How many of you have ever thought of how it might be living in another time? Pick any period in history and insert yourself in a life built around the culture and society of the times. We are lucky in this day and age to have many ways to learn about different times in history other than our own, even in places we will never experience.
I don’t watch much TV, but do enjoy shows built around history, even those so loosely followed and having a bit of fantasy. I especially like those that are far enough removed from our times to see what people believed, no matter how far-fetched. Let me take you on a journey through time…
Two shows I like quite a bit on TV have some very loose interpretations of life in the times of Kings. One is the CW’s Reign, a show centered around the teenage years of Mary Queen of Scots, and the other, Game of Thrones. It is the HBO series based on books by George R.R. Martin. All imaginary, it is rooted in some very real historical events.
How Would You Feel?
Both shows have incredible imagery in the sets they create and the breathtaking castles they show.
Spaces in this castle-fort are both grand and tiny. Massive wooden beams support the load on the walls, giving the spaces a feeling of welcomed safety. Most are dark and imposing, but there is a certain air of togetherness about these rooms. People were first and foremost in daily encounters – some good, some very bad.
Wars at Fort Niagara were fought with mighty cannons rather than catapults, flintlocks and muzzleloaders less than swords, but the multitude of soldiers were shared by both eras.
I imagine it was a time of bravery, courage and honor. I also imagine much treachery and fear. With no electricity, a lot could happen under the veil of darkness.
There is a phrase, “If the walls could talk.” When in a fort, you get the feeling a lot is being said and the soldiers still walk the halls and grounds. Duty keeping them here, three nations all serving under the same roof at different times in history. Battles still being fought on battlefields around the world.
Fort Niagara has tales of a headless ghost, (if you want the grisly story) that is said to haunt the 1726 French Castle with strange shadows of unknown origin, eerie orbs of dim light, and of course, the proverbial unexplained, slamming doors. Whatever one believes, it is hard to ignore what others do!
The space above seems very lonely, but a few hundred years ago, was filled with soldiers that came from continents away. Imagine the time it took to sail here, where now-a-days it is a mere hours flight. People rode horses for days to get places, now it can be just minutes.
I can just imagine soldiers and officers running full throttle up and down these narrow stairs to their posts,
the soldiers laden with guns and provisions pushing their way through the narrow halls.
How Were Flowers Used?
I think one thing that would be not very pleasant about these times of old, would be the odors permeating the halls. It seems it would be quite smelly.
In the TV shows, I noticed the characters carrying nosegays or sprigs of rosemary and sniffing them frequently. Herbs, flowers and perfumes were a large part of the every day in the early ages and were often linked with magic and medicine. The power of flowers!
In the Middle Ages, the time of Game of Thrones most likely, they had herb baths and even smoked the illness out of people with fragrant woods and plants. Scented garlands decorated homes, fragrant candles lighted halls and wreaths made of twigs and plants hung above the bed of the sick.
Every herb, tree and flower had a special magical or medicinal quality in this world. You might even have your clothes sweetened with the fragrance of violets. It was a smelly time, but not all smells were putrid.
Castles and their nobility always intrigued me. I wondered what it might be like to live in one, ride the expansive countryside on a white steed, wear the extravagantly bejeweled clothes, speak the words of the nobility.
I am sure this fort had some of the pomp and flare of the times with visiting dignitaries, but nothing on the scale of the TV shows I mentioned. Can you just imagine being here in the 1700’s?
So much has changed through time, yet it seems the basic human barbarism and wickedness remains. The greed, perversion, stealing, murder for gain, you name it, all the hateful things people do to each other are still with us. The two TV shows have it all, but so did much of our history too. Even today we have the same ills, only they are done differently.
It all looks so civilized in the reenacted period spaces, but I would have my doubts that it was.
Many of you will not have seen a castle unless you have traveled abroad, but the Fort of Niagara was built like a French castle. So come inside and let your imagination take you on a journey.