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Civilization: Game vs. History

Discussion in 'Civ6 - General Discussions' started by Morningcalm, Jul 7, 2018.

  1. Morningcalm

    Morningcalm Keeper of Records

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    This thread aims to collate scholarly/casual history discussion of how the Civ VI leaders and/or civs are portrayed/represented vis-a-vis history (with some fun historical facts thrown in), and with scholarly links (to at least vaguely reputable sources if possible, or relevant YouTube links for music, etc). I will collect links to the major posts in this parent post for reference later. Discussion is welcome, but please don't argue with each other over history (and if you do disagree re: the historicity of a particular aspect, please do so politely and with citations, lest the moderators lock the topic).

    I will list all leaders below (let me know if I'm missing anyone), bolded are the ones I will tackle in early posts. Please feel free to reserve a leader to discuss in a post with citations/analysis.

    • Alexander (Aka plastic Disney's Hercules)
    • Amanitore (She actually does appear that large in relief carvings)
    • Barbarossa (Inaccurate plate armor)
    • Catherine de Medici (Controversial and powerful, speaks French and Italian!)
    • Chandragupta Maurya (Dislikes neighbors, considers them smelly)
    • Cleopatra (Historically, she was fatter and less physically attractive, but no less charming, and indeed liked powerful military leaders)
    • Curtin (John) (Vigorous public speaker who has a habit of making a stride forward, also portrayed ingame)
    • Cyrus (the widely-loved king portrayed as a deceitful surprise attacker)
    • Gandhi (speaks English and Hindi!)
    • Gilgamesh ("Gilgabro")
    • Gitarja (aka Dyah Gitarja, whose real name was much, much longer)
    • Gorgo (Potentially visually based on a certain 300 movie portrayal)
    • Harald Hardrada (OMG the Christian Viking who is portrayed as a pagan)
    • Hojo Tokimune (Triforce, physical appearance based on a TV drama series portrayal)
    • Jadwiga (The saint, and the king)
    • Jayavarman VII (He likes spider meat)
    • Lautaro (He's a teenager, don't lust after him too much please)
    • Montezuma I (He of the Over-Feathered Skimpy Garb)
    • Mvemba a Nzinga (Afonso I, enthusiastic convert to Catholicism)
    • Pedro II (Aardman Animations-like, and oddly dislikes those who like Great People as he did historically)
    • Pericles (Analysis of this weak-armed Solon-esque imposter will be a personal delight)
    • Qin Shi Huangdi (Ruthless in real life, he works his workers hard on Ancient Wonders in the game)
    • Peter (Hello Captain Hook--ok, fine, he actually looks like the real Peter)
    • Philip II (The charmingly fanatical Catholic ruler)
    • Poundmaker (Controversial for his physical appearance and for a Cree tribesman complaining he was not consulted; however, his distant family members loved making the music for him with Geoff Knorr)
    • Robert Bruce (Bad voice-acting for the real Braveheart)
    • Roosevelt (Teddy) (Underwent plastic surgery to appear more like the vigorous man he was historically, only leader to have a historical portrait appear in his First Look video)
    • Saladin (A good portrayal of a Civ leader, albeit without really acknowledging his military focus. He did indeed wear silk robes and say many of the things he says in-game)
    • Seondeok (A leader controversial for her physical appearance, and also because of her history--ironically she faced a rebellion because she was female in her time, and now faces controversy in this time because of that too)
    • Shaka (Physical appearance based on a TV drama portrayal)
    • Tamar (Dislikes foreigners, likes walls. Essentially, one of Trump's wives, if we believe they share his views)
    • Tomyris (The Massagetae queen is somewhat ahistorically in Civ VI the queen of the "Scythians", and we know little about her, with much being drawn largely from Herodotus' one account of Cyrus' death, though her agenda, "Backstab Averse" is ahistorical in that she never had a Surprise War declared on her)
    • Trajan (Looks like Julius Caesar from Asterix, in-game and historically loved buildings)
    • Victoria ("We are Not Amused", but has an achievement named "We Are Amused")
    • Wilhelmina (The adorable Dutch queen who spoke powerfully on radio)
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2018 at 6:34 PM
  2. Gorbles

    Gorbles Load Balanced

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    How are you planning to account for historical bias in both coverage and surviving media? You're saying "let's not argue over history", when the whole field of history is dedicated to, well, arguing with each other over history :p

    I don't want to make light of this. I just feel that's possibly one of the most important parts of history. As it stands, this could get bogged down with people just throwing citations at each other.
     
  3. Morningcalm

    Morningcalm Keeper of Records

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    To be sure, arguments may be inevitable. But I think there's a right way to discuss it and a wrong way to discuss it. I'm discussing some of the historical arguments/controversies around Seondeok below (arguably the most interesting of the Civ VI leader controversies, with Poundmaker a close rival in that regard). Hopefully, this will not unleash the (likely male) Korean trolls who whined about Seondeok's being chosen for being female, etc.

    As far as citations go, feel free to point out places in my posts where I could use some more citation. The post is atypically long because I'm tracking the controversy and citing some of the Koreans who had issues with Seondeok being chosen, so as to better authenticate my support for Queen Seondeok as a good choice for a Korean leader--I did suggest her as a leader for Korea way before the expansion was announced, after all.

    Queen Seondeok of Silla (Korean Civilization)

    Seondeok was the first queen in Korean history and the first queen of the Silla kingdom, which was then arguably the weakest of Korea's warring Three Kingdoms (Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla). She leads a very scientific-focused Korea with some cultural bonuses, and attracted much controversy when announced as the leader for Korea, largely because several (most likely) male Korean gamers criticized her as having been chosen only for being female. Other criticisms were levelled at her historical performance as leader, with critics (see comments) decrying the loss of 40 Silla forts and defenders pointing out how she was an accomplished diplomat who laid the foundation for Silla's eventual conquest of all Korea (also, Seondeok presided over a Korean Golden Age for Silla). This dispute will be discussed further, below, with citations to historical scholars and primary Korean sources showing why the defenders are more correct and less prone to warping history than the critics, may of whom seem to share an anti-female bias. Seondeok has also attracted controversy for not looking Korean enough, which is also (somewhat) historically relevant vis-a-vis the only known vaguely-historical seeming portrait of her, albeit from far later than the Three Kingdoms period, and also discussed below.

