1521: “Sword in the Stone”

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby mikrit » Wed May 06, 2015 7:59 pm UTC

The job description is in the title:

Megan, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.

But of course, as Spideruncle said: With a great sword comes great responsibility.

Edit to add: I am page king!
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby tehcmn » Wed May 06, 2015 8:23 pm UTC

This is almost certainly an election thing.

For those of you outside the UK who haven't been paying attention, we have a General Election tomorrow and it's looking like it will be like no other in a very long time.

We have been subjected to a torrent of propaganda and hate that I've never seen before in an election, all because the Scottish National Party up here north of the border might get a lot of seats and might lend Labour their support to form a House of Commons majority. That prospect has the establishment absolutely crapping themselves with fear that this might spell the end of the two party hegemony.

This isn't an issue in Scotland, Wales or NI; we'd *like* to see more power devolved to these regions, which is likely to be the outcome if the corresponding parties hold any kind of power. The issue is in England alone because the rise of center-right neoliberalism means that the powers-that-be want power taken -away- from those regions and given to England.

The result is a justified partisan wailing from English newspapers and television about how "communist" "Red" "class-war zealot" Ed Milliband and the "dangerous", "illegitimate" SNP ("Scottish Nazi Party", "biggest crisis since the Abdication") will rape your dog, set the cat on fire and take a dump in your cereal. The stuff in quotes I promise I am not making up.

I'd have replaced the damn sword too.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby DanD » Wed May 06, 2015 8:48 pm UTC

orthogon wrote: In the case of England, or the UK, or whatever, you might not end up any the wiser...


As near as I can tell, the Queen actually has all sorts of nifty legal authority, as long as she never actually exercises it. A lot of the powers that fall to the Prime Minister, for instance actually still belong to the Monarch (possibly with the advice of the ministers), and only custom invests them where they actually fall. However, the moment the Queen tried to use said powers, Parliament would act to strip them from her.

Of course one of the powers that the Monarch retains is to veto a law, so that act by parliament would trigger a bit of a crisis.

(Please note, this is an outsider's understanding)

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed May 06, 2015 9:15 pm UTC

Doesn't the monarch theoretically have the power (and duty) to act as a kind of emergency break on the democratic government, with the power to just dismiss the existing administration and call for a new one to be elected? Has that ever actually happened? Would that cause the same kind of crisis that other monarchial power exercises would?
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby hordriss » Wed May 06, 2015 9:56 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Doesn't the monarch theoretically have the power (and duty) to act as a kind of emergency break on the democratic government, with the power to just dismiss the existing administration and call for a new one to be elected? Has that ever actually happened? Would that cause the same kind of crisis that other monarchial power exercises would?

Yes, but that would lead to all sorts of trouble... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Civil_War
I'm actually rather peeved that this doesn't appear anywhere on the first page when you look up 'Civil War' on Google.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby project2051 » Wed May 06, 2015 10:03 pm UTC

She puts it back because strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony. You can't expect to wield supreme executive power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!

(If we are going with the Monty Python version of history)

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby iabervon » Wed May 06, 2015 11:12 pm UTC

She knows better than to accept seating from unseen parties. "Would not ascend again"

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby meerta » Thu May 07, 2015 1:02 am UTC

Began to feel quite dizzy reading all these Americans correcting each other regarding the ancient British history and Arthuran legend. Maybe that's because I've drunk a lot of win this Election-day Eve.

It certainly seems a lot of coincidence if this wasn't put out with regard to the election, the most interesting election for some time. And Randall is not completely out of touch with the world. Whether it's also influenced by Labour's stone-carved monolith of pledges, I cannot say, but that resonated too. I assumed The Thick of It had a fifth series.

So because there's an election tomorrow, and having seen tweets suggesting we use the stone obelish for a sword-in-the-stone contest to help decide it, I couldn't help reading it in that context.

So in that case Megan became entitled to the throne of England in out time. I don't know if this is the point of the comic -it worked for me - but this means that Megan is now monarch of a non-sovereign territory within a country known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain Northern Ireland. Indeed, there has been no English Parliament, or monarch, since the time of Queen Anne (about 1707, after that it was Great Britain).

And that would be a lot of hassle. Maybe that is why @DruidKingArthur doesn't presently challenge the incumbent royal family. His sword is said to come from the film Excalibur.

