Serendipity of sorts: the Thirty Years War
“See you in Prague,” Graham Nash used to say – and today marks the 400th anniversary of the Defenestration of Prague, a rather obscure to most but pretty violent episode of European History that traditionally marks the start of the Thirty Years War.
Now, I am quite fond of the Thirty Years War, and this despite the fact thatIt’s certainly one of the most complicated bits of European history from a political and logistic point of view Italian students are forever put off that period of our history thanks to the mandatory study of Alessandro Manzoni’s The Betrothed, a classic of Italian literature that takes place at the time of the Thirty Years War and that in the hands of a less-than-adequate Italian Lit teacher can be, if you are a fifteen-years old high-schooler, boring as hell.
I was twice lucky – first, I had an excellent Italian Lit teacher in high-school, and second at the time I had already discovered the Thirty Years War by myself thanks toThe Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying Game, that is set in a sort of Hammer Horror version of a Thirty Years War-like secondary world. A beautiful movie called The Last Valley, written and directed by James Clavell of Shogun fame and featuring Omar Sharif and Michael Caine. Michael Moorcock’s The War Hound and the World’s Pain, that is during that period and is a highly recommended novel indeed.
Useless to say, and with all due respect for my Lit teacher back then, I still enjoyed the Moorcock novel a lot better than the Manzoni.
The Thirty Years War redesigned the political map of Europe, defined our politics for the following centuries, gave Europeans a brutal lesson in tolerance and the effects of religious fanaticism (not that everybody got the lesson, alas) and basically gave a good mix to our genetic pool – that is a good thing, all things considered.
For a quick recap of the whole thing, here’s a fine video lesson…
And now this anniversary really comes like a serendipity sort of thing, as I am planning my first Pelerine story, and I’ve decided to go with a setting that is sort of late-Renaissance/early-Modern setting, with a Thirty Years War sort of vibe, influenced by the above sources I mentioned.
Basically I’m settled for this kind of look-and-feel because it fits the basic concept – a heroine using a blunderbuss and assorted firearms as her main weapon(s) – and because as I said, I love the period and its look and mystique.
So here I am jotting down notes and looking for costume references and odds and ends, and up pops the anniversary of the Prague thingie.
A sign of sorts.
Which is something I do not believe in (signs from Fate, that is), but sort of fits the idea of writing fantasy.
So, here we go – I’ll work on the story starting tomorrow, hopefully doing a five-hours single-sitting first draft.
Let’s see what happens.