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Edward II and Isabella in fiction/Reaction to the comments of Kathryn Warner[EdwardthesecondBlogspot]

woensdag 8 maart 2017
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EDWARD II AND ISABELLA IN FICTION/REACTION TO THE
COMMENTS OF KATHRYN WARNER [EDWARDTHESECONDBLOGSPOT]
ABOUT ''THE SHE WOLF OF FRANCE'' BY MAURICE DRUON


SEE ALSO


http://www.astridessed.nl/edward-ii-and-isabellareaction-to-the-comments-of-kathryn-warneredwardthesecondblogspot/


This [rather long] article is divided in


A

KATHRYN WARNER'S POSTS


B

HISTORY OF THE FIRST HALF OF THE FOURTEENTH
CENTURY/
ENGLAND AND FRANCE



C



MY COMMENTS ON THE POST OF KATHRYN WARNER
ON HER BLOG: EDWARDTHESECONDBLOGSPOT




D


TEXT OF KATHRYN WARNER'S POST, ON WHICH
I COMMENT 



FIRST


TO MY READERS

In this article, for the second time a critical comment
on historian/writer Kathryn Warner's remarks about
the historical novel ''The She Wolf of France'', from
the French historian/writer Maurice Druon.

See her comments


http://edwardthesecond.blogspot.nl/2006/05/edward-ii-novel-of-week-2-she-wolf-of.html


Below I give  my readers a further explanation
about Warner's posts as well [what's more important!]
 background information about
the first half of
the fourtheenth century, regarding France and England.

But who knows already a lot about this
historical period, skip directly to

''MY COMMENTS ON THE POST OF KATHRYN WARNER
ON HER BLOG: EDWARDTHESECONDBLOGSPOT''


For the rest of my readers

ENJOY THIS TRAVEL TO THE PAST AND READ BELOW!


A

KATHRYN WARNER'S POSTS


INTRODUCTION

The attentive reader will have noticed, that I already gave a
comment on writer/historian Kathryn Warners criticism of ''The She Wolf
of France'', fifth in the historical fiction novel series  ''The Accursed Kings''
of writer/historian Maurice Druon.

See


http://www.astridessed.nl/the- she-wolf-of-france-by-maurice- druonreaction-on-the-comments- of-kathryn-warneredwardtheseco ndblogspot/



But then I discovered her post ''Edward II and Isabella 
in fiction''

http://edwardthesecond.blogspo t.nl/2013/10/edward-ii-and-isa bella-in-fiction.html


This post she starts with the following words:


''Here's a list of novels about Edward II and Isabella of France, and my (entirely subjective, of course) opinions of them.''

In this post, she gives a ''list of appreciation'' annex
disproval of a number of historical fictional novels
about the English King Edward II and his wife,
Queen Isabella [also mentioned ''Isabella of
France, being the daughter of the French King Philip
IV, the Fair], who were the parents of King Edward III,
The King, who sparked the Hundred Years War between England and France.

Anyway, her list of 
appreciation/disaproval of those historical novels, is divided in: 

Highly recommended

Recommended

Not my cup of tea

No, thank you



Under ''No, thank you''
she mentions among other ''no thank you'' novels 
the  historical fiction novel
''She Wolf of France'', [about Isabella of France], fifth
in a series about the French Royal House in the first half
of the fourteenth century ''The Accursed Kings' ', [referring
to the ''curse of the Templars'']
[See under Philip IV]

The whole of her critics you find
in another post called

EDWARD II NOVEL OF THE WEEK [2]: ”THE SHE WOLF OF
FRANCE” BY MAURICE DRUON


http://edwardthesecond.blogspo t.nl/2006/05/edward-ii-novel- of-week-2-she-wolf-of.html

She refers to this post, thus in
her comments
''Edward II and Isabella in fiction''


Being a big fan of the historical ''The Accursed Kings''
series of Maurice Druon [as an historian I can give
a reasonable good judgment of it]
I am highly critical about her comments, so I decided
to give her a tough reply, of course being respectful about
her [indeed] great knowlegde about this part of Medieval history,

VISIT HER BLOG!

http://edwardthesecond.blogspo t.nl/



But alhough she has an admirable knowlegde of historical
facts, persons and especially family relations,  I am
often disappointed in her critical arguments to convince
the reader of some certain of her points of views.
But of course that is my subjective opinion:

ANYWAY:

 I realized, that, at least when you didn't read my
first comments on Kathryn Warner,
 you only can follow my critical comments
on her posting,  when you
know something of the historical background.
So underlying you find information about Isabella of
France, and her father, King Philip IV



