Real Time Reading

Shadow of Night Real-Time Reading – Chapters 34-35 – May 20

Hello and WELCOME BACK to the Shadow of Night Real-Time Reading! It took us a minute — but that’s because it takes Matthew and Diana a minute to get back from 16th century Prague to London. Today’s reading is tough — it’s arguably the climax of Diana’s character arc in Shadow of Night and the moment where Kit (and Louisa) are at their most despicable. Let’s go!

A blue-eyed beauty stepped forward and handed Her Majesty a cloth saturated with clove oil. With Matthew seething next to me, the spiciness in the room was already overpowering. Elizabeth placed the cloth delicately between her cheek and gums, and the woman stepped away, her green gown swishing around her ankles. It was an optimistic hue for this cloudy day in May, as if she hoped to speed summer’s arrival.

Elizabeth “Bess” Throckmorton, Lady Raleigh, was the wife of Sir Walter Raleigh. Bess and Walter met at the court of Elizabeth I, where Bess served as one of the Queen’s courtiers. Described as a “tall, unusual beauty” with a “long face, luminous eyes, and provocatively modest lips,” Bess attended on Elizabeth I as a Gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber. In the Tudor court, the Gentlewomen of the Privy Chamber attended upon and acted as companions for royal women. Ladies-in-waiting occupied positions of prestige; they partook of the Queen’s favorite pastimes and were expected to be well-educated in order to please her. Elizabeth I would reward her ladies-in-waiting for their service by arranging good marriages, however, she was extremely jealous and demanding and preferred for her courtiers not to have personal relationships.

By 1590, Bess and Walter Raleigh had become romantically involved. She became pregnant in 1591 and begged Raleigh to recognize her and ask the Queen’s permission to marry. He refused to ask the Queen’s blessing and instead married Bess in secret in November 1591.

Lady Raleigh gave birth to the couple’s son, Damerai, in March 1592. When Elizabeth I learned of the Raleighs’ betrayal, she had them both thrown in the Tower of London.

Elizabeth I reportedly expected Sir Walter and Lady Raleigh to sue for her pardon to be reinstated at court; they never did. Instead, Bess bore Walter a second son, Walter, in 1593.

King James I imprisoned Sir Walter in the Tower of London again in 1603 for his alleged participation in the Main Plot to remove James I from the throne. For the next thirteen years or so, Sir Walter lived in the Tower with Bess at his side. The couple’s third son, Carew, was born inside and christened in the Tower’s church, St. Peter ad Vincula.

King James I finally had Raleigh beheaded in 1618 at the behest of the Spanish ambassador, Count Gondomar. Allegedly, Bess carried his embalmed head around with her for the rest of her life.

For anyone who’s interested, the Outliers podcast recently published a short story about Bess Raleigh in their episode Fresh Sweat and Cloves.

“It is a miracle you have any teeth at all,” he said sternly. Elizabeth turned pink with irritation and struggled to reply.

Until I started scouring the internet in order to write today’s post, I thought that Elizabeth I’s dental issues were just a common historical anecdote trotted out every now and again to make us all shiver. Not so.

There’s some debate over how bad Elizabeth’s teeth actually were — Elizabeth I was notoriously vain and reportedly had more and more flattering portraits painted towards the end of her reign to satisfy both her ego and project the illusion of her continuing power. Did you know that Elizabeth I actually issued a “face template” for the portrait artists to follow so that she appeared consistently–and regally–in every painting? According to this article from the Smithsonian Magazine, Sir Robert Cecil once wrote,

“Many painters have done portraits of the Queen but none has sufficiently shown her looks or charms. Therefore Her Majesty commands all manner of persons to stop doing portraits of her until a clever painter has finished one which all other painters can copy. Her Majesty, in the meantime, forbids the showing of any portraits which are ugly until they are improved.”

Supposedly, Elizabeth I’s teeth rotted because her reign coincides with the introduction of refined sugar in Europe — Elizabeth I prized expensive ingredients, like sugar, and the availability of sugar from the New World in her court both satisfied her sweet tooth and gave her an opportunity to demonstrate her wealth and power.

