Friday, 8 May 2020

The Compelling Characters of Cartoon and Illustrations: how I try to draw.

When we read a book such as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein for instance; we will conjure up various images of Victor Frankenstein, even though the classic black and white film uses a mad scientist archetype, which however, is not in the novel at all. Regardless, there's nothing wrong with borrowing this popular movie icon to fit Shelley's story if you read it. Either way, the point is, Victor Frankenstein, like many fictional literary characters, tax our imaginations, we take on the job of visualising or bringing characters to life through interpretation—this is where the work of the author ends and where we begin. The cartoonist and illustrator does exactly the same when drawing up a character from imagination, or when capturing a person on paper. Symbols, pop culture, stereotypes, tropes and memes are all tools of an artist. For example, you've likely seen the comparative caricatures of Trump make an impact by amalgamating him with a spoilt tantruming child or cry baby? This man has been symbolised, depicted and postured more than most political figures I can think of, to be honest. He's also a great cartoon to study in the pursuit of understanding what makes a compelling cartoon or caricature. The best advice I could offer a fellow hobbyist or amature cartoonist would be to participate in arty circles within social media: instagram has a supportive community of fantastic artists of various demographics. It is easy to use and all you need to do is follow people or hashtags. So many techniques are out there: zoomer and millennial cartooning is breaking, the conceptual space is changing the game and publishers need to recognise this—I respect how artists are unapologetically take drawing comedy to new places. 

At the start of my drawing processes however, there always comes a haze, the blurry raw idea, the gist of what I want to express. What do you want to draw up? Let's say, in this instance we want to make a visual joke about conservative MPs speaking favourably of cutting disability benefits. I'd immediately start by exploring the stereotype storeroom or the pop culture cupboard, especially if I'm weaponising the cartoon: posh suites for Tory Toffs, the chained ghost of Thatcher, Scrooge or tiny Tim if it's Christmas, maybe the Times newspaper, large noses with which they peer down at their lesser humans, smugness and excess wealth, finding ammunition is harsh but effective. To sufficiently resonate the finer notes, a detailed image is best in my opinion; a picture that paints more than a thousand words has substance. In my head, a location, composition and action is required before I proceed. When I do, graphite pencils (if black and white) or blue erasable (for a colour image) would be used to establish rough outlines, capturing the characters expressions. I try to empathise with my characters as I draw their expressions (I even pull faces to get a feel); articulating a drawings thoughts as best as I can, a bit like sketching an interpretation of a book character. Before Anthony Hopkins immortalised Hannibal Lecter back in the nineties, the character was also raw and multifaceted in his book form (ignoring Brian Cox's performance in manhunter).  Realistic type cartoons are more time consuming and some may argue that they're unnecessary for a simple gag, which are mostly centred on a quick laugh or a smile. This is why Garfield doesn't have a highly detailed coat and ultra realistic facial features, he's a well designed and simplified cartoon. I would draw the previously mentioned Tory cartoon with such detail and moderate realism. I still find myself toiling over my own simple cartoons, a simple line can say a lot. Vicariously, I always want my character to engage with readers; essentially, these drawings become my actors making me some kind of director. 

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Politics is bad for your mental health!

But how do you know she's a witch?

From my point of view, the years leading up into Brexit had three specific characters who stood out as harbingers of shit; David Cameron, Jerry Kyle and Katie Hopkins. I held concerns over Tory cuts, which I believed was draining our health care even further. It was salt to the wounds caused by Blairite Labour. In my town, their government closed our huge learning disabilities complex, now it's an abandoned ghost town. The Lucy Baldwin hospital is currently decaying out of sight and the mental health day centres are long gone; Labour policy was to encourage NHS bosses to buy in services themselves, to source private medical services, a financial strategy, aimed at raising standards via the business model of service competition. Perhaps it was a bad idea, Cameron exacerbated matters. I wanted to see something done right for once. This blog is about the social changes I experienced, coming from a person who used mental health services from this period.

"Often, when unwell, it was easy to reach the conclusion that I was worthless to the country, an eater, parasitic, a sub human or insufficient provider."

