Friday, September 22, 2017

Hobbit Day--Bilbo's Last Song

In honor of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins' birthday today, here is a poster version of Bilbo's Last Song, which he sings when departing Middle-Earth. 


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Peter Pevensie's Sword: An Illustration of His Journey

In the 2005 movie, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the prop that is most intimately associated with a character’s journey is Peter Pevensie’s sword Rhindon. Rhindon is given to Peter by Father Christmas, who tells him to “bear it well.” 

Peter, his sisters, and the Beavers cross a thawing river when they are ambushed by Maugrim and his wolves. A wolf grabs Mr. Beaver in his jaws and Susan, who is armed with a bow, screams “Peter!” She expects him to take the lead now, which is ironic considering she wanted to veto his plan to cross the river. Peter draws his sword, but Maugrim is not alarmed, taunting Peter to “put that down…someone could get hurt here.” Meanwhile, Mr. Beaver encourages Peter to “run him through, while you’ve still got a chance.” Torn between these two opinions, Peter finally makes a decision. Ramming his sword into an ice block, he grabs his sisters just before the river melts. Peter’s hand and sword hilt emerge above the water, showing us his determination to keep on fighting for Narnia.


Later in the movie, Maugrim attacks again, chasing Susan and Lucy into a tree. Peter runs to their assistance with his sword while Maugrim sneers, “We’ve already been through this before. We both know you haven’t got it in you.” But Peter has changed, and he kills the evil wolf. 

From this act of heroism, Peter continues to use his sword to defend his siblings. Edmund’s life is claimed by the White Witch, and Peter’s sword flies from its sheath as he dares her to come and take him.

In the final battle, Peter’s sword is out and he fights the Witch’s army valiantly. Unhorsed from his unicorn by an arrow, he continues the battle on foot until he sees his brother Edmund fall, stabbed by the Witch. Furious at his brother’s grievous wound, Peter charges to do battle with her. The pair fight in single combat until Aslan arrives with reinforcements for Peter’s army. When Peter sees this, a satisfied smile flits across his face: Narnia and his siblings are safe. The Witch trips him and is about to kill him, but Aslan the lion pounces on her and she dies. Symbolically, even while on the ground, Peter retains a grip on his sword.
 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Characters of J. R. R. Tolkein's The Hobbit

In J. R. R. Tolkein’s well-known novel The Hobbit, three common types of characters are seen: good ones, evil ones, and ambiguous ones. These can easily be defined based on how they use their powers, skills, or influence. Good characters use these qualities to help their friends and bring justice into the world. Ambiguous characters, as their name implies, do both good and evil things with their power, while evil characters use their powers only to exalt themselves and bring others low.





The good characters are those who use their power and skill to help their friends. Bilbo Baggins the hobbit is the foremost of these, working diligently to save the dwarves from the many perils that beset them. Despite their ingratitude, Bilbo keeps working with them. His heart is for peace, and he gives Bard and the Elvenking the magnificent jewel known as the Arkenstone in an attempt to resolve disputes about the treasure of Smaug.





Perhaps the most well-known hero of Middle-Earth is Gandalf. He uses his wisdom and skills to help others. In this story, the others are the company of dwarves with the hobbit. His knowledge of woodland creatures comes to their aid, as does his valor in battle.





Elrond of the Elves is another hero, but in a different way than Gandalf or Bilbo. Elrond is a hospitable, generous, merry and wise elf whose house is open to travellers. Whether you liked “food, or sleep, or work, or story-telling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all,” Elrond’s house possessed it (Tolkein 61). Lavishly he bestows gifts on the travellers: food, advice, and decryption of the moon-runes on Thorin’s map, without ever a thought of reward.





Ambiguous characters use their powers for both good and evil ends. Thorin Oakenshield is an excellent example of an ambiguous character. We see him fight valiantly against the trolls in defense of his companions. However, Thorin is also consumed by greed when the treasure stolen by Smaug the dragon is recovered. He refuses to give any of it to the Men of Lake-Town, even though their town was destroyed by the dragon. So greedy is he that he determines to fight to keep all the gold to himself, away from Men and their allies the Elves. But Thorin turns from a villain to a hero when he forgets his greed, allying with the Men and Elves to defeat the mighty goblin army. Mortally wounded in the battle, Thorin begs Bilbo for forgiveness before he dies, which Bilbo readily grants.





Another example of an ambiguous character is the Elvenking. When we first meet him, he seems more like an evil character, capturing the Dwarves and locking them in dark dungeons. As the story progresses, we see another side to the Elvenking: he is a just and kindly ruler who does not want to fight the dwarves coming to reinforce Thorin in the Lonely Mountain.





In contrast to the good or even ambiguous characters, evil characters only use their power to enrich themselves without caring whom they hurt. The dragon Smaug the Terrible is the perfect example of this kind of character. After destroying the dwarves’ halls in the Lonely Mountain and the men in the kingdom of Dale, he settles inside the mountain, counting the horde of gold that he has amassed. Not content to ravage the countryside, he tempts Bilbo to turn against his companions the dwarves, cynically observing that “I suppose they are skulking outside and your job is to do all the dangerous work.” (Tolkein 214)





But Smaug is not the only evil character in The Hobbit. The Master of Lake-Town is almost the complete opposite from Smaug, but he is still an evil character. While Smaug is full of rage and powerful destruction, the Master of Lake-Town is cunning and double-dealing. He seeks to escape from Lake-Town as Smaug attacks it, but then proceeds to take a shelter and much of the food left in the wrecked town when the dragon is dead. Despite receiving a large share of unearned gold from Bard the Bowman, the Master refuses to use it to help rebuild the town. Instead, he embezzles it and makes for the wilderness, only to die, deserted by his companions.



