These introductions could have likely come from, say, Owain ap Maredudd ap Tewdwr, Elizabeth Woodville via possibly her father? So, it came from lots of places. Hair color is not a Mendelian gene. It is the result of numerous genes, some which impact others, effecting which are expressed and which are not. Therefore, a person from Spain or Africa or India or Polynesia can have the potential for red hair, but the expression of such would depend very highly on choice of mate and probability.
The mutation that allowed for the production of the red color in hair is something like , years old blue eyes, youngsters that they are, are only about 10, years old , so it is probably pretty widespread. Very interesting — I had thought the red hair craze started with Elizabeth I, now I realize it began long before her time.
I wonder also if the monarch-ial gene pool was a bit narrow, which kept the red hair gene-combination robust? You are absolutely right, the gene pool was a bit narrow. It was narrow for everyone. The math says that there must have been quite a bit of pedigree collapse, and not only amongst the upper classes. Recall the requirement of bans in canon marital law. As of the 11th century, one was not supposed to marry anyone related to you within 7 degrees of consanguinity and relationship by marriage, contract or betrothal counted , which would have been impossible to enforce amongst the lower classes where there was no record of kinship.
The main purpose of the ban was not to determine if either party was already married, but if anyone in the village knew of a close kinship.
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British legal history and church documents show that close cousins quite often married without either knowing or having to recognize they were close cousins. So long as their was no substantial political power or economic power to be gained by contesting the marriage of non-aristocratic relations, a close relationship between a bride and groom was considered of little importance.
So, the bans were a bit of canonical CYA-ing. But in studying pre-Renaissance aristocratic marriage patterns one finds that many of the princes of the era were incredibly not inbred. He had ancestors from every single corner of Europe, including Scandinavia where they were still practing human sacrifices , various Russians and the Turks. So before the royal houses of Europe started their intermarriage genetic joyride, the Prince of Europe could have been one of the least in-bred types on the continent. And since the inbreeding co-efficient is determined by the relationship between the mother and father, not how inbred the mother and father are individually so two very inbred people who are not related to each other would produce a not so inbred child , one can imagine that when a member of the genetically insular Medieval upper classes reproduces with someone outside, they would be quite a bit more distantly related, then the typical peasant or middle class couple in Medieval Europe at large.
Later, though, things changed, particularly after the reformation. And, the Catholic church handed out dispensations for marrying cousins like they were free drinks at a wedding, mainly because it was practical and because there were only so many Catholic princes to go around. Even before the reformation, though marriage between relatives in the upper classes occurred to prevent the dwindling of land-based wealth and to consolidate political power.
More importantly to historians and unlike the middle and lower classes, in the upper classes we have records of how and why they married their relations. Marriage between cousins was contracted not only to keep the family tight, but also so no one else from the outside could marry them and strain the political and economics resources of the house or lay claim to some family inheritance. The whole point is that even though the Tudors all share common ancestors, I think its entirely possible that they were quite a bit less in-bred than your typical European inhabitant for the above reasons.
What we may have going on here is some selective breeding since the Tudors had many ancestors that had little more than their looks to recommend them Owain, Anne Boleyn, Katherine Swynford, etc. Since this is the time before genetics really exisited as a taught science, the Tudors and late Plantagenets were entirely unaware of their preferences and the results thereof. And, to make them more fascinating, the Tudors themselves died out. Very little of the Tudors is in the current population. This is why America is such a wonderful place! We have all of these relatively unrelated people making babies though everyone of us is acctually related!
And yes, lead face paint was pretty rotten. And Elizabethan make-up remover was a mercury wash. Excellent post! I found it while browsing the hits on my blog so have come along a bit late in the day!
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Great article! I am descended from Elizabeth Woodville and John Gray. My hair is brown, but always turns very coppery by the end of the summer…a long shot I know, but a fun thought nonetheless, Thank you Melissa! If memory serves, she was described as fiery and quick to anger. I believe contemporaries linked this to her red hair.
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A very interesting article! I love reading about the history of England, as well as anything about redheads. I am from a long line of redheads, and even my husband, who is from Mexico, is a redhead. Our daughters are redheads, and we plan to take conquer the Americas with our redhead genes! Perhaps this is an assumption that one of his fictional characters was based on Katherine? Jan Thank you for such a detailed account.
As a reputed descendant of Elizabeth Wydeville through the Poyntz family. I have red gold hair, as did my two sisters, and I have passed it to my daughter. The genetic pool continues! I am named after my great uncle, Charles Brandon, FFV, who was directly descended from the one who married Mary Tudor, His cousin, my grandfather, gave everyone after him in our family red hair in some form.
I was born with lots of jet black hair. After age 2, it became white-blonde tow-headed. Then in high school it turned bright strawberry blonde, similar to the descriptions of Mary Tudor. It has faded, as red hair does, but is still pretty reddish. My mother had striking auburn hair, her sister had strawberry blonde. My brother is tow-head blond, but his beard is bright red. Wonderful account. I also am a descendant with the strawberry blond hair. We are descended through Margaret on multiple lines on my moms side and also through my Dads side.
I hope all of you descendants are doing the distant cousin DNA through ancestry. It would be an interesting research project to see how the hair comes down the lines. My family also has the eye and nose shapes shown in the Stewart lines. It would be interesting to know eye colors. This is an absolutely intriguing bit of history and very well-researched. In this way, we revert to a state of barbarism which one hoped had been left behind forever. Threats which are no less serious hang over the incurably ill and the dying.
In a social and cultural context which makes it more difficult to face and accept suffering, the temptation becomes all the greater to resolve the problem of suffering by eliminating it at the root, by hastening death so that it occurs at the moment considered most suitable. Various considerations usually contribute to such a decision, all of which converge in the same terrible outcome. In the sick person the sense of anguish, of severe discomfort, and even of desperation brought on by intense and prolonged suffering can be a decisive factor.
Such a situation can threaten the already fragile equilibrium of an individual's personal and family life, with the result that, on the one hand, the sick person, despite the help of increasingly effective medical and social assistance, risks feeling overwhelmed by his or her own frailty; and on the other hand, those close to the sick person can be moved by an understandable even if misplaced compassion.