Cameron's Conservative government promoted negative attitudes towards the likes of myself and other people in my situation; those affected by an illness significantly disruptive to simple routine employment, or a condition that's ended all chances of a working life. It was as if a super villain was living in number ten downing street. I felt conspiratorial, especially after hearing about the secret Eaton group and what he allegedly did with the pigs head.
The Real Shadow Cabinet 
In parliament such topics were regularly attacked with an unhelpful attitude. Of all people, I recognised the prime minister's values were regularly shown across the UK by Jeremy Kyle; a traditionalist, right wing brute of a talk show host with a narcissistic presenting style, no stranger to yelling or sneering at his unemployed guests, calling them jobless layabouts even ordering them to get off their lazy arses and back into work! It seemed this manner of disdain and converse was acceptable toward people in my situation, otherwise it wouldn't have been transmitted. This ongoing mentality shown on television spilt over on to social media, which I suspect influenced two old friends of mine into behaving uncharacteristically disrespectful toward me. Often, when unwell, it was easy to reach the conclusion that I was worthless to the country, an eater, parasitic, a sub human or insufficient provider. Negative ideas of this kind are unhelpful when facing a depressive episode. When a low drains a person, thinking can turn self destructive and greatly limit physical energy. Evidently, Kyle and Cameron seemed to miss how mental illness could hinder or ruin employment; I watched as Jeremy Kyle scalded one guest after he said he could not work because he was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Anxiety attacks are known for leading people to A&E because people think they're dying. This arrogant telecaster would unapologetically broadcast disgust directed at people who found themselves in circumstances that weren't always very advantageous—I believed it influenced the entire country. The man was a compelling character and so was Cameron because they both sang from the same song sheet, appeared on the same screen. I felt uneasy, conspired against, unsure if the government was financially monitoring me. Like many unemployed, mental patients, I did not know who was against me.

"He often bragged to guests that it was his name in the title not theirs!"

We all know where Jezza ended up, however; one of his guests, Stephen Dymond, sadly took his own life after a lie detector claimed he was dishonest. We know Jeremy Kyle preached to his guests about responsibility, accepting when you're wrong and standing up and be a man. During the suicide inquest of the unfortunate soul in question, Mr Dymond, Kyle clearly lacked the strength of his own convictions, he maintained a very low profile. Imagine if it was depression or anxiety that incapacitated this curiously behaved presenter—would that have been okay? He offered no public apologies or statements, took no questions and he remained out of the public eye.
Moral Broadcasting
The talk show host shared no words concerning "his" show during the investigation. He often bragged to guests that it was his name in the title not theirs! Scores of individuals failed his pseudo-scientific lie detector test over the years, up to one third of them would've been innocent, and as a result, unjustly faced punitive outcomes or a tarnished reputation; polygraphs are only seventy to ninety percent accuracy rate. Thank god this witch trial of a show was axed!

"Other right wing television programs indirectly stigmatising people with no job." 

Disability and incapacity benefit issues were initially incidentally pulled down because all benefits claimants were being frowned upon. However, the Cameron premiership eventually made either survivors or suicide statistics of any poor sod diagnosed with a significant condition causing them to struggled with work. These marginalised people were feared at times; I was considered too dangerous to work in anyone's home for the assessor job I wanted in care, I was denied by a jobcentre professional who was adamant about the aggression of "bipolars".
I've never been an inmate of Arkham asylum but I was made to feel that way. Nationwide, other individuals, far worse than me, were pushed into work they simply could not do. As well as Jeremy Kyle, other right wing television programs indirectly stigmatising people with no job. The Great British Benefits Handout, for starters, and Benefits By The Sea, Battling With Benefits, Benefits Britain, Skint Britain, Benefits Street: life on the dole, to name but a few. Pure saturation, the right-wing initiative was obvious to me. The characters who in ended up on camera had been chosen as examples to confirm a stereotype; sportswear, poor oral health and living in council dwellings, while inducing their own poverty via their acquisition, and priority for alcohol, drugs, cigarettes and mobile phones. The media succeeded in pushing an unfair representation just as they did with Islam and terrorism. To add to this misery, Professor Marmots report in 2010 concluded to the government a need to invest in less privileged areas with education, training and health literacy. The report was not followed.
Instead, their moral panic promoted an agenda to bully people into work, it was similar to the prejudice that led to the cultivation of Islamophobia during he same time. A character from one of the benefit programs spoke out. She addressed producers, asking ITV to stop being biased in their portrayal of the unemployed. 

