GPLP: Cursed Crusade

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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby Brad » 01 Mar 2013, 08:08

iamafish wrote:well, i was entertained by your suffering.

however, I dad rather object to the moralising of the last episode, mostly from Kathleen, and the more general assumption that the crusaders were just terrible, bloodthirsty and materialistic people. Bar a few of the crusade leaders, none of the crusaders went on crusade for money. Actually most of them sold or mortgaged land and put themselves and their families massively in debt to fund a crusade. Even Louis VII of France got hugely in debt to the Templars while in crusade. The crusades were never an economic venture because not only were they never profitable (but in fact constituted a huge expenditure of resources) but the whole concept of doing things for purely economic reasons just doesn't make much sense in medieval terms.

The most interesting thing about the crusades is that they happened because the crusades genuinely believed that what they were doing was right, even virtuous. They actually believed that going to the east to liberate or protect the holy land was god's will, and doing so would constitute an act of penance.

It's completely unhelpful and kind of silly to sit around in the twenty-first century and talk about how awful and evil the crusaders were, and make baseless and stereotyped assumptions about their motives and beliefs. I thought the whole point of having brad there in the first place was to bring a bit of historical depth and interest to the whole thing.

Anyway, rant over. Well done for actually getting through that appalling mess of a video game. It was entertaining to watch you suffer... although, next time, maybe pick a shorter terrible game, for your own sanity!


Woah there,

Let me tackle the personal stuff there first, Iamafish, before I go into your academic criticisms.

The "whole point" of having me there was to hang with Graham, Paul, and Kathleen, and secondly to provide a bit of PhD-level historical context for the viewers' interest and entertainment. That this maybe was not the historical context that you heard in school or your own reading should not be a surprise though. What can I say? That's how teaching works - when you encounter new information, it is up to you whether you will incorporate it, question it, or dismiss it. With my students, I encourage questioning, rather than dismissing; and that includes questioning your own prior understanding as well as what I have to say. That said, I will absolutely own any accusation you may care to fling that while paying attention to a video game and a conversation I may not have delivered lecture-quality ad lib speeches, and may not have explained a concept as thoroughly as you may have needed to understand, or indeed convince. To your points:

Yes, crusaders believed it was God's will (hence their rallying cry, "Deus Vult!") that they should take the holy land, but if you believe that "none of the crusaders went on crusade for money," well that's just factually incorrect. Lots did. But they didn't do it JUST for money. Just like today, the middle ages was a time where money mattered, and politics of power mattered. They just had different concepts about wealth and how it was accumulated, and different structures of power than we do (though not nearly as different as most people imagine). So while they didn't do it for "money" as you might think of it today (wine was actually a more universal coin than the Florin), the promises of wealth, economic, and political gain were just as real as the promise of salvation. More so, being tangible.

I don't even know where to begin with "doing things for purely economic reasons just doesn't make much sense in medieval terms," except to point out that the study of medieval economic history -how things were done in the Middle Ages for largely, or entirely economic reasons- is an entire historical discipline onto itself, and one that makes up the majority of my research into London's craft guild communities. Perhaps this distinction between how money and economics were viewed is what you meant? The distinction between money as we think of it today and modern economics? That the economic aspirations of crusaders was not realised in the crusades does not mean that they were absent, nor does their failure there indicate great piety, any more than a man who loses everything betting on a race-horse and losing does not mean that his motivation to do so was because he was solely a lover of animals and interested only in the horses' best interests. The debt that many of them took on is perhaps better seen as a failed investment, than evidence of single-minded and selfless devotion. That said, an alterior motive does not diminish the fact that crusaders saw themselves as on a holy mission. Some folk betting on horse races also genuinely like horses, after all.

That said, I can assure you that crusaders don't need you to leap to defend their honour. There are hundreds of wonderful romantic fictions praising crusaders, which frankly, protesteth too much to be read as anything but defenses in themselves. There are still more excellent, humourous criticisms of their slovenliness, their ignorance, and less humourous, their selfish and violent natures. While the 'demon curse' in that game was ridiculous in the extreme, check out the story of Sir Gowther, a medieval romance about a half human, half demon knight and his journey from monstrous acts, to bestial habits, to eventually salvation through holy violence in the Middle East. He's made a saint, in the story. Read between the lines and it is a story deeply concerned with breaches in chivalric ideals, and the inherant problems with the idea that violence could be spiritually restorative. Medieval people were skeptics sometimes too.