Conclusion
The characters in Tolkein’s book The Hobbit come in three easily recognizable types: good, evil, and ambiguous. But these three are not found in Middle-Earth only. It is easy to see people we know who are self-focused like the Master of Lake-Town, or generous like Elrond. Perhaps this explains the reason that The Hobbit has endured as a classic for 80 years: though it is set in a fantasy world with dragons and dwarves, the characters are easily identifiable because we encounter people like them in our everyday lives.



References
Tolkein, J. R. R. The Hobbit. New York: Ballantine Books-Houghton Mifflin, 1966.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Details and Drinking Glasses

Sometimes we as Christians have a feeling that God is not interested in the mundane details of our lives. Sure, He cares for the big things...like buying a house or marrying a spouse...but not the little things that make up our days. But God does care for all aspects of our lives. The apostle James tells us in his epistle that "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." (James 1:17) I was reminded of this aspect of God's character in a recent interaction.

A number of years ago, my family won a pair of drinking glasses as part of a restaurant's promotion. For some reason, I took quite a shine to these particular glasses and used them as much as I could. One broke not too long ago and it always remained in the back of my mind to hunt down some more of this particular type of glass...sometime.


A friend of ours was holding an estate sale for her elderly mother. All sorts of items (mostly crafts and quilting) were to be sold. We took a trip out there and began to poke around. Suddenly I noticed a glass that was almost identical to my favorite. The size and color were slightly different, but the style was exactly the same. In the box there rested another one. This was wonderful news, especially when I noticed that the box was labeled "Free Stuff!"

The two glasses were added to our collection and I was very happy. But this showed me how God loves to give good gifts to His creatures. He lavishes gifts on me--even something considered as mundane as a drinking glass.

"They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures." (Psalm 36:8)

Friday, July 28, 2017

Review of Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis

One of the many covers of Mere Christianity
No copyright infringement intended.
Once, I had been an ideological crusader, dead-set on a certain view of family roles, economics, churches, politics—if you could name it, I had an opinion. After a long and painful chapter in my life, I finally realized the tyrant I was rapidly in the process of becoming. For more on that, read my story With Truth and Grace at http://defendingthelegacy.blogspot.com/2015/12/short-story-with-truth-and-grace.html. Disaster was compounded with disaster, and needless to say, this epoch in my life left me in a tail-spin. What did I believe anyway? Was true Christianity connected to a specific view of church or plans for the creation of a just society? What was essential, and what was personal preference?

Man proposes, but God disposes, says the old adage. God certainly knew exactly what I needed at this juncture, and He provided. I began to read Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis. My only acquaintance with Lewis’s writings was his Chronicles of Narnia, and I had read one (short) biography on him. However, I regarded these favorably enough to be willing to read Mere Christianity. Here was a Christian theologian whom I respected, and I was interested to read what he said about these issues.

Beginning with the forward, Mere Christianity was exactly what I needed. Here was an author who stated that he was an Anglican, but that more important than a denomination was a belief in Jesus Christ. The book slowly built from a universal human knowledge of right and wrong to a clear and concise explanation of Christian beliefs. Most importantly for me, these were universal Christian beliefs! There was much about the importance of Christ’s death and the importance of faith, hope, love, and prayer. Rather than railing at an anti-Christian culture, Lewis stated that the real enemy we have to fight is our own sinful nature. But the most part of Mere Christianity was Lewis’s joyful expectation of the glories and unspeakable delights of heaven—which, he contends, is something that we have had hints or glimpses into on earth.

If you have not yet read Mere Christianity, please take the time to find it and read it. It is an excellent book to show the basics of Christianity that all Christians have agreed on for almost 2,000 years. Despite its topic and its size, plenty of deep theological topics are contained inside as well.  5/5 stars.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Flag of Armand's Legion (Completely Speculative)

Speculative Armand's Legion flag
Following on my flag reconstructions, here is a completely speculative one for Armand's Legion.  I have never run across any description of this legion's flag, or even if they were issued a flag.  However, we have descriptions/artifacts of the 2nd Continental Light Dragoons, the 3rd Continental, and Pulaski's Legion.


But onto the description of this fictional flag.  I chose a red ground as all three Continental cavalry standards (2nd, 3rd, and Pulaski's Legion) have red as their field.  An owl was chosen as an interesting classical symbol (the owl of Minerva) and also to evoke Armand's service with the Chouans in France.  The motto translates to "Vigilance is the price of Liberty," and the owl seemed to suggest vigilance and wakefulness.  The 13 stars and fleur-de-lis is taken from contemporary drawings of United States flags.


If you would like to deploy your wargame unit of Armand's Legion under this standard, please feel free; however, credit and a link back to this post is appreciated :)

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Video--Christians Studying History

videoThis is a short (very short) video that I did for a college course I am enrolled in.  In less than two minutes, it touches on the question "How do Christians use their faith to influence their history?"  This topic is one that I am passionate about and I would have liked to write pages and pages on it...but instead the assignment required a 1-2 minute video.  Video recording was done by my sister Amara of Castles in Clouds (www.castlesinclouds.wordpress.com) Enjoy!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Guest Post: Historical Details in War of Loyalties: Life on the Homefront in WW1

A friend of mine, Schuyler M., has written a World War I spy novel called War of Loyalties. She kindly agreed to share the fascinating historical background undergirding her story here on Defending the Legacy.