B

HISTORY OF THE FIRST HALF OF THE FOURTEENTH
CENTURY/
ENGLAND AND FRANCE

ISABELLA OF FRANCE, WIFE TO KING EDWARD II


As you will see, I'll give a reaction on the comments of
Kathryn Warner, historian and writer of among else
''Edward II, an Unconventional King'' and
''Isabella of France'' [wife of Edward II].
Actually, she reacted on an historical fiction novel
''She Wolf of France'', about Isabella of France, fifth
in a series about the French Royal House in the first half
of the fourteenth century ''The Accursed Kings'', referring
to the ''curse of the Templars''
[See under Philip IV]

Below you will see her post [on her website] as my comment.

But I realized, that you only can follow the discussion, when you
know something of the background:

So here we go

Isabella of France , later called the She Wolf of France, was the daughter of the French King Philip IV,
who married her off to the English King Edward II in 1308.
Since she was 12 years, probably the marriage was consumated later.
However, fundamental problems would rise, since Edward II had 
a favouritism for men, probably he was gay.
When he married Isabella, he had a deep affection for a Gascon knight,
Piers Gaveston, who was to be executed by uprising barons, who
loathed his arrogance and influence over the King.

Later Edward II had Hugh Despenser as a favourite [Despenser's father was
also his favourite, but his deep affection was for Hugh], which led to
conflicts between Edward II and the other nobles, since the Despensers
expanded their lands [with consent of the King] at the cost of the
other nobles.
Wars broke out, the King and the Despensers won at the cost of many executions,
imprisonments of the opponents.
One of them was Roger Mortimer, who later became the lover of Queen Isabella,
who was imprisoned in the Tower and [as one of the few in history] escaped succesfully and fled to France.

The marriage between Isabella and Edward, which never was very good, detoriated
after the influence of the Despenser and Isabella would write later in a letter
to her husband [when she was in France] that Despenser shared the Kings bed.....


Meantime, they had four children, under who the later King Edward III,
who would start the Hundred Years War with France.
[And his descendents would slaughter each other in the Wars of the Roses
for the succession of the English throne]

When things detoriated, Isabella went in 1325 to her homeland, France, as a pretext 
to negociate between Edward II and her brother King Charles IV over
aroused tensions between the two lands.
Her son Edward [later III] was with her.
But she didn't come back and lived there under protection of her
brother the King for longer than a year.

She met Roger Mortimer [the nobleman, who escaped the Tower
of London], they began a relationship and eventually returned
to England with troops [which they begat after bethroting
son Edward to Philippa, the daughter of the Count of Hainault,
who provided the troops]

The demand was, that de Despensers would be ousted out
of power.
They could easily win, because nearly all nobles had left
the King, out of hatred for the Despensers.

The King and Hugh Despenser fled, but were arrested and Hugh
Despenser was to die a terrible death, the traitors death.
His father and many others were executed too.

Isabella and Mortimer imprisoned the King and forced him to
abdicate in favour of his son, who was crowned 
The abdication was in januari 1327.
The crowning of Edward III was in february 1327


In september the old King Edward II died in strange
circumstances, probably ordered by Isabella and Mortimer,
who were the de facto rulers in England.

They however did as the Despensers, enriching themselves shamelessly.

Of course the tensions between Edward III and Mortimer grew:
Edward II had no actual power, Mortimer l[who was married also]
lived openly with his mother [a shame in that time, especially
for a woman] and he could be held responsible for
the death of Edward's father.
After the execution of Edward''s uncle, the Earl of Kent
[halfbrother of his father] enough was enough.

Secretly Edward planned an attack and with 20 or 30 armed
men of his age, they overwhelmed Mortimer and Isabella.
Mortimer was arrested and executed and of course Isabella,
being his mother, was spared, but her political influence was over.

But she lived in extreme wealth until 1358.

See also


SHE WOLVES OF ENGLAND, ISABELLA AND MARGARET

https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=192QjemfTh0&t=155s


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Isabella_of_France




https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Edward_II_of_England



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Edward_III_of_England



KING PHILIP IV, FATHER OF ISABELLA OF FRANCE

King Philip IV, father of Isabella, was a mighty ruler, who was named
''Philip the Fair'', because of his good looks and ''The Iron King''
because of the iron fist with which he ruled France.
He relied rather on skillful civil servants like Nogaret and Marigny
then on his barons, wanting to limit the feudal society and
establising a strong central power.

