A ’Time Machine’

Hi everyone, apologies for the drop off in new content… I’ve hit the wall, and needed a little time to get my mojo back. It’s all 9 to 5 stuff. My day job continues to keep me gainfully employed regardless of New Zealand’s recent four month lockdown – but the job is one that gets increasingly stressful as stress, anxiety, depression and boredom grows among the clientele. 

In short, sorry all I’m exhausted and needed a couple of weeks off.

The next proper blog post is a week away, so I figured – in the interim – I’d bundle a few of the following social media posts together. As you may know the blog still gets many more readers than the podcast gets listeners, so I trialled the following on my personal Facebook, over a Saturday. 

Wherever the play counter was at, I’d write a short tale about something that happened in that year. I’d close the post off with a call to action ‘share this episode’ or ‘go leave us a five star review’ etc. 

It did give the podcast a little bit of a bump.
It wasn’t entirely unsuccessful, though we didn’t get anywhere near modern history in the process.

1286. 

On 19th March 1286 Alexander III, king of Scotland took a moonlit ride to join his second wife, the then pregnant Queen Yolande. It was her birthday the next day. Alexander had been away on business and really wished to be with his wife to celebrate her special day if at all humanly possible. The weather was rough. His advisors told him to stay in Edinburgh for the night – but the king would have none of that. 

While travelling through the town of Kinghorn, in Fife, Alexander’s horse took a tumble down a steep, rocky embankment – killing him. 

Alexander’s only direct heir was his unborn daughter – who was miscarried, likely due to the shock of his sudden death. A constitutional crisis broke out. Alexander had three children from a previous marriage (he was married to the 10 year old daughter of Henry III of England aged 11 himself – they had 3 children together before she passed on)

All three heirs died a few years before Alexander, all having barely reached adulthood. 

Some called for his three year old grand-daughter Margaret, the ‘Maid of Norway’ to be brought to Scotland to be crowned. Others, most notably England’s King Edward ‘Longshanks’, wanted Edward’s buddy John Balliol on the throne – a man not well loved by the Scots. 

This led to a conflict which looked something vaguely like the movie Braveheart – which eventually led to the reign of Robert the Bruce, beginning in 1306. 

Moonlight rides can be dangerous – stay home with my podcast instead (link to an episode attached).

A Few Hours Later, 1314.

To tell the following I need to start in 1099 – with the fall of Jerusalem to a marauding pack of lunatics we now call the Crusaders. From this point in time, the holy city was open to Westerners, and pilgrims began to flock there. A great number of these folk travelled in small groups, with large sums of money, through hostile lands. Unsurprisingly, robberies and murders were commonplace. 

In 1118, a French knight named Hugues de Payens formed a company with just seven of this friends and family. Their purpose – to protect the pilgrims from bandits. The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, better known as the Knights Templar set up a headquarters at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Demand for their services soon grew, and the order would have as many as 20,000 employees working for them at their peak. 

Besides protection, the Knights Templar provided a form of banking, where one could leave a sum of money with them at the start of their journey. A promissory note was drawn, which could be cashed at the other end. This led to the knights offering other banking services – like cash loans to the rich and powerful. The crusades had run their course by the end of the 13th century. At this point, however, the Knights Templar were anything but poor fellow-soldiers. The organisation was worth one hell of a lot of money – and a number of unscrupulous rulers began to plot how to confiscate said wealth from them. 

Philip IV of France was known as Philip the Fair, a moniker which by modern usage seems laughable. He taxed churches, which seems fair I guess? Though he did so solely to line his own pockets. In 1303 the man had a pope kidnapped. Pope Boniface VIII was eventually released, but was said to have died from the trauma of the kidnapping soon after. 

On Friday October 13th 1307, a proposed origin for the Friday the 13th legend – Philip, heavily in debt to the Templars, had them declared heretics and arrested. 

Which brings us to 1314. 

