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  • That Was Genius Team

Episode 4 - The Adventures of Sir Flannel Washbottom (Love Week)

Updated: Apr 19, 2020

Sam's Episode Notes: The story of the goddess Ishtar and King Tammuz AKA: My cottage cheese brings all the girls to the yard. AKA: Summer loving. So for this story we're going to go right, right, right back. To the very dawn of civilisation. And when we're talking right back, I mean to around as far back as around 2700BC, and the Sumerian empire, one of the first human civilisations, based around modern Iraq, Syria, and bits of Turkey. We're also going back to the first ever known author, Enheduanna, who was a priestess and quite prolific poet and writer, who wrote dozens of really beautiful works. Now, there's a bit of a disclaimer here. There's a few ancient poems and stories we have scraps of that mention these guys, but because it's SO long ago, and only a few lines of story have survived, it makes it tricky to translate. For a start, the written language is really hard, because it's kind of in shorthand where unless you know the context, lots of words can mean the same thing. Secondly, whilst the Sumerians were pretty good at writing things down, they were bloody useless at writing the same things down. So one story or character in different sources can be completely different. SO. Tammuz was either a king or a god, probably both, and Ishtar was, depending on where you read it, Tammuz' wife, his lover, or his mother. Also, depending on who you read, Tammuz ruled for 26,000 years. So make of that what you will. Bullshit. One of those interpretations makes this a very different story, but fuck it, we're dealing with gods and they never seem that bothered by this kind of thing. For the sake of making the family tree easier though, we're going with wife and husband. Now Ishtar was one of the most powerful goddesses in town. She was the goddess of both love and war, because she was strong and single minded and demanded loyalty and bravery, which are important when you're interested in conquering your foes or getting married. She also very much understood that sometimes love is a battle ground, particularly over whether to go for Dominos or Pappa Johns, or who has to do the washing up. She was also exceptionally beautiful, always in full make up and dressed to the nines because she was a boss. Aaand she had a temper. If anyone failed to worship her enough, or show her loyalty, she'd destroy their kingdoms. So not to be messed with. Think the Devil wears Prada. And Ishtar wanted to get married. She had her eyes set on the god of farming, Enkindu. You know, nice looking chap, lots of land. Tammuz hears about this though and he's having none of it. He's the god of shepherding, and so in Sumeria he's way richer and more powerful. He has a word with Ishtar's brother, the sun god, and says look, put in a good word. But Ishtar's having none of it. She has her mind set. And at this point, we get history's first known love poem. It's called Innana Prefers the Farmer. Innana was another name for Ishtar. The poem starts by Ishtar's brother listing all the good points about Tammuz. He's rich, he's got good wine and oil that he'll share with you, it's always summer when he's around. And she says no, I won't go out with him, I won't walk with him to his … or compliment him on his … at this point the translation is unclear so you can add your own words in there. She says I like the farmer, he's a nice lad. So Timmuz steps up himself and says look, whatever he's got, I'll give you far better. If he gives you a new wool cloak, I'll give you both a sheep. If he gives you his good wine, I'll give you some milk. Seems like a fair exchange, and then, an offer she can't refuse. If he gives you his best wine, I'll give you my cottage cheese. Whoa there, put down the 89 chateaux neuf du pape darlin', Daddy's home and he's bought the cottage cheese. Take me now. Anyway, the farmer god Enkindu says whoa there, who invited you, look – let me marry her and I'll let your sheep have my fields and eat my grain. And Timmuz gets furious and says get out of here mate, you can't compete with all this cottage cheese. And Enkindu gives in and says either, depending on what you read, you can marry her, or I'll marry her and you can borrow her once in a while, and I'll throw some beans into the deal as well. How chivalrous. And that's the poem, the farmer backs off, Timmuz says some nice things about her eyes, and Ishtar thinks well I've got to marry someone, and this guy seems pretty driven, just like me. Go on then. And they get married, and by all accounts spend many happy years / millenia together. UNTIL. One day, Ishtar has to go on a trip to the underworld. She's got to go to the funeral of her brother in law, the Bull of Heaven. But the other gods are suspicious. This is the goddess of war they're dealing with. She's ambitious. She can turn fortunes in a second. And they are convinced she's launching a coup.

In another myth, she'd already invaded heaven. And they had good reason to doubt – because she came dressed for war, which in her case meant a nice dress and mascara, according to the myths. No armour is the best armour eh, but it's what she would apparently do when launching an invasion or meeting one of her myriad boyfriends. So the gods of the underworld are suspicious, but they hatch a plan. They make her stop at each of the seven gates of the underworld and remove an item of clothing, so she gradually becomes naked. Hell of course being a nudist colony. By the time she reaches the others for the funeral, she's completely naked and powerless, and they kill her immediately. Doh. If only she'd kept her kevlar cocktail dress. Anyway, this is the god of love who has just been killed, and boom, there's no one to look after love any more, so everyone on earth becomes infertile, and no stops caring about each other. It's chaos. Ea, the god of wisdom, sees this and thinks ah shit, we've done it now. There's going to be no-one left to worship us if no ones having babies, so he hatches a plan to revive Ishtar, she escapes, and heads home to the real world where everyone's back shagging away, at it like rabbits. But there's now a hole in the afterlife, a spot. And that needs filling. So what poor sap is going to have to get cast into hell? Well, Ishtar is furious and thinks the first person I see is going to get it. And who does she come across? Her manicurist and hairdresser. That is what the story says. But the poor lass is devastated and launches herself at Ishtar because she's so pleased to see her again, and Ishtar thinks, well that's sweet, no death for you today. The same for Tammuz' bodyguard. But uh oh, enter poor Tammuz himself. He's having a whale of a time. His wife's away at this funeral, he's got the palace to himself. Ishtar comes in and sees him chilling out, naked in a bath of cottage cheese, reading sheep and shepherd magazine. And she's furious. She launches into him – why didn't you call, I've been literally dead, blah blah blah. And she says right, that's it, I've had it with you. But no sleeping on the sofa when these guys fight, she summons up some demons to whip him straight down to hell. A few months pass and Ishtar's finally ready to forgive ole Tammuz. She misses having him around and those special things he does with the shepherds crook and the cottage cheese. And besides, without the god of Shepherding all the sheep and goats are wondering around aimlessly chewing the tapestries and causing a nuisance. So she strikes a deal with Tammuz sister, Geshtinanna, which means they'll swap places every so often, giving Tammuz a few months back in the real world. And whenever he does, the herds are filled with new life as Spring and summer arrives, before he has to head down to the underworld again for winter. And that is how the seasons came to be. So the moral of the story is, when your partner comes home looking like death, show a little care.

