Middle Ages – Einhard cast himself as one of the emperor’s closest confidantes at court. Being a lay abbot, Einhard was not bound to celibacy. Sometime before 815, he married Emma, with whom he possibly had a son. Emma was literate and played an active role in the management of his estates, as we know from the fact that two letters in the ‘Einhard’ collection were written by her. During the reign of Louis the Pious (814-40 CE), Charlemagne’s son and successor, it seems that Einhard started to feel marginalised at court, and so retreated increasingly to his rural estates. The most important of his landholdings was Seligenstadt, where he founded an abbey. Like many devout Christians of his age, Einhard wanted his abbey to be honoured with the presence of Roman martyrs. And so, in 827 he had an agent steal the dusty remains of saints Marcellinus and Peter from their home in the catacombs, and, after an arduous journey, buried them at Seligenstadt. From the mid-820s until his death in 840, Einhard’s surviving corpus of letters grants us an invaluable insight into the daily and political life of an early medieval landholder and abbot. During the early 830s, Louis’ empire descended into civil war as his sons rose up in rebellion against him. Einhard’s struggles to balance his obligations to his emperor and to his saints reveal the life-and-death implications of the dilemmas that distance created in the early medieval world. Early medieval Christianity was rather different from its modern counterpart. People like Einhard were primarily concerned with establishing relationships with saints rather than

directly with Christ or God. The saints were exemplary individuals who had devoted their lives to the service of the faith and, in the case of martyrs, had died for the cause. To be a good Christian was to pay due respect to these ‘special friends of God’, primarily through their relics, which constituted their corporeal remains or matter that they had touched. Relics were considered to have miraculous powers because they channelled the presence of the individuals with whom they were associated; proximity to a relic hence granted one access to the saint’s heavenly virtue. Through their relics saints could be called upon to perform miracles of healing or justice. Einhard often had to deal with fugitives who fled to Seligenstadt in the hope that the saints would grant them protection from those who were pursuing them. Churches would often encase prestigious relics in magnificent reliquaries and keep them in shrines on their land, which in turn became pilgrimage sites. An alternative way of keeping close to the saints was to bring them with you: some reliquaries were portable, so that a person could be close to their patrons even while on the move. The key difference between modern and early medieval Christianity, then, was the value placed on presence. Whereas today Christians tend to believe that the divine can be invoked anywhere through prayer, Carolingians believed that a person had to be close to the saints in their material form to be sure of reaping heavenly benefits. Physically touching reliquaries enabled a person to achieve special communion with the holy. The production of beautiful ‘hand’ reliquaries during the central Middle Ages reflected the intimacy that touch enabled


in the religious experience. The potency of these objects was contagious: new relics could be made by rubbing objects against already existing ones or else simply by dividing them. For elite individuals, sending relics to friends was a means of building relationships across the sprawling Carolingian empire. Einhard, for example, sent relics to Archbishop Hetti of Trier with which to dedicate a new church. In his desire to draw on the power associated with the presence of saints, Einhard was hence very much a person of his time. Nonetheless, his decision in 827 to have the remains of the martyrs Marcellinus and Peter brought from Rome to Seligenstadt was a remarkable act of faith which prompted admiration from contemporary chroniclers. Einhard believed the saints had chosen to make this journey in order to be his special patrons. He wrote to the emperor Louis in the early 830s that ‘Marcellinus and Peter... abandoned Rome and came to Francia for the advancement and protection of your kingdom, and – for what reason I do not know – they saw fit to stay with me, a humble sinner.’ According to the logic of the time, the martyrs must have consented to the theft of their remains, or else they would have used their miraculous power to thwart Einhard’s intentions to acquire them. Einhard devoted the latter portion of his life to serving the two martyrs. Unsurprisingly, as he grew older and contemplated the end of his earthly life, the need to be near Marcellinus and Peter increased. Theologians of the time argued that when the Day of Judgement arrived, the bodies of the saints would be reanimated and would testify on behalf of those who had properly honoured


them. For Einhard, being near to Marcellinus and Peter seemed the surest way of safeguarding his soul in the afterlife; the prospect of dying away from them filled him with dread. The concepts of power which predominated in early medieval spiritual life closely mapped on to those which operated in the realm of politics. For kings, making themselves present was central to asserting their authority. The Carolingians held a general assembly once a year which all the notables of the realm were invited to attend. These assemblies offered the emperor the chance to renew his authority and to snuff out any rebellious tendencies that might be detected. For his subjects, the assemblies were an opportunity to win patronage from the emperor and to swap information about affairs taking place across the realm. The significance of presence to Frankish society was perhaps most apparent through the endemic use of oaths. In legal disputes, making an oath on a sacred object – usually a relic – was a mechanism for proving oneself innocent; in such instances, it was assumed that the saint associated with the relic would physically punish any person who had perjured themselves in their company. In situations of civil war, meanwhile, rulers journeyed across the realm in order to receive oaths from their followers as a guarantee of their fidelity. To break such an oath was deemed morally reprehensible and would severely lower a person’s social standing. In order for an oath of loyalty to be truly binding, it was proper for the vassal to be in the physical company of his ruler. In the central Middle Ages, this practice developed into a sophisticated ritual of homage in which the vassal would place his hands

in those of his king as he swore loyalty to him. Gloves were not permitted during the ceremony on the basis that they would weaken the strength of the substantive bond that had been established between ruler and subject. Kings also owed much of their authority to the use or threat of violence. Hence, mustering troops from across the lands was an important part of Carolingian rulership. For those who were called to fight, making the journey would mean leaving one’s property behind for an unknown period of time. Einhard in fact wrote two letters attempting to win his dependents remission from military service: in one case, a man claimed he was too sick to travel; another man protested that he was engaged in a feud with his commanding officer, and so feared for his life if he were to answer the call to arms. In the early 830s, Louis the Pious’ eldest sons, Lothar, Louis ‘the German’, and Pippin, triggered a succession of rebellions against their father. The sons’ discontent had been growing ever since 819 when Louis had remarried following the death of their mother, Ermengarde. The princes suspected their stepmother, Judith, of attempting to promote the interests of her clique of followers and her son, Charles, whom she had borne in 823 with Louis. The final straw came in 829, when Louis, who had divided his realm among Lothar, Louis and Pepin in 817, attempted to redraw the succession map by granting Charles a share of the land that his step-brothers believed they were owed. The civil wars that followed divided the realm, and left many landholders like Einhard in a position of considerable uncertainty. Should they remain loyal to

Louis, or throw in their lot with the rebellious sons? In many cases, their holdings were effectively divided across multiple jurisdictions, meaning they stood to lose out regardless of which side they backed. While Louis was able to face down a first set of rebellions in 830-1, in 832 a second revolt took place, culminating eventually in his brief deposition in 833. Naturally, in both 830 and 832 Louis and Judith were keen to secure the obedience of their vassals and the best means of doing so was to summon them to their presence. In early 830, Louis and Judith called their supporters to meet them at Compiègne. In April 830, we see Einhard, now aged around 60, writing to ‘a friend’ – probably Gerward, one of Louis’ officials – excusing his failure to complete the journey. Einhard protests that, despite being gravely ill, he had done his level best to try to reach Compiègne, some 192 miles from Aachen, his point of departure (roughly equivalent to the distance from London to Manchester): I came with great difficulty to Valenciennes [78 miles from Compiègne] after ten days. From there, since I was no longer able to ride, I travelled by boat to St. Bavo. A great loosening of my bowels and a pain in my kidneys came on one after another such that there was not a single day after leaving Aachen that I did not suffer from either ailment. Likewise I was troubled with... a continual numbness of my right thigh and an almost intolerable pain in my spleen. Beset by these afflictions, my life is dismal and almost entirely without joy, primarily because I fear that I shall not die where I would want and because I am engaged in other business than in the service of the holy martyrs of Christ.


Einhard knew that his failure to meet the empress would expose him to suspicion. He urged Gerward to speak to Louis on his behalf, ‘lest he be inclined to be angry with me because I did not meet him like those who were able.’ Fearing perhaps that Gerward’s intercession would not be good enough, Einhard penned a second letter from St. Bavo to the emperor himself, again giving a detailed description of his afflictions in order to account for his failure to get to Compiègne. This time he pleaded permission to return to Seligenstadt ‘where the sacred bodies of your pious patrons rest.’ Einhard added that his presence serving the saints was of more use to Louis than his physical presence at the palace: ‘I believe that those holy martyrs should intercede for you with God if you wish to place my service in them ahead of my service to you.’ There are several ways of interpreting Einhard’s actions in April 830. On the one hand, we know that journeys were indeed dangerous and especially unpalatable for those stricken with illness. Einhard was, without doubt, at an age where sickness was liable to result in death, and so had good cause to wish to be alongside his martyrs rather than at court. On the other hand, he was by no means politically naïve: it is possible that his desire to remain aloof from the imperial court was strategic. If he were to meet Louis and Judith, he would most likely be asked to pledge allegiance to them and would be considered an outright enemy in the eyes of the rebel faction. Einhard had once been a formidable player at the courts of Charlemagne and Louis. Now a retiree, both sides were no doubt keen to draw on what remained of his political capital in support of their cause. In his other letters of