All this is aggravated by a cultural climate which fails to perceive any meaning or value in suffering, but rather considers suffering the epitome of evil, to be eliminated at all costs. This is especially the case in the absence of a religious outlook which could help to provide a positive understanding of the mystery of suffering. On a more general level, there exists in contemporary culture a certain Promethean attitude which leads people to think that they can control life and death by taking the decisions about them into their own hands.
What really happens in this case is that the individual is overcome and crushed by a death deprived of any prospect of meaning or hope. We see a tragic expression of all this in the spread of euthanasia-disguised and surreptitious, or practised openly and even legally. As well as for reasons of a misguided pity at the sight of the patient's suffering, euthanasia is sometimes justified by the utilitarian motive of avoiding costs which bring no return and which weigh heavily on society.
Thus it is proposed to eliminate malformed babies, the severely handicapped, the disabled, the elderly, especially when they are not self-sufficient, and the terminally ill. Nor can we remain silent in the face of other more furtive, but no less serious and real, forms of euthanasia. These could occur for example when, in order to increase the availability of organs for transplants, organs are removed without respecting objective and adequate criteria which verify the death of the donor.
Another present-day phenomenon, frequently used to justify threats and attacks against life, is the demographic question. This question arises in different ways in different parts of the world. In the rich and developed countries there is a disturbing decline or collapse of the birthrate. The poorer countries, on the other hand, generally have a high rate of population growth, difficult to sustain in the context of low economic and social development, and especially where there is extreme underdevelopment.
In the face of over- population in the poorer countries, instead of forms of global intervention at the international level-serious family and social policies, programmes of cultural development and of fair production and distribution of resources-anti-birth policies continue to be enacted. Contraception, sterilization and abortion are certainly part of the reason why in some cases there is a sharp decline in the birthrate.
It is not difficult to be tempted to use the same methods and attacks against life also where there is a situation of "demographic explosion". The Pharaoh of old, haunted by the presence and increase of the children of Israel, submitted them to every kind of oppression and ordered that every male child born of the Hebrew women was to be killed cf. Ex Today not a few of the powerful of the earth act in the same way.
They too are haunted by the current demographic growth, and fear that the most prolific and poorest peoples represent a threat for the well-being and peace of their own countries. Consequently, rather than wishing to face and solve these serious problems with respect for the dignity of individuals and families and for every person's inviolable right to life, they prefer to promote and impose by whatever means a massive programme of birth control.
Even the economic help which they would be ready to give is unjustly made conditional on the acceptance of an anti-birth policy. Humanity today offers us a truly alarming spectacle, if we consider not only how extensively attacks on life are spreading but also their unheard-of numerical proportion, and the fact that they receive widespread and powerful support from a broad consensus on the part of society, from widespread legal approval and the involvement of certain sectors of health-care personnel.
As I emphatically stated at Denver, on the occasion of the Eighth World Youth Day, "with time the threats against life have not grown weaker. They are taking on vast proportions. They are not only threats coming from the outside, from the forces of nature or the? Cains' who kill the?
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Abels'; no, they are scientifically and systematically programmed threats. The twentieth century will have been an era of massive attacks on life, an endless series of wars and a continual taking of innocent human life. False prophets and false teachers have had the greatest success". Nor can it be denied that the mass media are often implicated in this conspiracy, by lending credit to that culture which presents recourse to contraception, sterilization, abortion and even euthanasia as a mark of progress and a victory of freedom, while depicting as enemies of freedom and progress those positions which are unreservedly pro-life.
The panorama described needs to be understood not only in terms of the phenomena of death which characterize it but also in the variety of causes which determine it. Decisions that go against life sometimes arise from difficult or even tragic situations of profound suffering, loneliness, a total lack of economic pros- pects, depression and anxiety about the future.
Such circumstances can mitigate even to a notable degree subjective responsibility and the consequent culpability of those who make these choices which in themselves are evil. But today the prob- lem goes far beyond the necessary recognition of these personal situations. It is a problem which exists at the cultural, social and political level, where it reveals its more sinister and disturbing aspect in the tendency, ever more widely shared, to interpret the above crimes against life as legitimate expressions of individual freedom, to be acknowledged and protected as actual rights.
In this way, and with tragic consequences, a long historical process is reaching a turning-point. The process which once led to discovering the idea of "human rights"-rights inherent in every person and prior to any Constitution and State legislation-is today marked by a surprising contradiction. Precisely in an age when the inviolable rights of the person are solemnly proclaimed and the value of life is publicly affirmed, the very right to life is being denied or trampled upon, especially at the more significant moments of existence: the moment of birth and the moment of death.
On the one hand, the various declarations of human rights and the many initiatives inspired by these declarations show that at the global level there is a growing moral sensitivity, more alert to acknowledging the value and dignity of every individual as a human being, without any distinction of race, nationality, religion, political opinion or social class. On the other hand, these noble proclamations are unfortunately contradicted by a tragic repudiation of them in practice.
This denial is still more distressing, indeed more scandalous, precisely because it is occurring in a society which makes the affirmation and protection of human rights its primary objective and its boast. How can these repeated affirmations of principle be reconciled with the continual increase and widespread justification of attacks on human life? How can we reconcile these declarations with the refusal to accept those who are weak and needy, or elderly, or those who have just been conceived?
These attacks go directly against respect for life and they represent a direct threat to the entire culture of human rights. It is a threat capable, in the end, of jeopardizing the very meaning of democratic coexistence: rather than societies of "people living together", our cities risk becoming societies of people who are rejected, marginalized, uprooted and oppressed. If we then look at the wider worldwide perspective, how can we fail to think that the very affirmation of the rights of individuals and peoples made in distinguished international assemblies is a merely futile exercise of rhetoric, if we fail to unmask the selfishness of the rich countries which exclude poorer countries from access to development or make such access dependent on arbitrary prohibitions against procreation, setting up an opposition between development and man himself?
