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Monday, September 30, 2013

Don't always blame the mothers

de bene esse: literally, of well-being, morally acceptable but subject to future validation or exception

Ambitious-Margaret-Beaufort-was-the-mother-of-Henry-Tudor-who-went-on-to-become-Henry-VIIAmbitious: Margaret Beaufort was the mother of Henry Tudor, who went on to become Henry VII
A frigid fanatic in high necklines she is the ultimate tiger mother. A woman willing even to commit child murder as she plots her son Henry Tudor's path to the throne.
But this is a depiction shaped by centuries of sexual and religious bigotry and by our still ambivalent attitudes to powerful women.

Female historians and novelists may claim a sisterly empathy for historical women but all too many of them are willing to plunder misogynistic myths to write their lives. And Margaret Beaufort is not their only victim.

I first noticed how readily writers will use and rework old myths when researching the life of the so-called Nine Days Queen, Lady Jane Grey, executed aged 16 in 1553.

Eighteenth and 19th-century stories and images depicting Jane's mother as a man-eating child abuser were being rehashed. They claimed her ambition led to her daughter's death, casting her in the role of a wicked queen to Jane's Snow White. It is a version of history that sends out a message that good girls are helpless while bad ones are ambitious.

In the Tudor period and for centuries afterwards it was considered wrong and unnatural for women to wield power. It followed that the kind of woman who sought power was also unnatural - so how to depict them? Well what could be more unnatural, more against a woman's proper nature than the abuse of children?

It seems no coincidence that Margaret Beaufort stands accused of planning the deaths of the White Queen's young sons, the so-called princes in the Tower, to clear the path for Henry Tudor to be king. The irony is that the real Margaret Beaufort was what we would consider to be an abused child. She was married at 12 and was so small and slight that her son's birth when she was 13 nearly killed her. She was unable to have further children and for the next 25 years Margaret was a pawn and victim of vicious power politics.

It was the beginning of the Wars of the Roses, a struggle between cousins in which the white rose House of York fought for supremacy over the red rose House of Lancaster, the family from which Margaret came. When the white rose triumphed Margaret's sole hope for Henry was that he would have the right to inherit his father's properties and titles and live in safety in England. This was denied her.

Aged 14 Henry was forced to flee into exile from Yorkist King Edward IV in fear of his life. Margaret worked hard to get a royal pardon for her son so he could come home. She had not succeeded when in 1483 Edward IV died after catching a cold while out fishing. But everything then changed. Shockingly Edward IV's sons, aged 12 and 10, were placed in the Tower by their uncle, who claimed the throne as Richard III.
history, mothers, women, power, feminism, the white queen, bbc, religion, philippa gregory, bbc1, royalMargaret as portrayed by Amanda Hale in the BBC's The White Queen
Richard showed no more inclination than Edward IV to allow Henry Tudor home but when the princes vanished that summer and rumours emerged that Richard had ordered their deaths Margaret saw an opportunity. She suggested to the mother of the princes - the "White Queen", Elizabeth Woodville - that she agree to marry her eldest daughter to Henry Tudor. Edwardian loyalists could then combine with remaining Lancastrians to overthrow Richard and make Henry king.

Less than two years later Richard III was killed in battle at Bosworth and Henry Tudor was crowned. Margaret - the Red Queen - would gain huge political influence and become one of the richest women in England. Clearly she had benefited from the disappearance of the princes but it would not be until 110 years after her death that she would be accused of child murder. The accusations first arose only during the reign of witch-burning misogynist James I. This was the era of the Stuarts, the Tudor line was defunct and so it was possible to re-assess Henry Tudor's enemy Richard III in a more positive light. That meant finding someone other than Richard responsible for the disappearance of his nephews. Cases in which children disappear are haunting and no one has forgotten the story of the Princes in the Tower.

Margaret was an easy target, in part because of the praise that had been lavished on her by her priestly confessor John Fisher. England had undergone the Reformation. Stuart England was thoroughly Protestant and Margaret's Catholic spirituality was now condemned, while her intelligence and toughness of character were regarded with equal suspicion.

