Real Time Reading, Uncategorized

SON Real-Time Reading – 5 November – Chapters 5 and 6

zoltan-tasi-482489-unsplashZoltan Tasi

Chapter 5

“And Berwick? You told me there was no danger of being caught up in a witch-hunt.”

“Nothing in Berwick will affect us here,” Matthew assured me. 

Should it surprise anyone that the fear and suspicion of powerful men started the panic that became the Berwick witch trials of the late 16th century? Sigh. According to The Scotsman, James VI had an influential role to play in the start of a terrible phenomenon that condemned dozens of innocent people:

After having tried and failed on numerous ocassions to bring his prospective bride, the 14-year-old Anne of Denmark, to Scotland due to storms at sea, he suspected witchcraft at work. Suspicion initially fell on Geillis Duncan, a local maid who had been seen practicing healing (from which it was deduced that she could also harm). Under torture, she implicated three others in sorcery, and proof of her witchcraft had been established via ‘the Devil’s mark’ discovered on her neck.

Bonus points if you recognize the name “Geillis Duncan” and the idea of the “Devil’s Mark.” The podcast below gives you some insight into the origins of the Berwick Witch Trials:

The appearance of Francoise and Charles forestalled further conversation. Francoise had fragrant gingerbread and spiced wine for the warmbloods.

Leave it to the de Clermont family servants to break up the brewing tension between Gallowglass, Hancock, and the School of Night. The 16th century preference for spiced wine may have some relationship to the aforementioned humorous theory of gastronomy — drinking wine steeped with earthy, hot spices was supposed to balance a cold, wet temperament and make you more balanced from the inside out. In my case, the balance would go the opposite direction. Spiced wine was often steeped with fragrant aromatics like cinnamon, ginger, galangal, nutmeg, cloves, grains of paradise, and pepper. Cooks steeped the wine with the spices and then strained it until the liquid ran clear. You can find a recipe for spiced wine here. For a more modern recipe (perfect for the cooling, crisping weather), try Wine Enthusiast.

“Baldwin?” Gallowglass gave a dedicate shiver. “Even before I became a wearh, I knew better than to let that monster near by neck. Hugh de Clermont was my father. For your information, my people were Úlfhéðnar, not berserkers. 

According to Wikipedia, the Úlfhéðnar appear in the legends of Indo-European cultures as wolf warriors. These men allegedly went into battle clad in helms made of wolf pelts. The Úlfhéðnar, a shamanic group, underwent ritual transformations between life and death and were rumored to go into battle naked except for their pelts, brandishing spears. Oof, what an image. If you’re curious, there’s also a metal band out of Italy called Ulfhednar — writers of uplifting songs such as RULERS OF DARKNESS and ADDICTED TO TRAGEDY.

As a note, I wanted to include more stuff about Gallowglass’s people — but the internet is full of racist nonsense derived from Norse mythology. We don’t truck with that shit, and I gave up on separating the good from the bad after an hour. Sorry, y’all. Any Norse mythology scholars amongst the Clovers? If so, hit me up.

Mr. Danforth reached into his black robes and pulled out a tattered sheaf of papers. It was no more than a few dozen sheets crudely stitched together with coarse string. Time and heavy use had softened the papers’ fibers, fraying the edges and turning the pages gray. I was too far away to make out the title page. All three vampires saw it, though. So did George, who blanched. 

“That’s part of the Malleus Maleficarum. I did not know that your Latin was good enough to comprehend such a difficult work, Mr. Danforth.” Matthew said. It was the most influential witch-hunting manual ever produced, and a title that struck terror into a witch’s heart. 

Written in 1486, the Malleus Maleficarum (HAMMER OF WITCHES) sold more copies than the Bible up until 1678 (yikes). The book is responsible for the mass shift from the persecution of evil deeds accomplished through witchcraft to the punishment of all forms of witchcraft. Prior to its publication, the majority of witch-hunts were conducted under the aegis of the church.image According to this website from Mt. Holyoke University, the Maleficarum had three parts: (1) the theological basis for hunting witches (they have intimate relations with the Devil, obvs); (2) how to prevent harm done by witches (protect yo cattle, folks); and (3) how to try and convict witches (PROSECUTE VIGOROUSLY. ACQUIT NO ONE).

During witch trials based on the Maleficarum, examiners (almost exclusively male) shaved women’s heads to look for devil’s marks and stripped them to look for “instruments” of witchcraft.

Remember when I made Jen hold up the MM at All Souls Con?

Then, of course, came the popular attempts at burning and drowning — if you can burn a woman, she might be dead, but she’s not a witch. Comforting, non?

