Saturday, July 22, 2017

Shadows in a Timeless Myth Presents Grace O'Malley Defiant Pirate Queen of Ireland

Castle Carrig-a-Hooly was the stronghold of Grace O'Malley the Celtic Pirate Queen of the island of Clare in Ireland.

The nearby monastery of Burrishoole is said to have been her burial-place, and there her skull was for a long time preserved as a precious relic, but it is also stated that, together with those of many others buried there, her bones were stolen and being carted to Scotland and ground up for manure, enriching the land and used to stop the chinks and keep the wind away.

It was well for the thieves here that they worked and escaped in the night, for such desecration would have resulted in their quick dispatch had the superstitious peasantry caught them.

Many of the latter believe that the skull of the Queen was miraculously restored to its niche in the abbey, but if so it has mouldered into dust long since. However, the skulls still to be seen here are regarded with deep veneration and are often borrowed by the peasantry to boil milk in, which being served to the sick one is a sure antidote for all ills.


This castle of Queen Grace, like so many old towers, is supposed to cover buried treasures, guarded at night by a mounted horseman. There is, however, another scene in her life which, whilst not productive of such results as the one at Carrig-a-Hooly, must have been picturesque and startling in the extreme.

Imagine the court of the great Elizabeth, with the daughter of Henry VIII. on the throne in all the heyday of her fuss and feathers, robed gorgeously and wearing a great farthingale—beneath the hem of her short skirt one notes the jewelled buckles on her high-heeled shoes,—from her pallid face flash a pair of reddish eyes and above her pallid brow her red hair is piled high and adorned with many of the pearls and jewels which have come into her possession from the robbery of her Scottish prisoner by the rebel lords. Huge butterfly wings of gauze rise from the shoulders but give nothing ethereal to the appearance of the sovereign,—Elizabeth was of the earth earthy. Around her are grouped all the splendid of that golden age,—the grave prime minister, Cecil Burleigh, the gallant Leicester, the boy Essex, the splendid Sir Philip Sidney, together with all the foreign diplomats and beautiful women of the court.

In the space before her stands an equally imperious figure,—the sovereign of this island of Clare.
The Queen of England has just offered to make her a countess, and we can imagine the half amazed and wholly amused expression of her majestic countenance when the offer is coolly refused with the remark that "I consider myself just as great a Queen as your Majesty."

Then the Irishwoman went home and did things, short, sharp, and to the point, effective: secured possession of all the fortified castles of the island and all the treasures and men at arms, and then dismissed her husband of only one year.

It had been agreed on her marriage that either party could terminate the matrimonial arrangement at a year's end by a simple announcement to the other. On the day in question the countess observed from one of the loopholes of Carrig-a-Hooly the approach of her liege lord, and thereupon, to surely forestall such action on his part, hailed him and announced that "all was off" between them, making no mention of a return of any of the castles, men, or treasures be they his or not. She should have been Queen of Scotland. She would promptly have settled the cases of each and every rebel lord from Moray down, and John Knox would have heard a truth or two which would have made his ears tingle,—neither could her Majesty of England have meddled so easily in the affairs of the northern kingdom.

Compiled from sources in the public domain.

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Smiles & Good Fortune,
Teresa
************************************
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Shadows In A Timeless Myth Present Roxelana, The Murderous Sultana

Ibrahim, Grand Vizier,  was the only trusted counselor of Suleiman the Magnificient. He who had been originally a slave had risen step by step in the favour of his master until he arrived at the giddy eminence which he occupied at the time of his death. It is a somewhat curious commentary on the essentially democratic status of an autocracy that a man could thus rise to a position second only to that of the autocrat himself; and, in all probability, wielding quite as much power.

Ibrahim had for years been treated by Suleiman more as a brother than as a dependent, which, in spite of his Grand Viziership, he was in fact. They lived in the very closest communion, taking their meals together, and even sleeping in the same room, Suleiman, a man of high intelligence himself, and a ruler who kept in touch with all the happenings which arose in his immense dominions, desiring always to have at hand the man whom he loved; from whom, with his amazing grip of political problems and endless fertility of resource, he was certain of sympathy and sound advice. But in an oriental despotism there are other forces at work besides those of la haute politique, and Ibrahim had one deadly enemy who was sworn to compass his destruction. The Sultana Roxelana was the light of the harem of the Grand Turk. This supremely beautiful woman, originally a Russian slave, was the object of the most passionate devotion on the part of Suleiman; but she was as ambitious as she was lovely, and brooked no rival in the affections of Suleiman, be that person man, woman, or child. In her hands the master of millions, the despot whose nod was death, became a submissive slave; the undisciplined passions of this headstrong woman swept aside from her path all those whom she suspected of sharing her influence, in no matter how remote a fashion. At her dictation had Suleiman caused to be murdered his son Mustafa, a youth of the brightest promise, because, in his intelligence and his winning ways he threatened to eclipse Selim, the son of Roxelana herself.

This woman possessed a strong natural intelligence, albeit she was totally uneducated; she saw and knew that Ibrahim was all-powerful with her lover, and this roused her jealousy to fever-heat. She was not possessed of a cool judgment, which would have told her that Ibrahim was a statesman dealing with the external affairs of the Sublime Porte, and that with her and with her affairs he neither desired, nor had he the power, to interfere. What, however, the Sultana did know was that in these same affairs of State her opinion was dust in the balance when weighed against that of the Grand Vizier.