Interesting facts during his reign

Under his reign, in 1302, the Flemish lower classes beat the
French army in the Battle of the Golden Spurs [Guldensporen
slag]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Battle_of_the_Golden_Spurs


Notorious events during his reign:

He expelled the Jews and destroyed the Templars.
According to popular belief Jaques de Molay, Grandmaster
of the Templars, cursed the King, Pope Clement V and Nogaret
for their part in the prosecution, before burning to death on the stake.
The curse of the Templars.
Anyway:
The King, the Pope as Nogaret died in the same year, 1314, as
Molay should have predicted,.
The King was to succeed by his three sons, who ruled one
after the other untill 1328, died young without mle
heirs.
And in 1314, the Tour The Nesle adultery scandal came to
light, in which the three wives of the Kings' sons were involved.....


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Tour_de_Nesle_Affair



The curse of the Templars?


See also


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Philip_IV_of_France


C


MY COMMENTS ON THE POST OF KATHRYN WARNER
ON HER BLOG: EDWARDTHESECONDBLOGSPOT

TO MY READERS;


Being a fan of the historical fiction novels of Maurice Druon
''The Accursed Kings'' [Les Rois Maudits] about the last Capet Kings
in the early half of the 14th century, I have written some critical
comments on a posting of Kathryn Warner [historian and autho
of ''Edward II, the Unconventional Ling] on her website
EdwardthesecondBlogspot.

Her posting concerns part 5 of the ''Accursed Kings'', ''The She Wolf
of France'' about Queen Isabella, wife of the English King Edward II,
mother to the latter King Edward III [who started the Hundred Years
War with France]

Her reaction on the book was very critical and negative and I have 
fought her about that, because in my opinion The She Wolf of
France is impressive and interesting novel

RECOMMENDED!
READ THE BOOK




MAURICE DRUON
SHE WOLF OF FRANCE


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ The_Accursed_Kings#La_Louve_de _France_.281959.29



Also read the whole series


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ The_Accursed_Kings



See Kathryn Warner's comments


EDWARD II NOVEL OF THE WEEK [2]: ''THE SHE WOLF OF
FRANCE'' BY MAURICE DRUON


LINK


http://edwardthesecond.blogspo t.nl/2006/05/edward-ii-novel-o f-week-2-she-wolf-of.html


To this post she refers in a later post


''EDWARD II AND ISABELLA IN FICTION''

http://edwardthesecond.blogspo t.nl/2013/10/edward-ii-and-isa bella-in-fiction.html




SEE TEXT BELOW MY COMMENTS



MY COMMENTS ON KATHRYN WARNER


SEE THE POST OF KATHRYN WARNER I CRITIZISE HERE


http://edwardthesecond. blogspot.nl/2006/05/edward-ii- novel-of-week-2-she-wolf-of. html






THE SHE WOLF OF FRANCE/AN IMPRESSING AND INTERESTING
HISTORICAL FICTION
MY COMMENTS ON YOUR POSTING


Dear Kathryn Warner

Compliments with your historically accurate and
very detailed blog about English 14th century history, concerning
the reign of King Edward II.

You don't know me, so let me introduce myself first:


Being a journalist and historian, although I am not an expert,
I always have had a passion for Medieval history,
From that interest and certain knowledge, 
I wrote a number of articles/comments about the Wars of the Roses
and other medieval subjects:
See some examples 


http://www.astridessed.nl/the- wars-of-the-rosescauses-of-the -wars-of-the-rosesa-travel-to- the-past/


http://www.astridessed.nl/the- wars-of-the-rosesmargaret-of-a njoushe-wolf-or-notcomments-on -the-article-of-mr-gareth-ruse ll-about-margaret-of-anjou/



http://www.astridessed.nl/the- wars-of-the-roseslancaster-and -yorkusurpation-and-the-right- to-the-throne-by-femalesletter -to-encyclopaedia-britannica/

CRITICAL REMARKS ON YOUR COMMENTS
ABOUT MAURICE DRUON'S ''SHE WOLF OF FRANCE''

You will be surprised about my somewhat late reaction on
your comment dd 10 may 2006,
on the fifth part of Maurice Druon's famous
serie books ''The Accursed Kings'' [les rois Maudits], ''The
She Wolf of France''

http://edwardthesecond.blogspo t.nl/2006/05/edward-ii-novel-o f-week-2-she-wolf-of.html


Reason is, that I saw your comment only today, 6 march 2017, due to some historical investigation.
And I found it interesting enough to give some comment,
especially because I have recently read ''The She Wolf of France''
which I appreciate as thrilling, horror like and moving.

