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Dylan Collins
Dylan Collins

Empire Of The Wolves (2005) Fixed

Arly Jover first seen topless from above while taking a shower, and then providing another peek at her breasts and right butt cheek when getting dressed afterwards. Hi-res DVD capture from Empire of the Wolves (AKA L'empire des loups).

Empire of the Wolves (2005)


As Firekeeper learns to become human, we get to see the culture clash, both from her point of view, and from the humans'. There is a curious lack of tension, because the reader learns very early on that Firekeeper is not the heir, and so we know the actual heir will be one of the rest of the cast of characters -- we know this is not a classic "Lost Princess" story. The political wranglings have many unexpected turns, many of the characters develop in unexpected ways, and there is good closure to this first part of story. But we also learn there are much deeper things to come, as the humans will one day have to come to terms with the intelligent northern wolves, so there are lots of threads to lead into the sequel.

In this article I will examine both texts by Gage, i.e. his English-American and "Some Briefe and True Observations", in the context of both Gage's self-historicized and retrospective life-adventure and the social, economic and religious complexities of Cromwell's England. This will allow me to determine the actual relevance of Gage's writings as important pillars of Cromwell's ill-conceived 1655 expedition. Furthermore, I will explore Gage's multiple personas (as Catholic and Puritan, priest and military informant, Spaniard and English man), the way he constructed himself and his unfailing ability to betray others and self-fashion his various identities in the context of Cromwell's, and England's, complex processes of transformation on the road to building an 'empire somewhere'. (4)

Hakluyt's account of the origins of the Spanish empire in fraud and deceit, which we might relate with early forms of the Spanish 'Black Legend', (5) has to be linked to what English propagandists of imperial aspirations were starting to attempt even before England had an actual empire: the promotion of a new world of which the English, still apprentices when compared to the Portuguese or the Spaniards, wanted a share. Although this empire was still inexistent, and all early attempts to create it had failed (hence Jeffrey Knapp's "empire nowhere", which emphasizes the utopian nature of such a project in the first half of the sixteenth century [Knapp 1992]) several authors, especially after the 1580s, persevered and eventually succeeded in the production of an imaginary realm. This semi-fictional space, according to these authors, was there for the taking, since it was only thinly populated by inefficacious and morally deficient Indians, Spaniards and Portuguese. (6)

The English seventeenth century ideological and discursive (narrative) construction of an empire trying to emulate the Spanish and the Portuguese is, undoubtedly, a complex and sophisticated process. Firstly, as Richard Helgerson has argued, both England and the world had to be reinvented in order to "make them fit for one another" (2000: 153). Then, both Iberians and Indians had to be constructed as "the others against which the English national self could be measured, contrasted, and even created" (Borge 2007: 209). Finally, England had to be discursively produced (through sermons, plays, pamphlets, or travel narratives) as a "different kind of colonial power", one willing, unlike the Spaniards, "to create a new, more virtuous, social order in the New World" (Borge 2007: 209). This concern with producing an English self which functioned as an inverted image of Spanish colonial cruelty -and Gage's narrative is a case in point- mostly responds (but is not limited) to a preoccupation with the proliferation, outside Protestant England, of what was perceived as religious heretical practices, moral depravity and inhuman behavior.

It may be argued that Gage's narrative falls outside early Elizabethan attempts to build an empire and that it cannot, consequently, be examined under a similar light. However, when we approach Cromwell's mid-seventeenth century projects to overthrow the Spanish in America and compare it to the late Tudor confrontation with Habsburg Spain we find that, first, both political constructs were strongly driven by a similar economic project: although admittedly they were at a different stage of development, both involved a sense of the importance of mercantilism and of the balance of trade, of the accumulation of wealth, and of the development of shipping. Both also shared a strong anti-Catholic (and anti-Spanish) Protestant or Puritan religious zeal (Williamson 2005: 227-231). To be sure, Cromwell's Elizabethan outlook has been the matter of much discussion for the last century and a half. Frank Strong famously claimed as early as 1899 that "Cromwell was Elizabethan. He belongs with Raleigh, Gilbert and Hakluyt. The whole aspect of the West Indian expedition is Elizabethan" (Strong 1899: 233). George Bauer also held the same view: "His [Cromwell's] ideal was an anachronism- a heritage of the Elizabethan era" (1902: 46). More recent authors, like David Armitage, have similarly approached Cromwell's Western Design as a religiously inspired colonial attempt to supplant the Spanish in the West Indies (1992: 542), not unlike post-Armada Elizabethan anti-Spanish thrusts.

On the other hand, historians such as Arthur Williamson have emphatically denied Cromwell's indebtedness (or link of any kind) to Elizabethan proto-colonial endeavors. Instead, he suggests that Cromwellian political projects should be seen as defensive and anti-imperialistic, devised with the sole intention of "open[ing] up trade rather than seeking total hegemony within the region" (2005: 247; see also Kupperman 1998: 90-91; Knoppers 2000: 106-108). For Williamson, Cromwell was a progressive thinker genuinely concerned with liberating and protecting the Amerindians from Iberian (i.e. Portuguese and Spanish) mistreatment; he was--Williamson claims--earnestly committed to freeing the world from Habsburg tyranny in order to replace it not with an alternative empire but with the global expansion of free trade and free thinking (2005: 248-250).

Furthermore, the British Republic developed a project in which the decline of the crown seemed to be linked to the creation of a new global power based on what aspired to be a coherent colonial policy. Cromwell's Britain, unlike the empire nowhere of the sixteenth century, seriously challenged the Spanish Habsburgs and, at least to some extent, the Dutch. Whether Oliver aspired to become the Emperor of the West Indies or not, his Western Design certainly was an attempt to build a British Puritan commonwealth (Williamson 2005: 246-254). For all these ambitious projects, ousting protectionist Spaniards from the Indies seemed to be a conditio sine qua non.

This is one of the reasons why the intellectual encounter between Gage and Cromwell, through Oliver's Western Design and Gage's writings, cannot surprise us: Gage's constant self-fashioning, his betrayals, conversions and recantations, shared some of the political expediency of the man for whom "ambiguity approached an art form", and who consistently showed "a face of power", "of [...] pervasive and persistent ambiguity" (Worden 2010: 64, 63). Cromwell's was a national project to build an empire, or at least to dislodge one, in order to find England's place in the context of proto-colonial endeavors within an emergent global seventeenth century, whereas Gage's was a personal attempt to find his own place in the world, be it as Jesuit, Dominican, Anglican or Puritan. Gage's English-American and "Some Briefe and True Observations" (his memorial), as we have shown, provided Cromwell with the necessary information and encouragement from, he believed, someone who stood as close as you could get to a Spaniard without being one. Cromwell's projects, like Gage's, ended in failure, but both shared an aspiration for change: his country's history (Cromwell) and his own identity (Gage). This is why the English-American has this hybrid, confusing look of travel narrative, spiritual autobiography, and politico-military report. Just like, Gage explains, the tiburon, which some mistake for the caiman, or--more appropriately given Gage's confessed passion for it--chocolata, the New World and Hispanic marker which, like Gage's allegiances, nobody knew for sure whether it was drink or food.

(11.) Even Williamson, who insists that Cromwell's major (and almost exclusive) aim was to put an end to all kinds of imperialism, eventually concedes that "imperialism [represented by Habsburg Spain] and anti-imperialism [Cromwell's England] would necessarily be cast in terms of commerce" (2005: 252). 041b061a72


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