While I don’t really have an interest in updating this blog anymore [obviously, it has been inactive for practically 18 months…] I thought I’d make a quick post on something I’ve come across on tumblr.
I’ve seen a few posts on here asking about the roles women played in warfare, or rather, to what point were gender roles concrete [hint: they weren’t] and while I was going to make a post on my personal fave, Sichelgaita, I came across a few links that will probably be of use to anyone with an interest in the topic [and how to easily deconstruct an argument saying women have nothing to do with warfare, leadership, etc etc]
- Women in ancient warfare
- Women in post-classical warfare
- Women in early modern warfare
- Women in warfare and the military in the 19th century
These are only brief timelines, but they give you an idea of the roles women played - leaders of the besieged, pursuers of birthrights, adventurers, rulers in their own rights, vengeful wives, calculating regents, the divinely righteous, simple knights - in a word; multifaceted [that is to say, women took many roles and came from many directions to them - these aren’t blips, or outliers. The uncommon doesn’t equal the ignorable].
Out of the entire UK, only 53 villages had all servicemen from the parish survive the First World War. They’re known as Thankful Villages.
Only 13 villages had all servicemen from the parish survive both the First and Second World Wars. They’re known as ‘Doubly Thankful’
One of these 13 ‘Doubly Blessed’ villages is Upper Slaughter in Gloucestershire.
The ancient Assyrians weren’t the first great civilisation to flourish in Mesopotamia, much of what surrounded them in terms of culture was already several hundred, if not a thousand years old.
They lived as modernity amongst the ancient, much like the Rome or Athens of today, and, like today, a lot of that ancient culture remained merely in fragments to be collected.
Meticulous in their cultural efforts, their kings would order the gathering of literary works from all over their empire to collect, collate, and translate.
Ashurbanipal’s palace library has been found, and here are the editor’s notes found on one of the tablets:
Table XI of ‘He Who Saw Everything’ [of the series of] Gilgamesh.
Written down according to the original and collated.
Palace of Ashurbanipal, King of the Universe, King of Assyria.
A library like any other in any time period - books with editor’s notes, stiff formality… and like any other library book, a little ‘Property of _____’ stamp.
Unlike other time periods, the tablets are owned by the King of the Universe.
Overdue fees ain’t an option…
The last seven years of his life he ate nothing which had blood and life in it. One day, longing much to eat calves or sheep’s feet, he struggled long in this glorious contest with his soul; and as at last a well-seasoned dish of the feet was put before him, he said unto his soul, 'See my soul, the feet are before thee; if thou wishest to enjoy them, leave the body and feed on them.'
At the same moment a living creature was seen to come out of his mouth, which drank of the juice in the dish; and after having satisfied his appetite endeavoured to return from whence it came. But Beyazit having prevented it with his hand from re-entering his mouth, it fell on the ground, and the sultan ordered it to be beaten. The pages kicked it to death on the ground. The mufti of that time decided that, as the soul was an essential part of a man, this dead soul should be buried; prayers were performed over it, and the dead soul was interred in a small tomb near Beyazit’s türbe.
This is the truth of the famous story of Beyazit II having died twice and twice been buried.
'Why weren't we taught this in school' etc etc.
Vietnamese stamps post-Vietnam War.
Men in industry, academia, and construction.
Greek stamps from the 1980s.
Apartheid-era South African stamps.
1970s Greek stamps depicting regional costumes.
Men signed up in the early days of the war with the promise that with such ‘advanced, civilised’ nations, all it would take is one large, unprecedented-in-scale-and-importance, nobly-fought battle, and in the aftermath some agreement would be signed ushering in an era of peace.
This wasn’t pie-in-the-sky, this is exactly how the treaties after the Napoleonic Wars and the Franco-Prussian War were treated. They’d have one massive battle and a conference and a treaty was why untold men signed up - not for war, but to ensure peace.
However, the average man that went to war wasn’t even considered to be the same race as the ruling class that sent them. They were ‘degenerates’. That is a word that today has lost it’s context, but think of it, for the rich in a time of race-theory to call the poor ‘degenerates’… what does that mean?That the poor were not considered to be the same race in a time when to not be the same race was to be less than human.
So when hundreds of thousands died or were wounded in the first battle, they thought nothing of throwing more men, and more men, and more men…
They signed up for peace, and for many, the only peace they found is when riddled with bullets, they suffocated face-down in the mud.
Or when their lungs finally gave up, burned out by the mustard gas.
Or when stumbling around no-mans-land, their face hanging off, crying for their mother - only 17 - someone, maybe even someone from their own side, put them out of their misery.
Or when beaten to a pulp in hand-to-hand trench fighting, someone finally put the bayonet in them.
They - the new ruling-class - will tell you these were heroes deaths, to whitewash over the cold murder for empire and the imperial-class that they really were. As these men were living in holes in fields, their children were starving to death on British streets out of a total disinterest from the ruling-class to their plight - this dehumanisation was systematic, and the reason millions of men can be told to walk into machine-gun fire, or how 60,000 of your own men dead in a day can be put down as ‘strategic losses’.
Most survivors never spoke about what happened. Many survivors were so disfigured or mentally obliterated, they were hidden away for the rest of their lives.
They didn’t say they were ‘proud’ to have fought. They said nothing. Those that said something, said ‘never again’.
Jingoism has no place in these commemorations. The word ‘celebration’ has no place in the commemoration of the end of the war.
'If any question why we died/ Tell them, because our fathers lied'
- Rudyard Kipling
'I felt then, as I feel now, that the politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organizing nothing better than legalized mass murder.'
- Harry Patch
Map of Near and Middle East, with ancient and modern towns for context.