Stand With

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I want to stand with Paris.
I want to stand with Beirut.
I want to stand with Egypt,
Bangladesh,
Turkey,
Yemen,
with Libya,
Saudi Arabia,
and Tunisia,
with Kuwait,
and Afganistan,
with Iraq,
and Syria.
I want to stand and stand and stand
but I’ve hit my knees
and forgotten how to pray.

I know in a few years Paris will be a grainy photograph
stuck to a thin page in some history textbook
with the caption
“Attack on Paris by ISIS.”
They’ll wrap up all the heartache and loss into
five words and
one photo.

Fourteen years of the War on Terror
takes less than fourteen pages
and it won’t tell you that everyone remembers where they were
when those towers fell.
It won’t show you the things we all lost in those sands.
Maybe it’ll give you statistics.
Two or three lines to describe the casualties.
And somewhere among those numbers I hope they add in
the loss of my marriage,
the loss of the ability of a man to father his children,
the loss of the love that was once held by two young people
crazy enough to dash naked through the snow
and lie for hours on the grass as if no one could see them.

I hope they add on every family like mine,
the loss that can’t be packed into a wooden box
and marked with a number
and a small white cross.
I hope in all the political shit
piled into the text of these next history books
it says that we stood united
in fear, and loss, and pain.
That we stood with Paris.
That we stood even when our knees gave out
and we stood when we forgot how to pray.

©Laura A. Lord, 2015

Anne Boleyn – The One Who Changed a Religion

Picture this: You are a beautiful woman. Born into a very rich, prominent family in  England. You are their prized possession. You are gorgeous, smart, witty, fashionable, and well liked by all that you meet. You are sent abroad to learn and charm, as your family makes their way up in the English Court you are brought home and think you have your whole life ahead of you….but, do you?

Anne Boleyn

Meet Anne Boleyn:

Born: Sometime around 1501-Death: 19 May 1536

Anne was a young woman sent abroad at a young age. Having served in the Netherlands at court, then moved on to serve her (unknowingly at the time) future husband’s younger sister at French Court. This young lady knew English and French, could read, and could debate even with the finest of men, which at the time was a pretty badass thing to be able to do..heck to even have the gall to do!

For the 16th Century, Anne was considered quite beautiful. According to many biographies she was quite captivating and flirtatious. She had big brown eyes, dark long hair, long elegant fingers, and a long intriguing neck.

Anne was sent to English Court around 1522, she was sent to serve Catharine of Aragon along side her sister, Mary. Mary was the king’s mistress for several years, when Henry VIII noticed Anne she knew she didn’t want to be a cast off like her sister. So, at the encouragement of her family Anne played a dangerous game with Henry VIII, since Catharine was so well loved by all of England. However, because of her romantic notions she played it well and with several bats of those beautiful eyelashes of hers she managed to convince Henry VIII that God disapproved of his marriage to Catharine which is why they were never blessed with a proper heir. During the time Henry VIII was asking the Vatican for an annulment, Anne was getting impatient. So, she took her amazing debating skillz and began to fill Henry’s head with interesting tales of religious reform. Henry VIII, who I believe was way too easily swayed about anything….takes off running with this “reform”.

Next thing we know, Anne watches as Catharine and Mary are sent to exile.  Meanwhile, it was said that she was already pregnant; some historical fiction tales allude to the idea that Henry VIII became so impatient with Anne while waiting on his divorce from Catharine he actually forced himself upon her thus finding her pregnant before their marriage. They were eventually wed in secret in 1533, once this happened to announce their marriage and force the people of England to accept Anne they held a grand coronation. However, the people did not see it that way, but Anne-ever selfish, as she had to be-kept her head high and continued on.

After giving birth to a girl-how dare she-it took more and more for Anne to stay in her husband’s good graces. She knew Henry was beginning to favor one of her ladies in waiting after she had not one but two miscarriages. The last one having reported to be a boy, with some rumor that this particular miscarriage the child was born with a flayed back. This was when Henry’s advisers began working against their Queen, while Anne realized simultaneously that not being as loved as Henry’s first wife her life was indeed in danger.

