Tuesday 13 March 2012

Richard Armitage - Fantasy & History (2)

Tuesday, March 13th

Yup, there's more!
• In freeform: Melanie on why Harry Kennedy is the perfect man
Itsjsforme unveils Guy of Gisborne's latest public service announcements (not safe for work!)
• In fandom, Fabo on Richard Armitage's statements about fans
Gratiana Lovelace requests help captioning in "I'm Too Sexy for My T-Shirt!"
The Hobbit chain goes creative with The Queen on Hobbit quilts
Mrs. E.B. Darcy on Hobbit action figures!
• For King Richard Armitage, IngeD3 reviews the Michael Hicks biography of the fifteenth-century king
• In fanfic, John Thornton on why he loves Margaret Hale
Jo Ann introduces us to a new Armitage character she knows we'll love

Links to all FanstRA 3 posts appear here at the end of each day

Richard Armitage - Fantasy & History

History & Fantasy from general perception are some entirely different concepts of coping with and seeing the truth.
A historian, confronted with the opinion that what he does ultimately is 'fiction', might get a bit miffed, but is the separation between history and fiction really so easy to determine?

Fantasy is a way of creating and interpreting one’s environment and all that happens and is around oneself. We use a considerable amount of fantasy to get along in our present time.
You don’t believe me?
So ask two eyewitnesses who attended one and the same event to describe it to you. To make it the more interesting, they should leave out hard facts like the location's address, exact time and names of other attendees. Now, you will recognize, it starts to get really interesting, as for quite a while into their description, you will have difficulties determining, if they indeed attended one and the same event. Each one sees different things, notices different things and finds other things important as well as comes to his own conclusions what the whole event was about or why he went there.
This is exactly the same with history. The one who tells the 'story' defines its outcome and selection, as well as its interpretation.

To re-create history, a present time long gone, to some extent also necessitates an amount of ‘fantasy’.
To ‘create’ a functioning environment, where mostly large parts can no longer be proved by the remains from that time, a large quantity of fantasy is necessary to fill the gaps.
Modern research by far gave us close and detailed insight in what people ate, what they did or where they lived.
But for example, we have no resemblance of knowledge of how they danced, how their music sounded in the late Middle Ages or what they cooked. From the remains of food which were found and the very fragmentary cookbooks remaining, exact measurements are scarce and the ingredients mentioned were well beyond the reach of normal folk.
So we need to engage our fantasy, to awaken this time in our mind and fill the gaps, historical research cannot fill.
For example, some 20 years ago, I read a historical research stating, that at the court in London a normal courtier in the late Middle Ages drank 5 litres of wine daily. I needed quite some fantasy to come to terms with that statement ;o)

The love for fantasy books, Mr. Armitage mentioned to have, might well have been the exact point to awaken his interest in history, literature, the enactment of history in theatre and film and furthermore to bring King Richard III to our present time in a film adaption. (You see, I just can't refrain from coming back to my favourite topic ;o)

But when we are already there, as a result of fantasy and history mingling together, I must ask the question:
Are Thorin Oakenshield and King Richard III so much different? – And that leads further to the results of the long going poll on the KingRichardArmitage website:

Source: RichardArmitageNet.com (edited) Source: Image created by a dear friend
and fan (edited)

Comparing the two characters:
King Richard III
- was real
- ended tragically
- was just and idealistic during his lifetime
- was a fierce fighter and good warrior
- married his early love, Anne Neville
- lots of brothers and a conspiring and ‘intriguing’ family. But after the death of King Edward IV the last living male child of Richard, Duke of York and Cecily Neville and so
- the last keeper of his father's legacy

Thorin Oakenshield
- only lives in fantasy
- [BIG "The Hobbit" SPOILER] ended tragically
- is fierce and idealistic during his life
- is a fierce and stubborn fighter
- unmarried
- single son and keeper of his father’s legacy

Though their life is not entirely comparable, they share quite some similar aspects.

The participants of the poll seemed to agree with me, as all the options in the poll got results:

13 participants voted for beard (I will come back to the beard-topic in my Friday-FanstRAvaganza post, so won't say more for now.)
55 for lost kingdom - And indeed, both lost their hard fought for kingdom with their [Spoiler-Alarm for "The Hobbit"] death.
What I found especially interesting, and what brings back my initial topic of Fantasy and History not being so far separable,
9 participants voted for "They both lived in England".
The research mostly declines nowadays that King Richard III wanted a horse, so the next one is a bit hard to answer definitively. But
15 participants would give both, Thorin Oakenshield and King Richard III, a horse. I find that very kind of them!
The majority was convinced both were fierce fighters. One now gets a two part film, hopefully the other will follow shortly ;o)
85 votes and so the clear winner of the poll. 

