‘Medieval Day’ at the Cheltenham Literary Festival

It’s that time of year again when some big names come to Cheltenham, just down the road from me, for a two week’s long literary festival (or a mutual back-slapping and new book publicising tour as it could be seen by the less well-inclined). This year, as I am practising being a starving artist of the scribbling kind, I couldn’t afford as many talks as usual, but I couldn’t resist the two that were on today.

Needing a few hours break from all things medieval on the website, I went and watched two talks on the subject of… well, medieval things. The first one was with Juliet Barker, author of, amongst others, The Tournament in England 1100-1400, and Agincourt: The King, the Campaign, the Battle. This talk was entitled ‘Conquest: The English Kingdom of France’ – which is also the title of her new book. She talked about what happened after the battle of Agincourt – how Henry V struggled for, and won, the crown of France – only to have his son lose it again some years later. I must admit, not being so familiar with the period, I would have liked to have had more background knowledge – but time is always short for these talks and I think Juliet did a very good job.

The next talk was on a subject much closer to ‘home’. Marc Morris gave an excellent talk about Edward I and why he considered him both ‘great’ and ‘terrible’. Once again, time was the enemy as it was such a vast and interesting subject to cover in just three quarters of an hour, but I really enjoyed the talk – especially the jibes he got in about Braveheart! He also seemed pretty fair in the couple of comments he made about Edward II being a poor ruler by comparison – and he was not reticent in talking about Edward I’s bad sides (as we see them today) – such as his treatment of Isabel Macduff and Robert Bruce’s sister Mary, and his anti-semitism for instance. I already have Marc’s book Edward I: A Great and Terrible King on my book shelf waiting to be read. I think, after today, it’s going to move closer to the top of the TBR pile!

And now, dredged from over two months of records, some silly searches. Like Susan, people have been extremely sensible of late and have turned in pretty boring search strings on the whole (or loads on the same theme, namely ‘hanging, drawing and quartering!). However, I did manage to find a few that made me go ‘eh?’:

medieval scaffold for hanging pictures
I must admit, it would certainly be a dramatic backdrop for your Monets!

who is buried in tewkesbury abbey
Maybe Lord Lucan and Shergar? Actually, it sounds like an opener to a Medieval crime mystery.

john comyn=joan de valence
Does this mean that John Comyn had a sex change and became Joan de Valence!?

how did gilbert de clare 8th earl of hertford body get back to twekesbury
Airmail from Bannockburn? In a black cab? Courier delivery? It might have a hard job finding Twekesbury in the Satnav though!

purbeck, impostor
I say, have at thou! Hang on, who the heck is Purbeck? Is it perhaps a conflation of Perkin and Warbeck? In which case, wrong period.

jouster,s wear
Now, is that jouster’s wear (in which case, what?), or jouster swear (in which case, what?)

execution stripped legs crowd
Obviously shorts and flip flops are the fashionable attire for this season’s hangings!

And finally: web site update for those who haven’t lot the will to live yet… I am now cross-linking the pages, so getting much closer to launch. I just have to make sure I get there before the men in white carry me off in a straitjacket!


About Jules Frusher

With an MA in Creative and Critical Writing, I am passionate about the written word. The other great loves of my life are all things Medieval (especially Hugh le Despenser the Younger) and animal behaviour (especially canids and corvids). Give me a castle in the wilderness (with Broadband!) and I'll be happy!
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