Friday, August 28, 2015

Robin Hood Paper Soldiers

  The most famous outlaw of all time, the best archer of the Middle Ages, the most famous man to wear Lincoln green--Robin Hood!  Reenact his adventures from the old stories or create your own with this book of paper soldiers.  Includes Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Little John, Guy of Guisbourne, Friar Tuck, Will Scarlett, Alan-a-Dale, and the Sheriff of Nottingham.  28 figures in all with 3 deer and 3 oak trees allow you to recreate Sherwood Forest.  Available at

Monday, August 17, 2015

Review of Beyond the Mask part 1--The Story

I have been chronicling the progress of the Christian movie Beyond the Mask for several years on my blog.  Now that it has been released to theaters and is coming to DVD on September 8, I can review it.  This section of the review gives a synopsis of the story.

The movie follows an employee of the East India Company (abbreviated as EIC) named William Reynolds (played by Andrew Cheney).  Reynolds has been used as an assassin against the Company’s many enemies.  Most recently, he sidelined Parliament’s inquiry into the East India Company’s spending.  In the process, he acquired a copy of the Parliament’s report detailing the Company’s misdeeds.

But he has wearied of this life and desires a fresh start with his promised land, wealth—and most importantly, a new name.  But Charles Kemp (John Rhys-Davies), the Director of the EIC, will hear nothing of the sort and insists on Reynolds resettling in America. 

Will leaves the East India Company, and disguises himself as the vicar of the quiet parish of Ailesbury.  Here he finds the quiet he has longed for—and falls in love with a local girl, Charlotte Holloway (Kara Kilmer).  Despite memories of India, he is building a new life for himself.  But he soon finds he can’t hide his past.  Two run-ins with people he would rather forget cause him to flee Ailesbury. 

But as he flees, he does not forget Charlotte.  He vows to himself that he will atone for his past (and become worthy of her) by his good deeds.  With Kemp on his way to America, this seems like the perfect opportunity for Will Reynolds to redeem his name by thwarting Kemp’s plans.  Both travel to Philadelphia where Kemp enlists the help of local Loyalists and Will is employed by Benjamin Franklin as a printer.  The Loyalists begin a coordinated campaign to intimidate rebel sympathizers.   Reynolds must thwart Kemp, so he becomes a gallant highwayman and fights the Loyalists.   Each episode is faithfully recorded in Franklin’s Gazette.

But Will soon suspects designs on the rebels’ military commander George Washington.  To save Washington from an assassination plot would certainly redeem his name.  With the Parliamentary report in his possession, Kemp’s downfall is just a matter of time and Reynolds decides to expose him.   But Charles Kemp is the master schemer, and he turns the tables on Will, who is conveyed to a prison ship.

Charlotte Holloway is also in America, and she discovers designs to destroy Philadelphia by gunpowder barrels planted strategically under key locations, including the State House where the Continental Congress is voting to adopt the Declaration of Independence.  The only person she knows who can thwart this is Will Reynolds, but he is aboard the prison ship under threat of hanging.

I thought that the story was paced very well.  The action moved the story ahead, rather than just being there for its own sake.  If you like movies with a good storyline, this one is highly recommended. 

All pictures from Beyond the Mask's Facebook page:

Thursday, August 6, 2015

James II's Response to the League of Augsburg

The Duke of Berwick was a son of King James II of England and, after his father was dethroned by William of Orange (later William III), became a famous general in French service.  Berwick wrote out his Memoirs, and included this interesting exchange between the league of Augsburg (supporting William of Orange) and his father James II (then King of England).

"Pope Innocent XI, the Emperor, and the King of Spain, were in the secret of the Prince of Orange's intended invasion; and connived at it in the view of obliging the King of England to renounce the alliance he had with France, and to unite with the league lately made at Augsburg against that nation.  But they never had an intention of dethroning the King of England; as a proof of which, Don Pedro Ronquillo, the Spanish ambassador at London, in private audience which he demanded for that purpose, made the King clearly see that the storm threatened him; but at the same time assured him, in the name of the House of Austria, that if he would enter into the league, he would have nothing more to fear for himself, and that all the effort would turn against France."  

"The King's answer, though not very consonant with what policy might perhaps have required of him in his present situation, was dictated by the uprightness of his heart and of his conscience.  He assured the ambassador that it was his intention to live upon good terms with everybody, and never to depart from the laws of equity and justice; and that by these very laws, he was bound not to break with a Prince, who was his relation and ally, and from whom he had always received marks of friendship.  Ronquillo pressing him strongly, and representing to him the misfortunes to which he was going to expose himself, if he persisted in his resolution, the King replied, that he would rather lose his crown, than be guilty of an unjust action."--Berwick's Memoirs vol. 1 pp. 22-26, as cited on pg. 41 of The Marshal Duke of Berwick by Charles Petrie