Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Chapter 18 - In which king Henry VIII of England is more awesome than ever

Despite all my whining and complaining about the folklore class, I cannot deny that I absolutely LOVE IT! Love it, love it LOOOOVE it!!! I just can't get enough of the subject, I drink it all up and feel inspired to write about 10 novels by the end of the 1 hour class. Okay, so the readings are a little lame, but that's the fault of Old English and Old Welsh disappearing into the dark bog of forgotten history... If only we could read the stuff in the original text, it would probably be a lot more poetic than its most basic Modern English translation. Aaaaanyways... LOVE the English folklore class!

Today's subject was Robin Hood. The oh-so-famous, still debated over, roguish archer, Robin Hood (a.k.a. Robin of Locksley). When I say debated over, I mean it: there is such a thing as the Robin Hood society trying to determine whether Mr. Take-from-the-rich-and-give-to-the-poor actually existed or not. Jeez... what a waste of medievalist intellect. Who cares if he's real?! The stories are fun aren't they? That's all that matters!
Okay... I'm digressing...

So, it turns out that cosplay is not an invention of the modern day. Through today's class, we discovered that 16th century English courts LOVED to dress up like "the olden days." This means the Dark Ages and any time period before their own. Certain kings were famous for organizing jousting matches a la old-style, traditional, courtly knight. They had fun boasting about their nobility by pretending to be some feudal lord presiding over a match for the honour of some knight or other. So guess what? The beginning of Ren. Faires? It all started in the actual Renaissance! I squeed in class. I actually got distracted from my multi-tasking of note-taking and facebooking by what the teacher said about Renaissance people in early Medieval getup. Total, utter squee.
But, and here's the best part, COSPLAY finds it's origins at the same time period too. Now, obviously, it had nothing to do with the Anime Cosplay: Japan was not only too far off and a group of isolated islands that were hard to reach for Europeans, but the Japanese also wanted nothing to do with any Europeans and potential "conquerors." So Anime Cosplay would have to wait for a few centuries. But, if you are like me, and you decide to define Cosplay by: "doning costumes and attire that are particular to a specific character - usually anime - but also tv series, and novels in general" then Cosplay it was back then too.
For yes, in 16th century England, people dressed up as Robin Hood!! *Insert fangirl squee here* King Henry VIII of England was absolutely famous for his costume parties and his Robin Hood games. These games included stuff like archery contests and other activities (possibly activities from the Greenwood) that take place in the Robin Hood texts and legends. So King Henry VIII cosplayed! Your Majesty Henry Tudor, you're only becoming steadily and ever more awesome to my fangirlish eyes! No matter that you executed two wives (including Ann Boleyn... my favourite queen of England) - you still rock the socks off all the other European kingdoms of the time! Even today, I'm sure you'd kick some serious ass... though you'd have to get used to paying alimony rather than executing your wives.

So yeah. This was my very fun discovery of the day that I just HAD to share. I have always known that in Henry Tudor's day, courtly activities were numerous and included a lot of costume parties (especially in the days of dear queen Ann Boleyn, as she was a famous hostess of parties and - so say the books and the poets - a brilliant soprano singer). However, that he hosted Robin Hood parties that meant you had to dress up and renact the story is just AWESOME! Henry VIII is basically the precursor of any book-convention or Star-Trek convention. His parties attracted quite a few nobles in his day and were really big events... Ah... Tudors... How I wish I had lived in your day!!! *sigh*

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