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 The World's Greatest Bastards - a future poll

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nordmann
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PostSubject: The World's Greatest Bastards - a future poll   Fri 07 Jun 2013, 16:14

We make a lot, even today, of the institution of marriage. Yet some of the greatest people by common reckoning were born on the wrong side of the sheets. I'm struggling to find a term like "bastard" that might better indicate a female but you can take it from me that the fairer sex are by no means excluded from this illustrious category.


However - since it's high time we had a poll anyway - let's see if we can nominate (and argue for) our own ten favourite bastards of all time. I'm tempted to begin with Jesus but I'll give that one a rest and instead opt for one of the most fascinating bastards of all time in my book. Just about everything one can say about his origin and young life - starting out as he did a poor, gay bastard - would have augured ill for his prospects, yet today we use his name as a euphemism for genius and great accomplishment, much as we do with Einstein but with probably even greater justification given that this lad's prowess extended into almost every intellectual field to which he applied himself.


Someone once said that had he been born today Leonardo Da Vinci might well have settled on a career in fashion design - not a comment on couturiers as much as a criticism of the modern tendency to pigeon-hole people completely and utterly unfairly based on little more than their sexual orientation. Yet six hundred and fifty or so years ago, a time we are led to believe to have been so much more intolerant than our own, the young Da Vinci was already being recognised for his genius amongst contemporaries and feted as such in several countries, indeed not just for his talent but for his good looks and grace (when was the last time anyone outside of the Monaco Royal Family was feted for their "Grace"?).


I am aware that in recent years some doubt has been cast again on Da Vinci's homosexuality - though why it should matter at all at this stage escapes me completely. The importance of the man resided not in his character, or even his undeniable expertise in matters artistic or scientific, but in his ability - almost unique in history for any person - to have excelled so much in so many things. His undeniable curiosity - and the genius it engendered - was extinguished only upon his own demise at 67 years old.


So; nomination number one:


 




Any more great bastards you want to extol? If we get ten together the polling can commence.

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PostSubject: Re: The World's Greatest Bastards - a future poll   Fri 07 Jun 2013, 18:59

Confucius. Born around 551BC, of a meeting between (some say rape) his father, a military officer, and his mother Yan Zhengzai. Confucius's father died when he was around 3yrs old and he was raised in poverty by his mother. From humble beginings, as shepard, cowherd and bookeeper Confucuis rose to became revered by all levels of society as a teacher, writer, editor, philosopher and politician. His teachings still resonate today, such as the principle 'do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself'. And uttered long before another to whom it is commonly attributed.

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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: The World's Greatest Bastards - a future poll   Mon 10 Jun 2013, 07:07

My favourite bastard cannot really compete with that universal genius/polymath, da Vinci, but I should like to nominate him anyway: Desiderius Erasmus, or Erasmus of Rotterdam. Erasmus was born Gerard Gerards, the son of a Catholic priest and the priest's housekeeper, Margaretha Rogers.

Erasmus was probably the most brilliant of the Renaissance humanist thinkers, but he was no dry scholar. Like his good friend, Thomas More, Erasmus was not only an intellectual giant, but one who could deliver an argument with biting, sardonic humour. A terrifying opponent. That said, he possibly met his match in Luther. Luther was no wit, but whereas Erasmus could destroy the opposition in a brilliant flash, Luther could flatten it: Erasmus was the Exocet, Luther the Panzerkampwagon VIII Maus.

Ironically, Erasmus, who lived and died a Catholic, was one of the first to attack the corruption in the Church. He, rather than Luther, really got the Reformation going: "Erasmus laid the egg and Luther hatched it", as somebody once said. Yet what this ideologically elusive scholar actually believed in the end is anybody's guess. Luther got it right when he said of him, "Erasmus is an eel: only Christ can grab him." As slippery as an eel indeed, and one that's been rubbed all over with axle-grease.

