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Robert S.P. Fripp’s “Power of a Woman”

Eleanor of Aquitaine was the daughter of a provincial Duke in France. Twice she married Kings and had many children, although she outlived most of them and several grandchildren, living into her ninth decade, suffering annulment and internal exile. Two of her sons became King of England and, through John “Sansterre”, she is the ancestress of every subsequent monarch.
In this book, Robert Fripp does for Eleanor what Graves did for Claudius, as she dictates her “memoirs” to a younger secretary. Most of us know much less about Eleanor than we would like and this is our opportunity to make amends.

 

Dismal Sewage

They say every writer should find a niche. Unfortunately, certain ‘popular historians’ seem to have leapt onto  ‘gimmicks’ than a niche and write all or most of their books in similar vein, often to the detriment of their work and a growing lack of credibility with each further tome.

A trend amongst several notable authors seems to be the cynical and sarcastic slagging off of the historical figures they write about, most likely to stir up controversy in the hopes of making sales—who knows? Any sense of being non-partisan or unbiased is thrown out the window pretty much on page 1.

 ‘Jack of All Trades’ history writer Desmond Seward (Demon Sewer? Dismal Sewage?) is a prime offender. Most of us will remember Demon’s jaw-dropping book on Richard III, titled, so menacingly…’The Black Legend’. (Oooh, shades of Sauron and Mordor!) Without tramping over old turf, this totally unbiased (choke) book contains such wonderful remarks as (paraphrasing here), ‘If he was two fingers shorter than Richard, Von Poppelau must have been a dwarf…’ In his updated version of the same tired tosh he chides Ricardians for seeking the truth about Richard because “…the White Legend continues to appeal to every Anglo-Saxon lover of a lost cause and, in particular, to lady novelists.” (Very odd application of ‘Anglo Saxon’ as well as showing an unpleasant Starkey-esque strain of sexism.) He also is a true believer in the words of the sainted Thomas More because he was, after all, a SAINT, so presumably infallible—yes, the ‘saint’ who burned people at the stake and poetically wrote long insulting tracts containing multiple references to faeces. True story. What a scholar. What a charmer.

Recently Sewer returned to the Wars of the Roses period with a new book, THE LAST WHITE ROSE, and continued in the same vein, with a combination of vitriol and errors. Edmund de la Pole was apparently haughty, pompous and unintelligent (the latter deduced apparently from his bad handwriting!) John, Duke of Suffolk was called a nonentity and given the wrong date of death. John of Lincoln was saupposedly devious, and even accused of abducting the young, hapless Lambert Simnel from his family! (Sewer appears to believe there really WAS a child ridiculously named after a cake, even although the surname is rarer than a blue moon and there is no record of any family by that name). Worst of all, however, is a supposed quote from Croyland about Elizabeth of Suffolk, complete with page number. It does not exist in Croyland, if anywhere at all, yet is masquerading as a quote from a primary source!!

I haven’t read all of Demon Sewer’s books, needless to say, but some of the customer reviews are noteworthy and often rather hilarious. Apparently any strong women in history are described as ‘viragos’ or worse. In his Eleanor of Aquitaine bio, not only does he seem to dislike Eleanor herself, he has a bit of a fixation with Richard the Lionheart’s homosexuality. Which is a bit odd, as there is no actual evidence that Lionheart WAS homosexual, and that theory of the mid-20th century is pretty much discredited today. In fact, there is some evidence that Lionheart, in his misspent youth, ravished his enemy’s wives and then gave them to his men!

Perhaps the funniest error Dismal made, though, was found in one of his other books, The King over the Water, which is about the Jacobites. Apparently, he wrote that  the maternal grandparents of Lord Derwentwater were Charles II and Moll Flanders. MOLL FLANDERS? She is a character in a novel by Daniel Defoe!

Maybe Dismal should write a book on Moll next. Non-fiction, of course.

A Demon Sewer and…Desmond Seward. Purportedly…but might not be….

The “Dark Sovereign” in Leicester this month

Robert Fripp, author of that new play, will be speaking at the Richard III Visitor Centre at 18:30 on 30 July.

Full address:

King Richard III Visitor Centre

4A St Martins

Leicester

LE1 5DB

Tel: 0300 300 0900

Email: info@kriii.com

Dark Sovereign (2)

This is our second extract from this innovative Robert Fripp play, concerning the Dukes of Gloucester and Buckingham:

 

 

 

 

 

Protected by her consort, Edward IV, through their 19 year marriage, Elizabeth Woodville took to appropriating property from the “Old nobility” faction, including Richard Gloucester and Harry, Duke of Buckingham. This included marrying members of her own family to the heirs of great families, thereby draining the pool of marriageable heirs, denying them to the “Old nobility”. As a boy, Harry Buckingham was one such mark, put to marry Elizabeth’s sister. Following Edward IV’s death, the queen stood alone with her greed and her faults.

Richard Gloucester, in Middleham, receives a warning letter from Lord Hastings. Having read it, he loses his temper in front of Thomas, his varlet:

 

 

 

 

 

Gloucester, just weeks from taking the throne as Richard III, reminds Queen Anne [Nevill] of their days in Middleham, at the time when he was a boy “fostered” to her family to receive military training. (A common practice among noble families in the medieval world.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This speaks for itself. Queen Elizabeth Woodville’s demands stirred the nobility to anger. Here, Buckingham roars:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Important: Some of these materials from “Dark Sovereign” are being posted for the first time. Posted with the author’s permission.
© Robert Fripp, 1988, 2017
RobertFripp.ca
Amazon, Author’s Page

Dark Sovereign (1)

This is the first of our extracts from this innovative Robert Fripp play, concerning Edward IV’s bigamous marriage to Elizabeth Wydeville:

 

 

 

 

Two spirits, identical twin sisters Truth and Rumour, discuss the personality of Queen Elizabeth Woodville, while she embroiders onstage:

Our next extract will feature the Dukes of Gloucester and Buckingham.

Important: Some of these materials from “Dark Sovereign” are being posted for the first time. Posted with the author’s permission.
© Robert Fripp, 1988, 2017
RobertFripp.ca
Amazon, Author’s Page

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