"Class based discrimination is ever present and subtle."

As well as the aforementioned Jeremy Kyle and benefits themed television programs, amoral tabloids that featured contributions from the hateful Katie Hopkins tempted public opinion with loaded headlines, demonising and making an example of the odd family with excessive children or tainting the rare Muslim household accused of obtaining social welfare dishonestly. "These scrounging people need to get back into work!" Was the gist of David Cameron's parliamentary utterances. "It's time we issued an unemployed persons uniform!" Hopkins publicly suggested, most of us know she's condemned people for being overweight, she even likened immigrants to cockroaches and the then prime minister compared the country to a functioning machine. Of course, any machine will need fully functioning parts working properly in unison, this makes sense, but machines lack illness or humanity. I thought he discriminated against disadvantaged families rather well, even though his son was disabled. We are generally intolerant of racism and rightly so, but class based discrimination is ever present and subtle. Social classes supervene on one another; the middle to the upper classes know there is a lower status majority beneath them and that it is less fortunate. Sadly, Cameron's poisonous buzzwords crossed over occasionally; the benefit scrounger and the radical Muslim gave rise to the abominable job-seeker jihadis. The sentiment cultivated racism and apathy. I didn't like the UK or its leaders.
Not everyone can work, such truths don't stop being true just because a bunch of Eatonian want a societal squeeze; comparatively, in the UK, very few Muslims are terrorists and they certainly aren't all anti-white as Hopkins wanted the public to believe.
Campaign to Unify the Nation Trophy 
However, the opposite on all counts were propagated; footage after footage, fake videos portraying selected acts of aggression carried out by angry men of Middle Eastern heritage, often out of context and some of it proven to be propaganda—understandably, these things misled innocent internet users. It created tension. As well as this, and ignorant of the facts, Westminster psychopaths cut vital benefits for people with life-long illnesses. It was scary. I couldn't afford another breakdown, another family member was mentally unstable, self harming and anorexic. These benefits upheavals came after the press shamed these particular sections of society, mainstream television continued to air cheapening programs. Number ten pushed unnecessary degrading assessments; doctors, however, have always possessed sufficient primary medical evidence. Suicides increased after authorities followed Conservative rules. The proverbial round peg splintered under the hydraulic pressure against the square hole. Going on US and 2017 UK Government Statistics, white middle aged men who experience mental distress (mental health diagnosis), are the section of the population with the highest suicide rate. It's a good job we had the charity, Mind, to fight the government. 

"It's becoming common to see labour MPs downplay their own status to appear less wealthy."

