Kick a Horse in Xanadu

Hitting animals has been part of Western and Eastern culture for centuries.

Charlemagne was most famous for his merciless beating of his favorite horse, Edwin, his favorite dog, Monty, and his favorite servant, Heraculusus. In fact the expression ‘to be beaten to within an inch of one’s life’ originated in Charlemagne’s court.

Charlemagne built a pleasure retreat in the Carpathian Mountains called Xanadu and there he assembled his most trusted and loved for weekend orgies of blood and violence. His greatest pleasure was to split the men and women, calling the women ‘vamps’ as they were invariably very sexy, and the men ‘pyres’ as they were burning with lust.

After starving both parties for three days he would let them loose on each other in a frenzy of blood and other bodily fluids. These orgies became known as the Vamp and Pyre games and so a legend was born. When Bram Stoker visited the now ruined Xanadu in 1867 he was so inspired he put pen to paper and wrote his most famous book, A Tale of Two Cities, describing the differences between Xanadu and the City of London.

Fast forward to 1989. Communism has been crushed and animal beating outlawed in the free West since 1972, is now outlawed in the former Soviet territories including Romania.

Cock fighting, bear baiting, sheep worrying and pig slapping were the first animal-related sports and pastimes to be outlawed. Three years later horse-ball kicking, dog-ass poking and most beloved of all, live chicken plucking, were made illegal.

But what of the cultural heritage and traditions remains today? Up until 1997 it was either in the fond memories of the elderly or a closely-guarded underground movement.

It was decided as in many countries that the most famous centers of animal violence would be turned into museums and educational institutions. Raul Wallyborg, curator of the rebuilt Xanadu visitors center, explains to a group of school kids the cruelty meted out to animals and on occasion servants in the “good old days.”

He always ends his tours by imploring children not to cause harm to any living animal and then with a sly smile he turns to the children and says, “but if you haven’t kicked a horse in the bollocks you haven’t lived!”

The Royal Palace and Gardens, Museum of the Arts and the National Science Museum can all be visited in Xanadu, but we would recommend that if you only have a few days in Xanadu, seek out Raul and visit his museum.

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