Inquisitio: How French TV can suck at History

Discussion in 'Alternate History Books and Media' started by Yorel, Jul 1, 2012.

  1. Yorel Well-Known Member

    May 27, 2010
    I am unsure on wether or not this is the right place to post this. If it isn't, please move this thread to the right section.

    This Wednesday, France2, one of the main TV Channels of France, is going to start the diffusion of an eight epiosde saga called Inquisitio. And according to what I read from an article in Le Figaro Magazine (a magazine derived from the newspaper Le Figaro) and what I saw from the teasers announcing the diffusion of the series, the setting doesn't make sense and the series is full of clichés and misconsceptions.

    According to the summary of Le Figaro Magazine, the story takes place in 1370, as the West is divided by the Great Schism between Avignon and Rome. The Black Death is decimating the population of the town of Carpentras. The Grand Inquisitor named by the Avignon Pope sees the Plague as a punishment from God and sets out on a Campaign to fight sin and heresy. In this, he is opposed by a Jewish Doctor, who wants to treat the plague to eradicate it. Both, however, will also find themselves entangled in a plot set up by the Roman Pope to eliminate his rival in Avignon. To not see all the clichés in that summary, one has to be blind.

    According to what is said, there are many scenes of torture and rape, a scene where one sees Pope Clement VII (the Avignon Pope) in his bath with nude young maidens and another scene where supporters of Urban VI (the Roman Pope) inoculate the Plague on people living in Carpentras, as per orders of Catherine of Sienna. The latter scene is a complete fail at history: I don't think inoculation existed in the XIVth Century for one (I may be wrong on this, but I think it came later) and even if it did, it wasn't the first thing that would have crossed someone's mind (notably because of the dangers of the Plague), not to mention it totally doesn't match the character of St. Catherine of Sienna. As for the scenes of rape and torture linked to Inquistion, they remind me more of the Spanish Inquisition which only existed in Spain and came out one century later...

    The worse part, in my eyes, is that the diffusion of that saga is pure intellectual dishonnesty. I, as someone who studies History, can see all the mistakes and errors in such a series. But some people, who do not have my historical culture, will see it as a truth as it will be realized on a main TV Channel, one of the most watched and one of the most serious.
  2. LSCatilina Feudal Leftist Extraordinaire

    Dec 5, 2008
    Albi, Patria Linguae Occitanae
    "French TV suck" would have been enough, you know.

    I don't remember ONE program worth of mention on both private and technically public channels. Kind of sad when it comes to mind that their predecessors made "La Caméra explore le Temps" or "Les Rois Maudits". There weren't perfect of course, but...(Hell, even "Once upon a time....Man" was fucking better than that, and it was really bad sometimes)

    For details...

    " As for the scenes of rape and torture linked to Inquistion, they remind me more of the Spanish Inquisition which only existed in Spain and came out one century later..."

    Rape as a widespread way of Spanish Inquisition? That's new. I tought this perished with the last victorian dark dungeon books.

    There's my two cents on it : My guess France 2 tries to make a "Borgia" show with the pretext of documentary to catch audiance.

    No doubt they would make a Spartacus documentary with rape, blood and others with the pretext of "education". Thanks the Gods of all galaxies that had a relative existance, it's no more used (this kind of shows) in normal education.

    I'm not sure it would have an impact on population :

    For the impact, it would be soon forgotten. Maybe it could be even the occasion for some historians to react (that's the good part of having mediatic people, they can find a way to be listened REALLY quickly).
    Maybe I'm wrong, but people tend to not really eat blindly this sort of things, and try (as long they have the possibility) to search other sources.

    Someone from Paris IUT wrote something on it (Middle Ages and popular search of information)...I don't remember the name though.
  3. Yorel Well-Known Member

    May 27, 2010
    That might be a bit too hard. I watch French TV few nowadays, but to say that everything is bad is probably exagerating. I'm pretty sure there are still one or two good shows from time to time. At least I'm hoping so...

    Sorry, probably went a bit overboard. I was so frustrated when I discovered this that I had to let it out and didn't check what I was saying.
  4. LSCatilina Feudal Leftist Extraordinaire

    Dec 5, 2008
    Albi, Patria Linguae Occitanae
    Hey, I'm the first trying to defend good TV shows. Just that France 2, France 3 or France 5 are bad, hilariously, comically and deeply BAD when it comes to making documentaries, shows, series, tv movies...

    One thing they manage to do well are shows for kids. Both series and documentaries (like C'est Pas Sorciers) are of high quality.

    I can't, really honestly, find ONE worth of mention programmation outside that. I don't watch many tv-made programmation (mainly except ARTE original programs).