Suleiman had that true attribute of supreme greatness, the unerring aptitude for the choice of the right man. He had picked out Ibrahim from among his immense entourage, and never once had he regretted his choice. As time went on and the intellect and power of the man became more and more revealed to his master, that sovereign left in his hands even such matters as despots are apt to guard most jealously. We have seen how, in spite of the murmurings of the whole of his capital, and the almost insubordinate attitude of his navy, he had persevered in the appointment of Kheyr-ed-Din Barbarossa, because the judgment of Ibrahim was in favour of its being carried out. This, to Roxelana, was gall and wormwood; well she knew that, as long as the Grand Vizier lived, her sovereignty was at best but a divided one. There was a point at which her blandishments stopped short; this was when she found that her opinion did not coincide with that of the minister. She was, as we have seen in the instance of her son, not a woman to stick at trifles, and she decided that Ibrahim must die.

There could be no hole-and-corner business about this; he must die, and when his murder had been accomplished she would boldly avow to her lover what she had done and take the consequences, believing in her power over him to come scatheless out of the adventure. In those days, when human life was so cheap, she might have asked for the death of almost any one, and her whim would have been gratified by a lover who had not hesitated to put to death his own son at her dictation. But with Ibrahim it was another matter; he was the familiar of the Sultan, his alter ego in fact. It says much for the nerve of the Sultana that she dared so greatly on this memorable and lamentable occasion.

On March 5th, 1536, Ibrahim, went to the royal seraglio, and, following his ancient custom, was admitted to the table of his master, sleeping after the meal at his side. At least so it was supposed, but none knew save those engaged in the murder what passed on that fatal night; the next day his dead body lay in the house of the Sultan.

Across the floor of jasper, in that palace which was a fitting residence for one rightly known as “The Magnificent,” the blood of Ibrahim flowed to the feet of Roxelana. The disordered clothing, the terrible expression of the face of the dead man, the gaping wounds which he had received, bore witness that there had taken place a grim struggle before that iron frame and splendid intellect had been levelled with the dust. This much leaked out afterwards, as such things will leak out, and then the Sultana took Suleiman into her chamber and gazed up into his eyes. The man was stunned by the immensity of the calamity which had befallen him and his kingdom, but his manhood availed him not against the wiles of this Circe. Ibrahim had been foully done to death in his own palace, and this woman clinging so lovingly around his neck now was the murderess. The heart’s blood of his best friend was coagulating on the threshold of his own apartment when he forgave her by whom his murder had been accomplished. This was the vengeance of Roxelana, and who shall say that it was not complete?


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Smiles & Good Fortune,
Teresa
************************************
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Shadows In A Timeless Myth Presents Queen Zenobia - A Poem

 ZENOBIA


By ADA IDDINGS GALE.


Midst clash of arms, she comes, and glittering spear,
Bold, bright and beautiful, her flashing eye;
Crowned, gemmed and robed in cloth of Tyrian dye.
Palmyra’s pride, unequaled far or near.
Proudly she moves and with imperious mien
Views with a sweeping glance each column o’er,
While they in rapture kneeling do adore,
And rising, vow allegiance to their queen.
The trumpet’s peal, a thousand helmets shine,
The long ranks into perfect order pass,
And at the command move on. Alas!
That fortune’s star for such should e’er decline,
That pomp of pride, that dreams of regal sway
Should like the mists of morning melt away.

Compiled from sources in the public domain.
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Smiles & Good Fortune,
Teresa
************************************
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Shadows In a Timeless Myth Presents Julia Gonzaga Duchess and Pirate's Plunder

JULIA GONZAGA, DUCHESS AND PIRATE'S PLUNDER

The Grand Turk had spoken, the appointment had been made, Barbarossa had arrived; but though autocrats can cause their mandate to be obeyed, they cannot constrain the inward workings of the minds of men. In spite of the awe in which Soliman the Magnificent was held, there were murmurs of discontent in the capital of Islam. The Sultan had been advised to make Barbarossa his Admiralissimo by his Grand Vizier Ibrahim, who was, as we have said, his alter ego. This great man had risen from the humblest of all positions, that of a slave, to the giddy eminence to which he had now attained by the sheer strength of his intellect and personality. The Grand Vizier it was who had pointed out to his master that which was lacking in the Ottoman navy: brave men and desperate fighters he had in plenty, but the seaman who cleared the Golden Horn and made his way through the archipelago into the open sea beyond had forces with which to contend against which mere valour was but of small avail. Out there, somewhere behind the blue line of the horizon, did Andrea Doria lie in wait; and if the Moslem seaman should escape the clutches of the admiral of the Christian Emperor, were there not those others, the Knights of Malta, who, under the leadership of Villiers de L’lsle Adam, swept the tideless sea in an unceasing and relentless hostility to every nef, fusta, and galley which flew the flag of the Prophet?

Who, it was asked in Constantinople, was this man who had been called in to command the ships of the Ottomans at sea? They answered their own question, and said that he was a lawless man, a corsair: were there not good seamen and valiant men-at-arms like the Bashas Zay and Himeral, who should be preferred before him; this man who had come from the ends of the earth, and of whom nobody knew anything good? Again, could he be trusted? Something of the history of the Barbarossas had penetrated to the capital of Turkey, and it was known that scrupulous adherence to their engagements had not always characterised the brothers: who should say that he might not carry off the galleys of the Grand Turk on some marauding expedition designed for his own aggrandisement? There was yet more to be urged against him: not only was he infamous in character, but he was no true Mussulman, for had not his father been a mere renegado, and—worst of all—had not his mother been a Christian woman?