Should we not question the very economic models often adopted by States which, also as a result of international pressures and forms of conditioning, cause and aggravate situations of injustice and violence in which the life of whole peoples is degraded and trampled upon? We can find them in an overall assessment of a cultural and moral nature, beginning with the mentality which carries the concept of subjectivity to an extreme and even distorts it, and recognizes as a subject of rights only the person who enjoys full or at least incipient autonomy and who emerges from a state of total dependence on others.
But how can we reconcile this approach with the exaltation of man as a being who is "not to be used"? The theory of human rights is based precisely on the affirmation that the human person, unlike animals and things, cannot be subjected to domination by others. We must also mention the mentality which tends to equate personal dignity with the capacity for verbal and explicit, or at least perceptible, communication.
It is clear that on the basis of these presuppositions there is no place in the world for anyone who, like the unborn or the dying, is a weak element in the social structure, or for anyone who appears completely at the mercy of others and radically dependent on them, and can only communicate through the silent language of a profound sharing of affection. In this case it is force which becomes the criterion for choice and action in interpersonal relations and in social life. But this is the exact opposite of what a State ruled by law, as a community in which the "reasons of force" are replaced by the "force of reason", historically intended to affirm.
At another level, the roots of the contradiction between the solemn affirmation of human rights and their tragic denial in practice lies in a notion of freedom which exalts the isolated individual in an absolute way, and gives no place to solidarity, to openness to others and service of them. While it is true that the taking of life not yet born or in its final stages is sometimes marked by a mistaken sense of altruism and human compassion, it cannot be denied that such a culture of death, taken as a whole, betrays a completely individualistic concept of freedom, which ends up by becoming the freedom of "the strong" against the weak who have no choice but to submit.
It is precisely in this sense that Cain's answer to the Lord's question: "Where is Abel your brother? Yes, every man is his "brother's keeper", because God entrusts us to one another. And it is also in view of this entrusting that God gives everyone freedom, a freedom which possesses an inherently relational dimension. This is a great gift of the Creator, placed as it is at the service of the person and of his fulfilment through the gift of self and openness to others; but when freedom is made absolute in an individualistic way, it is emptied of its original content, and its very meaning and dignity are contradicted.
There is an even more profound aspect which needs to be emphasized: freedom negates and destroys itself, and becomes a factor leading to the destruction of others, when it no longer recognizes and respects its essential link with the truth. When freedom, out of a desire to emancipate itself from all forms of tradition and authority, shuts out even the most obvious evidence of an objective and universal truth, which is the foundation of personal and social life, then the person ends up by no longer taking as the sole and indisputable point of reference for his own choices the truth about good and evil, but only his subjective and changeable opinion or, indeed, his selfish interest and whim.
This view of freedom leads to a serious distortion of life in society. If the promotion of the self is understood in terms of absolute autonomy, people inevitably reach the point of rejecting one another. Everyone else is considered an enemy from whom one has to defend oneself. Thus soci- ety becomes a mass of individuals placed side by side, but without any mutual bonds. Each one wishes to assert himself independently of the other and in fact intends to make his own interests prevail. Still, in the face of other people's analogous interests, some kind of compromise must be found, if one wants a society in which the maximum possible freedom is guaranteed to each individual.
In this way, any reference to common values and to a truth absolutely binding on everyone is lost, and social life ventures on to the shifting sands of complete relativism. At that point, everything is negotiable, everything is open to bargaining: even the first of the fundamental rights, the right to life. This is what is happening also at the level of politics and government: the original and inalienable right to life is questioned or denied on the basis of a parliamentary vote or the will of one part of the people-even if it is the majority.
This is the sinister result of a relativism which reigns unopposed: the "right" ceases to be such, because it is no longer firmly founded on the inviolable dignity of the person, but is made subject to the will of the stronger part. In this way democracy, contradicting its own principles, effectively moves towards a form of totalitarianism.
The State is no longer the "common home" where all can live together on the basis of principles of fundamental equality, but is transformed into a tyrant State, which arrogates to itself the right to dispose of the life of the weakest and most defenceless members, from the unborn child to the elderly, in the name of a public interest which is really nothing but the interest of one part.
The appearance of the strictest respect for legality is maintained, at least when the laws permitting abortion and euthanasia are the result of a ballot in accordance with what are generally seen as the rules of democracy. Really, what we have here is only the tragic caricature of legality; the democratic ideal, which is only truly such when it acknowledges and safeguards the dignity of every human person, is betrayed in its very foundations: "How is it still possible to speak of the dignity of every human person when the killing of the weakest and most innocent is permitted?
In the name of what justice is the most unjust of discriminations practised: some individuals are held to be deserving of defence and others are denied that dignity? To claim the right to abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, and to recognize that right in law, means to attribute to human freedom a perverse and evil significance: that of an absolute power over others and against others. This is the death of true freedom: "Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin" Jn In seeking the deepest roots of the struggle between the "culture of life" and the "culture of death", we cannot restrict ourselves to the perverse idea of freedom mentioned above.
We have to go to the heart of the tragedy being experienced by modern man: the eclipse of the sense of God and of man, typical of a social and cultural climate dominated by secularism, which, with its ubiquitous tentacles, succeeds at times in putting Christian communities themselves to the test. Those who allow themselves to be influenced by this climate easily fall into a sad vicious circle: when the sense of God is lost, there is also a tendency to lose the sense of man, of his dignity and his life; in turn, the systematic violation of the moral law, especially in the serious matter of respect for human life and its dignity, produces a kind of progressive darkening of the capacity to discern God's living and saving presence.
Once again we can gain insight from the story of Abel's murder by his brother. After the curse imposed on him by God, Cain thus addresses the Lord: "My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, you have driven me this day away from the ground; and from your face I shall be hidden; and I shall be a fugitive and wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will slay me" Gen Cain is convinced that his sin will not obtain pardon from the Lord and that his inescapable destiny will be to have to "hide his face" from him.