    Leader Bonus
    "Hwarang": Cities with an established Governor receive +3% Culture and +3% Science for each promotion that Governor has.
    Historical Analysis: The hwarang were an elite group of young males, sometimes called "Flower Knights" who were expected to be chivalrous, loyal, culturally cultivated and well educated, and were groomed to become politicans and officials later in life. One of the most famous hwarang was the renowned General Kim Yushin, who served Seondeok quite well (putting down the rebellion against her late in her life for example). This is a suitable bonus because it refers to the scientific and cultural upbringing of the hwarang, though the ahistoricity of this ability mostly derives from the hwarang essentially playing the role of educators (they were not, generally, themselves educators of others). Another ahistorical element (though small in the long term) is that the Civ VI governors (including two females and from a variety of ethnic backgrounds) serve as "hwarang" by implication via their bonuses from Seondeok. Historically, all hwarang were male, and Korean.

    It could be argued that Seondeok's leader ability ought to have alluded to her Tang Dynasty military alliance (which gave the Silla kingdom some hope for relief from the combined Goguryeo-Baekje attacks on Silla), or to her religious focus--Seondeok was known for having constructed many Buddhist temples in her time, and completing construction of perhaps ancient Korea's tallest structure, a nine-storey wooden pagoda for the Hwangnyongsa temple, which became a focal point of Korean state-sponsored Buddhism. Each of the nine storeys in this massive 68 or 80 meter tall wooden structure represented one of Silla's enemies which Silla was supposed to defeat (including China, and the two other Korean kingdoms).

    However, the Hwarang leader ability does, gameplay wise, synergize with Korea's seowon (which was actually an educational institution from much later in Korean history than the Three Kingdoms period).

    Appearance/Animation/Bidam's Rebellion (Rise and Fall Trailer)
    Seondeok (video of her intro in Civ VI); In-game (Civ wiki showing her in-game portrait) vs. historical image likely from far later than the Three Kingdoms period (image in the South Korean public domain, available via Wikipedia)

    Initial First Look videos (like this International one) featured a Seondeok who had somewhat plump cheeks, somewhat un-Asian looking eyes, and darker skin complexion. Comments from YouTubers included "She doesn’t even look Korean" (Atlas Fell), and "모델링 너무 빻았는데 (She's too ugly)" (81forzazlatan), and it was discussed on Reddit. I would agree Seondeok did seem somewhat more swarthy in appearance, with non-Asian eyes, in these initial videos. It may merit mention that the plump cheeks match her appearance in a picture of unknown origin in Wikipedia (likely made many years after her death, as records from the Three Kingdoms time do not portray the rulers in such pictorial form). The picture in question is now in the South Korean public domain.

    Seondeok's appearance was later changed, and this was seen in later previews (including live streams from the developers, notably in one live stream her appearance change was indicated as an example of the developers reading feedback from fans). Seondeok's current in-game appearance shows a drastically thinner (compared to the original version) woman with slightly more alert-looking eyes and an overall more Asian appearance which may even (perhaps?) be based on the appearance of the voice actress (link to Korean voice actress interview). [Notably, this interview video had many more positive comments than the International First Look video for Korea.]

    Seondeok's Silla crown, however, has never been criticized to my knowledge. It is a fairly distinctive sight to us Koreans, as we have seen it in history books and so on (it is also one of the most grand ancient treasures uncovered in Korea, and made of actual gold).

    Seondeok's (purple) dress appears to be somewhat based on this photo from a museum (showing Silla crown jewels), and not, by comparison, based on this photo from the Queen Seondeok South Korean TV drama series (this dress is notably heavier-looking, with tassels and spiral designs). (In my opinion, the in-game dress uses imagery that is arguably too Chinese--are those dragons I see on the dress?) The in-game dress lacks the spiral designs shown on the parts of the dress outside of the lining, however, perhaps for simplicity (and to give the animators ease given that they reconstructed her face).

    It is also worth mentioning that Seondeok is the only in-game leader from Rise and Fall who makes a physical appearance in the Rise and Fall trailer (59 seconds in). She is portrayed wearing a purple dress quite similar to her in-game dress, and the distinctive golden Silla crown and watches as her forces fall under siege by mounted cavalrymen. She also looks somewhat disheartened and/or ill, which matches her historical involvement at this time in Bidam's rebellion against her in January, 647 AD.

    (Historically, Bidam was previously a high official appointed by Seondeok, and was in that position for about 1 and a half years (links to podcast series "Almost Forgotten" episode about Seondeok, created by one Charlie Fliegel). According to the Hwarang Chronicles or Hwarang segi (in Korean, 화랑세기), Bidam's rebellion took place when Queen Seondeok was quite ill, and indeed, the Ancient History Encyclopedia article on Seondeok cites illness as the probable cause of Queen Seondeok's death, though Wikipedia also correctly notes some theorize Seondeok died partly out of shock at the rebellion. On January 8, Queen Seondeok passed away.

    The next section in the Samguk-sagi, for Queen Jindeok (Seondeok's immediate, notably also female, Silla successor) records that Bidam and 30 people who rebelled with him were executed on January 17 during the first year of Queen Jindeok’s reign (i.e., the same year 647 A.D.). The Samguk-sagi notes that General Kim Yushin (fighting on behalf of Seondeok) and Bidam were at war for about 10 days (the rebellion began January 8, ended January 17).

    There is no direct mention of how Queen Seondeok died in either the Samguk-sagi or the Hwarang Chronicles. So, there are two hypotheses as to how Seondeok dies: (1) death from illness (more likely, given the Hwarang Chronicles mentioning that Seondeok was very ill at the time), or (2) being killed by rebel soldiers. A popular Korean novelist, Choi In-ho (최인호), wrote in his novel Lost Kingdom (잃어버린 왕국) that Queen Seondeok was killed during the rebellion--but this was from the novelist's imagination. There are no ancient sources stating Seondeok was killed (and indeed, if she had been, one might reasonably expect such a big moment to be mentioned in the historical record.))

    Controversy (Seondeok vs. Korean Anti-Feminists)
    Which takes me to my section on why Seondeok is a controversial leader (aside from her appearance issues addressed above). Interestingly, if you look at the Wikipedia entry for Seondeok's editing history, a great many changes by one "Zcheckz" were made to describe Seondeok as "vicious", and also to claim that she was "assassinated" and that "Bidam was a person with a strong political influence over the court who had a good reputation among the people so that many of them joined his cause" (in fact the rebellion seems to have been rather small-scale). So Bidam was elevated and Seondeok stated as having been assassinated. Why? Because it presents Bidam as being (to whatever extent) "right" in rebelling against Seondeok, and also portrays Seondeok as having been assassinated--which is then cited as evidence her people hated her for being a "tyrant". (In this regard, one YouTube comment by "립허크" on the International First Look video (currently the third from the top) states, in part, "People uprise against her tyranny and she trembled without anything idea / Dying in the hands of rebel...") Actual history, by contrast, and as mentioned above, does not elevate Bidam nearly as much, nor portray Seondeok as having been killed either (and in fact, the ancient records tend to suggest Seondeok died of illness).