And as tehcnm mentions, there is some major stuff going down in this election regarding the age-old relationship between Scotland and England. I hope it sorts itself out, but it adds some credence to the idea that governing something called "England" now might be seen as a hassle.

As for the Queen, in theory she has a veto on any legislation, and the power to call and dissolve Parliament, appoint ministers, yes. It's true that if this was used in any serious way it would probably cause a constitutional crisis, but I guess if that happened a whole lot of other things would be going down at the same time.

So it's hard for a British person to read this out of all that context. I think it's a light-hearted xkcd and I'd like a cool sword also.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby meerta » Thu May 07, 2015 1:16 am UTC

In fact, King Arthur is standing for Salisbury. Here's his Party Election Broadcast:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-teqblYYKk

I for one would like to see him get in.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby rmsgrey » Thu May 07, 2015 1:56 am UTC

Queen Elizabeth II has, by all accounts, been a hard-working, conscientious monarch who has taken a strong interest in policy over the years.

I believe there have been a few occasions since the Empire became the Commonwealth when the monarch has exercised their constitutional powers directly in order to break a deadlock or block some temporary insanity, but only a few...

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby dtilque » Thu May 07, 2015 3:12 am UTC

Qaanol wrote:-But you get a free Australia as bonus!


Order now and get a Holy Grail at no extra charge*...



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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby higgs-boson » Thu May 07, 2015 6:45 am UTC

meerta wrote:Began to feel quite dizzy reading all these Americans correcting each other regarding the ancient British history and Arthuran legend. Maybe that's because I've drunk a lot of win this Election-day Eve.

Despite being from continental Europe, despite having visited England (and Wales, and Scotland) several times (and it was - always - worth the trip), I feel a bit addressed here. HEY! :-)

Ach! We learned so much from Arthur and his secondary literature*. Arthur is everywhere. Even in politics, the term "round table" has been in use for decades. And probably half the people here lost themselves for a few days in Zimmer-Bradley's epic interpretation. Please forgive us non-British for indulging in the legend, and bragging about or findings from wikipedia, or memory, or the differences between them.

As for today's election: Good luck. Continental Europe's press is not sure about what's best, yet (and usually, they are smart-arses not only telling you what you think, but what you have should thought, too).


*We now know about the powers of gravity and love**, we know that the difference between African and European**** can knock you over, we know that only the penitent man will pass, we even know that the really difficult question to answer is "Who the f... put the Sword in the Stone in the first place?!"***,*****
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Yomar » Thu May 07, 2015 6:59 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Doesn't the monarch theoretically have the power (and duty) to act as a kind of emergency break on the democratic government, with the power to just dismiss the existing administration and call for a new one to be elected? Has that ever actually happened? Would that cause the same kind of crisis that other monarchial power exercises would?

The queen dissolves Parliament prior to every election. Like all her other powers, it's a pure formality done on the say-so of the government. She also appoints the Prime Minister (on the say-so of the Commons) and all other ministerial and cabinet positions (on the say-so of the Prime Minister). There's no precedent for the queen to sack her entire cabinet. Obviously, this is all de jure only; if the queen tried to dismiss the entire government the government would simply ignore her and rewrite the laws to strip her of her prerogatives, although there'd doubtless be a big kerfuffle. The only situation I can imagine under which the queen might be expected to act under her own initiative is if there was a motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister, who subsequently refused to resign, in which case the queen would be expected to dismiss him. That's never happened.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby orthogon » Thu May 07, 2015 8:22 am UTC

higgs-boson wrote:
meerta wrote:Began to feel quite dizzy reading all these Americans correcting each other regarding the ancient British history and Arthuran legend. Maybe that's because I've drunk a lot of win this Election-day Eve.

Despite being from continental Europe, despite having visited England (and Wales, and Scotland) several times (and it was - always - worth the trip), I feel a bit addressed here. HEY! :-)[/size]

Besides, ancient British history is part of American history too. And as for Arthurian legend, it's, well, legend. I don't think there's a particular reason why living in modern Britain should qualify somebody to know more about a particular story than somebody living elsewhere in the English-speaking world. I, for one, know naff-all about it.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby higgs-boson » Thu May 07, 2015 9:05 am UTC

orthogon wrote:[...] I don't think there's a particular reason why living in modern Britain should qualify somebody to know more about a particular story than somebody living elsewhere in the English-speaking world. I, for one, know naff-all about it.


I was left under the impression that educational systems usually pay a bit more attention to the local history and legends.