The following description of the famous corsair may be found interesting at this juncture.
Barbarossa was at this time seventy-seven years of age. Courageous and prudent, he was as far-seeing in war as he was subtle in peace. A tireless worker, he was, above all things, constant in reverse of fortune, for no difficulties dismayed him, no dangers had power to daunt his spirit. His ruddy skin, his bushy eyebrows, his famous red beard, now plentifully streaked with white, his square, powerful frame, somewhat inclined to stoutness, above all, his penetrating and piercing eyes, gave to his aspect a certain terror before which men trembled and women shrank appalled.

All this harmonised well with his reputation as a chief so resolute, so pitiless, that it was the boast of his followers that his very name shouted in battle put to flight the Christian vessels. His smile was fine and malicious, his speech facile, revealing beneath the rude exterior of the corsair the subtle man of affairs, who, from nothing, had made himself King of Algiers, and was now, by the invitation of Soliman the Magnificent, Admiralissimo of the Ottoman navy.

Well may Jurien de la Gravière say that “in the sixteenth century even the pirates were great men.”
It has been stated that in speech Barbarossa was facile. He was not only so, but he possessed a power of addressing such a man as Soliman in terms which, while delicately flattering that mighty monarch, gave him also a lead which he might follow in the future disposition of such power as he possessed at sea.

On his return from Aleppo Kheyr-ed-Din was received in audience by the Sultan. We must be pardoned if we give the long speech which he addressed to his new master in its entirety; and we have to remember that the man who made it was now an old man who, all his life, had been absolutely free and untrammelled, owing allegiance to no one, following out his own caprices, and sweeping out of his path any whom he found sufficiently daring as to disagree with him. That this ruthless despot should have been able so to change the whole style and manner of his address so late in life is only one proof the more of the marvellous gifts which he possessed.
It was in the following words that the corsair addressed the Sultan:

“If Heaven is favourable to my vows, the Spaniards will soon be chased from Africa; the Carthaginians, the Moors, will soon be your very submissive subjects; Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, will obey your will. As for Italy, it will soon be desolated by famine when I attack it in formidable force, without fearing that the Christian Princes will come to its aid.
“Mahomet II., your illustrious grandfather, formed the project of conquering this country; he would have succeeded had he not been carried off by death. If I counsel you, dread Sovereign, that you should carry war into Europe and Africa, it is not that I desire your arms should be turned back in Asia from against the Persians, the ancient enemies of the Ottomans. I require but your sea-army, which is no use against the Persians. While you shall be conquering Asia I shall be subduing Africa.
“When I besiege Tunis I shall present him to the inhabitants, who love him as much as they hate Muley Hassan. They will open their gates to me, and I shall gain the town without the loss of a single man: it will be then you who will be master. On my way thither I will do what harm I can to the Christians; I will endeavour to defeat Andrea Doria, who is my personal enemy and my rival in glory: should I succeed in defeating him your Majesty will possess the empire of the sea. Be then persuaded, great Prince, by me, and believe that he who is master of the sea will very shortly become master on land.”



It was in July 1534 that the Ottoman fleet left Constantinople, and Kheyr-ed-Din began operations by a descent upon Reggio, which he sacked. On August 1st he arrived at the Pharos of Messina, where he burnt some Christian ships and captured their crews; then he worked north from Reggio to Naples, ravaging the coast and depopulating the whole littoral, burning villages, destroying ships, enslaving people. In this expedition he is said to have captured eleven thousand Christian slaves. There is perhaps nothing more amazing in the whole history of this epoch than the number of the slaves captured by the corsairs, and the damnable cruelties exercised upon them; these were, of course returned by the Christians with interest whenever possible. As an instance of the treatment to which the slaves were subjected it is only necessary to mention the course taken by Barbarossa when he left Algiers in the previous year. There were at that time seven thousand Christian captives in his power; immediately before starting he had the entire number paraded before him, and, under the pretext of having discovered a plot, which in no circumstances could possibly have existed, owing to the supervision of the slaves, he caused twenty of them to be beheaded on the spot in order to strike terror into the remainder during his absence.

Back to the Golden Horn streamed ship after ship laden with plunder and with slaves. “The veritable man of the sea” was proving the correctness of the choice of the Sultan, the acumen of the Grand Vizier who had recommended his appointment. Barbarossa was determined to leave nothing undone to prove to Soliman that his choice had indeed been a worthy one when he had selected him as admiral of his fleet: also he had in his mind those others who spoke slightingly of him as “the African pirate”; they should know as well as their master of what this pirate was capable. Northward the devastating host of Barbarossa took its way; the fair shores of Italy smoked to heaven as the torches of the corsairs fired the villages. Blood and agony, torture and despair, followed ever on the heels of the Sea-wolves of the Mediterranean. And now a fresh pack had been loosed, as it was, of course, in enormously increased strength that Barbarossa returned to the scene of so many of his former triumphs.

