Sunday, January 20, 2013

Today's research snippet. The Lionheart loses his temper:

Today's research snippet comes from the Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal.
Richard, while speaking to a cardinal from Rome is asked to release his prisoner the Bishop of Beauvais, who is his sworn enemy. Richard is not best pleased:

The cardinal tells Richard...
'It is wrong to hold such a man, an anointed and sacred Bishop.'

'Upon my soul he's not! He's been deconsecrated,' said the King, 'and is a false Christian. From now on I shall never believe a word you say. It was not as a bishop that he was taken captive but as a knight of great reputation, fully armed and with his helmet laced. Is this what you've thought up in Rome Sir hypocrite? You're not wise! I can tell you that, were it not for your role as envoy, Rome would not prevent me from giving you such a hiding to take back to the Pope as would engrave my deeds on his mind. 

The Pope thinks me a fool; I know full well that he made a fool of me when I sent a message to him from a distant land to seek his help in my predicament, as a prisoner in the service of God. I begged and beseeched him to help me in my hour of need or to do his duty. Not for a moment what he willing to involve himself, not for a moment did he deign to go to any trouble over it. And now there he is asking me to release a robber, a tyrant and an arsonist, who so loved waging war that he devastated the whole of my land and pillaged it night and day. 

Get out of here you traitor, you liar and cheat, you deceiver, you simoniac! Take care that I never see you before me on the field or on the open road!'
At this the legate left, impatient to be out of there. He would not even return to collect his cross, reckoning that he would lose his genitals if he did. Instead he mounted his horse and never reined it in until he reached the King of France, in a state of utter dejection and torment and more scared than a deer. When the French saw him arrive so gripped by fear, they were dismayed.

He said to the King: 'He is not a gracious man, this King you're doing business with; he is no lamb, indeed he is fiercer than a lion... When I asked him about the Bishop of Beauvais, he was so incensed that he immediately quarrelled with me. He raised his eyebrows in my direction and turned as red as a blazing fire, so much so that I fully expected him to assault me.'

Some of the French present laughed at this, and said to one another in private: 'He's nearly caught a fever from this experience. King Richard is no nanny goat to be scared easily; he still thinks he can take revenge for the harm done him.'

King Richard was still so furious that he was unable to utter a single word; instead he huffed and puffed in his anger. Like a wild boar wounded by the Huntsman he retired huffing and puffing into his chamber and ordered the doors to be closed; no monk or novice passed through them. He lay on his back on a bed, and nobody was so bold as to dare to knock on the door, until the Marshall arrived, holding a staff in his hand. He knocked loudly at the door which was opened for him forthwith. He found the King lying down in his great anger and began to address him:

'Sire it is not right or reasonable for you to be angry without cause, for, so help me God, my dear Lord, what I see making you angry should actually make you laugh, since you have come away winning everything. You can see that the King of France can go no further; all he can do is approach you and sue for peace or a truce. So you take your land and leave him the castles in pledge until another occasion. Since he will not be taking an inch of land, he will find out it's a real war he is engaged in just to hold on to and maintain the castles, if the cost of fortification has to come from his purse. That is how things will be, I vouch for it; I am certain they will come here tomorrow.'

The Histoire then moves on to other things, so one assumes that Richard was calmed by William Marshal's words. This has the real ring of a robust and true exchance and gives a great insight into Richard I's character!

Today's research photo:  First half of the 13th century. A bishop's crosier with Limoges enamel work.  Victoria and Albert Museum.

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