Monstrous Regiment Discussion *Spoilers*

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Postby Bouncy Castle » Tue Sep 14, 2010 12:15 pm

poohcarrot wrote:I reckon the whole book is Terry Pratchett's protest against the invasion of Iraq.


I always assumed that the island in Jingo was the Falklands.
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Postby BatrickPatrick » Tue Sep 14, 2010 3:08 pm

Could be a combination of many places...
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Postby swreader » Wed Sep 15, 2010 12:37 am

poohcarrot wrote:
It was only a talking point because nobody had said anything for the last 4 days. :roll: :lol:
If you calculate the distance between London and Bagdad in nautical miles it's 2,216 miles. Compared to Vimes saying 2,300 miles, it's pretty damn close. 8)


I'm assuming that you really are being a "good chap" and getting the discussion going again, and don't really believe that Terry writes roman a clef novels about Iraq or other specific wars. But surely the relevant distance for Sam Vimes to have traveled is from Washington, D.C. not from London! :wink:
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Postby poohcarrot » Wed Sep 15, 2010 10:19 am

There's one thing I don't understand about Borogravia. :?

Women are basically treated as third class citizens, yet there is a woman (The Duchess) who everyone reveres and prays to. Is that likely? :shock:

It appears to me that, using Christianity, The Duchess takes the role of Jesus and Nuggan takes the role of God. 8)
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Postby Tonyblack » Wed Sep 15, 2010 10:33 am

Think Queen Victoria. She was revered and was seen as some sort of goddess in parts of the Empire. She went in to mourning and became pretty much a recluse after the death of Albert, in much the same way as the Duchess. And all that before women had the vote in Britain.

I certainly think it's possible to elevate a person to beyond normal humanity - the Japanese did it for centuries. :wink:
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Postby Tonyblack » Wed Sep 15, 2010 10:54 am

I was thinking this through yesterday and it occurred to me that the war in this is something like the Hundred Years War. At the beginning of which, large parts of what is now France, were British and during the war those parts would be taken over by the various French nations (France was not so much a country in those days, more a series of states) and that would mean the Brits getting together the manpower and the money to go back and win those areas back again.

When Henry V went there with his army, it nearly bankrupted Britain and he barely scraped an army together (had to use a lot more archers than knights, as they were cheaper). The French united and decided to beat the Brits once and for all. This was far from simple as the various French states had plenty of squabbles of their own. But they united to beat the Brits (who had been decimated by disease following a long siege) at a place called Agincourt... :wink:

The fact that Joan of Arc was taking part in the 100 Years War is an added reference.

But do I think that this book is about that war?

Absolutely not! Humans have the capacity to keep repeating the same mistakes without learning by them. There are all sorts of wars that this book could fit. Terry writes about people rather than events. That's why his books will probably still be relevant in hundreds of years time.
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Wed Sep 15, 2010 11:26 am

As with Victoria (in the 'good little mother' Empress role deliberately created for her by Disraeli) it's the idea of a god-monarch that works regardless of gender.

If the Duchess' husband hadn't been killed before he could get her pregnant then she would have anyway been side-lined eventually by him or a male child (presuming they had a primo-geniture system loaded in favour of males like we've had here in Britain where a woman can only succeed to a ruler title when there are no male choices left). As she was left all alone with no other suitable husband-consorts available (presumably as they either weren't there or were the enemy) she was still manipulated into an 'Almost Virgin Duchess' position but, unlike Elizabeth I, she had no say in matters of state which left the church of Nuggan and the military to bumble along getting themselves progressively into deeper doo-doo as they went along - no wonder she was crying all the time poor thing! :(

Also think of the ancient religions for male-dominated societies that had high-hierarchy female goddesses - most especially the Phoenicians' Astarte, who started out as a fertility goddess and ended up with a war remit and (allegedly) an infant sacrifice tradition for a good while. Ditto Athena in her Pallas aspect... Hecate/Hera... Kali... Isis... these all had very powerful and often evil associations for their followers who invariably lived in a culture where women were not generally allowed to wield much political power or for the general population have any influence outside of the home (de facto rulers such as Dido, Hatshepsut or the Cleopatras were very few and far between and were often the only 'acceptable' choice). :roll:

With Nuggan in the supreme god hotseat it's then easy enough for any decent megalomaniac priest/general to permanently assign the Duchess into a symbolic role as a noble (and conveniently celibate with no chance of an heir to muddy the water) neophyte devoting her life to a worthless deity and leaving the actual running of her Duchy literally to the dogs - some of them bitches :P
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Postby raisindot » Wed Sep 15, 2010 11:44 am

Given the adoration Queens Elizabeth I and Victoria received from both the nobles and peasants in spite of the fact that women basically had no power in Britain (not anywhere else, really, for that matter), it isn't contradictory for a nation to accept a female sovereign, especially, as people have said, their role is more of a symbolic "mother queen" than a despotic ruler.