Part of a historian's work is understanding that documentary history is a kind of fiction: it tells a story from a perspective, and the goal of a document is almost never to preserve knowledge for the future, at least much beyond the writers' lifetime. You have to understand how documents are used and what purpose they were meant for before you can interpret them, and if you take your understanding from secondary sources alone, you miss out on that (and in my classes, you'd get a middling mark).

Most of the time, documents in history exist to present the writer's interests as being worthy, as part of a campaign to convince someone to enact those interests, or for political, social, or, yes, economic gains. As a result, many Medieval records claim that more or less everything was done as part of trying to maintain divine favour, particularly when it comes to civic politics. But in practice these claims are used as an excuse for everything from preserving positions in civic counsels ('lest unruliness crop up and the City lose the favour of the heavenly father', to disasterous results), to enacting laws restricting one guild's power compared to another, maintaining the exile of political enemies, or reducing the authority of rival court jurisdictions.

The point I'm really making is that history is complex, because people are complex. But the only view most people ever get of it is an oversimplified summary. You are right in that the crusaders cannot be viewed as wholly acting on economic interests: they aren't, but nor are they acting wholly on pious interests, and in the grand narrative of historical records, acts with primarily economic intentions (especially in, the Middle Ages), far outnumber those done with primarily pious ones. Churches were also indoor market-places, after all.

How's that for a bit of depth and interest?
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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby My pseudonym is Ix » 01 Mar 2013, 09:44

Brad wrote:
iamafish wrote:well, i was entertained by your suffering.

however, I dad rather object to the moralising of the last episode, mostly from Kathleen, and the more general assumption that the crusaders were just terrible, bloodthirsty and materialistic people. Bar a few of the crusade leaders, none of the crusaders went on crusade for money. Actually most of them sold or mortgaged land and put themselves and their families massively in debt to fund a crusade. Even Louis VII of France got hugely in debt to the Templars while in crusade. The crusades were never an economic venture because not only were they never profitable (but in fact constituted a huge expenditure of resources) but the whole concept of doing things for purely economic reasons just doesn't make much sense in medieval terms.

The most interesting thing about the crusades is that they happened because the crusades genuinely believed that what they were doing was right, even virtuous. They actually believed that going to the east to liberate or protect the holy land was god's will, and doing so would constitute an act of penance.

It's completely unhelpful and kind of silly to sit around in the twenty-first century and talk about how awful and evil the crusaders were, and make baseless and stereotyped assumptions about their motives and beliefs. I thought the whole point of having brad there in the first place was to bring a bit of historical depth and interest to the whole thing.

Anyway, rant over. Well done for actually getting through that appalling mess of a video game. It was entertaining to watch you suffer... although, next time, maybe pick a shorter terrible game, for your own sanity!


Woah there,

...

How's that for a bit of depth and interest?


Basically, history is never that simple.
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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby AdmiralMemo » 01 Mar 2013, 15:04

Brad wrote:Woah there,

...

How's that for a bit of depth and interest?
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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby Lord Hosk » 02 Mar 2013, 07:51

Dear Dr Lord Brad, do you ever wake in the night with a fear that your PHD board might stumble across these episodes and bar you from academia forever?
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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby iamafish » 02 Mar 2013, 11:33

Brad wrote:Woah there,

Let me tackle the personal stuff there first, Iamafish, before I go into your academic criticisms.

The "whole point" of having me there was to hang with Graham, Paul, and Kathleen, and secondly to provide a bit of PhD-level historical context for the viewers' interest and entertainment. That this maybe was not the historical context that you heard in school or your own reading should not be a surprise though. What can I say? That's how teaching works - when you encounter new information, it is up to you whether you will incorporate it, question it, or dismiss it. With my students, I encourage questioning, rather than dismissing; and that includes questioning your own prior understanding as well as what I have to say. That said, I will absolutely own any accusation you may care to fling that while paying attention to a video game and a conversation I may not have delivered lecture-quality ad lib speeches, and may not have explained a concept as thoroughly as you may have needed to understand, or indeed convince. To your points:

Yes, crusaders believed it was God's will (hence their rallying cry, "Deus Vult!") that they should take the holy land, but if you believe that "none of the crusaders went on crusade for money," well that's just factually incorrect. Lots did. But they didn't do it JUST for money. Just like today, the middle ages was a time where money mattered, and politics of power mattered. They just had different concepts about wealth and how it was accumulated, and different structures of power than we do (though not nearly as different as most people imagine). So while they didn't do it for "money" as you might think of it today (wine was actually a more universal coin than the Florin), the promises of wealth, economic, and political gain were just as real as the promise of salvation. More so, being tangible.

