I remember someone on the old Nonestica mailing list asking why it seems that no Ozites knew the history of their country, and it’s definitely a valid point. In The Lost King of Oz, we read, “Snip knew the names of the rulers of Oz as well as you know the names of the Presidents–perhaps even better–for as only a part of Oz history has been written down there have not been so many. The first ruler mentioned was the famous Wizard of Oz, who had flown to the marvelous country in a balloon from Omaha. It was the Wizard who had built the famous Emerald City, and who had given Ozma, the little girl ruler, into the keeping of an old witch. This witch had already captured the King, Ozma’s royal father, and very little was known about the royal gentleman.” Indeed, a few pages earlier, Mombi says, “Ozma is Queen now and nobody even remembers there was a King of Oz!” Really, though, was it that long ago? Even putting aside people like the Samandrans, some of whom are specifically said to be around 700 years old, surely some Ozites remember Pastoria‘s reign. Ozma speaks in Dorothy and the Wizard of a line of rulers named Oz or Ozma, but how much do we know about any of them individually? If Ozites really didn’t write down history prior to the Wizard’s reign, then how is Pastoria himself literate enough to make a pun out of the words “tired” and “retired”?
Handy Mandy has Nox the Ox mention “a prophecy on the west wall of the castle [in Keretaria] that has stood for a thousand years.” And even if nobody wrote anything down, what about oral history? Mind you, I doubt too many children in 1925 would have known the names of all the Presidents of the United States up to that point either. Maybe the wicked witches purposely destroyed old historical records when they took power. Or perhaps Kimbaloo just doesn’t have the most accurate history books. Ruth Plumly Thompson also writes that “Professor Wogglebug in his history had neglected to put in the witch’s name,” presumably to explain how Mombi could have gotten a job under her own name when she’s one of the most notorious criminals in the land. But why would the Wogglebug have neglected to put in her name when he himself had met Mombi and been involved with the restoration of Ozma? This is the same professor who, when planning to write a book of genealogy, tells Ozma, “Being descended as you are from a long line of fairies, your family tree is the oldest and most illustrious in Oz.” If he knows this, why wouldn’t he have at least included some mention of these earlier rulers in his history books?
Another event that might have affected people’s knowledge of history is reported in Emerald City, when Ozma tells of a wicked king centuries earlier who had drunk the Water of Oblivion and forgotten his past life, and then made all his subjects do the same.
Paul Dana’s Time Travelers expands upon this, explaining that Lurline and Glinda sent the magical water into “every river and stream in the land” shortly after the Fairy Queen enchanted the place. The Royal Timeline of Oz has it that the king who drank from the fountain was Ozma’s grandfather, meaning this event took place before Pastoria’s reign. And again, everyone losing their memories wouldn’t have affected written records, assuming there were any. Regardless of how it happened, it seems that records of ancient Ozian history are largely fragmentary. By now, however, the Wogglebug and other scholars might well have reconstructed a fair amount of it.
Picture scanned by Jared Davis for the Royal Blog of Oz