Historic/Imaginary Crush # 1: Arthur Pendragon

If left up to Hollywood and, sad to say at times the BBC as well, the following crush would hardly be a crush for anyone.  He’s often considered a pansy, cuckolded idiot overlooked in favor of one of his knight-at-arms. It seems to be that, aside from the old Welsh and Breton sources where he was considered a man’s man and all around b.a., the following crush has been subjected to French dilution over the years. I have nothing against the French (though I will admit that poking fun of them is amusing and probably inherited from my British ancestry), but they did a grand job of ruining the awesomeness of my crush. So to the French of the 13th century, shame on you!  To the readers of the 21st century, allow me to introduce to you all the reasons why the following crush is actually crush worthy (no matter what horrible things the French subjected him to over the centuries).

May I present to you the “real” and undiluted awesomeness of: Arthur Pendragon, high King of the British Isles and all around great crush.
Stop judging me folks, or if you can't, stop reading this nonsense!
So whether or not he truly existed has been greatly debated (in my imagination all crushes exist and routinely have tea with me so it’s no real debate for me). Most of the information we have is from sketchy historical resources, folklore, and literary embellishments. 

His life has been accounted for in early Welsh and Breton sources as well as much later in the 12th century with Historia Regum Brittaniae  by Geoffrey Monmouth (I always read it as ‘Mammoth’ and then I wonder, was he tall or fat?) and then again later by Sir Thomas Malory in the 15th century with his Le Morte d’Arthur. Both of these later sources often drew upon the earlier sources (and given the time that they did this their citation abilities sorely lacked since it was considered almost a compliment to copy from a previous author) but often changed around details to suit their own purposes. 

I like apples
Of course not to be left out, Sir Alfred Lord Tennyson in the 19th century also contributed to the Arthurian legends with his Idylls of the King and Lady of Shallot. I personally would like to believe that with so many sources, both literary and “historical”, pointing to some of the same trends and similar characters that surely some of it was based on fact. (My favorite part would be about dragons…but we’ve yet to find any bones…)

Enough about that (I know you just want to know why he’s so awesome). I’ll begin with the awesome Arthur of Welsh/Breton sources and then I’ll present to you the French/pansy version and you may choose which you prefer (if you have a brain I already know!)

According to legend, Arthur was a Celtic king who defended Wales from Saxon invasion during the 5th-6th centuries.   The Historia Brittonum (History of the Kings of Britain), a 9th century Latin historical compilation, lists twelve battles that Arthur fought in (totally kicking butt too). In one such battle, the Battle of Mons Badonicus or Mount Badon, he single-handedly killed 960 men (that’s what I call a 5th century Gurkha...look these guys up because they’re totally crush worthy as well). 

"Excuse me, fair maiden, do you know where I might find some toga wearing ninnies?"
Of course, defending a country like a boss isn’t all that makes Arthur amazing.  He defeated the Picts and Scots (not my favorite bit about him since I love both of these peoples for their lack of conformity with the invading prats from across the Channel) and created an empire of Ireland, Iceland and the Orkney Islands. He also rebuilt the kingdom of Wales, setting up “shop” at Camlann/Camelot/Caerleon (pick your preferred name), and started the Knights of the Round Table (who are famous for gallivanting around the kingdom rescuing damsels in distress, destroying dragons, questing for the Holy Grail, and just being a general nuisance to the peasant folk of the time with all their fanciful knight-like shenanigans). 

Of course, being emperor-ish, he felt the need to expand some more after about twelve “boring” years of peace and so took control of Norway and Denmark from the “pansy” Vikings and then went on to attack Gaul. Now Gaul belonged to Rome at this point in time and the Romans were not known for giving up pieces of land easily. But Arthur, being the sword-wielding punk that he was, trounced their toga-wearing booties (so sorry Emperor Lucius but I’m afraid kilts/trousers are better than togas when it comes to conquering).

"Hey girl, you've started an uprising...in my heart" *swoons*
By Welsh and Breton standards he was considered a peerless warrior who often functioned as a monster-hunting protector of Wales/Britain from any internal and external threats. Human threats (Saxons/Romans) got their bums kicked fairly easily but the supernatural threats (cat-monsters, destructive divine boars, dragons, dogheads, giants, witchs, gates of hell opening, you know the usual stuff) were the ones most prominently featured and it was by overcoming these threats that Arthur endeared himself to so many (I wonder if Dark Horse Comics took their inspiration for Hellboy from Arthur…did I just give away another hint at how nerdy I am? Or if Bram Stoker got his inspiration for Van Helsing from him as well)

In any case, the Welsh/Breton version of Arthur paints him as a warrior worthy of being crushed on. They cared not for the romances of those around Arthur, only about the man himself.  They looked up to him, wanted their sons to be fearless like him, wanted their daughters to bring home husbands like him, etc.