830 we see Einhard visibly drawing on his network of friends in an attempt to keep abreast of political developments. What seems certain is that Einhard was keen first of all to secure his own safety and those of his treasured saints. In mid-830 he wrote a letter expressing thanks to an unnamed count for ‘obtaining permission for me to proceed to the service of the saints Marcellinus and Peter’, suggesting he had indeed been permitted to return to Seligenstadt. He asked the count to speak favourably of him not only to Louis but also to Lothar, the leader of the rebel faction. Einhard was hedging his bets. When the second rebellion commenced in 832, we again see Einhard excusing himself for failing to answer summons. This time, it was Louis the German, one of the rebellious sons, who had demanded his presence. Einhard protested: “I did not do this to offend you or because of laziness, but because I was sick and had a fever, as I still do. I was scarcely able to present myself before your brother, King Lothar, and then to return, once he had given me permission, to the holy martyrs [at Seligenstadt].” He also expressed dismay at the great confusion that the rebellions, which led to repeated divisions of the empire among the sons, had inflicted on landholders such as himself: “I went home only because I did not know that a division of the kingdom had been made between you, though it had. In fact, a rumour spread that the very part of the eastern regions of the Franks in which I live and hold a small benefice, ought to belong to Lothar’s kingdom.” The price of keeping one’s

distance was evidently to lose access to valuable information. Einhard closed by adding that he would happily come to Louis’ court once this uncertainty had been resolved, ‘if God will deign to grant me life and health’. In late 833, Einhard wrote to a priest further expressing his unease at the uncertainties of the time in which he lived: “I can inform you of nothing definite through my messenger, since the changing nature of things that has recently occurred in this kingdom has shaken me to such an extent that I am almost entirely unsure what I should do except turn my eyes to the Lord”. Having come of age during an era of consensus and unified rule, Einhard no doubt found the conflicting demands on his loyalty which the civil wars had created deeply destabilising. While we may never know for certain what Einhard’s motivations were during the political turbulence of the 830s, we can certainly understand the difficulties he experienced in terms of the values which early medieval society attached to distance and presence. Political players such as Louis and his sons demanded that landholders like Einhard come to court because their presence was a means of guaranteeing their trustworthiness. Landholders, in turn, knew that to accede to a specific ruler’s summons would be interpreted by other players as a gesture of their political commitment. Actors in early medieval political life were required to be literate in the symbolic language of itineraries. Politics was enacted through space. Contemporaries too recognised the centrality of distance to Einhard’s political strategies. Walahfrid Strabo, who penned a short preface to Einhard’s Life of Charlemagne shortly after his

death, noted rather ambivalently the abbot of Seligenstadt’s skill in protecting himself during the convulsions that he had faced during his lifetime: “Not only in the time of Charlemagne, but, remarkably, under the rule of Louis, during which the Frankish state was buffeted by all manner of confusions and in many ways was collapsing, Einhard was able to guard himself, with God willing, using a wonderful and divinely inspired distance”. As Walahfrid recognised, Einhard had replaced the company of rulers with the company of martyrs in his retirement. Marcellinus and Peter offered a safe, clean form of protection in comparison to an increasingly volatile imperial court. Nonetheless, Einhard’s surviving letters attest to the fact that he was unable entirely to escape the domain of high politics which had once been his home. They bear witness to one person’s struggles to negotiate the dilemmas of presence and distance which characterised early

medieval life. As well as in Marcellinus and Peter, Einhard also found considerable succour in the companionship of his wife Emma during his time at Seligenstadt. The sources reveal that her death in 836 threw him into a state of severe depression. Einhard unpacked his heart in a long letter to his friend, Lupus: What constantly adds to that pain and makes an already sore wound worse is, without doubt, that my prayers were unable to accomplish anything, and the hope I had placed in the merits and intervention of the martyrs entirely misled me in my expectations... for what human being full of reason and sound mind would not weep over his fate and count himself unhappy... when, overcome by troubles, he learns that the one he believed would support his prayers has turned against him and was unmoved? Einhard’s martyrs had failed him. Why had Emma been so cruelly whisked away? Medi-

eval men and women are sometimes thought of as people who followed almost mechanically the belief-systems of their age. This does them a great disservice. Crises of meaning are nothing new: the principles by which we lead our lives can never account entirely for the vicissitudes of experience. Where a modern Christian might say that the saints had secured Emma’s passage to heaven, Einhard’s concern was directed primarily toward the here- andnow of earthly existence. His political and religious world was one which valued material presence more than ethereal abstractions. “This ease and forgetfulness of old age,” Einhard told Lupus, “had seduced me into hoping for a long life. I see now that I do not have much longer to live, but how much longer that may be is utterly unknown to me.” Einhard died at Seligenstadt, alongside Marcellinus and Peter, four years later. Art by Isabella Lill

Letters of Love and Separation Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Brazil BY JOANA NEVES TEIXEIRA Personal correspondence offers a unique window into the private lives of individuals. The letters of three couples separated from their spouses in 1869, 1915 and 1925, all writing from the South and Southeast of Brazil, allow us to reevaluate how people bridged distances in the past, and in doing so, renegotiated personal relationships, identities, and emotional landscapes altered by distance. These letters cover over five decades of unprecedented increases in global communications,

the abolition of slavery, and regime change; nevertheless, they show significant thematic continuity, and a surprisingly familiar blend of material and emotional concerns. With many separated from their lovers by social isolation and travel restrictions in 2020, and many resorting to ‘online dating’, the distance these letters address has become a frequent and undeniable companion to modern love – at least for the foreseeable future. This new reality, however strange it may seem, echoes a past that might not, in fact, be so foreign after all.

Love letters are tricky objects for historical analysis. In the eyes of a historian, they cease to be expressions of intimacy, and become, instead, the source of other discourses which the authors themselves might not have intended. The earliest letter, dated to 2 March 1869, was composed in Rio de Janeiro by the renowned nineteenth century author Machado de Assis, to his then-fiancé Carolina de Novais, a Portuguese immigrant in Petrópolis. The two other love letters, from the archives of Museu da Imigração, relate the plight of two migrant


families. The one from 5 December 1915 was written by Manuel Rodrigues da Lima, who had recently relocated to São Paulo, to his wife overseas; the 3 August 1925 letter, written by Isménia L. de Brito, was sent from ‘Pelostas’ (likely Pelotas, in Rio Grande do Sul) to her husband, José Moreira de Brito, who had just moved to Oporto, Portugal. Despite temporal and spatial differences (Machado’s recipient was a mere 60-70 km away, while Manuel and Isménia’s spouses were across the Atlantic from each other), together, the letters depict the common, shift-


ing realities of separated couples. The two MI archive letters are much more subtle in their sentimental declarations than Machado de Assis’, which can no doubt be explained by his background as an author and by the length and frequency of his communications. In all three there is a clear sense of longing, and the wide span of emotions – frustration, anxiety, concern – that come with it. Here, the 1915 letter is quite surprising, given its short and clipped prose: its last sentence is uncharacteristically full of emotion, reading “Nothing more [to

say] only that you receive a tight embrace from your husband that will only end upon seeing you [again]”. Machado and Carolina expect to see one another soon, yet the wait seems excruciating, and he spares no words to express this: “so soon, yet so far! What’s one to do? Resignation is necessary for those at the door to paradise; let us not afront fate, that is so good to us”. Lastly, Isménia expresses her yearning through worry and urgency. Her afflictions are all too clear when she begs her husband to return soon, and “not to forget to send news because [she] get[s] worried counting the days and always wondering if he is ill…”. Her long, unpunctuated sentences read like a breathless, desperate plea – not unlike Machado’s own expression of bliss upon finally receiving Carolina’s letters after days without news. Alongside the expected sentiment of nostalgia, the letters also dwell on more practical matters in an attempt to include their correspondents in their daily lives. Isménia, for example, tells her husband that she recently moved homes and rented their old house for 200$000 réis (she also adds that despite the new tenants having four kids, they’re not too much of a bother). Likewise, Machado de Assis discusses a family member’s health and a common acquaintance’s new home. No matter how mundane these details may seem, their purpose was foremost to reinforce communal bonds and reaffirm the individuals’ proximity to one another. Correspondence further served to redefine the roles of each partner in the relationship. For one, Isménia takes up many financial responsibilities in her husband’s absence while continuing to show a prominent interest in the doings and wellbeing

of those around her. Although a role in the domestic economy was not altogether unusual for women at the time, communicating over a distance caused this female labour to be openly acknowledged. At the same time, Isménia makes clear that this domestic work does not compromise the centrality of social connections and of her local community in her day-to-day activities. By contrast, Manuel Rodrigues attempts to reinforce a purported role as breadwinner by summarily communicating his inability to find a job or a place to stay, yet strongly emphasizing his intent to do so. Inadvertently, he also evinces the fragility of the couple’s economic roles amidst the changes of migration. These examples differ from the 1869 letter, in which the couple lacks significant autonomy to act of their own

accord. Such familial dependence, especially upon the fiancée’s relatives, is likely a result of their being engaged, not married, yet it is also exacerbated by distance. This dynamic is evident when Machado de Assis twice asks his fiancée Carolina to consult her brother about their intended move to Rio de Janeiro, so that his initiative to look for a house is not interpreted as an intrusion into her family life. Overall, these correspondences suggest that marriage and relationships were fluid arrangements, especially once subjected to separation. These letters are sincere, poignant, and touching. They are about the personal and the social, about how each of these couples individually dealt with the circumstances of their separation. To do so, their communications took on a tone that was particu-

larly functional and pragmatic, yet simultaneously expressive and emotional. This is a difficult balance to strike, and one that will not be entirely unfamiliar to anyone who has been in a relationship. Indeed, one of the letters ends on a note that could very well have been written nowadays... “For now, we need all of these precautions. [But] afterwards... Afterwards, my dear, we will burn the world down, because only those who are above the world’s tender glories and sterile ambitions can be its masters. We both are above them, in this case; we love one another; and I live and die for you” Machado de Assis Art By Sophie Park All quotes freely translated from Brazilian Portuguese by the author.