    A similar, although perhaps more well-intentioned, historical erasure can be found in the Civilopedia entry for Seondeok (scroll down to Civilopedia entry). The Civilopedia entry does not mention Bidam's rebellion at all (!), though the hints for Korea's announcement (via Firaxis Twitter feed in early December 2017) did include a kite (among other allusions to legends about Seondeok), and this kite alludes to Bidam's rebellion.

    What is this kite and how does it relate to Bidam's rebellion? The story goes that Bidam saw a star fall near Seondeok's abode, and stated that it was a sign Seondeok was due to fall. In response, General Kim Yushin flew a burning kite back in the sky to show the star was back in its place, signifying Seondeok was not to fall to the rebels--and indeed, she did not. Firaxis put up an explanation of the Korea First Look hints on Facebook, and mentioned Bidam's rebellion, albeit without Bidam's name: "During Queen Seondeok’s reign, an uprising claimed that "female rulers cannot rule the country” pointing to a falling star as their sign. In response, she flew a burning kite to show that the star is back in place."

    Though Firaxis clearly knew about Bidam's rebellion and showed it in the Rise and Fall trailer, and perhaps in part due to YouTube controversy over Seondeok among a vocal minority of (likely male) Korean gamers, the Civilopedia entry for Seondeok does not mention Bidam's rebellion at all, blandly skipping over that and saying, "Until her death in 647, Queen Seondeok served the Silla kingdom as an adaptable queen whose intellect protected her people during a difficult time of conquest." Nevertheless, this summation in the Civilopedia is a fairly accurate characterization of Seondeok's success at diplomatic maneuvers, which allowed Silla to survive, and later, thrive, dominating all Korea later on (see Kyung Moon Hwang's 2016, 2nd edition of A History of Korea, page 21 which argues Seondeok saved Silla from destruction and laid the groundwork for Silla's unification of Korea--a version of pages near there can be found on Google Books here).

    The Civilopedia entry on Seondeok is also accurate in talking about Seondeok's focus on science and religion, and in mentioning that the arts flourished under her reign (all these are discussed elsewhere in this post).

    Nevertheless, Seondeok is criticized for her rulership by the same (likely male) Korean gamers who so hated on her on YouTube. These persons point to the loss of 40 forts to the Baekje ("Only lose land with never getting, she lose 40 castles. F.O.R.T.H.Y. " whines the spelling-challenged user "립허크" (see third comment on the International First Look video). It is true Silla lost 40 forts during Seondeok's reign, but the loss in terms of actual proportions is overstated (in this Reddit thread, "rathell100" states Seondeok "loses 80% of the country" which is flagrantly false). But it should be noted that Baekje and Goguryeo had allied at this time, and the Silla kingdom could not realistically expect to defeat them (see Kyung Moon Hwang's A History of Korea, page 14). It took Tang military assistance over many years before Silla was eventually able to beat the other two kingdoms and create a unified Korea. In the Unified Silla period, the Silla capital of Gyeongju was prosperous, and unified Silla itself enjoying a "golden age" of architecture and literature, astronomy and mathematics according to Neil MacGregor (former head of the British Museum). It is also worth mentioning that in Seondeok's time, Silla was itself already in a golden age of arts and science (look to the subsection titled "A Thriving Kingdom").

    One of Seondeok's achievements is considered a grounds for criticism by those Korean gamers, who also criticize Seondeok for the construction of temples and in particular the Hwangnyongsa pagoda (given the expense of such construction, which indeed, was likely to have been expensive given it required the labors of a Baekje architect and 200 artisans). That being said, Hwangnyongsa was almost certainly ancient Korea's most impressive structure given its height of 68 or 80 meters and impressive use of woodwork without nails.

    It should also be noted that there is bias in some of the historical sources with information on Seondeok. The pro-Confucian Samguk-sagi criticized Wu Zetian and Seondeok alike, and its bias against female rulers is quite clear. Its Confucian author, Kim Bushik, did however state of Seondeok that while she was "generous, benevolent, wise and smart" (see Kyung Moon Hwang's A History of Korea, p. 20) for a relief campaign for commoners Seondeok completed before ascending the throne. But Kim Bushik has dimmer views of Seondeok's leadership abilities, saying of Seondeok "According to heavenly principles, the yang [male] is hard while the yin [female] is soft; and people kow that men are to be revered and women are subordinate. So how could Silla have allowed an old maid to leave her inner sanctum in order to govern the country's affairs? Silla allowed her to ascend to become the king, and sure enough chaos ensued. How fortunate that the country did not get destroyed!" (see Kyung Moon Hwang's A History of Korea, p. 20). (If this sounds like the Koreans who disliked Seondeok on YouTube, you are hearing correctly--many Koreans are raised in the Confucian tradition even today in school, and Kim Bushik was as Confucian and anti-female as one might expect of an ancient Confucian scholar).

    Nevertheless, Kim Bushik's story about Seondeok successfully subverting the Tang emperor's demand to step down in order to get Tang military aid (Seondeok refused, and got the aid anyway), ironically make Seondeok's leadership abilities quite clear, and in this regard Seondeok is cited by Firaxis and scholars (revisiting Seondeok in modern times) alike for laying the groundwork for Silla's eventual domination of the Korean peninsula.

    The pro-Buddhist Samguk-yusa (삼국유사) is much more positive about Seondeok as a leader than Kim Bushik is and mentioned Seondeok's unusually perceptive abilities with regards to three prophecies she made, according to Kyung Moon Hwang's A History of Korea.

    In-game Spoken Language
    Seondeok oddly speaks modern Korean (ahistorical), and refers to Korea as "Hanguk" in her lines, which is a modern term to refer to Korea typically common among south Koreans. This is also ahistorical, and Seondeok should refer to herself as a Silla monarch, even though she did lay the groundwork for Silla to defeat the other two kingdoms and Tang China itself to create a newly (and for the first time) unified Korea. The "Hanguk" reference is rather telling though, as Silla has more significance and respect among south Koreans than say, the north Koreans, as north Koreans note Silla only unified two-thirds of what is now the modern Korean peninsula. And even with this noted, it's also true that some Koreans view Silla as "traitorous" because it involved China in (internal) Korean conflict (see Kyung Moon Hwang's A History of Korea, page 18).

