aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

Educational TV with a vengeance

Years ago, I remember seeing Sword of the Conqueror, a 1961 Italian adventure movie starring Jack Palance as Alboin, King of the Lombards. In the 6th Century, Alboin defeats the Gepids, marries Rosamund, drinks from a goblet made from her father's skull. Sounds like a hoary fantasy tale full of done-to-death tropes, right? Well, except that the script is largely based upon actual history. One can doubt some of the details from Paul the Deacon's account, but there it is. This isn't Hollywood, this is history from primary sources we're talking about.

It feels like made-up movie shtick, but it isn't. When I finally came to study the Dark Ages seriously, I remember reading accounts of Alboin and the Lombard invasion of Italy and thinking, "I've heard this before." Yep, I'd already encountered this from late night TV during my high school years. Pity those who never learned anything about the Dark Ages, even from cheesy adventure movies. We really do a poor job of teaching history. Maybe we should assign Sword of the Conqueror in World Civ 101.

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