Plunder and slaves were all very well in their way, and acceptable enough on the shores of the Golden Horn; but Kheyr-ed-Din had a pet project in view on this particular cruise, which was to capture Julia Gonzaga and to present her to Soliman for his harem. The lady destined by him for this pleasant fate was reported to be the loveliest woman in Europe, a fitting gift for such an one as the Grand Turk. The fame of her surpassing loveliness had reached even the corsairs. She was the widow of Vespasian Colonna, Duchess of Trajetto, and Countess of Fundi; she had now been a widow since 1528, and lived at Fundi, some ninety miles north-east of Naples. Barbarossa laid his plans with his accustomed acuteness, and it was only through an accident that they miscarried.

There was one undeniable advantage in the system which swept off into slavery the whole of the inhabitants of a country-side, and that was, if at any time you required a guide at any particular point on the coast, he was sure to be forthcoming from one of the vessels in the fleet. Now Barbarossa did not exactly know where Julia Gonzaga was to be found, so he set his captains to work to discover the necessary slave. This was soon accomplished, and there was really no occasion for a slave on this occasion, as a renegado of Naples knew the castle in which Julia Gonzaga was residing at the time, and readily agreed to act as guide to the expedition sent to accomplish her capture. Kheyr-ed-Din had made a sudden dash along the coast with some of the swiftest of his galleys for the purposes of this capture. In consequence the people in Naples and the neighbourhood were not even aware that the piratical squadron was on the coast before they anchored, as near as it was practicable to do, to the residence of the Duchess of Trajetto. The fleet actually arrived after dark, having kept out to sea and out of sight during the day.

As soon as the anchors were down a party of two thousand picked men were landed and marched silently and with all expedition to the castle of Fundi. The escape of the Duchess was really providential. She had already gone to bed, and the fierce marauders were actually within the grounds of the castle before her distracted people became aware of their presence. But fortunately136 some among them kept their heads, and it also so happened that her bed-chamber was the opposite side of the castle to that by which the pirates approached. A horse was brought round under the window of the room, and, in her night-dress with nothing but a shawl wrapped around her, was Julia Gonzaga lowered out of her window on to the back of her horse. As she galloped for dear life down the avenue of her home she heard the shrieks of her miserable household murdered in cold blood by the furious pirates who had thus been balked of their prey.*

Dire was the vengeance taken by the corsairs. They sacked Fundi and burned the town; they killed every man on whom they could lay their hands, and carried off the women and girls to the fleet.
Kheyr-ed-Din was furious with anger and disappointment. “What is the value of all this trash?” he demanded, with a thundering oath, of the commander of the unsuccessful raiders, surveying as he spoke the miserable, shivering women and girls. “I sent you out to bring back a pearl without price, and you return with these cattle.”

Thus balked of his prey, Barbarossa swung his fleet round to the southward and westward and sailed for Sardinia, where, from the Straits of Bonifacio to Cape Spartivento, he left no house standing that would burn, or man alive who was not swept in as a captive. The descent of the corsairs in force, such as Kheyr-ed-Din now had at his disposal, was one of the most awful calamities for a country that it is possible to imagine.

*It has been told that she escaped with a single knight and later had him killed for seeing her nearly naked during her escape. There is also speculation that Barbarossa's attempt may have been motivated by members of the of her deceased husband's family, who wished to recover their lands after his death.The following year the young widow, who successfully escaped entering the harem of Suleiman the Magnificient, entered a convent.

Compiled from sources in the public domain.

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Smiles & Good Fortune,
Teresa
************************************
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Shadows in a Timeless Myth Presents Four Exciting Chances to Win!


Shadows in a Timeless Myth is a modern day tale of love, horror and survival whose roots lay in the distant past. It is the tale of three immortals who dared defy the Fates...and the humans who paid a tragic price.  

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Smiles & Good Fortune,
Teresa
************************************
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Shadows In A Timeless Myth Presents Lady Arabella Stuart


LADY ARABELLA STUART

One of the most familiar names to the student of English history is that of Lady Arabella Stuart, who was long a constant source of alarm to James I., because she was born near the throne. She never urged her claim nor appeared to covet the crown; daughter of Charles, Earl of Lennox, and cousin to the King, she inherited a full share of the beauty and misfortunes of her race. A lovely girl, full of wit and grace, gifted with the gentle art of making friends, she was the life of a lifeless court.

Many matches were proposed to the sovereign, who had power to make or break a marriage for her. Suitors of various rank and countries knelt at her feet, and it was told that even Henri the Great of France had dreams of seating the blue-eyed Countess with the wavy tresses on the throne of Charlemagne.

So passed her youth; and in her thirty-fifth year James, by way of banter, told the maiden she had remained fancy free to suit him long enough; she might now wed whom she would. Poets, adventurers, courtiers, and knights of high lineage kissed her white hand, but came no nearer the heart, which beat faster for none but William Seymour, afterward Marquis of Hertford, a youth of twenty-three years. Only the stars were witness as they sealed their vows and oath, and the secret kept well for a season. But a bird in the air carried the matter to Windsor, and Seymour was arrested and brought before the Council to answer for the outrage—betrothal in secrecy.

He denied everything; swore he had not thought of anything but pastime. What did he want with a wife ten years older than himself? And so the rumor was forgotten with other court gossip.
They thought the King would give up his nonsense, for Seymour was from one of the proudest families of Europe, and there was no reason in this opposition; besides, he had consented to a wedding. But no relenting was admitted by James, and in July, 1610, a poor priest was found and bribed to risk his neck by going through the marriage ceremony for the lovers.