The Church Across Asia Medieval Christianity through the Eyes of Christians in Iraq and China BY BENJAMIN SHARKEY Despite its Middle Eastern origins, Christianity is today often perceived as a European phenomenon. Although there are many millions of Christians throughout Asia, it is claimed that this has more to do with European imperialism than the explosive expansion of the Church in its earliest days. Yet if early Christianity spread rapidly west across the Roman Empire, it went east just as rapidly. During the first hundred years it spread quickly throughout the Middle East. By the sixth century Christians had already reached China (in comparison, St Augustine’s mission only reached the Anglo-Saxons at the very end

of the century), and a bishop was there as well by the seventh century at the latest. Likewise, under Islamic rule in the Middle East, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians remained in the majority until at least the eleventh century. Nearly everywhere in Asia, however, Christians found themselves under non-Christian governance, as Christianity never truly succeeded in converting its rulers. Perhaps it is partly for this reason that much of the history of this vast church has been largely forgotten. Yet it was also probably this lack of political association that allowed Christianity to spread so widely. Much of the evidence for the Church of the East, as the Asian church was known,

was lost or obscure until the late nineteenth century. Throughout the early twentieth century many incredible finds, such as large document hauls from Turpan in western China, have better informed us of the nature and extent of Christianity in Asia. Now, many scholars even suggest that for much of the Middle Ages there were more Christians in Asia than in Europe. At the very least the patriarch in Baghdad, the head of the Church of the East, probably oversaw a larger church than the Pope in Rome until perhaps the thirteenth century. The best-known of these patriarchs is Timothy I. Timothy was born in the early 700s in northern Iraq, then under the


rule of the Islamic Umayyad Caliphate. This region between the upper and lower Zab tributaries of the great Tigris rive was densely populated with Christian towns, villages, and monasteries, which spilled into the valleys of the northern mountains. As a boy, Timothy attended a monastic school on the floodplain, where he would have been taught theology and probably also Greek philosophy, maybe including natural sciences. But these were unsteady times for the Christians of the region. In 750, it was on their doorstep that Abbasid forces fought a climactic battle against the Umayyad Caliphate, decisively defeating and supplanting them as the rulers of the Islamic world. Timothy was soon to be plunged into the heart of this world, in the caliph’s own court. In 780, Timothy, still in his forties, replaced the deceased Hnanisho II as patriarch. He was enthroned with great ceremony in the ancient but largely decaying city of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, which had been the capital of the Sassanian Persians and was the traditional seat of the patriarch. But he soon decided to move his residence to the newly founded and rapidly expanding city of Baghdad, where the Muslim Abbasid Caliph had his court. Here Timothy would be better able to fulfil his main responsibilities: representing the church to the caliph and overseeing the church body across Asia. Located at the nexus of Silk Road and Indian Ocean trade routes, Baghdad was an excellent point from which Timothy could oversee his flock. The church body he managed was vast. It included communities across Syria, Iraq, Persia, and along all the major trade routes, with still more Christians spreading off like tributar-


ies. Devotees were present in all the major Silk Road cities: Merv, Bukhara, Samarqand, and the desert oases of Turpan and Qocho, as well as among many nomadic tribes on the steppe. Along the sea route, Christian communities spread across the Persian Gulf, from Socotra, and most significantly Southern India, to the port of Canton in China. This flock expanded during Timothy’s own time, with new metropolitans (the eastern equivalent of archbish-

ops) founded in Tibet and among the Turkic nomads. At the eastern end of both roads lay Tang China. A year after Timothy’s appointment, the Christians in Xi’an, the Tang capital, erected a monument documenting the history of their own community in China. News of Timothy’s victory had clearly travelled slowly; their inscription still acknowledged his predecessor as patriarch. The huge stone stele, inscribed in Chinese, was unearthed around 1624

and represented such a definite expression of Christianity that the Ming scholar Zhang Gengyou quickly connected it with the foreign Jesuits he had met in Beijing. Bringing it to their attention, he surprised all with evidence of such early Chinese Christianity. The stele relates the partly legendary arrival of Christianity in China, with elaborations on the Tang Emperor’s role in accepting and encouraging Christianity. Some later official Chinese state

histories, drawing on imperial edicts, show that these claims are not as fictitious as they might appear. Chinese Christians do seem to have benefited from some imperial support - for the first century at least. The inscription also reveals much about the community that commissioned it. Among its members was the author of the inscription, Jing-jing. Jing-jing was a monk in Xi’an, and an accomplished Chinese language scholar. The Stele

inscription is beautifully written and full of Chinese literary imagery, from “precious gems” that “sparkle like kingfishers” to “dragons’ beards”. His father and grandfather are also mentioned. The latter, Milis, was an immigrant, a Sogdian Christian from Balkh in Afghanistan. His father, with the Sogdian-Persian name Yazbozid, was responsible for commissioning the monument. He was in 781 not only a Christian priest, but also “titular Great Statesman of the Banqueting House”, “Associated Secondary Military Commissioner for the Northern Region”, and “Superintendent of the Examination Hall”, where the famous Confucian civil-service exams were held. Yazbozid, then, was a very important official and must also have been well versed in Confucian literature. Jing-jing also appears as a recognisable figure in the accounts of the Buddhist community in Xi’an. Prajna, a Buddhist monk from Kashmir, travelled by sea to China and arrived in Xi’an in 782. In 786, having not yet obtained proficiency in Tang Chinese and looking to translate various Buddhist texts into Chinese, Prajna sought the help of Jing-jing. It was a moment of respect between the often-antagonistic Buddhist and Christian communities in Xi’an, though the Buddhist record makes clear that they continued to compete in their teaching. Jing-jing’s translation work was extensive. In the Dunhuang Cave of the Thousand Buddhas, a huge collection of Buddhist, Confucian, Taoist, and Christian texts was discovered in 1908. At least two of these appear to have been written by Jingjing in around 800. This includes a translation of a version of the Gloria in Excelsis Deo hymn from Iraq. Elsewhere it is recorded that


during his lifetime he translated large parts of the New Testament and the Psalms into Chinese. At the same time Timothy was also engaged in translation work. The copies of some 59 of Timothy’s letters survive, giving an incredible insight into his life as patriarch. He had arrived in Baghdad amid the great Abbasid translation movement. With their power established and stable, the Abbasids commissioned Syriac speaking Christians to translate Greek works of philosophy, medicine, mathematics, and astronomy into Arabic. While, at this time, Byzantines and Western Europeans had briefly neglected these important classical works, the monasteries and great schools of the Syriac church preserved, developed, and passed them on to Muslim scholars. In his first year in Baghdad, therefore, he was commissioned by the caliph to translate Aristotle’s philosophical ‘topics’ into Arabic. Aristotle’s philosophy was particularly valued for how it could inform Islamic theological debates. Many of Timothy’s letters contain requests to various monastic libraries for theological and Aristotelian documents. Two of his letters describe other aspects of his philosophical experience at court, one of which was widely circulated. One day at court, so he writes to his close school friend Sergius, he was approached by a young Muslim philosopher. This Mutazilite was very interested in Aristotle and keen to test his knowledge of Aristotelian logic in a debate with the Christian patriarch and resident Aristotelian expert. They discussed the nature of God, using Aristotelian Arabic as a common ground for disputation with their different theological expressions. It was in a similar manner


that Timothy approached the most notable event of his life. In 782, a few years after his election, he came to have an audience with the young warrior Caliph al-Mahdi. In the last year he had met repeatedly with Caliph al-Mahdi to negotiate the rebuilding of churches torn down by Islamic governors. This time al-Mahdi opened with a question concerning Christ’s incarnation. They engaged in a detailed discussion of differences in Christian and Muslim beliefs over two days. The discussion covered a variety of topics, from the Incarnation, to the Trinity, to Timothy’s opinion of Muhammad. Timothy responded carefully and in detail, utilising the common Aristotelian Arabic. He was uncompromising in his defence, but respectful, and cautious, in his replies. At the end of two days, with neither side budging, Timothy ended with a prayer for the caliph. He wrote down a lengthy account of their discussion and sent it to his friend Sergius (although it is unknown how accurate his account was). Within a century it was circulating as widely as Cairo and has continued to be a popular text among Arabic speaking Christians. Timothy most likely intended it for this kind of circulation, with the aim of encouraging Christians in reasonably discussing and defending their beliefs in the face of Islam’s expansion. Whatever the true contents of the discussion, Timothy and al-Mahdi were left with a deeper respect for one another, having voiced and debated the difficult differences between their beliefs. They walked away with both integrity and a better understanding of each other. Timothy was respected at court as both an accomplished Aristotelian and a responsible church leader. He maintained a fruitful relationship

with al-Mahdi, his sons and his successors. He is even recorded to have conducted similar discussions with them. The achievements of Timothy and Jing-Jing were connected by more than just circumstance. Early on in his reign, in around 781, Timothy appointed David, a monk from the monastery of Bet Abhe in northern Iraq, as the Metropolitan of China. Jing-jing certainly knew him, although he would not have arrived in China until after the foundation of the monument. Indeed, it was probably David who brought the news of Timothy’s election to the Chinese This was a golden moment. After Timothy and Jing-jing, Tang and Abbasid rule became increasingly hostile towards Christianity. In the ninth century these communities went into decline. However, under the Mongols of the thirteenth century they saw a resurgence, and Christians from among the nomads, such as Kublai Khan’s mother Sorghaghtani Beki, came to play an important role in this new pan-Eurasian world. The lost history of these Christians reveals an unseen world of minority communities across Asia, all along the major trade routes and beyond. Their world is vast and interconnected and offers us a new lens on the interwoven societies of medieval Asia. These most unusual and unexpected of medieval people help us to question our assumptions about both the nature of medieval belief and the European nature of Christianity. Timothy and al-Mahdi, and Jing-jing and Prajna serve as models of active, honest and respectful engagement with differences from which we too could learn. Art by Justin Lim

Anarchy in Antipode Communards in Exile and the Kanak Revolt, New Caledonia, 1871-1880 BY ALEXANDER KITHER

sanguine prophecy, that, “Civil conflict, even if long and bloody, To Karl Marx it was the would be better than this”. Befirst hopeful promise of a new so- yond contemporary commentary, ciety, “radiant in the enthusiasm there can be no doubt today that of its historic initiative”. Yet, else- the Paris Commune of 1871 was where a more fearful sentiment one of the most significant popuwas prevalent. On 28 March 1871, lar uprisings in modern western The New York Times warned it history, setting the benchmark was, “the beginning of the worst,” for a century of left-wing activand suggested, with allusions of ism. When Lenin realised that his

Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 had survived longer than the Commune, it is said that he ran out into the streets of Petrograd and danced in the snow. The brief image of the red flag flying atop the Tuileries inspired comrades the world over, and struck fear into those clinging desperately to the seats of power. So dangerous was the insurrection deemed, that after its violent overthrow by the Republican forces during the semaine sanglante of May 1871, the restored Republican government made haste to punish the Communards. Hundreds were shot immediately following arrest, while military trials were held for another 16,000 communards. Of them, 95 were executed, 251 sentenced to forced labour and nearly 5,500 imprisoned. However, for some, neither death nor imprisonment was considered punishment enough. These were the unfortunates subjected to what Foucault deemed “a most rigorous and distant form of imprisonment”: deportation. Prior to the establishment of overseas penal colonies, criminals were sent to perform hard labour in urban quarters noted for their high levels of criminality, ‘moral decay’ and insalubrious living conditions. In Rousseauian fashion, the concept of the geographical isolation and primitivism of the overseas penal colony offered an environment wherein convicts would be restored to a moral life. Distancing political prisoners from their home and country, both spatially but also


emotionally, would prove a critical tool in breaking their will and silencing all opposition. For this reason, distance became the defining feature of this unique form of corporal and psychological punishment. This notion was expounded in Le Moniteur Universel of June 1852: “By expelling the criminal far from home, across the seas, he will find on this earth a new means to live, without resort to crime, and with the fruits from his labour, he will create in his new country, interests of fam-

1871, the 36-year old school mistress-turned-revolutionary was brought before the Sixth Council of War at Versailles, where she gave an impassioned testimony that captured the attention of the Parisian press. Michel refused to apologise or even express remorse for her actions, instead using her platform to cry for bloody vengeance. So outrageous was her rhetoric, that the court had to intervene, stating, “We cannot allow you to continue speaking if you continue in this tone”. Michel re-

inhabited. On the contrary, they were home to some 70,000 Melanesian natives who came to be known to French interlopers as les Canaques, a designation derived from the Hawaiian phrase kanaka maoli (‘ordinary person’). It was a term ascribed indiscriminately by European colonialists to all indigenous Pacific Islanders and remains attached to the native inhabitants of the islands to this day. Since 1853, the Kanaks of New Caledonia had suffered at the hands of European colonial-

The revolt of the Kanaks (1878) in Le Monde Illustre (Bibliotheque nationale de France, department Philosophie, histoire, sciences de l’homme, FOL-LC2-2943)

ily and property”. It was the hope of the French state that these Communards, through their isolated punishment, could be transformed into agents in the service of France’s colonial project. For almost a decade, they survived on the penal colony of New Caledonia, a South Pacific archipelago annexed by France in 1853. Such was the fate of one of the Commune’s most infamous daughters, la Vierge Rouge, Louise Michel. On 16 December


sponded plainly, “I have finished. If you are not cowards, then kill me”. They did not. Instead, they ordered that Michel be deported to a fortified prison in New Caledonia, alongside many of her Comrades. When a clerk told her that she had 24 hours to petition against the decision, she told him, “There is nothing to appeal but that I would have preferred death”. Despite its status as a French penal colony, the islands of New Caledonia were not un-

ism. When French colonists first arrived, they immediately put the Kanaks to work. Many communities were uprooted and sold into the inter-Asian slave trade. Those that remained on the islands were forced to labour on French plantations and public infrastructure projects. Even before the deportations of 1872, the archipelago of New Caledonia had become an epitome of French colonial hostility. For the Communards, the

horrors of exile began before they even boarded their vessels. In a letter to Victor Hugo, the radical writer Henri Rochefort described how the deportees were repeatedly told by their guards that upon arrival the native ‘New-Caledonians’ would most likely cannibalise them. “A few years ago,” Rochefort writes, “it is said the natives ate their prisoners without any kind of culinary preparations; now they cook them. [...] It is true to say that, thanks to the influence of the missionaries, civilization has taken a great step forward in New Caledonia”. Comparatively Louise Michel was relatively fortunate. Of those condemned to exile following 1871, there were three degrees of punishment: the first was ‘simple deportation’ to the Island of Pines, the second was ‘deportation to a fortified place’ on the Ducos Peninsula, to which Michel was sent, but by far the worst was ‘deportation with hard labour’ to the Island of Nou, where the gravest hardships were endured. Despite this relative fortune, still Michel lamented on all that had been left behind. In her memoirs, the voyage into exile is illustrated by the poignant image of the albatross, which the sailors would catch with hooks and torture for pleasure. In a short poem she penned upon the prison frigate, evoking Baudelaire, she sympathised with these birds: “Men to glut their petty vices, Defiling beauty, want your feathers. They mean to torture you to death. Poor flying birds, be fearful!” Those Communards with family had a uniquely difficult choice to make: either they joined their beloved in condemnation or would never see them again. Some men made the decision to bring their wives and children with them to complete sequestration on New Caledonia, only to learn upon ar-

rival that they would be kept on different islands of the archipelago. When one member of the anarchist Jura Federation visited the penal colony in 1873, he wrote, “Tears came to my eyes yesterday. It is regrettable that some married deportees advised their weeping wives to live in Noumea and that these unfortunate women, who have travelled 6,000 leagues to join their husbands, will now be separated from them by a two-kilometre stretch of sea. One of them was pregnant! The child did not live…”. Little respite was offered upon arrival at the colony. New Caledonia was no lost paradise. Rather, it was an austere and brutal land, far flung and almost totally isolated from the world they knew before. One Communard later described the island as “the dry guillotine”. Upon disembarking for the colony, each deportee was given a personal card by the Deportation Department detailing that, upon arrival at New Caledonia, they had no right to clothing and bedding, nor to food from the administration. There was no public education and interaction beyond the islands was minimal, with outside contact being severely reduced after Rochefort’s successful escape in 1874. The communication that the Communards had with the metropole was primarily mediated through a single weekly newspaper, Le Moniteur Officiel, which only served to publish the decrees of the colonial autocracy. Over a third of all prisoners deported to New Caledonia after 1872 died from malaria, yellow fever or some other tropical sickness. Those that survived starvation and the endemic diseases that plagued the islands were forced to subsist in cramped communal barracks, described by

some as ‘wooden sheds’, alongside their fellow bagnards, materially deprived and subjected to regular rounds of beatings, whippings and thumbtacks by their keepers. New Caledonia was home to a great diversity of common law convicts, but the guards chose to focus their exceptional barbarism upon two specific groups: the Kanaks and the Communards. The sanctioned use of violence by the colonial guards functioned as a means of imposing discipline on the bodies of those who had proven most unwilling to conform to the norms of French law and identity. The use of torture by the guards was not strictly legitimised by the French state, but was largely considered an ‘open secret’. Their geographic isolation and distance from ‘civilised society’ freed the guards from scrutiny and so they used this opportunity to ‘civilise’ both the Communards and the Kanaks by cultivating a culture of brutality as a form of discursive social control. However, for all the violence, the heat and the disease, there was one thing more unbearable to the Communards than all else: the isolation. Without books to read the brain empties, and without a cause to fight the heart becomes exhausted. For all that they physically suffered, the metaphysical world offered no relief. One Communard wrote, “Is it not awful how one loses oneself; how one is etiolated; how one dissolves and then evaporates? This is our torment, much more than in physical torture”. This psychological torture led to a common phenomenon amongst the deportees which nineteenth-century French medical practioners termed l’idée fixe; to become pathologically obsessed with a single preoccupation to the point of madness. Such was the fate of journalist Albert


Grandier who, unable to bear the isolation, became obsessed with returning to France to the point that he died in a state of absolute derangement. According to fellow deportees, all the prisoners who died in exile were said to have died of “terrible blows of humiliation and nostalgia”, created by the state of alienation they had been placed within. For many Communards, the thought of France was the only thing that kept them sane, and many became fixated on returning to their homeland. In desperation to beat the social isolation and psychological degradation, the Communards had kept one means of communication, and that was through correspondence. Acquiring the resources and time to compose letters was difficult, and finding someone willing to transport them was more so. Yet, the deportees managed to establish an elaborate network of letters which not only allowed them to remain in distant contact with their Comrades dwelling on another side of the archipelago, but occasionally also with the sympathetic European press. In 1875, a series of anonymous letters between the Communards found their way into the pages of the Moniteur de la Nouvelle-Calédonie, and detailed the struggles these prisoners had endured in isolation. “This life,” wrote one Communard, “is really too hard to bear, without books, in this prison world, where we are subjected to all kinds of insults, to all kinds of blows, and locked up in grilled cellars; at the workshops we are treated like beasts of burden, injured by our friends in the groin. We have to suffer everything without murmuring; a simple offence carries terrible punishments: the cell, the irons, the churns, the whip. It is despicable, and it is so-


bering to think about it. Many of our comrades are double-chained, subjected to the hardest work, dying of hunger, being beaten with catons, shot with guns, without communication with us, who cannot even pass them a loaf of bread”. Despite the desperation of their material conditions, however, the anonymous writer laments that throughout this suffering, escapism in isolation was impossible, “I am unable to work, so I am right to say that these years are completely lost, and this makes me despair; I was willing to learn, but what can I read without books and without a guide?” Other Communards similarly detail the vertiginous torments which they endured. Those who were not machine-gunned against the wall in Paris were now being gagged, garroted, asphyxiated and starved in exile with little hope of amnesty. However, the Communards did not only use their letters to express their pain. Some used their words in the hope of bringing attention to the injustices which all inhabitants of New Caledonia endured in order to seek change. One such letter lambasted its readers for their silence in the face of such injustice: “They are committing a crime,and you are responsible for it. Indirectly responsible, because it is committed in your name, in the name of morals, property, the general interests of society. And you, you would be directly and personally responsible, if after reading these few lines, after learning what you probably do not already know, you shrugged your shoulders and thought: this is none of my business. It is in New Caledonia that iniquity is committed. It is perpetuated by the government of the moral order. It is the unfortunate people known as communards who are the victims.”