For the past seven years, I’ve been writing novel entitled War of Loyalties. It’s a Dickensian novel with a spy flavor, and today I’m glad to be invited to Defending the Legacy to talk about some of the historical details in its pages. But before I start, let me set the context with the novel description:

April, 1917. A ring of German spies threatens the security of England’s Secret Service. Newly-recruited agent Ben Dorroll must uncover false British agents who are traitors to their country. However, Ben’s secrecy may be the very thing that puts their mission in jeopardy. Unwilling to trust fellow agent Jaeryn Graham with the clues hidden in his family’s broken past, he wants to resign and go back to his medical practice. But success means one last chance at winning the respect of the father he’s never met. And when he learns that his family identity holds the key to capturing the spy ring, Ben has no choice but to unite with Jaeryn Graham so that the truth can be discovered.

In the aftermath of the Irish Rebellion, Jaeryn Graham's British colleagues look warily on his Irish background. Always up for a challenge, he thinks his new mission to investigate the true loyalties of his fellow spies should be an opportunity to prove his prowess. But the agents he has to work with are determined to prove he himself is a traitor. Unless he can win the loyalties of his newest assistant, Ben Dorroll, his secret ambitions and his perfect success record will be destroyed.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Grace Triumphant--Reprise

In January of this year, I reviewed Alicia Willis's 18th Century novel Grace Triumphant (see the original review at http://defendingthelegacy.blogspot.com/2017/01/review-of-grace-triumphant-by-alicia.html).  I thoroughly enjoyed it when I read it, and as time has passed, I noticed yet another gem tucked inside the story.






The book follows three characters: Captain Russell Lawrence, cabin boy Jack Dunbar, and English aristocrat Elizabeth Grey.  The narrative is told from the point of view of each of these three characters and the author does an excellent job of never allowing the characters to know each others' thoughts, though we as the readers can get inside the minds of all three.  Jack Dunbar's story quickly links up with Russell Lawrence's, and their two points of view then focus on the same events: a pirate attack, for example, is seen by both.






But Elizabeth Grey is different.  We see high-society London through her eyes, and her eyes alone.  We have no way of analyzing her character from the perspective of an outsider.  All her actions are peppered with nagging doubts and prayers that she will be found true to her convictions.  This sort of internal struggle is something I greatly sympathize with: trying to do the right thing, but knowing one's weaknesses and fearing that they will taint the good we are trying to accomplish.




But eventually, we see Elizabeth as others see her: a fine example of a godly Christian woman.   While her internal struggles have been real, they have not hindered her good works or others' good opinion of her.  I found this encouraging.  Even though our good works may be tainted by our weaknesses and sins, these works will still shape our character into what we were created to be--reflections of the goodness of our Creator.  "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Make a Playmobil Cannon...That Really Fires!

Have you ever wanted to make your Playmobil cannons shoot with long range and high velocity?  It is nearly impossible with the standard configuration.  Fortunately, there is an easy way to equip your armies with this handy weapon.  This tutorial will show you how.

Step #1: Disassemble cannon
Step #1: Remove the cannon barrel from its carriage (the wooden part with wheels).  Disassemble the barrel by removing the breech (the little circular part in the top right of the picture).  This can be done by depressing the tabs on each side of the breech.  I used a Playmobil spear to avoid crushing the tabs.  Once the tabs are depressed, the breech can be easily removed, and with the breech removed, the plunger is also easily accessible.  The photo at left shows the barrel (far left), the plunger (center), and the breech (top right).

It is important to add a spring to this group of parts.  The spring will provide the mechanism to power the cannon.

Step #2: Insert plunger and spring.
Step #2: Return the plunger to its position inside the cannon barrel.  Now add the spring, dropping it down the barrel and around the plunger.  If you click on the picture to expand it, you may be able to see the spring in its position.  The breech is still unused, but we will add that in the next step.


Step #3: Reassemble cannon


Step #3: Carefully replace the breech over the plunger.  The cannon should now look exactly like it did before you started.  Replace the cannon back on its carriage and your project is all done!

To fire, load some ammo in the cannon's muzzle and pull back on the plunger.  Because the spring creates tension, the released plunger will fire the projectile quite a long way.  Of course, never shoot it at a person or animal.  Now your Playmobil armies have some artillery support...that really fires!




Friday, May 26, 2017

2017 Lecture: Know the Past to Understand the Future

Last weekend, my family and I attended our state homeschooling convention.  While there, I delivered a lecture called Know the Past to Understand the Future.


"Have you ever wondered why you should study history? While it is interesting to see how people lived in the past, what other uses does history have? Join historian Jordan Jachim in exploring the importance of history in this lecture. Knowledge of the past can help us make decisions in the future, avoiding errors that previous generations have committed. “Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.” But history can also encourage us. While one act of kindness to a stranger sometimes seems insignificant, did you know that this resulted in the discovery of a hidden cache of treasure during World War II? History can also educate us and entertain us, but most importantly, it shows us how faithful God has been in guiding our lives."