After a year of concealment the news reached the King's ear. He was enraged; the priest was thrown into prison, the two witnesses present were arrested, and the offending pair parted in the first sweetness of the honeymoon. Seymour was sent to St. Thomas's Tower on the river. He was furnished handsome apartments, with plates, hangings, books, luxurious belongings; and the Countess was lodged in a fine house on the Thames, with attendance and surroundings as became her rank; allowed every freedom—except freedom.

Indifferent to the elegancies about her, the bride wrote tender and passionate letters to her bridegroom, but he answered never a word. Sweet William made no sign, sent no love-gift. He wrote only to the Lords of the Council, praying to be restored to liberty, that his health would be lost if he were not freed, and busied his days making himself comfortable in the chambers over the Traitors' Gate of London Tower, his wife's money paying the bills.

One dull, foggy day she quietly stepped into a common barge and floated down the river to the barred window on the wharf, where she might make signs to him who did not appear bold enough to plan an escape, and returned safely to her castle. The brave movement could not be concealed, and in his wrath the King ordered a dozen counties to be put between his cousin and the defiant prisoner looking with despair at the water-gates.

Sadly did the tearful blue eyes turn to the bleak and frozen North, while sentinels doubled their watch on the square tower built over the moat. Such was his Majesty's pleasure.

Lady Arabella's attendants were devoted, ready to brave death itself for their mistress; her soft, kind manner never failed to win where self-love had not taken too deep a hold. Day and night, while she sighed her soul away, they schemed and planned to open a path to reunion in the pleasant land of France, where they might be at peace in banishment. At last she slipped off, well provided by her aunt, the Countess of Shrewsbury, with costly jewels current in any country, and with good English gold to lavish on any who might espouse her cause. She glided down the Thames, reached the Channel, by arrangement was taken on a light French bark; but the open water in front of Calais was not for the hapless bride. Captain Corvè did his best; his little craft was no match for the swift war-ship Adventure in pursuit. Gallantly he fought wind and wave, but Admiral Monson outsped him, and after thirteen shots were fired, he struck his flag, and the crew of the victorious vessel boarded the bark which carried the royal lady.

She gracefully yielded herself prisoner to James, King of England, consoled by the thought that he whom she loved better than life was so well disguised, and his plot so well laid, that he was safe in French port.

"Where is William, Earl of Seymour?" demanded Monson, Admiral in command of the chase.
Lady Arabella smiled.

"I cannot tell, but I believe he is beyond the reach of his enemies and mine."

So she was marched to the Tower, into rooms once occupied by Margaret Douglas, the common grandmother of the King and herself.

When brought before the Lords she was mild and patient, yet asked with becoming spirit why she, a free woman of royal blood, should be held a criminal and separated from her lawful husband.
The furious King seized her jewels and money; and her two companions in the flight, gentlemen by birth, were dragged to the torture-chamber of the Tower, and forced to confess what they knew of the perilous attempt.

The tale of Seymour's changes of wig and cloak, in various disguises and places, is too long to tell here. Delighted with liberty and with France, he seemed to mourn the loss of his bride less than the loss of her jewels and money, for William dearly loved to loiter in the delicate plain called Ease, and lie in the soft places gold can buy. The calculating fellow found his high name a passport in Paris, which city was vastly amusing, and so was the staid but not less delightful capital of the Belgians.
In the damp old rooms of her grandmother Lady Arabella languished five years. The third year an escape was arranged, and when the time was ripe and success appeared assured she was betrayed, and the venture ended in nothing but harsher treatment. While "William, dearest," danced the night away, she wore out the dark hours writing prayers to the King, who deigned no answer.

Like other high-born dames, she was skilled in cunning needle-work, and many a doleful day was spent stitching gay silks into canvas, making a bright broidery, offered as a souvenir to the man who imprisoned her; but the King would not touch the pretty gift. The courtesy did not move him any more than her demand to be tried by her peers, according to law, in open-court, instead of by a Committee of the Council sitting with closed doors.

When the tapestry came back rejected the blue eyes grew dimmer, and her cheek paled with the heart-sickness of hope deferred, or rather of despair, and it was rumored that the daughter of the House of Stuart had met her doom in madness. Sorriest of all the history is that the youthful husband forgot his too-loving wife. The letters full of tenderness reached the trifler at European courts, and lay unanswered. The low-browed villain Wood, who had her in charge, knew the death of his captive would please King James and the courtiers who lived on his smiles. His small mind lent itself to all sorts of petty annoyances and means to make imprisonment unwholesome. She must not walk, nor have her own attendants, nor food and dress befitting the near kinswoman of queens, though the offended monarch generously had the ceiling of her room "mended to keep out wind and rain."
The forlorn lady passed from deep melancholy to spasms that touched her brain. Even in such pitiful condition she was closely watched and guarded by the nervous coward, who pretended to believe there was an Arabella plot, with Raleigh at its head, secreted in the Tower.

For a year the insane Countess lived, gentle and harmless, chattering like a little child. Her one amusement was singing songs of love and longing, learned in happy days, with the lute, whose trembling strings made the saddest strains ear ever heard. The heart-breaking music softened even her jailer; he grew compassionate, and she wandered at will through the doleful halls and the garden. But the wan face never brightened; she faded slowly, drooped, and died.