In 1646 conman George Buck, who was passing off a history composed in 1619 by a great uncle as his own, published his uncle's accusation that Margaret was a "subtle and politic lady" who had sought to kill the princes with poison and sorcery to clear the way for Henry. As we see in the novels of Philippa Gregory and the BBC's White Queen, it is as a child murderer that she is being portrayed again.
history, mothers, women, power, feminism, the white queen, bbc, religion, philippa gregory, bbc1, royalVictims of ambition: The princes in the tower disappeared
Portraying Margaret as a religious nutcase shows an arrogant blindness to the culture of our past
Margaret had become immensely powerful after Henry was crowned and powerful women are still judged unsympathetic. There also remains a visceral anti-Catholicism in England that has been reinforced by modern fears of Islamism. In The White Queen Margaret is depicted as a fanatic, ever invoking God. Yet the strict religious devotions of Margaret Beaufort's old age were commonplace among noblewomen of her time. They marked an effort to look beyond the ruthless political culture into which they had been born, to understand Christ's example of love.

Portraying Margaret as a religious nutcase shows an arrogant blindness to the culture of our past. That is worrying in a shrinking world when we need to be able to understand other viewpoints, other beliefs.

This summer, in which we have celebrated the birth of a future king to Kate and William, we should remember with a little more generosity the 13-year-old Margaret Beaufort who bore Henry Tudor. Here was a girl who took control of her destiny, who saved her son from exile and danger and who helped found the Tudor dynasty.

Not a villainess at all but a survivor and a heroine.

Tudor: The Family Story, by Leanda de Lisle (Chatto & Windus, £20) is out now. 


de bene esse: literally, of well-being, morally acceptable but subject to future validation or exception

A few of the great historical events that happened today in history, September 30th!
1568Eric XIV, king of Sweden, is deposed after showing signs of madness.
1630John Billington, one of the original pilgrims who sailed to the New World on the Mayflower, becomes the first man executed in the English colonies. He is hanged for having shot another man during a quarrel
1703The French, at Hochstadt in the War of the Spanish Succession, suffer only 1,000 casualties to the 11,000 of their opponents, the Austrians of Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I.
1788The Pennsylvania Legislature elected the first two members of the U.S. Senate – William Maclay of Harrisburg and Robert Morris of Philadelphia.
1791Mozart’s opera “The Magic Flute” premiered in Vienna, Austria.
Mozart    Today in History, September 30th
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
1846The first anesthetized tooth extraction is performed by Dr. William Morton in Charleston, Massachusetts.
1864Confederate troops fail to retake Fort Harrison from the Union forces during the siege of Petersburg.
1911Italy declares war on Turkey over control of Tripoli.
1918Bulgaria pulls out of World War I.
1924Author Truman Capote was born in New Orleans.
1927Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees hit his 60th home run of the season to break his own major-league record.
1935George Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess opens at the Colonial Theatre in Boston.
1938Under German threats of war, Britain, France, Germany and Italy sign an accord permitting Germany to take control of Sudetenland–a region of Czechoslovakia inhabited by a German-speaking minority.
1939The French Army is called back into France from its invasion of Germany. The attack, code named Operation Saar, only penetrated five miles.
1943The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps becomes the Women’s Army Corps, a regular contingent of the U.S. Army with the same status as other army service corps.
1946An international military tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany, found 22 top Nazi leaders guilty of war crimes.
1949The Berlin Airlift is officially halted after 277,264 flights.
1950U.N. forces cross the 38th parallel separating North and South Korea as they pursue the retreating North Korean Army.
1954The first atomic-powered submarine, the Nautilus, is commissioned in Groton, Connecticut.
1954NATO nations agree to arm and admit West Germany.
1955Actor and teen idol James Dean is killed in a car crash while driving his Porsche on his way to enter it into a race in Salinas, California.
1960Fifteen African nations are admitted to the United Nations.
1962U.S. Marshals escort James H. Meredith into the University of Mississippi; two die in the mob violence that follows.
James Meredith 230x300    Today in History, September 30th
James Meredith
1962The National Farm Workers Association, founded by Cesar Chavez and a forerunner of the United Farm Workers, held its first meeting in Fresno, Calif.
1965President Lyndon Johnson signs legislation that establishes the National Foundation for the Arts and the Humanities.
1965The 30 September Movement unsuccessfully attempts coup against Indonesian government; an anti-communist purge in the aftermath results in over 500,000 deaths.
1966Bechuanaland ceases to be a British protectorate and becomes the independent Republic of Botswana.
1972Pro baseball great Roberto Clemente hits his 3,000th—and final—hit of his career.
1982The situation comedy “Cheers” premiered on NBC.
1991The military in Haiti overthrew Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the country’s first freely-elected president.
1993A magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck southern India, killing an estimated 10,000 people.
1994Aldwych tube station (originally Strand Station) of the London Underground transit system closes after 88 years.
1997France’s Roman Catholic Church apologized for its silence during the systematic persecution and deportation of Jews by the pro-Nazi Vichy regime.