Tom's notes:

Prince Arthur of Wales

· First son of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York

o Ended War of the Roses; second half of the 15th C.

o Battle of Bosworth; defeated Richard III

o Keen to unite houses of Lancaster and York; tying together the various lines of succession together

· Names after King Arthur

o Circumference

· 1486; Born at St Swithuns Priory in Winchester

· 1489; made Knight of the Bath

o Great title for 3 year old

§ Names for other Knights of a 3 year old’s bath?

§ Sir Quackalot and Sir Flannel Wash-Bottom

o Not really an order of knights

o Elaborate ceremony

o Investiture for Prince of Wales

o Purification by other knights in the bath

§ Rusty chain mail

§ I’ve flooded my codpiece

· 1491; made Knight of the Garter

o Bjorn the Ungartered

· 1502; died of ‘sweating sickness’ aged 15

Catherine of Aragon

· 1485; born

· Daughter of Isabella of Castille and Ferdinand of Aragon; Monarchs of Spain

· Third cousin of Henry VII

· Fourth cousin of Elizabeth of York

o Actually had a strong claim to the throne due to descent from John of Gaunt (King Edward’s third son to survive to adulthood)

· Later marries Henry VIII

· Pregnancies

o Western medicine

o 1509 miscarried a girl

o 1510 son died after 52 days

o 1513 stillborn

o 1514 stillborn

o 1515; Mary I

o 1517; miscarriage

o 1518; died after a few hours


· 1489; Treaty of Medina Campo; married when canonical age

o Dowry; 200,000 crowns or 5 million GDP

· 1497; betrothed by proxy

· 1499; married by proxy

· Love letters:

o "I cannot tell you what an earnest desire I feel to see your Highness, and how vexatious to me is this procrastination about your coming. Let [it] be hastened, [that] the love conceived between us and the wished-for joys may reap their proper fruit."

o Snotty teenage spoilt brat

· 1501; married properly

o Met for the first time in Dogmersfield in Hampshire

§ Different pronunciations of Latin

§ Hashtag Tudor Royalty Problems

o Catherine enters London riding on a mule alongside future Henry VIII

o Shits loads of pageantry; wine flowing freely for the Londoners

o Entertainment at Baynards Castle

o St Pauls; wedding

§ Bishops Palace; walks along blue carpet

§ Catherine

· White satin embroidered with pearls and gold thread, farthingales under her dress; unusual in England

· Veil

· Wore hair long

§ Hundreds of feet long raised walkway with a red carpet and gold nails, fine wool trim

§ Tapestries on the walls

§ Arthur white satin, 18 bishops, Archbishop of Canterbury

§ Exiting Cathedral; giant mountain covered in precious metals, red roses, dragon models, wine fountains, mini kings and queens

· Like Legoland

§ Trumpets tooting

§ Feast at Lambeth Castle

· “Doing the Lambeth Walk!”

o Next day

§ Flotilla of 40 barges up the Thames to Westminster

· Week of jousting and banqueting

o Bedding ceremony

§ Holy water sprinkled on the bed

§ Catherine unveiled and laid in bed by maids in waiting

§ Arthur escorted by his mates playing viols and tabors

o Sir Anthony Willoughby :

§ “Willoughby, bring me a cup of ale, for I have been this night in the midst of Spain.”

o Thomas Grey, 2nd Marquess of Dorset,

§ Arthur’s “good and sanguine” complexion the next day.

o Juan de Gamarra

§ “Francisca de Caceras, who was in charge of dressing and undressing the queen and who she liked and confided in a lot, was looking sad and telling the other ladies that nothing had passed between Prince Arthur and his wife, which surprised everyone and made them laugh at him.”


· Canonical Law

o Cannot marry wife of windowed brother

· If marriage not consecrated, no marriage!

· Leviticus:

o You must not have sexual relations with your daughter-in-law. She is your son’s wife; you are not to have sexual relations with her. 16You must not have sexual relations with your brother’s wife; that would shame your brother. 17You must not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter. You are not to marry her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter and have sexual relations with her. They are close relatives; it is depraved.…

o If a man lies with his uncle’s wife, he has uncovered the nakedness of his uncle. They will bear their sin; they shall die childless. 21If a man marries his brother’s wife, it is an act of impurity. He has uncovered the nakedness of his brother; they shall be childless.

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