To say it bluntly:
 I disagree with you on some some important aspects, which
I want to point out to you clearly.
But shortly:
I think the style of Druon is very vividly, historically convincing
[besides some errors you rightly point out, but partly are corrected
in part 6] and moving.
He succeeds to provoke pity and sympathy for less sympathetically
portayed characters and combines, in his books, elements of
epics, thriller, romantic, travelling with the reader in a distant
past.


But let me put some remarks you made to the critical light

YOUR COMMENT


1

You wrote

''I'm afraid I really dislike this novel. Really, really dislike it, so Druon fans might wish to stop reading now....''

http://edwardthesecond.blogspo t.nl/2006/05/edward-ii-novel-o f-week-2-she-wolf-of.html


MY REACTION



It is of course,your liberty to dislike the ''She Wolf of France''
But you see, I am a fan of the series ''The Accursed Kings''
of Maurice Druon and I did not stop reading your comment,
because I always open myself to critical notes, from which I can learn, as I hope you will leaarn from my remarks

Now all jokes in the cupboard, I become more serious


YOUR COMMENT

2

''I'll begin with a few things that I did like.
.....''

I can be short about that:
I agree with you



YOUR COMMENT

 3

''The rest of the characterisation, at least of the English characters, is just horrible. Edward II himself is so utterly feeble you can only feel contempt. Mortimer is the only remotely sympathetic English character. And the biggest problem I have with the novel is that, despite the title, it's really not about Isabella at all. It's a novel about France which happens to include some scenes set in England. OK, it's a series about French history - but then why call this one 'The She-Wolf of France' when Isabella and Edward only appear in a handful of scenes? There are pages and pages on Lombard bankers in Paris. This may be interesting to readers of the whole series - I presume they're regular characters - but I wanted to read about Isabella and Edward II, not Lombard bankers! Most of the novel is set in France. The death scene of Charles of Valois, Isabella's uncle, goes on interminably.''


MY REACTION:

In the first place I disagree with you, that the figure of
Roger Mortimer is the only sympathetic character.
I deal with that later.

Further you are in sofar right, that calling the book
''The She Wolf of France'' is not entirely right,
since a great deal of the book involves other subjects.
But see it like that:
It's part five in the historical series about the early
part of the 14th century concerning the French royal
Family, with as an important theme the effects of
the socalled ''curse of the Templars'', which affects
the offspring [and further generations]] of King
Philip IV, who persecuted them and sent them to the stake.
The other parts concern the reigns of two brothers of
Queen Isabella, Louis X [Le Hutin] and Philip V
[The Long] and their disastrous end.
She Wolf of France concerns the reign of her last brother,
King Charles IV and of course involves her, being
Philip IV's daughter.

The chapters 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6, concern Queen Isabella
, Roger Mortimer [who escapes from the
Tower in chapter 1] and the French-English relations.
But of course the parallel French history, with the financial
role of the Italian bankers [the money lenders of Kings
and nobles], as the political conflicts within French nobility,
etc must be described too!
You are a too good historian not to realize, that a story
can't only involve two important historical persons
[here Edward II and Isabella], but that they must be
seen against the background of the whole
economic-political landscape.


YOUR COMMENT


4

FIRST PART


''The only time Edward and Isabella appear together (and one of only four scenes where Edward appears at all) is in the second scene of the novel, after the Prologue and Mortimer's escape from the Tower. Isabella is sitting on her throne whinging to the French ambassador about her awful life when Edward, the Despensers and some of the English nobles enter the room. Isabella then proceeds to insult Edward, over and over, in front of the whole court. Neither Edward nor Hugh Despenser respond to her insults - they blush, pretend not to hear, change the subject. This is a really bad way of writing fiction: the scene should have crackled with tension, as Edward and Isabella exchange (spoken) blows and witty repartee.''


MY REACTION

In this I agree with you sofar, that it is highly likely,
a Queen like Isabella, as a French princess trained
in not only very good manners, but also in the womanly
role of modesty and a role on the background, should
have uttered in public on that way to her husband, she
being a Queen and he, the King. especially in the
companion of a French ambassador as the Despensers,
who she loathed.
But it's fiction after all and should not be judged with
a too strict historical view.
Besides, people are complicated.
Who can tell, that Isabella not uttered herself on that
way out of yearlong frustration and that the
King and Despenser said nothing out of a certain'
feeling of guilt?
Who can say.
I was not present and either you..............


