Tag Archives: KING

UPCOMING FILM: THE KING

Next month, a new film will be released on Netflix called The King, which depicts the life and reign of King Henry V of England. Henry V is most famous for defeating the French in the Battle of Agincourt during the Hundred Years War despite being outnumbered five to one. It looks like we will see the Battle of Agincourt in all its epic glory. Also, we will get to see a new version of Sir John Falstaff, who was Henry V’s famous companion in Shakespeare plays. Overall, I look forward to seeing this interpretation of this famous warrior king and I hope they do a modern version of the Saint Crispin’s Day speech, the best battlefield speech ever.

PALACE OF VERSAILLES

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This morning, I discovered a new documentary that further described the history and inner workings of Versailles Palace. Versailles Palace was constructed by Louis XIV of France. He built this palace because he did not feel safe and powerful in Paris. In Paris, the visiting nobles were close to home and had plenty of opportunity to plot against him. In an attempt to regain his power and security, Louis developed a system of running a royal court that had not been beaten.

At this time, the French monarchy’s power was weakened and the various nobles had more authority in various regions of France. This caused Louis to enter a power struggle with the nobility to regain control over France. Louis learned from the mistakes of Charles I of England. If he went to war with his own people, he would gamble his throne and the future of his dynasty. Therefore, he planned to do battle with his vassals on his own terms and on a battlefield of his choosing. The battlefield was his family’s hunting lodge, which was located some distance from Paris. Its distance meant that his courtiers would be isolated from their allies in the capital and their ability to plot against Louis would be severely diminished. When Louis first moved his court to the lodge, it proved too small to accommodate everyone. With this in mind, Louis made the hunting lodge undergo an extreme makeover into the Versailles Palace.

Louis would conquer his enemies not with armies or weapons, but with fashion and refinement. Louis would set a series of strange yet strict house rules that even the most powerful duke had to obey. These rules even involved something as mundane as watching Louis wake up in the morning. Louis was called the Sun King and he compared his getting up in the morning to the rising of the sun. In exchange for following his strict house rules, Louis would grant favors to nobles who would visit him the most. Nobles who do not obey the house rules are denied any favors from the king. All the visiting nobles would fight with one another to gain an audience with the king, which greatly reduced their ability to scheme against Louis. It also gave Louis a cult of personality where he was almost worshipped as a god. This is something Louis absolutely believed because his mother drilled into him the belief in the divine right of kings.

Even if he did not grant nobles favors, Louis still smothered them with lavish hospitality. This legendary hospitality took the form of gambling, feasts, hunts, and elaborate parties. This constant sense of fun made Versailles Palace the ultimate playground for the French nobility. It constantly made them want to keep coming to Versailles. While the nobles were too busy having the time of their lives, Louis’s spies were gathering intelligence on them from the shadows. Even the mail was monitored in Versailles Palace. If there was any sign of treachery, Louis would be informed. Essentially, Versailles Palace became a gilded cage for the French nobility where all of their secrets were laid bare. Due to this system of surveillance, Louis was always a step ahead of his enemies and countered them accordingly.

Even fashion was strict at Versailles and it would constantly change depending on Louis’s decisions. If you wore the wrong type of clothes, they would be burned and you would be fined. Versailles also had its own version of a shopping mall for the nobility, which sold fashionable items such as shoes and jewelry. They were so expensive that the nobility lost a considerable chunk of the wealth just to please Louis’s constantly changing sense of fashion. With no money in their pockets, betraying the king became both unthinkable and unaffordable, which kept the nobility firmly under Louis’s thumb.

This system of courtly intrigue is what has allowed Louis XIV to become the longest reigning monarch in European history.

MYSTICAL MADNESS

Medieval Europe had its fair share of mad kings such as Charles VI of France and Henry VI of England. Their madness was often due to the fact that the European monarchs practiced incest with one another for centuries, which resulted in mental defects in their descendants. The monarchs of Europe had interbred with one another so frequently over the years, that they all eventually became blood relatives, which made mad kings increasingly more common. However, what if a monarch becomes mad not through any biological or mental defect but as a side effect of using forbidden magic? I always say that magic ALWAYS comes with a price. I am thinking of keeping with the tradition of mad monarchs in my fantasy series and their madness will be caused by a form of magic that grants them immense power at the expense of their minds. In their madness, my characters will be mostly catatonic with their hands and necks contorted, but when they are roused they would degenerate into mindless beasts that would attack anything that moved. In addition to believing he was made of glass, Charles VI would sometimes think he was a wolf so I thought of incorporating that into some of my crazy characters.

CHARLES THE SIMPLE

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I discovered a rather funny medieval figure known as Charles the Simple, who was a notoriously useless French king from the 9th to 10th century. His subjects overthrew him and locked him in a jail because he was such a bad general. “The Simple” is not a wise name for a king to earn. Three centuries later, Simon de Montfort said that Henry III should be locked up like Charles the Simple due to Henry’s own poor military record. Thinking about locking up your king is one thing, but saying it to his face like Simon did is flirting with treason.

FLAWED RULER

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.

INSPIRATION: EDWARD II

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For the beginning of my third fantasy book, I will be depicting the protagonist of The War of the Gilded Beasts (Kemrin Magnus) as an older man. In the second book, Kemrin received a series of wounds that will never fully heal and leave him in a state of constant debilitating pain. Also, he will be haunted by the knowledge that what happened to the previous Emperor could also happen to him. The constant pain will make him murderously bad tempered and his fear of being overthrown will make him paranoid and irrational. Due to these factors, I will be basing his later reign on the reign of Edward II. Edward II was neither in pain or paranoid, but his incompetent and spineless leadership led to him being overthrown by his wife, Isabella the She-Wolf of France and her lover Roger Mortimer. After he was overthrown, Edward II was replaced by his son Edward III. In the end, Edward II was sodomized to death by a white-hot poker by his wife’s men and his dying shrieks could be heard throughout the castle. Overall, Kemrin’s reign will end in blood as his son becomes the new Emperor of Gradaia.

JAEHAERYS THE DRAGONLORD

 

Like many early Targaryens, Jaehaerys the Conciliator was a dragonrider with his own dragon. His dragon was named Vermithor AKA the Bronze Fury. Vermithor had magnificent bronze scales, tan wings, and he was the third largest dragon after Balerion and Vhagar. We have all seen Targaryens threatening their enemies with their dragons, but Jaehaerys did it in a smart way. Instead of openly threatening unruly vassals and describing what his dragon will do to them, Jaehaerys simply showed them his dragon. He made no mention of threatening them with his dragon, but the veiled threat was in plain sight. He was nonverbally saying, “Obey me or I will unleash HIM on you!” The very sight of the growing dragon was more than enough to frighten his enemies into submission. When showing the dragon was not enough, Jaehaerys rode Vermithor and took flight to put down the conflict personally. On one occasion, Jaehaerys took his sons Aemon and Baelon on their dragons with him to defeat an attempted invasion from Dorne. Jaehaerys and his sons used their dragons to burn the Dornish fleet into the sea and the royal army did not suffer a single casualty and this war with Dorne ended in a single day. Both with his sword and with his dragon, Jaehaerys knew how to fight and win his battles quickly and decisively. Jaehaerys demonstrated how you should rule the Seven Kingdoms with dragons.