An Oxford Professor has been reported as concluding that the term ‘Tudor’ is a misleading myth. The people we refer to as Tudors did not see themselves as Tudors. We use the term as one of convenience. Now I have not done research into much of history and would hate to dismiss the conclusions of a learned professor based on what he is reported to have said in a BBC online report. No doubt there is much of interest in his research and he probably reveals or expands on how those we call ‘Tudors’ perceived themselves and provides us with other information about them.
Various eras and ages, I would venture to suggest without having researched them in any detail, are named with names of convenience. Most eras and ages are probably named when they are over. It is hard to envisage anyone in the Stone Age or the Bronze Age as perceiving or describing themselves as belonging to any era at all. ‘Aah, typical Ice Age weather again this millennium’,’ or ‘That Ezekiel, he’s so, so biblical, isn’t he?’ are not comments likely to have been heard in any age or era. Many Ages cover periods of time when there was no one around to perceive anything at all, let alone whether one belonged to a particular era or not. ‘These Jurassics will never see out the age!’
Most of us do not identify ourselves as primarily belonging to an age or era. We may be Latter Elizabethan, Windsorian, Microsoftian, Screeneddevician or who knows what. No doubt some future historians, if they find anything worthwhile to say about our times, will ascribe our age in some term suitable to them. One can imagine the following: ‘The pre-Obaman century produced almost nothing of merit apart from the works of Dr Seuss and Charles Schulz’. Art or literary historians might be writing: ‘The modern era was supplanted by the post-modern era. This in turn was succeeded by the contemporary age. When this age was no longer contemporary but had been fully consigned to the past the era of the Here-and-Now held sway until it was subsumed by awareness of the Current period. This lasted until the Present age although commentators disagree as to when present trends transferred to what we are now at the moment. ‘
It is not merely ages and eras that are misnomers. Human language is littered with incorrect terminology. Scientists talk of atomic research even though they have long known that atoms can be further subdivided into all manner of ever miniscule particles. The term ‘atom’ may be a misleading misnomer but no one is misled and everyone is completely clear about what it refers to. Orthopaedic surgeons do not straighten out children.
In most cases inaccurate names pose no danger or threat to anyone. They are convenient. We call a chair a chair not because it is a chair but because the term ‘chair’ has come to signify the object ‘chair’. We should not worry whether the Tudors were Tudors or Henricians or anything else for that matter. We should worry about certain terms that are very misleading in a present period/age/area. For example we utilise the term ‘leader’ in our society to describe someone who follows the polls, consultants, his party, certain influential individuals, public opinion, media commentary, advisers and the fear of losing the next election (among many others). The problem with our age is that some terms we use are for convenience, others are for self-deception.
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