There are, rather surprisingly, lots of articles in dental journals on Elizabeth I’s teeth and their notorious decay. Trust me, if they weren’t behind a paywall, I’d summarize them for you. In the meantime, I’ll provide you with a recipe for candied violets and other sugared flowers for appropriately Tudor entertainment.

“You’re writing about Hero and Leander.” It was not phrased as a question. Kit had probably been pining for Matthew and working on the epic love poem since we’d boarded ship at Gravesend back in January.

Marlowe’s poem Hero and Leander tells the story of Hero, a priestess of Aphrodite, and Leander, a young man from the opposite side of a strait in the Dardenelles. The legend of Hero and Leander says that Leander fell in love with Hero and swam across the strait every night to spend time with her, guided by the light of her lamp. The story ends in tragedy — after Hero and Leander spend a summer together, a winter storm blows out Hero’s lamp and Leander loses his way in the water. Leander drowns, Hero throws herself out of her tower to die with him.

The story was a popular subject for the School of Night — Marlowe wrote a poem about Hero and Leander falling in love, which George Chapman attempted to finish after Marlowe’s death. Sir Walter Raleigh also wrote of the myth in “The Ocean’s Love to Cynthia.

Kit seemed to gather his control, though his hands were shaking as he stood. “I must go. I am to meet someone in the tiltyard. There is talk of a special pageant next month before the queen sets off for her summer travels. I’ve been asked to assist.”

As the text suggests, tiltyards were “a common feature of Tudor era castles and palaces.” Elizabeth I’s father, Henry VIII, constructed a tiltyard at Hampton Court palace for the viewing of jousts and tournaments. In 2015, archeologists excavating the site at Hampton Court found a green-glazed tiled floor thought to be part of Hampton Court’s Tiltyard Towers. Elizabeth I particularly liked to host tournaments and jousts on Accession Day, 17 November, to commemorate her accession to the throne in 1558.

“A hit!” Kit cried, “The witch is mine!”

“A glancing blow,” Louisa corrected. “You must seat the lance in her body to claim her as your prize.”

As originally practiced, jousting was practice for war. According to a reenactment group in New Zealand, there are two sports — the joust of war and the joust of peace. In the joust of peace, the opponents use blunt instruments and the goal is to “break a spear” on the opponent anywhere from the waist up. You can watch History.com’s video on the Rules of the Joust below:

The Daemons covered Chapters 33-34 of Shadow of Night in Take 59! The One with the Twisted Sister. They covered Chapter 35 in Take 61! The One with the Prophecy. We covered Chapters 34-36 of Shadow of Night in Episode 35 – Mischief Pansy.

We’ll be back shortly for Chapter 36 of Shadow of Night plus the release of our next Time’s Convert episode this Sunday! In the meantime, you can find us on Twitter @chamomilenclove and on our Facebook group, the Chamomile & Clove Clovers.

See you next time!

xoxo

Cait and Jen

Podcast

Episode 74 – Morality Snag

Happy Sunday, Clovers!

Wherever you are in the world, we hope it’s a peaceful, quiet day and that you’re safe and healthy and making the best of things. Today’s episode covers Chapters 7, 10, and 13 of Time’s Convert and Phoebe Taylor’s first few days as a vampire (and as Miriam’s daughter!). Join us for a discussion of maturity, privilege, morality, and more as we see what life is like on the other side of rebirth.

Download the episode here.

You can keep in touch with us by following us on Twitter, e-mailing us at chamomileandclovecast@gmail.com, joining our Facebook group, the Chamomile & Clove Clovers, or by finding us on Instagram. We’re so excited to keep discussing Time’s Convert and what’s next for the world of All Souls and hope to see you soon.