YOUR COMMENT


4

SECOND PART

''As it is, Edward and Despenser seem totally pathetic, no match at all for Isabella. Another bad way of writing fiction - it would make for a much better novel to equalise their opposition, to make us see why Isabella hates them and wants to destroy them. Also, giving Edward the ability to hit back would have given the reader a glimpse into their awful marriage, and possibly lots of other interesting information like the impending war with France. But there's no insight at all. As it is, the scene just makes Edward even more pathetic, if that's possible. The French ambassador Bouville thinks that Isabella is 'brave' to stand up to the king, but it doesn't seem so to me - in fact, it seems cruel, like kicking a man who can't kick back. The narrative claims that Isabella is 'surrounded by so much hatred', but we never see this. We only see that all the hatred is coming from her.''

MY REACTION

Yes, perhaps Edward and Despenser were portrayed
a little pathetic, maybe due [I don't know] to prejudices
of Maurice Druon about love relations between men.
[as they are portrayed by Druon and presumably were,
testifying historical sources, among else the letter of Isabella to
Edward from France
Why should she say so, if it were not true,
considering the taboo on relations between men
in that time, and certainly not spoken of by a woman,
let alone a Queen?

http://edwardthesecond.blogspo t.nl/2015/09/edward-iis-relati onship-with-hugh.html]



AGAIN, YOUR COMMENTS

''Also, giving Edward the ability to hit back would have given the reader a glimpse into their awful marriage, and possibly lots of other interesting information like the impending war with France. But there's no insight at all. As it is, the scene just makes Edward even more pathetic, if that's possible. The French ambassador Bouville thinks that Isabella is 'brave' to stand up to the king, but it doesn't seem so to me - in fact, it seems cruel, like kicking a man who can't kick back. The narrative claims that Isabella is 'surrounded by so much hatred', but we never see this. We only see that all the hatred is coming from her''

Even if the scene makes Edward ''pathetic'', that doesn't
mean, he can't fight back.
Don't forget, he is the King and therefore endowed with
real power and supported by his favourites, nobles,
his army and his royal authority, while Isabella is
merely his consort, also a princess of foreign descent with
no obvious ties in England.
So where thus the power lie?
Even if Edward is ''pathetic''

And it' not true, that there is no sign of that
''awful marriage''
The Despensers, especially Hugh, are supposed to have stolen her whole dowry, her rights and lands of
Cornwall, steal [under the pretext of ''borrowing'']
her pearls, take with them expensive books as she
fears to be assassinated [that is higly unlikely
being the sister of the King of France]

However, added to those stealings [I don't know,
if this is true historically, but here I follow the
tale of Druon] the lack of emotional warmth of
the King, giving that to friend Hugh, there Druon
makes a horrible marriage convincingly.

YOUR COMMENT


5


''Druon tells us that Edward II is 'handsome', a 'fine-looking man, muscular, lithe and alert' with an 'athlete's constitution'. Yet the details used to describe him make him grotesque. He has pouches beneath his eyes, an 'uncertain line of the curve of the nostril', an overly large (but weak, naturally) chin and a spine that 'curved unpleasantly from the neck to the waist, as if the spine lacked substance'. A deformed back in an athlete? Really? Oh, and his hands are 'flaccid' and 'flutter aimlessly', he pirouettes, he stamps his foot. Lovely.''


MY REACTION

Okay.
Even Druon describes Edward as such, as other characters,
does that say something about the liking or not liking of 
someone?
If Despenser the Elder is described as ''a weazel'', greedy
and what else more, or his son as weak and bad, should
one not feel pity on the horrible end they met?
No, someones more or less sympathetic or
strong character has, in my book, nothing to do
with liking or feeling pity.

I felt a deep pity with King Edward because of his [supposed] bad treatment, his goodbye to his
lover Hugh [although it is not likely, they parted
like that]

Because when people are losing everything they hold
dear [he never saw his children again] the reader must
pity them, whatever they did in the past.

And I am not going for that vindictiveness Isabella 
[as Mortimer] showed, however wrongly she was
treated.
And they WERE vindictive, following the cruel
death of the Despensers, the execution of the Earl
of Kent and her forcing Despensers innocent daughters
into convent.


http://www.susanhigginbotham.c om/blog/posts/two-maybe-three- little-nuns/]




YOUR COMMENT


6



''Druon tells far more than he shows, and what he shows is different from what he tells us. It's pointless to state in the narrative that Isabella 'suffers' when the reader never sees it. All that she seems to 'suffer' in this scene is having to put her feet on a threadbare footstool. Well, boo-hoo. It's also stated that she believes her life to be in danger from the Despensers. When we see the Despensers, however, it's hard to imagine that they could even find their way to the privy by themselves, never mind plot to have the queen of England murdered.''


