Thursday, November 2, 2017

First Line Friday: The Devil's Brood Edition

The Devil's Brood is one of the names used to collectively refer to the children of Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry II - more specifically the boys, who were given to rebelling against their father with their mother's (rightful) encouragement. But more on that story in a minute. First, a word from our sponsors.

First Line Fridays hosted by Hoarding Books

First Line Friday is a fun little weekly event that has grown drastically in recent months, and is now hosted by Hoarding Books. Check out the blog and visit other participants to see what lines they have found of interest.

My line this week comes from a volume that I was psyched to get my hands on because it is specifically about one of Eleanor's children NOT named Richard or John.

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"In early June 1183, Henry III, king of England, lay dying in the little town of Martel in the Quercy."

Two things: 
1. Do not be confused by the author referring to Henry the Young King as Henry III. Technically this is true because when Henry was getting antsy for power, his father had him crowned so he would be known as 'the Young King'. True to Henry II's nature though, the title gave his son zero power. So, had Henry the Young King outlived his father he would have been Henry III. This did not happen, and so John's son Henry was the actual Henry III.

2. There is a story that, while in her continued captivity for aiding their sons in rebellion against Henry II, word arrived that Henry the Young King had died. Eleanor supposedly stopped the messengers from giving her the news because she already knew her oldest surviving son was dead (Henry was their second child. Their first son William died near the age of three).

Now, to quickly follow up on this Devil's Brood business. Here's the story according to Gerald of Wales (a royal clerk to Henry II who sometimes liked to play it fast and loose with a lot of facts, even in stories far more plausible than this one). According to ol' Gerald, the counts of Anjou were descendants of the devil. He stated that at some point, a count of Anjou had married a beautiful woman named Melusine. As time went by, the count noticed his wife did not attend Mass. According to Gerald, it was years. (I'm a bit confused as to how it took years for the dude to notice she always skipped out on Mass. It was kind of a big deal.) So, the count forced her to remain in church during the Eucharist. The stories I have read vary from this point, some saying she grabbed two of her children and flew screaming out the window, others saying she alone did so. Either way, her demonic nature and origin were revealed in the fact that she could not withstand the holy ceremony taking place and got right on up out of there via the window. Screaming the whole way. Lovely.

This legend was used to explain why the sons were so often involved in violent disputes, even with one another and also their father. There was no time between childhood and adulthood, this thing we refer to as teenage and young adult years. You were a child until age 13, when you could legally be married as dictated by the Church. As a result, three young men (John was the baby of the family, so Henry, Richard, and Geoffrey were primarily the combatants for several years), very much products of their age, inherited both the best and worst traits of their strong-willed parents. It should come as no surprise that the boys were always ready to turn on one another if they felt their own inheritance threatened (such as when Henry II attempted to force Richard to give Aquitaine to John. Yeah, right, like that was EVER going to happen. And it didn't.) It says a lot that, even in an age we consider so bloody and violent, the first Plantagenets and their behavior was somehow considered unnatural and had to be explained away from a legend such as this.

Happy Reading!
Sarah

22 comments:

  1. Ah, yes! Quite an imaginative explanation, but a very apt moniker all the same! Sharon Penman has written an excellent historical fiction series on the Plantagenets which includes a book called 'The Devil's Brood'. Definitely inspired my fascination with the Plantagenets.

    Anyway, I'm featuring the first line from Pepper Basham's 'Charming the Troublemaker' on my blog, but I'm going to leave you with the first line of a book I'll be reviewing tomorrow, 'The Bachelor Missions' by Jes Drew:

    "One bulky figure stands alone in the rain, keeping his head down--his identity obscured by a hat and large raincoat."

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    1. I've heard of her books many times. People keep telling me to read them and I keep reminding them the real story is way better than the fictional accounts.

      Happy Friday!

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  2. It sounds like an interesting book. I can't even imagine what it would be like to experience the kind of sibling rivalry that royalty does.

