BRING IT ON!
Last April I successfully completed the A to Z Challenge, and it was exhausting but also a lot of fun, and so this April I'm going to go for it again. The Challenge is a month-long commitment to post a theme-related blog a day, all the way though the alphabet, every day except Sunday, and to meet and support other bloggers who are doing the same. You ask, Why? and I reply, Why not? It's a chance to be part of a blogging community and to spend a month diving deep into an obsession of my choice.
Last year my theme was My Favorite Things, and so I was thinking that this year I should round it all out by choosing Things I Hate, but frankly I was feeling uninspired. The things I hate are, after all, the same things that everyone hates: telemarketers. Rubbernecking delays. I was just getting started thinking up some of the posts and I was already boring myself to death.
But then this week I was talking with Yvonne Ventresca (who was the one who told me about this Challenge in the first place), and somehow the subject of the 16th century came up, and I was telling her about how I'll read almost anything about that era that I can get my hands on, and she came up with the brilliant idea of making that my A to Z Challenge theme. And I immediately got so energized that in the few days since then, I've come up with the subject matter for each one of my 26 themed posts, and I've even got the name for my themed challenge. I'm calling it (as you already know from the title of this post):
MY SUPER-SWEET 16TH CENTURY
It's not that I wish I'd lived then. God, no. I would have been poor, as all my ancestors have undoubtedly been, and I would have been female, because it's hard enough to imagine all that time travel without tacking on gender-switching, and that combination would have ensured that I had a life expectancy of less than 30 years (yes, really) and probably would have died painfully during or just after childbirth, when the infections set in. Go read a biography of any man of the 1500's who wasn't a royal (the royals had state-of-the-art medical care, although that didn't save poor Jane Seymour). Chances are that your chosen commoner married at least twice, and more likely three times, after his (much younger) wives died. Repeatedly giving birth in those days was a more hazardous occupation than the daily physical work engaged in by any peasant, male or female.
So what is it about that century that so fascinates me? I think of it as the time when the collective human brain began to yawn, stretch, and fully rouse itself; to tentatively recognize that experience and observation could trump the accepted wisdom of centuries, or even millennia, gone by. How do we know that the human body is controlled by the four humors? What if it isn't? How do we know that the earth is the center of the universe? What if it isn't? How do we know that witchcraft can cause plagues and crop failures? What if it can't? Maybe, just maybe, there's a way we can find out. It was the dawn of what we now call scientific thought. And it led to the 17th-century Enlightenment - also known as the Age of Reason - and, eventually, to space travel, the Internet, and - best of all - this very blog you're reading.
I've decided to focus each of my 26 April blog posts on a different 16th-century person. Some of them are people I knew of before I started researching for this Challenge, but most of them aren't. To keep things interesting, I've come up with a few rules:
1. No European monarchs. No Henry VIII, no Elizabeth I, none of those folks.
2. No incredibly famous people that everyone already knows something about. No Michelangelo, no Leonardo da Vinci, no Galileo, no Shakespeare.
3. No conquistadors of any nationality, because I'm too conflicted about them. No Hernan Cortez.
4. No religious leaders, for much the same reasons. No Martin Luther. I make only one exception, and it's for someone no one has ever heard of, but you'll have to wait until I get to U for the details.
5. As many women as I could reasonably include, which isn't easy when you're excluding royals, because not that many nonroyal women made it into the pages of history books. But there were some, and I'm going to offer a sampling of six of them.
So there you have it. That's what this blog will consist of for the month of April, and I hope it will be as entertaining as it is informative. So, would you like to join me in the Challenge? I wish you would! You don't even need to have a theme if you don't want to, although I think it makes it more fun and will probably bring you more followers. C'mon! It'll be a blast!!