MY REACTION

I repeat my former reaction, that Druon DID show
the ''awful marriage of Isabella:


And it' not true, that there is no sign of that
''awful marriage''
The Despensers, especially Hugh, are supposed to have stolen her whole dowry, her rights and lands of
Cornwall, steal [under the pretext of ''borrowing'']
her pearls, take with them expensive books as she
fears to be assassinated [that is higly unlikely
being the sister of the King of France]

However, added to those stealings [I don't know,
if this is true historically, but here I follow the
tale of Druon] the lack of emotional warmth of
the King, giving that to friend Hugh, there Druon
makes a horrible marriage convincingly.

YOUR COMMENT



7



''I found it utterly impossible to summon up a shred of sympathy or liking for these despicable people. They are ugly and repulsive to the point of being grotesque, yet are not villainous enough to be interesting. My reaction was to recoil from them. At least the elder Despenser dies well. That's the best thing you can say about any of them.''


MY REACTION


I repeat my earlier reaction:



Even Druon describes those characters as ''weak''
or even ''bad'',
does that say something about the liking or not liking of 
someone?
Or don't feel pity with them, when the tables turned?

If Despenser the Elder is described as ''a weazel'', greedy
and what else more, or his son as weak and bad, should
one not feel pity on the horrible end they met?
No, someones more or less sympathetic or
strong character has, in my book, nothing to do
with liking or feeling pity.

I felt a deep pity with King Edward because of his [supposed] bad treatment, his goodbye to his
lover Hugh [although it is not likely, they parted
like that]
As the death Edward met, ''red hot poker;''
[although very unlikely''] or smothered with
a pillow [because he is most probably murdered]

Because when people are losing everything they hold
dear [he never saw his children again] the reader must
pity them, whatever they did in the past.

And I am not going for that vindictiveness Isabella 
[as Mortimer] showed, however wrongly she was
treated.
And they WERE vindictive, following the cruel
death of the Despensers, the execution of the Earl
of Kent and her forcing Despensers innocent daughters
into convent.


http://www.susanhigginbotham.c om/blog/posts/two-maybe-three- little-nuns/]



YOUR COMMENT


8


''A lot of the dialogue is pitiful - almost entirely the dialogue spoken by the English characters. When the French characters speak, they make sense. Edward's last line before he is murdered (with the usual red-hot poker) is "Oh you brutes, you brutes, you shan't kill me!" Dignified and moving, no? No? Unfortunately, it makes me giggle every time I think about it. At the time of the arrest, 'Hugh the Younger, emaciated, trembling, threw himself on the king's breast. His teeth chattered, he seemed about to swoon and he groaned: "You see, it's your wife who has ordered all this. It is she, that French she-wolf, who is the cause of it all. Oh, Edward, Edward, why did you marry her?"'


MY REACTION

It is as I have said.
Bad dialogue or not.
I can't laugh at so much human misery.

Because whether it happened like that or not.
Whether they spoke like that or not, their ends
were horrific, a deep human tragedy and I only can pity them.
Because suppose the dialogue is ''laughable'', their
end was horrible.
Keep that in mind.

LAST, BUT NOT LEAST

YOUR COMMENT 


9


''However, this is a really poor effort, and I haven't even mentioned the numerous historical inaccuracies (Henry of Lancaster was not called Crouchback - that was his father; Despenser became Edward's favourite in the years 1318-20, not 1312). I finished the novel, because I can't imagine ever not finishing a novel which includes Edward II and Isabella, but everyone here is so despicable I felt like taking a bath after I'd read it. No - make that several baths.''

MY REACTION

You are exaggerating here, mrs Warner.

You were right about Edmund Crouchback, the
father of Henry of Lancaster [which Druon corrects
in book 7 ''The Lily and the Lion''] as the beginning
of the favouritism of Hugh Le Despenser, but other
facts were accurate, as he mentions the answer of Charles IV
to Edward II, who wanted Isabella's return from France]

So, that were my comments.

