I have talked about this a time or two in some Top ten Tuesday posts and probably First Line Friday also.
Seeing as how I have heaps of reading and writing to do, it seems like a good time for a game, no?
Right then. So, as I am reading and writing and wishing for a significant part of my day that I had a time machine, I'm giving more and more thought to who, in a perfect world with no constraints on logic or possibility, would I invite to a dinner party and why?
Let's say you can invite up to five guests and they can be real people or book characters, no limits except to try to keep this somehow bookishly-related. Naturally my picks involve either modern or historic figures I enjoy reading about, or authors I enjoy reading.
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Kind of a given. I only have about seven-hundred and fifty-eight million questions to ask her about every aspect of her life, such as about her childhood up to the time she married Louis VII and left for Paris (and what she really thought of Abbot Suger and Bernard of Clairvaux). I'm also keen to know about the fifteen years ol' Henry kept her locked up in various castles for her part in their sons' rebellion and whether they ever actually came to love one another in the first place, long before that all went down. I'd also like to know the date of her birth so that debate can be settled once and for all. In general I'd like to meet Eleanor because she was a BAMF who kept shit together while Richard was on Crusade, then locked up as a prisoner himself by Duke Leopold of Austria. AND I want to know what she REALLY thought of John and whether or not it terrified her as to what might happen to the empire once she was gone. It would also be cool to know what she really looked like, as no portrait has survived as far as we know that shows he likeness. There are portraits and paintings purporting to be her, but there is no agreement or even evidence to fully confirm one way or another. Her effigy is the only face we can unequivocally say is Eleanor, and it was likely not even added to her tomb until after her death.
Ah, Pope Francis, the pope the world needs but does not deserve. I'm not even Catholic, and I heart this guy. While I realize that no actual church doctrine has changed, and likely won't, the statements he has made on his own opinions of contentious issues within the church make my heart so, so happy. Plus, he must be doing something right for certain members of the clergy and some Catholic scholars to say he is supporting heresy. As far as I know they have been very careful to not call Francis himself a heretic, just that he is supporting it. Go, Francis.
I mean, yeah okay so I met him back in September of 2017 and he signed all my books and personalized them and let me hug him and say ridiculous things and then talked to me about Eleanor of Aquitaine long after the crowd had left and my friend Roxy and I were the only two who remained. But we could also talk about tattoos and the Plantagenets and which UK castles are our favorites and why that damn top shelf in his library can't just be fitted with another board so that the white space is filled up. This last sentence will make no sense if you have not seen any of his Facebook Live chats, so go watch them, they're hilarious.
Easily two of the most unpopular candidates in US history squared off to become President of the United States, when it did not have to be that way. Bernie would have beaten Trumplethinskin, no question. Unfortunately instead of that reality we have this one, where I wake up every day thankful that I woke up at all and we were not all killed overnight in the launching of all the nukes in the world.
The greatest knight to ever live? Hell yeah, I want to meet him. If you do not know the story of William Marshal's life, I highly suggest looking for his biography, the original one written in the years following his death. William Marshal is the first known person from the era who was not a king to have such a work written. Not too shabby. Plus, he and Eleanor knew one another well, so it might help them not freak out by their sudden transplant to a world unlike anything they knew in their own lifetimes.
Honorable Mentions Because I Can't Even Follow My Own Rules
Alfred the Great
The only king in the history of England to be know as 'the Great'? Yeah, let's meet please. Then we can talk about the Danes and their tomfoolery, and the whole biscuit-burning thing and why that legend has persisted for over a thousand years. I'd also like to discuss his contributions to education and literature, and what impact that really had on the populace, if he saw results within his own lifetime.
Mostly I want to ask him why he did not wait for reinforcements before marching to Hastings, and give him a good shake for not doing so. I mean, I know why, because they had just won such a decisive victory at Stamford Bridge that saw the demise of Harald Hardrada, the last great Viking warrior, and they were buoyed by that success. But it seemed like such a mistake, even before the arrow-in-the-eye thing, because his men were not only worn out from THAT battle but were then exhausted from the march itself. I also want to know what REALLY happened to Edward the Exile (son of Edmund Ironside) on his return, and just exactly how he managed to die before meeting up with Edward the Confessor - you know, since he was the rightful heir and everything. I suspect Harold, or his family, had something to do with it.
So there you have it! What do you think of my picks, and who would yours be?