Britain became low in mood, it was dull and miserable. It was not because of any leaders departure or arrival, but rather the bickering spawned by Brexit; it festered and turned people against one-another, especially on-line.
I had been experiencing more night anxiety than I could remember. Sadly, the only party who honoured the original democratic result was the Conservatives, those who I despised; the ones who utilised the media to make a parasite out of anyone like me, the scum who created austerity. A confusing shift started to happen, labour began to morph into a party more prevalent for the middle classes, seemingly dropping the working class altogether. UKIP and the Brexit party started to gain an increase in old labour voters. Even so, you may be a labour supporter or may even have Facebook friends who are passionate lefties or Corbynites to varying degree, I do, and retrospectively, I remember how in school I envied their lifestyles; one child in particular was intrigued by my parents council house, having never seen one. Some of my leftist friends were raised in higher status homes than I was; conservative areas now, private estates—realistically, in my teens I often felt beneath them.
I remember listening in disbelief to the movie star, comedian and sitcom actor, Rob Delaney in a pro labour advert for the Brexit election in 2019. Essentially, he described himself as not being a billionaire or a millionaire, but instead as one of the rest of us who depend on the NHS—at that point I realised working class labour was gone, I asked myself: why do millionaire actors depend on our public hospitals? I had prior knowledge that Jeremy Corbyn, and his front bench such as Thornbury, Starmer, for example, were all millionaires! Increasing amounts of rich, famous people such as Hugh Grant or Stephen Fry had turned their interests toward the NHS or the labour party; the opposition who delayed the winning result of the referendum, arguably a counter-democratic position.
Rob Delaney goes to his hospital appointment
Rob Delaney from Deadpool 2, however, admitted that America had expensive but inferior health care in comparison to us. He explained how scary the bills were for him. I personally have no friends with roles in Hollywood blockbusters like The Hustle! Elton John doesn't live on our estate or pop in the local for a pint. I very much doubt Peter Andre has ever been spotted in Aldi. Despite being able to easily afford private care, the movie star, Delaney, didn't hide how he'd bee-line to use our NHS provision in the future. It sounds just like David Hasselhoff declaring his love of farm food. It's an insult of intelligence, a media play like Cameron and his Benefits Street.
Jess Phillips is another person of celebrity status who identifies as working class, a legit brummy who speaks with a local accent, saying it how it is, in parliament or on television with famous people—her well off upbringing, on the other hand, is not a favoured topic of conversation. This has always been about class, it seems. It's becoming common to see labour MPs downplay their own status to appear less wealthy. The internet lefty circles I've met, offered a thumbs up if I agreed with them, and then they'd go quiet. For my sins, I'm a person who likes to learn; more than enough, I've endured name calling, rudeness, blocking and I've even being unfriended from various triggered by self proclaimed hard left when testing their ideas.
I've never enjoyed being rebuked or ridiculed as if I was some kind of political enemy, purely for wanting to explore or scrutinise politics. It shows something else is going on with this kind of mindset; as if pre-installed tenets of cultural coding, fire up into self defence mode whenever the wrong ideas are mentioned, even as a free agent. It's not normal broad-based politics anymore, things erupt, the tone is low.

"The radicals can burn their proverbial Wicca men, voodoo dolls, effigies for their dark gods of identity politics."

The hard left and the far right are not friends. I don't believe, self ownership and free thinking are part of their poisonous tribal game. Human beings have been indoctrinating themselves since year dot; spilling over to organisations, woke culture, feminism, political hierarchies, alt right, and radical movements, is also understandable. Playing the devotee can limit the conceptual space needed for forging new ideas with baggage.

I asked myself would Jeremy Corbyn or his followers have treated benefits claimants or Muslims with similar confrontational language as Cameron, Hopkins or Jeremy Kyle? Given Labours apparent humanism, I doubted it at first, but I considered the insults used by internet hard leftists and how they saw me; an undeserving beneficiary of the oppressive patriarchy, a racist, xenophobe and a fascist. I decided all politics was full of toxic people and unhealthy. I was certainly sick of accepting friend requests from people like this, only for them to inevitably kick off, before unfriending me because I chose not to agree. We saw racism develop with Corbyn's party just like Cameron's government, but in the form of antisemitism; its in-depth investigations and bullying of MPs showed it was even worse. Over the past Brexit years, I'd spent hours obsessing in more than one, insane argument which dragged on for days and sometimes nights; I unwittingly exchanged sleep to debate. The internet, especially Facebook and Twitter was a battle ground which, pulled me in as my mood became even slightly susceptible to agitation. The internet morphed into something unhealthy for me. I was hell bent and righting stupid wrongs that a flawed species will always make. Defending myself by engaging instead of keeping clear. After two nasty episodes nearly got me, I concluded it was time to mark political types as people to avoid, like I always had, and focus on staying well.
How dare you have that opinion!
For all I care, the radicals can burn their proverbial Wicca men, voodoo dolls, effigies for their dark gods of identity politics. It's a sad example of hatred these days, especially when I have seen people from the same circles take up the cause for mental health!
Never mind the white privileged male benefactor of the patriarchy, consider how he's a xenophobe for being a brexiteer or an Islamophobic, if he voted conservative. He certainly risked being an anti-Semitic for choosing labour; it seems no matter what a white man'll never be without blame. After the right-wing propagated so much unfair ideas, woke culture is continuing the job. 

Friday, 22 November 2019

Do transformational archetypes reflect who we are?

