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The Pale - Reference to Irish History?

Posted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 1:25 pm
by Havard
I just realized that The Pale is also a term used about a part of Ireland during the time of Henry VIII:
Origin of the name[edit]
The word pale derives ultimately from the Latin word pālus, meaning stake, specifically a stake used to support a fence.[4][5] From this came the figurative meaning of boundary and eventually the phrase beyond the pale, as something outside the boundary.[6] Also derived from the "boundary" concept was the idea of a pale as an area within which local laws were valid. The term was used not only for the Pale in Ireland but also for various other English colonial settlements, notably English Calais. In addition, the term Pale of Settlement was applied to the area in the west of Imperial Russia where Jews were permitted to reside.
Does any of this fit with The Pale of Greyhawk?


Re: The Pale - Reference to Irish History?

Posted: Tue Aug 22, 2017 4:40 pm
by Cthulhudrew
Interesting. The Theocracy of the Pale doesn't really have a lot in common with Irish history per se, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if the term is where Gygax derived the name from. The Pale was formerly a part of Nyrond, and is something of a borderland at its edges. Gygax knew and used a lot of obscure terminology.

ETA: Looking at some of the other Pale terms, the Russian Pale of Settlement might actually be a bit more directly influential, given the religious histories of both the RW Pale and fantasy Pale regions.

Re: The Pale - Reference to Irish History?

Posted: Mon Sep 11, 2017 4:06 am
by combatmedicreturns
Calais was a pale too, for a couple of hundred years.
Given Gygax's warhaming and historical interests, it seems likely to me he had read about the history of the English in Calais.

But I think Gygax probably just had in mind "pale" as an archaic word for borderland region, and did not intend any specific historical allusion or analog. I don't see any strong Irish history parallels, at least.
But this is only a guess. I'm hardly an expert.

The Pale of Settlement, brought up by Cthulhudrew, brings to my mind a very different but distantly related historical concept, one which I doubt Gygax's had in mind at all.

The Palites seem sort of like Israelites. Monotheists in a world of polytheists. They have a historic homeland, but it has been occupied in the past. Poor relations with other cults.
Theocratic rule (Hasmonean priest-kings, perhaps).
Different climate, of course.
I don't mean that they should have Hebrew or Aramaic names.

Ogon Tillit

I suppose it could be like Ogen and Tallit.

Ogen is a Hebrew name. I looked it up. Tallit is the prayer shawl.

But this is me reading back into the name. I'ts probably just a fantasy name that doesn't mean anything.

I note that the Pale is not really defined as a theocracy dedicated to Pholtus until the dawn of 2E, a few years after Gygax left.
Fate of Istus gets into detail about all that.

The Dragon magazine articles from the early GH period actually note that Wee Jas is important in The Pale. The text does not say she's the principal deity.
I'd have to check, but I don't think anything TSR published before Fate of Istus makes the Pholtus-Pale connection.

But doesn't Gygax do it in one of the non-TSR Gord books?

Re: The Pale - Reference to Irish History?

Posted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 7:14 pm
by Havard
Thanks for the input! I guess Pale is mainly just a name for a border region as you guys are saying.

The religious aspect of Greyhawk's The Pale is another interesting part of this discussion though since Ireland became such a stronghold of Catholicism on the British Isles. It would be interesting to learn if the decision for making The Pale a Theocracy was something linked to this idea from the beginning or perhaps that other authors inserted, consciously or subconsciously thinking about Irish history?


Re: The Pale - Reference to Irish History?

Posted: Tue Dec 26, 2017 1:05 pm
by stebehil
I don´t think that it would have too much to do with real-world religion in the first place. Mind you, AFAIK, the irish Pale (and others probably as well) predates the catholic - protestant schism by centuries, when there was only one christian faith in western europe. I would assume that it just denotes a special frontier region staked against invasion by "uncivilized" outsiders from "beyond the pale" (the latter term I first encountered in a Rolemaster (monster?) book, where some demons were said to come from beyond the pale). OTOH, very much of the western european christianity was spread in the so-called dark ages (c. 500 AD to c. 800 AD) from Ireland and the irish wandering monks. So, some sort of religious connection might be fitting. But I would not try to read that too literally. I mean, as was noted before, Gygax probably knew his european history, and picked terms and ideas as he pleased, and changed them to fit his ideas. Several of the monsters are quite different from their mythic ancestors as well.

EDIT: sorry for beating a dead horse, just noticed that the thread is old after posting.