I hope you were not offended and that you learnt from me
As I learned from you


Astrid Essed
Amsterdam
The Netherlands


www.astridessed.nl




D


TEXT OF KATHRYN WARNER'S POST, ON WHICH
I COMMENT 


EDWARD II NOVEL OF THE WEEK [2]: ”THE SHE WOLF OF
FRANCE” BY MAURICE DRUON

LINK

http://edwardthesecond.blogspo t.nl/2006/05/edward-ii-novel- of-week-2-she-wolf-of.html

TEXT

”Published as La Louve de France in 1959, English translation 1960.This is the fifth in Maurice Druon’s acclaimed Les Rois Maudits/The Accursed Kings series. The four preceding volumes are: Le Roi de fer/The Iron King, La Reine étranglée/The Strangled Queen, Les Poisons de la couronne/The Poisoned Crown and La Loi des mâles/The Royal Succession. The last two novels in the series are Le Lis et le Lion/The Lily and the Lion and Quand un Roi perd la France/When a King Loses France. The English translations are fairly rare these days, and sell for between about 20 and 40 pounds on Amazon UK, and on Amazon US for between about 25 and 50 dollars. The French originals can be picked up for a euro or less.
I’m afraid I really dislike this novel. Really, really dislike it, so Druon fans might wish to stop reading now….
I’ll begin with a few things that I did like. The list of characters at the beginning is very helpful, and I like the system of ‘Historical Notes’ at the end of the novel, even if they’re not always totally accurate (I don’t know why the younger Despenser’s claim to the earldom of Gloucester was ‘fantastic’). As for the characters, I liked seeing the earl of Kent in Gascony in 1324 – normally Kent never appears in Edward II novels until his attempt to rescue his brother the king in 1330, so it’s refreshing to see another side of him here. Also, Roger Mortimer is pretty sympathetic here, which he rarely is in novels. His relationship with Isabella in Paris in 1325 is very nicely portrayed as a genuine love affair. His escape from the Tower proves that he’s resourceful and courageous, and unlike the rest of the English characters, he’s ‘so handsome and so great a lord’ with a ‘strong, confident body’. Mortimer at least has genuine grievances against Edward and Despenser.
The rest of the characterisation, at least of the English characters, is just horrible. Edward II himself is so utterly feeble you can only feel contempt. Mortimer is the only remotely sympathetic English character. And the biggest problem I have with the novel is that, despite the title, it’s really not about Isabella at all. It’s a novel about France which happens to include some scenes set in England. OK, it’s a series about French history – but then why call this one ‘The She-Wolf of France’ when Isabella and Edward only appear in a handful of scenes? There are pages and pages on Lombard bankers in Paris. This may be interesting to readers of the whole series – I presume they’re regular characters – but I wanted to read about Isabella and Edward II, not Lombard bankers! Most of the novel is set in France. The death scene of Charles of Valois, Isabella’s uncle, goes on interminably.
The only time Edward and Isabella appear together (and one of only four scenes where Edward appears at all) is in the second scene of the novel, after the Prologue and Mortimer’s escape from the Tower. Isabella is sitting on her throne whinging to the French ambassador about her awful life when Edward, the Despensers and some of the English nobles enter the room. Isabella then proceeds to insult Edward, over and over, in front of the whole court. Neither Edward nor Hugh Despenser respond to her insults – they blush, pretend not to hear, change the subject. This is a really bad way of writing fiction: the scene should have crackled with tension, as Edward and Isabella exchange (spoken) blows and witty repartee. As it is, Edward and Despenser seem totally pathetic, no match at all for Isabella. Another bad way of writing fiction – it would make for a much better novel to equalise their opposition, to make us see why Isabella hates them and wants to destroy them. Also, giving Edward the ability to hit back would have given the reader a glimpse into their awful marriage, and possibly lots of other interesting information like the impending war with France. But there’s no insight at all. As it is, the scene just makes Edward even more pathetic, if that’s possible. The French ambassador Bouville thinks that Isabella is ‘brave’ to stand up to the king, but it doesn’t seem so to me – in fact, it seems cruel, like kicking a man who can’t kick back. The narrative claims that Isabella is ‘surrounded by so much hatred’, but we never see this. We only see that all the hatred is coming from her.
Druon tells far more than he shows, and what he shows is different from what he tells us. It’s pointless to state in the narrative that Isabella ‘suffers’ when the reader never sees it. All that she seems to ‘suffer’ in this scene is having to put her feet on a threadbare footstool. Well, boo-hoo. It’s also stated that she believes her life to be in danger from the Despensers. When we see the Despensers, however, it’s hard to imagine that they could even find their way to the privy by themselves, never mind plot to have the queen of England murdered.