30 September 1544 – Henry VIII Returns from Boulogne Triumphant

de bene esse: literally, of well-being, morally acceptable but subject to future validation or exception

Henry VIIIOn this day in history, 30th September 1544, King Henry VIII returned to England after his victory in Boulogne. The French forces had surrendered on 13th September after a siege which had lasted from 19th July. Edward Hall records the campaign in his chronicle:
“The fourtene day of July the kynges maiestie in his royall persone passed the ses from Douer to Calis, and the six and twentie day encamped him selfe before Bolleyn, on the north syde within lesse then halfe a myle of the toune where his grace remayned tyll the toune was surrendered vnto his maiestie: the which toune he so sore assauted & so beseged with suche aboundance of greate ordinaunce that neuer was there a more valiauter assaute made, for besyde the vndermyning of the castel, tower and walles, the toune was so beaten withe ordinaunce that there was not left one house whole therein: & so sore was laied to the charge of the Frechmen that after the kyng had assauted theim by the space of a moneth, thei sent furth of the toune to the kyng two of their chief captaynes, called Mounsire Semblemound, & Mounsire de Haies, whiche declared that the chief capitayne of the toune with his retinew was conteted to delyuer the toune vnto his grace, so that they might passe with bag and baggage, which request the kynges maiestie, mercifully grauted theim. And so on the next day, the duke of Suffolke rode into Bullein, to who in the kynges name, they deliuered the keyes of the toune. And at after none departed out of Bulleyn al the Frenchmen. The nober of the men of warre, that wer strong and galaunt, that came out of the toune, were of horsemen, lxvii. of footmen, xv. C.lxiii. of Gonners viii.C. of hurte menne. lxxxvii. of women and chyldren. xix.C.xxvii. So there was in al that came oute of the toune, foure thousand, foure hundred, fiftie and foure, beside a great nomber of aged, sicke and hurt persones, that was not able to go furth of the toune. The last person y came furth, was Monsire de Veruine, grand capitaine of the Toune, which when he approched nere the place, wher the king stode, he alighted from his horse, and came to the king. And after he had talked with hym a space, the kyng toke him by the hand, and he reuerently kneling vpon his knees, kyssed his hande, and afterwarde mounted vpon hys horse and so departed.
The. xviii. day, the kinges highnes hauyng the sworde borne naked before him, by the Lorde Marques Dorset, like a noble and valyaunt conqueror rode into Bulleyn, and the Trompetters standyng on the walles of the toune, sounded their Trompettes, at the time of his entring, to the great comfort of al the kynges true subjectes, thesame beholdyng. And in the enteryng there met him the duke of Suffolk, and deliuered vnto him the keyes of the toune, and so he roade toward his lodgyng, which was prepared for him, on the South side of the toune. And within two dayes after, the kyng rode about al the toune, within the walles, and then commaunded that our Lady Church of Bullein, should be defaced and plucked doune, where he appoynted a Mout to be made, for the greate force and strength of the toune.
When the kyng had set all thinges ther in suche ordre, as to hys wisdom was thought best, he returned into England, to the great rejoysynge of al hys louyng subjectes.”
It hadn’t quite been Agincourt, but Henry VIII was triumphant.
Note: A tip for reading old spelling like this is to read it aloud. Also, “u”s and “v”s are often interchangeable and “y”s are used instead of “i”s, hence “hauyng” is “having”. Hope that helps!
Note also that Boulogne is spelled different ways in the same passage – Bolleyn, Bullein and Bulleyn. This is because there was no standardized spelling at the time. It was the same with “Boleyn”.