In the chill midnight of autumn her wornout body was brought by the black-flowing river to Westminster Abbey, in a miserable coffin without a plate, and laid away in that sanctuary with no ceremony, not even a prayer. "For," says a loyal courtier, "to have had a great funeral for one dying out of favor with the King would reflect on the King's honor."

After a troubled life she sleeps well in the tomb of her ill-starred family, close beside the dust of her grandmother, Margaret Douglas. Her coffin lies across and flattens the leaden casket which holds the headless corpse of her great-aunt Mary, unhappy Queen of Scots. Neither name nor date is above her breast, and the skull and bones were plainly seen below the rotten wood in 1868 (a ghastly sight!) when the vaults were searched for the remains of James I.

Her persecutor rests near his victim. The enemies are at one now. The strange peace of death which ends all feuds has brought them together, and their restless hearts lie still, awaiting the coming of the Angel of the Resurrection.

The period of which I write is sometimes called the good old times. I call it the bad old times.

Compiled from sources in the public domain.

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Smiles & Good Fortune,
Teresa
************************************
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Shadows In A Timeless Myth Presents Mary Queen of Scots

MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS.

James V., of Scotland, was dangerously ill owing to severe disappointments and defeats experienced in his border war with Henry VIII., of England, and dying at Falkland, when, on the 8th of December, 1542, a message came to him from Linlithgow Palace, stating that his Queen, Mary of Guise, had a baby daughter. The king, rendered sorrowful by his trials and his sickness, replied, in his own expressive language, "Ay, it cam' (meaning the kingdom of Scotland) wi' a lass, and it will gang wi' a lass," and this prediction seem fulfilled in Mary's fate.

The king, her father, only lingered five more days, and on his death the tiny infant became Queen of Scotland and the Isles.

When about nine months old, Mary was solemnly crowned, on the 9th of September, 1543, at Stirling Castle, having been carefully taken there from Linlithgow for the coronation by Cardinal Beaton, who performed the ceremony. Her mother was presently appointed regent.

After a few months, Mary went to reside on a small island in the Lake of Monteith, called Inchmahome.

Four other noble children were her companions, and all these four children bore also the name of Mary; Mary Beaton, Mary Fleming, Mary Seaton, and Mary Livingstone, and all were of the same age.

Mary remained on this island until she was nearly six years old. The five young girls, so isolated and lonely as regards the rest of the world, must have amused themselves with the usual routine of baby pastimes, but a great change now took place. The Queen of Scots was removed to France, and the four companions of her baby days also accompanied her to the gay scenes of the French Court.
Henry II., King of France, received Mary with great enthusiasm and respect, and a triumphal procession was arranged to convey her to the palace of St. Germain-en-Laye.

Her extreme beauty drew much attention. She had bright auburn hair, dark hazel eyes, a fair complexion, and a "dimpled chin."

When the king saw her, his surprise at her loveliness made him enquire, with truly characteristic French politeness and love of compliment, "Are you not an angel?"

Mary was shortly afterwards placed in a French convent to receive a royal education, and appears to have been much attached to those who instructed and tended her. She said adieu to them all very reluctantly, when she returned to the gay Court life at a still early age.

The description of her at this time is that she was very accomplished, having acquired some skill in music, singing, dancing, and even in poetic effusions. She also had pursued more serious studies, both historical and classical, and was altogether so bright and intelligent that Brantôine remarked, "Ah! kingdom of Scotland! I cannot but think your days must be shorter, your nights longer, now you have lost the Princess by whom you were illumined!"

Her dress appears to have been a subject of much whim and caprice: sometimes she would wear a Highland costume, then again the fashionable French or Italian mode of those days, and her time was spent completely in gaiety and amusements.

Mary, Queen of Scots, was born and educated in the Romish religion, and was, in after life, a rigid Papist. Lord Shrewsbury, who had charge of her by Queen Elizabeth's orders, intimates in his letters, which are still extant, that he thought of her rather "as a mischievous, cunning Papist, than as an injured Queen."

Owing to various conspiracies and plots, Mary was sentenced to die, eventually, by Queen Elizabeth, and her execution took place on February 7th, 1587.

There is a touching little story about her favorite dog. The tiny animal hid itself in her dress when she was taken to the scaffold, and, after her death, he refused to leave her body, and had to be forcibly taken away.

Compiled from sources in the public domain.

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Smiles & Good Fortune,
Teresa
************************************
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Shadows in a Timeless Myth presents Xantippe a Lady of History


XANTIPPE

390 B.C.

THE woman who could teach Socrates the virtue of patience deserves to be remembered. Xantippe, concerning whom writers relate so many amusing tales, was certainly a woman of a high and unmanageable spirit. But Socrates, while he endeavoured to curb the violence of her temper, improved his own. When Alcibiades expressed his surprise that his friend could bear to live in the same house with so perverse and quarrelsome a companion, Socrates replied, that being daily inured to ill-humour at home, he was the better prepared to encounter perverseness and injury abroad. After all, however, it is probable that the infirmities of this good woman have been exaggerated, and that calumny has had some hand in finishing her picture; for Socrates himself, in a dialogue with his son Lamprocles, allows her many domestic virtues, and we find her afterwards expressing great affection for her husband during his imprisonment. She must, indeed, have been as deficient in understanding as she was froward in disposition, if she had not profited by the daily lessons which for twenty years she received from such a master.