Henry, being a man of little backbone and common sense, I believe, took little convincing that the Queen basically had a “spell” on him. Many speculated she was a witch due to the beginnings of a sixth finger (that she often cleverly covered with her wardrobe). So, her father & uncle were part of a secret commission to gather evidence against her. Who participates in such a thing against their own daughter/niece and actually finds evidence to go against her?!

Anyway, Anne was arrested in May 1536. She held trial, but it didn’t really matter, the executioner had already been called in from France. She kept her dignity in tact during the trial. When she wasn’t in front of the public though she was said to have manic episodes trying to save herself-who wouldn’t?!-and other episodes where she would actually practice getting dressed for her execution to be sure nothing would be in the way of the sword. It is also said she would practice putting her head on the block so she could do it with dignity when the time came.

On May 19th, 1536 all her practicing became a reality. She became the first English Queen to have ever had a public execution. Instead of having a manic moment at the end of her short life, she was about my age-sometime between 30-35-when she faced the block she gave this speech:

‘Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law, and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it.  I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that, whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord.  And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best.  And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me.  O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul.’ (source)

Boy, these Queens: Anne and Catharine really knew how to stick to Henry VIII, eh?!

Personal Bonus

I just got back from a nice visit in London where I got to visit the Tower of London. It has always been a dream of mine to visit the area, especially after reading about Anne over the last few years. Elizabeth II was so horrified when she learned of the crimes of past kings and the awful crimes committed against people who once lived in her great land at the Tower Green she had a memorial constructed:

tower green memorial 1

Tower Green Memorial 2

Check out this badass link for more info on Anne. Here’s another if you’d like to read even more!

About me photoKate, founder of The Diary of an Urban Housewife, nomadic blogger who enjoys time with her husband (when he’s not too busy producing video games) and daughter (when she’s not off cheerleading), coffee, crafts, fitness and reading. Former humanities teacher (English/History) at the middle graves level, now living the expat life in BC and traveling as much as possible.

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Queen Boudica – Roman Butt Kicker

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You know what sucks about history? You tend to only get one side of the story. In Boudica’s case, the side you get is the Roman’s. Early British literature was non-existent at best, but the Romans were happily cataloging everything. Which means this badass woman’s story is probably a little toned down from how it actually went down. I’d like to think she scared the toga right off of the Roman emperor’s pale backside, but it’s doubtful I’ll find a quote to back that up.

Boudica didn’t start out badass. She started out pretty normal. Of course, I’m sure she was born with the necessary qualities to be badass, but she simply hadn’t had a reason to show that side of herself yet. She married and had children and took the woman’s role of basically letting her husband run the kingdom while she popped out heirs.

Oh, if only for a rise of feminism in AD 60.

Boudica was probably of royal decent, though it’s been argued. I’d imagine a king wouldn’t exactly go picking some commoner to breed with. Unless he was Henry VIII, and then all the rules don’t really apply anyway.

She was tall and described as possessing  “greater intelligence than often belongs to women”. Her red hair fell to her waist, she wore a giant golden torc around her neck and she was the proud owner of an intense death stare. This woman probably invented the Italian evil eye.

Though her husband was king, the Romans ruled. They had this wonderful practice of letting kings continue to rule under them. It wasn’t a stupid strategy. If the Romans had tried to spread their forces out across all their conquered land they’d have fallen much, much sooner. But when Boudica’s husband died and his will leaving the kingdom to all his daughter was ignored, shit got real.

The Romans came in and basically said:

“Hey you owe us money and we want it now. Oh, and we’re going to rape your daughters and beat the hell out of you. Kay?”

And they did.

And Boudica got pissed.

This woman went full on rampage kind-of pissed. While the Romans were occupied elsewhere, Boudica gathered her troops.

100,000 troops to be exact-ish.

She began revolting and rioting her way across the land. After her first victory at the Roman settlement of Camulodunum, the Romans basically backed way the hell up and let her take the next settlement. And the next.