As for not burying the [liːd]. The most obvious reason for passing on the English throne wasn't called, yet.
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby tomandlu » Thu May 07, 2015 9:29 am UTC

tehcmn wrote:This is almost certainly an election thing.
For those of you outside the UK who haven't been paying attention, we have a General Election tomorrow and it's looking like it will be like no other in a very long time.


It's going to be fun. The most obvious outcome is a Labour/SNP coalition, but Milliband seems to have ruled that out, which means no majority and another election in a few months afaict.

I'm betting that Milliband will go ahead with a coalition, declaring it the "brave and right thing to do" (aka "I lied").

Time for proportional representation IMHO - the old excuse that it always leads to coalitions is looking a bit silly right now. I just think it's fantastic that the two-party hegemony has been broken at last.
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby sfmans » Thu May 07, 2015 9:30 am UTC

higgs-boson wrote:"The weather is damp relatively frequently and is changeable. [...] Rainfall is spread fairly evenly throughout the year."


You say that like it's a bad thing! I live on the edge of the Peak District National Park, and the whole reason that Blake could write about our 'green and pleasant land' is thanks to the rainfall that keeps it green.

However I do still rail against people who say
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby CharlieP » Thu May 07, 2015 9:47 am UTC

Yomar wrote:That has to be the weirdest Americanism I've ever heard.


Mine is "bleu cheese", which I believe is pronounced "blue cheese".
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby CharlieP » Thu May 07, 2015 9:55 am UTC

higgs-boson wrote:I was left under the impression that educational systems usually pay a bit more attention to the local history and legends.


Yes, but since we have so much of both, it's hard to cover it all properly. :?
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby CharlieP » Thu May 07, 2015 10:05 am UTC

tehcmn wrote:This is almost certainly an election thing.

For those of you outside the UK who haven't been paying attention, we have a General Election tomorrow and it's looking like it will be like no other in a very long time.

We have been subjected to a torrent of propaganda and hate that I've never seen before in an election, all because the Scottish National Party up here north of the border might get a lot of seats and might lend Labour their support to form a House of Commons majority. That prospect has the establishment absolutely crapping themselves with fear that this might spell the end of the two party hegemony.

This isn't an issue in Scotland, Wales or NI; we'd *like* to see more power devolved to these regions, which is likely to be the outcome if the corresponding parties hold any kind of power. The issue is in England alone because the rise of center-right neoliberalism means that the powers-that-be want power taken -away- from those regions and given to England.


It's worth pointing out for non-UK readers that there currently exists a degree of asymmetry in British politics - more power *has* been devolved in the last couple of decades, with a Northern Ireland Assembly and Welsh Assembly established in 1998 and a (new) Scottish Parliament established in 1999, with limited local powers. However, no similar England-only legislature exists, which means that England-only matters are voted on by the UK Parliament.
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Eternal Density » Thu May 07, 2015 10:31 am UTC

If Britain is correct, then I'm the Queen of England!
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby orthogon » Thu May 07, 2015 11:13 am UTC

Eternal Density wrote:If Britain is correct, then I'm the Queen of England!

I humbly bow before you, your majesty.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Tova » Thu May 07, 2015 11:18 am UTC

dtilque wrote:Order now and get a Holy Grail at no extra charge*...


No thanks, not very keen. I've already got one, you see.

It's very nice.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby meerta » Thu May 07, 2015 1:33 pm UTC

Well, if you're interested, here's a 'guide to the British general election for non-Brits'.

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/vid ... are_btn_tw

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Invertin » Thu May 07, 2015 4:31 pm UTC

Damn. I was waiting for someone to misidentify the sword in the stone as Excalibur so I could get all correctionish.

I've seen that mistake a lot recently for some reason, not in recent media as such, just stuff that I've been exposed to recently. One's from a lake and has a magical sheath, the other is from a stone and proves legitimacy to the throne. Arthur had a nice collection of magic swords, really.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby speising » Thu May 07, 2015 4:45 pm UTC

Invertin wrote:Damn. I was waiting for someone to misidentify the sword in the stone as Excalibur so I could get all correctionish.

I've seen that mistake a lot recently for some reason, not in recent media as such, just stuff that I've been exposed to recently. One's from a lake and has a magical sheath, the other is from a stone and proves legitimacy to the throne. Arthur had a nice collection of magic swords, really.