And then the bloody French came over in 1066 and ruined everything (including our language; come on is it “color” or “colour”?!)

I also blame this for the pansification of Arthur; though Sean Connery has THE voice for it!
The son of Uther Pendragon (who fathered Arthur with another man’s wife, Igraine, whilst disguised as the aforementioned man—you just thought your family dynamics were weird!), he defeated the barbarians and conquered a wide empire (so far so good) before he took a queen named Guinevere/Guenevere/ Gwenhwyfar and established Camelot.  (Of course if you want to use the magical legend and add in Merlin and Excaliber in a stone you may do so and insert that nonsense here.)

Going by magical standards, it was after he withdrew a sword that he became king (because great feats of strength are all that are required to be a great king…as well as for breaking out of Turkish prisons, at least according to the French and Mel Brooks). He married Guinevere, who was reputed to have daddy issues since her dad was a complete jerk, and received the Round Table as dowry. He established the Knights of the Round Table as a way of hanging out with the dudes, drinking mead, and complaining about the ol’ ball and chain back in the keep—as well as a avoid quarrels over who was above who and to keep tabs on all those big, hunky men in armor.

Arthur has no idea...none...wonder if its the hair colo(u)r?
I believe that there’s an old saying something along the lines of “idleness is the play pen of the devil;” no matter the saying, it was during these years of peace, when Arthur was no longer out and about and kicking stubborn folk around, that things began to turn dicey for him (because the French love a good dicey story!). Let’s put it in bullet fashion, since most are familiar with it anyway:

  • Arthur proves himself worthy to be king (by stone and sword or whatnot)
  • Arthur marries Guinevere (who either already has the hots for Lancelot or will soon develop them)
  • Guinevere and Lancelot get jiggy with it and while Lancelot is banished Guinevere is sentenced to death
  • Lancelot saves Guinevere (who either remains with him or dedicates herself to a convent in shame) and takes her back to France
  • Arthur leaves his son (doesn’t know he’s his son) Mordred in charge while he goes off to win back some honor
  • Mordred rebels against Arthur while he’s gone (in some versions Guinevere is actually at home in the castle and Mordred marries her, making her a bigamist and Arthur an idiot)
  • Arthur comes back and in the battle on Salisbury Plain he kills Mordred but is in turn mortally wounded as well
  • Supposedly he is carried off in a barge to the Avalon (some say he never died but will one day return and if he does I hope he isn’t so dimwitted in regards to who his friends/girlfriends are; some say his grave was discovered in Glastonbury during the reign of Henry II but that is yet to be conclusively determined)


So again the French made Arthur a ninny. His wife dumped him, his best friend duped him, his son killed him, and he couldn’t seem to decide if he wanted to remain dead or not. How did he go from a completely B.A. Welsh/Breton warrior to a tea drinking French nincompoop? At least one thing remained the same throughout though, he was always portrayed as a brave warrior who, when fighting and campaigning, got stuff done quickly and efficiently (that’s more than many governments around the world can claim).


Sources: http://www.kingarthursknights.com/others/uther.asp
Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Arthur
Sources; http://www.caerleon.net/history/arthur/page2.htm
Sources: My Brain

Honorable Mention: Historic Crush 3

I will rarely admit to having a crush on a Frenchman for two reasons: 1. They already love themselves enough and don’t need an extra boost to the ego; 2. They’re French…call to mind every stereotype that you can in regards to the French and ALL of them will fully explain why it is not in their favor to admit to them (the French) when or if you have a crush on one of them. That hesitation for honesty aside, I will admit an admiration and slight crush on Jules Émile Frédéric Massenet—French composer and a sweetie (at least in my mind). 

His life, as we know of it, is not filled with the scandals, violence and treacheries one might expect of a Frenchman (come on, you know that’s not much of a stretch considering the French Revolution, the French Wars of Religion, and the Hundred Years War...though I’ll give on the last and admit that the Brits are equally to blame for it). No, Massenet was born humbly to a metalworker in 1842 in Montaud (it’s part of Saint-Étienne now and their coat of arms has a really awesome pissed fish.)