However the Communards were not the sole victims of New Caledonia. Despite not wielding the means to pen letters or rally the press, the native Kanaks were subject to extreme brutality by the colonial guards who had turned their home into a penal colony. It is deeply unfortunate for modern historians that no written documents, no correspondence nor memoirs, exist to preserve the historical voice of the Kanaks as they do for the Communards. However, the natives of the archipelago document their lived experience by other means, namely through pyrographing depictions onto the surface of bamboo tubes called karè e ta (‘engraved bamboos’ in Ajië). Traditionally, the bamboos were filled with herbs and would be carried between villages to ward off dangers. However, following the European incursion of the nineteenth century, their function transformed to become important devices by which individuals could preserve historical events. Of the bamboos which remain from the period of the penal colony, there are many that depict the European guards as seen by their subjects: immoral, drunken, and violent characters. When they are not consuming alcohol or smoking, they are on horseback, wielding whips and rifles. These visual depictions of the guards corroborate Communard descriptions that denounce their keepers as, “vile men, always drunk with some silt made of the blood of the guillotine and the wine of the whorehouses”. The misconduct of the French guards eventually stirred outrage in France when it became public knowledge after amnesties were granted to Communards in 1880. Consequently, a parliamentary commission was convened which saw the banning of all corporal punishments on

the colony from June 1880. This was, however, too little too late. The suffering that the Communards endured was one that the Kanaks had already known for two decades. As well as slavery, the arrival of European invaders also saw the introduction of diseases for which the isolated natives were not physically prepared. These foreign viruses decimated the island communities . As the penal colony expanded its capacity, the indigenous natives were gradually displaced from their ancestral territory and forced to live in mountainous reserves where living conditions were completely inhospitable. As material conditions for the Kanaks gradually worsened, any hope for peaceful cohabitation reached an impasse in June 1878 when an alliance of two Kanak tribes, the Ourail and Bouloupari, organised a surprise attack upon several French colonial settlements. Thus began a bloody revolt and suppression that continued through the rest of that year. Initially, the Kanak violence was directed towards the gendarmerie of the colony, with guards being slaughtered and barracks destroyed. However, soon enough, the terror extended to the French civilians who had settled on the island. The French colonial press reported on these subsequent atrocities with morbid detail. Graphic scenes were described, such as that of the Boizot Family, who were murdered by a band of Kanaks. One article described how the eight year old daughter of the family was raped and mutilated, “the two legs of the little girl were separated from her torso”, whilst the parents were axed and the family dog shot. Another case details the murder of Mr. Clech, the telegraph line supervisor, and his daughter. “Inside the house

and on a bloody bed, Ms. Clech was found naked. Her head was split open with an axe, her arms were wrapped around the sheets so as to neutralize any resistance. What horrible scenes must have happened! The eyelids had been cut off, and the eyes of the dead woman, surrounded by a bloody circle, were terribly fixed! What savagery!!!”. Similarly graphic descriptions are given of the Hotel Mostini, where the remains of 13 corpses were found in a courtyard, semi decomposed and partly devoured by farm animals.

These scenes shocked fellow settlers to the core and an appeal was made by the imprimerie civile for donations in to aid the victims of the revolts. In sum 12,407 francs and 10 cents were raised. There was also an immediate response from the colonial guards. Their first measure of repression was to destroy indiscriminately Kanak villages and reservations, thus weakening them at the source. One official report wrote of this tactic, “The natives will then find themselves without shelter, without food, without any resources, hunted, pursued, in a word, at our mercy”. What the guards refused to acknowledge was that the violence was being perpetrated only by small groups of Kanaks, rather than the population at large. Yet, the European indifference

to the cultural differences of the indigenous peoples allowed them to characterise all Kanaks as violent savages, deserving of greater repression. Catholic missionaries on the islands attempted to appeal to the fact that the needless violence of certain individuals should not tarnish the reputations of all Kanaks, who were a culturally diverse conglomerate of communities, only brought together in the imperial imagination. The missionaries defended the Thio Kanaks, who were highly Christianised and believed to be a “friendly tribe”. However, the colonial state press remained unsympathetic, insisting that those Kanaks, who were allegedly not responsible for any violence had been actively looting dwellings abandoned by settlers. The French reports asserted unanimously that the Kanak Revolts were motivated almost entirely by a desire to loot and riot, rather than a yearning for political liberation. In a report published in July 1878, La Nouvelle Calédonie Journal d’Annonces légales et judiciaires expressed that no Kanak tribe could ever be innocent: “all those who are not with us are against us”. The revolt, in all its bloodshed, failed to improve the lives of the Kanaks. Instead, it resulted in greater levels of repression, executions, deportations and further expropriation of property. As a consequence, the brutality of colonialism on the islands accelerated and culminated in the Code de l’indigenat, which while recognising Kanaks as French subjects also denied them any civil rights, subjected them to a taxe exceptionnelle, and outright banned all indigenous cultural and religious practices. Most political


prisoners of New Caledonia were granted amnesty from the French government in 1879 and returned to the metropole within the following year. But, where the nightmare had ended for the Communards, it only worsened for the Kanaks after this ill-fated attempt at revolution. The Kanak Revolt garnered little sympathy from the Communards on the islands either. Most were outraged by the violence and denounced their actions as savagery, attributing this behavior to their supposed defects as a ‘primitive race’. Comradery, it seemed, could not extend itself beyond the imaginary borders of racial difference. Some fully abandoned their radical politics, instead taking arms to defend the same government that only seven years ago had killed their comrades and sent them into exile. Dozens of communards voluntarily joined the effort to execute the rebellious Kanaks who dared to challenge French imperial rule. They did so in the hope that this act of patriotism would favour their chances of amnesty. As the Republican government had hoped, time in exile had broken their spirits so entirely, that these men and women who once fought for the liberty of all people had now become radicalised nationalists and imperialists, defending the brutality of colonial policy in the name of French supremacy. However there was one, and only one, exception. Louise Michel, remaining true to her revolutionary spirit as a bacchante furieuse, unambiguously championed the Kanaks’ battle for liberty and boldly took a stance against her fellow comrades who had turned their backs on political liberation. In turn, they denounced Michel’s liaisons with the Kanaks as evidence of her


own savagery: as she wrote in her own memoirs, she was considered “more Kanak than the Kanaks”. Yet, where the colonial guards had succeeded in breaking comradery amongst most of the deportees through denying them proximity to one another, Michel had found kinship in exile with the Kanaks. In a letter to another deportee in 1878, Michel wrote that she “had the greatest esteem for [the Kanaks], but at that point, they disgusted me”. Nevertheless, she endeavoured to aid them in whatever small way she could. Famously, she tore in half her iconic red scarf, which she had smuggled into exile, and gave one piece to the Kanaks to take into battle. She also showed the Kanaks how to cut telegraph wires, so as to prevent communication between colonial administrators, and was therefore an accessory to the events that befell Clech and his daughter. Despite the willingness of most others to dehumanise the Kanaks and dismiss their struggle as meaningless violence, Michel was adamant that the islanders were no different from the working people of Paris who, likewise, had been made to endure terrible injustices. In short, despite the distance that stood between them, the Kanaks were fellow comrades to the French working class. “They too were fighting for their independence, for their lives, for freedom. I’m with them, as I was with the people of Paris, revolted, crushed and defeated.” The penal colony of New Caledonia was rife with troubles, yet for decades this suffering went ignored in Europe. So far away were these small Pacific islands that they hardly bothered the minds of those in the metropole. Distance became a tool of the state, one which allowed the French public to remain ignorant

of the daily struggles of the indigenous natives and political prisoners on the island, who were forced to live under the watchful eye of sadistic guards. However, the function of distance was twofold. It also served as a means by which to dissociate those in exile and weaken their will to resist. Largely, this strategy was effective and turned some of the most zealous revolutionaries into puppets of the state, desperate to see the mainland once more. Yet, after the Communards finally returned under amnesty in 1880, the distance was bridged and the horrors of the colony were laid plain before the French public. Rhetorically, Louise Michel considered a likely question that a mainland-dwelling French citizen might consider after hearing of the plight of the Communards and the Kanaks: “What do you want me to do about it?”. Her answer was simple: “Oh, nothing at all, if you don’t care. Maybe you’re just a bad person, so let it go. But if you have any goodness in you, any justice, you will act as far as you are concerned, if only by protesting in your corner, if only by telling what is going on. And with your information, you will bind these fragments of letters that are here, and which will be followed by several others; you will raise them up. Since murder is committed, by the voluntary complicity of some, by the involuntary complicity of others, clear your personal responsibility as soon as possible, escape the crime. Those who are wronged appeal to your conscience, and this invoked conscience sometimes responds before it is too late.” Art by Fred Seddon & Sophie Park

A Woman’s Heart and the Autumn Sky Deviant Feminity, Pink Film, Uman Ribu, and the Distance between Sexual and Sexist Expression in late Showa Japan (1960-1989) BY RYAN O’REILLY The Postwar period was a time of radical social change for Japan. The 1960s to the 1980s saw conceptions of society and gender being reconfigured at a rapid rate, alongside the development of mass media. The late Showa began to depart from the social order of the 1940s and 1950s, with women’s role in politics, at work, and in the home being drastically re-evaluated. However, in the expression of new femininities, was there a distance between sexual and sexist expression? What is the difference between breaking from the system, or reinforcing patriarchal dogma? Critically engaging with the ways in which the idea of woman can shift, radically challenging understandings of the fundamental essence of what femininity, the female gender, and biological female bodies are, is key even today. As is understanding the possibilities and limitations of social movements, and of media, in constructing these gendered understandings. The impact of the way we discuss or present topics of gender and sex can often be overlooked, with the goal of a movement or piece of media often of primary concern, rather than its impact. In 1972 towards the end of the Showa, from the projectionist’s booth at the back of a cinema, the title card of the Pink Film Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion was displayed:

‘The prison depicted in this story, as well as all characters, are fiction. They bear no connection to reality whatsoever.’ But this is misleading, for the content of the film had everything to do with reality. In fact, it constructed a particular view of reality. Pink Film (Pinku eiga) was a genre of theatrical film releases that contained common elements of softcore pornography and frequent female nudity (the word Pinku, or Pink is used to denote such), alongside the violence, drama, and action thriller themes of exploitation films. The heroine’s deviance is always foregrounded; violent revenge against men, sadistic payback for the deeds of corrupted women and a reliance on culturally specific signification of criminality, as well as the tropes of the picaresque rogue are universally present. (Think of Tarantino’s Kill Bill, which plagiarised Pink Film heavily, largely without credit.) These deviated drastically from more prevalent cultural depictions of femininity. This is of particular interest when placed alongside radical feminist movements such as the uman ribu (Japanese Women’s Liberation), who in the same period adopted tactics of foregrounding and embracing the violent, countercultural elements of femininity that they saw as key to women’s experiences. In the 1970s around 200 radical feminists flew banners at Tokyo peace protests asking ‘What is feminin-

ity?’. In the same time the number of Pink films allowed through censorship laws skyrocketed from 3.8% of all feature films in 1958 to 58.7% in 1973 and the number of non-state-sponsored radical feminist movements proliferated. Japanese society was engaged in rearticulating conceptions of femininity and ‘woman’, but was it always progressive? First we should understand the context within which both the uman ribu and Pink Film emerged. In 1946 the Post-War Constitution (Sengo-Kenpo) was drafted in Japan, with heavy involvement from the American Occupational forces. Beate Sirota, a Russian-American woman, was involved in drafting Articles 14 and 24 of the Constitution on Equal Rights and Women’s Civil Rights. These affirmed unprecedented rights to Japanese women, surpassing those given to American women, an event often incorrectly painted as a Western-centric ‘enlightening’ of the ‘backward’ Japanese, a misguided feature of much of Western historical canon concerning Japan. The first section of Article 14 stated that ‘All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin’. However, regardless of legal equality, such policies did not alleviate the social subordination of women, meaning that the


burden of Japanese feminists was often not to achieve legal equality, but rather de facto equality. For example, a study from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development noted that within the 1970s Japan was the only one of 11 industrialised nations in which the hourly wage gap actually grew in the manufacturing sector - from women making 53% of what a man earnt in 1971, to earning 49% in 1982. Even today inequality is reinforced within social structures. Women are incentivised in company settings to take lower paying, promotional cul-desac, fixed positions, as opposed to the higher paying and more prestigious positions which require individuals to be ready to move to other offices all over the country at short notice. Women’s roles as mothers, child-carers, and bridesto-be force them to accept fixed positions voluntarily, else conflict with societal expectations. The subordination of women and femininity occurs linguistically as well. Constructions of femininity are not always negative, but, when combined with Japanese patriarchal hegemony, amount to the systematised and often passive socio-cultural subordination of women. In Gender Trouble, Judith Butler notes how one is gendered, highlighting the process by which “girling” is compelled: ‘its symbolic power, governs the formation of a corporeally enacted femininity that never fully approximates the norm’. The individual ‘girl’ is expected to embody the cultural understanding of what a ‘girl’ is, and mechanisms of power-knowledge enforce this. She becomes ‘she’ and learns femininity from her surroundings both consciously and unconsciously. Kittredge Cherry has focused on the way we can observe the sym-


bolic power of ‘girling’ through language in their work Womansword, revealing much about Japan’s feminine ‘norm’. Whether it be use of women (onna) repeated three times to make (kashimashii), which means noisy or evil. The fact that ‘pleasure’ (go) in combination with ‘woman’ means to receive from an inferior. Or that ‘rape’ (gokan) uses the ideogram for ‘coerce’ then the same character used in noisy or evil (kan), composed of three women. Which raises, Cherry concludes, the ‘twisted reasoning that rape victims are guilty of “asking for it”’. Another system constructing the process of “girling” was the Ministry of Education’s continuation of its pre-war ryosai kenbo (Good Wife, Wise Mother) education. Ryosai kenbo was a staple of pre-war nationalism, emphasising childbearing as women’s patriotic duty. Adopted by many local associations, this ideology reinforced women’s place within society, their ‘special character’ (tokusei kyoiku), either as a wife, a mother, or both. In 1969 so-called ‘homemaking courses’ were made mandatory for high school girls, very obviously stating that ryosai kenbo meant women’s place was in the home, and the home only. Despite opposition during the 1970s, and the fact that Japan signed the 1980 Convention to End All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the education requirement of homemaking courses remained until 1989. In Butler’s words, ‘Femininity is thus not the product of a choice, but the forcible citation of a norm, one whose complex historicity is indissociable from relations of discipline, regulation, punishment’. It would therefore follow that it is exactly within this space that resistance to the forcible citation of the norm would appear.

From 1965 to 1981 the percentage of girls amongst Japan’s ‘juvenile delinquents’ rose from just under 10% to 19%. This manifestation of girls sniffing glue, using stimulant drugs, engaging in prostitution, extortion, theft, violence, and shoplifting outside of media like Pink Film suggests

that women were transgressing this forcible norm in increasing numbers (although still in the minority). These young women engaging in ‘deviant’ behaviour will have understood very well what they ‘should’, or were ‘meant’ to,

be – good wives and wise mothers. Just like the women in Pink Film, they were considered deviant because of this clear understanding of normative female behaviour. One police pamphlet from the 1980s labelled them “omens of downfall”. The term used for such rebellious young women was su-

keban, or ‘boss girl’, a term created by the contraction of suke, the word gangsters use for their female companions, and “gang leader” (bancho). Regardless of their actual numbers, the either romanticised or reviled image of sukeban

multiplied rapidly in media – from comics like Sukeban Deka, Pink Films of the time such as Girl Boss Guerrilla (Sukeban Gerira), to the modern day, in films such as Kamikaze Girls. It does not matter whether the streets of Tokyo during the 1970s truly were filled with marauding teens in long skirts, leather jackets with gang insignia on their backs, brandishing bokken (wooden swords). The very fact that these images were portrayed as possible conceptions of femininity at all – fictive or not – is significant. The image of the subservient shufu (housewife) is not a realistic view of all Japanese women. So too is there an unreality to the sukeban, but an unreality that reveals understandings of femininity and the social norm. Kenneth Henshall notes in Dimensions of Japanese Society the main archetypes of femininity seen up until this point in Japan. The Mother who ‘will not criticise because she understands and forgives everything’, and the Virgin who will ‘not criticise because she does not understand at all and therefore is not in a position to be critical’. Both were centred around their submissive relationship to men, and heterosexual norms. However, this new third category, the ‘deviant heroine’ and leading figure of Pink Film, is different. Much like sukeban she was ‘deviant’ in her flaunting of Showa social norms, looking to adopt violence, sexual empowerment, and the resistance of traditional gendered roles. She punished the failures of men, the shortcomings of masculinity, and exacted revenge for corruption that is almost always depicted as the inevitable fate of masculinity. Pink Film’s sexploitation subverted ideas of patriarchy by articulating this new category, distinct from ‘the mother’ or ‘the virgin’. An in-

dication of its more radical departure from earlier conceptions of femininity comes from the Tokyo Mother’s Association, who said in an obscenity court trial that Takechi Tetsuji’s Pink Film Black Snow was ‘was nothing more than one that will tempt youths to evil and do insult to women’. The ‘deviant heroine’ in their eyes could lead women astray from their ‘proper’ role as a mother. Considering the narrow margins that ryosai kenbo (Good Wife, Wise Mother) left for women to express their identity, this disruption can be seen as feminist and empowering in some way. Deviant acts performed by women in the media reflect women as a whole. Their deviancy, whilst obviously fictitious, conjures a potential ‘woman’. It is in line with the Asashi newspaper article of 1956; in response to the increasing freedom of directors to show previously censored themes like sex, and types of violence, it said: “Danger That It Will Incite Copycat Crimes. If You Screen It, Cut It!”. Pink film’s non-mainstream depiction of femininity was also seen as potentially spreading harmful ideas. But when we identify the incredibly patriarchal nature of Japanese society in this time, the harm was surely more to the conservative perpetuation of male-centred ideas of deferential women-hood, and not to women as a whole. It is precisely in this atmosphere of nervousness surrounding omens of downfall, of the fears of the replication of ‘troubling’ and ‘deviant’ femininity, that there grew a space for conversations surrounding ‘woman’, ‘femininity’ and sex. The adoption of ‘deviancy’ by the uman ribu movement is illuminating in regard to tactics to resist patriarchy in this environment. As Setsu


Shigematsu notes in Scream from the Shadows, the uman ribu fundamentally took issue with how mainstream women’s organizations were based on the role of wife and mother, consumer and citizen, and in so doing, they rejected existing ideas of ryosai kenbo, as well as other more conservative feminist organisation, of which formed the majority bloc of women’s political representation. One of their aims was to address issues of femininity previously not taken into account; the first major ribu gathering saw one participant say that ‘The women’s movements (fujin undo) until now have never thoroughly taken up the issue of sexual desire (seiyoku)’. The Fighting Women’s Group (Gurupu Tatakau Onna) established in 1970, along with the likes of activists such as Tanaka Mistu (one of the The Fighting Women’s Group’s central figures) and Atsumi Ikuko (an activist in the late 1970s) fought to challenge existing as-


sumptions of how women should engage with the state, and how to achieve their equality. Uman ribu also wanted to recontextualise femininity and reclaim violence as something feminine as well as masculine, much like the heroines of Pink Film. In the early 1970s, the media frenzied around instances of child killing (kogoroshi) viewing it as an alarming social crisis emblematic of the decline of Japanese social order. They were ‘bad mothers’ (dame no haha) who lacked the fundamental qualities of motherhood that ryosai kenbo emphasised. Uman ribu radically embraced women who had killed their children, defending them and publishing works calling for women to accept and understand them, blaming the state of society for driving women to such acts. In this way violence was conceived as a symptom and not a choice, a failure of the enforced norm of women. Many of the uman ribu also felt sympathy,