Notes and Sources

Viking Age Queens: The example of Oseberg

de bene esse: literally, of well-being, morally acceptable but subject to future validation or exception

 Viking Age Queens: The example of Oseberg
By Kirsten Ruffoni
Master’s Thesis, University of Oslo, 2011
The Oseberg ship at the archeological site.
Introduction: The Oseberg ship burial is a Viking Age burial mound containing a double female inhumation, which is located in the Oslofjord area in Norway. Through dendrochronological analysis it has been possible to determine the year in which the timbers of the grave chamber were felled, and the burial has consequently been dated to AD 834. The burial was formed by pulling a ship ashore, placing it in a trench, and building a grave chamber on its deck. The aft and fore of the ship, together with the grave chamber, were then filled with a large amount of grave goods; the fore of the ship was also occupied by many sacrificed animals which, because of their position, are thought to have been killed outside the ship and then placed on it.
The Oseberg mound was first excavated in 1903 and 1904, and since then it has been studied extensively. Many aspects of the burial have been considered by scholars, who have tried to reconstruct the events of the early 9th century in order to explain its grandness and significance. The mound has provided much interesting and unique archaeological material, thanks to the excellent preservation conditions which enabled wooden objects to survive underground for almost 1200 years. Probably the most important part of this burial is the wonderfully carved ship, which is 21.5 meters long and 5.1 meters wide. This ship, an early Viking Age construction, was useful in increasing our knowledge of Viking age ship building and sailing. Although it is thought by some that it was not suitable for ocean voyages, it is nonetheless very well built and highly decorated. Other important finds from the burial include decorated wagons and sledges, a wide variety of everyday objects and some woven tapestries.
When first excavated, the burial was thought to be that of a Viking Age chieftain, but it soon became apparent that it was lacking the weapons and other artefacts common in male graves, whilst it abounded in everyday objects such as kitchen utensils, which are normally associated with females. The discovery of two human skeletons instead of one also came as a surprise. Further studies proved that the burial was a double female inhumation and this led to it being labelled “unique”. There has been much speculation about who was buried in the mound and about which one of the two skeletons was the most important figure.

The 10 Most-Watched Series Finales Ever

de bene esse: literally, of well-being, morally acceptable but subject to future validation or exception