    But, I maybe wrong (I don't watch TV that much) so if you have in mind one or two good shows...
  5. Greg Grant Well-Known Member

    Apr 17, 2007
    This. Basically, you got your bodice-pretty-dresses to get the female audience. I'd lay doubloons to donuts, there's a dude with awkward facial hair who's a bad boy with a heart of gold in this thing. And then you add violence to get the men: dudes be getting stabbed and shit, yo. Drop three or four historical characters whose wikipedias are easy to read up on, and make sure they are not direct ancestors of anyone who can sue. And BAM! you got yourself a show.

    That reminds me - The Borgias might be one of the worst "historical" things on premium channel TV. I thought I'd watch because Jeremy Irons is a good actor, and lets face it, it's the Borgias. How can you screw it up? Man alive, this is not the thread or day to discuss that. But they me made not even be able to hate-watch it. There's an episode where a stable boy rides a stallion in the rain with too-stupid-to-live Lucrezia Borgia in like a five minute scene that even George Lucas would point out has bad dialogue. Terrible. So, so, terrible.

    But back to historical shows in general. It's always fun how dumb they are in things that require no research. The good character must always be an anachronism with 21st century humanist ideals. I don't care who you are, you are not seriously going to believe that people four hundred years ago were accepting of the things that we believe today when we accept things that nobody thought was "normal" forty years ago. Nobody needs to crack open a dusty tome and spend hours looking that up to reach that conclusion.

    And as for the villains. Every single of these bad shows always have a bad guy that is cartoonishly evil and pointlessly cruel. Yes, there are people like that and etc., but... Take this shit show you're describing. Inquisition. Okay, they did a lot of terrible things. But they weren't sitting around twirling mustaches and hoping to torture little children because they were cartoonishly evil. They had an intention to centralize power in the hands of - insert name/organization here. So how hard is it to give them motivation and not just make them all deviants? Not asking for three-dimensional characters on a TV show designed to make people not think about their shitty daily lives for an hour or two. Just asking them to make these character make a little bit of sense.
  6. Tocomocho My other car is a steam tank.

    Aug 1, 2006
    Uh, the Inquisition was invented in France.

    As for the body of the message, yeah, we Euros like to mock American shows for their fails in research but our stations will put us to shame everytime they get the chance, apparently. I say this as the airing of Hispania has just finished on this side of the Pyrenees - it was supposed to be a show set in Lusitania during the Roman conquest, but its inaccuracies would rival those in Xena: Warrior Princess. That is all.
  7. LSCatilina Feudal Leftist Extraordinaire

    Dec 5, 2008
    Albi, Patria Linguae Occitanae
    Wait Spanish Inquisition was invented in France? :p I didn't expected that.

    No seriously, Medieval Inquisition and renaissance/modern spanish inquisition are quite different : the fact the spanish inquisition was de facto ruled by the crown of Spain rather than pope for instance.

    Our chief weapon is stupidity, stupidity and cult of audimat...fine
    Our two weapons are stupidity and audimat and ruthless percpetion of people are gore and sexual addicts
    THREE Weapons are suptidity, cult of audimat, thinking people are as retarded as we are, and trying to copy other more sucessful shows
    Four...Among our weaponry...

    Well, fortunatly it seems to be limited to TV shows and some bad litterature instead of being taught.
  8. Thande At the psephological moment Donor

    Jan 22, 2005
    I'm guessing they want to jump on the HBO-type period sex and violence bandwagon (a la "The Tudors", "Rome" and sort-of "Game of Thrones") and don't care too much about whether it's actually grounded in reality or not.
  9. Yorel Well-Known Member

    May 27, 2010
    If the show was actually set around the time of the Albegisian Crusade and in Southern France, I would have one less complaint. Once Catharism was annihilated, the Inquistion practically disappeared from France and only intervened a few times. And, as pointed out, there are no proof that it was asked to act in the region of Carpentras during the Black Death. In fact, I don't believe the Church truly thought the Black Death required the Inquisition to fight sin and heresy...
    And that is a point many people fail to realise. The Spanish Inquisition was to ensure you would have a Catholic Spain as per will of its monarchs (who weren't called the Catholic Kings for nothing). As per such, it targeted everyone that was an infidel (a non-Catholic, thus Jew or Muslim) or suspected of being Heretic. Medieval Inquisition, for its part, only targeted Heretics. You were Jew? A Medieval Inquisitor could have frowned at your sight, but he would have left you alone because you weren't his target.

    The use of torture was also very codified as the Inquisition was very procedural in Medieval Times. In fact, the Inquisition could be seen as some sort of Ecclesiastical Police force, especially if you consider its name is derived from the latin word that gave birth to the word "inquiry" and its variations. It thus had to obey a stircly codified procedure that even gave the accused the right to present witnesses that could prove his innocence. And the primary objective was to save souls from Hell, not to send thousands of non-Catholics burning at the stake as people often tend to believe. If you admitted heresy, you could be forgiven if you were to reject your heretical beliefs and could be punished simply by being asked to do something that would repair your mistake. Only those who were relapse (fell back into Heresy) or that refused to reject Heresy were burned at the stake.
  10. LSCatilina Feudal Leftist Extraordinaire

    Dec 5, 2008
    Albi, Patria Linguae Occitanae
    And even in this period, the portrayal isn't corresponding to anything REAL. It's current to portray the Dominicans or Fransiscans as depraved and fanatical in supposedly cathar-friendly litterature (I wouldn't devellop what it means on the paternalist attitude towards Occitan culture and history, it would need a book).