The recording is now available for sale (at https://www.alliancerecordings.com/detail.cfm?context=Recordings&cid=58&RID=2157) and I do not make any money if you purchase it.  This lecture was accompanied by a slide presentation.  If you would like a copy of my slides, just contact me.
A piece of artwork I created for one of the slides

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Tests of Peter Pevensie


I have been a Narnian fan for many years, and Peter Pevensie is one of my two favorite characters (the other is Reepicheep).  In the 2005 movie The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Peter Pevensie embarks on a journey that will result in overcoming his flaws.  I will assume that you are familiar with the original story from either book or movie (if not, find some time to read the one or watch the other, or preferably, do both).  Peter’s first test occurs during the air-raid.  Edmund runs back into the house to recover his father’s photo, and Peter chases him out of a sense of duty, not brotherly love.  As the Pevensies settle in to the house of Professor Kirke, Peter tries to comfort and encourage Lucy.  Even though he does not believe her stories about Narnia, he is sorry to have to tell her to stop pretending.  But Peter and Edmund continue to have friction in the Professor’s house and then when all four enter Narnia.


Peter is angry when Edmund runs off alone to the White Witch’s castle, yet there is a hint of brotherly love in his desire to charge the castle single-handed to rescue Edmund.  This would be suicidal and Mr. and Mrs. Beaver lead the three Pevensies to meet Aslan.  Peter is given a sword and shield by Father Christmas, then they proceed to cross the frozen river.  They are ambushed by the White Witch’s wolves under Maugrim, and Peter faces him down with his sword.  Susan (who is still hoping to return safely to England) dissuades Peter from fighting the wolf, but Peter shows initiative by shepherding his siblings to safety on a floating ice floe.


Meeting Aslan
The three siblings and the Beavers arrive at Aslan’s camp, where they meet the Great Lion himself.  Aslan asks where the fourth Pevenise is, and Mr. Beaver states that Edmund has betrayed them.  This may be the turning-point for Peter.  He sheathes his sword (which had been at the salute) and confesses that his harshness to Edmund had contributed to Edmund’s betrayal.


Aslan shows Peter the castle of Cair Paravel, where the four are to be Kings and Queens, but Peter is doubtful of his fitness for this responsibility.  Aslan encourages Peter “You brought them [your siblings] safely this far,” but Peter’s test comes in the next moment.


Maugrim and another wolf have chased Susan and Lucy Pevensie into a large tree and Peter runs to their rescue.  Maugrim is cynical of Peter’s ability—“Come on, we’ve already been through this before”, but Peter fights and kills him.  For his valor, Aslan knights him Sir Peter Wolf’s-Bane.


"Aslan believed you could...and so do I"
Edmund is rescued and Aslan sacrifices himself for him.  The White Witch and her hordes prepare to crush Aslan’s army, and Peter is forced into a major decision: fight or withdraw?  Edmund is Peter’s councilor, stating “there’s an army out there, and it’s ready to follow you.”  Again Peter is doubtful, but Edmund reminds him “Aslan believed you could,” and in a moment of forgiveness on both sides, “and so do I.” 


With the support of his brother, Peter commits the army to battle.  The battle rages and at a crucial moment, a dismounted Peter is targeted by the White Witch.  She is armed with a magic wand that can turn living creatures into stone.  Edmund had seen her do this to a fox and a Faun and knows that she will attack Peter.  Jumping down from a rocky outcropping, Edmund smashes the Witch’s wand.  Furiously, the Witch turns on Edmund, badly wounding him.


The Kings and Queens of Narnia
Peter sees the entire exchange, and now he runs to his brother’s defense—but not out of duty this time.  This time, Peter is motivated by brotherly love.  As Peter and the Witch duel, Aslan (who has come back to life) arrives with reinforcements, who rout the Witch’s army.  The four Pevensies are then happily crowned Kings and Queens at Cair Paravel.


The problems that Peter Pevensie faces are not unfamiliar to many of us. We interact with our siblings and often feel overwhelmed when great responsibilities are laid on our shoulders.  Yet it should be noted that Peter’s turning point occurs after he meets Aslan.  Much as we can try to manage our flaws and shortcomings, only Jesus Christ can truly set us free from them.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Bavarian Flags at Blenheim (1704)


The Elector of Bavaria charges into battle
In the battle of Blenheim, the Elector of Bavaria and his French allies were defeated by the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene.  Nine Bavarian flags were captured in the course of the battle, and they were listed in a London newspaper as follows:


"Nine standards of blue satin, richly embroidered with the Bavarian arms; six belonging to the Elector's own troops, and three to those of Cologne, having the following devices and mottoes."
1st. A laurel; motto, Aut Coronari aut rumpi.
2d. An olive-tree on a rock; motto, Per Ardua Laurus.
3d. A pillar reaching to the clouds; motto, Tantum Umbra movetur.
4th. A bear rampant; motto, Ex Vulnere Crudelior.
5th. A dove with a laurel branch; motto, Uni servo fidem.
6th. A chaos; motto, Obstantia firmant.
7th. A helmet with a feather on a pedestal; motto, Ex duris Gloria.
8th. An olive-tree shading serpents; motto, Nocet Umbra nocenti.
9th. A standard of the Elector's guards with the colour torn to pieces."


The source for this report is The Historical Record of the 5th, or Princess Charlotte of Wales' Regiment of Dragoon Guards, available at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/54607/54607-h/54607-h.htm

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Book Review: Crescent Tides by J. Aaron Gruben

How far would you go to defend the life you knew in the past?