Everyone knows the world of television has completely changed in the last few decades. No matter how much you enjoyed the Breaking Bad finale, chances are more people tuned in for the last episode of Evening Shade or Becker or Amen. So what were the most-watched series finales in TV history? Let's take a look.
10. Home Improvement, 1999. With 35.5 million viewers, Tim Taylor edged out Frasier (#11), Dallas (#12), and Everybody Loves Raymond (#15) to crack the top 10.
9. Family Ties, 1989. 36.3 million viewers tuned in to see if Alex would take his dream job in New York and leave the Keaton family.
8. All in the Family, 1979. 40.2 million viewers watched as Archie professed his love for an ailing Edith.
7. The Cosby Show, 1992. Theo graduated from NYU in front of 44.4 million viewers and Denise returned via phone to reveal her pregnancy. But the real shocker was when Cliff finally got the doorbell to work properly after he had been trying to fix it all season.
6. The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, 1992. Bette Midler and Robin Williams were the last to sit in Johnny's chair, but the finale didn't come until the following night. That was just Johnny and Ed, sitting back and reminiscing through clips and memories. 50 million viewers switched on their sets to hear Johnny deliver this heartfelt goodbye:
And so it has come to this: I, uh... am one of the lucky people in the world; I found something I always wanted to do and I have enjoyed every single minute of it. I want to thank the gentlemen who've shared this stage with me for thirty years. Mr. Ed McMahon, Mr. Doc Severinsen, and you people watching. I can only tell you that it has been an honor and a privilege to come into your homes all these years and entertain you. And I hope when I find something that I want to do and I think you would like and come back that you'll be as gracious in inviting me into your home as you have been. I bid you a very heartfelt good night.
5. Magnum, P.I., 1988. Is Higgins really Robin Masters? What really happened to Lily? Will Rick get married? At least 50.7 million other people wanted to know the answers to those questions too.
4. Friends, 2004, 52.5 million viewers. What would happen with Rachel and Ross? Monica and Chandler? Phoebe and Smelly Cat? No shockers here: everyone lived happily ever after.
3. Seinfeld, 1998, 76.3 million viewers. And at least half of those viewers were sorely disappointed with what they saw. One critic deemed it a big "So long, suckers!" farewell to the audience who had made the show about nothing such a big hit.
2. Cheers, 1993, 80.4 million viewers. "One for the Road" featured the Return of Diane. Everyone who wondered what had become of Shelley Long's character found out when she returned with a phony husband.
1. M*A*S*H, 1983. 105.9 million viewers watched the Alan Alda-directed "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" episode of M*A*S*H, which was not only the most-watched series finale ever, but the most-watched television event ever—until 2010, when the Super Bowl topped it with 106 million viewers.
Any surprises on the list for you? I thought Dallas would make the top 10, but it just falls shy at 33.3 million viewers. More people (41.47 million) tuned in to see who shot J.R. on James Dean

de bene esse: literally, of well-being, morally acceptable but subject to future validation or exception

James Dean in the Rain: The Iconic Photo of Hollywood’s Most Enigmatic Star

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The gods and goddesses from Celtic mythology

de bene esse: literally, of well-being, morally acceptable but subject to future validation or exception

Celtic mythology offers a rich history into the origins of an Ireland long ago, with fascinating details and surprising associations.
1. Morrigan
Morrigan is known as the goddess of war, with her name loosely interpreted to mean “Great Queen,” “Phantom Queen” or “Queen of Demons.” She was believed to hover over a battlefield in the form of either a crow or a raven, and supposedly influenced or predicted the outcome of the battle. She appeared to Dagda on the feast of Samhain, had sex with him, and promised to aid him in the upcoming battle. With her aid, Dagda was victorious in his battle.
However, the Celtic god Cuchulainn did not recognize the power of Morrigan when she appeared to him as a beautiful maiden and offered her love to him. When Cuchulainn died in battle, a crow manifestation of Morrigan settled on his shoulder.
2. Aonghus
Aonghus, also known as Angus, Aonghus, or Oengus of the Bruig, is believed to be the god of love and youth. He is associated with the valley of the River Boyne.
His story is that he searched all of Ireland for a beautiful maiden. Aonghus eventually found Caer, who along with 150 other maidens who were destined to turn into swans on November 1st, the feast of Samhain. Aonghus transformed himself into a swan so he could be united with Caer, who followed him back to his palace on the River Boyne, now modern day New Grange.
3. Danu
Danu is best known for being the matriarch of the power Irish god family Tuatha de Danaan (People of the Goddess Danu). Some point to Dagda as her father.
4. Dagda
Dagda is known as ‘The Good God.’ He is portrayed as having both super-human strength and appetite. Dagda is paired with goddesses Morrigan and Boann, and is father of Brigit and Aengus Mac Oc.
His attributions were a large club which had the dual power of killing men, as well as bringing them back to life, a set of two pigs - one roasting and one growing, a harp used to summon the seasons, and a great cauldron which provided an endless source of food
5. Cuchulainn
Cuchulainn was known as the ‘Hound of Ulster.’ Originally named Setanta, he gained the name Cuchulainn after having killed the guard dog of Cullan the Smith. He’s remembered as the “tough guy” of many adventures, and thought he could out play mortality. When the goddess Morrigan offered him immortality, he rejected her offer believing that it shouldn’t be a gift bestowed. Thus, Cuchulainn was visited by the crow version of Morrigan upon his death.