Druon tells us that Edward II is ‘handsome’, a ‘fine-looking man, muscular, lithe and alert’ with an ‘athlete’s constitution’. Yet the details used to describe him make him grotesque. He has pouches beneath his eyes, an ‘uncertain line of the curve of the nostril’, an overly large (but weak, naturally) chin and a spine that ‘curved unpleasantly from the neck to the waist, as if the spine lacked substance’. A deformed back in an athlete? Really? Oh, and his hands are ‘flaccid’ and ‘flutter aimlessly’, he pirouettes, he stamps his foot. Lovely.
His friends fare no better. His niece Eleanor (Hugh Despenser’s wife) has ‘that quality of ugliness imprinted by a wicked nature’. Hugh Despenser (the younger) is ‘too curled, scented and over-dressed for a man of thirty-three’. He is narrow-chested and has a ‘bad, spotty skin’; later in the novel he is ‘wide-hipped and pigeon-breasted’ though Druon does allow him a ‘well-shaped mouth’. Despenser’s father, called ‘the weasel’, apparently, is described thus: ‘cupidity, envy, meanness, self-seeking, deceit, and all the gratifications these vices can procure for their possessor were manifest in the lines of his face and beaneath his red eyelids’.
It is predominantly, though not exclusively, the English characters who are described in such terms; Jeanne the Lame, wife of Philip of Valois, has a face ‘made hideous by the avarice of her thoughts’. Even Isabella is constantly said to have ‘little carnivore’s teeth’ though she does have ‘beautiful blue eyes’ and her ‘beauty was unrivalled by that of any young girl.’
The younger Despenser’s ‘expression seemed to imply: “This time things have really gone too far; we shall have to take stern measures!”‘ I have tried, and failed, to imagine what this expression would look like. Like most of this scene with Edward, Isabella and the Despensers, it makes no sense. And if he’s really the kind of man who would plot to have the queen murdered, shouldn’t his expression be more sinister?
I found it utterly impossible to summon up a shred of sympathy or liking for these despicable people. They are ugly and repulsive to the point of being grotesque, yet are not villainous enough to be interesting. My reaction was to recoil from them. At least the elder Despenser dies well. That’s the best thing you can say about any of them.
A lot of the dialogue is pitiful – almost entirely the dialogue spoken by the English characters. When the French characters speak, they make sense. Edward’s last line before he is murdered (with the usual red-hot poker) is “Oh you brutes, you brutes, you shan’t kill me!” Dignified and moving, no? No? Unfortunately, it makes me giggle every time I think about it. At the time of the arrest, ‘Hugh the Younger, emaciated, trembling, threw himself on the king’s breast. His teeth chattered, he seemed about to swoon and he groaned: “You see, it’s your wife who has ordered all this. It is she, that French she-wolf, who is the cause of it all. Oh, Edward, Edward, why did you marry her?”‘
Umm, because he was the king of England and she was the daughter of the king of France, and their marriage was part of an arrangement between the two countries – as Despenser well knew? As Susan Higginbotham points out, Despenser was a pirate. Not to mention a clever, ruthless extortionist who had been ruling England for a few years. Would he really talk and behave like that??
The only line the future Edward III gets in the whole novel is “Oh no, you wicked woman, you shan’t have everything!” (spoken to his cousin Eleanor Despenser about a book she wants). But we do get some stunning insight into his thoughts while watching the younger Despenser’s execution: “Is that really the man my father loved so much?” Superb, really.
A lot of the novel is psychologically unconvincing. For example, Mortimer’s wife Joan de Geneville (‘Lady Jeanne Mortimer’) is dealt with in a single paragraph: ‘Lady Jeanne suffered terribly from this betrayal by the two people in the world she had loved and served best. Did fifteen years of attendance on Queen Isabella, of devotion, intimacy and shared risks, deserve such a reward?…..Lady Jeanne, who had always been so loyal, found herself among the vanquished. And yet she could forgive, she could retire with dignity, precisely because the two people she most admired were concerned and because she understood that these two people were bound inevitably to fall in love as soon as Fate had brought them together.”
How convenient. That gets rid of her, doesn’t it? Saves Isabella and Mortimer from having to feel guilty, and Druon from having to deal with the thorny problem of Mortimer’s adultery. This often happens in novels – Joan de Geneville is either ignored, or made so dull and sexless that nobody could ever blame Mortimer for preferring the beautiful, exciting Isabella. Strangely, nobody ever uses this excuse for Edward II. Maybe he found Despenser a lot more exciting than his wife.
I don’t mean to tread on anyone’s toes here, and I know Druon has many fans. However, this is a really poor effort, and I haven’t even mentioned the numerous historical inaccuracies (Henry of Lancaster was not called Crouchback – that was his father; Despenser became Edward’s favourite in the years 1318-20, not 1312). I finished the novel, because I can’t imagine ever not finishing a novel which includes Edward II and Isabella, but everyone here is so despicable I felt like taking a bath after I’d read it. No – make that several baths.

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