Sunday, August 08, 2004

HYW(Duncan2): On Romantic Trumpery and Proper Spelling

After receiving news that Bordeaux was being besieged by Annette du Guesclin, Lady of Bain-de-Bretagne, with a force of about seven thousand men, I gathered as many men as my purse allowed and proceeded to cross the channel in an attempt to break the siege. With an army of about one thousand, I led an unsuccessful charge against the besieging force and was captured. Thierry III, Earl of Grand Pre and Marshal of France, takes the liberty to tell of what happened in his own version, and to which I then respond. A quarrel soon follows, made the merrier by participations and comments of other nobles.

I. Lord Marshal's tale.

Good Baron,

Let me be the first to invite you back to the contient. English nobles seem to be fond of the company of the sofisticated French. As it happened another distinguished English gentleman, Chief Justice, came to visit Lady du Gueslin in her camp at Bordeaux. Perhaps he came hoping to ralize his dreams of courtly amour inspired by nightingale voices of Gascon trouvers. However, he made a mistake of bringing armed brutes with him. Naturally the lady was dismayed to the point of slaughtering the said brutes in a piched battle and taking Lord Justice captive. But at least he now has a pleasure of seeing the lady of his heart on a daily basis. I'm sure this valorous deed will inspire some troubadour to compose another romance about all-engulfing passion of the said lord. I can invistion the title: "How Lord Chief Justice surrendered his heart and his sword to the lady of his heart"

Keep up good work, gentlemen! We stand in admiration.

Grand Pre

II. Feeling a bit insulted, I respond.

My Lord Earl of Grand Pre,

We are delighted by your tale and content that indeed only a "sofisticated" Frenchman such as yourself could "invistion" such a trumpery romance.

We however, beg to differ as to our fondness to the company of such "sofisticated" French for it seems we could not "ralize" anyone else belonging to such class other than yourself.

Lord Chief Justice
Hereford and Essex

III. Lord Marshal to Lord Chief Justice (me).

Sir William:

I always thought the English are overly dry in character, non-sentimental and a bit too fastidious where it comes to details, but I could not hope to see that my stereotype would be so close to reality. I come to REALIZE that Your Lordship has had a greater success in grammar school than me. Finally England got better of France. Congratulations!

Grand Pre

IV. Lord Chief Justice (me) to Lord Marshal.

My Lord Earl of Grand Pre,

Hm, generalizing and stereotyping. Looks like grammar is not the only field you need to be further educated on.

Hereford and Essex

V. Caesar, Prince of Piedmont and Savoy, to Lord Chief Justice (me). Caesar, Duke of Normandy, was formerly regent to teenage Prince Amadeo of Piedmont and Savoy, who has just died not long ago and whose news of death I am not yet aware of at this point.

Hereford and Essex,

While I may understand the provincial viewpoints forced upon you by your unfortunate upbringing, I would suggest that if you have trouble understanding dialects other than those of your own small world you employ the private services of one better educated.

It is unseemly that one who holds such a responsible position as Lord High Justice should publicly proclaim his ignorance in such a manner.

I will be happy to furnish you with well travelled and educated scribes who might prevent future embarrassments.

Piedmont and Savoy

VI. Lord Marshal to Lord Chief Justice (me).

Good Comte:

I’m afraid teachers such as yourself may only augment my propensity to stereotype. Perhaps I am better off 'un-enlightened' as it seems to me education may somewhat soften body, mind and even very spirit. But then again judicial duties may to a degree dull one’s perception of life.

Grand Pre

VII. Beatrice of Bohemie, Duchess of Luxembourg, to Lord Chief Justice (me).

LCJ Hereford and Essex,

As you are no doubt aware, being so highly educated, spelling is not at all standardized here in the mid-fourteenth century. Thus, the spellings used by Marechal de Grand Pre are just as valid as any you might choose. While you may imagine your writing skills superior, your chivalry and courtesy are surely far inferior to any whose missives I have read thus far. I am appalled by your rudeness.

Beatrice de Bohemie
Duchesse de Luxembourg

VIII. David II Bruce, King of Scotland, to all.

Good Lords of Europe,

Fight your battles in the field not in Grammer and wars of Words.

King of Scotland

IX. Pope Benedict XII to all. Speallying.

We once considered a standard speallyng, but each scholar was so partizan each to his own forms, that we abandoned the effort.


