Apologies for the long delay in posting - a combination of work, checking article proofs, celebrating my birthday and suffering from a health problem. Many thanks to my dear friend Ashmodiel/Rowan at the Seelenlicht blog for giving me a lovely 'Your Blog is Super' award! xx She has a new blog now too, Anam Cara, in English.
Here's Edward II in Fiction, a Spoof, an idea nicked from the hilarious Anne Boleyn spoof on The Anne Boleyn Files. Thanks to some of my friends on Facebook, especially Rachel, Kate and Andy, for their contributions! (See also this post on how Edward II and Isabella are portrayed in fiction for some background, and Ragged Staff's great post about John Nevill, which lists with painful accuracy a few of the archetypes often seen in histfict.)
King Edward II and his lover Sir Hugh Despenser sat in the king's private chamber, listening to music and discussing ways in which they could make the life of Edward's perfectly beautiful desirable queen, Victim!Isabella, even worse than it was already.
Edward stamped his foot. "It's not good enough! We have to make my queen suffer even more!" he shrieked, his voice high and shrill and perverted. "After all, you're completely evil, so that's the kind of thing you do."
"Why on earth are you talking like that, Ned?" EvilHugh asked.
Edward shrugged and pouted. "I love you, EvilHugh, and we're both men, and I used to love Piers Gaveston and Roger Damory who were also men, and apparently this means I have to behave like a twelve-year-old girl in a snit at all times." He flung himself face first on his bed and snivelled for a while, then stood up and stamped his foot a few times for absolutely no reason.
"Ah, I see, and that's why I'm usually portrayed as an amalgamation of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin and sundry other genocidal dictators," said EvilHugh in sudden understanding. "Novelists of your reign don't really do subtlety, do they? Do stop pouting, Ned."
Edward fluttered his hands pervertedly a few times and shrieked again. "Not so much. Everything has to be so black and white. My wife's either a helpless passive victim adored and pitied by everyone or a psycho bitch-queen from hell loathed by everyone, because apparently those are the only two possibilities and authors can't possibly give her a combination of good and bad character traits and make her, you know, an actual human being. And me, I'm not a real person either, just a walking stereotype of the way authors think gay men should behave."
He sighed in a very girlish and pervertedly unnatural fashion. "And how many novelists have Gaveston's mother burned alive for witchcraft, although that won't happen in Europe for, oooooh, ages yet? And even though he was a nobleman and a warrior, hand-picked by my father as a suitable companion and role model for me, the future king of England, yet in fiction he also somehow manages to be a low-born prostitute with a tavern-owning uncle. Weird, the way that works."
EvilHugh nodded. "Mind you, it's also pretty weird the way novelists almost invariably miss the fact that I'm a high-born nobleman too and have been married to your niece since long before I became your favourite."
"Isn't it just." Edward stood up and minced around the room for a few moments. "Not to forget the way they so often use modern ideals of motherhood as a way of drumming up mawkish sympathy for Isabella because I supposedly stole our children from her when I set up their own households. They also use the modern belief in equality of the sexes as a stick to beat me with, because I expect my wife to obey me as her lord. Just like every other man of our era and most others, but of course it's entirely bad and wrong when I do it. Hel-lo, we live in the fourteenth century, people, not the twenty-first! If you're going to drag your own society's attitudes into it, why not show a little bit more tolerance for my sexuality while you're at it?" Edward threw a girly and unnatural tantrum in the corner, flounced out of the room and slammed the door, then came back in again, looking girly and perverted.
EvilHugh rolled his eyes. "Funny how characters in histfict who are intended to be likeable to readers are usually portrayed as holding opinions that would fit seamlessly into the early twenty-first century, while the unsympathetic ones have views which are actually accurate for the society and era they live in. Talking of which, I'm almost always written as an unsympathetic figure in fiction, so here goes: women are inferior to men! Anyone who isn't white and Christian is a heretic who deserves to die horribly! Slavery is awesome and the peasants are revolting! Watching animals die for our entertainment is fun!"