When you think about it, in closed, paranoied theocracies, it's probably easier to pay allegiance to a nation figureheaded by a woman. The psychology of "protecting Mom/Sis/The Virgin" from invasion is a very strong motivator, and probably would make a population be more forgiving of mistakes made by that leader than a blundering Saddam-ish dictator.

Also choosing a woman as that figurehead fully fits into the whole theme of the book. It would have been less compelling if Borogravians were fighting for a male figurehead. By having a woman in this role, Pterry sets up a nice dramatic cognitive dissonance by ultimately saying that women in power can be as represssive and act as stupidly as men.

But, overall, the use of the Duchess as a unifying icon is more of a referene to the rise of the paranoid dictator states in the 20th century. Countries like China, North Korea, Yugoslavia, and many of the Eastern European countries venerated dictators like Mao and Tito to that status of demi-god, creating giant statues of these figures, naming towns and streets after them, and instilling the cult of personality in the population to the point where if you didn't have a picture of Fearless Leader in every room you were marked as a traitor.

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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Wed Sep 15, 2010 12:38 pm

raisindot wrote:Given the adoration Queens Elizabeth I and Victoria received from both the nobles and peasants in spite of the fact that women basically had no power in Britain (not anywhere else, really, for that matter), it isn't contradictory for a nation to accept a female sovereign, especially, as people have said, their role is more of a symbolic "mother queen" than a despotic ruler.


Certainly Queen Victoria fits into that niche very neatly indeed, but by her time the British monarchical 'teeth' had been very firmly drawn by Parliament and all governmental policy was exactly that as her signature to new legislation etc was basically a rubber stamp job. :wink:

Elizabeth I's reign was a fantastic aberration in that she had been educated to a very high level indeed (Henry VIII wasn't that bad a dad really) and had very, very good political allies, not least in Lord Burghley (the Lord Melchet role in Blackadder II :wink: ) and Francis Walsingham for home and security/foreign policy respectively. The fact that she managed to have such a prosperous and politically strong reign is little short of a miracle given her start in life as yet another unwanted daughter and child of a thoroughly blackened (yet totally innocent) politicial 'adulteress' and shameless seductress. Elizabeth was probably not a virgin, but dynastically she played that card brilliantly, dangling herself as available in the marriage stakes to the point of acquiring alliances or trade deals, without actually ever going through the ceremony. Her other military and political talents by dint of piracy and sharp practice in snookering enemies (as well as destroying the Spanish Naval aspirations in the 1580s, in the latter part of her reign she also fostered an international partnership with the Arab Barbary States as well as other Protestant nations) can only be viewed as 'aggressive'. :lol:

Her reign at home does link into Borogravia from the other direction however. England had effectively fought itself to a standstill for nearly 200 years with the periodic internecine strife of the War of the Roses and then the religous unrest during the latter part of her father's reign and throughout the reigns of her brother Edward and sister Mary (known as Bloody Mary for very good reasons as more people were executed for 'treason' (being a Protestant) during her reign than any previous). The Treasury was in pretty bad shape and the nation was almost bankrupt when she took the throne which is why state-sanctioned high seas piracy and slaving (Sir Francis Drake regrettably was more than a really great sailor) were a path to fame and status, so the last Tudor government were almost as paranoid about another 'usurpation'/civil war blowing up as Henry VIII was about getting a male heir - and for the same reason. :roll:

So, in a way Elizabeth could have been in fact a kind of Polly - or perhaps Jackrum, as she was prepared to kill/remove rivals eventually purely for reasons of state (read Mary Queen of Scots being 'removed' in favour of her Protestant son James I and IV of Scotland as Elizabeth's heir). All great rulers are ruthless in the end of course :wink:
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Postby Tonyblack » Wed Sep 15, 2010 12:59 pm

And don't forget that John Knox's original booklet 'The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women' was partly written in protest against Elizabeth I.

The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regimen of Women. Snappy title John! :wink:


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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Wed Sep 15, 2010 2:33 pm

He certainly did mean female rulers but at the time Elizabeth was not on the English throne.

