Noble Heart (Nobility Series)

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Our intentions are good. They want to fight back, or fight for themselves, because ideals are often futile. It may be under the guise of doing the right thing, or it may be a pure belief in hedonistic grasping, but it comes from the boiling blood of the frustrated, and it is why our nobility is so important. When one sees our world and the wild violence that springs from our political disagreements, one can be disappointed, but one should not stop being noble, whatever that means to you, and one ought still hope for the goodness in our world.

One must always look for the letters V. Theme 2: The Absurdity of Inherent Morality. They're like chef's salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict. The above quote is brilliant, which here means "reveals an insight which I, in all my searching, have had a hard time conveying.

Jesus is the Standard

However, often in the battles between the noble Baudelaire children and the wicked Count Olaf, their interactions with each other and with others are absurd and, generally, unhelpful. No one can see the obvious, but often state their beliefs as obvious. The good guys are always a step behind, the villains are always a step ahead, and the people in charge are always a step to the side.

Lemony Snicket merely magnifies, which here means "exaggerates beyond proportion to reality", the absurdity we see in life, everyday, while ultimately showing us how willingly we cover our eyes and dismiss it. Instead, we like to claim the idea that people are inherently good, or inherently evil. We hate our evil, we love our good, and we try to pick which one is us, like it were a Buzzfeed quiz telling us what kind of virtue we are.

Here, the nobility of the Baudelaire children is challenged.

The point is that the absurdity of our condition, in a world that we make sense of but hardly makes sense, undercuts us at every turn. What would you do in that situation? You don't know, because you cannot possibly recreate that situation, nor would you want to. The event so undercuts your nobility that, in fact, it seems to be suggested that it doesn't.

Postmodern Heroics: A Review of A Series of Unfortunate Events, or Volunteering for Nobility

All absurdity does, within in and within reality, is force you to make a choice. To decide what your nobility means to you. The interesting aspect of this book, in regards to this theme, is that Violet, Klaus, and Sunny seem to represent traits of humanity that are deemed our "best" qualities: Violet is a creator, Klaus is logical, and Sunny is physically savvy.

Humans are creative, logical, and physically savvy beyond what we understand. Thus, the continuing perseverance of the Baudelaire orphans is suggestive that, for whatever flaws our creativity, our logic, and our physical abilities may have, they are by far the main reason we have survived all this absurdity. Nothing we do is, inherently, good or bad. Our nobility is in our deeds and, perhaps, it is how hard we strive to adhere to those good but futile principles our logical mind creates for our physical situation that determines how good or bad we are.

Theme 3: Being a Volunteer. In the series, the V. To the untrained eyes, or the tired eyes much like my eyes as I continue, courageously, to write at 7am in the morning without any sleep , this means very little than adhering to the V in V. But might I suggest something else? Well, you cannot really argue with the printed word, but I will write as such: Snicket's theme here is that ultimately, through everything, to be noble or to be wicked is a choice.

You must volunteer, because there is nothing in it for you. Being noble leads, eventually, to death. Being wicked leads you to death. Being cowardly and trying to avoid this choice by living in a house by a large lake and hiding from real estate agents will lead to death. Being noble is just as likely to land you in trouble with the law as would being wicked.

You can lose friends for being noble, or gain enemies for being wicked. You must volunteer for noble or wicked deeds, for a life of well read, perhaps unfortunate but nevertheless noble lives, or a life of orphan chasing, fire setting, disguise wearing wickedness. Olaf is used to show us wickedness fits in society. It is something that we cannot veil, because it does not need to be veiled. It is just as much a volunteer job as being noble. You may need a few more disguises and some hilarious names, but it will nevertheless be just as much a choice. What is interesting, as well, about the portrayal of villains in the series is that they do not see themselves as volunteers, even though it is so.

Nobility is always in need of volunteers, and there are always fires that need to be put out. So what do you say, dear reader?

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Are you going to volunteer? Literary Reviews. August 14, Share on Facebook. Share on Twitter. Featured Posts. December 30, January 5, February 10, Recent Posts. July 9, The anachronisms of this liberal-Romantic tradition were exposed as the tensions which had inspired it retreated from the front rank of sociocultural issues after The latter contention in particular has been amply demonstrated by subsequent studies showing that medieval burghers—at least as far as those with wealth and power were concerned—shared more of their aspirations and assumptions with their noble neighbours than with any later bourgeois.