Take care of each other,

xoxo

Cait and Jen

Real Time Reading

Shadow of Night Real-Time Reading – 10-30 April – Chapter 32

Photo by Dom . on Unsplash

In today’s Real-Time Reading, we’re getting the eff out of Prague — and with good reason. The timing of these chapters is a bit curious, as we’re supposed to have Rudolf’s musical fiasco on 10 April and escape Prague on Walpurgis Night, which takes place on 30 April. I note this only because I’m unclear on when to publish this segment in our RTR journey — but we’re going to roll with it. It’s also possible that we’re playing with our funky 16th century European calendars again, so it probably all makes sense somewhere. Onward — to bonfires and vegetable portraits!

“The humans’ Dracula–the Dragon’s son known as the Impaler–was only one of Vlad’s brood,” Matthew explained.

“The Impaler was a nasty bastard. Happily, he’s dead now, and all we have to worry about are his father, his brothers, and their Bathory allies.” Gallowglass looked somewhat cheered.

Vlad III, Dracula, the Impaler, was Voivode of Wallachia between 1448 and his death. He reportedly earned his name because impaling was his favorite method of execution. Reportedly, he impaled monks to “assist” them in reaching heaven.

There’s plenty of speculation about how Vlad III earned his bloodthirsty reputation, including the claim that he was educated–but also tortured–while held captive by the Ottomans as a young man. He apparently consolidated power in Wallachia by inviting all of his rivals and vassals to a banquet… where he murdered and impaled all of them. He was also famous for nailing the hats of Ottoman diplomats to their heads and sending people with contagious diseases (plague, leprosy) to mingle with Ottoman armies as a form of biological warfare.

Vlad III took the surname “Dracul” from his father, who adopted it after his induction into the Order of the Dragon. “Dracul” likely became “Dracula,” the vampire, when Bram Stoker learned that, in the Wallachian dialect, “dracula” means devil.

Báthory, Elizabeth
Elizabeth Bathory

As for Elizabeth Bathory, she’s a whole other kettle of fish — the world’s most prolific female murderer, accused of murdering some 650 young women between 1590-1610. There is a myth about her that claims she bathed in the blood of virgins to maintain her youth, but there appears to be a debate about whether she actually did such things or whether the story grew out of the evidence of tortured and mutilated women found at Bathory’s castle prior to the trial of her servants. Despite the remaining documents from the trial in 1611, modern scholarship questions whether Bathory actually committed the crimes attributed to her or whether the whole blood-bathing, murdery business was slander aimed at appropriating her territory. I’d rather not know.

If you wanted to, you could take a tour following the life of the “Blood Countess” in Slovakia. Tell me about it afterwards; I’ll wait right here.

“I want us all as far from Prague as possible by the time the sun rises,” Matthew said grimly. “Something is very wrong. I can smell it.”

“That may not be such a good idea. Do you not know what night it is?” Gallowglass asked. Matthew shook his head. “Walpurgisnacht. They are lighting bonfires all around the city and burning effigies of witches — unless they can find a real one, of course.”

The Czech festival of Čarodějnice, or Walpurgis night, uses effigies of the pagan goddess Morana to show that the people are sick of winter and ready for spring. Celebrants make witch figures, burn them, and spread the ashes over bodies of water… unless, as Gallowglass notes, the celebrants of certain centuries found an actual human to burn.

According to the video below (filmed, delightfully, in Czech!), celebrating Walpurgis Night involves building large bonfires, shooting rifles and cracking whips to scare off evil spirits, and ritualistically throwing torches over large fires to symbolize the evil spirits warded off by holy fire. There’s also some business about cherry trees and kissing and fertility that seems intriguing.

As many of you likely know, May 1 is sacred and celebrated in many cultures. In the Celtic tradition, May 1 is Beltane, a festival that celebrates the return of the summer (and the fertile seasons) with bonfires. Like Walpurgis Night, Beltane marks the turn of the seasons and the cleansing power of fire to bless crops and livestock, ward off evil, and its reminder of the long, warm days to come in summer.

“Matthew’s father beat him with a sword once. I saw it.” The firedrake’s wings fluttered softly within my rib cage in silent agreement. “Then he knocked him over and stood on him.”

“He must be as big as the emperor’s bear Sixtus,” Jack said, awed at the thought of anyone conquering Matthew.