Hulk•Batman•Dr.Who•Darth Vader•Buddha•Scrooge•Arthur Fleck/Joker•Werewolves•Norse Gods•Changelings
Films, Books, T.V Boxed sets, have so many transitional archetypes, such as the bibles fall of Lucifer, along with the spiritual transformation of the disciples, there's the u-turn of Saul to Paul, who was temporarily blinded by the divine light of the alleged resurrected Christ. We see change themes in various super hero origin stories, including that of Bruce Banner/Hulk or Bruce Wayne, the Batman.
Other examples include Beauty and the Beast, or the story of Anakin Skywalker becoming Darth Vader, and everyone knows Doctor Who, the regenerating time lord. Our mythology and lore across Europe, has shape-shifting pagan gods along with werewolves and vampires. Further east the narrative of the Buddha's awakening is easy to find. We could compile a huge list. 

However, transformation, the complete alteration of a person in the mundane world we live in, doesn't usually involve super powers, gods or aliens, but onset mental illness can feel just as dramatic. Sudden mental illness can be one of the most life changing experiences an individual might undergo. Anxiety disorders, diagnoses of mood or thought and other conditions of the mind, can re-write someone's world. On-line there's lot's of written information about psychiatric illnesses. Media themed on mental health can add stigmatise and marginalise the subject of mental illness, on the other hand, media can sometimes help with informing the world fairly. One such film, a beautiful mind, did that well. It follows the successful life of a Professor John Nash of Princeton university who had a significant diagnosis. Another interesting example, is the 2002 film, The Hours, starring Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman. It portrays the lives of three people from different times, in various parts of the world, all of whom are connected by Virginia Woolf's fictional novel, Mrs Dalloway. We see key historical moments of Virginia Woolf's transition into illness, while she tries to write the book that impacts on others. It's shows the connection between fact and fiction; it overlaps in this film, on many levels. When creative teams within the art's use story arcs, archetypes and play on scenarios wisely it often creates direct change in the real world.

Life has it's challenges even regardless of psychiatry; people still have to cope.

Whatever torments us, learning to be self-reflective and able to recognise our own unhelpful beliefs or ideas, is good for personal growth. This journey-like process, a transformational archetype. What is undeniably true, however, is the success of mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy in British Psychiatry at improving lives. Swiss psychologist Carl Jung and philosophers like Alan Watts, Schopenhauer and Jean Gebser, brought eastern thinking to the west. Re-branded for Western society, these practices and ideologies started sprouting out of modern psychology over the decades. The appeal to new age groups was originally a mysterious life changing gem, which was discovered by the Buddha himself; enlightenment. 

Actors study and imitate people to develop their ideal charismatic Hollywood movie part; likewise, on the other end of the spectrum, when we feel deflated, we tend to watch them to feel better.  We are empathetic creatures; our brains are packed with mirror neurons and Individuals borrow other peoples little idiosyncrasies, buzz phrases and jokes. It's not unfair to suggest that young men have tried to carry off Eugene Fitzherbert's smoulder from Disney's Tangled. 
Adopted mannerisms that hold charm or sexual appeal may well be recycled, agreed, however, it's a common practice and provides a sense of self. One can measure or compare themselves with who they modelling themselves upon. On the same token, we call these Han Solo types imperfect personalities a 'lovable rogue' or an 'anti-hero,' a non-conforming rebel, with a flawed character, ignorant of norms and appealing to the empathy (and sometimes the envy) of the viewers. Growing up in the eighties, it was clear how many boys wanted to be Han Solo or Indiana Jones. Many kids want to be like their heroes. 

Alan Watts, omnist and modern philosopher said: 

'Our normal sensation of self is a hoax, or, at best, a temporary role that we are playing with our own tacit consent, just as every hypnotised person is willing to be hypnotised. The most strongly enforced of all taboos is the taboo against knowing who or what you really are behind the mask of your apparently separate, independent, and isolated ego.' 

Watts illustrates how 'the feeling of' who we are, in itself, is a self deceptive illusion. Through time, who we believe we are, morphs into something else; self image is malleable. This is just our outer superficial self and we pay it too much attention. Joe Bloggs might think his job makes him who he is, until he changes it; he might call himself a nationalist, but then, later, he could easily despise nationalism. So who is Joe Bloggs? 

