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  • I have a theory that Prince Zuko was based on a real life Scottish King from the 1400's. I haven't read the creators' tell all book but in all the online interviews I've read, they haven't mentioned any real world influences. They have only mentioned the want for Zuko to be multidimensional and not simply an evil villain but a human acting from a darker place in his past.

    James II of Scotland (born 1430, actively reigning king 1447 - 1460) had a conspicuous bright red birthmark on his face. This earned him the nickname of 'Fiery Face'. The birthmark was deemed by the people around him to be an outward sign of a fiery temper.

    The next alignment requires a brief recap of Zuko's mother, Ursa's history taken from the comics. Ursa grew up in a small village and fell in love with a boy named Ikem. They were engaged for a mere few hours before the Fire Lord Azulon forced her to denounce her former life to come away with him and marry his son Prince Ozai. Ozai and Ursa had two children, Zuko and Azula. Ursa wrote many letters to the loved ones she left behind. They were all intercepted by Prince Ozai. When Ursa started to suspect that this may be the case, she sent a decoy letter to her past love, Ikem. The decoy letter stated that Zuko was actually Ikem's son. Ozai became furious and threatened to kill Ikem. Ursa admitted she wished Zuko was her child with Ikem. Ozai decided he would now act as if Zuko really wasn't his son. Years later, a plot was uncovered for Ozai to kill Zuko on Azulon's orders (long story). Ursa pleaded with Ozai to save Zuko's life. The price was a powerful yet undetectable poison destined for Fire Lord Azulon thus clearing the throne for Ozai. Ursa's knowledge of the poison scared Ozai so much that part of the deal was for her to be banished from the kingdom lest she use it on him. She begged to be able to take her kids with her, to no avail. Ursa made one dose of the poison and fled. Ozai became Fire Lord but continued to treat Zuko as if they weren't related. 

    In my historical version, James II (real life Zuko)'s mother is Joan Beaufort Queen of Scots. The man she was still in love with is actually his father, James I, but was assassinated in 1437 when James II was 6 years old. This made James II the king but because of his age he wasn't allowed to act as King. So, simply put, whoever had custody of James could become acting king (or regent) until James turned 18. A governor named Sir Alexander Livingston was holding young James II at Stirling Castle for a portion of time to control the throne. Alexander arrested Joan and imprisoned her at Stirling Castle on August 3rd, 1439. She was released on September 4th, only after agreeing to give custody of James II to the Livingstones and give them her dowry for the maintenance of the young king. 

    Here is how the stories match up: the role of Ozai is played by Alexander Livingston. Whilst he was not in any way dating or married to Joan, he was James' legal guardian until their emancipation in 1449. Joan and Alexander even technically lived together for a bit (while she was on house arrest). Alexander treated James in a cold, harsh way like they weren't actually related (of course they actually weren't but this is still the case of a male custodian acting cold). Sources vary from here but it seems Alexander was imprisoned for treason around the same time as the emancipation returned the crown to James (both in 1449). James occasionally visited at least until Alexander died in 1451. Prince Zuko took to power after Ozai was arrested, but continued to seek his council from time to time. 

    Joan Beaufort Queen of Scots, often pleaded with her husband, King James I, for those who might be executed. Just like Zuko's mother Ursa pleaded for a young Zuko's life.

    Joan remarried in 1439 to James Steward - the Black Knight of Lorn - to secure a male protector in troubled times (the Livingston/Douglas battle for custody of her son). Ursa remarried Noren who took her to get her face changed and her memories of her children removed to protect her from the Fire Nation after she lost custody (okay, okay, Noren is actually Ikem with his face changed but shhhh they're still different marriages!)

    Both Ursa and Joan had to decide between a life imprisoned in a castle with their young son in jeopardy, or fleeing alone. Both pairs were reunited years later, after the downfall of the father figure that made them choose.

    I mentioned at the top about Zuko's character acting from a place of darkness in his past. The darkness shrouding James II is the power struggle over his throne rights. When James II was only 10, he was witness to the murder of his two newest friends - the 16 year old 6th Earl of Douglas and his 12 year old brother. This is believed to be orchestrated in part by their uncle, James the Gross, who took over as the 7th Earl of Douglas. This heinous act exasperated a tug of war between the Douglases and the Livingstones for power over poor James' custody rights and throne. James turned out to be a good king, loved by commoners with which he socialised often. Just like Zuko checking in with his subjects often to find out how his peace efforts were going and later retiring to a smaller island. James' rule was plagued only by the murder of the 8th Earl of Douglas in 1452 in a botched attempt for James to free himself from the power struggles.