Edward screamed and tore at his hair. "Stop it, EvilHugh!" he shrieked. "The readers will take against you, and who knows what might happen then?"
"It doesn't matter how unpopular I am, dear Ned. I am your beloved, and no-one will ever be able to touch me, least of all your wife, the victim-queen!" EvilHugh laughed heartily as the words 'Dramatic Irony' flashed repeatedly above his head.
Meanwhile in her own chamber, Queen Victim!Isabella cried hard, her perfectly beautiful desirable face all red and screwed up but still incredibly beautiful and desirable. She was officially the most beautiful woman in all Europe, but still, life was just so unfair and Edward such a cruel nasty husband. She was the richest woman in the country with lands in half the counties of England, the anointed queen, influential and connected to half the royals in Europe, incredibly beautiful and desirable, yet she suffered so terribly. Why, her own husband had not fallen at her feet with helpless lust the first time he saw her! And she had been promised, promised, that he would, and would madly adore her for the rest of her life, just like every other man who had ever seen her did. And he had talked to that horrible Piers more than to her at their coronation banquet! Anyone would think he actually preferred the company of a close friend of his own age than a pre-pubescent girl, the most beautiful pre-pubescent girl in all Europe! Whoever heard of such a thing?
"I'm so worried about my son's position, with my useless husband on the throne," Victim!Isabella sobbed to her damsels. Her rosy desirable lips were incredibly rosy and desirable and her body was astonishingly perfect and also desirable. She was incredibly beautiful, the most incredibly beautiful woman in all Europe. "I think I should rule the country in place of my husband, because I plan to give away almost all of Gascony to France, sign away my son's claims to Scotland, and bankrupt England. That'll show everyone how much more politically astute I am than my husband and how much I care about my son's inheritance." She sobbed beautifully and desirably.
ManlyRoger Mortimer strode into the room unannounced and in an audaciously studmuffinly and heterosexually virile way. "Never fear, ma belle reine. I'm the bold manly hero who saves the day," he declared, with a deep virile bow towards the incredibly beautiful and desirable yet desperately suffering and victimised queen. ManlyRoger caught sight of one of the queen's squires sitting in a window seat, vigorously polishing his sword, and stood and stared for a moment, admiring the young man's broad shoulders, sensual mouth and the pleasing bulge in his hose. Then he remembered that he was 100% certified unequivocally heterosexual, and hastily desisted.
Victim!Isabella clapped a hand to her perfectly shaped and incredibly beautiful and desirable mouth. "Oh my!" she gasped. "Don't tell me that the brave, audaciously virile and studmuffinly hetero hero with whom I am destined to have Twu Multi-Orgasmic Wuv 4ever and ever is you?"
"For sure it is, ma reine. Do you know how much I love having sex with girls? Well, let me tell you: a lot," ManlyRoger boasted. "And anything you might have heard about me sleeping with my sexy and lusful squires on occasion? Soooo not true. You wouldn't believe how many of my squires I haven't had sex with."
Victim!Isabella clapped her beautiful, perfectly-shaped and desirable hands in joy. "Oh, ManlyRoger. I have dreamed so long of having real Twu Wuv with an audaciously virile man who, unlike my husband who prefers men, is actually available to me. Well, apart from the fact that you're married, of course." Victim!Isabella shrugged beautifully and smiled desirably at her manly new lover. "I have long wanted to find Twu Wuv of the kind my husband has with Despenser and used to have with Gaveston and Damory, but you know, the proper permitted heterosexual kind, not the kind between two men that's really eeewwwww, icky."
"Yes," agreed ManlyRoger. "Us manly men who are incredibly heterosexual have fantastic sex with girls that's not icky at all, and we absolutely don't think about our sexy squires while we're doing it. I mean, have you seen how many kids my wife and I have? There's unequivocal heterosexuality, right there."
Victim!Isabella threw herself into her virile studmuffinly lover's arms. She looked really, really beautiful and desirable. "Oh, ManlyRoger!" she cried. "Take me, take me, and we'll take my husband's kingdom!"