    For my first line, I’m featuring Masquerade by Janette Rallison which I re-read this week.

    “Opportunity didn’t knock for Slade Jacobson – it rang his cell phone at 10:34 pm while he was putting his daughter to bed for the third time.”

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    1. I am looking forward to reading it. I know almost nothing about their children, except Richard and John and the glimpses I've gotten of them in books I have read about Eleanor.

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  3. Wow! I love history and your description of the book has definitely peaked my interest. Can't wait to read it.

    My first line is "Sometimes leading also means following. Sometimes being first means you actually arrive second." Service Tales by Ace Collins

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    1. The chronicles by Gerald are quite an interesting read. It's so frustratingly cool to be able to read what their contemporaries wrote; frustrating because there was always a bias (especially against Eleanor) but also cool because these people knew first-hand what was going on.

      Have a great weekend!

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  4. Happy Friday! What an interesting read!

    The first line of the book I'm currently reading is:

    England, December 23, 1813
    Holly Gray's courage faded with every step she took deeper inside the castle conservatory where, according to Grandfather's stories, a ghost resided.

    Christmas Secrets by Donna Hatch

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    1. Happy Friday to you as well! I am very anxious to get started on this one, I know so much more about Richard and John. Of course, it is even harder to come by information about their daughters than their other sons!

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  5. Over on my blog I’m sharing the first line from Sarah Monzon’s latest book just released this week; “The Esther Paradigm”. I’m just over half-way through the book, and I’m loving the story. But you’ll have to go over there to read the first line for The Esther Paradigm. Here I’ll share with you the first line from an older favorite.

    Bedford, England — May 1659
    “The babe’s crying would rip her heart to shreds if she had to listen to it one more minute.” — The Preacher’s Bride by Jody Hedlund

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    1. Trisha, thanks for coming by today! I have seen quite a bit about the Esther book recently. Happy Friday!

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  6. Happy Friday! The history is really interesting!

    My first line is from Pepper Basham’s Charming the Troublemaker:

    “Loser ex-husbands and freezing January afternoons left a nasty chill.”

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    1. As you might have guessed, I loooooove history. I need someone to build a functioning time machine, ASAP. Happy Friday!

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  7. My first line is from Holly and Ivy by Fern Michaels:

    “You’re too young to be hanging around with a bunch of old ladies. You need to be with girls your own age,” Daniel Greenwood explained to his eleven-year-old daughter, Holly.

    Have a great weekend!

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    1. Thank you for sharing your line with me this week Susan, you have a great one as well!

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  8. Oh man! I cannot even imagine that sibling rivalry in royalty. This sounds like an interesting book!

    I'm featuring The Princess Bride on my blog, but I'm currently reading Meg Mitchell & the Secret of the Journals by Kimberly McNeil so I'll share that here.

    Prologue
    If I say I go to the White Raven for the food, I'd be lying, and I'm a journalist, which means I don't lie.

    Happy Friday!

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    1. RIIIIGHT?? Henry II is arguable one of England's greatest kings, and I don't doubt that he loved his children. But John was his fave, just as Richard was Eleanor's. So when all the land had been divided up, John had no inheritance and so was sent to Ireland. Even in the end, after Henry the Young King and Geoffrey had died, Richard basically hounded their father to death. John's name was at the top of those who had turned against Henry II, and that was too much for the old king. Oh, to be a fly on the wall in any of those situations. Happy Friday!

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    2. Oh the family drama. Why is it so fascinating? Haha

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    3. Agreed! It's so incredible, such a different time period.

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  9. Happy Friday! This books sounds fascinating!

    His quarry was late. Very late. – An Eye For An Eye by Irene Hannon

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    1. Hi Caryl, it is! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your line. Have a wonderful weekend!

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  10. Can I just sit down and read history books for a couple of weeks? :) Happy Friday!

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    1. I give you permission to do so :)

      Eleanor is with her dad this weekend so I will be elbows-deep in books and research and all things Plantagenet. Happy Friday!

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