Oh, yes, like in the pilot episode to the abominable The Librarians i just watched, unfortunately.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby orthogon » Thu May 07, 2015 4:57 pm UTC

Invertin wrote:Damn. I was waiting for someone to misidentify the sword in the stone as Excalibur so I could get all correctionish.

I've seen that mistake a lot recently for some reason, not in recent media as such, just stuff that I've been exposed to recently. One's from a lake and has a magical sheath, the other is from a stone and proves legitimacy to the throne. Arthur had a nice collection of magic swords, really.

Does the one in the stone have a name, then? Yeah, sure, I could Google it, but I'd rather interact with a human. (Assuming you're not a Turing Test candidate).
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby rmsgrey » Thu May 07, 2015 5:07 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:
Invertin wrote:Damn. I was waiting for someone to misidentify the sword in the stone as Excalibur so I could get all correctionish.

I've seen that mistake a lot recently for some reason, not in recent media as such, just stuff that I've been exposed to recently. One's from a lake and has a magical sheath, the other is from a stone and proves legitimacy to the throne. Arthur had a nice collection of magic swords, really.

Does the one in the stone have a name, then? Yeah, sure, I could Google it, but I'd rather interact with a human. (Assuming you're not a Turing Test candidate).


I'm not aware of it having had one - the only times I've seen it named have been when people have conflated it with Excalibur...

Edit: some spot research reveals a claim that originally there was one sword with two conflicting origins, and that when the stories were sorted out and made more consistent, some called the earlier sword Caliburn; others called both swords Excalibur.

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Whizbang » Thu May 07, 2015 5:15 pm UTC

Excalibur = Caliburn = Caledfwlch

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Diadem » Thu May 07, 2015 6:27 pm UTC

Invertin wrote:Damn. I was waiting for someone to misidentify the sword in the stone as Excalibur so I could get all correctionish.

I've seen that mistake a lot recently for some reason, not in recent media as such, just stuff that I've been exposed to recently. One's from a lake and has a magical sheath, the other is from a stone and proves legitimacy to the throne. Arthur had a nice collection of magic swords, really.

This is a bit silly. In some stories they are different swords, in some stories they are the same sword. Asking which stories are 'real' is silly, as neither are.

I suppose you could ask which stories are older. But since the origins of the Arthurian legends are not exactly known, that is impossible to tell with certainty. It's probably the stories where they are separate swords, but this is not certain.

Also, if wikipedia is to be believed 'excalibur' comes from Welsh 'caledfwlch' which just means sword (lit: hard cleft). So probably in the oldest tales both swords were called that whether they were the same or not.
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby rmsgrey » Thu May 07, 2015 6:51 pm UTC

Whizbang wrote:Excalibur = Caliburn = Caledfwlch


Yeah, but when one source consistently uses the older form for one sword and the newer form for another, the distinction is meaningful for that telling even if it isn't in other contexts.

Diadem wrote:
Invertin wrote:Damn. I was waiting for someone to misidentify the sword in the stone as Excalibur so I could get all correctionish.

I've seen that mistake a lot recently for some reason, not in recent media as such, just stuff that I've been exposed to recently. One's from a lake and has a magical sheath, the other is from a stone and proves legitimacy to the throne. Arthur had a nice collection of magic swords, really.

This is a bit silly. In some stories they are different swords, in some stories they are the same sword. Asking which stories are 'real' is silly, as neither are.

I suppose you could ask which stories are older. But since the origins of the Arthurian legends are not exactly known, that is impossible to tell with certainty. It's probably the stories where they are separate swords, but this is not certain.

Also, if wikipedia is to be believed 'excalibur' comes from Welsh 'caledfwlch' which just means sword (lit: hard cleft). So probably in the oldest tales both swords were called that whether they were the same or not.


Actually, if I had to guess, I'd say that the original stories simply had a sword called (some precursor of) Excalibur and at some point two different origins each got attached to it independently, and then when the stories merged again, explanations were invented for why the same sword apparently got created two different ways - the two main surviving explanations being that there were two different swords with very similar names, or that there was only one sword, but it was broken and renewed...

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby speising » Thu May 07, 2015 7:02 pm UTC

Interestingly, according to the german wikipedia, if you interpret Excalibur as of latin origin, it could mean ex (from) cai (stone) libur (free).

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby philipquarles » Thu May 07, 2015 8:07 pm UTC

tehcmn wrote:This is almost certainly an election thing.