    In-game Lines/Quotes
    Many of Seondeok's lines in-game allude to stars and prophecy (Seondeok's intro says the stars foretold of the meeting, she alludes to the heavens predicting the player's defeat, and also alludes to her (actual) historical prophecy as to her own death, mentioned as one of the three key prophecies Seondeok made in the Samguk-yusa). This is in line with Seondeok's astronomical focus in Gyeongju (further analysis forthcoming in the below Cheomseongdae section). Astronomy was a focal point of the Silla state for agricultural purposes (setting the agricultural calendar), though it often intersected with Silla interest in astrology-- forecasting the weather, sure, but also politically auspicious or unfortunate events to come, often tied to the legitimacy of the current ruler.

    There is one ahistorical unvoiced line, where Seondeok says in response to the player saying "It is an honor to meet you" that she invites the player to visit her capital, and "Our seowon are the finest examples of scientific and political thought." Seowons did not exist in Seondeok's time and came from the late-14th century AD (through 20th century) Choson dynasty.

    Agenda
    "Cheomseongdae": Tries to build up Science, and likes civilizations that do the same. Dislikes civilizations with a weak Science output.

    Cheomseongdae is a astronomical observatory (its name literally means "stargazing tower" or, "reverently regarding the stars platform") constructed during Queen Seondeok's reign i Gyeongju, a center of arts and science in Seondeok's time, and reflects Silla and Queen Seondeok's focus on astronomy, which was useful for agriculture and was a key way in which the Three Kingdoms determined what was auspicious and what not, as discussed earlier in the In-game Lines/Quotes section (you'll also recall Bidam cited a star falling as evidence Queen Seondeok would too, for example). Considered the oldest surviving observatory in East Asia, Cheomseongdae still stands in Gyeongju.

    Numeric significance is built into Cheomseongdae's brickwork, as it has somewhere between 362 - 365 bricks to symbolize the days of the year, and these were set in 27 courses, to represent Seondeok being the 27th monarch of the Silla kingdom. Its square body and round top are thought to represent the belief that the sky was round and the Earth square (scroll to page 63). It is also 29 layers from bottom to top, corresponding to 29.5 days in a lunar month.

    Cheomseongdae is a fitting name for Seondeok's science focus, and actually ties to her reign in a way that makes sense (compare this to Tamar's agenda, "Narikala Fortress" also named after a structure, albeit one not tied to her reign, let alone her reputation (Tamar was not famous for building walls).

    Whether Seondeok would have disliked those weak in science/astronomy is unknown, but she certainly would have seen astronomy as important, so at least the first half of the agenda (liking civs who do well in science) is true. It is historically attested to by Seondeok's interest in education as well (though it's debatable whether literary knowledge is as such "science", it's certainly education, which in Civ is almost always tied to scientific knowledge).

    Civilization Bonus
    "Three Kingdoms": Farms receive +1 Food and Mines receive +1 Science if adjacent to a Seowon.
    Historical Analysis: This merits mention only because it directly alludes to Seondeok's role as a queen in the Three Kingdoms period. (Generally, civilization abilities don't tie with the leader, except for leaders like Trajan, Tamar, and some others, arguably). It is unclear whether this is meant to allude to the Three Kingdoms period itself, which was a period of frequent war (but also admittedly scientific and cultural advancement in all three kingdoms despite that).

    I think that there's nothing about the Three Kingdoms period that specifically recalls prospering farms, but if I wanted to be charitable, I would consider it a reference to the fertile agricultural lands of Silla's rival, the Baekje kingdom.

    The mine science bonus (arguably) reflects the warlike nature of the Three Kingdoms period. I think overall the bonus is ill-named, however, and could have been better if it referred to Korea after the Three Kingdoms period (i.e. the Unified Silla period), perhaps during the Choson Dynasty period (under Sejong, farms did indeed prosper, new weapons of war and daily-life tools created, and various texts on all manners of daily living created).

    Executive Summary:
    • Seondeok's Hwarang leader bonus alludes to the famous Silla elite males, and ties to the gameplay relatively well, though ahistoricity arises from the fact that female, non-Korea Civ VI governors (hey Reyna!) can become "hwarang" by extension in having Seondeok's bonuses. It is also arguably that Seondeok should have had a more religious or diplomatic bonus to reflect other areas of her reign that was more her focus than the hwarang (though one of them, General Kim Yushin, served Seondeok ably and well, defeating Bidam's rebellion for example).
    • Seondeok's crown is a relatively accurate visual summation of a Silla crown but other aspects of her appearance (like her dress) are arguably not all that historical (albeit, we have relatively scarce reliable sources on what Seondeok actually looked like anyway).
    • Seondeok is the only Civ VI leader to appear in the Rise and Fall trailer, and has summoned controversy to herself for being female (strong anti-female Confucian bias in ancient sources and modern-day Korean gamers), for losing 40 forts, and for constructing Hwangnyongsa's massive pagoda at what was presumably a large expense. However, historians, ancient sources (and Firaxis) point to her laying the groundwork for Silla to dominate the Korean peninsula, which Silla did in the Unified Silla period. Skilful diplomacy allowed Seondeok to get Tang aid without bowing to the demand to have a Chinese prince lead Silla, and also helped Silla withstand the mighty military alliance of Baekje and Goguryeo, which were considerably more powerful militarily at the time.
    • The Civilopedia is accurate in summing up Seondeok as being Buddhism-focused, with investment in arts and science, and also accurate in noting that her use of a Tang Dynasty alliance with Silla ensured Silla would survive and thrive. However, it oddly skips out on mentioning Bidam's rebellion entirely even though Firaxis alluded to the rebellion in the Rise and Fall trailer and also in the hints on Twitter preceding the Korea First Look video.
    • Anti-Seondeok Korean gamers have gone to considerable lengths to make Seondeok appear worse as a ruler than she was, editing Wikipedia to add in uncited references to her being "vicious" and assassinated (no evidence of that, anywhere). Similar sentiments elevate Bidam, the Silla nobleman who rebelled against Seondeok, saying she was unfit to rule as a female, and portray Seondeok as some sort of tyrant. Historical evidence bears no support for either the concept that Seondeok was incompetent, let alone a tyrant. In fact, even the anti-female, pro-Confucian Samguk-sagi (whose comments on females being weak and unfit to rule echo certain YouTube user Koreans) noted that Seondeok created a relief program for commoners prior to ascending the throne. The pro-Buddhist Samguk-yusa is positive about Seondeok and mentions Seondeok's three prophecies, including one where she prophesized her own death, which is arguably alluded to in the in-game lines when Seondeok is defeated.
    • Seondeok's in-game language is inaccurate--not only does she speak in modern Korean, but she mentions South Korea's common name for Korea ("Hanguk"), with no reference to Silla.
    • Seondeok's in-game lines are based on Seondeok's interest in astronomy and the Silla preoccupation with astronomy and prophecy as a whole (as well as Seondeok's prediction of her own death). One unvoiced line refers to seowons, which is ahistorical, as seowons were a Choson Dynasty structure from much later in Korean history.
    • Seondeok's Cheomseongdae agenda is fitting, as it was an ancient observatory built during her reign and which reflected her interest in astronomy and science (Gyeongju prospered in both during her reign).
    • The civilization bonus is arguably ahistorical, though the farm bonus may refer to the Baekje kingdom's prosperous farm land and the mine-science bonus may refer to the constant warring in the Three Kingdoms period.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2018
  4. God of Kings

