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A Challenge of a Grave Nature
February 19th, 2005

I hereby, on these grounds and with these witnesses, challenge all who say that Redwall is a Medieval world.

Why should I issue such a preposterous challenge? Because I can clearly show that it is not, and, furthermore, that the entire thing does knowingly and willfully defy classification.

Right, now that that talk's out of the way, we'll begin.

It is a fact generally taken for granted that the entire Redwall world is Medieval in nature. The problem is this isn't fact. It's presumption. It's presumption based on the nature of technology, based on character archetypes, based on the nature of textiles, based on the nature of "society." The fact is that this presumption is erroneous.

Technology-wise, Redwall is a world of all the great adventure stories rolled into one, and minus firearms. I see that in a previous editorial, a certain member of the nobility compiled a short list of weapons that have made an appearance in the Redwall series and declared them to be Medieval. Among these are swords, pikes and slings. But any student of history can immediately identify these weapons as Ancient Greek. Pikes could also be considered Rennaisance. Cavalry charges were made with swords as recently as San Juan Hill. And David used a sling thousands of years before the present day, not hundreds. The weapons are really indicative of how much Jacques likes arms, and how they are instrumentative to the stories.

As for textiles, they are farther from medieval than the technology is. Mob caps and bonnets are indicative of 17th-19th century. Jerkins are Dark Age, Medieval and Rennaisance. Habits are still in use.

The nature of society is possibly the second worst thing to base an assumption of Medievality on. Redwall is clearly not Feudal. There is no parcelling of land, no local dukes or lords or barons to owe fealty to. There is no king, and the kings that do exist sit over territories of largely independent tribes. Redwall is clearly not Mercantile. There are no crossroads towns and no fat merchants presiding over guilds of artisans. Redwall is, in fact, clearly Redwall.

But the worst basis of presumption is without doubt character archetypes. The warrior, the pirate, the farmer, the monk, these are all old archetypes of all genres in many cultures. The pirates in question, Searats and corsairs, are all based most directly on the Golden Age of Piracy, that is the late 17th to early 18th centuries, because that is the current Western archetype of a pirate. The warriors are not even Medieval in style. They're examples of literary warriors of all time periods.

I'm done now. I await all challengers in my brooding chamber.


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