If you’re desperate for more (are you?), you can read the full text of the Malleus Maleficarum here. It’s even in PDF format — portable for your next witch hunt!

That is a joke.

No witch hunts.

Chapter 6

“A spy?” I repeated numbly.

“We prefer to be called intelligencers,” Kit said tartly.

“Shut it, Marlowe,” Hancock growled, “or I’ll stop that mouth for you.”

Elizabeth’s England was a dangerous place —  and no less so for the Queen, herself. Elizabeth spent much of her reign dodging assassination plots — it is a testament to the success of her intelligence network that she died quietly in 1603. According to Stephen Alford, author of The Watchers: A Secret History of the Reign of Elizabeth I, “Elizabethan spies were employed on an ad hoc basis and paid by results, a method which inevitably produced wildly exaggerated scare stories.” Apparently, many spies were “bankrupts who began and ended their careers in prison;” it fits with the AST version of Kit that he might have fallen into “intelligencing” as a means to keep his numerous creditors at bay. The National Archives has a brief, but interesting, online exhibit on Antony Standen, an Elizabethan spy responsible for helping the queen defeat the Spanish Armada. There’s also a bit on the cipher Mary, Queen of Scots, used to correspond with her supporters.

“I became the queen’s agent later, when she sent Walsingham back to Paris. He was supposed to be brokering Her Majesty’s marriage to one of the Valois princes.” Matthew snorted. “It was clear that the queen had no real interest in the match. It was during that visit that I learned of Walsingham’s network of intelligencers.” 

Sir Francis Walsingham (1532-1590), popularly remembered as Elizabeth I’s spymaster, served as one of the Queen’s primary ministers advising her on domestic and foreign policy. He was a fervent Protestant known for his ambitious, aggressive advice to the Queen.

As previously mentioned, the reign of Elizabeth I represented a turbulent time in European politics. In 1559, the kingdoms of England, France, Denmark, and Portugal all lost their monarchs and the Church installed a new pope. The effects of the Reformation spread far and wide and ordinary people — previously quiet and obedient — began to question the authority of sovereigns and stage insurrections.  imageElizabeth stayed ahead of this turmoil by employing spies and by playing a very peculiar game — so long as she could be seen attempting to broker a marriage with a Catholic prince, she bought herself time and insurance against assassination by Catholic loyalists. Despite his Protestant loyalties, Sir Walsingham went to Paris in 1570 to attempt to negotiate the match between Elizabeth I and Henry, Duke of Anjou (brother of Charles IX of France). As Matthew told Diana, the marriage negotiations fell through and Walsingham returned home.

Walsingham is probably best remembered for his role in entrapping (and securing the execution of) Mary, Queen of Scots, by thwarting the Babington Plot, a plan to assassinate Elizabeth I and place Mary on the English throne. Anthony Babington and John Ballard, co-conspirators, sent Mary — imprisoned for 19 years by her cousin Elizabeth — a letter proposing Elizabeth’s untimely demise. Mary replied and agreed to the scheme. Unbeknownst to all, the courier carrying Mary’s mail was one of Walsingham’s spies. Walsingham effectively incriminated (and then eliminated) Mary, who accused him of entrapment during her trial; the post-script stating that she authorized the assassination may have been forged. She was executed in 1587.  You can learn more about the Babington Plot from the documentary, below.


“No.” My eyes were drawn by the crimson stain on Matthew’s neck. “If Matthew is going to France, I’m going with him.”

“Absolutely not. I’m not dragging you through a war.”

Matthew is referring to the French Wars of Religion, which raged from 1562-98. Technically, the period refers to eight distinct wars between the Catholics and the Huguenots starting with the massacre of Protestants worshiping in Wassy in 1562 and ending with the Edict of Nantes in 1598. The Edict of Nantes guaranteed a measure of civil tolerance for religious difference between Catholics and Protestants and peace between the warring factions of France. I am particularly fond of this wee presentation on the French Wars of Religion from the Education Portal — it’s quick and easy and has stick figures, so yay:

We’ll leave Matthew and Diana for now as they begin their journey to France (and Philippe!). On 7 November, we’ll tackle Chapter 7, and then we’ll look at Chapter 8 from 8 November through 26 November.

We covered Chapters 6-7 and the end of Section I in Episode 22 — So Much Kit to Come. The Daemons covered Chapter 6 in Take 30! The One With the Non-Berserker.

We’ll see you on 7 November for Chapter 7!

Enjoying our real-time reading posts? Let us know by e-mailing us at, by tweeting us @chamomilenclove, or by joining our Facebook group, the Clovers.


Cait and Jen


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