Ah the far off stare that all musicians learn in school
It appears that Massenet found iron too dull for his tastes and was able to enter the Paris Conservatoire between ages ten and eleven after his family moved there due to his father’s ill health (seriously, anyone working in a factory during the Industrial Revolution is b.a. in my opinion... the quality of life SUCKED). He studied under famed opera composer Ambroise Thomas (holy cow he’s also a brilliant hottie who aged really well).  Massenet supported himself (I admire self-sufficient folks) by working primarily as a timpanist at the Théâtre Lyrique and also as a pianist at the Café de Belleville (why has there NOT been a movie made about this guy: “humble son of an ironworker sets out on his own to become a world famous composer, first having to support himself amidst the denizens of less than reputable places only to later win against all odds a prize that allows him to travel to Italy where he finds friendship and love but who then must…”? Hello Hollywood! Stop rebooting good stories already told and start digging into your history books. Thank you!)

He gained his first major recognition in 1863 when he won the Prix de Rome. This allowed him to study in Italy and as we all know Italy is where one goes to find love and pasta. It was in Italy that Massenet met Franz Liszt (I’d have fainted too if I’d ever seen this virtuoso pianist play. Good thing it wasn’t culturally acceptable to throw underwear at the performer back then because Liszt would’ve had boatloads of underwear to cart around). Liszt, knowing his way around pianos and ladies, encouraged Massenet to give “lessons” to Louise-Constance (an heiress FYI; so apparently my mum isn’t too far off when she encourages me to find “luck” and marry for love AND money.) “Ninon” as she was later called soon (1866) became Massenet’s wife as a result. (Oh and anyone who says a guitar is the only thing that makes a lady swoon needs to delve deeper into history and discover hurdy gurdies, zithers, and dueling shamisens.)

Going for the wind-swept look here
Another thing admirable about Massenet was his willingness to step out of his fame and comfort in order to do what he felt was his duty. When the Franco-Prussian War broke out he volunteered until the very end and only returned to composing in 1871. He worked primarily on his operas and incidental music until his former teacher (that’s right folks, teacher’s DO care!) approached him and invited him to become a professor at the Paris Conservatoire. Like Thomas, Massenet was able to positively influence a new generation of awesome French composers. 

What makes Massenet especially fascinating to me is that he created his pieces “not at the piano.” This means that he created all his pieces entirely from his imagination (and as a connoisseur of living in the imagination I empathize with the plight of folks just not “getting it”); his imagination apparently was able to latch on to the intricacies of human relationships. His music often, surprisingly lucidly for the time period, portrays an intimacy of understanding of the conflicts and emotions that are associated with the ups and downs of all sorts of relationships.  He had a unique gift for melody and was a great orchestrator, able to capture the moods and settings of numerous places and time periods.  

He wrote around twenty-four operas but also composed approximately 250 songs--oratorios, ballets, orchestral works, chamber music, solo piano—that are all known for being graceful, lyrical, sentimental, and aptly “on the money” for how much it reflected reality in all its melancholic splendor (to achieve this, much his daily schedule often started as early as 4 a.m…hence the increasing unlikeliness that I’ll ever finish anything I’ve ever star-)

I believe his humble beginnings and his lack of getting into the “partying” lifestyle that even composers of the 19th century had access to (yeah the party scene today in some ways is quite tame to the party scene of then) caused him to exhibit what was then known as “curious” behavior. He actually avoided most public dress-rehearsals and performances of his works; he did this to such a degree that his friends or wife were often the ones to tell him when he had made a hit. Too bad more celebrities today haven’t taken a page from Massenet’s “How to be successful but not be a douche about it” book.

Like I said: such a sweetie/cutie!
Massenet died in Paris at the age of 70 in 1912, after suffering from a long illness (possibly cancer).


Historical Crush Number 2: Sándor Rózsa

Significantly different from my first notable crush, this one was discovered in more recent years. It was actually through research for a novel project (meaning a novel WRITING project, not a new project) that this guy found me. He can be considered my "gateway drug" for Hungarian hotties: Sándor Rózsa!

When he wasn't making ladies swoon with his crush-worthy 'stache (only after he relieved them of their cumbersome jewels) Hungarian outlaw, Sandor Rosza, did a splendid job of making himself a thorn in the side of the pompous officials of the Kingdom of Hungary. Like a Robin Hood (minus tights, helpless Maid Marian and blind side-kick), Sandor was known for stealing for others as well as stealing just to show he could.
That's right, you wish you had my 'stache!
He was 23 when he was first caught and thrown in jail. Of course, Sandor found prison a complete bore and promptly left to continue gallivanting about the Hungarian countryside. 

At some point, entirely too fed up with trying to stop his pranking, the Hungarian Committee of Defense wised up and put Sandor's potent-masculine-tendency to mess folks up to good use by "employing" (more like "do this or else") him and his band of betyars(Hungarian version of highwayman) to fight in the 1848 Revolution.