The collapse of traditional interpretative models confronts historians with two main questions: first, how to account for the many conflicts and animosities between late medieval townspeople and nobles which were previously ascribed to a clash of cultures; and second, how to explain the origins and development of ideas about townspeople and nobles as antagonists. An important approach to the study of late medieval antagonism between town and nobility in both discourse and lived experience is to examine the possibilities for peaceful coexistence and cooperation between townspeople and rural nobles.

Such constructive relationships were potentially a significant factor in their own right, whilst changes in their nature and extent are also an important barometer of tensions. Yet close political relationships between townspeople and nobles have hardly been re-evaluated in light of the new tendencies in scholarship since In common with other wealthy and politically independent German-speaking towns, Nuremberg maintained a force of mounted soldiers who served the town in various capacities.

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Certain servitors had particular specialisms or worked within a certain region, but in general any servitor could undertake tasks of any type. If town and nobility are understood as opposites, they can also be considered complementary. An assumption that towns employed nobles because they needed men with military expertise remains the scholarly consensus, though it originates in the idea of town and nobility as diametrically opposed cultures in which nobles fought and burghers traded. Were nobles indispensable as diplomats?

In the highest political circles the leading citizens generally had the better connections, and the noble servitors functioned chiefly as status symbols. During the imperial diet in Nuremberg the council ordered that a number of the noble servitors should be present at the town hall every day to help carry wine for the princes meeting there. The lower-ranking servitors tended to be recruited through the more significant men, and were therefore clustered in certain regions, not necessarily the areas in which Nuremberg most needed to build bridges.

As we will see, leading servitors such as Werner von Parsberg were required to reside in Nuremberg, showing that the council placed a higher premium on having them available at short notice than on their integration with networks amongst the rural nobility. Some towns valued their noble servitors as independent arbiters. The employment of servitors was a major expense for towns. Why did towns such as Nuremberg consider this expense and risk worthwhile? There is no denying that some nobles had military and diplomatic value for independent and assertive towns, but they were not nearly as indispensable to the burghers as is suggested by assumptions of a cultural dichotomy.

The town certainly gained prestige from the high-ranking nobles in its employment: in the early s Landgrave Johann of Leuchtenberg received the same annual salary as Werner von Parsberg, without there being any indication that he performed military or diplomatic tasks. It may have been largely his title which determined his price. Military experts or well-connected diplomats had their value, but the real need was for men who would show long-term loyalty to the council and thereby help to maintain its power within the town and beyond.

In the early fourteenth century a Margarete von Parsberg d. A few years later Werner acted as guarantor for another noble from his region, Hiltpolt von Fraunberg, who in was obliged to pay Nuremberg Gulden within twelve months in compensation for a robbery. At this stage, however, Werner was making a successful career in princely service. This produced further tension with Nuremberg, as the fighting threatened the property of burghers who held fiefs from the Hohenzollern in the area of Freystadt. He was soon taking on the typical duties of a standing servitor: a diplomatic mission within Franconia, and escorting the likes of Duke Ludwig of Bavaria-Ingolstadt and Margarete of Austria, the betrothed of Duke Friedrich of Saxony.

Servitors were sometimes paid bonuses, but they had to surrender their most valuable prisoners and any booty taken on campaign was divided equally amongst those involved. The main financial perk of service with Nuremberg in comparison with princely service was the option to have large sums paid well in advance, of which Werner von Parsberg made good use.

But these debts could be converted into pledges of lordship rights which might be more lucrative in the long run. Werner von Parsberg was probably required to reside in Nuremberg during his period of service. He retained his lordships at Lupburg and Adelburg, and even took a simultaneous position in the service of his brother, the bishop of Regensburg, as governor of Hohenburg castle.

Conversely, anyone with claims against Parsberg could bring them to Nuremberg, and many did. In May , for example, he was ordered back to the town to answer a creditor who had sent a servant there to wait for him, and in the council took his son Friedrich to task for the detention of a citizen of Tachov. Thus the two reasons for nobles to enter the service of towns envisaged by both the liberal-Romantic tradition and more recent historians—financial gain and political protection—do not appear so compelling in the case of Werner von Parsberg and Nuremberg.

The supposed loyalty deficit is even less apparent, as the structures and benefits of service relationships encouraged both nobles and the town council to seek longer-term, stable connections of precisely the sort that Werner von Parsberg formed with Nuremberg. But it is still not clear what motivated Parsberg to make the switch from serving princes and to form such a lasting relationship with Nuremberg, and indeed what enabled the council to put so much faith in his continued loyalty.