In March 1314. After a lengthy investigation by Pope Clement V, the Knights Templar were disbanded. It’s leaders sentenced to death. On March 18th Geoffroi de Charney, Hugues de Peraud, Godefroi de Gonneville, and their Grand Master Jacques de Molay were led to a purpose built platform on a tiny island in the Seine, then burnt at the stake – just across the water from Notre Dame Cathedral. This horrific immolation was observed by the general populace – many of whom saw the execution as a day’s entertainment.  

A Quick Post at Lunch.

If you’re wondering, the tally on Tales the podcast is 1323, the year the remains of the Lighthouse of Alexandria finally fell into the sea… every click much appreciated… 

That Afternoon… 1345.

Hey everyone… what to choose? Around this time a lot could be said about royalty, and battles and such. The Hundred Years’ War is in full swing. Estonia is in the middle of an uprising against the Teutonic Knights who arrived in the Baltic in the late 12th Century (a lesser known Holy Crusade) and claimed these pagan lands for Jesus, the church, and of course themselves. These were the kinds of battles Roman von Ungern-Sternberg’s ancestors would have cut their teeth on (of course on the Teutonic Knights side). 

Let’s do one about everyday folk. 

In March in the city of Amsterdam, Catholics go on a Stille Omgang – a silent walk. This started because of the most unremarkable of ‘miracles’. 

On 15th March 1345, a man lay dying in his home in the city. A priest was called to administer last rights. One presumes confessions were taken, though I’ve no idea what the man confessed to. Last rites were given. The man was given a host – that round piece of consecrated bread Catholics take to represent the body of Christ, but the dying man vomited ‘Jesus’ back up – at which point the mangled host was tossed into the fire. 

The next day, the maid found the host atop the ashes – completely untouched by the fire – Oh what a miracle! she exclaimed. 

For the following two hundred years a march was held through the streets of Amsterdam. The partially masticated bread paraded through the streets inside of a wooden box – just as if it were the arc of the covenant. People marched behind, carrying banners celebrating the day a man died, and spat out the host in his dying gasps.

As the Netherlands fought for freedom from the oppressive (Catholic) Hapsburgs, Protestantism became the new state religion. Such pageantry was banned – however a silent walk took the place of the previous, carnivalesque romp through the city. 

The deceased’s former home is now a chapel.

The following Morning, 1456. 

Hey all, thanks for sharing and listening. The dial was at 1456 this morning. 

In 1456 the Ottoman Turks, now well entrenched in Constantinople/Istanbul were headed for the Balkans – and would make war with Albania that year. Skandebeg, king of Albania – who we should probably talk about one day (a future distant relative, Zog of Albania, has been on my to do list for years), sent the considerably larger army packing.

Halley’s Comet graced us with it’s light for several days. Sticking with the Ottomans, they had moved on towards Hungary and were besieging Belgrade when the comet appeared. Pope Callixtus III was certain the comet was an evil omen – but that with enough prayer that bad energy could be directed the Turks’ way. He gave orders to pray for misfortune for the Ottoman invaders. 

I’m going to put a pin in the comet for the future too…People lose their minds whenever it comes near us – even in far more enlightened times.

That same year Callixtus would re-affirm Portugal’s rights to plunder and enslave down Africa’s Western Coast. The Portuguese would also stumble upon the Cape Verde Islands in 1456 – a then uninhabited archipelago off the coast of West Africa. Antonio de Noli, the Genoese explorer sent out by King Afonso V of Portugal, was convinced he’d stumbled upon the ‘Fortunate Isles’ both Ptolemy and Pliny wrote about – where the Greek heroes who had lived especially noteworthy lives were to spend eternity. Decades later they would become a demarcation point between the places the Portuguese could plunder and enslave, and the places the Spanish could plunder and enslave – following the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494). 

Vlad the Impaler also became Prince of Wallachia in 1456 – after killing then current prince Vladislav II in hand to hand combat. Both men showed up to the battle with armies, but chose to settle their disagreements in a one on one fight. 

As you can see 1456 is quite an action-packed year. Thank you all for the shares, we’ll have to do this again sometime? 

Right, back soon as I can – Simone.

1 thought on “A ’Time Machine’

  1. Pingback: The Pendle Witches (Part One) | Tales of History and Imagination

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