Tag Archives: MEDIEVAL

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.

BATTLE OF LOSECOAT FIELD

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In some of my earlier posts, I mentioned the story of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, the Kingmaker. He was initially King Edward IV’s strongest supporter until he betrayed his king THREE times. The first time, Warwick was forgiven and the third time led to his death. This post will talk about his second act of treason against Edward IV.

Even though Edward pardoned Warwick for betraying him the first time, Warwick was banned from court. As a result, Warwick had no power or influence over the crown, which was the one thing Warwick wanted more than anything else. Warwick betrayed Edward and he didn’t think Edward would take it personally? With his control over Edward long gone, Warwick sought to kill or replace him with his younger brother, George, Duke of Clarence.

To achieve their goal, Warwick and Clarence orchestrated a rebellion in Lincolnshire with Sir Robert Welles serving as their proxy. However, this rebellion was swiftly quelled by Edward’s army. After the battle, Edward’s troops removed all the clothing from the rebel corpses that could identify them, which resulted in the battlefield being named “Losecoat Field.” Welles confessed working with Warwick and Clarence and even provided letters that implicated them in the rebellion. Welles was executed for his own treason shortly afterwards.

Utterly disgraced, Warwick and Clarence knew Edward would not pardon them a second time. Therefore, they fled England to France, where they formed an alliance with Queen Margaret of Anjou, wife of King Henry VI. This became Warwick’s third act of treason against Edward IV.

I am thinking of portraying a similar chain of events in my third fantasy book where one of the main character’s former supporters staged a proxy rebellion against them.

HOUSE BEAUFORT

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Allow me to share a little story about a noble family known as House Beaufort. The Beauforts were descendants of John of Gaunt, one of the many sons of Edward III of England. In addition to his legitimate children, John of Gaunt had multiple bastards from his mistress. After his wife died, John of Gaunt wanted to marry his mistress. Doing so would legitimize his bastards, but John of Gaunt was forced to accept certain conditions before he could marry his mistress. John of Gaunt would marry his mistress and legitimize his bastards, but his newly legitimate children and their descendants would be banned from inheriting the throne of England. Thus House Beaufort was born. Even though they could not inherit the throne due to their previously illegitimate status, the Beauforts were still powerful and influential in their own right. They married into other monarchies across Europe and supported their Lancastrian relatives during the War of the Roses. The Tudor Dynasty were related to the Beauforts due to Henry VII’s mother being Lady Margaret Beaufort. Thus, they defied the law that banned them from the throne by establishing the Tudor Dynasty. I am thinking of introducing two families in my third fantasy book that are related to the Magnus Dynasty and they would be descended from bastards just like the Beauforts.

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.

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.