It’s hard, in the age of the terribly-disturbing Tiger King, to imagine Rudolf II as anything other than a very strange man with a very large ego who derived some sort of pleasure in ripping animals (and items) from their homelands for his pleasure. This fascinating article describes “three Rudolfs” visible from history:

“1. the feeble, unstable, and impoverished monarch who began his reign by succeeding to a glamorous political inheritance but ended it a prisoner in his own castle, powerless in the Empire, evicted from Austria and Hungary, deposed even in Bohemia, where he was forced to endure the coronation tumult of his detested brother; 2. The second Rudolf is a great Maecenas, the protector of the arts and sciences, of Arcimboldo and Spranger, Kepler and Tycho Brahe (Maecenas – cultural minister at the time of Octavian); 3. The third Rudolf is different again, and seemingly much less edifying. He is a notorious patron of occult learning, who trod the paths of secret knowledge with an obsession bordering on madness.”

Vertumnus (Rudolf II) by Giuseppe Arcimboldo

The descriptions of Rudolf’s castle–and its menagerie–are fantastical. Lions, tigers, bears, apple trees, palm trees, olive trees, a maze, hedges in the shape of letters… an amazing place for anyone who visited in the 16th century. In a 2018 exhibition, the Bunkamura Museum in Japan hosted a number of artifacts from Rudolf’s fantastical collection that seem appropriate for today’s reading. First, the beautiful Orpheus Playing to the Animals (1625), allegedly inspired by the menagerie at Prague Castle. Second, this extraordinary portrait of Rudolf II as Vertumnus by court painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo. I had no idea this fellow (note the peapod eyelids and pear nose) was based on Rudolf II, nor that the Hapsburgs employed Arcimboldo for over 25 years. Vertumnus is the Roman god of seasonal change and metamorphoses — apt, I think, for a student of alchemy and the occult.

Turning back, for a moment, to Rudolf’s menagerie — the Emperor reportedly kept a favorite lion named Mohammed. Apparently, Tycho Brahe told Rudolf that he and one of the lions had a similar horoscope and would share a similar fate. Rudolf, being superstitious, reportedly locked himself in his chambers when the lion died and followed him in death three days later. It’s not covered in Shadow of Night, but it appears that Rudolf had a very strange, sad life (and some very unusual children).

We covered this chapter in Episode 34, Plot Goals. The Daemons covered this chapter in Take 58! The One with the Secret Castle Tour.

We’ll pick up again with Peter Knox in modern day Prague in our next post. In the meantime, don’t forget that our coverage of Time’s Convert begins this Sunday, April 12, 2020. You can follow us on Twitter as @chamomilenclove or join our Facebook group, the Chamomile & Clove Clovers, if you want to stay in touch.

We hope you and those you love are safe, sound, and healthy. We’re so grateful for our All Souls family and glad that you’re here. Take care of each other.

xoxo,

Cait and Jen

Real Time Reading

Shadow of Night Real-Time Reading – April 9-10 – Chapter 31

Photo by Martin Krchnacek on Unsplash

“You don’t think we’re being too philosophical?” I wondered aloud, worrying at my lip with my fingers.

“This is the court of Rudolf II,” Hoefnagel said drily. “There is no such thing as too philosophical.”

The Rudolf II of the All Souls Trilogy is complicated — a villainous, lecherous man who just happens to patronize and support some of the greatest artists of his time. The Met Museum has several of the items from Rudolf’s Kunstkammer on display to include the images featured here: the celestial globe by Gerhard Emmoser, a female nude in the style of Albrect Durer, a bronze Apollo by Adriaen de Vries, and this allegorical relief by Hans Daucher:

As this essay notes, the bulk of Rudolf’s collection was dispersed after his death — however, you can see many of the items that once belonged to his court at the Kunstkammer Museum in Vienna. Several of these items are on virtual display, including this ball runner clock by Christoph Margraf and this mechanical celestial globe by Johannes Reinhold the Elder and Georg Roll. The curator’s notes also reveal fascinating details about life in Rudolf’s court… like how he had Roll locked up in prison when the globe he delivered didn’t work as promised. Charming. True to Shadow of Night, the curator’s notes also reveal that Rudolf had, err, “a penchant for erotic-mythological subject matters” such as this extremely disturbing painting of Leda and the Swan by Joseph Heintz the Elder. I cannot unsee this.