6. Brigit
Now remembered in Christianity as St. Brigit or St. Bride, Brigit has several associations. She is trifold, with her powers being Fire of Inspiration, Fire of Hearth, and Fire of the Forge. Her festival on February 1 is Imbolc, where she ushers in springtime.
7. Cernunnus
Meaning ‘the horned one,’ Cernunnus is a Celtic horned god who is connected to fertility, wealth, and wild animals. He is depicted as having the antlers of a stag, most notably on the famous Gundestrup cauldron in Denmark.
Paleolithic cave paintings found in France depict a figure with antlers, believed to be Cernunnus, which places his origin to that era.
8. Arawn
Arawn is the Celtic god of the underworld of the dead. His most famous tale involves him switching places with Pwyll for a year and a day to challenge Hafgan, Arawn’s rival for ownership of the underworld. During the time they were switched, Pwyll defeated Hafgan and was rewarded with pigs.
9. Abandinus
Known as ‘Defender of the Waters,’ not much is known of the Celtic god Abandinus, save for an inscription on a bronze votive found in Cambridgeshire, England which read “To the god Abandinus, Vatiaucus gave this from his own money.”
10. Tuatha-de-Danann
Tuatha-de-Danann is the main family of Irish gods whose name means ‘Children of the Goddess Danu.’ Danu was their chief goddess and matriarch, but not their actual mother. This group of gods were known to have perfected their use of magic. Having originated on “the islands in the west.” they eventually settled in Ireland. The most important members of the family of Irish gods are Boann, Brigit, Danu, Daga, Dian Cecht, Gobniu, Lug, Macha, and Nuada.

Napoleon Bonaparte painting by David identified

de bene esse: literally, of well-being, morally acceptable but subject to future validation or exception

Napoleon by DavidThe painting was sold at auction in 2005 with a guide price of £15,000

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A painting of Napoleon Bonaparte by Jacques-Louis David has been identified in New York by a University of Reading researcher.
Previously believed to be a copy, it was acquired in 2005 for an estimated £15,000 by a private collector, who had the painting cleaned.
The new owner was urged to contact French art expert Dr Simon Lee to help authenticate the portrait.
The most recent David portrait to be sold fetched £2.14m in 2006.
The painting, which had been believed lost, shows Napoleon in 1813 when the British and Prussians were threatening to invade France.
It was first recorded in the collection of the Borthwick-Norton family in southern Scotland and then given to the Royal Scottish Academy by descent to Eva Sardinia Borthwick-Norton.
Dr Lee, a senior history of art lecturer at the University of Reading, said: "How it came to be in Scotland is not known but France and Scotland had an ancient alliance against the common enemy - England. So its presence in Scotland might be more evidence of an admiration for the Emperor.
"By having his portrait painted in National Guard uniform, Napoleon was promoting himself as protector and defender of the nation at the time when France was under great threat."
According to Dr Lee, the painting was aimed at fostering patriotism but never reached a wider audience because the allied invasion meant it remained uncirculated.
'Act of frustration'
Dr Lee's research led to a contemporary print identifying David as the painter and other versions of the portrait, which contained differences in the uniform.
Painterly mannerisms also matched details in David's Countess Daru portrait of 1810.
He said the cleaned portrait revealed fascinating clues about a potential tension between David and his assistant, Georges Rouget.
"Although the painting is signed with David's genuine signature, the cleaning revealed the word Rouget and the date 1813 appeared in the underpaint," he said.
"It was often David's studio practice to have Rouget transfer an image to the canvas, sketch in the main lines of the composition and then block in the colours. David would then provide the fine modelling of the head and likeness and the final touches.
"I believe it's Rouget asserting his part in the process. He knew his name would be covered up and so it was perhaps a minor act of frustration or rebellion.
"Some collectors or museums might be put off by having two names on the canvas, but in many ways that is proof that it is an authentic product of David's working process."