News being at length brought of the return of the ship from Delos, the officers to whose care Socrates was committed, delivered to him early in the morning the final order for his execution, and immediately, according to the law, set him at liberty from his bonds. His friends, who came early to the prison that they might have an opportunity of conversing with their master through the day, found his wife sitting by him with a child in her arms. As soon as Xantippe saw them, she burst into tears and said, "Oh, Socrates, this is the last time your friends will ever speak to you, or you to them." Socrates, that the tranquillity of his last moments might not be disturbed by her unavailing lamentations, requested that she might be conducted home. With the most frantic expressions of grief, she left the prison. An interesting conversation then passed between Socrates and his friends, which chiefly turned upon the immortality of the soul. After a short interval, during which he gave some necessary instructions to his domestics, and took his last leave of his children, the attendant of the prison informed him that the time for drinking the poison was come. The executioner, though accustomed to such scenes, shed tears as he presented the fatal cup. Socrates received it without change of countenance, or the least appearance of perturbation; then, offering up a prayer to the gods that they would grant him a prosperous passage into the invisible world, with perfect composure he swallowed the poisonous draught. His friends around him burst into tears. Socrates alone remained unmoved. He upbraided their pusillanimity, and entreated them to exercise a manly constancy worthy of the friends of virtue. He continued walking till the chilling operation of the hemlock obliged him to lie down upon his bed. Then, covering himself with his cloak, he expired.


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Smiles & Good Fortune,
Teresa
************************************
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Shadows of a Timeless Myth Aspasia Chosen of Pericles

ASPASIA CHOSEN OF PERICLES

470 B.C.

SPASIA, daughter of Axiochus, was a native of Miletus, beautiful, well-educated, and ambitious. She resided at Athens, and is affirmed, though upon very doubtful evidence, to have kept slave-girls to be let out as courtesans. Whatever may be the case with this report, which is probably one of the scandals engendered by political animosity against Pericles, it is certain that, so remarkable were her own fascinations, her accomplishments, and her powers, not merely of conversation, but even of oratory and criticism, that the most distinguished Athenians of all ages and characters—Socrates among the number—visited her, and several of them took their wives along with them to hear her also. The free citizen-women of Athens lived in strict and almost Oriental recluseness, as well after being married as when single: everything which concerned their lives, their happiness, or their rights, was determined or managed for them by male relatives; and they seem to have been destitute of all mental culture and accomplishments. Their society presented no charm nor interest, which men accordingly sought for in the company of the class of women called Hetæræ, or courtesans, literally female companions who lived a free life, managed their own affairs, and supported themselves by their powers of pleasing. These women were numerous, and were doubtless of every variety of personal character; but the most distinguished and superior among them, such as Aspasia and Theodote, appear to have been the only women in Greece, except the Spartan, who either inspired strong passion or exercised mental ascendancy.

Pericles had been determined in his choice of a wife by those family considerations which were held almost obligatory at Athens, and had married a woman very nearly related to him, by whom he had two sons, Xanthippus and Paralus. But the marriage, having never been comfortable, was afterwards dissolved by mutual consent, according to that full liberty of divorce which the Attic law permitted, and Pericles concurred with his wife's male relations (who formed her legal guardians) in giving her away to another husband. He then took Aspasia to live with him; had a son by her, who bore his name; and continued ever afterwards on terms of the greatest intimacy and affection with her.

Without adopting those exaggerations which represent Aspasia as having communicated to Pericles his distinguished eloquence, or even as having herself composed orations for public delivery, we may well believe her to have been qualified to take interest and share in that literary and philosophical society which frequented the house of Pericles, and which his unprincipled son Xanthippus, disgusted with his father's regular expenditure as withholding from him the means of supporting an extravagant establishment, reported abroad with exaggerated calumnies, and turned into derision. It was from that worthless young man, who died of the Athenian epidemic during the lifetime of Pericles, that his political enemies and the comic writers of the day were mainly furnished with scandalous anecdotes to assail the private habits of this distinguished man. The comic writers attacked him for alleged intrigues with different women; but the name of Aspasia they treated as public property, without any mercy or reserve: she was the Omphale, the Dejanira, or the Here, to the great Heracles or Zeus of Athens. At length one of these comic writers, Hermippus, not contented with scenic attacks, indicted her before the dikastery for impiety, as participant in the philosophical discussions held, and the opinions professed, in the society of Pericles by Anaxagoras and others. Against Anaxagoras himself, too, a similar indictment is said to have been preferred, either by Cleon or by Thucydides, son of Milesias, under a general resolution recently passed in the public assembly at the instance of Diopeithes. And such was the sensitive antipathy of the Athenian public, shown afterwards fatally in the case of Socrates, and embittered in this instance by all the artifices of political faction, against philosophers whose opinions conflicted with the received religious dogmas, that Pericles did not dare to place Anaxagoras on his trial. The latter retired from Athens, and a sentence of banishment was passed against him in his absence. But Pericles himself defended Aspasia before the dikastery: in fact, the indictment was as much against him as against her. One thing alleged against her, and also against Pheidias, was the reception of free women to facilitate the intrigues of Pericles.

