Same-sex rulers in history?

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Same-sex rulers in history?

Postby Joshua » Tue Feb 17, 2009 12:51 pm

Our own Iago has created a... spirited discussion in the SCA community over on LiveJournal about changing Corpora law so that same-sex monarchs can sit on the throne. Lots of arguments, all pretty typical of the SCA (i.e., change vs. tradition, historical accuracy vs. "creative" anachronism, heteronormativism vs. 21st century politics, and on and on and on).

One of the arguments, as can be expected, is that it's not period. Others, however, say it is. What say ye? Give us some examples of same-sex ruling pairs in history.
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Re: Same-sex rulers in history?

Postby Thorvald » Wed Feb 18, 2009 11:57 am

In my studies, I have never discovered any same-sex ruling pairs in medieval history. At least there were no same-sex ruling pairs in pre-17th-century Europe (which is what Corpora defines as the SCA's focus).

While there are rumors and theories of other gay rulers throughout our period such as Richard I (the Lionheart) but Edward II of England is the only definite known gay ruler of our the era. However, even he ruled England with a Queen (a female queen :) ). Sadly, one of the factors that led to his downfall was his giving to many favors to his favorite, Piers Gaveston.

There are other known gay (or Bi) rulers in "pre-SCA" time especially Alexander the Great and Emperor Hadrian. However, both of them had wives who ruled with them not their lovers. Also, while not defined in Corpora, it would be strongly argued (and I would agree) that the SCA is about the medieval and Renaissance time-periods.

Unfortunately, history is not on our side here.

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Re: Same-sex rulers in history?

Postby Thorvald » Wed Feb 18, 2009 12:27 pm

As far as having same-sex ruling pairs in the SCA, this is a subject that I am quite conflicted about.

While history is not on our side, I wonder how much we should apply the adage that the SCA is "The Middle Ages as they should have been". The SCA doesn't try to recreate the negative aspects of the period such as the Black Plague and the Inquisition (but we are open to the study of them) and we boost the ideals of Chivalry and Honor more than they actually were done in history. There is also more abilities for women to advance unlike most of medieval Europe (please note that I said most).

Another one of the great, cultural anachronisms in the SCA is the wide-spread acceptance of gays and lesbians in our Society. In most of our period, we would have been shunned, prosecuted, and probably killed just for being gay.

Should we take this another step further and allow for same-sex ruling couples? I don't know. I'm very much interested in maintaining (and even boosting) the level of authenticity of the Society. While I would love to see the acceptance of a loving gay couple on a Kingdom throne, part of me believes that this is bringing too much of our modern mindset into the Society and getting away from authenticity. I'm quite content with generally being accepted without making this change (but at the same time, my modern mindset wants this to be a non-issue - again, I'm conflicted).

What I would like to see is a change in Corpora to allow for same-sex ruling Barons (or Baronesses). While the same-sex ruling of a Kingdom can be strongly argued never happened in period, it would be harder to disprove that a city-state (like a Barony) wasn't ruled by a gay couple. It may be hard to prove that it happened also (I haven't done the research) but I see this a quite possible to have happened in some areas/times.

As far as the Crown is concerned, I would love to see a gay King make a seat for his Favorite alongside of him at court with his Queen on the other side (with the Queen's acceptance and blessing of course). (Maybe it's time I dusted off my armor. :D )

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Re: Same-sex rulers in history?

Postby IgnatiusBaeticus » Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:11 pm

Salve.

Joshua, could you link to that discussion, if it happens to be online? I'm new to the Sca, so i'd like to read such sort of arguments, both for gay related issues and for period accuracy within the Sca.

Many thanks
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Re: Same-sex rulers in history?

Postby Gabe / Genjiro » Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:46 am

Thorvald, you echo my sentiments exactly. It wouldn't surprise me to know that there are little to no examples of same sex couples in historical head-of-state positions. In fact we only very recently got the first openly gay head of state in the modern era: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7862804.stm

So really the question is one of culture. As with so many of the big issues in the SCA, Anachronism and Authenticity are at odds with each other.

I was introduced to reenactment as a whole from sort of a sister organization of the SCA called Markland. It is certainly smaller in scope and size but one of the big differences between them organizationally is that Markland sort of thumbs its collective noses at the royalty. (In this way we are more like the redheaded stepchild of the SCA :lol: ) Markland, being more centered toward viking culture, decides rules questions at an "Althyng" which is a sort of town hall meeting where every member's vote counts equally. The "Crown" of Markland is little more than a token that exists solely so that we can have a yearly war over it, and we have even had a dog on the "throne" Marklanders prize their more democratic organizational attitude and its safe to say that it has become very much ingrained in the culture of Markland.