If Cain is capable of confessing that his fault is "greater than he can bear", it is because he is conscious of being in the presence of God and before God's just judgment. It is really only before the Lord that man can admit his sin and recognize its full seriousness. Such was the experience of David who, after "having committed evil in the sight of the Lord", and being rebuked by the Prophet Nathan, exclaimed: "My offences truly I know them; my sin is always before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned; what is evil in your sight I have done" Ps Consequently, when the sense of God is lost, the sense of man is also threatened and poisoned, as the Second Vatican Council concisely states: "Without the Creator the creature would disappear But when God is forgotten the creature itself grows unintelligible". Enclosed in the narrow horizon of his physical nature, he is somehow reduced to being "a thing", and no longer grasps the "transcendent" character of his "existence as man".
He no longer considers life as a splendid gift of God, something "sacred" entrusted to his responsibility and thus also to his loving care and "veneration". Life itself becomes a mere "thing", which man claims as his exclusive property, completely subject to his control and manipulation.
Thus, in relation to life at birth or at death, man is no longer capable of posing the question of the truest meaning of his own existence, nor can he assimilate with genuine freedom these crucial moments of his own history. He is concerned only with "doing", and, using all kinds of technology, he busies himself with programming, controlling and dominating birth and death.
Birth and death, instead of being primary experiences demanding to be "lived", become things to be merely "possessed" or "rejected". Moreover, once all reference to God has been removed, it is not surprising that the meaning of everything else becomes profoundly distorted. Nature itself, from being "mater" mother , is now reduced to being "matter", and is subjected to every kind of manipulation.
This is the direction in which a certain technical and scientific way of thinking, prevalent in present-day culture, appears to be leading when it rejects the very idea that there is a truth of creation which must be ac- knowledged, or a plan of God for life which must be respected. Something similar happens when concern about the consequences of such a "freedom without law" leads some people to the opposite position of a "law without freedom", as for example in ideologies which consider it unlawful to interfere in any way with nature, practically "divinizing" it.
Again, this is a misunderstanding of nature's dependence on the plan of the Creator. Thus it is clear that the loss of contact with God's wise design is the deepest root of modern man's confusion, both when this loss leads to a freedom without rules and when it leaves man in "fear" of his freedom. By living "as if God did not exist", man not only loses sight of the mystery of God, but also of the mystery of the world and the mystery of his own being.
The eclipse of the sense of God and of man inevitably leads to a practical materialism, which breeds individualism, utilitarianism and hedonism. Here too we see the permanent validity of the words of the Apostle: "And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct" Rom The values of being are replaced by those of having.
The only goal which counts is the pursuit of one's own material well-being. The so-called "quality of life" is interpreted primarily or exclusively as economic efficiency, inordinate consumerism, physical beauty and pleasure, to the neglect of the more profound dimensions-interpersonal, spiritual and religious-of existence. In such a context suffering, an inescapable burden of human existence but also a factor of possible personal growth, is "censored", rejected as useless, indeed opposed as an evil, always and in every way to be avoided. When it cannot be avoided and the prospect of even some future well-being vanishes, then life appears to have lost all meaning and the temptation grows in man to claim the right to suppress it.
Within this same cultural climate, the body is no longer perceived as a properly personal reality, a sign and place of relations with others, with God and with the world. It is reduced to pure materiality: it is simply a complex of organs, functions and energies to be used according to the sole criteria of pleasure and efficiency. Consequently, sexuality too is depersonalized and exploited: from being the sign, place and language of love, that is, of the gift of self and acceptance of another, in all the other's richness as a person, it increasingly becomes the occasion and instrument for self-assertion and the selfish satisfaction of personal desires and instincts.
Thus the original import of human sexuality is distorted and falsified, and the two meanings, unitive and procreative, inherent in the very nature of the conjugal act, are artificially separated: in this way the marriage union is betrayed and its fruitfulness is subjected to the caprice of the couple. Procreation then becomes the "enemy" to be avoided in sexual activity: if it is welcomed, this is only because it expresses a desire, or indeed the intention, to have a child "at all costs", and not because it signifies the complete acceptance of the other and therefore an openness to the richness of life which the child represents.
In the materialistic perspective described so far, interpersonal relations are seriously impoverished. The first to be harmed are women, children, the sick or suffering, and the elderly. The criterion of personal dignity-which demands respect, generosity and service-is replaced by the criterion of efficiency, functionality and usefulness: others are considered not for what they "are", but for what they "have, do and produce". This is the supremacy of the strong over the weak. It is at the heart of the moral conscience that the eclipse of the sense of God and of man, with all its various and deadly consequences for life, is taking place.
It is a question, above all, of the individual conscience, as it stands before God in its singleness and uniqueness. The moral conscience, both individual and social, is today subjected, also as a result of the penetrating influence of the media, to an extremely serious and mortal danger: that of confusion between good and evil, precisely in relation to the fundamental right to life. A large part of contemporary society looks sadly like that humanity which Paul describes in his Letter to the Romans. It is composed "of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth" : having denied God and believing that they can build the earthly city without him, "they became futile in their thinking" so that "their senseless minds were darkened" ; "claiming to be wise, they became fools" , carrying out works deserving of death, and "they not only do them but approve those who practise them" When conscience, this bright lamp of the soul cf.
Mt , calls "evil good and good evil" Is , it is already on the path to the most alarming corruption and the darkest moral blindness. And yet all the conditioning and efforts to enforce silence fail to stifle the voice of the Lord echoing in the conscience of every individual: it is always from this intimate sanctuary of the conscience that a new journey of love, openness and service to human life can begin. Heb 22, 24 : signs of hope and invitation to commitment.
It is not only the voice of the blood of Abel, the first innocent man to be murdered, which cries to God, the source and defender of life. The blood of every other human being who has been killed since Abel is also a voice raised to the Lord. In an absolutely singular way, as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us, the voice of the blood of Christ, of whom Abel in his innocence is a prophetic figure, cries out to God: "You have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God It is the sprinkled blood.
A symbol and prophetic sign of it had been the blood of the sacrifices of the Old Covenant, whereby God expressed his will to communicate his own life to men, purifying and consecrating them cf. Ex ; Lev Now all of this is fulfilled and comes true in Christ: his is the sprinkled blood which redeems, purifies and saves; it is the blood of the Mediator of the New Covenant "poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" Mt This blood, which flows from the pierced side of Christ on the Cross cf.
