Tag Archives: MEDIEVAL

INSPIRATION: THE TUDOR CHILDREN

When Henry VII of England married Elizabeth of York, they had eight children, but only four reached adulthood and only three had children of their own. Henry and Elizabeth’s firstborn son and heir was Prince Arthur Tudor, who married Catherine of Aragon before dying of an unknown disease shortly afterwards. Despite being the heir apparent before his death, Arthur is largely forgotten. In another life, Arthur would have been king and the Tudor Dynasty would have lasted longer under his rule. Henry VIII, who needs no introduction, was never meant to be king because Arthur was the heir and Henry was the spare. The daughters of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York had a brighter future than their brothers. Mary Tudor was married to the King of France and her descendants ruled France until the French Revolution. Margaret Tudor had the brightest future and legacy of all the Tudor children because she married the King of Scotland and her descendants eventually ruled both Scotland and England right up to the present day.

Because the Magnus Dynasty is my own fantasy reimagining of the Tudor Dynasty, I am thinking of basing the children of my new main character on these Tudor children. I also think it is more balanced in terms of gender: two sons and two daughters. I already have the descendants of these sons and daughters of Magnus planned out in a genealogical chart. Their story will be told in full in my upcoming third fantasy book.

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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.

THE EMPEROR AND THE KING

In some of my earlier posts, I talked about how the monarchs of medieval Europe feuded against one another. Another example is the feud between Francis I, King of France, and Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor. These two royal titans were among the most powerful rulers of the Renaissance.

Their feud started because they both wanted to become the next Holy Roman Emperor. Being the Holy Roman Emperor was the most coveted title of medieval Europe because it not only came with immense wealth and vast lands, but it gave its wielders absolute power, which normal monarchies don’t allow. The only person who outranked the Holy Roman Emperor was the Pope.

Unlike other royal titles and positions, the role of Holy Roman Emperor was not inherited but awarded through elections. These elections were decided by a council of bishops and princes and their choices were often swayed by whichever candidate could provide the biggest bribes. Both Francis and Charles took sizable loans from the wealthiest banker in Europe, but Charles was the one who raised the biggest bribe, therefore securing his ascension as Holy Roman Emperor.

Embittered by his loss, Francis attempted to form an alliance with Henry VIII of England in an attempt to supplant Charles. The alliance broke down before it began after Francis humiliated Henry in a wrestling match. Out of spite, Henry formed an alliance with Charles, who happened to be his nephew through his first marriage to Katherine of Aragon. Outraged, Francis went to war with Charles. Charles siding with Henry also gave Francis a pretext to seize land Charles had that he desired, which included the Duchy of Milan and the Netherlands.

As enraged and ambitious as Francis was, he was up against the largest and most powerful empire in Europe and the odds were stacked against him from the start. Even though France was wealthy, fertile, and powerful in its own right, it was nothing compared to the Holy Roman Empire during this time. In addition to the usual lands that came with the Holy Roman Empire, Charles possessed so much more. Charles was originally King of Spain, but with the death of his grandfather, the previous Holy Roman Emperor Maximillian I, Charles’s empire exploded! Charles V ruled not only Spain and the territory of the Holy Roman Empire, but he also inherited lands in Italy, the Netherlands, and all the conquered land of the Americas. It was a regime that came to be known as “the empire on which the sun never sets.” It was one of the largest post-Roman empires that ever existed. Compared to Francis, Charles was wealthier, more influential, and could summon much larger armies.

Francis tried to take the lands he desired from Charles, but he was defeated and captured. Charles eventually released Francis on the condition that Francis forfeit all claim to the lands he craved. To ensure Francis’s good behavior, Charles held Francis’s two sons hostage. Shortly after, Francis defied his pact with Charles and reignited his claim to his desired lands. In response, Charles stripped the captive princes of all forms of comfort. The conditions the princes were living in were so extreme that the younger prince forgot his native language. Eventually, Francis raised another army and tried to take his sons back by force, resulting in both France and the Empire reaching bankruptcy. Desperate for both money and peace, Charles offered a ransom for the release of the two French princes. After temporary taxes, Francis raised the money he needed to get his sons back and an accord was achieved between France and the Holy Roman Empire. Francis never got the lands he desired and his kingdom was bankrupt from war, but he secured the future of his dynasty when he got his sons back.

I like the rivalry between these two powerful monarchs. In my upcoming third fantasy book, the main character, who is the Emperor of Gradaia, goes to war with one of his vassal kings. The rebellious vassal king just happens to be one of the emperor’s cousins, which makes the feud all the more awkward.

BANKING FAMILIES

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A couple days ago, I discovered something interesting about 15th Century Italy. The various cities of Italy from Florence to Rome were governed by a special class of noble families. These noble families ran the wealthiest banks in all of Europe and the wealthiest and most powerful of these families was the House of Medici. The Medicis started out as a family of humble bankers, but with each generation their wealth grew along with their power. After spending several generations as bankers, the Medicis swiftly rose through the medieval pecking order and became the undisputed rulers of Florence as Dukes of Florence. Their influence was so great that a few of their family members became Popes and Queens of France. At the zenith of their power, the Medicis ran the mightiest bank in all of Europe. With their wealth, the Medicis possessed the resources to influence events throughout Europe. However, the more their wealth and power grew, the more enemies they made, which included the Borgias of Rome. The Medicis are a prime example of how wealth can give you all the power and influence in the world if it is used and managed wisely.

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.

SECOND BARONS’ WAR

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The Second Barons’ War took place during the reign of Henry III of England. It was caused by Henry III constantly trying to extract new taxes from England’s barons, but due to the restrictions of Magna Carta, the barons were not legally obliged to the king’s commands. This created a power struggle between the king and his barons. Eventually, the barons were united under the leadership of Henry’s former best friend turned sworn enemy Simon de Montfort. After defeating and capturing Henry, Simon de Montfort used him as a puppet to take money, land, and power for himself. This was the case for over a year until Henry’s son and heir the future Edward I raised an army and defeated Simon de Montfort. After Simon was killed, his corpse was butchered as a warning to the rest of the kingdom, “no one defies the king and lives.” Simon was castrated before having his privates rammed into his mouth before having his head cut off and mounted on a spike. In the aftermath of Simon de Montfort’s defeat, every baron who sided with Simon were stripped of all their land and were given the opportunity to buy back their lands and a pardon with heavily punitive fines. Even though the monarchy had to abide to Magna Carta, the rebellion left the barons’ severely weakened and explosively increased the power and authority of the monarchy.

 

For my third fantasy book, I am thinking of portraying a civil war that will be based on the Second Barons’ War. However, I have a puzzle to solve. The main character’s family commands dragons, the Sword of Power, and other mystical secrets. What would it take to tip the scales to make this civil war a more even fight? I am currently brainstorming on ways the rebels may fight the ruling dynasty on even footing.

FEUDING KINGS

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.