She caused enough death and destruction that the emperor gave serious consideration to pulling out all of his forces from Briton. Yep. Scared the toga right off him.

I guess for awhile they had thought about trying to settle with her. You know? Make peace with the crazy-angry woman gibbeting people all over the countryside. (Gibbeting is basically like hanging them from big wooden beams or trees all over so people can see the dead bodies. It’s not pretty. Really old-school decorating technique.)

I suppose they realized they couldn’t reason with a woman who had no interest in taking captives. She had her troops kill without mercy. It was said that,

In the three settlements destroyed, between seventy and eighty thousand people are said to have been killed. Tacitus says that the Britons had no interest in taking or selling prisoners, only in slaughter by gibbet, fire, or cross. Dio’s account gives more detail; that the noblest women were impaled on spikes and had their breasts cut off and sewn to their mouths, “to the accompaniment of sacrifices, banquets, and wanton behavior” in sacred places, particularly the groves of Andraste.

She cut off their breasts and sowed them to their mouths.

You can’t see if, but I’m holding my tender titties right now and screwing my mouth up with the thought of pain.

Sweet lord, woman.

After happily destroying three settlements, killing thousands, and improving her cross-stitch technique, the Romans finally stepped up and were able to beat her.

Finally.

I mean, she had every right to be pissed. They ignored her husband’s will, raped her daughters, impoverished her kingdom, and beat the tar out of her. I’d have been pissed too.

I wouldn’t have done the breast thing, but I guess I just don’t have as much of the badass-ness in me as she did.

They’re not even sure how she died. Again, it’s all from the Roman perspective here. One author says she killed herself so she wouldn’t be captured and another said she got sick and died.

Crap on the got sick version. I can just see Boudica lighting herself on fire and riding a horse straight into the center of the Roman army, waving a stake in one hand and some poor woman’s boob in the other.

She was that kind of crazy  badass.

 

Want more info: Click this badass link!

Joan of Arc aka The Maid of Orleans

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Now, it’s likely you’ve heard of Joan of Arc before now. Joan rose through the ranks of infamy after multiple television shows, movies, and books. This folk legend gained something of mythic proportions. Yes, folk legend…she achieved THAT status.

Joan was a nobody. I mean, lower than a nobody. She was born to a peasant family, which put her in the hierarchy somewhere below cows and above fleas. However, God and his mysterious ways tends to choose the nobodies to do his bidding. Little peasant Joan seemed the good choice.

It was with this “divine” interference that Joan swept the French countryside and led this young teen to become…oh I don’t know…the general leading a massive army across France and into England.

Yeah.

She did that.

But this wasn’t a quick rise for her. No, little nobody Joan had to get in with the Court. Needless to say, the first time she petitioned, saying something along the lines of, “Hey guys…God sent me…I’m supposed to get rid of the English for you.”…they basically laughed her off the premises. Since we’re talking before restraining orders, she came back and got a couple of gullible guys to listen to her and amazingly enough, got herself in the door.

Joan knew she couldn’t just pop in with the whole, “I’m here to save the day” line, so she opted for telling them some strategic piece of information regarding their army on the front. So they waited, probably way too many days (damn lack of a postal system), and finally news came back from the front. Joan had been right.

Wow.

Lucky guess.

But that’s all the Court needed. I mean, the French Court was a wreck at this point. The Hundred Years War had been well on its way for not even half that time yet, and they were in need of a little miracle.

A peasant miracle.

A badass woman who had the bravery (or was maybe more than a little off her rocker) to claim guidance from God.

This was right up the French Court’s alley. They had been losing, one battle after another for so long, I’m sure Dauphin Charles (the guy who ran stuff in France) was like, “Well, why the hell not.”

So she’s off. She’s tearing across the countryside at the head of an army, and they start to win.  Again and again and again.

Now, Charlie boy starts getting worried. I mean, this war has turned into a religious machine really quick, and he’s got enemies. Big enemies. English enemies. God and the Devil all sound the same way, depending on who’s side your on. I mean, one second Joan is touched by God, and the next she’s a witch, a sorceress, and possessed. To try to stop this from happening (I mean, this chic was winning the war for him, he had to back her somehow), Charles sent some of his buddies to her home town to look into her character.