    Both Ozai and Alexander were indirectly responsible for temporary crushed attempts at peace. Ozai's continued consult to Zuko fed into the abandonment of the Harmony Restoration Movement. With Alexander, he rose into favour with his son-not-son James II in 1449. Alexander pushed for the downfall of the Douglases. This could have been the start of the murder plot against William Douglas, the 8th Earl of Douglas, just a few years later.

    I'm really excited to see what you think of my theory - I spent more time on this than I'm willing to admit. I discovered old Jamesy Boy down the wikipedia rabbit hole of Western European monarchy. The more I read, the more common ground I found.

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    • Excellent theory. I've suspected something similar for years. Welcome to Avatar Wiki. Icon_mrgreen.gif

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    • Wow! Excellent theory indeed. You've done pretty much research :)

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    • Hasdi wrote:
      Excellent theory. I've suspected something similar for years. Welcome to Avatar Wiki. Icon_mrgreen.gif

      Thank you :)

      Wow you're clever, the shows background is routed so deeply in asian culture - I never would have guessed! It only fell into place when I stumbled across a man with the distinct vermillion birthmark nicknamed 'Fiery Face'.

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    • I'm here to rain on the parade.

      James II of Scotland (born 1430, actively reigning king 1447 - 1460) had a conspicuous bright red birthmark on his face. This earned him the nickname of 'Fiery Face'. The birthmark was deemed by the people around him to be an outward sign of a fiery temper.

      Having looked up the monarch in question, the birthmark isn't anywhere near his eye, & also it's on the wrong side. If it was a deliberate reference, & not just some random person who happened to have a red mark on his face, you'd think they'd put it--y'know--where it's supposed to be. Or at least in the ballpark.

      Here is how the stories match up: the role of Ozai is played by Alexander Livingston. Whilst he was not in any way dating or married to Joan, he was James' legal guardian until their emancipation in 1449. Joan and Alexander even technically lived together for a bit (while she was on house arrest). Alexander treated James in a cold, harsh way like they weren't actually related (of course they actually weren't but this is still the case of a male custodian acting harsh). Sources vary from here but it seems Alexander was imprisoned for treason around the same time as the emancipation (both in 1449) but James occasionally visited at least until Alexander died in 1451. Prince Zuko took power when Ozai was arrested, but continued to seek his council from time to time.

      Okay, so the ways in which the story matches are his guardian was a jerk to him, he was imprisoned, & James visited him on occasion.

      But you're skimming past the numerous differences. He wasn't married to this woman, or related to James by blood, & he was imprisoned for treason as opposed to being deposed by revolutionaries.

      Joan Beaufort Queen of Scots, often pleaded with her husband, King James I, for those who might be executed. Just like Zuko's mother Ursa pleaded for a young Zuko's life.

      But that's not "just like it" at all, one is her son, the other is random people. There was no mention of Ursa trying to have random convicts spared.

      Joan remarried in 1439 to James Steward

      So the idea is that they remarried. Okay, here's the common thread I'm seeing with your similarities: When they're not inaccurate, they're mundane. Remarrying isn't an unusual circumstance that 2 people are unlikely to share just at random.

      Both Ursa and Joan had to decide between a life imprisoned in a castle and getting to be with their son. They were both reunited after the downfall of the father figure that made them choose.

      So here's a representative of the "inaccurate" half: These were not Ursa's options. Her options were either let Zuko die, be banished, or be killed. Ozai plainly stated he wasn't going to keep her around, because then she might get the idea to poison him some day.

      Both Ozai and Alexander were indirectly responsible for temporary crushed attempts at peace.

      But they're only similar in those extremely general terms. The specifics of the situations have nothing in common. Also, that wasn't the only threat to Zuko's reign, he also faced a crisis manufactured by Azula, a paternity scare, & an attempted assassination of Azula.

      I'm really excited to see what you think of my theory - I spent more time on this than I'm willing to admit. I discovered old Jamesy Boy down the wikipedia rabbit hole of Western European monarchy. The more I read, the more common ground I found.

      I think you're falling into the classic errors of pareidolia (seeing patterns in randomness) & confirmation bias (seeing what you expect to see). It's not advised to test a theory by looking for proof that it's right, because then you wind up exaggerating positive evidence, & overlooking other facts that contradict it.

      A theory is considered strong when there are testable predictions it makes, which can be proven wrong, but yet it passes those attempts. If I looked at these points, tried to come up with reasons why they don't work, & failed more times than I succeeded, that would be more impressive. But when you look at the facts which don't fit, they significantly outnumber those that do, because every example given has multiple problems.