The year is 1562, and Europe is at war with the Ottoman Turks. The climax of this war is the famous naval battle of Lepanto, where the Holy League decisively defeated the Ottoman navy. But what if Lepanto had turned out differently? What if the Turks had defeated the Holy League’s fleet? What impact would this have on Europe? Enter Crescent Tides, a historical novel dealing with these very questions. 

Dr. Calvin “Cal” Schmitt is an ordinary, overworked, veterinarian living in the heart of New Mexico. His life is one unending treadmill of sick animals, irate owners, and overwork in massive quantities. At last he gets a welcome “break” out of the office to visit a sick horse on a man’s property. While setting up, his overcurious technician Fred Kawalkowitz pulls on a bridle in the tack room, opening a door and revealing another room. Dr. Schmitt’s passenger, an ultra-liberal doctor named Sara Perez moves to investigate the room, and sets her feet on a strange device. As Schmitt grabs for her, they are both shot back into time to 1562 and the battle of Lepanto.

The two time travellers are quickly followed by Fred, and discover that they are aboard the La Real, the flagship of the Holy League in a naval battle against the Ottoman Turks. Before they have time to take it all in, a group of armed time travellers appears aboard La Real. With machine guns, they massacre the crew and turn La Real into a Turkish ship. The Holy League, distracted by the takeover of their flagship, is obliterated by the Ottoman fleet. Now nothing stands in the way of a Turkish conquest of Europe. Nothing, that is, except for Dr. Calvin Schmitt.


Knights and Janissaries of the 16th century will forge strange alliances with 21st Century men and their “magic arquebuses.” But whether wielding swords or automatic rifles, each warrior fights for a certain way of life—and these two philosophies will clash on the battlefield.

This book explores several interesting themes: the difference between the 16th and 21st centuries, nobility and knightly conduct, the Crusades, how our decisions affect the future, and the differences between Christianity and Islam. But one of the book’s most powerful themes revolves around trusting a personal God vs. resigning oneself to an inevitable—and impersonal—fate. This was definitely the high point of the book for me.

I enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it. 4/5 stars


Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe: Lessons of Sacrifice

The theme of sacrifice is woven into C. S. Lewis’ book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and the filmmakers who adapted it for a 2005 movie kept this important element. In fact, they amplified it by including more examples than were given in the book. In the movie, we first see sacrifice during the air-raid. Edmund returns to the house to get his dad’s picture, and Peter accompanies him back to the safety of the Pevensies’ bomb shelter.



In Narnia, Mr. Tumnus sacrifices his security to guide Lucy back to the lamp-post after he attempted to kidnap her. When all four of the Pevensie children--Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy--arrive in Narnia, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver then put themselves at risk to help these four.  They are betrayed by Edmund, who joins the evil White Witch, and a fox sacrifices himself to draw the Witch’s Secret Police off on a false scent.




But the most important example of sacrifice in this movie comes when Aslan the royal lion chooses to die so that Edmund, the traitor who joined the Witch, can go free. This is a parallel to what Jesus Christ has done for sinners, including me. Once I was a sinner who looked down on and snubbed almost all of the people in the world. They lived in the wrong countries, read the wrong books, knew the wrong friends.  This is obviously opposed to Jesus’ command to “love thy neighbor as thyself." (see Mark 12:31)  But Jesus Christ set me free from those chains just like Aslan saved Edmund from the White Witch’s vengeance.



Near the end of the movie, the Pevensie siblings and Aslan's army engage the Witch's cohorts in a climactic battle, which shows several instances of duty and sacrifice. When Peter’s white unicorn is shot with an arrow, it bucks, sending him flying directly into the path of the Witch’s hordes. To give Peter time to regain his army, the valiant centaur Oreius and a rhinoceros charge headlong at the enemy, ultimately sacrificing themselves (the rhinoceros is wounded and Oreius turned to stone) to help Peter.



As the battle rages, Edmund sees the Witch sneaking toward Peter, who is heavily engaged in the fighting.  She wants to turn him to stone with her magic wand. Edmund ambushes her and breaks her wand into splinters. The White Witch stabs Edmund, badly wounding him, but Peter charges to his brother's assistance.  He then duels the Witch in an epic swordfight.


All of these lessons should be exhibited in our own lives.  We do not have to duel the White Witch with swords, but oftentimes we need to sacrifice in other ways.  Washing dishes, volunteering in thankless positions, being patient with those who are impatient--all of these are a sacrifice just as much as Oreius's charge or the Beavers' hospitality.



Monday, March 13, 2017

Jacobite Flag--Edinburgh Volunteers


Photo by Kim Traynor, licensed under a
Creative Commons 3.0 License
This post continues on the theme of flags used during the Jacobite Rising of 1745.  This flag is recorded as being used by the Edinburgh Regiment when it attempted to defend the Scottish capital.  The regiment as a whole never saw any fighting service, though some volunteers from Edinburgh did fight in Cope's army at Prestonpans.