They all came back with the same thing: good Christian girl, wonderful morals, fantastic etiquette, beyond reproach,  still on the market…

The only thing they didn’t include on her little list of attributes was: stubborn.

For a brief time, there was a truce of sorts. And poor Joan had gotten so far into the bloodshed and mayhem, she just couldn’t figure out what to do with her time. I mean, really, sit back and sew something? Right. I’m sure that’s just what she wanted to do.

Instead, she wrote some nasty letters, riled some people up, and got into a few tiny, little fights. It was one of those, when she refused to leave the battlefield, that she was captured. By the English.

Of course, they put her on trial, because by this point she was a political tool. It was the equivalent of two kids with a toy and the taller one holding it over the head of the other. “Nah nah nah nah, I got it and you can’t get it.”

They went through days of questioning her, trying to get her to admit to something, ANYTHING, they could use for their claims of heresy against her. She was bright though, and while continuing to claim that God spoke to her, she maneuvered the questions pretty skillfully. The English weren’t about to have that though, and some documents were altered and changed and they got her to sign things (when as a peasant, she couldn’t read), and eventually got their wonderful verdict. Guilty.

Here’s where it gets cool though. I mean, for people who wanted everyone to hold this woman in disbelief, the English not only burned her at the stake…

They burnt her ashes.

Twice.

How badass do you have to be for the English to burn your ashes? I mean really.

Who’s scared of the ashes of some, possibly deranged, peasant girl?

The English.

 

Want more info: Click this badass link!

Catharine of Aragon

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December 16, 1485 – January 7, 1536

You want badass? I’m talking full suit of armor, while pregnant, to deliver an awesome Braveheart style inspiring speech to troops and then mailing off some bloody cloth from the King of the Scots to her husband as a token…bad ass.

I’m talking first wife of the infamous Henry VIII.

I’m talking not-about-to-let-Henry-divorce-her kind-of chick.

I’m talking Catharine of Aragon.

Let me explain how important Catharine was. She had a better claim to the English throne than even Henry VII. When she was just a child, her awesomely badass mother (who we’ll get to at another time) and Henry VII arranged her marriage with his son Arthur. Unfortunately, Arthur couldn’t handle all her super feminine powers and when they both became ill he died, while she made a full recovery.

Now Arthur’s dad was left in a spot and didn’t want to have to pay back that gigantic dowry Catharine had brought with her. So…he settled for the next best thing and married her off to his second son, Henry.

The people loved Catharine. Devout Catholic, unbelievably beautiful, and she cared. Seriously. She cared about the people. That meant something. So six pregnancies later (two stillborns, three who died in infancy, and one who actually survived) and Henry was sick of her, but the people were not.

Henry did what Henry did best, although the people wouldn’t quite catch on to that until a couple beheadings later, and he replaced his wife.

Let me be clear.

It’s not like he could just say, “Girl, I’m over this.” No. He had his mistress, Anne Boleyn, but he couldn’t actually set Catharine aside without changing the entire religion of England. Did you get that? He had to change his country’s religion to get rid of her.

Not that she listened.

She claimed until the day of her death that Henry was not the head of the church, but he was still he husband, and she the rightful Queen. Could you imagine how hard that would have been for the next two wives to deal with? It’s like the ex-wife that just won’t go away. Not only wouldn’t she go away, but the people didn’t want her to. They loved her.

Finally, when Catharine’s end drew near, she delivered a final jab to her “most dear lord, King and husband”. Her final letter to Henry was full of concern for his soul, professed her never-ending love, and expressed her prayers that God would pardon him (pardon Henry? The man who claimed himself head of the church…the gall of this woman. I love it). She pretty much ordered him to be a good dad and to take care of her servants and then…then…

Signed it “Katharine the Quene.”

The Queen…of badassness.

Take that Henry.

Want more info: Click this badass link!