The Vatican was well aware of how dangerous this man was: they put all his books on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, which is a praise-worthy achievement in itself. The Curia realised, like Frederick the Wise, that "Erasmus was too good a Protestant to become one."



Last edited by Temperance on Mon 10 Jun 2013, 09:01; edited 3 times in total
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: The World's Greatest Bastards - a future poll   Mon 10 Jun 2013, 07:23

PS May I respectfully add that the wording of the OP really does restrict us dreadfully, as does the idea of a "poll"? There have been lots of bastards in history, men (and women) who were bastards by nature as well as by the misfortune of their birth, thoroughly unpleasant human beings who were nevertheless very interesting. We can't discuss them, which is a shame (William the Conqueror is the obvious one, but I'm thinking of James Stewart, Earl of Moray, Mary Queen of Scots' bastard brother).

There are some interesting bastards in Literature too: Edmund in "King Lear" is a superb character. Edmund must be the best evil bastard ever - he's not only evil, but very witty and sexy (it's thought Shakespeare had Kit Marlow in mind when he created Edmund). I can't resist posting his great "Now, gods, stand up for bastards" speech. Sorry for the deviation, nordmann, but I honestly think "What a Bastard!" would have been a better title for the thread - then we could talk about both the good and bad.

Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law
My services are bound. Wherefore should I
Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
For that I am some twelve or fourteen moon-shines
Lag of a brother? Why bastard? wherefore base?
When my dimensions are as well compact,
My mind as generous, and my shape as true,
As honest madam's issue? Why brand they us
With base? with baseness? bastardy? base, base?
Who, in the lusty stealth of nature, take
More composition and fierce quality
Than doth, within a dull, stale, tired bed,
Go to the creating a whole tribe of fops,
Got 'tween asleep and wake? Well, then,
Legitimate Edgar, I must have your land:
Our father's love is to the bastard Edmund
As to the legitimate: fine word,--legitimate!
Well, my legitimate, if this letter speed,
And my invention thrive, Edmund the base
Shall top the legitimate. I grow; I prosper:
Now, gods, stand up for bastards!


Last edited by Temperance on Mon 10 Jun 2013, 18:35; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: The World's Greatest Bastards - a future poll   Mon 10 Jun 2013, 11:11

I agree with Temps. Would the moderator modify for us? Thus also escaping his nomination in an inferred list that would include the person who nicked a stoneware pot from my garden. We will try to be sensible.... are women ever called bastards by the injured? Perhaps we need a thread on historical insults for that. Sounds as if I need a journey again.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The World's Greatest Bastards - a future poll   Mon 10 Jun 2013, 12:13

You mean widening the scope to include everyone in history who has behaved abominably?

Nope, nope and double nope - the purpose of this poll is to find our ten favourite bastards (in the purely technical sense) who went on to be great, women included.

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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: The World's Greatest Bastards - a future poll   Mon 10 Jun 2013, 12:27

nordmann wrote:
You mean widening the scope to include everyone in history who has behaved abominably?

Nope, nope and double nope - the purpose of this poll is to find our ten favourite bastards (in the purely technical sense) who went on to be great, women included.


No, that would be silly. My suggestion was to widen the scope to include famous and interesting people from history who were both illegitimate and bad, as well as those "bastards" who were great men/women. You'll be hard pressed to find any bastard who can compete with your Leonardo; not even Confucius or Erasmus comes close.

And poll threads always seem to die a death.

But never mind; it was just a rambling, undisciplined thought. Back to Parks and Gardens now.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The World's Greatest Bastards - a future poll   Mon 10 Jun 2013, 12:48

That's another poll - and not a bad idea either.

Actually in this one I'd be more inclined to vote for Erasmus than Leonardo Da Vinci. After all, let's face it, his inventions didn't work that well, his frescoes fell asunder, his mirror-writing was cogged from the monks and his anatomical knowledge - if applied in a modern operating theatre - would guarantee the patient's demise.