This is my recreation of the flag.  It is an old Covenanter flag (likely from the English Civil War), as its inscription "Covenants for Religion, King, and Kingdomes" testifies.  If it originally dates from the English Civil War, that would mean that this flag had not been flown for almost 100 years.  If you would like a wargame unit of Edinburgh Volunteers to fly this flag, feel free; however, I would appreciate credit as artist of this flag's recreation :).  There are still more Jacobite flags to recreate...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Flag of the Yorkshire Hunters Regiment in 1745

During the Jacobite invasion of England in 1745, many loyal Whigs (supporters of George II) raised regiments of troops to aid their king against his competitor, Bonnie Prince Charlie. On 24 September 1745, several Whig gentlemen of Yorkshire decided to raise a unit to aid George II. Their contribution included both a regiment of foot called the Yorkshire Blues, and a regiment of cavalry called the Yorkshire Hunters. I detailed the flag of the Yorkshire Blues in a previous post (see http://defendingthelegacy.blogspot.com/2017/01/flag-of-yorkshire-blues-regiment-in-1745.html) and am now recreating the flag of the Yorkshire Hunters.
Detail of the Yorkshire Hunters Flag

A unique eyewitness engraving shows the Yorkshire Blues and Hunters on parade, with glorious detail of their colours. I am focusing here on the Hunters' colours. In the engraving, they are carried by the squadron (see the detail picture at right). While this view is leaves most of the details unknown. the artist included a "close-up" of the flag's details in a cartouche near the bottom of the picture.

The center of the flag is occupied by a burst of flames with thunderbolts emanating from it. This device was also used in the flag of the French Compagnies Franches de la Marine. (1) I do not know what connection, if any, this device has to Yorkshire or its nobility. Nevertheless, this is certainly what is depicted in the engraving.

Since the engraving is in black and white, some artistic license had to be used to render the flag into color. The flames and thunderbolts are depicted in their natural colors, following the Compagnies Franches de la Marine flag. However, the ground and border of the flag was more difficult. I chose green for the ground and red for the border, with golden fringes. Why?
The flag carried by the regiment

Green appears to be a distinguishing color for the Yorkshire Hunters. While their coats were blue with red cuffs, they wore green cockades. (2) Green cockades are highly unusual, particularly in the midst of the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, where white cockades and black cockades marked Jacobites and Hanoverians, respectively. Stuart Reid (3) suggests that these were adopted as a compliment to General Oglethorpe. However, the color green was also associated with hunters in military service. Examples from 1745 include the Prussian Feldjager corps, the infantry of the Chausseurs de Fischer, and, in Great Britain, the mounted Georgia Rangers, who were brigaded with the Yorkshire Hunters. Perhaps this color was intended to mark their “hunter” status, for many of the troopers were fox-hunting gentlemen. (4)

My reconstruction of the Yorkshire Hunters flag


Regardless of why green cockades were chosen, they did distinguish the Yorkshire Hunters and therefore I have colored the flag’s field green. The original illustration shows a definite border around the flag, and this I have colored red, just like the Hunters’ facing color. The fringe is gold, based on a slightly later (1751 Warrant) convention that the metallic fringe follow the unit’s button color: gold buttons, gold fringe on the flag. (5)

Finally, I would like to thank everyone who commented on my previous Yorkshire Blues flag. All your comments encouraged me and I fully intend to continue creating Jacobite flags from contemporary illustrations or existent relics. Stay tuned!


If you are a wargamer and would like to deploy a Yorkshire Hunters flag in your armies, go ahead; however, an attribution to the artist would be appreciated :).


Notes
(1) http://kronoskaf.com/syw/index.php?title=Colonial_Compagnies_Franches_de_la_Marine
(2) Reid, Stuart, Cumberland's Culloden Army 1745-46.  Oxford: Osprey, 2012. pg. 46.
(3) ibid., pg. 46
(4)Duffy, Christopher, Fight for a Throne: the Jacobite '45 Reconsidered. West Midlands: Helion and Co, 2015, pg. 346
(5) British Regimental Drums and Colors has reproduced the 1751 Clothing Warrant at http://www.fifedrum.org/crfd/BD_1.htm

Friday, February 17, 2017

The Calormene Armed Forces

Map of Narnia drawn by Pauline Baynes
Calormen appears in the far south
Founded by a band of outlaws from Archenland, the Calormene Empire grew to encompass most of the land south of Narnia and Archenland, making it the largest power in the Narnian world. Under the leadership of their ruler, the Tisroc (may-he-live-forever), Calormen waged wars against Narnia and Archenland at various times, along with battling rebels in its Western provinces. 

The Calormene army was made up of two types of soldier: infantry and cavalry. I will be covering the organization of the infantry in this post. The basic Calormene infantry organization was a company, which mustered 30 men. Each company was subdivided into two sections of 14 men each under a junior officer, making 15 fighting men in each section. In the Battle of Stable Hill, Rishda Tarkaan sends forward one section against Tirian while keeping his second section in reserve. This plan fails, as the first section is thrashed by Tirian’s Narnians and forced to retreat to the protection of the second section. At a critical point in the battle, another company of 30 men arrives to Rishda’s assistance.

While the Calormene infantry doubtless has other unit sizes, the only other one we know is the division of 1,000 men. Prince Rabadash refers to this size as being the only force required to conquer Narnia in six weeks. From the way in which Rabadash talks, doubtless senior Calormene commanders are used to commanding forces much larger than this.

Each Calormene soldier is generally equipped with a scimitar, small round shield, and spear. In battle, a Calormene typically relies on his spear, using his sword as back-up. However, many Calormene infantrymen are skilled with fighting with the sword only. Rishda Tarkaan’s force was made up of these men. Officers carry only a sword and shield. All ranks wear mail and helmets.

Another important part of the Calormene army is the signaler. He is armed with a big bull-hide drum and is responsible for communicating between companies. It seems probable that he is not a part of the company itself, but is attached when a company (or larger force) may be operating on its own (such as Rishda Tarkaan’s force at Stable Hill). These drums can convey important signals: the only two which are mentioned are “Assistance is required” and “Relief is on its way.”