seeing violence as one of the only true ways for women to really be heard. The overemphasis on mothering by Japanese social hegemonic regimes could have placed women who were not ready into a position that they would have not otherwise chosen, as a mother with child. In a way the aim of uman ribu was to broaden the definition of what could be a woman. Much like the expanding tropes employed by Pink Film, it was an attempt to pluralise conceptions of womanhood, and an act of alliance building, aiming to strengthen conceptions of femininity that lay outside of the traditional ryosai kenbo model. A ribu sign captured on Antiwar Day read “A housewife and a prostitute are both raccoons in the same den.” This is more than just semantic word play, the allying of female archetypes, and the attempt to alter language were all centred around an attempt to disrupt and disengage from the sys-

tem that oppressed women. This was a staple of the ribu, another such example can be seen in them stopping using the aforementioned term gokan for rape, and instead adopted the term raipu, from the English – much like how they used the term uman ribu to begin with. This act of resisting the very structures of language which form the forcible constitution of ‘woman’ was key to much of the ribu’s thinking. Whilst the terms fujin, josei, and onna, can all be translated to ‘woman’ or ‘women’, we need to understand the semantic differences within a Japanese context. The fujin of fujin undo (women’s movements) and the josei of josei mondai (women’s issues) were not the onna which, linguistic scholar Orie Endo notes, was often substituted to infer a mistress or a prostitute, a woman of low socio-economic standing, and of low regard. Which makes the ribu’s adoption of slogans such as “LIBERATE ONNA’’ particularly powerful. Perhaps this places more importance than previously thought when many of the heroines of Pink Cinema would use boku as ‘I’, an explicitly male form of the word, instead of the usual – more feminine - watashi. Sex was also rightly targeted as a crux through which women faced oppression, it was (and still is) a tool wielded by a heteronormative patriarchy to either confine women to the home (in cases of motherhood) or to belittle and defame (in the cases of prostitutes or women supposedly ruined from the likes of pre-marital affairs). One ribu manifesto stated: “The chastity of the wives of the military nation and the dirtied p****** of the ‘comfort women’ are both two extremes of a structure of consciousness that denies sex.” One Pink Film director Okura Mitsugi, president

of Shin Toho and then Okura seemed to identify the same problem with the way sex was denied: ‘the majority of women – in the world, due to the ignorance of men, have never experienced the happiness of orgasm [. . .] I produce movies that enlighten men in sex to salvage women. [. . .] I am determined to save 2.7 billion women of the world population’. Their comments were an identification of what some thought women were, sexually disenfranchised and meek, and an attempt to push a certain image of what women could be, sexually empowered and assertive. But, from what did women need to be saved? The aim to ‘salvage women’ was entirely centred around an intense focus on heterosexual sex rather than any other form of social subordination. The identification of the need to positively engage with women’s sexuality, prioritising pleasure over the patriotic duty to produce and raise children – in the traditional ryosai kenbo sense – was certainly progressive, but the framework of this being achieved only through a male-centric softcore porn industry certainly limits conceptions of women achieving equality on their own terms. Many among the ribu movement notes this fact; that contemporary trends of free sex occurred within the ontological confines of patriarchy and therefore could not be truly parsed from it. Manifestos appeared that stated that it was not the male-female relationship that would solve women’s oppression, neither female-female, but rather onna-onna. The United Red Army actually deemed traditional femininity and sexual desire as explicitly counter-revolutionary. One ribu activist Yonezu stated for the need to “smash free sex”. One way in which women attempted to actualise the per-

fect onna-onna relations was by engaging instead in lesbian relations, feeling that any replication of heteronormative relationships essentially reinforced patriarchal dominance. They should not try to fix the system from within, but simply reject the elements of that system which served to oppress them. So perhaps whilst it was incredibly important for women to orgasm, to express their own desires within their own framework, the reality is that this couldn’t be done operating from within the systems of male sexual fantasy. We shouldn’t view uman ribu too idealistically however, for they were not perfect in their pursuit of liberating onna. Sayama Sachi recounted her experiences of being a lesbian and member of the ribu; especially in relation to Tanaka Mitsu, a key member and leader of the movement. The differences in age, experience and prestige, constituted a familiar power differential. Tanaka beat, and chastised Sayama - as well as others - and formed a system of hierarchy, ironically, embedded within the anti-hierarchical feminist organisation. Tanaka’s power was essentially gendered, she was referred to as “tenno” (emperor) by ribu members, and her specific targeting of lesbian ribu members for abuse can be viewed as a kind of recreation of the larger societal norms of heteronormative (and male centred) dominance within the intra-feminist relationships. In this way we have to problematize the ribu’s adoption of violence as a tool. Was it nothing more than fighting fire with fire? Emulating patriarchal dominance rather than resisting it? This difficult question brings us to the articulation of intra-female violence in the media, too. The fact that Pink Film was ostensibly made for men, meant


that the pictures painted of femininity could be seen as male dominated. However, we could look to a female director such as Hamano Sachi, who produced Pink Film for women, and follow their thinking that ‘women always discover the potential of their desire, preferably through the mentorship of another more “enlightened” woman’. Could this ‘enlightened’ woman be one of male construction? Surely the representation of resistance and revolution against male oppressors, often by reclaiming their sexual desire, is the most important concept. However, Sas in The Pink Book highlights that ‘this desire to “see” and grasp “what a woman wants” (female desire) is also a primary male fantasy’. This is to say that unpicking how ‘sexist’ or ‘sexually progressive’ a representation of a woman can be is incredibly difficult. Both Pink Film and uman ribu were constructed within a patriarchal paradigm that inherently limits their scope and potential for progress. Pink Film can only construct women in relation to heterosexual sex, regardless of how powerful women are or become; they must first be denigrated, raped, and abused. And uman ribu can only construct women in relation to adopting violence, in a system that must first subordinate, subjugate and oppress them. Christine Marran has suggested in their article So Bad She’s Good that the premise of the ‘fantasy of female deviance’ is that ‘the male who worships such a subversive figure is himself rejecting usual patriarchal relations’. By doing this they believe that they are able to deny any complicity with power and privilege. This raises the troubling possibility that, through denying complicity with the negative aspects of femininity that Pink Films portray, its con-


tribution to gendered regimes of truth was to underplay men’s role in supporting the subordination of women, both explicitly and implicitly. These films certainly did show women triumphing in the end, but it also painstakingly constructed and depicted humiliating and torturous scenarios centred around violent practices for the viewer to witness, at the behest of the heroine. Anne Allison has furthered this view in Permitted and Prohibited Desires by stating that the depictions of eroticised violence also position men to be ‘masterful viewers’ and ‘passive and consuming actors’, which places viewing as being culpable and complicit in patriarchal regimes. The uman ribu too engaged in this fantasy of female deviancy, however for them (in the case of Tanaka Mitsu for example) it allowed the denial of their complicity with patriarchy, affirming normative heterosexual paradigms, and power differentiated hierarchies. Elements of resonance between uman ribu’s feminists and the deviant heroines of Pink film highlight the distance between sexual and sexist expression. They could not be further apart in terms of intent, and their authorship, and yet both are engaged explicitly and inadvertently with the image of ‘woman’ and the systems of power-knowledge surrounding femininity. Yunomae Tomoko notes in Commodified Sex: Japan’s Pornographic Culture; that the unproblematic enjoyment of eroduction obfuscated sexual discrimination confused the line between ‘sexual expression’ and ‘sexist expression’. The uman ribu too, struggled with untangling elements of resisting, and proliferating patriarchy. The distance between the progressive and regressive natures of both articulations of femininity need to be seen

as intertwined, and not mutually exclusive. After all both were trapped within the screen of the male gaze, whether they wanted to be or not. Setsu Shigematsu insists that we should critically engage with the ways that even feminism can perpetuate the power differences, aggression, racism, ableism, elitism, and heteronormativity among other feminists, and within society. This isn’t to delegitimise the positive effects of such movements, nor to create a hierarchy of feminisms in which some are inherently ‘better’ than others, but rather to understand complex and multi-layered approaches to empowering women. This sustained critique aims to elucidate the degree to which women hold various capacities to resist, and reproduce various forms of patriarchal oppression. The Pink Film studio Nikkatsu began an eight yearlong court case in 1972, in which they were accused of creating harmful material under article 175: ‘making male and female actors enact poses of sexual intercourse, raping women, girl-girl sex play’. The ‘not guilty’ verdict in 1980 did more than just validate Pinku content in mainstream media, it implicitly recognised the ‘deviant heroine’ as a component of Japanese femininity. Pink Film’s representations are certainly more problematic in their complicity with patriarchy, but that doesn’t eradicate their radical potential. Nor should we underestimate the pioneering, and often radical views of the plurality of feminist movements that raged on in the late Showa. Despite the lack of widespread appeal, and ridicule from mainstream media sources, the uman ribu were part of a quiet but pervasive victory. Their wish to challenge and reform the

conception of woman lives on, in their fight to foreground suffering women, and even in the use of onna for women, rather than just josei, or fujin. Although they would say that even today the fight is far from over. The heroine of Pink Film, as well as the radical uman ribu activist were both struggling to reconfigure their identity whilst trapped in the patriarchal script of society. They were both confined by systems of language and logic that tempered and confused the lines between sexual, empowering acts, and sexist, socially conservative acts. This struggle can help to highlight the ways we must be more reflexively critical of our own understandings of reform and progression; as well as

challenge our basic assumptions of what constitutes identity. The relationship and distance between sexual and sexist expression is far more complex than it might initially seem. Note on Japanese words: All Japanese words have been written in romanised and written in romaji, rather than in their original kanji and kana script. uman ribu/ribu – The Japanese Women’s Liberation Movement. onna – woman, traditionally used to refer to women of lower social status. fujin, josei – woman, now less commonly used. ryosai kenbo – ‘Good Wife, Wise Mother’ term coined by

Meiji educator Nakamura Masanao, and used by the government to highlight the idealised role of woman as wife and mother, associated with the patriotic duties of women to have children and serve men. sukeban - ‘boss girl’, a term created by the contraction of suke, the word gangsters use for their female companions, and “gang leader” (bancho). Pinku eiga – Pink Film, a genre tag used for softcore pornographic and sexploitation films produced around the sixties to the eighties in Japan. Art by Justin Lim & below by Fred Seddon


Book Reviews I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon Anchor, 432 pp., $16, February 2019