I don't even know where to begin with "doing things for purely economic reasons just doesn't make much sense in medieval terms," except to point out that the study of medieval economic history -how things were done in the Middle Ages for largely, or entirely economic reasons- is an entire historical discipline onto itself, and one that makes up the majority of my research into London's craft guild communities. Perhaps this distinction between how money and economics were viewed is what you meant? The distinction between money as we think of it today and modern economics? That the economic aspirations of crusaders was not realised in the crusades does not mean that they were absent, nor does their failure there indicate great piety, any more than a man who loses everything betting on a race-horse and losing does not mean that his motivation to do so was because he was solely a lover of animals and interested only in the horses' best interests. The debt that many of them took on is perhaps better seen as a failed investment, than evidence of single-minded and selfless devotion. That said, an alterior motive does not diminish the fact that crusaders saw themselves as on a holy mission. Some folk betting on horse races also genuinely like horses, after all.

That said, I can assure you that crusaders don't need you to leap to defend their honour. There are hundreds of wonderful romantic fictions praising crusaders, which frankly, protesteth too much to be read as anything but defenses in themselves. There are still more excellent, humourous criticisms of their slovenliness, their ignorance, and less humourous, their selfish and violent natures. While the 'demon curse' in that game was ridiculous in the extreme, check out the story of Sir Gowther, a medieval romance about a half human, half demon knight and his journey from monstrous acts, to bestial habits, to eventually salvation through holy violence in the Middle East. He's made a saint, in the story. Read between the lines and it is a story deeply concerned with breaches in chivalric ideals, and the inherant problems with the idea that violence could be spiritually restorative. Medieval people were skeptics sometimes too.

Part of a historian's work is understanding that documentary history is a kind of fiction: it tells a story from a perspective, and the goal of a document is almost never to preserve knowledge for the future, at least much beyond the writers' lifetime. You have to understand how documents are used and what purpose they were meant for before you can interpret them, and if you take your understanding from secondary sources alone, you miss out on that (and in my classes, you'd get a middling mark).

Most of the time, documents in history exist to present the writer's interests as being worthy, as part of a campaign to convince someone to enact those interests, or for political, social, or, yes, economic gains. As a result, many Medieval records claim that more or less everything was done as part of trying to maintain divine favour, particularly when it comes to civic politics. But in practice these claims are used as an excuse for everything from preserving positions in civic counsels ('lest unruliness crop up and the City lose the favour of the heavenly father', to disasterous results), to enacting laws restricting one guild's power compared to another, maintaining the exile of political enemies, or reducing the authority of rival court jurisdictions.

The point I'm really making is that history is complex, because people are complex. But the only view most people ever get of it is an oversimplified summary. You are right in that the crusaders cannot be viewed as wholly acting on economic interests: they aren't, but nor are they acting wholly on pious interests, and in the grand narrative of historical records, acts with primarily economic intentions (especially in, the Middle Ages), far outnumber those done with primarily pious ones. Churches were also indoor market-places, after all.

How's that for a bit of depth and interest?


well, where to start. First off, I don't really appreciate the patronising tone, or the fact that you spend your entire post erecting straw-men rather than actually engaging with my argument. The fact that you took my whole post as a personal attack shows that you simply didn't read it very carefully. Throughout this thread I've expressed how much I've enjoyed having you there to add your own comments, both because you're a funny and intelligent man and because you clearly know your stuff. My post was explicitly aimed at some of Kathleen's comments in the final episode, to which I objected to largely because of the stark contrast with the accuracy of the previous episodes.I know the point of a Let's Play, or this thread, isn't about giving a history lesson, but I feel the need to defend myself. I'd first off like to point out that I am actually a history undergraduate at Oxford doing a paper on the Crusades at the moment, so this isn't just stuff I've got from 'school or my own personal reading'.

You quote my out of context to make your first point. I explicitly said "Bar a few of the crusade leaders, none of the crusaders went on crusade for money". Maybe I was flippant in my wording here, but I did acknowledge the presence of materially motivated crusaders. However my real argument is that pure materialism was not the motivating factor for the majority of crusaders, and that, even though the crusading movement did become in part a commercial enterprise, we can never dismiss or forget the arguably more important spiritual and political reasons for crusading. I'd like to think that this is made fairly obvious in my post.