The coldness of big companies, treating regular Joe's on low incomes with unfair demands is sad. Strangely, there are working class individuals who overly devote themselves to their jobs, not out of financial necessity but given loyalty. Workers can actively adopt the identity and the ethos of their company. Unnecessarily and often outside of working hours, people with a corporate identity concern themselves with the business matters of Chief Execs and upper management who earn way above their pay grade. Unfortunately, it's a cage of their own making. It's painful for an individual when they are living an unhappy lifestyle that they believe they ought to live. Humble and respectable people often lose themselves to the corrupt trappings of social games and foolery. Forcing yourself to be someone you aren't, so you can climb any given pay scale or hierarchy, is unhealthy but sometimes it's a necessity to survive. 

As we see with Arthur Fleck/Joker the anti-hero and also a victim of societal injustice. We share his perspective, empathise with his sufferings. The unfair distribution of wealth is a daily torment; tired, numbing psychiatric treatment that Fleck righteously perseveres with earns him the audiences sympathy. The transforming factors of Fleck/Joker rests on his limited life chances and the harsh existence, which the corrupt city provides. Thomas Wayne is the face of the super rich and surrounded by politicians, businessmen, and subordinates, who unapologetically, live extravagantly well in the presence of poverty. Wayne openly speaks poorly of the under-privileged on television. In the DC comic books, the philosophy of the Joker, in essence, states how it only takes one truly bad day to become like he is, a super villain. In the 2019 movie, Joker, Fleck certainly experiences this process. This anti-hero is the largest grossing movie; is this because the Joker resonates with modern mentality?

Michel Foucault: 'Is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons?' 

The redemption of Ebenezer Scrooge
A lonely, isolated, miserable, pennypincher who undergoes an awakening and begins to live with compassion. The Charles Dickens novella, A Christmas Carol, was carefully written. Described as hard and sharp as flint, we see Scrooge follow a karmic arc of change, a 'we reap what we sow' moral. The name Ebenezer Scrooge was chosen wisely because of what it signifies. It's a Hebrew place name meaning 'help-stone,' a monumental type stone of religious significance. In the book of Samuel, Eben-Ezer is where the Israelite's fought the Philistines. It's as if Charles Dickens was seeking out a name that showed conflict; battles were fought at the religious help-stone, the duality of Ebenezer's nature is sealed in his name. 

In Old English, the word Scrooge means 'to squeeze'. This is exactly what he did through the story. He denied his employee, Bob Cratchet time off for Christmas and paid the man very meagre wages, giving no festive bonus for his poor family. However, this conflicted help-stone, the sharp, hard flint of a man, did not start out this way.
He was not always isolated from society. On one important night, a night representative of everything his very persona rejects, such as good will to people, for instance, Ebenezer Scrooge faces what Dickens described as ghosts. If we peel back these dramatic embellishments of the misers experience, we're left with something different entirely. A lonely, isolated and stubborn old man, who lost friendships and family. Haunted by his mistakes and regrets, but too hard faced to accept them. He seems to be experiencing a crisis, but don't be so sure. In the solitude of his house, he can hear the city celebrating outside and he resists and denies the sentiment, bah humbug! Memories and personal truth are his only company. Scrooge is not the person he thinks he is, but instead, he became someone who identified with a life-style he justified with poor reasoning. He was conflicted that Christmas eve. All of the 'so-called' ghosts are garnished and fanciful in the Novella and T.V productions for entertainment purposes, but; on a more realistic note, what Dickens described here is a man re-discovering himself and his life! A man reflecting on his ruined past; an old unpleasant man finding self-liberation and piety through self realisation. Do you know who you are? This is what some mystics call enlightenment. 

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Thomas Corbet, Sheriff of Shropshire, Baron of Caus.

Thomas CorbetThomas CorbetThomas Corbet

This man lived during the barbaric thirteenth century, the age of castration, torture, religious fanaticism, be-headings, quartering and burning people alive. He was a Royalist and a Baron who reached the ripe old age of ninety two; considering the average lifespan for a male in that time was roughly thirty, this makes Baron Thomas Corbet quite special.

He descended from the Normans, who had been marrying into Welsh and English noble families almost since they arrived. In contrast, up until this time, it wasn’t common place for nobility to take an English bride in mainland England—in the Welsh Borderlands, things were different.

