Throughout the medieval era, kings always feuded with one another. Easily one of the most prominent rivalries was between Henry II of England and Louis VII of France. These two kings had PLENTY of reasons to hate one another’s guts. First, they embodied opposite ideas of what makes a king. Henry II was a warrior king while Louis VII was more like an educated monk than a king. Second, Henry was much wealthier than Louis and did not waste an opportunity to show it off. Third, Henry ruled more of France than Louis did. Fourth, Louis was originally married to Eleanor of Aquitaine, who divorced him and married Henry two months later. Fifth, not only did Eleanor marry Henry, but she also produced one male heir after another. When Eleanor was married to Louis, they repeatedly failed to produce a son, which was extremely painful for Louis’s sense of masculinity (a sentiment shared with Henry VIII four hundred years later). I am thinking of modeling the relationship of two of my fantasy characters after the rivalry between these two kings.
I just discovered an extreme medieval entree called the turducken or the roast without equal. The idea behind this monster of a roast is taking a bunch of birds and stuffing smaller birds into larger birds. The most extreme order involved taking a bustard and having it stuffed with a turkey, a goose, a pheasant, a chicken, a duck, a guinea fowl, a teal, a woodcock, a partridge, a plover, a lapwing, a quail, a thrush, a lark, an ortolan bunting, and a garden warbler. This dish puts your average Thanksgiving turkey to shame! The idea behind this dish originated in Rome and later perfected in medieval times. I am definitely adding this dish to my fantasy series because it is truly a main course fit for an emperor.
Throughout human history, emperors and kings were obsessed with finding ways to prolong their lives and by extension their reigns. For example, Henry VIII often drank wine that was flavored with gold and gems that were thought to extend his lifespan. In fantasy such as The Dark Crystal, Harry Potter, and Star Wars, characters have found forms of magic that could prolong life. One of these methods involved draining the life force of other organisms and transferring it to oneself. Such a method could add years or even decades to your original lifespan. I am thinking of depicting the main character of my third fantasy book using this method by draining the life force out of livestock. With the livestock drained of life, the character’s cooks and servants would promptly prepare them for that night’s supper. So with this method, the main character would prolong his life and increase his pantries with salted meat. Win win!
When I first started my third fantasy volume, I originally considered the main character’s reign to be relatively peaceful with the exception of one major war and a few cutthroat politics. However, thinking back to everything I have learned about medieval monarchs, life was NEVER that easy. We often think of the medieval kings and queens of Europe to be either great leaders or tyrants. My father, for instance, has a strong animosity towards the English kings of old for how they treated our Scottish and Irish ancestors. The reality is that they were both the heroes and the villains, great leaders and tyrants, all at the same time. They were flawed individuals who made human mistakes every day of their respective reigns. Every one of their decisions had consequences that either launched a long-lasting dynasty or cut their reign short. I am thinking of applying this deeply flawed nature to the main character. They will be the most human character in my fantasy series so far.
In the sequel to The War of the Gilded Beasts, I intend on introducing a character who is a mercenary. This character will be motivated by two things: coin and the promise of a good fight. They will start out as a cynical sword fighter before evolving into a proper noble. Unlike most medieval mercenaries, their arsenal will be more diverse with a longsword and a Japanese short sword (wakizashi). They would serve the role of an enforcer at some point in the story.
I remember something I heard from the film Dragonheart. The villain referred to death as a release and not a punishment. With this in mind, if death is the release then what is the real punishment? I think the real punishment would be a fate worse than death. Imagine having your mind, body, and spirit so irreparably broken over time that when you are finally executed you would not be mourned as a martyr. Overall, if you are not dead then the real punishment will make you wish you were dead. In future fantasy works, I am thinking of this punishment to be how rebels and traitors will be treated. After doing a lot of medieval research combined with my dark imagination, I am more than certain to come up with a suitable punishment in my fantasy series.
I just realized something! It turns out the storyline of Numen the Slayer is VERY similar to the First Barons’ War of 1215 to 1217. It all started with the reign of King John of England. King John proved to be a weak and spiteful tyrant. To counter this, the barons drafted a document called Magna Carta, which not only limited the king’s power, but also provided basic human rights to all citizens of England. Magna Carta served as the blueprints to what would eventually become Parliament. However, even though those were Magna Carta’s original purposes, it also gave the barons more power and influence than the king, which was something the barons craved since the reign of Henry II. An example of this superior power is the fact that the barons could cut off additional taxes to the crown whenever they wanted, which would prevent the king from fighting much needed wars in France. Eventually, King John could not abide by Magna Carta and he went to war with the rebellious barons. King John was overthrown and replaced by the Crown Prince of France, Louis. Unfortunately, when Louis started bringing all of his French allies to England and appointed them to high ranking positions, the English threw him and his allies out and made him swear that he was never King of England at all. Meanwhile, King John died of dysentery and was succeeded by his son Henry III.
Overall, the story of Numen the Slayer is similar to the First Barons’ War. A group of barons rebel against a tyrannical king and ultimately replace him with one of their own. I didn’t realize this until now.