For those of you outside the UK who haven't been paying attention, we have a General Election tomorrow and it's looking like it will be like no other in a very long time.

We have been subjected to a torrent of propaganda and hate that I've never seen before in an election, all because the Scottish National Party up here north of the border might get a lot of seats and might lend Labour their support to form a House of Commons majority. That prospect has the establishment absolutely crapping themselves with fear that this might spell the end of the two party hegemony.

This isn't an issue in Scotland, Wales or NI; we'd *like* to see more power devolved to these regions, which is likely to be the outcome if the corresponding parties hold any kind of power. The issue is in England alone because the rise of center-right neoliberalism means that the powers-that-be want power taken -away- from those regions and given to England.

The result is a justified partisan wailing from English newspapers and television about how "communist" "Red" "class-war zealot" Ed Milliband and the "dangerous", "illegitimate" SNP ("Scottish Nazi Party", "biggest crisis since the Abdication") will rape your dog, set the cat on fire and take a dump in your cereal. The stuff in quotes I promise I am not making up.

I'd have replaced the damn sword too.


The election coverage doesn't dominate the England wiki page, though. Maybe the comic would have made more sense with a google news search. (Although the results I get there seem to be mostly about cricket and rugby.)

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu May 07, 2015 8:11 pm UTC

sfmans wrote:Oh, and, lede, eh? Every day's a school day ...

I really expected that argument to continue after actual facts were presented, since they usually do. Anyway, either usage is correct, but lede shows you've done your homework in a way the other doesn't.
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu May 07, 2015 8:30 pm UTC

In the Monty Python version, Excalibur is the sword that came from the lake, not the one that came from the stone. (One coming from a stone is not mentioned).

Also might it not be possible (in a build-a-consistent narrative sense) that the same sword might been at different times in a lake and in a stone? Or that the stone was in the lake? Or any combination thereof.

In any case, any method of distributing swords is still no basis for a system of government.
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby mikrit » Thu May 07, 2015 8:50 pm UTC

Invertin wrote:Damn. I was waiting for someone to misidentify the sword in the stone as Excalibur so I could get all correctionish.

I've seen that mistake a lot recently for some reason, not in recent media as such, just stuff that I've been exposed to recently. One's from a lake and has a magical sheath, the other is from a stone and proves legitimacy to the throne. Arthur had a nice collection of magic swords, really.

Well, I took for granted that Excalibur was in the stone. And I remember something vague about a lady in a lake, but not the lakesword.
Thanks for the info, always nice to learn new things. So the sword in the stone does not have a name then? (Exstonibur?)
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby Keyman » Thu May 07, 2015 8:52 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:In the Monty Python version, Excalibur is the sword that came from the lake, not the one that came from the stone. (One coming from a stone is not mentioned).

Also might it not be possible (in a build-a-consistent narrative sense) that the same sword might been at different times in a lake and in a stone? Or that the stone was in the lake? Or any combination thereof.

In any case, any method of distributing swords is still no basis for a system of government.

How 'bout the method where all the swords are distributed to one faction.
Sure it ain't a good basis, but it does lead (or is it 'lede') to "Help, help! I'm being repressed!" and "Come and see the violence inherent in the system!" :wink:
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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby mikrit » Thu May 07, 2015 9:28 pm UTC

After reading about several conflicting Arthur legends on the long Wikipedia page for "Excalibur", I want to suggest a compromise theory:
The lake sword and the stone sword were distinct, but by a remarkable coincidence, both had the name Excalibur.
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Dubbed "First and Eldest of Ottificators" by svenman.
Febrion wrote: "etc" is latin for "this would look better with more examples, but I can't think of any".

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby speising » Thu May 07, 2015 9:32 pm UTC

The lake sword was Excalibur 2.0

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Re: 1521: “Sword in the Stone”

Postby rmsgrey » Thu May 07, 2015 9:40 pm UTC

An interesting (for certain values of interest) tidbit is that bronze swords were cast rather than forged, so a bronze-age sword would literally have been removed from a stone - the stone mould that gave it its shape.

The anvil, of course, being the blacksmith's major tool (along with a good hammer) is the birthplace of iron (and steel) swords.

Iron blades are also traditionally tempered by immersion in water, meaning such a sword will have been extracted from water (and such a blade will usually be superior).

So it's at least plausible that the origin stories for Excalibur represent versions of the secrets of fine blade-making across a couple of different technological levels.


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