Hugh le Corbeau was the first Corbet in England and he was most likely at Hastings. Hugh built Caus Castle in Westbury. His sons Roger and Robert FitzCorbet are listed in the Domesday book of 1086 as vassals under the Marcher Lord Montgomery.

After 1102, however, Earl Montgomery’s failed rebellion against the king cost him land and power. Consequently, Henry I took Pembroke Castle and built another fortification in Carmarthen to tighten his grip on Wales. He entrusted the Corbet family with extra borderland territory. The family did well.

The name Corbet is an old french word for ‘Corvid’ or ‘Raven’ which we can see is used in Thomas

Corbet’s family heraldry. Roger is believed by some to be the first Corbet Baron of Caus (Hugh named it after Pays de Caux France). 
Robert Corbet succeeded when Roger died. Many years later, in 1222, we see the death of another Robert Corbet (Thomas’s father). Thomas Corbet was Sheriff of Shropshire in 1249 and held lands as far as south as Devon.

Over a decade later, in the Welsh Marches bordering Shropshire, he faced attacks from Llewelyn the last; Simon de Montfort made moves against his castle and fellow Royalists during the war against King Henry III. Thomas Corbet faced violence on both sides of the border and that was when he was eighty years old. This doddering old knight (focusing on the old Thomas Corbet in this blog) remained true to his king, even though he saw retainers, as well as another Robert, a Corbet of Wattlesborough, betray him and join the traitor Simon de Montfort.

But what sort of person was this man? It isn't hard to picture him as pig headed or as a vindictive, chain-mailed Victor Mildrew—he certainly wasn't stupid. He didn't eat boiled sweets or attempt cross words. In his day, diplomacy and politics required multilingualism, simply because numerous languages and dialects existed in England.

However, diversity of language may have been more common along the Welsh borderlands; soldiers, men-at-arms and knights all sent to fight, brought various dialects of the French language. Flemish was increasing too, there was an established Anglo-Saxon language with regional variation, not forgetting Latin used for legal and religious purposes. Our modern language began teething and crawling; born from the displacement of the Anglo-Saxons in 1066. 

Another important language we cannot forget is Welsh spoken by those like the Corbet family. Life was a cycle of fighting, alliances, litigation and rebellions; ongoing family tension, not only between the Welsh and English but sometimes between other Marcher Lords.

It’s easy to call thirteenth century English combatants bloodthirsty ruffians, when measuring the era to ours. On the other hand, comparatively, I imagine Julius Caesar’s Rome as being a tad more civilised, despite it being over a millennium older than the twelve hundreds. The old Raven Baron man had a lot of responsibility both legally, and with local domestic disputes regarding tenants. He often gave witness to various deeds, writs and other documents along with other nobles across counties.

A fact based on narrative following a

family called Page.

Robert Page was a free man, but ageing and tired. He lived opposite his large fishpond in a town called Drengeton, modern day Drointon, in Staffordshire. The attacks from the angry Welsh was common news, any day or at least very soon, he expected Baron Corbet to show up at the village to ask the Meverell’s  or the de Staffords for soldiers. Lord Bagot of Newton, would be a formidable enemy; especially with such as the likes of Jorvard de Cotes, Richard Pas or sadly, his own son William. The poor blighter had not been married long and he would likely end up going out there, he feared. Several years later, in 1256, Aston Rogers, Welsh Marches, Shropshire; only a couple of miles away from Caus Castle.
Our Liege Lord Sir Roger de Eston, holding a knights fee under Baron Corbet, went blind and suffered a slow painful death—it made things uncomfortable. My husband William and I had maintained our fiefdom the longest and had gotten accustomed to the attacks. It was our first place since leaving Drengeton, in Stowe and, it had not been smooth, given we have very young boys, Henry and Stephen. Margery de Eston, Rogers widow, readied herself to sue all of the people who lived on her late husband's land; tenants who worked the soil and held it firm, ready to defend it. Dismissing their plights and efforts, Margery wanted a third of her land back, it was her dowry. Complaints circled about how unfair she was being and then, inevitably, the Raven Baron Corbet got involved. Richard Pas maintained thirteen acres of land for his troop, but Jorvard only had four which was considerably smaller than the half a virgate we Pages worked.