Jn , "speaks more graciously" than the blood of Abel; indeed, it expresses and requires a more radical "justice", and above all it implores mercy, 19 it makes intercession for the brethren before the Father cf. Heb , and it is the source of perfect redemption and the gift of new life. The blood of Christ, while it reveals the grandeur of the Father's love, shows how precious man is in God's eyes and how priceless the value of his life.
The Apostle Peter reminds us of this: "You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot" 1 Pt Precisely by contemplating the precious blood of Christ, the sign of his self-giving love cf. Jn , the believer learns to recognize and appreciate the almost divine dignity of every human being and can exclaim with ever renewed and grateful wonder: "How precious must man be in the eyes of the Creator, if he?
Jn ! Furthermore, Christ's blood reveals to man that his greatness, and therefore his vocation, consists in the sincere gift of self. Precisely because it is poured out as the gift of life, the blood of Christ is no longer a sign of death, of definitive separation from the brethren, but the instrument of a communion which is richness of life for all. Whoever in the Sacrament of the Eucharist drinks this blood and abides in Jesus cf. Jn is drawn into the dynamism of his love and gift of life, in order to bring to its fullness the original vocation to love which belongs to everyone cf.
Gen ; It is from the blood of Christ that all draw the strength to commit themselves to promoting life. It is precisely this blood that is the most powerful source of hope, indeed it is the foundation of the absolute certitude that in God's plan life will be victorious. And Saint Paul assures us that the present victory over sin is a sign and anticipation of the definitive victory over death, when there "shall come to pass the saying that is written:? Death is swallowed up in victory'. O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting? In effect, signs which point to this victory are not lacking in our societies and cultures, strongly marked though they are by the "culture of death". It would therefore be to give a one-sided picture, which could lead to sterile discouragement, if the condemnation of the threats to life were not accompanied by the presentation of the positive signs at work in humanity's present situation. Unfortunately it is often hard to see and recognize these positive signs, perhaps also because they do not receive sufficient attention in the communications media.
Yet, how many initiatives of help and support for people who are weak and defenceless have sprung up and continue to spring up in the Christian community and in civil society, at the local, national and international level, through the efforts of individuals, groups, movements and organizations of various kinds! There are still many married couples who, with a generous sense of responsibility, are ready to accept children as "the supreme gift of marriage".
Many centres in support of life, or similar institutions, are sponsored by individuals and groups which, with admirable dedication and sacrifice, offer moral and material support to mothers who are in difficulty and are tempted to have recourse to abortion. Increasingly, there are appearing in many places groups of volunteers prepared to offer hospitality to persons without a family, who find themselves in conditions of particular distress or who need a supportive environment to help them to overcome destructive habits and discover anew the meaning of life.
Medical science, thanks to the committed efforts of researchers and practitioners, continues in its efforts to discover ever more effective remedies: treatments which were once inconceivable but which now offer much promise for the future are today being developed for the unborn, the suffering and those in an acute or terminal stage of sickness.
Various agencies and organizations are mobilizing their efforts to bring the benefits of the most advanced medicine to countries most afflicted by poverty and endemic diseases. In a similar way national and international associations of physicians are being organized to bring quick relief to peoples affected by natural disasters, epidemics or wars. Even if a just international distribution of medical resources is still far from being a reality, how can we not recognize in the steps taken so far the sign of a growing solidarity among peoples, a praiseworthy human and moral sensitivity and a greater respect for life?
In view of laws which permit abortion and in view of efforts, which here and there have been successful, to legalize euthanasia, movements and initiatives to raise social awareness in defence of life have sprung up in many parts of the world. When, in accordance with their principles, such movements act resolutely, but without resorting to violence, they promote a wider and more profound consciousness of the value of life, and evoke and bring about a more determined commitment to its defence.
Furthermore, how can we fail to mention all those daily gestures of openness, sacrifice and unselfish care which countless people lovingly make in families, hospitals, orphanages, homes for the elderly and other centres or communities which defend life? Allowing herself to be guided by the example of Jesus the "Good Samaritan" cf. Lk and upheld by his strength, the Church has always been in the front line in providing charitable help: so many of her sons and daughters, especially men and women Religious, in traditional and ever new forms, have consecrated and continue to consecrate their lives to God, freely giving of themselves out of love for their neighbour, especially for the weak and needy.
These deeds strengthen the bases of the "civilization of love and life", without which the life of individuals and of society itself loses its most genuinely human quality. Even if they go unnoticed and remain hidden to most people, faith assures us that the Father "who sees in secret" Mt not only will reward these actions but already here and now makes them produce lasting fruit for the good of all. Among the signs of hope we should also count the spread, at many levels of public opinion, of a new sensitivity ever more opposed to war as an instrument for the resolution of conflicts between peoples, and increasingly oriented to finding effective but "non-violent" means to counter the armed aggressor.
In the same perspective there is evidence of a growing public opposition to the death penalty, even when such a penalty is seen as a kind of "legitimate defence" on the part of society. Modern society in fact has the means of effectively suppressing crime by rendering criminals harmless without definitively denying them the chance to reform. Another welcome sign is the growing attention being paid to the quality of life and to ecology, especially in more developed societies, where people's expectations are no longer concentrated so much on problems of survival as on the search for an overall improvement of living conditions.
Especially significant is the reawakening of an ethical reflection on issues affecting life. The emergence and ever more widespread development of bioethics is promoting more reflection and dialogue-between believers and non-believers, as well as between followers of different religions- on ethical problems, including fundamental issues pertaining to human life.
This situation, with its lights and shadows, ought to make us all fully aware that we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the "culture of death" and the "culture of life". We find ourselves not only "faced with" but necessarily "in the midst of" this conflict: we are all involved and we all share in it, with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life.