"I will, ma reine," ManlyRoger smirked. "I really fancy you, and not in any way your squire who's sitting over there. And me fancying you has nothing at all to do with wanting lots of power and wealth thanks to you being the queen of England. Queen of England? I barely even noticed. Come to bed, ma reine, and afterwards I'll tell you exactly how I'm going to rule England in your husband's place. Oops, did I say I? I meant you, of course."
Beautiful, desirable Victim!Isabella sighed with happiness. No longer would she suffer terribly and beautifully; her super-hetero virile lover would make everything all right, forever.
That's just hilarious, Kathryn!
Next time I'd love to participate! =D
Thanks, Rowan! Would love to read more of it from you! :-)
I love it when you do posts like this! This is as briliant as the others! Really made me laugh out loud! I think you covered every stereotype! What's not so funny is that there are still books being genuinely written like this - as recent as this year! argh!
Thank you, Anerje and Clement! Anerje, yes, it sometimes gets me down that people still perpetuate nonsense like this...:-(
Manly Mortimer secretly lusting after his squires. Oh dear, lol. The only variant missing is Isabella lusting for the soft boobs of her maid. :)
BTW, I found an interestting tidbit in Sharon Penman's blog today: When Edward I’s spirited daughter Joanna dared to marry a squire after the death of her husband, the Earl of Gloucester, the enraged Edward imprisoned the bridegroom at Bristol Castle, and there is a wonderful entry in the Pipe Rolls listing the costs of repairing the royal crown, “which it pleased the lord king to throw into the fire.”
Now I have that image of Ed, upon learning of the marriage, throwing a tatrum and his crown into the fire. "Who in the name of Jesus and all saints i KING here? How DARE they?"
Gabriele: hehehe. :) That bit was based on the utterly classic statement in a recent non-fiction work that Mortimer was everything that Edward II was not: audacious, virile, strong and unequivocally heterosexual. I find it impossible not to take the p*ss out of such nonsense as often as I can. :)
That's great image, isn't it? :-)
Stupid non fiction book. Well, Ed may indeed not have been unequivocally heterosexual, but who says he wasn't strong and virile (digging ditches, swimming and such isn't for weasely whimps) or audacious (he had to be dragged off the battlefield at Bannockburn, right?)
Exactly, Gabriele. Many 14c chroniclers comment on Edward's enormous strength, so it's rubbish for a start to say he wasn't strong, and what the hell does 'virile' mean anyway? Seems to me that the whole thing is based solely on offensive prejudices about gay men. Yuck. :-( (The same book states that Edward and Piers fathering children proves that they were "capable of normal sexual relations." NORMAL??? I nearly dropped it in shock when I saw that.)
What puzzles me is why it's always Edward who has a 'girly shrill voice', but never Piers or Hugh. Did some chronicler write this down and it's been lost? only to be recovered by historical fiction writers (I use the term loosely!) years later?:>
Anerje, I think Edward II novelists must have seen a primary source that no-one else ever has! :-)
What's interesting, is that Michael Jecks, for example, is very much in accord with most of the stereotypes, but I just can't stop liking him. I'm almost ashamed of the fact, but the way he manages to make EvilHugh even more Evil with every new book somehow appeals to me. Isabella the Vicnim-Victim does not, though.
Ha ha! Loved this post Kathryn. Wouldnt it be a great sketch in a sitcom akin to the first Black Adder. I hope we see more of these from you!
Kate,I agree - I really like his novels, especially now that Edward is deposed and imprisoned and I'm dying to see how he handles his supposed death. :)
Thanks so much, Paula! Yes, I'd love to write more of these, if I get inspiration...:)
Oh, I'm sure Baldwin and Simon will hide him in a barn in Devon, and send him to Italy in an empty barrel or something. ;)
Congratulations on your award!
I seem to have missed out on these - if the spoof is anything to go by, I should consider it a lucky escape :-)
Very, very lucky, Carla...:-)
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