Donald Oig “Liberator of London” England’s King Calls On A Scotsman To Free London

Legend abounds in Scotland, and the story of Donald Oig who defeats an Itallian for the English in London, is a fun classic.

Now Donald Oig was often called “The King’s Man”, his loyalty to King Charles I was already proven at the Trot of Turriff. Donald had gone to London in the year 1640 of his own accord not knowing that King Charles, in desperation, was also requesting his help in that same place, and offering a purse full of gold for help with an Italian swordsman. It was during that trip that he was waylaid by a drummer on the streets of London. The servant issued his Italian master’s challenge to all within the sound of his voice to battle. It was said that none could defeat him. In fact it was reputed that he was the greatest swordsman in Europe. Continue reading

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Sigrid The Haughty, Courting The Queen of Sweden

A Viking woman was never to be trifled with, as her own story tells. If Sigrid the Haughty, a Queen of Sweden, put her mind to something, nothing could stand in her way

Sigrid the Haughty, believed by some to be an amalgamation of several women, has none the less a fierce reputation in history books. Continue reading

Friday the 13th, The Death of the Templars

King Phillip of France ordered all Templars to be destroyed on Friday the 13th, what were his reasons for doing so?

In France, King Philip le Belle was struggling at the beginning of the 14th century. He was in great debt to the Templars, and there was no desire or ability to repay them. To extricate himself from the situation he hatched a plot that was as sinister as it was clever. Continue reading

Joan of Arc, The Queen of France?

Did France really belong to the Maid of Orleans? Delving into Joan of Arc’s life leads us to some startling observations about her, some of which are not generally associated with her folklore.

There are some who may argue that Joan of Arc had her own agenda for helping the Dauphin win over France. Was this true, and did she, as Charles the Dauphin feared, want to lead France herself? Charles was often counseled by those nearest him that Joan of Arc was a danger. They even implied that she wanted the throne. What can we believe? Amazingly there is a great deal of evidence that shows her intent very clearly.

Having insisted that Charles take himself to Rheims, and leading him deep into Burgundian territory, right through the heart of English supporting France, she brought him to the sacred and all important Rheims Cathedral to be crowned. The ancient Cathedral had seen the anointing and coronation of Kings for hundreds of years. It was considered to be a crucial location for the Dauphin’s anointing, possibly more so than the fact that he was crowned!

At Rheims he was crowned Charles VII, King of France. Astonishingly Joan made a request found in historical records of her trial at that time, “

“…the said [Joan] asked of the King of France to make her a gift… and she asked then that he give her his kingdom…[she] gave it to God Almighty. After another short time, on the order of God she invested King Charles…with the realm of France,…”

So for a very short time, Joan was Queen of France. What more could she have taken from Charles than this? Yet, she invested it back on his head; a clear message that she didn’t covet nor want his throne and kingdom. Then not surprisingly she made one actual request, that her village of Domremey be freed from taxes forever. After what she could have taken, this appeal must have seemed mild and Charles quite graciously granted her request.

It seems after this point though that Charles makes a distinct turnaround and begins to quietly oppose the Maid. She would continue to fight for him, and he would make life as difficult for her as he could. He gave contradicting orders, commands to destroy bridges behind her, and even as she would have taken Paris, he made a secret truce with the Duke of Burgundy, that gave the Duke time to reinforce Paris; all this, against the maids pleas and advice.

One day after attending to her devotions in the St. Jacques Church, she said to those in attendance “My good friends…I am sold and betrayed. Soon I shall be given up to death.” Shortly after she was captured by the Burgundians, and held for ransom; a ransom that Charles neither negotiated, nor tried to pay.

After months of captivity, she was handed over to the English, who quickly with no jurisdiction, or case, condemned her to death, and burned her at the stake. She died bravely, having united many of the French people. Without her the Hundred Years War might have ended differently.

Even her executioner was eventually won over by her dignity and goodness, after her sentence was carried out he cried “…that he greatly feared to be damned for he had burned a holy woman.” Joan was always a polarizing figure, and people were won to her side, and some were firmly against her, but never was anyone in between, except for Charles, a sad legacy for a very fortunate King.

Joan of Arc: The Maid of Orleans, What Was This “Cow Girl” Really Like?

Joan of Arc, a familiar name in late medieval history; her military exploits in saving France from the English are legendary, but the question remains, what was she really like? Can we discover her personality and learn something more from historical records on this subject?