The shocking views Orson Welles had about the Irish

de bene esse: literally, of well-being, morally acceptable but subject to future validation or exception

Orson Welles. Source: Google Images
Orson Welles. Source: Google Images

There was a kerfuffle recently in the race to become the next governor of Virginia.  Apparently Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe – always proud of his Irish roots -- made a joke about how he’d use the persuasive power of drink to prod folks who might disagree with him.

Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli accused McAuliffe of dabbling in stereotypes.

“Terry McAuliffe insults Irish Americans,” Cuccinelli campaign adviser Chris LaCivita said via Twitter.

You could argue people are being a bit sensitive when it comes to all this.  Because if you really want to hear some nasty things about the Irish, you should book a lunch with legendary filmmaker Orson Welles.

Welles, of course, is dead.  But a new book, My Lunches with Orson, by Henry Jaglom, based on taped conversations, presents Welles’ views on anything and everything.

And boy, did this talented gasbag have a lot to say about the Irish.

Considering that Ireland played a central role in young Orson’s formation, perhaps it would have been better if the Citizen Kane director and famed shill for Paul Masson wine had just politely said, “Thank you.”

Famed actor Spencer Tracy? Welles dismissed him as “one of those bitchy Irishmen.”

Another time Welles added, “Look, I love Ireland, I love Irish literature, I love everything they do.  But the Irish Americans have invented an imitation Ireland which is unspeakable. The wearin’ o’ the green. Oh my God! To vomit!”

Irish Americans, he said, were “a new and terrible race.”

And if there are Irish-born folks out there feeling all superior to Irish Americans, well, Welles had some nasty things to say about you too.

His sociological take on Ireland amounted to an impoverished land in which the women were sexually frustrated and the men simply liked to slug it out.

“It was a culture,” said Welles, “where nobody got married until they were 35 because they were always dreaming of emigrating, and they didn’t want to be stuck with the kids, financially. So all these poor virgin ladies sat around waiting to get married, and the guys are all swinging at each other, reverting to the bestiality of the male.”

And guess who was always there to entertain these frustrated Irish lasses?  You guessed it, suave old Orson.

“I could hardly draw a breath when I visited the Aran Islands,” Welles said. “And these great, marvelous girls in their white petticoats, they’d grab me. Off the petticoats would go. It was as close to male rape as you could imagine.”

Welles even claimed that the women then ran to their local priests to confess.

“I had another confession this morning. When are you leaving?” an exasperated priest once supposedly said to Welles.  “He was protecting the virtue of his flock,” Welles added.

Overall, centuries of colonialism and repression left the Irish with a “passive meanness and cunning,” said Welles.

How did Welles come to, uh, learn so much about Ireland? 

He was actually taken there at the ripe old age of 16, with his mind set on becoming a painter.  Never lacking confidence, Welles liked to say he swiftly duped the directors of Dublin’s Gate Theatre into believing he was actually a seasoned American actor.

Welles is also said to have later wooed Wicklow-born Hollywood star Geraldine Fitzgerald, and even fathered her child, Michael Lindsay-Hogg.

One of Welles’ biographers even thinks that Ireland was so important to Welles that he proposed making it the inspiration for Citizen Kane, if a movie were ever to be made about Welles’ life.

“On the wild west coast of Ireland, (Welles) meets a glorious Irish girl -- his first true love,” David Thomson once wrote. “He is tempted to stay there, and she is likely pregnant. But she urges him to continue with his travels -- be all he can be. If there is a child, she says, she will name it Rosebud, after his pretty mouth.”

Thomson further describes the imaginary movie, “(T)he Irish love affair should hang over the whole thing -- along with the notion that he may have left a child there. I think there could even be a return to Ireland, in an attempt to find them -- but the girl has vanished, and thus the sense of loss inspires him in coming towards Citizen Kane and its theme of lost childhood.”

All I can say, Orson, is: “You’re welcome.”