    God of Kings Ruler of all heads of state

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    What about Jayavarman VII's baldness?
     
  5. Zaarin

    Zaarin My Dearest Doctor

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    Nice thread. Honestly I wish they had made Seondeok look more traditionally Korean without making her look so extremely thin.
     
  6. Mr. Shadows

    Mr. Shadows Nomad of the time streams Supporter

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    I'll tell you I wish it was easier to find good sources on Korean history in English. Almost everything is about the war from 1950-3. I've found some things about the Japanese occupation prior to WWII but it's extremely hard to find anything that goes back past 1800 or so. If anyone has any suggestions I'm all ears :)
     
    Zaarin likes this.
  7. Morningcalm

    Morningcalm Keeper of Records

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    Thanks all for your interest--I've updated the post to include stuff on the ingame language spoken by Seondeok and further analyzed the anti-female bias of the Samguksagi author (Kim Bushik), whose quotes remarkably recall those virulently anti-female comments found in the comments section of the International First Look video about Seondeok. (I also point out the irony that the Samguksagi's story about Seondeok seeking Tang aid and getting it despite not bowing to the Tang emperor's demands actually lead more credence to the idea that she was truly a competent leader.)

    For textual sources on Silla, I think the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Silla: Korea's Golden Kingdom is a nice (albeit expensive) one, and it has some good stuff on Hwangnyongsa and Silla art--if you can find it in a library that might be a nice read, and it has some truly wonderful photos as well. I am also fond of A History of Korea by Kyung Moon Hwang, which has a well-written and fairly authoritative look at ancient Korean history.

    For translated primary sources, the Samguk-yusa (2008 translation by Ha Tae-Hung and Grafton K. Mintz) is available for cheap on Kindle, and there's a recounting of ancient stories about Korea (including Seondeok's three prophecies) in Sources of Korean Tradition, Vol. 1: From Early Times Through the 16th Century (Introduction to Asian Civilizations). In that particular book, Queen Seondeok is referred to as "Sondok". Ki-baik Lee has his 1988 A New History of Korea still available via the Harvard University Press, it seems.

    For audiovisual sources, you can look to the Imjin Wars (late 16th century), which were somewhat more well documented than the Three Kingdoms period of ancient Korean history, and arguably as important to Korean history and modern Korean identity--start with this wonderful series about Admiral Yi Sunshin by the creators of Extra Credits (about video games); they have other good ones on Justinian, Shaka Zulu, the Iroquois, and Genghis Khan among others. Admiral Yi Sunshin was Korea's national war hero who fought off the Japanese invaders of Toyotomi Hideyoshi by sea in the late sixteenth century, was almost killed by his own king, never lost a battle, and renovated the turtle ship design from its much earlier version to make it the fearsome unit that it is in Civ V and Age of Empires II! The writers used numerous sources for their presentation, and they even have a nice episode at the very end for errors they made or things they wanted to mention but for brevity couldn't.

    For a textual source on the Imjin Wars (samurai invasions of Korea in the late 16th century) from a samurai historian, try Samurai Invasion: Japan's Korean War 1592-1598 by Stephen Turnbull (ignore the bad reviews, one gave one star for the expense of the book, and others say it was "tedious" at times, but having read it and used it for an International Baccalaureate writing I can guarantee the book is enthralling and draws from multiple primary and secondary sources as well as having plenty of excellent photography therein--Turnbull's other books on samurai are also quite appealing). :)

    Thanks, and agreed re: Seondeok for sure (it would be immodest to agree that this is a nice thread, but I created it because I hoped it would become one)! While we don't know what she actually looked like, I think it's a good idea in general to try to at least have images inspired by extant images of the ruler, even if they came from a much later time period.

    Yes, it's true--he wasn't actually bald, and other statues of him beyond the bust Firaxis likely used confirm this. But the bust in question did only show very short hair, no? :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2018
  8. Mr. Shadows

    Mr. Shadows Nomad of the time streams Supporter

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    Thank you @Morningcalm ! That's an enormous help. There's enough there to keep me busy for a while and I'm sure they have bibliographies that will yield more fruit.
     
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  9. Morningcalm

    Morningcalm Keeper of Records

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    Only too delighted to assist! Hope you are able to find some of them in the library! (If not, there's always a way to search in those books for select pages on topics of particular interest via Google Books' keyword search).
     
  10. leif erikson

    leif erikson Game of the Month Fanatic Administrator Supporter GOTM Staff

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    Moderator Action: This has been beaten to death in other threads. If this is where we're going, this will be closed.
     
  11. Morningcalm

    Morningcalm Keeper of Records

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    Seondeok entry completed!

    I may make later additions to it (like a reference to a time when she did demonstrate military prowess, or further analysis of Firaxis' hints at Korea via Twitter which alluded to other legends of Seondeok's time, like the frogs), or even Korea's theme song (though it doesn't really tie to Seondeok at all so why mention it), but for now I think the Seondeok post above will serve.

    Next up will be Saladin. I will be primarily using Jerusalem: A Biography as a source for historical analysis regarding his representation in Civ, as the book is full of wonderful nuggets about Saladin which will serve for a (much shorter than the Seondeok entry) historical vs. gameplay analysis.