Living in the midst of the Hundred Years War, the two contending sides were:

•The English, aided by the French Burgundians, of whom Joan once said in her trial, “I only knew one Burgundian and I could have wished his head cut off-however, only if it please God”

•The remainder of France’s citizens and nobility

 

She held her own very well for having no formal education. During one day of her inquiry, after her capture, one of the clergy asked her if she wasn’t being disobedient to her parents when she left them behind and traveled with the army.  She persistently declared “…Since God commanded it, had I a hundred fathers and a hundred mothers, had I been a King’s daughter, I should have departed.

She was loyal to a fault, and encouraged an ambivalent Dauphin that it was time to claim his throne. “I tell thee… that thou art true heir of France…”

Her compassion transferred into the field also, once when she saw a fellow Frenchman leading away some English prisoners, he struck one of the Englishmen so hard on the head, that they left him for dead. Upset and angry she alighted from her horse, and knelt down next to the dying Englishman. Cradling his head in her hand, she heard his final confession and consoled him in his pain. She cried easily when soldiers died without confession or the last rites. She also sent away the followers of the armies, the women of ill-repute. She explained her decision saying, “…it was for those sins that God allowed a war to be lost” To her, things were simple, she believed in being good, and in doing good.

At one point she was counseled that the nearby city under siege was well provided for and that all of the military leaders at the time believed that they should not try to take the city because their numbers were few, that they would wait for a better time to do so. Angry at their lack of faith in her counsel, not being included, she replied “You have been at your counsel, and I at mine, and I know that my Lord’s counsel will be accomplished and will prevail and that your counsel will perish.”

When struck by an arrow, she cried. When the English replied to her letters that demanded their surrender with taunts of being a whore, and a “Cow girl”, she cried. When soldiers were killed on the field, she cried. She had the tender heart of a young 17 year old girl.

In one case several women carrying various religious articles came and asked Joan to touch them, believing her touch would bless them. Joan laughed and told them, “Touch them yourselves; they will be as good from your touch as they are from mine!”

At the beginning of her leadership near the city of Orleans, the generals and other military leaders purposely mislead her to think that they would be somewhere different than they were. When she discovered the duplicity, she immediately went to where they were and exclaimed with great indignation, “In God’s name, the counsel of the Lord your God is wiser and safer than yours. You thought to deceive me and it is yourself above all whom you deceive, for I bring you better succor than has reached you from any soldier, in any city; it is succor from the King of Heaven!”

Perceval de Boulainvilles writes of her, “This maid has a certain elegance…she has a pretty woman’s voice, eats little…greatly likes the company of noble fighting men, detests numerous assemblies and meetings, readily sheds copious tears, has a cheerful face, bears the weight and burden of armor incredibly well, to such a point that she has remained fully armed during six days and nights.”

The picture we gain as we study her is that of a well grounded and street-smart young woman. The story gets better as the stakes rise, and Joan unafraid answers the best lawyers, university trained clergymen, and important men of her day in England.

Medieval Apocalypse: Black Death, What Was the Plague?

Were rats really responsible for the death of nearly 1/3 of Europes population?

The Black Death or the Plague seems to appear literally out of nowhere. Looking for a scapegoat, many Europeans blamed the Jews for poisoning the wells, or they looked upon it as a judgment from God. Barbara F. Harvey (Introduction: The Crisis of the Early fourteenth Century) “Once it had struck… it set Europe on a new path almost totally unrelated to its late medieval past”.

An Italian chronicler in Chronica di Matteo Villani gives this narration of the plague “They began to spit blood and then they died-some immediately, some in two or three days, and some in a longer time. And it happened that whoever cared for the sick caught the disease from them, or infected by the corrupt air, became rapidly ill and died in the same way. Most had swellings in the groin, and many had them in the left and right armpits and in other places, one could almost always find an unusual swelling somewhere on the victim’s body.”

One of the problems facing the researcher is that neither the plague nor the victims can be directly studied. Either way, we know that three kinds of plague existed. The Bubonic affected the glands and was not passed human to human; Pneumonic could be spread from coughing, sneezing, and person to person contact. Finally there was septicemic, where the bacilli enter the bloodstream and multiply and destroy the patient so quickly that buboes can’t form. In this septicemic invasion the patient typically dies within 24-36 hours. This form of the plague can’t be passed from human to human either. The only one capable of doing so was the Pneumonic Plague. The cause of Pneumonic plague, is an untreated case of Bubonic Plague that has progressed to the lungs. When it reaches that point, one person is capable of infecting everyone he comes in contact with. So while rodents and rats are the carriers, they were likely not the biggest culprit in the spread of the plague. It would have been infected patients fleeing the plague that might have struck their family, or neighbors, or the infections caused by caring for sick patients.