The reason I bring that up is that I realize that the pageantry of kings, queens, barons, dukes, etc. is very much a part of the culture of the SCA, and one of its most honored traditions (though not one I am particularly interested in). As one of its most public faces, there is certainly a value in preserving and promoting this tradition. Then again, like with gay marriage, would it really be putting off or detracting from any other king or queen if there were two queens or two kings on the throne in a neighboring kingdom? Would not the same rules, obligations and duties apply to them?

I think there are legitimate reasons to be conflicted here....
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Re: Same-sex rulers in history?

Postby Thorvald » Fri Feb 20, 2009 1:14 pm

BTW, thank you Joshua for posting about the same-sex royalty issue. It's been a topic that I've been interested in discussing for a while.

A couple years ago, I was actually considering the future possibility of challenging Corpora by throwing my hat in the ring for Baron along with my partner (now ex) as co-Baron. The Coronet of a Barony is an interesting possibility for this. While it is ultimately the Crown's decision, the Crown must take into consideration the wishes of the Barony (at least in The Outlands). If a gay/lesbian couple wished to rule the Barony together and they had the blessing of the Barony I think that Corpora should allow for it.

However, for Crown it is simply the hottest stick the day of Crown Tournament that wins not by consensus of the populace. Gods know that I haven't been happy with some of the winners. Should the rest of the Kingdom be subject to a same-sex ruling Crown? (Important note: I'm speaking of those that may have an objection to the authenticity of same-sex pair (such as myself) not the homophobes. Screw them! In their case, I'd like to see a same-sex Crown just to see them squirm and then they can leave my beloved Society.)

Question: Does anyone know of any actual Blue Feather contenders for the Crown? (BF fighters who have gotten into at least the semi-finals of a Crown Tournament.) I know there are many BF Laurels and Pelicans but are there any BF knights? Not that you have to be a knight to win Crown but it is becoming much more rare for them not to be (I say this even though my current King is unbelted). Yes, I realize that this doesn't affect the arguments on whether or not we should be able to *enter* Crown Tournament but I am wondering if there are any real possibilities out there of it actually happening if Corpora changed.

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Re: Same-sex rulers in history?

Postby unclrashid » Tue Feb 24, 2009 12:25 pm

Even if we could change the law, it might still be impossible to get a same sex couple on the thrown. The knights of any given kingdom are usually the least gay-friendly segment of the SCA population, and it is known that if they get together as a group and show up in force at crown tourney they can prevent a particular candidate from winning.

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Re: Same-sex rulers in history?

Postby WarrenSensei » Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:06 am

So, what you're saying is that we really need one epic fighter, a gay champion like no other gay champion... we need Sir Rupert!

Seriously, though, I just need armor and a regular practice to get into fighting, and I lack both. I think my real-world martial arts background would be a big help, as well as having access to the curator of Higgins Armory Museum and their Sword Guild. Anyone want to help me?
"I must not fear.
Fear is the little death that brings total oblivion.
I will face my fear;
I will allow it to pass over me and through me,
and when I turn to see fear's path
there will be nothing.
Only I will remain."
-Frank Herbert
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Re: Same-sex rulers in history?

Postby IgnatiusBaeticus » Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:45 am

Salve, Warren.

Many thanks for this wonderful tale. But, alas!, i hope Sir Rupert will respect some good dragons, for i'm a Drachenwalder!
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Declaration of Independence, 1776.
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Re: Same-sex rulers in history?

Postby Stone » Tue Aug 11, 2009 5:57 pm

unclrashid wrote:Even if we could change the law, it might still be impossible to get a same sex couple on the thrown. The knights of any given kingdom are usually the least gay-friendly segment of the SCA population, and it is known that if they get together as a group and show up in force at crown tourney they can prevent a particular candidate from winning.

Rashid


(This may sound a bit off topic, but bare with me and I promise a point will be made.)
With talk of the Blue Feather Tournaments introduction to be hosted at next years (2010's) Pennsic, many would-be fighters and already registered fighters (both of Dark and Light Blue Feather origin) have expressed great interest. I've even mentioned the idea to a few fighters who were in no way associated with the Clan or the Encampment, and seemed to recieve a generally open if not enthused reaction. (Ithink it is an amazing idea, and I really hope this idea is realized.)

I dont nessicarily think that finding good gay or gay friend champions would become a hinderence in this cause, I think amending the Corpora and/or getting other SCadians to except the idea would be the biggest set back here.
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