Today I did my feudal service in return for another year of holding, in fee simple, this land from our Great State of Georgia. I also paid all my automobile taxes and tag fees to pay for another year's excitement on the highway.

What happens when that fee is no more paid, because the one who held in fee simple has died and another cannot stand good? We've made it seem so small a matter -- just taxes and accounting -- but it is not that. The world falls apart: the world of a people. Enemies come rushing in to tear apart the world you held for yourself and your family, and it vanishes forever. That is the story at the end of the Beowulf when the king dies who could hold a place in the world for the Geats to live free, and likewise at the end of the Iliad with the mourning for Hector of Troy. Both poems end in lament for the one who held it together, so that for a while a life and a people could flourish.


Anonymous said...

I've been reading a great deal of Hungarian history recently, and I wonder if anyone felt a touch of chill when Mathias Corvinus died (other than knowing a succession battle might be in the offing, since he had no legitimate sons).


Grim said...

He was a Renaissance-era patron of the arts, was he not? There are probably some similar praise-poems if you look.

Anonymous said...

Yes, he was. He amassed one of the greatest libraries and art collections in central Europe, but they were scattered after his death. He appears in a number of Hungarian folk tales, often as the king-in-disguise, checking on the welfare of his people.


douglas said...

LR, What brought you to Hungarian history? I doubt I'd have an interest particularly, except for my marriage to a Hungarian. Matyas Kiraly is one of the top three heroes of the Hungarians, and it's his father- John Hunyadi- not the king at the time, who was really the man responsible for stopping the Turks from invading Europe. He's someone I'd like to learn more about.