Signor Pasetti was delighted to teach some of the court ladies a “dance of the wandering stars,” which would provide Matthew something heavenly to observe while he waited for his beloved moon to appear.

Blame quarantine, y’all, but I definitely fell down a Renaissance dance YouTube hole. Our friend Signor Pasetti did, in fact, exist (and he was the imperial dancing master for Rudolf II), but I couldn’t find any preserved examples of his choreography. What I did find was examples of the hopping dance known as the galliard and the stately pavane. Embedded below is a video that purports to demonstrate Czech folk and court dances of the Renaissance. I have no idea, as I was not there, but I’ll buy it for purposes of imagining the dance of the wandering stars.

You can learn more about Renaissance dance types (and watch helpful videos) via the U.S. Library of Congress.

“It is a mark of respect, Herr Roydon.” Rudolf placed a subtle emphasis on the name, “This once belonged to King Vladislaus and was passed on to my grandmother. The insignia belongs to a brave company of Hungarian knights known as the Order of the Defeated Dragon.”

Rudolf may be referring to the Order of the Dragon, or the Societas Draconistarum, a monarchical chivalric order founded by Sigismund von Luxembourg that sought to fight the Ottoman Empire, defend the Hungarian monarchy, and defend the Catholic Church. The order chose as its symbol the defeated dragon slain by St. George, sometimes depicted as a ouroboros with a red cross. Vlad II Dracul, Prince of Wallachia (and father of Dracula!), was a member of the order. According to Wikipedia, there aren’t many surviving historical examples of the original emblem… which is probably why my internet searches turned up a lot of very modern jewelry portraying dragons and no beautifully-embellished, jewel-encrusted chains like the one Rudolf gives Diana in 1591. I like to imagine that she left it behind and 16th Century Matthew lost it.

I tried extremely hard to find an image of the phallic cabbage root Diana mentions from the Kunstkammer, but alas — the internet failed me. In our next installment for the Real-Time Reading, we’re fleeing Prague under cover of night. I hope you packed your red hose.

Between now and then, you can find our back catalogue of episodes here or you can get in touch with us by e-mailing us, following us on Twitter, or by becoming a member of our Facebook group. As a reminder, we’re starting our chapter-by-chapter discussion of TIME’S CONVERT beginning THIS SUNDAY, 12 April 2020. We can’t wait to see what you have to say!

Until next time,

xoxo

Cait and Jen

Real Time Reading

Shadow of Night Real-Time Reading – 8-9 April – Chapter 30

Photo by David White on Unsplash

Well, friends, we’re picking up the Real-Time Reading again…. right at about the point where life (and Shadow of Night) defeated me in 2019. In 2020, returning to the RTR provides a bit of distraction and interest in a world gone decidedly pear-shaped. I hope you’re all safe, sound, and taking care of one another — we’re all in this thing together.

So let’s get to it. We return to find Matthew and Diana in Prague, playing a dangerous game with the slimy, suspicious Emperor Rudolf and exploring the wonders of the sixteenth century.

“Master Habermel stopped by. Your compendium is on the table.” Matthew didn’t look up from the plans to Prague Castle that he’d somehow procured from the emperor’s architects.

Astronomical compendia like the one Master Habermel were prized scientific and artistic objects in the sixteenth century. Assuming one had a working knowledge of mathematics, astronomy, astrology, and geography, the owner of a compendium could “plan journeys, predict the time of the sunset . . . make astrological predictions, [and] measure the heights of the stars and constellations.” The one pictured here, made by Christopher Shissler in 1561, belongs to the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Aside from their practical use, compendia like Diana’s were made for display by wealthy scientific patrons and leaders to show their mastery of the natural world and their high social status.