Luckily, William and I were dismissed from the land grab straight away; Roger gave Will his fiefdom before he married Margery. Margery de Eston also made claims of Roger de Eston’s heir and nephew; he was only a minor and thankfully in custody of Baron Corbet. Lord Corbet said the other tenants would be safe if they provided charters of feoffment by Roger de Eston.

A glimpse into the family life of

Thomas Corbet

In 1256, the pressure upon the shoulders of Baron Thomas Corbet were considerable. Over a decade
previous to this Thomas Corbet developed personal grievances of his own.
His sister Margaret Corbet brought up Dowry issues of her own which involved entitlement at Caus, as well as other parts of the country. This was the most drawn out legal war Thomas had ever endured. You see, Margaret was the widow of Gwenwynwyn, Prince of Powis and mother of Gruffydd ap Gwenwynwyn later known as the de la Poles—political and messy. In 1255, Henry III, sent investigators to resolve the growing conflicts but to no avail. In May, Justices went to immediately take lands taken by Thomas Corbet but they could not resolve the issues.
Link to the film of the drawing:

Personal feuds and


Early 1256, in the assize roll, Thomas Corbet entered into another dispute with a man known as Fulk FitzWarin IV. Fulk accused Thomas Corbet of taking Alberbury from him, a sizeable 120 acres. Thomas wanted him gone, driven off the land like the scoundrel he saw him to be. At the assizes they exchanged insults, childish name calling. Thomas Corbet was witnessed being angry and emotional about principles pertaining to nonsense about honour and principles. Without need the Raven Baron insulted FitzWarin's dead father, calling him a traitor. Fulk didn't lose his land in the end, he won. In truth 1256, is an example of a bad year in Thomas Corbet life. Of course, he refused to accept Fulk winning and tried to regain Alderbury. It sounds like he was quite the battleaxe in his twilight years. On the contrary, I suppose his stresses would crack any twenty first century man, perhaps he was not coping. Llewelyn ap Gruffudd was increasing in power and audacity. Roger de Mortimer (a knight extremely talented at violence) waged war with the Welsh warrior after his men inevitably invaded Mortimer.

A fact based narrative from an

enfeoffed Salopian, Will Page.

In 1263, Caus castle is being upgraded with towers. The Welsh Marches have become more dangerous. The idea of losing Amice or one of the boys in the attacks is unthinkable. Llewelyn king of Gwynedd has been trying to force the English out of Wales and have thus so far failed. Robert Corbet has postponed taking his knighthood to support us.

Thomas Corbet wrote a letter to the King, which is understandable, we need protection—de Montfort and Llewelyn are out for our blood.
Myself and my friend Richard Pas are in the Barons letter; as well as Jorvard’s son, John de Cotes. I cannot help but wonder, perhaps we're important now?

Over the following couple of years, Henry and Simon the younger, sons of the Earl de Montfort, resumed fighting against the Royalists. Cancellation of Jewish debt is one main excuse for the rise in the violence. Llewelyn joined Earl Simon de Montfort and took Marcher Lords castles. During the battle of Lewes in 1264, Fulk fitzWarin IV drown in the Ouse river. Robert Corbet of Wattlesborough, betrayed Thomas Corbet and aided his enemies.
Eventually, Simon de Montfort found himself surrounded by rivers during the fighting at Evesham decisive battle. The army of Prince Edward closed in on the Earl. Roger de Mortimer, 1st Baron of Wigmore, personally decapitated the man, hacking off his limbs. As an award, the king let Mortimer take de Montfort's head and limbs to be spiked at Wigmore.

By the end of 1267, Llewelyn surprisingly became the Prince of Wales after the treaty of Montgomery.
After raiding his relatives lands with the Welsh, betraying trust by siding with de Montfort; Robert Corbet of Wattlesborough was forgiven by Thomas Corbet. He was also pardoned by the king. Several years later, Thomas Corbet died. William Page survived the battles. In July, 2019, a descendant wrote a blog about him, noting the trouble his son, Stephen, got into in 1281; William Bagot and Robert Corbet witnessed him being pardoned of a murder.

Llewelyn faced the wrath of the vicious King Edward I, hammer of the Scots, a brutal monarch who declared war against the Prince of Wales in 1282. The Welsh Prince did not survive, neither did Roger de Mortimer.

Hope you liked it

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