The Calormene army also musters some archers, but these appear to serve a function more like mounted infantry. They ride to battle, then dismount to use their bows. The Calormenes do not use their archers as skirmishers who ride, fire at the enemy, and then retreat to do it again.

Calormene cavalry serves in units of 50 men and carry spears or battle-axes. Swords and round shields are a necessity, whether the trooper wields a spear or battle-axe. The Calormene cavalry also includes chariots, but whether they are carriers for infantry or mobile platforms for archers is unknown. These are never used in battle against Narnia or Archenland, because of the difficulty of crossing the great desert and after that, the mountains of Archenland.

The Tisroc (may-he-live-forever) also possesses a navy, made up of swift galleys and great ships.  Neither of these are based at the capital, Tashbaan, much to the annoyance of Prince Rabadash. The Calormenes likely possess royal dockyards and harbors in which their fleet is based. Their fleet contains at least twenty great (as distinguished from small) ships of war, which are used to capture Cair Paravel in The Last Battle.



Many of these Calormene soldiers (in fact, everything but the chariots and archers) have been drawn by Pauline Baynes in her delightful Narnian illustrations.

Sources: The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis
The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis

Friday, February 10, 2017

Narnia: Battle of Anvard Maps


Click on image to enlarge and read the fine print.  This
order of battle serves as a legend for the maps.
The siege and relief of Anvard is one of the best-described battles in C. S. Lewis' series The Chronicles of Narnia.  Anvard, the capital city of Archenland, occupies a strategic location and is targeted by a detachment of the Calormene army under Prince Rabadash.  The Calormenes lay siege to Anvard, but King Edmund and Queen Lucy lead a relief force to raise the siege.  This battle is found in the book The Horse and His Boy.

The table above shows the order of battle at the Siege of Anvard.


The first map shows the position of the relative armies when King Edmund's Narnian army arrives to relieve the siege.  Rabadash has sighted the Narnians and remounted 100 of his men to contest the Narnian advance.  A division of dismounted cavalry and archers guards his left flank, while the fourth division continues the siege with a battering ram.






The second map shows King Edmund's battle plan as it develops.  His main force collides head-on with Prince Rabadash's mounted troops, occupying their attention.  Six giants attempt to force back the Calormene left, and it is here that Rabadash's mail shirt is broken by a giant's spiked boot.  However, Edmund's main thrust is on his left, where a division of Great Cats swiftly circles the Calormene positions, avoiding their main body of cavalry. The Cats then rout the Calormene reserve horses.










The third map shows the heat of battle.  The Great Cats are driving away the Calormene horses, and the two battle lines have now met.  Prince Rabadash has moved to command the main body of his men, and he and Edmund nearly fight hand-to-hand, but the ebb and flow of battle separates them.



In the fourth map, the tide of battle has turned in favor of the Narnians.  The reserve horses have routed and the Great Cats are now attacking the division of Calormenes that was still prosecuting the siege of Anvard.  With these Calormenes distracted, the defenders of Anvard (under King Lune) sally out.  The giants are forcing back the Calormene left wing and Narnian archers are moving up in support.  In the main battle line, most of Rabadash's main force is routing for the relative safety of the woods.  This is now forcing the Calormenes to contract their forces for a last stand.



The fifth map shows the hopeless position when Chlamash, the last effective leader of the Calormenes, surrenders to Edmund.  Encircled with the Great Cats on his right, Giants on his left, the Narnians to his front and King Lune behind, there is no escape for the remaining Calormene troops.  I have diverted one division of Edmund's army to watch the routed Calormenes in the woods and prevent them from rallying.  While this is not mentioned in the book, it seemed like a wise tactical decision in the situation.  Rabadash's banner is not portrayed as Rabadash is no longer commanding the Calormenes.  Instead the hole in his mail shirt caught on a hook in the castle wall when he jumped off a mounting block.  He is thus left in the humiliating position of being stuck to the castle wall by his shirt.  What happens to Rabadash later?  To find out, you will have to read The Horse and His Boy.

As I was creating these maps, I was struck with the level of detail which C. S. Lewis included in The Horse and His Boy.  These maps merely illustrate, not create, the deployments and clashes which are described in the text.  In addition, these maps demonstrate that both King Edmund and Prince Rabadash used tactically sound battle plans.  Perhaps this is no surprise since C. S. Lewis served as a 2nd Lieutenant during World War I and could write from experience.



Monday, February 6, 2017

Narnia: Order of Battle at the Siege of Anvard

For many years, I have been a Narnian buff, reading and rereading these wonderful medieval tales.  Recently I attempted to schematize and diagram some of the military information found in the seven Chronicles of Narnia.  This entry shows the order-of-battle for both sides at the Battle of Anvard, the main battle in The Horse and His Boy.


The siege of Anvard was conceived by the Calormene Prince Rabadash, who planned to capture this strategically important city to facilitate an invasion of the northern countries of Narnia and Archenland.  Rabadash and his two hundred cavalry ride across the desert, but the surprise they planned is thwarted by a young boy named Shasta.  Shasta alerts King Lune of Archenland, who has time to barricade himself in Anvard and withstand a siege.  Shasta and Chervy the stag then call upon King Edmund the Just of Narnia for a relief army to rescue the besieged King Lune.  In a series of maps, I will chronicle the progress of the Siege of Anvard, but for now, here is the order of battle.