He and 150 of his men cleaned house and kicked some serious bum, looking totally awesome in the process (it is said that their enemies took one look at the betyars and said, "Why can't I look that good whilst kicking bum," and promptly left to talk to their tailors).
Did somebody ask for a style and attitude?
Afterwards, the officials in the government proved how politicians acting like absolute douche bags is a historical tendency by arresting him and throwing him into prison (because that's how the 19th century Hungarian government said "thank you for your service" and veterans returning from war duty are treated much better today...).

Of course this didn't stop him from still wreaking havoc across the Afold(plains). He had a strong network of fellow b.a. folks outside of prison and through them he was able to piss off the new government almost as much as when he was free, thus teaching them where NOT to put peeved betyars.

He was released from prison in 1868, not on good behavior since a man like Sandor ain't no body's ninny, but again the douche bags in government decided to prove their douche baginess by re-arresting him in 1869. However, in his one year of freedom, Sandor was able to rob post coaches and railway trains (cue epic "Great Train Robbery" with Hungarian Rhapsody thrown in for good measure).

Sandor lived the rest of his life in prison, content to have the jerk wads who arrested him provide him with food and shelter for the rest of his days, without lifting a finger in the process.

Um hello?! Look at that hair, that 'stache, that attitude-filled lounge? Ain't no way you can't crush on this guy!


Historic Crush Numero Uno

To get the ball rolling I’ll start with one of my very first historic crushes.  I developed a taste for such crushes during my home schooled days (yes I’m one of “those” but that doesn’t explain my quirks... because I've always had those).  The city library, an old 1970’s cement block of a building, was my babysitter, and probably the best one any child could have!  Within this realm of fantasy and fact, I fell in love with lands real and imagined, figures both fictional and factual, and developed passions for literature and history (these passions would later vie for assertion of power over one another during my college days).

This first crush definitely set the bar for all later crushes. I can remember a few times in high school when I compared my classmates to this particular crush.  Finding my fellow classmates sorely lacking (because anyone will admit that the following crush is freaking awesome in a variety of ways), I gleefully ignored them and frolicked off into the sunset to find someone more worthy of my time.

May I present to you: (cue confetti exploding, trumpets playing, ladies dancing, and men turning green with envy) ALEXANDER HAMILTON! 

Born somewheres around January 11, 1755 or 1757 (the exact date is unknown and who cares about exactness when all we care about is a time machine that could take us back so that we can experience him without a textbook between us), on the island of Nevis, British West Indies.  The result of an adulterous affair, his French mum (I could be stereotypical and say “duh” in reference to the baby-making affair—but I love the French so I won’t…or did I just inadvertently do so?) was thrown out of the house and prior to Hamilton’s birth married a Scottish trader. Hamilton and his lovely mum were abandoned soon after his birth and left destitute.  Part of what makes him so crush worthy is that he rose up from such “humble” beginnings and John Adams wasn’t so far off when he described Hamilton as "the bastard brat of a Scottish peddler" (I wish politicians still spoke like this today!)

Hamilton was tenacious to a whole new level.  He took his first job at 11, and he worked as a clerk until he was around 16.  He was obviously more impressive than most teenagers are these days (the “strawberry” generation today continues to scare me with their FB posts of “Oh mah gawd I so totally wanna buy that new Dolce bag! My parents are soooo stupid!”)

He was such a rock star that after enrolling in King’s College (later named Columbia University) he decided to ditch the studies and instead defend the colonist’s cause (wish I could’ve had a noble reason for slacking on my studies) as the colonies seemed on the brink of a revolution. He was definitely a hands-on kind of guy (*wink wink*), and left King’s College to learn in a more direct way, down in the political trenches of the time.

He quickly traded political trenches for true battle (something not many politicians of our day do) ones and in 1775 Hamilton became part of the New York Artillery Company (I do so admire a man who’s good with a gun).  He was so good with his gun (I swear no innuendo intended, though it is rather ironic since he was considered good with the ladies) he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and was made Washington’s assistant.  He was good with his pen as well as his gun (I can’t seem to stop now) and from 1777 to 1792 he wrote most of Washington’s critical letters, made reports on strategic reforms and restructuring of the army, and was so amazingly brilliant that he managed to convince New Yorkers to agree (that’s amazing enough) to ratify the U.S. Constitution.  