    If others want to join in with historical analysis (it need not be as long as the Seondeok one), feel free to indicate interest in this thread. I can suggest sources on some of the Civ VI leaders (online and offline).
     
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  12. Zaarin

    Zaarin My Dearest Doctor

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    I'd be happy to do an analysis on Gilgamesh and Sumer. It'll hopefully be this weekend.
     
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  13. Morningcalm

    Morningcalm Keeper of Records

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    Wonderful! Looking forward to it.

    Salah ad-Din ("Saladin") Yusuf ibn Ayyub (Arabian Civilization)
    Saladin
    , a famous 12th century warrior who defeated the Crusaders in the Holy Land and captured Jerusalem, was a Kurdish sultan with a well-deserved reputation for mercy in his time. However, he was not always merciful (occasionally executing Crusaders). Nevertheless, he is rightly known for discouraging violence and seeking peaceful solutions where possible. He loved intellectual discussions and is arguably portrayed as more a scholar-ruler than a warrior in Civ VI, though he is primarily known for his military successes against the Crusaders, in a time when war and peace went hand-in-hand with religion. He is well-known even today, having appeared in Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven film, and also in Age of Empires II, where his story is narrated from the perspective of one of his Frankish prisoners. He previously appeared in Civilization IV and Civilization: Revolution. Generally, Civ VI’s portrayal of Saladin is accurate, but there are some notable elements which are not. This entry will include analysis of the Civ VI Arabian unique unit and unique infrastructure, as both tie to Saladin quite nicely.

    Appearance
    Saladin’s appearance in Civ VI is fanciful but has elements of truth. Based on prior pictures of Saladin, including one supposedly from circa 1185 (while Saladin was still alive), he was likely bearded and wore elaborate robes with a turban, all of which are present in Civ VI's portrayal. Civ VI also has some red robes for Saladin underneath the white robes, though the c. 1185 AD picture shows only red robes. The floral patterning in Saladin's Civ VI robes recalls those in the c. 1185 AD picture but aren't exact copies of them. According to historical record, Saladin wore silk robes, but never looked impressive (arguably, Civ VI's Saladin does look ahistorically impressive--look how shiny his white robes are!), and lacked vanity. (Simon Sebag Montefiore’s Jerusalem: A Biography, p. 300 (hereinafter “Jerusalem”) One time Saladin’s silk robes were spattered by a courtier riding through a puddle in Jerusalem, and Saladin simply burst into laughter. (Jerusalem, p. 300)

    Saladin is not, however, portrayed as a warrior in Civ VI, in contrast to Saladin’s Civ IV portrayal, which shows some aspects vaguely resembling armor and somewhat recalling the appearance of Saladin in the Ridley Scott Kingdom of Heaven film).

    Arguably, Saladin should also be portrayed as having difficulty walking and/or being ill, as he was lame and frequently ill (Jerusalem, p. 302), but I guess Civilization VI’s goal is generally to make the leaders look good.

    Leader Ability
    "Righteousness of the Faith"
    (This is the meaning of Saladin’s name, as explained in the Saladin First Look video)

    The Worship building for Arabia's Religion can be purchased by any player at one-tenth of the usual Faith cost. +10% Science, Faith, and Culture on Arabian cities with this Worship building.

    AND

    Agenda
    "Ayyubid Dynasty"

    Saladin wants his worship building in as many cities as possible, and likes civilizations with it. Dislikes civilizations following other religions or waging war on followers of his religion.

    Saladin’s leader ability and agenda can be analyzed for their historicity together. Saladin’s leader ability derives its name from Saladin’s name, Salah ad-Din, which is an honorific epithet. It is true that the Ayyubid Dynasty of Saladin and his heirs (all of them well-educated themselves) saw an immense rise of intellectual activity in the Islamic world, and the Ayyubid Dynasty itself saw to the construction of numerous madrasas in major cities.

    Saladin's science bonus is historically apt. The worship buildings being vastly cheaper is also historically apt, as it arguably reflects Saladin’s reputation for having many worship buildings and scholarly institutes alike built (the madrasa was arguably both). During Saladin’s reign, numerous schools (for example, in Aleppo, Jerusalem, Cairo, Alexandria and in cities in the Hejaz) and numerous madrasas were established. Scientific patronage by the Ayyubid Dynasty led to developments in medicine, botany, and the construction of hospitals. In Saladin’s time, the Jewish philosopher (and Saladin’s personal physician) Maimonides delivered lectures on medicine and astronomy at Al-Azhar University in Cairo.

    Saladin’s agenda, whereby he likes people with his worship buildings is perhaps reflected in history as well. Saladin was notably concerned about Muslim buildings of worship and even agreed to a peaceful surrender of Jerusalem with Balian of Ibelin after Balian stated that the desperate Christian defenders of Jerusalem would “pull down the Sanctuary of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque” if they saw death was inevitable. (Jerusalem, p. 300.)

    As far as the second part of Saladin’s agenda, where he dislikes civilizations waging war on followers of his religion, it is certainly the case that Saladin disliked Crusaders who attacked Muslims—he had Reynald of Chatillon beheaded for the following: 1) raiding a caravan from Damascus on its hajj despite a truce at the time between Saladin and the Crusaders, 2) mocking Muhammad 3) torturing captured Muslims. (Jerusalem, p. 294.) Saladin also spent much time fighting Crusaders, and it was because he was able to offer the Crusaders’ defeat as a realistic possibility that he was able to unite the Muslim world, or at least make peace with his previous Muslim enemies (for example, the Assassins, who Saladin had previously warred with, made peace with Saladin and the Assassins even contributed troops to Saladin as they viewed the expulsion of the Crusaders as a mutually beneficial outcome)

    As for whether Saladin disliked people following other religions—this is somewhat ahistorical, as to some extent Saladin didn’t really mind coexistence with buildings of other religions. However, on Friday October 2, 1187, after taking Jerusalem, Saladin ordered the Temple Mount (known as “Haram al-Sharif” to Muslims) to be cleansed, and accordingly, the Cross over the Dome of the Rock was thrown down to cries of “Allahu Akbar”, dragged through the streets and smashed, Jesus paintings torn out, the cloisters north of the Dome of the Rock demolished. Saladin then personally scrubbed the courts of the Dome of the Rock with rosewater.

