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DIDN’T HELP MUCH

Whoever he was…

But from a gaming perspective this gave me a good idea. Imagine a previously damaged piece of armor, never repaired, whose magic, or virtue, or defect, stemmed from that very damage/mis-shaping. For instance the amror might give either a normal benefit or even some type of magical or supernatural benefit overall, but it might also do things like make the wearer invulnerable at the point of prior damage/injury, or it might make the wearer totally invulnerable to the type of weapon or attack that had previously damaged the armor.

Or, for instance, the armor might make one totally invulnerable to all attacks except the very kind of attack that had previously damaged it. And those are just a  few possible ideas.

The point is that the previous history of, and damage to, the armor would render it useful enough to be of extraordinary benefit in some or most situations, but also vulnerable enough in certain circumstances to be a dangerous liability.

The same of course could easily be true of weapons or any other type of device or artifact. Prior history influences or writes current or future function.

This is a French cuirass, a breastplate worn as body armour by French cavalry. The hole is from a British cannonball that smashed through the unlucky soldier’s chest. The Waterloo campaign was the first occasion that British troops found themselves face to face with Napoleon’s heavy cavalry, whose armoured cuirasses and metal helmets made them a daunting foe.

Yet as the British would discover, even these armoured troopers were by no means invincible as this breastplate brings home with shocking force.

The bulk of Napoleon’s heavy cavalry was made up of the twelve regiments of Cuirassiers, but the elite of the arm, in their own eyes at least, were the men of the two regiments of Carabiniers. With a lineage running back to 1679, the Carabiniers had only been given cuirasses in 1809. Unlike the cuirassiers, their armour was gilded with brass rather than being of polished iron, and their old blue uniforms were changed for white. Both regiments served with distinction throughout the Napoleonic Wars, and in 1815 were brigaded together under Général de Brigade Blanchard as part of Général de Division Kellermann’s III Corps de Cavalerie.

Riding in the ranks of the 2eme Carabiniers was 23-year-old trooper François-Antoine Fauveau. A recent recruit, Fauveau’s height of 1.79 metres gave him the ideal stature for a heavy cavalry regiment. These, after all, were intended to be big men on big horses, riding down the enemy by the weight of their charge. The young man’s service papers also record that he had a long, freckled face with a large forehead, blue eyes, aquiline nose, and a small mouth.

During the afternoon of June 18th, the Carabiniers, along with the rest of the French heavy cavalry, were thrown repeatedly against the squares of allied infantry on the ridge forming the centre-right of Wellington’s line. As the cavalry charged, allied gunners kept them under fire until the last moment before dashing for the safety of their supporting infantry, and it was from one of their guns that Fauveau received his death-wound. Although impressive to look at, and capable of turning a sword-stroke or a pistol ball, no cuirass could deflect a cannon shot.
There is, however, a twist to the tale. Family legend has it that when his call-up papers arrived, François-Antoine was on the point of getting married, so his brother joined up, and died, in his place. Yet whoever was wearing it on June 18th, this cuirass serves to emphasise the brutality of Napoleonic warfare at a most personal level.

 

THE SAXON SMITHS

Incredible work in any age or epoch …

THE ANGLO-SAXON WAY

The Anglo-Saxon War-Culture and The Lord of the Rings: Legacy and Reappraisal

 The Anglo-Saxon War-Culture and The Lord of the Rings: Legacy and Reappraisal

By Pritha Kundu

WLA: War, literature, and the arts, Vol.26 (2014)

The saints and missionaries of the Anglo-Saxon era (1897)

Introduction: The literature of war in English claims its origin from the Homeric epics, and the medieval accounts of chivalry and the crusades. In modern war-literature, produced during and after the two World Wars, themes of existential trauma, alienation of man as victim, horrors of the nuclear warfare and the Holocaust, and the evils of a totalitarian government, critique of narrow nationalism have become dominant; yet some memories of the Classical and the Medieval war-culture can be found, either as subtle allusion, or as a means of irony or satire, as in Catch-22 or Mother Courage. However, another ancient culture of war—that of the Anglo-Saxons—has failed to hold its sway over the thoughts of the modern war-poets and novelists. In fact, the process of oblivion began as early as the 12th century, when the image of loud and boasting warriors, bursting the mead-halls with their genial laughter, and fighting to death for the love of their lords, was replaced by the courteous Christian knights on their quest for the Holy Grail, rescuing damsels in distress, representing abstract virtues and ideals of a feudal culture. In the long run, the medieval image of the knight-warrior, alongside the raw and ‘real’ quality of the Homeric battles, has found ways into the modern imagination, and produced modern reappropriations of these old materials, whereas re-works on Anglo-Saxon literature are of a poor amount. John Gardner’s Grendel offers an existentialist and psychoanalytic approach to Beowulf, rewriting it from the monster’s point of view, and G.K. Chesterton’s The Ballad of the White Horse recalls the tone of sadness and lament in the Old English elegies, but none of them shows interest in the war-culture of the Anglo-Saxons, which, notwithstanding the ‘fantastic’ elements of monsters and dragons, remained so realistic in the battles themselves, and a strong bond of love and duty between the warrior-king and his thanes.

Considering the scarcity of the Anglo-Saxon influence in modern war-literature in general, one may wonder and stop by a work like The Lord of the Rings or Silmarillion, which few would be willing to categorise as serious war-literature. The fictional writings of J.R.R. Tolkien are said to have revived the genre of fantasy and magic-realism, and they have been readily assimilated into the new genre of popular literature. What seems to have been forgotten in this process is Tolkien’s own passionate and critical engagement with the war-literature of the Anglo-Saxons, which has gone into the making of his otherwise ‘fantastic’ creation of the ‘Middle Earth’. Tolkien’s lecture, later published as an essay, “The Monsters and the Critics”, brought a formative and seminal change in the course of Beowulf -criticism. His fictional works are at the same time holding the Anglo-Saxon legacy with devoted fondness, yet his reappraisal is of a critical kind—it critiques, reconstructs and reappropriates several Anglo-Saxon themes and ideas while constantly referring back to an old war-culture passed into oblivion…

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