Marquis’ Bayeux Travesty

Terry Jones, not that Quran burning lunatic, but Terry Jones, co-director of Mont Python and the Holy Grail and director of The Life of Brian, and Monty Python’s the Meaning of Life, is the subject of this post. More particularly, Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives, a 2004 BBC documentary TV series is this post’s focus. In this series Mr. Jones biographies the different stations in medieval England. Each episode is devoted to a particular class. This one season series covers everyone from peasant to the king. It is on YouTube, here is the link.

I enjoyed watching Terry Jones’ series. It was full of interesting facts and ideas, about a period that I also find interesting. Jones’ wit kept the shows lively. I recommend that you check them out for yourself. I think that you would like them too. If you do view them, I’d like to hear your feedback.

In each of these episodes a consistent theme is that life then really wasn’t so bad. For example the medieval peasant had eighty (religious) holidays, while the modern Briton only has eight. This sounds pretty good on the face of it, but if you delve deeper, some of the luster wears off. 52 of those 80 holidays are balanced by the modern five-day work week. Another nine medieval holidays are recouped for the ones that happened to fall on Sunday. The remaining eleven day disparity is easily encompassed by the invention of the vacation day.

More fundamental is Terry Jones’ referances to how much better medieval life was after the mid-14th century Black Death. Not immediately mind you, because about then half the population of Britain died. No, after all that death and suffering, those were the golden days of medieval times. The survivors of the plague, especially the lower class survivors found that they were now quite in demand and could almost set their own prices. You know, supply and demand, there was then a limited supply of workers, but still the normal demand. The moral of this story is that old axiom, what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. I see parallels to those times then and ours now.

In modern times, we still have plagues, but even more catastrophic now are our wars, in particular, our world wars. More people died from the Black Death than died in World War II, and more people died from the Spanish Flu than died in World War I, but it was the material destruction of these two wars that most closely mirrors the havoc created in the Medieval Ages by the Black Death. Like these mirrored catastrophes, there were also mirrored aftermaths. Like the medieval peasant that thrived after the plague, the American worker also enjoyed similar halcyon days, after World War II. Jones never had a 2nd season, anyway further parallels to our future would be muddy. It is hard to predict the future.

1 thought on “Marquis’ Bayeux Travesty

  1. I saw the Bayeaux Tapestry on my trip to France in 2004 — totally amazing and cool. If you’re anywhere near Bayeaux — it’s worth the trip for sure.

Leave a Reply