He defended her successfully, and procured a verdict of acquittal; but we are not surprised to hear that his speech was marked by the strongest personal emotions, and even by tears. The dikasts were accustomed to such appeals to their sympathies, sometimes even to extravagant excess, from ordinary accused persons; but in Pericles, so manifest an outburst of emotion stands out as something quite unparalleled, for constant self-mastery was one of the most prominent features in his character.


Article compiled from sources in the public domain.

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Smiles & Good Fortune,
Teresa
************************************
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Shadows in a Timeless Myth presents Sappho A Lady of History


SAPPHO

B.C. 568
CCORDING to established data, the more brilliant portion of Sappho's career may be placed in the first half of the sixth century before Christ, while her childhood and early youth belong to the close of the seventh. Her birthplace, according to the more trustworthy authorities, was Mitylene, the metropolis of the isle of Lesbos. Others make her a native of the neighbouring town of Eresus. Whether Sappho was ever married is doubtful; but the balance of evidence is strongly on the negative side of the question. She is familiarly alluded to by Horace as the "Lesbian maiden;" nor is there any notice of a husband, but on a single recent and very questionable authority, where the broadly indecent etymology of the names, both of the man on whom the honour is conferred, and of his birthplace, sufficiently proves them to be fictitious. How far the circumstance of her having had a daughter can be considered as admissible evidence of her having been married, is a point the settlement of which must depend on a closer inquiry into her moral habits. That such was the fact, however, is stated on respectable authority. The name assigned to the maiden is Cleis, the same as that of Sappho's reputed mother.


Sappho is described, by the only authors who have transmitted any distinct notices on the subject, as not distinguished for personal beauty, but as short of stature, and of dark, it may be understood swarthy, complexion. The laudatory commonplace of kalë, or "fair," which Plato and others incidentally connect with her name, no way militates against this account, as implying nothing more, perhaps less, than does the English phrase by which the Greek epithet has above been rendered, and which is as frequently bestowed in familiar usage on plain as on handsome women. Alcæus describes her simply as "dark haired" and "sweetly smiling." No notice is taken of her actual beauty, which an admiring lover would hardly have passed over in silence had it offered matter for warmer eulogy.
Of the extent to which Sappho was brought under the sway of the tender passion which, in one shape or other, formed the theme, with little exception, of her collective works, sufficient evidence exists in her only remaining entire composition, the first ode in the published collections. She there describes herself, in the most touching and impassioned strains, as the victim of an unrequited love, and implores the aid of Venus to ease her pangs by melting the heart of the obdurate or inconstant object of her affection. The person to whom this ode is supposed to refer, or who at least obtained, in the popular tradition, the chief and longest sway over the affections of Sappho, was a Lesbian youth called Phaon, distinguished for his personal attractions and irresistible power over the female heart. For a time he is described as having corresponded to her ardour; but, after cohabiting with her during some years, he deserted her, leaving her in a state of despair, for which the only remedy that suggested itself was that habitually resorted to in such cases—a leap from the summit of the Leucadian promontory into the sea. That she actually carried this purpose into effect was the popular opinion of antiquity, from the age, at least, of Menander downwards, and seems to have passed current as an authentic fact, even with the more intelligent authorities.

Both these points in the history of the poetess, her love for Phaon, and her leap from the Leucadian cliff, have been questioned with more or less plausibility by distinguished critics of the present age. In respect to the first, it has been denied not only that Phaon was the name of the hero of this tragical drama, but that such a person ever existed. The Leucadian leap of Sappho, though ranked by various modern commentators, like the name of her lover, among the mythical elements of her biography, will not perhaps be found, on a critical estimate of the circumstances connected with it, to offer any serious ground of scepticism.

Sappho, in the portrait of her character jointly exhibited in her own works and in the notices of her more candid and intelligent countrymen, appears as a woman of a generous disposition, affectionate heart, and independent spirit, unless when brought under the sway of those tender passions, which lorded over every other influence in her bosom. Of a naturally ardent and excitable temperament, she seems from her earliest years to have been habituated to the enjoyments rather than to the duties, much less the restraints, of Greek female life. Her chief or early occupations were the exercise and display of her brilliant poetical talents and elegant accomplishments; and her voluptuous habits are testified by almost every extant fragment of her poems. Her susceptibility to the passion of love formed, above all, the dominant feature of her life, her character, and her muse. Her indulgence,  however, of this, as of every other appetite, sensual or intellectual, while setting at nought all moral restraints, was marked by her own peculiar refinement of taste, exclusive of every approach to low excess or profligacy.

In the portrait presented to us by the popular authorities of the present day, all the less favourable features of the above sketch are effaced; while the colouring of the remainder has been heightened to a dazzling extreme of beauty and brilliancy, exhibiting a model of perfection, physical and moral, such as was never probably exemplified in woman, and least of all in the prioress of an association of votaries of Venus and the Muses, in one of the most voluptuous states of Greece. The following is the summary of her various excellences, given by one of the popular organs of this amiable but fallacious theory: "In Sappho, a warm and profound sensibility, virgin purity, feminine softness, and delicacy of sentiment and feeling, were combined with the native probity and simplicity of the Æolian character; and, although endued with a fine perception of the beautiful and brilliant, she preferred genuine conscious rectitude to every other source of human enjoyment."

Article compiled from sources in the public domain.

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Smiles & Good Fortune,
Teresa
************************************
It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent. W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) Of Human Bondage, 1915