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Archive for the tag “anachronisms”

“Braveheart” at Falkirk – a great spectacle?

The Battle of Falkirk was fought on 22 July 1298. The English army, co-commanded by the Earl of Norfolk, defeated the Scots, led by Sir William Wallace, who resigned as Guardian of the Realm shortly afterwards. This setback for Wallace, following victory at Stirling Bridge the previous year, where Sir Andrew Moray was mortally wounded, formed a significant scene in the film Braveheart. Mel Gibson, as Wallace, was accompanied by a few thousand troops in tartan and woad but at least two of them wore glasses.

Now Murrey and Blue have dealt with historical anachronisms before – showing that “Friar Tuck” could not have rebelled during Richard I’s reign because there were no friars in England until 25 years after Richard’s death. Similarly, Victoria was British-born and raised, just like her father and grandfather, and would not have spoken with a German accent.

So what of the evidence here?

i) Roger Bacon, incidentally a friar, wrote about using lenses in 1262 but that doesn’t refer to an actual pair of glasses with frames.
ii) In spring 1306, Giordano da Pisa, yet another friar, preached that “”It is not yet twenty years since there was found the art of making eyeglasses, which make for good vision… And it is so short a time that this new art, never before extant, was discovered. … I saw the one who first discovered and practiced it, and I talked to him”.

So 1286, a mere dozen years before the Battle of Falkirk was the earliest that a pair was constructed.

The anachronism that wasn’t

This article lists a few errors in two current popular drama series but its criticisms are not as authoritative as they may seem. On “Victoria”, it quotes Professor Jane Ridley, who is a leading expert on that monarch and is a descendant of one of England’s first married bishops, and A.N. Wilson on several points. However, some of the suggestions are not actually attributed to either source.

victoria-albert1

Professor Ridley insists that Victoria did not have a German accent and a recording may well exist to demonstrate this. She, her father and paternal grandfather were all British-born and raised. As soon as George I succeeded to the British throne, he moved permanently to this country with his heir, so the Hanoverians became principally a British dynasty. Prince Frederick (1707-51) lived in Germany until just after his father’s accession but crossed the North Sea eight years before his marriage and nine before any of his legitimate children were born.

Dramatists do make mistakes with historical programmes but their critics have been known to err as well. Ray Winstone’s Henry VIII (2003) is a case in point – his birthplace is near Henry’s in Greenwich and his accent was probably mis-rendered but one reader thought that he should “sound Welsh”. The “Tudors” was of particular interest to pedants as well.

Another historical anachronism

Richard III, as we know, was originally buried by the Leicester Greyfriars or Franciscans, with whom his family had something of a connection.

In an earlier era, the (fictional) Friar Tuck is portrayed as an associate of Robin Hood, resisting Prince John’s assumption of power in Richard I’s absence.

Richard I died in 1199. The first Franciscan order was established in c.1209, only arriving in England in 1224 through Agnellus of Pisa, two years before St. Francis’ death.

A good thing he was fictional.

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