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.
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.
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.
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.