For us too Moses' invitation rings out loud and clear: "See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil. I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live" Dt , This invitation is very appropriate for us who are called day by day to the duty of choosing between the "culture of life" and the "culture of death". But the call of Deuteronomy goes even deeper, for it urges us to make a choice which is properly religious and moral. It is a question of giving our own existence a basic orientation and living the law of the Lord faithfully and consistently: "If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you this day, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, then you shall live The unconditional choice for life reaches its full religious and moral meaning when it flows from, is formed by and nourished by faith in Christ.
Nothing helps us so much to face positively the conflict between death and life in which we are engaged as faith in the Son of God who became man and dwelt among men so "that they may have life, and have it abundantly" Jn It is a matter of faith in the Risen Lord, who has conquered death; faith in the blood of Christ "that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel" Heb With the light and strength of this faith, therefore, in facing the challenges of the present situation, the Church is becoming more aware of the grace and responsibility which come to her from her Lord of proclaiming, celebrating and serving the Gospel of life.
Faced with the countless grave threats to life present in the modern world, one could feel overwhelmed by sheer powerlessness: good can never be powerful enough to triumph over evil! At such times the People of God, and this includes every believer, is called to profess with humility and courage its faith in Jesus Christ, "the Word of life" 1 Jn The Gospel of life is not simply a reflection, however new and profound, on human life.
Nor is it merely a commandment aimed at raising awareness and bringing about significant changes in society. Still less is it an illusory promise of a better future. The Gospel of life is something concrete and personal, for it consists in the proclamation of the very person of Jesus. Jesus made himself known to the Apostle Thomas, and in him to every person, with the words: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life" Jn It was never sufficient to simply defeat an enemy army. Curze taught his Legion to make an example of those who stood against them, to destroy their enemies' cities, slay their kin and display their broken corpses as a message to all others.
His Legion wreaked bloody murder across the galaxy, which continued even after Horus' defeat at the height of the Battle of Terra. Konrad did not fall during the Horus Heresy, and neither did he receive the dark blessing of the Ruinous Powers in the form of apotheosis to daemonhood. Instead, he met his end at the hand of an assassin of the Callidus Temple. It is known that throughout his life Curze was struck with powerful visions of the worst of all possible futures, and that his last had been a foretelling that he would die at the hand of one such as she.
Alone of all the Primarchs, Curze welcomed his death, apparently allowing the assassin to take his life. It is said that in so doing he attained that which he had always craved -- vindication. The Primarch's acceptance of his own fate confirmed his bleak worldview, granting him a victory he could never attain under the rule of his father. It is a view still held by the sons who survived him to wreak an eternal campaign of blood and shadowed terror against the Imperium of the Corpse Emperor. Since the dark days of the Horus Heresy Imperial scholars have pondered how the truest loyalty of many of the Legiones Astartes could have been turned to base treachery, purest devotion to hate, nobility to wickedness, but for the Night Lords perhaps their hearts always belonged to darkness.
Created with a higher purpose, perhaps their end could have been different, but their history is one of poisoned ideology and atrocity. Even when they were counted amongst the loyal Space Marine Legions , their nature and actions were ever questioned. Some argued that they were simply a function of necessity, the monsters needed to drag a barbaric age into the light.
Some say that they were a mistake, a misjudgment compounded by circumstance. A few wonder if they were damned from the moment they were born, that they were destined never to be part of the future they would help create. All such speculation is ultimately pointless; no matter the cause, the Night Lords are creatures of horror and always were.
The Legion's first recruits came from the linked prison sinks of ancient Terra. In vast caverns filled with the half-crushed ruins of millennia there lived men and women who had transgressed against the laws of their masters. Condemned never to see the light again or breathe free air, they lived out their lives in fear and blind darkness.
There was no law in these lightless lands, and survival existed only by a blade's edge.
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Only the strongest and the most ruthless survived in the subterranean warrens, and those who did grew in cruelty and cunning. Fed by a constant influx from the hive cities above, the prison sinks were an ever hungering gate to madness and murder. But of the millions who lived and died in the sinks, not all had been punished by the world above. Amongst the bloodshed and fear, children were born. Cradled in the dark, and raised amongst death, those who lived over a standard decade were pale, silent creatures who moved without a sound.
Dour, with skin so pale it resembled ash or powdered bone, they were far from their brother Legionaries in manner and appearance. The gene-seed of the VIII th Legion had been well-paired with the human stock of its first recruits, and if anything it seemed as if one had been made with the other in mind. Besides accentuating their paleness of skin, the gene-seed gave the sons of the underworld the ability to see through darkness to a degree that far exceeded that of the Astartes of other Legions.
This gift was also a curse, forcing them to see the light of suns and stars through filters and flare buffers; even though they now walked in the light of the world above, the warriors of the VIII th Legion always walked in the night. The first use that the Emperor found for His VIII th Legion was to bring to heel those who believed that the sins of the past could live on in the newborn Imperium of Man.
Several of those who had bent their knee to the Emperor had done so because they believed that it was the only choice. Others, having seen the empires of techno-barbarian warlords rise and fall, believed that they were simply part of a temporary arrangement. Crimes against the new order took many faces: from the Saragorn Enclave whose gene atrocities continued in secret, to the psy-breeding of the Court of Antius, and the March of Ten Million, all showed that even in the face of all of the Emperor's might, some would fall back into the ways of Old Night. Whether as a consequence of their genetic inheritance, or the combination of their origins and indoctrination, the warriors of the VIII th Legion seem to have tended towards moral absolution and a drive to enact retribution.
There were no shades of grey in the VIII th Legion's moral universe, no degrees of guilt or innocence. Truth and falsehood was as day is to night, indivisible and unqualified. The dark was the realm of guilt, lies and monsters, and those who dwelt in the dark knew only the language of blood, the message of swift and merciless retribution for their actions. Justice brought the light to darkness, and justice was neither warm nor caring, but as indifferent and cold as the edge of a knife. The warriors of the VIII th Legion were creatures made to live in the dark, and to fight a war for a future of light.