- insisted they recognised Anna, and that she undoubtedly was Everyone has Anastasia herself. On the other, heard the story. people argued this was impossible; On July 17 1918, Nicholas how could Anastasia have possibly II Romanov - the deposed tsar survived her wounds, even if she of Russia - and his entire family were escorted to the basement room of Ipatiev House, where Lenin’s forces had previously kept them imprisoned. The Bolsheviks told them a car was on its way to escort them to a safer location, further away from unrest caused by anti-Bolshevik forces nearby in Yekaterinburg. In a sickening twist of events, however, several executioners suddenly walked into the room and abruptly fired upon the Romanovs before - according to one eye-witness - Nicholas and Alexandra (his wife and former Empress) could even utter their final prayers. Once masters of the entire Russian Empire, Nicholas’ family met a brutally tragic end and with them died the Romanov dynasty which had ruled Russia for the previous 300 years. Or so we thought. In 1922, Anna Anderson - who was living in Berlin at the time - began receiving international attention by claiming she was, in fact, Anastasia Romanov. People began to question the impossible. Could it be that Anastasia had miraculously survived the shooting? Could Anna - who did indeed have scars all over her body - be Nicholas’ youngest daughter? The question of Anna’s identity proved to be incredibly controversial. On the one hand, many - including old family friends of the Romanovs


had not died instantly during the shooting? Anna Anderson maintained her story until her death in 1984. She argued she was Anastasia Romanov; she may

have temporarily lost much of her memory as a side-effect of the fatal shooting, but that did not change her identity as the last true heir of the Romanov dynasty. From 1938 onwards, she struggled for legal recognition as Grand Duchess of Anastasia Romanov. However, in 1970 the German court rejected her claim due to a lack of evidence; consequently, Anna/Anastasia failed to recover any of her parents’ legacy. Even then, many refused to accept the court’s judgment. For example, the son of Nicholas’ physician - the physician himself had voluntarily died alongside his Emperor insisted Anna was without a doubt Princess Anastasia, whom he had once played with as a child. Which side was telling the truth? It is this story that Ariel Lawhon tells in her 2018 NYTimes Best-seller, I am Anastasia. Lawhon alternates between two PoVs: the first, beginning in 1917, is young Anastasia’s PoV. Through her, Lawhon tracks the turbulent last years of the Romanovs following Nicholas’ abdication in 1917: how the Bolsheviks exiled Anastasia’s family to Siberia, and how they

relentlessly mocked her parents and physically abused her and her siblings. The second PoV is, of course, that of Anna’s, which begins in 1970; Lawhon shows Anna struggling through life, visiting old family friends and relatives, begging for their help and surviving off their generosity. Slowly, towards the end of the book, Lawhon bridges the gap between the first and second narratives (53 years apart), inviting her readers to judge for themselves. Do they think Anna is Anastasia? The tragic death of the Romanov family remains a controversial, politically charged issue. The Romanovs represent a cruel, repressive regime, responsible for the starvation and unjust deaths of millions across Russia. Nicholas failed to protect his people from the claws of World War One, and some see his execution as him paying the consequences for his actions. Despite this, however, the death of the last Romanovs continues to haunt historians and the public alike - why? Maybe it’s because the entirety of Nicholas’ immediate

family - including Nicholas’ children, all so young and innocent - were also murdered alongside him. Anastasia was only seventeen years old in 1918, probably younger than most reading this article. Her younger brother, Alexei Nikolaevich, was only fourteen. Did they deserve to die in the manner that they did? Their father had failed their country, yes - but what was their crime, except being young? Perhaps this is why myths of Anastasia’s survival persist even 100 years after the incident; people want to believe she is still alive, that somehow she managed to survive. Then how do we bridge the distance between Anna and Anastasia? Between history, and what we want history to be? Was Anna actually Anastasia, or are we purposefully blinding ourselves to the truth because we wish Anastasia were still alive? If you want the answer to this question, you will have to read Lawhon’s novel - but be careful what you wish for. As Lawhon warns in the prologue: the truth will be both “the gift and the curse [she] bestows upon you”.

Aristocrats: Love and Loyalty in a Turbulent World by Stella Tillyard Chatto, 462 pp., £20, April 1994

BY HELENA AEBERLI Isolated from loved ones, fearful of sudden illness, and suffering the curse of interesting times…the lives of eighteenthcentury England’s aristocratic women aren’t quite as distant as they first appear. Stella Tillyard’s Aristocrats holds the glamorous, intriguing world of the Lennox sisters. The great-grandchildren of Charles II and his mistress Louise de

Kéroualle, the lives of Caroline, Emily, Louisa, and Sarah spanned 1723 to 1826, an era of enormous change. Their vivid characters shine through the mists of history, as do their differing, and sometimes conflicting, identities and ideologies. Eldest daughter Caroline found herself torn between intellectual moralism and the intrigue of decadence. Despite being a severe young woman, as Caroline grew older she

was drawn to that which she considered wicked: gossip, food, cards, sensational novels, and illicit romance. This contradiction manifested in her marriage to Henry Fox, 37 to her 19 when they began to court in 1742. Fox was an intelligent, ambitious politician, with a controversial reputation. Mutual passion and mutual interests defined the relationship, though Caroline’s parents did not initially approve. Despite the relationship’s initial


unconventionality, Caroline and Fox were bound together by their shared politics and affection for each other, and they died within a year of each other in 1774. Emily, Sarah, and Louisa, however, would live to see the nineteenth-century dawn. Emily took aristocratic decadence to the extremes, particularly after she married James FitzGerald. Their relationship was passionate, as letters evidence; in one, about stockings, Kildare writes “Upon your dear pretty legs [they] will look much better — Oh! What I would give to see them. I must stop there, for if I was to let myself go on to express what I feel by being absent, I should put my eyes out”. Intelligent as she was beautiful, Emily seduced her smitten husband in return for financial favours. Her consumption of art, hand-painted wallpaper, silk and taffeta, jewels, books, furniture, and oceans of carpet so alarmed her loving husband he declared it could be his “ruin” – not that this stopped the couple from spending. By 1773, they had accumulated debts of £148,000. Sarah’s life played out a more tragic plot. Initially courted by King George III at the start of his reign, she was humiliated when he married Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Her marriage to politician Charles Bunbury disintegrated into scandalous behaviour both abroad and in Britain. Eventually, Sarah moved into an apartment with her lover Lord William Gordon under the name of Mr and Mrs Gor, yet this relationship also failed. At 24, Sarah sunk into a deep depression, but eventually found happiness married to the impoverished younger son of a Scottish baron, Officer George Napier. Her struggle for love, and just as


importantly, for a comfortable financial and familial situation, sheds light on the position of women within eighteenth-century society, cast adrift between the men in their lives. Louisa is the only sister who could be described as ‘boring’, yet her meticulous account books suggest a shrewd and intelligent woman whose only weak spot was her feckless husband, Tom Connolly, or, as she called him, her “dear flea”. Louisa prided herself on suppressing her feelings and expressing her opinions in silences rather than words; in one intriguing late letter she writes that despite possessing “strong” passions, she “made it a constant duty with myself to regulate them”. Tillyard sourced the book primarily from letters, and the sisters’ vivid, diverse characters shine through in their writing. Whole dramas are played out in their letters, a testament to the physical distance and yet emotional closeness between them. These primary sources are invaluable to Tillyard as a historian, allowing us to act as historical voyeurs into their lives. The focus is on the four sisters, but the broader scope of social and political history against which their personal dramas played out is equally fascinating. The Lennox sisters moved in powerful circles, and occasionally played key roles in important events, whether through their influence on men or in their own right. The family’s relationship to radical politics is one of its most interesting features. This is a different sort of distance, a distancing (but never total reconciliation) from their aristocratic social class and status. Not only were the FitzGeralds

closely tied to Irish republicanism, but the Foxes played a key role in the development of the

English Whigs. While Henry Fox’s political career eventually plummeted, Caroline nurtured her

sons’ political careers. Their second court dress for slovenly clothes, son, Charles James Fox, went on Fox welcomed the French to mirror his father’s political Revolution and advocated the abolition of slavery and extension of individual liberty, becoming one of the most radical politicians of his day. At times I wished Tillyard had played more on these broader social themes; she emphasizes the women’s internal conflicts, but doesn’t always address these in relation to broader social conflicts and contradictions – the Lennoxes were, as the title reminds us, ‘Aristocrats’, and that status shaped their interactions with the world, especially as women. The only reason Tillyard can conduct such detailed and extensive research into the Lennoxes’ letters is because of their upperclass status in an era when female literacy was low, only 40% in 1750. Aristocrats is a portrait of eighteenth-century womanhood, but importantly, it’s also a portrait of power – power which was hereditary, tied to wealth and status, and taken by women where they could find it. Emily noted that women like Caroline and her aristocratic friends had once been able to lounge around gossiping with jokes, yet would no longer be permitted to do so. It is a reminder that the lives of the Lennox sisters spanned a century of great change. By 1826, when Sarah died aged 81, Britain was six years away from the Great Reform Act, which would expand the franchise and accelerate the diminishment of the aristocratic power as well as the expansion of equal rights. The world was very different to how it had been at Caroline’s birth in 1723, when the French monarchy and American colonies campaigns against William Pitt in had still been intact, and licence opposition against his son, Pitt the and decadence had ruled. Tillyard Younger. Abandoning aristocratic sets the story of the Lennoxes

against this backdrop, though there were times when I wanted to know more about the sisters’ reactions to the changing world around them. Yet in Tillyard’s chronicle of this turbulent era, what shines through is the deep sense of love and loyalty shared between these extraordinary women. At times during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s felt like we’ve been transported back to the eighteenth-century; as handwritten letters make a comeback, it’s easy to imagine a historian of the future pouring over 2020’s missives of longing and grief. Tillyard’s history of the Lennox sisters helps bridge that historical distance, bringing to life to the past. In our own troubled times, Aristocrats is a shining portrait of how love endures over great distances, both physical and emotional, even in history’s stormiest hours. Art by Isabella Lill