Monday, July 08, 2013

Today Edgar Is Celebrating

Edgar is the suit of armor I found and put in my office.  He celebrates a holiday every day.  Today's holiday is The Beginning of the War Of Sicilian Vespers, which began on this day in 1282, and who knew that they had already invented July back in the 13th century? Learn something every day, that's my motto.

The war began, as so many wars do, with a Frenchman harassing a Sicilian woman (see also: French & Indian War; that one argument I got into at a bus stop once).  According to Wikipedia, "Accounts differ as to what the harassment entailed, who the woman was, and who the Frenchman was." I bet it was Gerard Depardieu.  (I have to say that; he's the only Frenchman I know, besides Pepe Le Pew.)

Sicilians reacted to the isolated harassment of one woman with a measured, even response: they slaughtered 4,000 Frenchmen over the next 6 weeks.  Never a country to take such a thing lying down, the French invented "Chef Boyardee SpaghettiOs" to destroy Sicilian culture.

As if that wasn't bad enough,
the French ALSO killed
dinosaurs for food!

Through a bunch of stuff involving people with confusing names, the Sicilians obtained the approval of both the popes of the time -- one I think was in Constantinople (NOT ISTANBUL NOT YET!) -- but as so often happens, just after giving approval, the Italian, or "real", pope died and was replaced by a pro-French Pope, and that led to war.

I am not 100% clear on how it led to war, just that it led to war, and the war of the Sicilian Vespers would go on for twenty years, until 1302, which sounds like a long time until you remember that it took 20 years to simply get anywhere back then, because everyone traveled by donkey (even when they were going overseas, as donkeys are notorious for their endurance swimming), so this war, like most wars back then, actually ended before it began and everyone forgot what they were fighting about and went back to persecuting the gypsies.

ALSO: the actual end of the war came when the French king, Charles, challenged the Sicilians leader, Peter of Aragon, to "personal combat," and Peter accepted, and each chose six knights to battle on his behalf (so "personal" meant something quite different back then), with the whole duel set up to be judged by the King of England, only he backed out because the Pope wouldn't let him take part.

BUT: while they were setting up that duel Peter had his deputy continue attacking, and they took 42 ships hostage and "ravaged" the coast of France or something, and then the war ended, according again to Wikipedia, when Charles died and Peter got distracted by a crusade and so "the war in Italy was put on hold by the lack of leadership on both sides."

"And so with nobody around to sign our paychecks, we've
all had to take temp jobs at this one office park.

The lack of leadership wouldn't keep the war from dragging on to 1302, when the "Peace of Caltabellotta" set up a new king of Sicily, Frederick, and awarded the Italian peninsula to the French, and the whole thing was approved by the pope and sealed with a royal marriage.

This picture is historically accurate.


Pat Dilloway said...

July was invented back in Roman times. It was named for Julius Caesar and August was named for Augustus Caesar. How arbitrary is our sense of time when we can just add two months for the hell of it?

Michael Offutt, "Johnny on the Spot" said...

I've never much liked Chef Boy Ardee

Briane P said...


You are probably part Sicilian Vesper.


"Time is an illusion. Lunchtime, doubly so." -- Douglas Adams.

Andrew Leon said...

Can Pepe actually be considered a Frenchman? Isn't that playing a little loose with the term "man"? Or, maybe, it's just different for the French; in which case, I'm okay with it.