    Generally, however, Saladin didn’t destroy religious buildings so much as try to adapt them to Islam—he reused the Crusaders’ patterns of wetleaf acanthus and some of Saladin’s own buildings thus adapted became difficult to distinguish from the buildings of the Crusaders. Saladin also rejected calls for the Holy Sepulchre’s destruction, and instead closed the church for three days and gave it to the Greek Orthodox in Jerusalem right after. Church bells were banned but most churches were tolerated, though some outside Jerusalem were destroyed. (Jerusalem, pp. 304-305).

    Saladin invited Armenians and Jews to Jerusalem to repopulate it as well. (Jerusalem, p. 306) In 1192, after Saladin and Richard agreed to the Treaty of Jaffa, Saladin received several of Richard’s knights in Jerusalem and showed them the True Cross. Saladin also allowed Latin priests back into the Holy Sepulchre at this time, and thereafter Latin and Greek Orthodox priests shared the Sepulchre under Saladin’s supervision. (Jerusalem, p. 315.)

    It should also be mentioned that Saladin was cared for by eight Muslim, eight Jewish and five Christian doctors. (Jerusalem, p. 302.) One of the Jewish doctors was Moses Maimonides, a refugee from Muslim persecution in Spain (Jerusalem, p. 286). Maimonides was appointed Rais al-Yahud or Chief of the Jews by Saladin, and became Saladin’s personal physician.

    In-game Lines/Quotes:
    Saladin’s lines—the key ones are actual quotes from him, I analyze below (with hyperlinks to video clips of these quotes), the other in-game lines skipped over seem simply to be flavorful indicators of Saladin’s Muslim faith (including various adjectives praising God).

    Attacked:
    (A real quote of Saladin’s, when he warned his favorite son Zahir against violence. (Jerusalem, p. 300.) This might be seen as ironic as Saladin’s own rise to power was bloody, and he didn’t always spare Crusader captives. For example, after the Battle of Hattin, he had 200 Templars and Hospitaller knights killed by Sufi mystics and Islamic scholars, many of whom begged for the privilege. (Jerusalem, p. 298). But Saladin genuinely appears to have disliked violence—once, one of his sons asked to be allowed to kill some Frankish prisoners. Saladin refused permission and reprimanded his son, so as to prevent his son from getting a taste for such violence. (Jerusalem, pp. 300-301.) Saladin himself deserved his reputation for mercy and kindness “by the standards of medieval empire-builders”, says Simon Sebag Montefiore (author of Jerusalem: A Biography), but nevertheless it is true that Saladin was never “quite the liberal gentleman, superior in manners to the brutish Franks, portrayed by Western writers in the nineteenth century”. (Jerusalem, p. 300.) There is further analysis about Saladin’s reputation for mercy in this Reddit thread (asking whether Saladin as portrayed as merciful in Kingdom of Heaven is accurate).

    Declares War:
    (Adapted from a most famous quote of Saladin’s. The story goes that after Saladin soundly defeated the Crusaders at the Battle of Hattin, King Guy of Lusignan and Reynald of Chatillon were captured and brought to Saladin’s tent. Saladin had not forgotten Reynald raiding caravans to sacred Muslim sites, and his other insults to Muslims (like torturing Muslim captives, mocking Muhammad, etc). Saladin offered Reynald Islam, Reynald refused to convert, and Saladin sprang up, drew a scimitar, and sliced off Reynald’s arm at his shoulder. Saladin’s guards beheaded Reynald to finish him off. Saladin then said to King Guy, “It is not customary for kings to kill kings, but this man crossed the limits so he suffered what he suffered.” (Jerusalem, p. 298). As for King Guy, Saladin chivalrously released him. (Jerusalem, p. 306.)

    Defeated:
    (The second sentence onward is another actual quote from Saladin, and discussed by one Hasher Nisar on Huffington Post in a modern context, discussing among other things, the misperception of certain people who align terrorists with Muslims in general.

    One historical attempt of Saladin to “chang[e] the hearts of his opponents” was when he was sued by an old man in Jerusalem—Saladin agreed to be judged equally, and though he won the case, he bestowed numerous gifts upon the old man. (Jerusalem, p. 302 (footnote)).

    Also, Saladin was once gentle and kind to a Frankish woman, who appealed to Saladin in the middle of a battle to find her three-month-old baby (kidnapped by Muslim raiders). Saladin, moved to tears, had the baby found and returned to his mother. (Jerusalem, p. 300; Saladin by John Davenport, p. 69-70).

    It is also true that Saladin used diplomacy to keep the various areas of the Muslim world united. (scroll down to the fifth paragraph under “Saladin’s adulthood”). Indeed, all these regions were only held together by Saladin’s charisma (Jerusalem, p. 302), and a diverse empire Saladin commanded indeed—Saladin’s army included Kurds, Arabs, Turks, Armenians and Sudanese (Jerusalem, p. 296).

    Delegation (Unvoiced):
    (The fruit and snow are allusions to the gifts Saladin was said to have given to Richard the Lionheart and he did indeed offer Richard Arabian horses as gifts in July 1192, perhaps as a delaying tactic after Richard had retaken the city of Jaffa from Saladin. (Jerusalem, p. 314)

    On the whole, Saladin's in-game lines are a historically accurate reflection of what he actually said.

    Civilopedia
    The Civilopedia entry for Saladin takes much of its facts from the Wikipedia entry for Saladin, which mentions among other things, Saladin’s interest in scholarship and his knowledge of Arabian horse bloodlines, and various events in Saladin’s life, all in the order and with the details shown on the Wikipedia page. The Civilopedia page (with details from Wikipedia) strongly emphasizes Saladin’s intellectualism, and this is indeed correct—even when fighting Crusaders, it is said that Saladin was “happiest sitting up at night with his entourage of generals and intellectuals”, and frequently sought out scholars and poets, like the then 90-year old Usamah bin Munqidh. (Jerusalem, p. 302.)

    That being said, it features very little on Saladin’s fights with the Crusaders, which are all glossed over in the final Civilopedia paragraph with only some key highlights mentioned (Saladin capturing Jerusalem, the Third Crusade's leaders, and the aftermath with the Treaty of Ramla). Notably, the Battle of Hattin is missing. Perhaps the person writing the Civilopedia entry was alarmed at how much detail there was on the Wikipedia page about Saladin’s various fights with the Crusaders. It is a bit of a shame that Firaxis didn't include more on Saladin's war against the Crusaders, as Saladin’s fight against Richard the Lionheart in the Third Crusade is very interesting indeed, inspiring chivalric poetry and much scholarly interest. It’s also recounted magnificently and movingly in the Age of Empires II computer game, where Saladin has his own campaign and in the final mission goes toe-to-toe with Richard and other Third Crusade forces.