X. Lord Chief Justice (me) to Piedmont-and-Savoy and Luxembourg. A boy and a woman who wish to spell any way they choose.

My Lord Piedmont and Savoy,
My Lady Duchesse de Luxembourg,

My reply to Earl of Grand Pre could be construed as either critical towards his spelling - as he himself took it to be - or pointing out to an irony on how a supposedly sophisticated Frenchman could compose such a nonsense without necessarily touching on his spelling/dialect/what-have-you.

Apparently the first reading is the more obvious - having been adopted by Earl of Grand Pre and taken issue by both of you, and the second the more subtle - having been unnoticed let alone grasped.

I find it rather hillariously ironic however, for one who readily validates all manner of dialects in a public message to all Christendom to have chastised me for merely substituting what would have been my "dialect" with that of Earl of Grand Pre's, and missed the second interpretation that would have been readily understood when read irrespective of the "dialect" being used.

Perhaps a reading comprehension lesson is in order for both of you?

Hereford and Essex

PS: Speaking about chivalry, courtesy, and rudeness, do you suppose Earl of Grand Pre's made-up tale about Lady du Guesclin and myself fits one of the above?

XI. Lord Marshal to Lord Chief Justice (me).

My Comte,

I must apologize to you for not taking into account the morose nature of the English Gentleman. Here on the continent we do not take tales of amour affairs as an insult. On the opposite: courtly love and chivalry are considered to be the two sides on the same coin. We, the French, also like humorous chansons. Ah, my Comte, I am so glad I was not born in England!

Grand Pre

PS there is a French saying: the smart likes to learn, while the fool likes to teach

XII. Lord Chief Justice (me) to Lord Marshal. Ransom paid, request for free passage.

My Lord Earl of Grand Pre,

Your tale would have been much more appreciated had it been an accurate battle account between Lady du Guesclin's men and mine. After all, those men whom you called "armed brutes" fought valiantly against an army seven times their number.

In any case, I just paid my ransom and used my remaining days to travel to your ancestral land of La Chesne so that I may gather more of your local custom and life. You may even meet me and perhaps we can have a friendly exchange in private, should you so desire.

I also request the ability to travel freely among Christian lands for this remaining winter and the whole spring, as is customary.

Hereford and Essex

XIII. Piedmont-and-Savoy to Lord Chief Justice (me).


I have found in long experience that when a large number of people perceive a missive as other than was intended it is almost always the sender, not the receivers, who is suffering from a communicative disorder.


P.S.-Nice try

XIV. Lord Chief Justice (me) to Piedmont-and-Savoy. Soon after sending out this letter, I finally realize that I have been writing to Caesar instead of Amadeo. Turns out that upon the death of Prince Amadeo the titles of Piedmont and Savoy passed to his regent Caesar, Duke of Normandy. The little prince and his infinite wisdom.

My Lord Piedmont and Savoy,

Long experience? Exactly how old are you, My Lord Prince?

Three or four does not qualify as "a large number." Or perhaps it does within the wisdom of your "long experience."

Communicative disorder? As in the inability to perceive duration accurately and categorize quantities correctly? Worry not, it should go away as you become mature. I hope.

Hereford and Essex

XV. Bernard IV d'Armagnac, Earl of Armagnac and Comminges, to Lord Chief Justice (me).

My Lord Essex,

In a comparison betwixt yourself and the south end of a northbound horse, you come up lacking. I must thank you though, for the fine laugh you've given my company. We truly hope you get that bothersome knot out of your undergarments very soon.


Bernard IV, Comte d'Armagnac

XVI. Lord Chief Justice (me) to Piedmont-and-Savoy. Apology for mistaken identity.

My Lord Piedmont and Savoy,

I apologize for having mistaken you as the late Prince Amadeo. For what is worth, I am taking back my last message and ceasing this rather insignificant dispute.

Hereford and Essex

XVII. Lord Chief Justice (me) to Armagnac-and-Comminges. Of domestic animals and a southern Earl.

My Lord Armagnac,

Methought a sheep's south end was the only thing you have an intimate knowledge of. I regret the error, and kindly thank you for the advice regarding knot in the undergarment. Certainly no one has more experiences in dealing with such nuisance, though I imagine no entangled threads could be more irritating than those which are molded out off a sheep's fleece.

Hereford and Essex


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