In their core, they were warriors for a future that would have no place for creatures of their kind. Perhaps memory was too kind, perhaps many wished to believe that there was a nobility in such monsters, where in fact there was only horror. Perhaps many wished there to be a purpose behind atrocity, otherwise how could such creatures be suffered to live? It would be easy to say that the coming of Konrad Curze to the VIII th Legion changed everything, that the fall of the Night Lords began at the moment the Emperor reunited His eighth son with the Legion created from his genome.
But it would be truer to say that it was Nostramo that set both Curze and the Night Lords on the path to treachery. Curze was the gene-sire of the VIII th Legion, but he had two fathers, two hands that shaped his nature and through him the fate of his Legion: the Emperor who spun the substance of Curze's life, and the planet Nostramo which had raised and taught him.
What the Emperor intended for His sons can never be known, but the nature of Nostramo can be. Nostramo was a bleak, sunless Hive World of suffering, pain and corruption. At the heart of a string of planets which had kept the ability to cross the stars through the Age of Strife , it was a world of sprawling cities, of smoke, industry, and the sweat of millions. Nostramo's wealth, for wealth there was, lay in the seams of adamantine ore beneath its surface.
Worlds far from Nostramo fed on its output, and the mines had long wormed deep into its flesh. Nostramo was perpetually dark due to its pollution-clogged atmosphere and the fact that it circled a slowly dying star whose light was unable to penetrate this haze to reach the surface. The world was barely better lit at noon than at midnight. A shroud of perpetual darkness produced by the massive amounts of toxic smog kept the planet swathed in dull greys and deep blacks.
Only the rich could afford the Nostraman idea of illumination, which was little more than dim blue illumination-strips that were placed in the ceilings of the ruling hierarchy's luxurious dwellings in the spires of the dark world's hive cities. The world had five major hive cities that straddled the habitable hub of the planet, named in sequence from Nostramo Prime to Nostramo Quintus. Each hive city functioned as a self-contained industrial system. Due to the synchronicity in the orbit of Nostramo and Tenebor, the moon interposed between Nostramo and its dying sun, these cities experienced the equivalent of a Terran night even during the middle of a Nostraman summer.
Its cities were warrens of stone and iron. Kilometre-tall smoke stacks pointed up at the perpetual night. Bridges of black metal criss-crossed the narrow ravines of alleys and streets. Manses, cathedrals and factories grew from the forest of slums, their faces and roofs crawling with gargoyles. Smog lay over everything like a cloak drawn around a dying man, turning what little light shone from windows or lamps into sickly haloes. Dust, smoke and the reek of chemicals filled the air, and worked into the flesh of every man, woman and child, trimming away their years so that the best that life could offer was a slow decline in grinding servitude, never glimpsing the brightness of hope or the warmth of true happiness.
The physiology and genomes of the people that lived within the Nostraman hive cities remained mostly identical to that of the baseline humans from the Segmentum Solar , with the exception that none of the planet's people possessed irises; the visible part of their eyes consisted entirely of their pupils. The people of Nostramo were pale, and most were thin and gaunt, given by turns to distrust, dark humour and callousness. This acute form of albinism, though a recessive mutation, had become common in the Nostraman populace.
The vast majority of the planet's people lived in abject poverty as foundry labourers, whilst the rich grew in affluence, trampling down or simply killing outright any who dared oppose the status quo.
Depression was an inescapable way of life for most Nostramans, and overpopulation was prevented not by war, disease or legislation, but by the suicide rate. Most of these unfortunate souls would die coughing up blood and black dust on a mouldering pallet, but death from lung blight, or having chemicals eat out their bones from the inside was not the worst end that could be found on Nostramo. The dark owned Nostramo, body and soul, and its existence was a horror to equal any xenos enslavement or nightmare of the Dark Age of Technology.
If there ever had been true laws, they had vanished long ago, eaten by the greed of a few and the desperation of many. Murder was the currency of life, and strength came from violence. Every sin great and small had its home in Nostramo's endless night. It has been said by those Remembrancers who recorded its history after its reclamation that during this time weeping and pleading were the sounds carried eternally on the wind, and every child grew to know that the only law was that of the knife, and the only right belonged to the strong to do with as they willed. Corrupt and murderous gangs, whether or not they were named as such, ruled every part of Nostramo.
From the heights of nobility to the lowest alley, every inch of Nostramo was someone's domain, someone's territory or hunting ground. In the slum habitation stacks, the gangs ruled by raw fear, killing and torturing as they pleased, fighting wars with the feral packs of outcasts who were closer to animals than men. It was said that many of these gangs ate the dead, treating their territories as a predator might a hunting ground.
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In the mines and factories which still turned the planet's wheels of industry, the gangs went by names that echoes with a false authority: the Iron Overseers, the Hands of Coregado, the Sons of Toil. Slab muscled and furnace-scarred, they walked the streets clanking with weaponry and reeking of murder, enforcing order that was little more than slavery. In the wealthier areas, the rakeheel sons and daughters of the corrupt nobility gathered in packs, clad in costumes like strutting peacocks, as quick to kill with blade or gun as they were to cast an insult. No matter what their station, almost all gangs owed fealty to one of the numberless barons, counts and lords, who in turn served still more powerful men and women, many of whom styled themselves with courtly titles that echoes a long forgotten nobility.
Though wrapped in the trappings of birth, blood and feudal right, there was no division between the rulers of Nostramo and its criminal overlords; they were one and the same, cruel monarchs of kingdoms built on sin. According to the heretical handwritten chronicle of his life, entitled simply The Dark , the Primarch Konrad Curze 's earliest memory was of descending from the heavens in a crackling ball of light to the night-shrouded planet of Nostramo. His embryonic form's gestation capsule, cruelly ripped through the Warp from distant Terra by the machinations of the Chaos Gods , impacted on the dense cityscape of the planet's largest hive city of Nostramo Quintus, smashing though countless levels of urban debris and mouldering architecture, through the planet's crust and into its geosphere before finally coming to a halt near the highly unstable liquid core of the planet.