Thorin Oakenshield & King Richard III - fierce fighters
So their similarity and the connection between Fantasy & History is proven at last!

Have a nice and funny FanstRAvaganza 3 Week !

<< Tomorrow's post will discuss "Richard Armitage & Women" and somewhat uses the results of the first two articles to search for conclusions. - Please note the plural in 'women'! >>

I don't need to mention who made this wonderful banner and you will know anyway ;o)


  1. Interesting. The first question (history vs fiction) is something that historians spend a LOT of time thinking about. I tell my students that history is a representation for which there is evidence (of whatever kind) whereas a fictional element is something for which there is no evidence. But between those things falls the whole realm of extrapolation, which is what historians in practice spend a lot of time doing (we don't have any evidence about x, but in a similar situation ... ) and then it becomes about how effective one can make one's comparisons.

    Fantasy to me is something really different -- it requires no evidence and no interface with reality at all. (I can see how one could be interested in all of these, though.) This is what i like about fantasy -- you can put things that don't fit together and force them to do so.

    1. Hello Servetus. To some extent I agree with you. Where I might slightly differ is, that I see the same part of the brain in action for both efforts, just that for one, you use a certain system of rules to hold the extent of the creations in check, whereas for the other you completely let go to your own delight.

  2. Thorin wasn't married??!!! We must get some fanfic going to fix that. Right? :)

    1. Hello, The Queen!
      Not that I know of. At least in the lightly shortened version of my audio book, he was not married. I hope they did not cut the interesting parts out ;o)

    2. I know of at least one fanfic that marries him off, and another that gives him a serious love interest.

    3. Yes, Servetus. I just finished the lovely fan-fiction by Gratiana some time ago. Here I link to her first part of the story: Thorin's Hope

  3. Interesting comparisons between Thorin and RIII. I guess I see a little bit of similarity between the two fantasy characters of Guy and Thorin ... both have lost their land and title. RIII and Thorin are fairly tragic figures however. Now you have me thinking :)

    1. Now I am curious, M58. I am looking forward to your further comparisons ;o)

    2. This an interesting topic.

      Being older than dirt and a Yankee from a mid-Atlantic state I spent 1/2 of my childhood in the South. When studying the American Civil War I was shocked to see how differently the war was handled in the school textbooks from these different areas of the country. With historians, I would imagine some authors have their own POV which affects their writings. Not exactly fiction as the basic facts may be the same, just not the handling of the facts.

      Looking forward to more RIII and Thorin!

    3. Thank you, Phoebe.
      Historians (I must admit, I am one of them ;o) though for quite some time an inactive one) are very selective and creative in what they show, when they want to argue or prove a point ;o)

    4. Yes. History is not a reproduction of what actually happened in the past. History is a contemporary representation of what is thought to have happened in the past. There is a lot of confusion on this topic in the public mind.

    5. Servetus has the topic down to the point. Here is the absolute expert and a historian I really would have liked to study history with. She gets the complicated historical techniques and approaches to a topic so very right. (Unfortunately not all historians take the time to research well and morally unbiased.)
      Servetus even in her non-hostorical articles does her analyses so well, that it really is a pity I can't leave my occupation and join her courses. But I live in hope, that Servetus will write a book which I can read ;o) For now, I am an admirer of her blog.

  4. I never made the connection between RIII and Thorin either. Interesting analysis! Remember that Richard Armitage has said in at least one interview that when he researches his roles, he often turns to fiction, not biographies.

    1. Thank you, bccmee. That indeed is a good point.
      I admit, I can understand RA for swapping history books for a fictional adaption. The fictional adaption is a formed and rounded interpretation of the past, whereas history books mostly have a clear set topic and can discuss one research item in a length which might get boring for a non-historical reader. The non-historian generally wants to have the result and what it meant for the time, not an analysis, how the historian came to the result he in the end reached ;o)

  5. Hi CD,
    Interesting comparison of RIII and Thorin. No wonder RA is interested in one and currently portraying the other--both are strong men who are misunderstood leaders. And with Richard Armitage potentially portraying Richard III? Who among us wouldn't want to be Lady Anne? Ha!
    Cheers! Grati ;->

    1. You are absolutely right, Grati. I well can imagine that and am sure that most would like to be Anne Neville at the side of RA ;o)
      Fabo Laktuko just does a poll regarding the best potential actress at RA's side: Poll who could play Lady Anne to RA as King Richard III

  6. YAY!!! WONDERFUL COMPARISION! Both tragic characters. Cant wait so see Richard in The Hobbit.

    1. Thank you very much, Jonia! I only worry, if I can wait for the second part of The Hobbit, when I will have seen the first part ;o)