Royals in War part 1
‘When you play the Game of Thrones you win or you die’, Cersei Lannister to Eddard Stark, A Song of Ice and Fire
1.Setting the Scene 2. Classical World 3. Dark Ages. Chapters 4 to 8 in the next episode
Today’s episode is Bloody and Violent, but before we go any further, please
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Thank you. Many of you will recognise the opening quote from the fictional TV series A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin. It may be fiction but it doesn’t mean the sentiment isn’t true. What Cersei said. Before democracy, sovereigns ruled – often with absolute power over their court, their military, their subjects. To be King, Queen, Pharaoh, Tsar or Emperor a person had to gain power over people, a person had to hold power over people and lastly that person had to pass that power onto their successor of choice.
‘War should be the only study of a Prince. He should consider peace only as breathing time, which gives him leisure to contrive, and furnishes as ability to execute, military plans’. Yes Machiavelli; despite being tortured by a prince, was still clear headed enough to understand what a prince, a king, had to do to stay on top. In peacetime a king can maintain his power with spectacles, tournaments and Royal progression across him realm – bread and circuses. But when a challenge looms, war is not far behind. The ruler must don his amour and lead his men to victory. Or death.
Even as young democracies emerged, kings, with their conviction upheld by Divine Right, would only reluctantly surrender the levers of power when a sharp blade is held to their throat. How can monarchs gain, hold and pass on absolute power – have a listen to find out.
so it goes,
Tom Assheton and James Jackson
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