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Recap / A Thing of Vikings Chapter 41 "...Not Places"

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Book II, Chapter 10

Having succeeded to the imperial throne on December 10, AD 1041 after the death of his biological uncle and predecessor, Michael IV, Michael V Kalaphates (the Caulker, after the original occupation of Stephen, his biological father) was determined to rule on his own. Immediately, he began to reverse his uncle's decisions, recalling courtiers, nobles and soldiers that Michael IV had banished, and banishing, framing, or otherwise removing Michael IV's own appointments. This immediately brought him into conflict with John the Orphanotrophos, senior court eunuch, his biological uncle, the effective prime minister of the Byzantine Empire, and the man directly responsible for his family's elevation from Paphlagonian peasantry to the imperial throne. Michael V promptly banished John to the monastery of Monobatae, and had the majority of the male members of his family castrated as well, to keep them from being threats to his rule...

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...mostly due to happenstance in timing, Michael V is given perhaps undue credit as being the founder of the Byzantine Empire's corps of dragon riders. As Sigurd Trondsson had arrived a short period before Michael IV's death, and the program was formally begun under Michael V, with Michael V being recorded as the first dragon-riding Byzantine Emperor, it can be stated with some certainty that Michael V benefited from Sigurd's timing more than from significant insight.

The Byzantine Emperors, Athens University Press, 1812

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Tropes That Appear In This Chapter:

  • Bad Dreams: Snotlout has one where he is forced to be a scribe when the Empire has enough sufficient fighters and dragon-riders, with the scribe saying they plan on kidnapping Hiccup and Fishlegs to join him as scribes. When Snotlout escapes, he finds that Berk had conquered The Empire with Hiccup as the new Emperor, Astrid mocking him for being less impressive than Hiccup.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: When Father Henriksson insists that the Church should have a hand in Ruffnut's hospital as it is a Christian's duty to heal the sick, Yngvarr retorts that it is also a Christian's duty to feed the hungry and that Henriksson has done nothing about that.
  • Christmas Episode: Is set around the time of Yule, with Berk preparing to celebrate it.
  • Corrupt Church: The Catholic Church.
    Viggo: But, in the current Church as it stood, corruption was simply the best means by which to fit in. Priests sold indulgences, bishops sold titles, even Pope Benedict sold rulings.
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  • Feuding Families: Implied. Hiccup, Astrid and Cami all nearly have a heart attack when they see Dogsbreath flirt with Inga, his father and her mother having a famously disastrous courtship that ended with her mother banished from the village.
    Astrid: ...it ended poorly.
    Wulfhild: How poorly is "poorly"?
    Astrid: Legendarily so.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Father Henriksson - a Catholic priest who is very much against Ruffnut and other women in the role of healers - has to be reminded by Yngvarr that Jesus himself tended to the ill in his own time despite being God on Earth. When Henriksson tries arguing that he was a man and Ruffnut is not, Yngvarr retorts that Dymphna - a woman recognized as a saint by the Church - also dedicated her life to caring for the sick regardless of her gender.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: It is not until they all see Fishlegs and Heather practically glowing after their night of passion does Hiccup understand why they would miss breakfast and work respectively.
  • Secular Hero: Father Henriksson's primary concern about Ruffnut's hospital is that she refuses to give authority of it to him and the Church, while Ruffnut wants the hospital to be open to people of all faiths.
    Ruffnut: I'm not making my hospital into, what, what's it called, a monastery! It is going to be a place for everyone to come and get help, Christian or pagan-
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Father Henriksson thinks that it is "unseemly and profane" for women to be healers, ignoring that the Church has given sainthood to women who were healers.



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