As for economic determinism is the medieval period. I'm not sure how the point your making here differs from my own. I was careful to say 'purely economic reason' for a reason - clearly economics plays an important part in any decision - but I think that we should be careful as historians to think of especially mass movements like the crusades in purely economic terms. Again I may have been flippant is saying nothing was done for purely economic reasons in the middle ages, but I would argue that political and spiritual concerns were often for far greater importance than pure economics. It seems apparent from my studies that the idea of profit for its own sake tends to be a rather alien concept in a pre-industrial world.

Looking at the debts incurred by Crusaders as a failed investment seems to me to be rather meaningless. I don't think many of the crusaders who went to the Holy Land, visited Jerusalem and then went home again would argue that the time and money they spent on the expedition was a failed investment, or that it was a waste. They were willing to spend prodigious amount of money in order to fulfill their spiritual and political aims. I doubt they would balk at the loss, but rather see it as money well spent. In fact, on coming back from crusade, many, like Fulk V of Anjou or Louis VII subsequently invested more money into the Military Orders.

Good points about the use of documentary evidence, which I wholly agree with. In fact the literary nature of our sources for the crusades is a topic about which I am very interested. I may even be writing a thesis on the very subject next year.

I think one of the really important point about crusading that your post doesn't address is the extend to which they were political. One could argue that political considerations were as important if not more so that spiritual considerations in motivating the crusades. In fact where you seem keen to emphasise economics, I would be equally keen to discuss politics. In fact I think the political context of the crusades has much more to do with who went on them and why that economics or spirituality. Although as you said, it's more complex than that because we shouldn't see those three things as being separate from each other. It's not a case of crusading for spiritual or material ends, but crusading for spiritual and material ends, may of which overlapped.
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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby Brad » 03 Mar 2013, 04:30

Answering from my phone. Fish: didn't see your whole post as a personal attack at all, but i do take personally the assumption that the whole point' of me was to do anything. That is just a bit crass.
As to your ire at my assumption that what you know of the crusades comes from your school or personal reading, I don't understand where the offense comes from. Oxford is a school. If you are writing a paper on it I can only assume you have done your own reading.
Typing on this thing is a pain, and so as to your other points I will be brief. Those aren't straw men, but they are simplifications based on the public nature of a forum. You are very much correct that the spiritual and political concerns are of great importance. I tend to downplay spiritual considerations as sole motivations for almost anything in history - you are right, it is best to look at them in conjunction with economics and politics (which i tend to consider an aspect of economic inquiry, and some of my colleagues consider aspects of fiscal history or vice versa).
The point I would bring up for you, especially if you are considering writing your dissertation on the crusades is that it is not just the leaders who had economic aspirations for the crusades is(a huge generalization to speak of the crusades as some kind of unified whole, but that is another issue). Where I Speak of them as failed investments , I mean it in an economic sense. The spiritual rewards, feeling of contentment for serving one's religion, or even the very tangible gains of the later crusades in maintaining Constantinople and stemming some of the advances made by the Ottomans, are not the economic benefits that they were hoping for.
I won't attempt to get into the relationship between land, trade, and wealth that was a driving force for many of the biggest 'investors' - as this phone is being rather troublesome - but I will champion the economic historcal perspective that regardless of spiritual zeal, political opportunity: without finances or the promise of finances, investments on that scale do not happen.
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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby Brad » 03 Mar 2013, 05:23

You might also consider for your own research checking out some if the lesser discussed crusades. The lead-up to the fall of Constantinople is a fascinating history. You'll have to forgive me I forget the emperor's name at the moment- Constantinople xi 's father- goes on tour around Europe begging for a crusade against the Turks because the empire is in the verge of being conquered. They don't go on crusade (though check out 'Preston John') for an interesting perspective of why not. I apologise for punctuation - my phone is being troublesome. I recommend looking into it because while the European monarchs had every reason in the world to help him from a spiritual sense - it is a bad investment. Constantinople was always on the verge of collapse and it always seemed to come out okay (some believed the city was under the special protection of the virgin Mary).
Another fascinating crusade (though maybe not one related to your interests) was against the Cathar heretics in southern France. I have done extensive work in the castles that they defended, but while the northern lords who answered the call to crusade against them had spiritual reasons (the pope told them to), and political reasons (their authority was predicated on the church's - check out the Unam Sanctam for a primary source document illustrating that relationship), most compelling was the economic reason: they got the southern lords' land. It is the reason that occitan is a dead language, and modern French is derived from the medieval northern dialects.
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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby Brad » 03 Mar 2013, 05:24

