A Monarch’s Responsibilities

History is a vast and incomprehensible mystery to me in many ways. We have facts about things that have happened in the past – we have dates, records of events, paintings reproducing the faces involved in those events, poems and diaries devoted to giving opinions and preserving what happened in a biased manner. We have all these things. Mystery, to some people, seems like a wide-open book, its contents there for us to look through, sift for what interests us, and indulge ourselves in knowledge of old.

I don’t feel this way. In my opinion, history is full of so much that we don’t know and so much that I wish I could know. True, we know when Martin Luther began to speak and write about his emotions about being a monk and part of the Catholic Church. In his instance, we can find quite a lot of emotional and sentimental writings from his own pen, or maybe quill, and we can see into his mind, as far as he lets us.

But what about others? What about the farmers and the spinners and the dye-makers that England had in such profusion in the sixteenth century? What were the children running barefoot through the streets of London, so much smaller than it is today, thinking? What games were they playing? What was the man smuggling illegal documents from Europe into the English Empire thinking as he worked? Was he scared for his life or merely waiting to get paid so he could go home to his wife and child? What were the nuns, sequestered in their cloisters, talking about? How did they speak to their young students, and how did they infuse them with a love and a belief for the divine? Through fear? Through love? Through simply offering worship as a fact of life?

And if these so-called simple people’s lives aren’t interesting enough for historians to dwell on – well then, what about the monarchs? How could Henry VIII hold such power in his hands and play with it so lightly at times? What did Katherine of Aragon feel as she was condemned? We can guess, surely, but how can we know? What of Elizabeth? How did she feel when she was sought after for marriage through the years? Did she decide on her own to remain a single ruler in order to maintain a stable throne? Did she, perhaps, not find men pleasing in the manner she would have been expected to? Had she fallen in love with someone who never returned her love or never could?

It’s bad enough, thinking of the power that politicians and governments hold today. At least it’s distributed power, and is more or less given by the people. But monarchs… They were born. Some of them believed they were chosen by divinity to be kings or queens. They held so much power in their cupped hands, that they’d let some of it run through their fingers to those sitting at their feet, just waiting for a pearl or jewel to drop from those mighty hands. I can’t imagine how such responsibility could be held without driving the holder mad with indecision, worry, guilt. Such are the things that the annals of history can’t reveal to us. Thoughts, emotions, private sighs of elation or grief.

To the Land of Great Bands

As my Victoria story doesn’t seem to be doing very well, I’m taking a one day [hopefully] break from it to give this announcement: I’m flying again. This time it’s with Mr. B. F. We’re going to London together for the second time; we leave tomorrow, July 14th and arrive back in Israel on the 24th. This will be a vacation of the proper sort – lounging in cafes drinking cappuccinos, taking walking tours and going shopping at the myriad thrift stores. Basically, rest and relaxation only with lots of walking around in between the two.

England is definitely one of my favorite places in the world. Not only has it brought the world bands like The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Queen, it is also beautiful and can boast one of the greatest cities in the world: London. And London itself is probably my second favorite city in the world – second only to Los Angeles, which smells like home to me in many ways.

Now London has its fair share of problems, I’m sure. There’s the issues of constant traffic, the congestion charges, the occasional breaking down of one tube line or another – but for a tourist it’s a fantasy-land. Full of history, full of FREE museums, full of marketplaces, full of large and small and medium sized streets that are simply fabulous to discover – it is incredible.

As always, I hope to be able to write regularly, and might actually have more of a chance to this time as I’ll have more free “down” time, but cannot promise.

An Introduction to King Gregory

A man was walking through a field. It was sunset, and the tall weeds were waving in the breeze, except where the man had trampled them. He was rather squat, and was making a lot of wheezy noises as he walked, his big rucksack weighing heavily on his back and sweat dripping into his eyes.

The field seemed to whisper around him as he walked, and his movements became increasingly twitchy as the darkness increased. He jumped at small sounds that ended up being crows landing in the field, and he gave an audible gasp when a fox ran past him.

When night had truly fallen, he still had another couple miles of field yet to cross. He seemed, however, to decide against walking in the dark, and settled, with much grunting and swearing, in a space that had been cleared by previous campers in the field.

Another hour later, and the man had succeeded, if rather pitifully, in preparing some form of edible dinner. He sat by the small fire he had managed to coax into being and ate the heated broth he had made with some old bread. He looked deeply unsatisfied and disgruntled, as if not quite used to living like this.

He was, in fact, very used to living this way, as he had been on the run for over two cycles of the moon. The only real reason he was so displeased on this night of all nights was because he had gotten some news, a few hours before entering the field. He had passed a small village, one of those places where everyone was related and Auntie Shay was somehow everyone’s aunt, and while purchasing some well needed supplies at their tiny inn, he had learned that a rider had come four days previously to the town to announce that a new king had risen: King Gregory was killed and his brother, Malcolm, had sorrowfully needed to assume the throne.

Gregory, sitting in a field with some moldy bread and lukewarm broth, was still seething at this unjustified and most disgusting lie.

Royals and Celebrities

I am currently reading “The Constant Princess” by Philippa Gregory. I also read her book that was made into a movie, “The Other Boleyn Girl” and loved it, which is why, when I was last in a proper bookstore, I picked up a couple more books by her. Her novels are historical fiction, many focusing around the lineage of the Tudor family, one of the more scandalous and dramatic royal lines in England apparently, as there is such an obsession surrounding them – there’s even a mini-series which I’m dying to see called “The Tudors.”

This got me thinking though. First of all, what parts of Gregory’s books are based on actual fact? Oh, who married who and what they named their children is obviously true, but what about the smaller events? I assume there are historical diaries and letters and such from the period that hold gossip and information about what was going on in the royal court, but obviously all the feelings and thoughts of the characters in the book are fictional and speculative. Unless there are diaries of Catalina, Infanta of Spain and eventually Katherine, Queen of England herself then Gregory merely uses her imagination to write her feelings and thoughts over the hardships she endured and ambitions she harbored.

This got me to thinking something else. Look at this fascination so many people, myself included apparently, have with royals, with these celebrities of centuries past. Will people still be fascinated with such celebrities in, say, three hundred years time? Will there be novels written about people like George Bush or will it be novels about Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie? Or will humanity finally realize that celebrities, whether in power or not, are still just people and stop obsessing over their lives?