Random post of the week – who are my top 5 people from the Middle Ages – real historical medieval people, not characters from any of my stories that is!
Frederick II Hohenstaufen – not quite the Renaissance prince that earlier historians such as Kantowicz would like to think, but even so still quite amazing in what he tried to do – a cultured, yet autocratic prince, rather than a fanatic oaf of a king.
Geoffrey Chaucer – he had the wit and charm to poke fun at all around him, but in quite a nice way – a bit like the Stephen Fry of the Fourteenth Century perhaps?
Richard I the Lionheart – complete opposite of Frederick I at number the one above, but for bare faced oafish medieval kingly behaviour I think he has to be in my arbitrary list of Top 5 Medieval People. Hated England, hardly set foot in the place, but thanks to Hollywood’s portrayal of Robin Hood and Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe I grew up with him as the quintessential English Medieval King. Robin Hood wouldn’t be on my list, but he’s fictional anyway so can’t be!
Dante Alighieri – the great Italian poet who gave us the Divine Comedy and the quintessential image of hell, while sniping at all and sundry, a bit nastier than Chaucer, and in my view not as great a poet, but still fascinating and able to conjure up great images.
Owain Glyndŵr – rebel with a cause, but ultimately a doomed one. Not a man I knew a lot about until I read the Welsh Wars of Independence, but what a guy, what crazy guy, deciding to go up against the might of Lancastrian England and nearly pulling it off too! The Welsh are getting a lot of good press recently for their passion and determination, and this chap certainly had that.
What do you think? Agree/disagree? Who would be in your top 5?
If you read my blog on a regular basis you might have noticed a number of posts about Frederick II appearing. What does it mean? Well a while ago I was working on a project about Frederick II called Stupor Mundi. I recently decided that I would have another go at this novel, but not worry too much about conducting exhaustive research. Instead my plan is to just keep writing and go back at a later date to check facts and add in any nuggets from my research. I have also taken on Stephen King‘s advice in On Writing to just see where the story takes me. I had already come up with an interesting situation and enough plot ideas to get going, so starting wasn’t really a problem, but I didn’t know where the journey was going to take me.
So far I have about 10,000 words written and I am aiming to do about 500 words a day. Each day is exciting and new and I have surprised myself. I find that when I don’t write for a day or two it’s much more difficult to get started again though. Whereas I suppose if you have everything planned out you can pick up the torch more easily as you have a firmer idea of what comes next.
I’ll keep you posted on how I get on, but if you want to read any early chapters they are over at OWW now and also will be coming up on the queue at Critters at the end of March. If I have time I’ll put them on Critique Circle too!
It seems that some people are still fighting the propaganda battle that once raged between Innocent IV and Frederick II, for instance this article about Saint Rose of Viterbo.
Little twelve year old Rose preached against the Imperial occupation of the Papal city of Viterbo. She even apparently predicted the death of Frederick II and kept the morale of the people going during the Imperial rule of the city, which lasted from 1240 to 1250.
I find it interesting that this article, which was posted earlier this year, is written in such partisan terms. For instance there is great shock that Frederick II wanted to occupy poor little Viterbo.
I came across this very good biographical video of Frederick II on Youtube. It features lots of good images, many of which I hadn’t seen before. The sound is music, so you can watch it without the music on and read the captions to get the story of Frederick II’s life.
Been awhile since I have posted unfortunately due to illness over the last week or so. Progress on the writing has therefore been very slow. However, I did manage to read through Dante’s De Vulgari Eloquentia. Quite useful on his opinion of Frederick’s court and also all the differences in dialects in Italy, plus an examination of the canzone form.
I might be slowing down the current research on the Stupor Mundi project, doing bits and pieces when I can, but mainly I will be concentrating on a top secret self-publishing venture over the next few weeks. I am hoping that this won’t take too long out of my writing career, but also I’m hopeful that it might make a little bit of money too!
I’m considering turning my translation of Huillard-Breholles into a pdf e-book that can be downloaded from the Stupor Mundi website. The idea is that I would be able to share the work I have done, but also protect my copyright and not have the work passed off on other people’s sites and possibly financially exploited by them.
I think this could be managed by setting up a Paypal commerce section to the site. Once I have received the money, (possibly a nominal $20?) I would then send the customer an email with the pdf attached or a link and password to a secure part of a file-sharing site?
Not bad going, 40 pages since 23 December, means I am doing pretty well I think. That’s over 2.5 pages a day, and this was slowed quite a bit by Christmas. The Biog part of the book ends at about page 124, which is another 40 pages away, so I should be there in a week or two maybe. The difficulty will be the letters, which apart from an intro in French, are then in Latin. However, I could perhaps just translate a few of those to get a flavour of his style for now, and then move onto another area.
Also found that Kantorowicz research can be pretty much be taken care of by one long research article, In this time without Emperors, which summarises a lot of the debate about this scholar. I can then scope out whether this subplot can work or not.
I have also been finding the Novel Writer software quite useful for noting down ideas, I’ve had about 9 that I put down in the last week or so!
Translating Huillard-Breholles is definitely paying off. Although some of it so far is simply a list of what Piero did – i.e. he participated in such and such a negotiation, which could be gleaned from other history books, there is also detail from the Registrum that lists Piero’s admin responsibilities. It seems he was closely involved in supplying the army and castles, and chasing up money for the treasury. So he would have had his hands on quite a lot of money, thus not surprisingly attracting charges of embezzlement, but also generating possible resentment, for instance from those required to pay up monies, and from military commanders feeling the pinch.
I think the letters might give more about his actual personality, however, the difficulty I will have there is that they are in Latin, and Wiktionary is pretty poor on Latin!
And the translation of Huillard-Breholes’ Life and Correspondance of Piero della Vigna continues! Another four pages today and five yesterday, so things are proceeding according to plan so far. I have also been making some notes on Piero’s character using the Novel Writing software I bought recently. I’m planning to make notes here as I go along so I can be thinking about how Piero will appear in the book.