Constantine XI. Good try, autocorrect.
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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby Brad » 03 Mar 2013, 06:03

and "prestor john". i suppose i should just be happy that the phone didn't do anything embarrassing in autocorrect.
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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby captainfluoxetine » 03 Mar 2013, 09:06

History fight!
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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby CaptainSpam » 03 Mar 2013, 10:21

You guys! You guys! Don't you see what's happening? It's the Hypno-Helio-Static-Stasis of the game! It's turning us against each other! Come on! We can't let it get to us like that!

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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby RedNightmare » 04 Mar 2013, 11:10

It's moments like these that I feel like I don't belong at a Uni: You guys know your stuff.

Also, why is it that ecology or communication theory are never focal points of a game or it's narrative :(
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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby My pseudonym is Ix » 04 Mar 2013, 11:29

At least the engineering students get Minecraft...
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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby KiteNeravar » 16 Mar 2013, 18:26

My pseudonym is Ix wrote:At least the engineering students get Minecraft...
An we engineers love us some Minecraft.

If Brad actually still reads this I would like to say, I absolutely loved your commentary. Medieval history has always been an interest of mine, just not enough for it to be my major. I have always been fascinated with Medieval warfare, battles, and weaponry and after taking a Medieval Europe class I looked more into the crusades. As a result I knew the basics of the information you gave, and hearing the details was very interesting.

Also if your commentary is any indication of how you teach then you are excellent at it. I have Engineering professors that are just so awful I can't even force my self to care about what they are teaching me in the field that I adore. Yet you managed to keep me interested and engaged through 24 episodes of a terrible terrible game.
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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby empath » 16 Mar 2013, 18:41

Hey - at the start the game wasn't THAT bad; it had an interesting story (that mostly stuck to factual accounts)...

...at the start. ;)

(I still think they accidentally chose a harder difficulty level when they 'restarted' this with Brad's return. Though those obtuse terms for the difficulty levels didn't help :roll: )
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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby KiteNeravar » 16 Mar 2013, 19:45

That's fair, it's a;most like it was made on a reality show. They had X designers and after every chapter was completed they cut one, until it was just one guy finishing up the last third of the game.
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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby empath » 17 Mar 2013, 07:24

Ooooo...I like that theory! :)
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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby Bebop Man » 23 May 2013, 10:25

I loved this GPLP so much I made up an account to comment on it. Fun stuff! Glad Brad could sit through all of it, I hope you do more medieval-themed games in the future.

(sorry for the puny post count)
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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby Graham » 23 May 2013, 14:24

Thanks! Welcome to the forums.
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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby ChibiLeen » 25 May 2013, 14:58

After watching all the Let's Plays, I really wish to thank you guys for helping me staying sane through a difficult uni semester. I've enjoyed them all, though Cursed Crusade is probably my favourite because the game itself was so awful. I particularly liked the delightful little moments of playing around with the physics engine, that made me laugh to no end. ^^

In general, I really love your approach to the Let's Play concept. Watching those sessions felt like actually playing the game with people, it was very fun. I'm looking forward to more. :)
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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby empath » 25 May 2013, 18:51

Well...normally I'd say there's not much likelihood...but BRAD IS IN TOWN (check the latest Feed Dump) ;)
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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby Jamfalcon » 25 May 2013, 19:10

I wouldn't be surprised if we don't see another GPLP until Strip Search is over. Graham's editing some very long hours, from the sounds of it.
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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby empath » 25 May 2013, 19:13

...yeah.

And I'm guessing by that point, Brad'd be back in Blighty. *sigh*
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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby Terminus » 26 May 2013, 13:24

Well, Stripsearch IS very nearly over... I'd certainly like another GPLP, but G and P are much busier these days than they used to be.
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Re: GPLP: Cursed Crusade

Postby AdmiralMemo » 26 May 2013, 14:08

Well, it's possible that they could record the GPLP with Brad, but not get to airing it until Strip Search is over...
Graham wrote:The point is: Nyeh nyeh nyeh. I'm an old man.
LRRcast wrote:Paul: That does not answer that question at all.
James: Who cares about that question? That's a good answer.

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