It seems likely that the advantages for Parsberg ran deeper than the marginal financial and political gains, and an examination of his political context also suggests that this was the case. Both this valley and its surroundings were politically extremely fragmented, and Parsberg was just one of many small lordships in the region. There were other brothers, including Friedrich, bishop of Regensburg from to The two brothers were both involved in acquiring a share of the nearby Adelburg castle in All took significant positions in the service of both Bavarian and Palatine branches of the Wittelsbach dynasty.


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By , however, the Parsbergs had not been able to exploit such favourable political constellations in order to significantly bolster their independence from princely authority through imperial preferment. They did hold recognized imperial fiefs, for example possessions in the region around Eger present-day Cheb in the Czech Republic and certain properties at Etterzhausen 9 km north-west of Regensburg. Nonetheless, the political situation in this region in the mid-fifteenth century presented a considerable opportunity for noble families to seek greater independence.

Small lordships in the immediate vicinity of large princely territories were always vulnerable, as the lords of Heideck 43 km west of Parsberg discovered. The perpetual threat which they faced from the Hohenzollern territory to their west was probably the driving force behind a multi-generational alliance between Heideck and Nuremberg. The Parsberg family had historically been ministeriales and then retainers of the Wittelsbach dukes of Bavaria, though they had always enjoyed an unusual degree of independence. The charter survives only in a copy from , when it was verified by an abbot in Regensburg, though there is no particular reason to doubt its authenticity.

At some point in the early fifteenth century to judge from the script a number of documents purporting to be charters of the first Wittelsbach Emperor Ludwig IV r. These granted the rights contained in the charter with the unusual addition of a precise number of years for which they had already been enjoyed by the Parsberg family apparently since the year In Hans von Parsberg purchased this advocacy from Georg Zenger, suggesting that the forgeries were created after this date.

Noble’s Pond Receives Prestigious Award

Thus Werner was commissioned by Frederick III to hear cases brought in the royal court against Nuremberg and to receive the homage of imperial vassals from the region. The Parsberg family was clearly seeking further independence from princely authority, and at least one of their number therefore had good reason to build a relationship with a non-princely employer. Werner von Parsberg died on 2 November , according to his funerary hatchment, which still hangs in the parish church of St Laurence in Nuremberg.

But interests such as those of the Parsberg family were still a powerful voice in the later fifteenth century. After the noble Society of the Donkey had organized a tournament at Heidelberg in from which all townspeople and those nobles with links to towns were expressly excluded, a discussion was held ahead of a subsequent tournament at Heilbronn in The case of Werner von Parsberg shows that nobles did not have to be weak to ally with towns, that they could do so for primarily political rather than purely economic reasons, and that hard-headed political calculation could lead to long-lasting and stable alliances.

This was less a marriage of aristocratic militarism with bourgeois money, and more the meeting of two political actors and imperial subjects both ultimately seeking to establish or uphold their right of self-governance under the protection of the Holy Roman Empire. Direct imperial enfeoffment with lordship and jurisdiction was the ultimate legal expression of this autonomy, but it was only one of the objectives pursued by noble families as they sought to enhance their independence.

Their strategies included princely service, which was by no means necessarily antithetical to simultaneous emancipation from princely authority. As we have seen, the realization of these possibilities required a close and long-term engagement with the town. Our own close engagement with Werner von Parsberg has been necessary in order to build a clear picture of his alliance with Nuremberg, and on this basis to develop a new way of reading such relationships between towns and rural nobles.

What proportion of nobles who entered the service of towns were interested in building such long-term relationships, and how many were interested in quicker, primarily financial returns? At the same time, our findings reveal some of the limits to town—noble rapprochement.


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  • The number of nobles who aspired to greater independence from princely authority was considerable, but the number of those with the means and opportunity to make much progress in pursuit of this goal was inevitably smaller. As we have seen, this demand was a product more of internal politics than of concern for external relations, and consequently a town such as Nuremberg was always at risk of finding itself with few loyal partners amongst the rural nobility.

    But the battle was not the whole story, and the nobles who fought against Nuremberg on that day were not necessarily its implacable opponents the next. Parsberg carried his standard within evolving narratives of identity, and within a history of identity formation. He is a long-overdue corrective to the study of alliances between town and nobility, which we still view through the lenses of identities which we no longer inhabit, but he is also part of the process through which generations of Germans came to see the world in this way. Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford.

    It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. Sign In or Create an Account. Sign In. Advanced Search. Article Navigation. Close mobile search navigation Article Navigation. Volume Article Contents. II: Nuremberg and its Servitors. IV: Parsberg Family Strategies. V: Conclusion. Oxford Academic. Google Scholar.

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