    Now, why the pope gave the inquisition lead to religious groups that were on the edge of being considered heretic-friendly? Because these guys managed to have the confidance of population and were actually appreciated.

    Because of the formation of local inquisitions in conflict with traditional structures (bishopries by exemple) you don't have ONE Inquisition ruled by the cruel Antichrist, but a lot of little inquisitions with their own view and not really cooperating.
    Not talking of course of the conflicts between Pope and inquisitors themselves that wanted an independence from him.

    The number of people executed by fire is relativly low compared to the great slaughters that are due to armies (like in Besièrs were crusaders didn't bothered too much to distinguish local mainly catholics from the 6 or 8 cathars in the city).

    The goal of Inquisitors was to reform the person, to reconvert him. The execution was seen as a defeat as they failed to turn him again to orthodoxy.

    And they were considered as particularly pointillous in their search : the guy that disnounced a rival falsely had generally some issues. Especially in a south gained to roman law, the procedure was quite regular. (The same roman law that made the use of torture possible, while it was rejected before).

    About the torture, it's considered it represent 10% of the cases, against the crushing majority for secular tribunals in the Middle Ages. Because torture is unefficient (anybody would say anything after a seance) and because it's BAD.

    For the verdicts : crushing majority of religious condamnation (prayers, pilgrimages, ask sorry in front of churches.

    Relativly current is the emprisonment, divided in "large prison" (house arrest) or "straight prison" (actual prison). Exceptionally too the "real straight prison" who was a little cell.

    Finally, the death penalties whom a large proportion were commutated (it can represent up to 90% of cases).

    Now, of course, it's not well and good to emprison people because of their religion, let alone execute them. But medieval set of mind is different of ours and what we found, with reason, being arbitrary, horrible and bad was seen differently :

    At this era, many many things were seen trough the "common good". The individual was understood as part of its social group that was built of 1)right and duties 2)relation to other groups 3)language 4)religion.

    What catharism said?
    Oaths are blasphematories (while it was the base of feudal society), Rome doesn't bring salvation (attempt to religion as organised feature), Refuse of the material world and its continuation (as oppsed to the material world as wanted by God and need of its preservation).

    For a medieval mind (and that explain catharism never really expanded in population in S-W France except some precise places) it was a full attack on society, and that given for them the right and the duty to the institutions to react.

    The whole praising of individual right, freedom, came from the rise of bourgeoisie in the XV/XVI and our conception is directly issued from it. So being anachronistic about it seems weird (I don't mean that you can't have a character in advance on his time on an historical fiction, History proven it existed and, besides, it would certainly help to the identification from spectator).

    Furthermore, the fact it's located in Avenhon is even more fucked up.
    The jews of the region, or "Pope's Jews" were quite protected, especially by Clement VI during the Black Death with a threat of immediate excommunication for the first yahoo who would touch them, while criticism the flagellants and asking for autopsies on corpses to find the origin of the disease.

    And that is a point many people fail to realise. The Spanish Inquisition was to ensure you would have a Catholic Spain as per will of its monarchs (who weren't called the Catholic Kings for nothing).
    It's more complicated. The main difference here comes that Inquisition in Spain wasn't only more coordinated but directed directly by the Spanish kings.

    The Spanish Inquisition was generally comparable to medieval one in the first part of its exercice though, but the apparition in Spain of a real antisemitism based on bloodline and racial appartenance (at the contrary of antijudaism, that focus on religion) made a difference.

    Even converted, you was suspected to be a crypto-Jew. Admittedly, for many situations it was the cases, crypto-jews were found as far than New Spain.

    Moriscos is another issue, they were indeed hostile to spanish kings from the beggining. It's not doubtful they can be used by african pirates as auxiliaries, and that they were a big resistance against the action of state. It's at half way between the medieval mentality where religion is one of the basements of society and modern era where "one religion, one prince" was the ruling principe.

    Not that it's a justification, but the whole history isn't "Evil guys against Good guys". More, as usual, grey and grey.

    And for the portrayal of bloodlusting Inquisition, just let's take the exemple of witch burning.
    The lowest rate of execution is found in Spain and Portugal, when the highest are found in Germany where the spanish inquisition would have trouble to have a power of whatever kind.

    The main reproch against the Spanish Inquisition was they weren't different of another tribunal or court in his procedures or executions. They should have been different in the name of something that praise love and forgivness.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2012