His descent left a scar in the virtually inviolable adamantium strata of Nostramo, the result of the supernaturally resilient Primarch's violent birth into a world that knew no light. The cratered pit his descent had carved into the planet was closed over and later regarded with fear and suspicion. Theoretically, the only way the Primarch could have reached the surface was to have swum through molten metal or had his gestation capsule borne upwards through volcanic vents to the surface.
Unlike the other Primarchs, Curze was never adopted by a human family, and was forced to fend for himself in the terrible underhive of Nostramo Quintus. He spent his early life surviving off his wits and determination, feeding himself by hunting the feral animals that roamed through the vast hive city. He was continually plagued by visions of the darkest possible future, horrifyingly potent waking dreams that would curse him throughout his life. Uniquely among all the Primarchs, Curze grew up completely alone, surviving only thanks to his wits, ruthlessness, and courage as a child in the underhives of Nostramo Quintus.
With his genetically-enhanced body and mind, Curze quickly established himself as a major power in the cities of Nostramo and thanks to countless atrocities committed by him against the world's criminal gangs and corrupt nobles, a semblance of law was eventually imposed upon first Nostramao Quintus and then the other hive cities. Within a year of his arrival in the hive city, the crime rate of Nostramo had fallen away to nothing.
Nostraman society was transformed, and the ripples were felt all over the planet. Nostramo Quintus developed a self-imposed curfew; none dared to stray out later than the early evening. The midnight streets, previously buzzing with activity, were as silent as the grave. Mothers threatened disobedient children with the depraved attentions of the Night Haunter. Soon the name became more commonplace, used by the populace as a whole. Rumours of a hideous, dark creature that stalked the alleyways and tunnels, its filthy claws ever ready to disembowel those who strayed, abounded within the city.
The citizens of Quintus lived a half-life of fear, silent lest their words should be taken as heresy. Nostramo was ripe for the rule of the Night Haunter. Through the use of sheer brutality, Curze was eventually recognized as the planet's benevolent dictator. It is during this period that Konrad Curze earned the name " Night Haunter " for the vicious murders of literally hundreds, if not thousands, of Nostraman criminals and corrupt aristocrats. Curze later re-adopted the title after he turned to Chaos during the Horus Heresy. Night Haunter became the first monarch of Nostramo Quintus, absorbing accumulated knowledge with a diligence almost akin to greed.
He ruled with temperance and reason unheard of until word came to him that some injustice had been done, whereupon he alone would hunt the offender through the hive cities' empty streets until exhaustion forced his quarry to collapse. He would then proceed to mutilate his prey, although not beyond recognition. This unpredictable pattern of benevolent wisdom and hideous vengeance ushered the shocked Nostraman populace into new realms of efficiency and honesty.
Exports of adamantium to their neighbouring worlds soon tripled. Nostraman society came to exist in a terrible balance maintained by shared wealth and shared fear. None dared to have more than his neighbour and under the shadow of Night Haunter's rule, the city grew well-lit and prosperous. And as Nostramo Quintus led the way, the rest of the planet's population followed, anxious to keep the Night Haunter from their own doors. He almost single-handedly rid Nostramo of its culture of crime and predation, using terror as a weapon to crush the planet's ruling criminal syndicates and their corrupt overseers.
He then re-established the rule of law under his own draconian leadership, and was revered by the Nostraman people as a benevolent and just dictator. Curze's hunter instincts, instinctive use of stealth, dependence upon the element of surprise, and extensive reliance upon a form of psychological warfare that devastated his opponents by using their own fear against them were also traits of the VIII Space Marine Legion that had been created from his genome.
Even before the Horus Heresy, the Night Lords decorated their Power Armour with symbols of death, realizing that fear was a weapon as effective as any Bolter or Chainsword. Almost a standard century after the Great Crusade began, the Emperor came to Nostramo. The coming of the Emperor of Mankind was an event that had been prophesied in Nostramo's history: an event that would lead to the planet's downfall. His arrival brought the light of the sun to the night-shrouded world for the first time. The Emperor landed on Nostramo, and led an Imperial delegation to the centre of Nostramo Quintus on foot.
The citizens of Nostramo, adapted to the near-constant darkness, could not bear to look upon the radiance of the Emperor. Most wept as the healing light He projected reflected off the rain slicked streets into their faces. Those brave enough to look upon Him directly were blinded. At the end of the broad road leading to the Night Haunter's royal palace, the Primarch stood, waiting for the delegation to approach. As they did, he succumbed to a psychic vision of the future so potent and horrifying that he tried to claw his own eyes out, but was stopped by the Emperor.
Night Haunter then looked at the Emperor, and the Master of Mankind said to his newfound son:. My people gave me a name, and I will bear it until my dying day. And I know full well what you intend for me. Curze submitted to the Emperor's will as if he had already seen it, as if he was playing out a part he had long feared would fall to him. Night Haunter quickly adapted to the teachings of the Imperium, studying the complex doctrines of the Adeptus Astartes under the Primarch Fulgrim 's tutelage.
Although he and his Legion excelled in many theatres of war, a tendency soon became apparent. It never occurred to the Night Lords to use anything other than total, brutal and decisive force to achieve their goals. Over the first few years, the Night Lords were molded by their Primarch into an efficient, humourless force, possessing the fanatical thoroughness of Witch Hunters. Night Haunter encouraged his Legion to decorate their Power Armour with images designed to inspire fear in the enemy, a tactic that proved incredibly effective.
Soon, rumours of the impending presence of the Night Lords would cause a rebel star system to pay all outstanding Imperial tithes, cease all illegal activities and put to death any mutants and suspected Traitors.
The reuniting of Primarch and Legion was the beginning of a spiral that would see the Night Lords descend further into horror and nihilism. After Curze's departure Nostramo shook off his enforced peace, returning to lawlessness. From this point Nostramo fed the VIII th Legion not with the finest of its youth, but with gutter scum soaked in blood and cruelty.
Some claim that this began to poison the Legion, twisting its purpose and making many Night Lords simple murderers gifted with the strength of demi-gods. This thesis, though, willfully ignores a number of factors, no least of which was Curze's leadership of his Legion. That he came to despise his own sons is likely, but he was still their lord.