On Deb’s Pinterest board, she links to this specimen (made by Habermel, himself!) housed at the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford. The Habermel model is fashioned more like a book and has space for leaves of paper or other tablets to be stored or carried inside. This example has a highly-decorated drum on the exterior and a lovely inscribed sundial on top. I always imagined Diana’s compendium to be of the round, highly-decorated type with swinging arms, but I like the idea of the notebook style, too.

“These particular salamanders were a gift from the king when I returned to France late in 1541. King Francis chose the salamander in flames for his emblem, and his motto was, ‘I nourish and extinguish.'”

François Ier Louvre.jpg
Francis I of France

Francis I ruled from 1515 until his death in 1547. As a patron of the arts, he’s the reason the Louvre houses the painting Mona Lisahe invited Leonardo da Vinci to his court and the artist brought the painting along. This period at the court of Francis I appears to the the inspiration for the 1998 film Ever After, a modern adaptation of the Cinderella story starring Drew Barrymore, Anjelica Houston, Dougray Scott (where did he go, anyway?), and Jeanne Moreau.

Anyways. Francis I did, in fact, choose the salamander, a fabulous animal in the medieval bestiary, as his personal emblem. Francis’s salamander, pictured below, sported a large crown and is often depicted either “spitting out water to extinguish flames” or “swallowing flames to feed itself with good fire.”

Symbols and Emblems of the French Monarchy in 16th Century France ...
Emblem of Francis I

According to Wired.com, Pliny the Elder perpetuated the myth that salamanders could survive flames (they can’t). St. Augustine believed that the salamander was a symbol of the soul’s resistance to the fires of Hell. The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy notes that, in alchemy, the salamander was a symbol of the prima materia and provides the following verse about our slippery little lizard friends:

Ruby Salamander Brooch (Reproduction), based on the wreck of the Girona

[The Salamander] is caught and pierced

So that it dies and yields up its life with its blood.

But this, too, happens for its good;

For from its blood it wins immortal life.

And then death has no more power over it.

“In spite of her name, Diana doesn’t like hunting. But it’s no matter. I will fly the merlin,” Matthew said.

The merlin is a member of the family Falconidae sometimes called a “pigeon hawk.” They’re small — their average wingspan is 2′-2’3″ as opposed to say, a peregrine falcon, which has an average wingspan of 3’3″-3’6″. Just as Emperor Rudolf notes, the merlin was a ladies’ bird in medieval falconry; Catherine the Great of Russia and Mary, Queen of Scots, reportedly flew merlins as their hunting birds of choice. There are merlins in the wild in Europe, Asia, and North America — you can learn about how to identify them (and tell them apart from kestrels) here.

There’s a very informative video of hunting using merlins below:

The bird pictured in the video is a mature female, very similar to our Šárka in Shadow of Night.

“Her name is Šárka,” the gamekeeper whispered with a smile.

“Is she as clever as her namesake?” Matthew asked him.

“More so,” the old man answered with a grin.

The legend of Šárka comes from “The Maidens War,” a tale from Bohemia about the uprising of a group of female warriors against men. According to Wikipedia, it first appears in the twelfth century Chronica Boëmorum. In the legend, Šárka tricks an army of men guarding the tomb of the great queen Libuše by tempting them to drink mead laced with a sleeping potion. Šárka calls her female warriors to the tomb once the men have fallen asleep and together, they slaughter the leader Ctirad and his troops. There are several versions of the myth, including an operatic version where Šárka falls in love with Ctirad, goes through with killing him, then throws herself off a cliff out of remorse. While you contemplate this tale, please enjoy Czech composer Bedřich Smetana‘s symphonic poem, Šárka:

We’ll pick up the Real-Time Reading of Shadow of Night again on April 10, when Matthew and Diana stage the legend of Diana and Endymion and retrieve Ashmole 782 from Rudolf’s palace.

In the meantime, you can follow us on Twitter, join our Facebook group, the Chamomile & Clove Clovers, or you can e-mail us at chamomileandclovecast@gmail.com.

xoxox

Jen and Cait