    Unique Unit
    Mamluk
    —It is fitting that this is the unique unit of the Saladin-led Arabian Empire of Civ VI. Turkish mamluks formed Saladin’s bodyguard and accompanied him in battle. His royal guard was known as the “Ring” and they were conserved for dire moments in battle, i.e. during the last moments of Saladin’s defeat by Richard the Lionheart at Arsuf—in that case, after the mamluks engaged the enemy, the battle was nevertheless lost, but Saladin managed to escape. (Jerusalem, p. 310)

    I am not quite sure where the healing every turn ability of the Mamluks comes from, but perhaps (and this is admittedly a stretch) it represents the Mamluks’ comparative comfort in fighting in desert terrain (where Saladin’s cities and the cities of his enemies alike were located), in contrast to the Crusader forces who tired in the hot sun (this helped Saladin at the Battle of Hattin, where he had success against powerful, but exhausted Frankish knights who were “tortured by thirst” (Jerusalem, p. 297)).

    Unique Building
    Madrasa
    —A fitting building for Saladin and the “Arabian Empire”, as during Saladin’s time and in the time of his successors, and in the time after that, madrasas held great importance as educational institutions, typically with a religious bent (but not exclusively religious bent as far as what was taught in them—madrasas in general were institutions of higher learning).


    Leader Music (Links to Medieval Version)
    Banat Iskandaria
    The Saladin-led Arabian Empire's song appears (at least officially, on Geoff Knorr's website) to be based on Banat Iskandaria or The Girls of Alexandria (arguably fitting as Egypt is where Saladin began his rise to power). However, Geoff Knorr (the main composer for Civ VI's themes) said that as far as he can tell, the actual origin of the song is unknown. Many countries in the Balkans and Near East claim the song as their own, as shown in the documentary "Whose is This Song?" (directed by Adela Peeva) which shows how various Balkan countries, Turkey, and others passionately, aggressively claim the song as their own (#nationalism). The song has various incarnations and names, and each has a different set of lyrics and meaning--there is, for example, the Muslim song Talama Ashku Galami which is a praise song for Allah, Turks claim it for Turkey (one of the many songs there based on the melody is named Katibim).

    As far as the documentary makes clear, the song was performed as early as 1700, as an Armenian, Ottoman, Sephardic Jewish and even Persian song, travelling widely over the Near East (see Eleni Elefterias-Kostakidis' "'Whose Is This Song?' Nationalism and Identity through the lens of Adela Peeva, p. 39). One alternate origin story which may be of interest comes from "koredozo" on Reddit: "There's a theory that it was created by an Iraqi composer named Mullah Osman Al-Muselli or first appeared in an Armenian operetta in the 19th century, both of which would make it appropriate for Saladin (who was born in Tikrit to Kurdish ancestors originally from what is today Armenia,) but no one really knows its origins."

    How does all this relate to Saladin, you might ask? As Geoff puts it (correctly), "[t]he Civ VI leader for Arabia, Saladin, historically would have controlled many of the lands that claim the melody as their own, which is one of the reasons I chose the melody for Arabia." Indeed, as mentioned above, Saladin's army included, for example, Armenians and Turks--the modern forebears of the very people who would argue over who actually made the song many years later. The song perhaps ironically unifies many regions in the same way Saladin did, albeit through their joint arguments with each other over ownership of the song. And such quarrels explain why Reddit is replete with Turkish people claiming that the song is "Turkish" and therefore inappropriate for Civ VI's Arabia, as well as people stating that the song reminds them of a Boney M. song about Rasputin.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2018 at 3:39 PM
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  14. orasis

    orasis Chieftain

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    Are you trying to bankrupt the franchise? :lol:

    It's a game, man. It's meant to entertain.
     
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  15. Chefofrats

    Chefofrats Chieftain

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    The Mamluk healing thing could possibly be related to their recruitment from slaves? As in, the ranks of your Mamluk unit are replenished by enslaving the defeated enemies. I know that's not exactly how it worked historically, but that might be a simplified way of reflecting the general mechanism in the game.
     
  16. FXS_Sarah

    FXS_Sarah 2K Games Staff

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    It's always very interesting to see how our designers' adaptations of historic facts to fun gameplay is perceived by players.

    I'm looking forward to reading more!
     
  17. Morningcalm

    Morningcalm Keeper of Records

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    I almost forgot the Arabian Empire theme ties to Saladin as well! Analysis forthcoming on that; in the meantime, if anyone can find where Geoff Knorr spoke about the theme circulating in the time of Saladin, I would be grateful (I would need it just as a hyperlink citation).

    I fail to see how historical analysis of the Civilization VI game's historic underpinnings is in any way "trying to bankrupt the franchise". I also fail to see how typing on a forum could in any way trigger a "bankruptcy" of a long-running computer game series. I find history and historical analysis fascinating (those being two of my main draws to the Civilization and Age of Empires series respectively). If you don't find this historical analysis entertaining, then sorry, I guess?

    Interesting; that is a possibility but I don't know if the Mamluk themselves enslaved defeated enemies--I think it would make more sense as an explanation of Immortals if they had healing abilities, since they were continually replenished by adult soldiers to ensure they always remained 10,000 in number. To me the basis for the healing is still a mystery--maybe there's no historical basis as such, and the healing is simply meant to reflect how they were excellent soldiers. :dunno: (Though I dislike not being able to tie the Mamluk ability to history, I concede it may not have a historical basis per se in the game).

    Thank you Sarah! So flattered you are enjoying thus far. :love:
     
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  18. Zaarin

    Zaarin My Dearest Doctor

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    If I'm not mistaken (and this is off the top of my head), most mamluks were Georgians, Armenians, and Greeks--using Christian slave soldiers got around the prohibition against Muslim-on-Muslim warfare. The same was originally true of the pagan Turkic mercenaries, but of course they embraced Islam pretty quickly.
     
  19. Morningcalm

    Morningcalm Keeper of Records

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    Yeah, but it seems most mamluks began as slaves who were bought, rather than defeated soldiers then press-ganged into serving the victor as such (which sounds more Aztec/Mayan in nature). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mamluk#Early_Mamluks_in_Egypt (talks about mamluks in the Ayyubid Dynasty period, particularly under Saladin)
     
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  20. Zaarin

    Zaarin My Dearest Doctor

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    Yeah, I guess I was unclear, but that's what I meant.
     
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