The sword in the stone: Duck à la blood

This is a sequel to the previous post. I am working my way through thousands of pages of memoirs and biographies, mostly in French (with free headache included), such as those of Olivier de la Marche, Georges Chastellain and Molinet plus some obscure footnotes in catalogues. I haven’t started Comines yet. Some of the research pertains another French man who was involved with the ducks dukes of Burgundy so it’s basically a double whopper. The blood is flowing from the pages and women and soldiers are moved around like chess pieces. At the same time, those women had to take care of the business and the state affairs when the men were away on their endless campaigns or crusades, or got killed in them. And often they did well, or even better.

Cryptophoriques at Arles or the mind of Charles of Burgundy. Your guess is as good as mine.

After watching the news I can only conclude that not much has changed in 500 years, despite the obsolescence of catapults and crossbows. There is still a lot of hunger, disease and random violence around us. We still have a Charles at the head of the government, not Charles of Burgundy, just Michel, funny hats, tights and hair not included, and he’s under fire too, proverbial this time. No blood has been drawn yet but it’s getting very interesting. Anyway.

Charles (the duck, not our prime minister) started behaving strangely in 1472. Well, even more strangely than he already was, that is. There was a vague reference to a couple anecdotes in the catalogue I borrowed from the library so I specifically looked for those. I also looked for a description of the 6 month period in which the D was very depressed and underwent special treatments. And finally I looked for the boot incident. So far I have only found one of those, but also other things.

First of all I found some accounts about the castle of Hesdin. This was more of a fairground attraction than a castle with machinery that scared or surprised visitors. After a quick search I found a description of the castle on this website: Marvels of Hesdin. I wish I had a time machine and could see this.

Secondly I found an account of the death of brave but poor de Lalaing who was killed at 32 in a siege of Gent (Philip had his hands full with the Gent people). Apparently Jacques had a problem with his leg and his doctor told him to rest but he wouldn’t listen and went into battle anyway. The revolters fired a cannon, and some wood hit de Lalaing in the head so his skull was crushed and his brain came out. (if my medieval French was good enough).

Thirdly I found a story in which someone was voodooed with a wax doll. I need to reread that story, it is quite interesting. Lots of poisonings, hangings and chopping off hands, raping and pillaging, and in between all that, – in Philip’s time – dining and jousting and extorting citizens and borrowing money from fishy bankers for war machines and expensive jewellery. 

I found some circumstantial evidence that the D saw/was near the Holy Blood at least once in his life. 

Some claim that the D was so depressed after the lost battles in the end, he wouldn’t take any advice from the others and claimed he’d even fight alone if he had to, so basically committed virtual suicide at Nancy in 1477.

According to a professor who had it from another professor who wrote about it to his student in 1800-something, the duck suffered from strange visions about Arles, Italy and God. It’s supposedly in Chastellain’s memoires, but I haven’t found it yet. I visited Arles once and they have dark Roman cellars and this church full of gruesome relics of saints so it is a place that inspires black thoughts.

Relics in the St. Trophime church

Also encountered a rather gruesome description of the destruction of a city in which nobody was spared, not even the people who sought refuge in a church. The vengeful Terrible rode into the church on his horse, into the bodies and the great pool of blood on the floor and he allegedly said: “My butchers have done a good job.”

Most interesting anecdote regarding his mental state in my opinion, I found in Molinet’s chronicles:

car il estoit fort mélancolieux et faci- lement incité à l’ire depuis la perte de Granson. Et disent aulcuns de ses privés serviteurs, qu’il prendoit par fois un libvre pour faire manière de vouloir, lire , et s’enclouoit seule; et illec, par grand courroux, tiroit cheveux, et se destordoit, en faisant les plus angoisseux regrets et plainctes qui jamais furent ouys; et, à ceste cause, chascun craindoit l’advertir de chose qui tournoit à sa des- plaisance.

Simply translated from my less than perfect old French: ...”[because] he was quite melancholic and was easily incited to rage after the loss of Granson. And some of his private servants said that sometimes he would take a book as if to read and lock himself up alone, where in great wrath he would tear at his hair and twist himself, while uttering the most anguished regrets and complaints ever heard. And because of this, everybody feared to inform him of something that would displease him.”

Ironically I drew this quick sketch as a study for the second, more fantasy painting of the series, long before I read about the above anecdote.


Still quite some research to do, but the coming days will be filled with 21st century tasks.

3 thoughts on “The sword in the stone: Duck à la blood

  1. Girl, you are on a mad labyrinth of a quest that mixes Dante’s Inferno with Game of Thrones. I hope Gabby can keep up. :/

    Duck duck GO

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