But then - "great" is a very subjective term. I'm making a second nomination:

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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: The World's Greatest Bastards - a future poll   Mon 10 Jun 2013, 17:33

Elizabeth I.

"The Little Bastard" was how the Spanish ambassador regularly referred to the Princess Elizabeth in his reports to the Emperor.

Her father made it official in 1536 and that decision was never reversed. As I have said elsewhere, this great woman lived and died, not just as a virgin, but as a bastard too.

Given what she achieved, against all the odds, I think Gloriana deserves a nomination.
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PostSubject: Re: The World's Greatest Bastards - a future poll   Mon 10 Jun 2013, 18:29

Elizabeth I a good one Temp.

I've been pondering William the Conqueror, does he deserve a slot here or over on the Bastard Bastard Poll? Mmmmmm
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PostSubject: Re: The World's Greatest Bastards - a future poll   Mon 10 Jun 2013, 21:34

Elizabeth was the only one I thought of, but I don't know if it is fair to call her a bastard; her parents married in a way that would preclude her from being called a bastard these days (even if we were allowed to use this term literally now).
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The World's Greatest Bastards - a future poll   Tue 11 Jun 2013, 08:54

It is absolutely fair to call her a bastard - the law of the land was fundamentally rewritten after all to ensure that she was one, and when faced later with the legal prospect of risking losing her position as head of the church in order to expunge her bastard status Elizabeth quite pragmatically decided she could live with it the rest of her life.
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PostSubject: Re: The World's Greatest Bastards - a future poll   Wed 12 Jun 2013, 00:06

A towering figure in 20th Century history whose international stature belies the smallness of the country which he led was Eamon de Valera. His profile may have dropped somewhat in the 38 years since his death but no understanding of the history of Ireland (south or north) would be complete without 'Dev' featuring in it quite prominently. And the facts of his paternity are certainly open to question.
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PostSubject: Re: The World's Greatest Bastards - a future poll   Thu 13 Jun 2013, 09:48

A dalliance took place of what was called, ukuHlobonga " the pleasure of the road" between Senzangakona chief of the Zulu and Nandi, daughter of the chief of the eLangeni, two insignificant tribes around the White Umfolozi River in South Africa. UkuHlobonga did not include full intercourse, so it came as something of a surprise when Nandi sent a message to the Zulu telling them she was pregnant.The Zulu elders sent back a reply that Nandi could not be pregnant and that her missed periods were instead the result of an intestinal beetle called the iShaka. Some months later, another message arrived from the eLangeni telling the Zulu that the iShaka had been born. Nandi was duly installed as Senzangakona's third wife, and the child became known as Shaka.
In time, Shaka would turn the Zulu, a tribe of about 1500 people when he was born, into a nation of 250,000, devising the "fighting bull buffalo" battle formation and replacing the throwing assegai with the iKlwa, stabbing assegai.

http://www.sahistory.org.za/people/king-shaka-zulu
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PostSubject: Re: The World's Greatest Bastards - a future poll   Mon 17 Jun 2013, 14:47

Another nomination;  



still in one piece despite the CIA's exploding cigars etc

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fidel_Castro
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PostSubject: Re: The World's Greatest Bastards - a future poll   Tue 18 Jun 2013, 13:53

William the Bastard would definately be one, and certainly his claim to the English throne can hardly be considered legitimate.  Athelstan may or may not have been legitimate.  

Concerning Jesus, the reference in John's gospel where some Jews comment 'We are not base born' could be a reference to some question mark concerning Jesus' birth.  There are also the women in Matthew's geneology for Jesus.  Mentioning women in a Jewish geneology was unusual at the time but Matthew picks out Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba (the wife of Uriah) all of which have somewhat suspect pasts - collectively known as Matthew's shady ladies.  This again could suggest something 'shady' concerning Jesus' birth.
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PostSubject: Re: The World's Greatest Bastards - a future poll   Thu 20 Jun 2013, 12:22

Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the United States and who's legal interpretations of the US constitution are still of importance today.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Hamilton
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