It was around this time that he married me (well my young mind often daydreamed in boring classes that it was me).  Actually, he married a very wealthy New Yorker named Elisabeth Schuyler (I wonder if she went around saying, “Elisabeth with an ‘s,’” the way Anne did with her “e.”) and I’d like to say they had a happy marriage but alas I am not privy to such knowledge. I can say that married life, in addition to a desk job, was enough to drive him back into battle. He charged the British like a true b.a. m.o. (probably made a number of them cry because they knew they’d never be as cool as him) and only stopped being so amazingly awesome, with his gorgeous locks flowing in the winds of victory, when Cornwallis surrendered (he probably didn’t like the idea of meeting Hamilton on the field of battle since he knew he’d never shine as bright as our man Hamilton).  

No matter though, even after toting a gun and smelling like a man in uniform, he went on to give a new spin on the mental image of “male secretary” (making it downright sexy in my opinion) and served as the nation's first secretary of the treasury from 1789 to 1795 (ironic, since we now see him “all the time” on the $10; unless you’re a poor student or just otherwise poor…not at all speaking from experience here). It was here that he set about trying to pump up the nation into a true-blue, bum-kicking machine. He was definitely part of the success of that endeavor since France, having had silly thoughts that it could grab a piece of newly established American soil, decided against getting it's bum whooped and signed a peace agreement in 1800.

Having made his mark in the higher political offices, and being a man of action, Hamilton decided to study law (possibly in hopes that he could sue his former rivals).  What’s interesting here is that as a lawyer Hamilton ended up defending more Loyalists (those who’d been insistent upon following those men with sexy accents aka the British) than former rebels. He was involved in many important cases that helped shape the law system into what it is today.  He also, just for fun, helped found the Bank of New York. Some of his colleagues, however, thought he had his hands in too many cookie jars

Hamilton remained active in politics (the prefix “poli,” supposedly means “many” as well as “tics,” which supposedly leads to “ticks,” i.e., “bloodsucking insects.” However, the actual root of “politics” is the Greek “polis,” meaning “city.”) even from his lawyer’s chair (an equally hated position for most).  Many sought his advice, like a non-green, tall and devilishly handsome, 18th century Yoda.  Much like Yoda, knew when to shut up he did not (seriously, that little green dude drove me crazy!).  During the 1800 presidential election between Jefferson (another crush) and Adams (not a crush), Hamilton voted for what he felt to be the lesser of the two “evils” and was team Jefferson.

At the time, not to make it any more confusing, vice presidents were voted for separately from presidents and because of such Aaron Burr (its cold in here) became tied for Jefferson for presidency.  Of course Jefferson was not a fan of Burr and often left Burr out of his decisions after their inauguration (rejected!). He disliked the man with the funny last name so much that he actually removed Burr from his ticket in the 1804 reelection.  Burr knew a burn when he felt one and instead ran for New York governorship.  The poor guy lost (I wouldn’t be surprised if his prized beagle also ran away with his wife at the time too)!

It comes as no surprise that Hamilton, being completely incapable of keeping his mouth shut (and that’s part of why he’s a crush of mine), royally pissed off Burr when he called Burr "the most unfit and dangerous man of the community." (Oh no he didn’t!)  His eyes twitching, fuses burst, Burr demanded an explanation from the beautiful “fiend” Hamilton. Hamilton refused to reply, like the B.A. brat that he was, so Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel (wish we still settled disputes like this…or like this: proper way to solve an issue). Hamilton only said yes because he hoped that by getting his bum whooped, Burr would learn a lesson and be useful for a change.

At dawn on July 11, 1804 the duel commenced.  Both men drew their weapons (sadly they weren’t phase pistols) and fired. Hamilton, my dear, sweet Hamilton, was fatally wounded. I believe leprechauns were jealous of Hamilton’s witty humor and feared for their gold and caused him to fire too wide, his bullet completely missing Burr.  A star stopped shining on July 12 when Hamilton succumbed to his wounds and sailed to the Grey Havens where he is currently sipping tea with Boramir, who incidentally did not die either (just roll with it okay?). 
Perhaps you have developed a crush by now, or you fear for your sanity as well as mine. In any case there’s much to be appreciated about Alexander Hamilton.  Not only is his name deliciously sexy but his “I don’t give a flying monkey what you think is right by you, it’s all about the PEOPLE” coupled with his beautiful hair, piercing eyes, athletic physique, etc. all mix together to form a cocktail of crush worthy awesomeness. 

The opinions and witticisms came from…somewhere strange inside my mind. Very difficult to cite the exact location…  

Much of my "spot-on" information came from the following website and not from a time machine and incessant stalking:
"Alexander Hamilton." 2013. The Biography Channel website. Jan 31 2013, 09:21 http://www.biography.com/people/alexander-hamilton-9326481.