Wikipedia wrote:In the summer of 1558, Knox published his best known pamphlet, The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regimen[t] of Women. In calling the "regiment" or rule of women "monstrous", he meant that it was "unnatural". The pamphlet has been called a classic of misogyny. Knox states that his purpose was to demonstrate "how abominable before God is the Empire or Rule of a wicked woman, yea, of a traiteresse and bastard".[53] The women rulers that Knox had in mind were Mary Tudor, the queen of England, and Mary Stuart, née Marie de Guise-Lorraine, the Dowager Queen of Scotland and regent on behalf of her daughter, Mary Queen of Scots. Knox's prejudices against women were not unusual in his day; however, even he was aware that the pamphlet was dangerously seditious.[54] He therefore published it anonymously and did not tell Calvin, who denied knowledge of it until a year after its publication, that he had written it. In England, the pamphlet was officially condemned by royal proclamation. The impact of the document was complicated later that year, when Elizabeth Tudor became queen of England. Although Knox had not targeted Elizabeth, he had deeply offended her, and she never forgave him.


All the queens/regent mentioned were Catholics. As a protestant, Elizabeth would have possibly 'sided' with Knox and so he might have considered her competent (which she certainly was) as a consequence. :roll: The greater prejudicial insult obviously struck home however, and it's worth noting that the younger Elizabeth had got on reasonably well with both her royal siblings and Mary had been protective of her when she was a little child (Mary was not a total monster either and remembered her own humiliating and cruel dismissal from heir assumptive status when her own mother was classed as a traitor and whore for her 'illegal' so-called consanguinous union to Henry VIII - which effectively publicly declared Mary to be a bastard).

I expect it was the 'traitresse and bastard' comment that got Elizabeth so riled, as she too had suffered even more humiliation and censure than her sister, as her own mother was not only branded an adulteress and, on that count, also guilty of incest with her brother, but was then executed on those grounds (the high treason of queens and/or failing to come up with a male heir... :roll: ) and took her turn in the bastard stakes and narrowly escaped execution as a heretic traitor when Mary (egged on by her husband Philip of Spain - yes, the Armada Philip! :wink: ) had become paranoid about any possible rallying point against her by the Protestants
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Postby raisindot » Wed Sep 15, 2010 2:42 pm

Tonyblack wrote:And don't forget that John Knox's original booklet 'The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women' was partly written in protest against Elizabeth I.


To begin yet another tangent, what the heck is up with that stupid lower case "s" that looks like a 'f' on steroids that was used in just about all printed materials (at least those in the U.S; don't know about Britain) until someone with sense replaced it with a "real" lower case 's' in the 19th century? Who made the rule that this silly character should be used inside a word, never at the start, and there was no corresponding capital letter version?

:lol:

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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:16 pm

I think I can answer that... :lol:

I would hazard a guess that it's because the tight shape of a proper lower case 's' was beyond the skill of early movable type carvers to produce well and/or as a 'heavy usage' character, the 's' shape would quickly erode into an 'o'-ish shape?

The latter reason would be especially relevant on presses that still used wooden type (not that many but woodblock type characters survived into modern times on 'hobby' presses) but with lead forming a major part of the alloy they used for 'hot' metal there would be a gradual corruption of all the characters simply from not being cleaned properly (remember the smudginess that you used to get from typewriters if you can remember back that far :P )

So if you look at the physical proportions of the letter 's' and an oblique/italic 'f' - unfortunately sans serif characters don't demonstrate as well on this board... then it does make more sense as that describes a recognisable (if stretched) S shape - especially if you knock off a bit of the central cross-stroke as they've done in the sample Tony's posted. :wink:

When I was taking a degree in Graphics they still had a workable hot metal press (and some woodblock type too) so we were allowed to mess about with it and the inevitable happened when one of the group (not me luckily) dropped a tray of metal type. Our tutor started laughing at everyone's appalled expression and simply handed the lady concerned a brush and pan and told her to chuck the lot in the bin as they were now unusable because they'd mostly either shattered or bent out of true and couldn't be used again. :shock:

So they're that fragile and that was good 'sturdy' 19th/20th lead alloy type. Type/point size would also be a factor too of course. :)
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Postby Tonyblack » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:30 pm

Nah - it's an early form of Igor-speak. :wink:

Seriously, it's called a long s. :D
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:33 pm

I just looked at the image again and there's proper upper case 'S's in there so I think that holds water as they're all in larger type sizes.

I'm sure it's the smaller size and consequent loss of resolution that caused the problem as they obviously knew how to do big 'S's :lol:

If not that, then it could also be another hangover from stone masonry lettered (why we have seriffed type because of the chiselling on stone effect) and for the same reasons as I'm guessing for metal type

Or af Tony fayf an ecfotic verfion of Igor-fpeak :twisted:
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