Click on image to enlarge and read the fine print


Most of the details are taken from the book The Horse and His Boy, though necessarily there is some guesswork.  I have broken down the Rabadash's force into four divisions (I have called them divisions even though they could be known by another name), as the text indicated that this is the way in which the Calormene army is arranged.  Each division of 50 cavalrymen is commanded by a Tarkaan (a great lord), with the fifth Tarkaan serving as Rabadash's 2nd-in-command.  These Tarkaans are distributed in the order in which the Hermit of the Southern Marches names them.  It seems to be a logical assumption that the Hermit would refer to them by decreasing seniority, i.e. 2nd-in-command first, commander of 1st Division, commander of 2nd Division, etc.

The Narnian force likely outnumbers the Calormenes, though probably not by much.  They are aided by a sortie from the castle of Anvard as soon as the Narnian Division of Great Cats neutralized the 1st Division of Calormenes.  Stay tuned for a map of the battle of Anvard, with troop movements plotted and identified.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Flag of the Yorkshire "Blues" Regiment in 1745



During the Jacobite invasion of England in 1745, many loyal Whigs (supporters of George II) raised regiments of troops to aid their king against his competitor, Bonnie Prince Charlie.  On 24 September 1745, several Whig gentlemen of Yorkshire decided to raise a unit to aid George II.  Their contribution included both a regiment of foot called the Yorkshire Blues, and a regiment of cavalry called the Yorkshire Hunters.  The book Cumberland's Culloden Army 1745-46 by Stuart Reid (1) details the uniform of the Yorkshire Blues: a blue coat with red cuffs and no lapels. 
Click on picture to enlarge it

This is important information; however, the Yorkshire Blues also carried flags, or, in the terminology of that era, colours.  A unique eyewitness engraving shows the Yorkshire Blues and Hunters in parade, with glorious detail of their colours.  I am focusing here on the Blues' colours.  In the engraving, they are carried by each company (see the detail picture at right).  The numbers merely serve as a legend and are not part of the original flag.  It can be seen that each flag carries a shield.  Thankfully, the artist included a "close-up" of the flag's details in a cartouche near the bottom of the picture.
It can now be seen that the shield has a cross running through the center with five animals on it.  These animals reminded me of heraldic lions and further research revealed that this unique distribution of lions on a cross is the coat-of-arms for the city of York.  What would be more appropriate than to put the city's coat of arms on its regiment's flags? 


But there is another detail visible in the print under consideration: script both above and below the York coat-of-arms.  Above it reads "Religion", while below the shield, "and Liberty."  Below is my reconstruction of the Yorkshire "Blues" regimental flag.


The city of York's coat of arms is a white shield with a red cross of Saint George and five golden lions.  This is fact, but the colors of rest of the flag is an educated guess.  The ground of the flag I have colored blue, with golden script. 


Why blue?  While regimental flags were typically in a regiment's facing (cuffs and lapels) colors (2), red flags were reserved for the three elite Regiments of Foot Guards.  Not even regiments with red facings (e.g. the 33rd Regiment) were allowed red flags; instead, they carried white flags with a Cross of Saint George (3).  To have a provincial regiment carry flags with a red ground would be highly unusual.  I have therefore chosen to color the flag's ground blue, based on the unit's nickname.
My reconstruction of the Yorkshire Blues flag
While nicknames generally attached to the unit's facing colors, such as the 3rd "Buffs" or 71st "Scottish Whites", there are instances where a nickname referred to the unit's coat.  The King's Royal Regiment of New York was known as "Johnson's Greens", not because of its facing color, but instead because of its coat color.  In the same way, the Yorkshire "Blues" were nicknamed because of their coat color.  Since this is the case, I believe that blue is the most reasonable choice for their flag.  The motto "Religion and Liberty" appears in gold, in much the same way as the flag of the 60th Royal Americans. (4)  While I freely admit that my recreation is tentative, I believe that every artistic choice can be defended historically.


But another flag also appears in the original: a standard carried by the Blues' sister regiment, the mounted Yorkshire Hunters.  Stay tuned for an analysis and reconstruction of their flag!


Notes


(1)  Reid, Stuart, Cumberland's Culloden Army 1745-46.  Oxford: Osprey, 2012. pg. 45.  For more about the Yorkshire Blues, see also Duffy, Christopher, Fight for a Throne: the Jacobite '45 Reconsidered. West Midlands: Helion and Co, 2015. pgs. 184-185, also pgs. 345-346.
(2) http://www.fifedrum.org/crfd/BD_1.htm.  This link reproduces the Royal Clothing Warrant of 1751, which regulated the uniforms, flags, and drums of King George II's British army.  Regimental flags in the facing color was a tradition which existed before the Clothing Warrant of 1751.
(3) http://kronoskaf.com/syw/index.php?title=33rd_Foot.  A depiction of the 33rd Regiment's flags during the Seven Years War appears on this page.  Since the Foot Guards carried red regimental flags since the 1600s, this prohibition against red flags for anyone else had existed long before the Clothing Warrant of 1751.
(4) http://kronoskaf.com/syw/index.php?title=60th_Foot.  In addition to the 60th Royal Americans, most of the regiments of foot without a distinctive badge embroidered their regimental numbers on their flags in gold.


If you are a wargamer and would like to deploy this flag in your own unit of Yorkshire Blues, feel free; however, I would appreciate a credit as the artist of this flag's reconstruction :).