      When we dispense with the things that aren't even accurate to begin with, we're left with really only one unusual similarity, which is the facial mark. But since the placement is completely different, this is probably just an unusual coincidence. In the whole history of the world, there have easily been thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of kings, it becomes increasingly probable that one of them had a weird red mark somewhere on their face. It might actually not even be all that uncommon, since there are so many ways to get one--injury, rash, disease, birthmark, etc. The remainder are probably similar because they're very common among aristocracy; power struggles, bad marriages, etc.

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    • To Neo Bahemut

      I legitimately just spent hours on a response. I clicked 'post' and now it's nowhere to be found. Pretty upset not gonna lie!

      Not sure if the following could quite be called a rebuttal... It's more for my memory and to make it known I stand by my argument.

      Main points were:

      Thank you for your thoughtful response, I appreciate your discussion.

      I admitted my theory was more of a conspiracy theory than hard truth because you're right - the writers would have come out and said it. However, in your quest to question my theory I feel you oversimplifed all that they do share in common. The two stories couldn't be exactly alike as the writers have such a strong Asian backing for the show that a Scottish king wouldn't fit.

      They both also had a fiery temperament. James' facial mark was said to be an outward representation of his temperament. The same could be said for Prince Zuko as his mark was caused by his heated outburst at his fathers meeting.

      More than just both having harsh guardians - Joan and her kids lived at Stirling Castle after the death of James I. Alexander was close to the family even before that. He was in the perfect position to step up and be the father figure that was needed but instead made it clear he didn't care for James. They both had father figures that went out of their way to make it known that there was no love or care here.

      Both mothers were remarried for protection. James Steward changed Joan's social identity and Noren changed Ursa's physical identity.

      The 'choice' that Ursa and Joan faced regarding their sons future was a lot more similar than you think. Long story short - being killed isn't even a choice and Joan didn't really have a choice either. She was held captive while James' male rescue party were tortured. Then she suddenly gives up her son, dowery, and claims Alexander did the right thing. Years later he was arrested for the treasonous charge of maltreatment of Joan, along with many of his family and staff. This paints the picture of both women being made to leave for their safety with only the promise that their children will be spared.

      I was a little quick to say the only thing plaguing the reign of King James II was the murder. But it was the biggest blight and the other things you mentioned for Zuko were not public opinion afflictions. No one's reign will ever come even close to perfect.

      Half those points probably feel a bit like a cop out and I understand if you don't bother responding... Just know they each used to be perfect paragraphs with quotes from your comment and even from a 1439 Scottish parlimentary decree. I'm just too salty to properly re-write it all haha.

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    • I legitimately just spent hours on a response. I clicked 'post' and now it's nowhere to be found. Pretty upset not gonna lie!

      That's why I copy everything before I post it.

      Thank you for your thoughtful response, I appreciate your discussion.

      Thank you for the words of appreciation.

      I admitted my theory was more of a conspiracy theory than hard truth because you're right - the writers would have come out and said it.

      That's not really an argument I was thinking of making, but it is a good point. While it's plausible they might have avoided mentioning it at first, it's been so long & with so much material in the franchise, it would be odd if they never said, "Y'know, we're surprised nobody got this reference."

      Both mothers were remarried for protection. James Steward changed Joan's social identity and Noren changed Ursa's physical identity.

      I admit I missed this point, & that's more similar than I'd thought. The others I don't think really change anything.

      The 'choice' that Ursa and Joan faced regarding their sons future was a lot more similar than you think. Long story short - being killed isn't even a choice and Joan didn't really have a choice either. She was held captive while James' male rescue party were tortured. Then she suddenly gives up her son, dowery, and claims Alexander did the right thing. Years later he was arrested for the treasonous charge of maltreatment of Joan, along with many of his family and staff. This paints the picture of both women being made to leave for their safety with only the promise that their children will be spared.

      So, for the most part, I haven't been looking this stuff up, but for this one I felt I needed to see the context. I didn't find much, but it seems like the kid would have been spared anyway, since he was this dude's claim to power. I would guess he chose to let her go because she was the Queen, & it'd be easier on him if she "agreed" to his terms legally, rather than conveniently met with an "accident" while in his custody.

      I was a little quick to say the only thing plaguing the reign of King James II was the murder. But it was the biggest blight and the other things you mentioned for Zuko were not public opinion afflictions. No one's reign will ever come even close to perfect.

      I imagined, but it still raises the question of just how similar their problems are.

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    • An anonymous contributor
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