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Prominent Theme in Prince Caspian

May 14, 2008

I’ve been reviewing Prince Caspian to get refresh my memory for the upcoming movie.  There was a curious element of the book that seemed familiar to me every time I read it – something in Narnia’s history as of Prince Caspian that echoed of something I knew before.

This time, it hit me.  Let me retell the history of Narnia from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to Prince Caspian to see if you see what I’m talking about.  Once Peter, Susan, Edmond and Lucy leave Narnia and its Golden Age, years pass.  Then, the Telmarines invade the country, coming from another country.  They take over, and impose their culture and rule over the native Narnians.  They are cruel, and view the natives with disdain.  The first Telmarine king of Narnia is called Caspian the Conquerer, and he establishes his own rule forcefully over the nation.  

Does this sound like a pivotal event in history?  Here’s one more hint: 1066.

The Telmarine Invasion is the Narnian equivalent to the Norman Invasion of England in 1066, where a foreign power takes over England and impose their culture upon the country.  The Normans set their own king on the throne, established their own culture, and English lore dictates, with some historical support, that the Normans were oppressive masters, lording it over the native English.   Not only that, but the Normans influenced the country of England to this day: their Kings ruled over the land for years, and from their line come some of the greatest English kings, such as Richard the Lionhearted.  Likewise, even after the Telmarines were driven out, their line of Kings ruled over Narnia until its end, and produced many good Kings, including Caspian X, the Navigator.

C. S. Lewis was a professor of Medieval and Renaissance Literature, and was very familiar with English literature and history.  The Norman Invasion was a pivotal point of English history and literature, and Lewis would have known this.  I wonder if this was a narrative he had in mind for Narnia.  Even if it wasn’t, it is a story that is engrained into British history, and probably influences people more than they realize.  The confluence between good literature and history is fascinating if you look for it closely enough.

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