Posts Tagged ‘Charles I’

English Hystery

Posted in General, On This Day on January 30th, 2011 by Eugene Finerman – 5 Comments

Once upon a time, an English king had a stammer.  However, thanks to a decisive form of surgery, Charles I was cured.  That therapy happened on this day in 1649.

But some 350 years late, my friend Hal Gordon is still trying to save King Charles.  Hal has taken up fencing so he is ready to skewer entire regiments of Roundheads.  Unfortunately, time travel remains a challenge.  Hal’s first attempt transported him 750,000 years into the future where he found himself siding with the Morlocks.  (Well, Hal is a Republican.)

Even worse for Hal, it seems that Charles I defies rescue.  The Four Musketeers tried it in “Twenty Years After.”  (Actually, the sequel to “The Three Musketeers” came out just a year later.  Dumas had no problem with writer’s block; he had a staff of ghostwriters.)  The Musketeers think they have the rescue plan all worked out.  The real axeman is kidnapped and replaced by one of the Frenchmen; the others are hiding under the scaffold.  Somehow they will snatch the king, fight their way out of London and make it to the ship awaiting them in the Channel. 

Will they need a miracle?  As a matter of fact, they do have an omniscient power on their side:  Oliver Cromwell.  He knows exactly what they are planning and intends to let them succeed–up to a point.  Cromwell prefers not to be blamed for regicide, so he will let Charles escape–at least from England.  But, if the ship in the Channel should mysteriously explode before reaching France, Cromwell can’t be blamed for that.  (Only suspected.)

In any case, Charles should have survived the scaffold.  However, the Musketeers’ hopes, Cromwell’s scheme and King Charles’ neck are spoiled by Mordaunt, the thoroughly vindictive son of Lady DeWinter.  With his Oedipal devotion, Mordaunt is determined to kill everyone from the first novel.  He, too, disguises himself as an axeman and he gets to the scaffold ahead of the musketeer.   Now, if John Woo had worked for Dumas, there could have a great dueling scene between the two axemen.  But Dumas simply has Mordaunt kill the king; the author saves the climactic confrontation abroad the floating bomb in the English Channel. 

(You will be relieved to know that the Musketeers survive, and there is no vindictive grandson of Lady DeWinter in “The Man in the Iron Mask”.)

However, I digress–which is my usual means of communication.  But if Hal can travel back to the 17th century, so might someone else–not merely to spoil the rescue but to make “Paradise Lost” funny.

And now for a  factual account of this day’s history:  http://finermanworks.com/your_rda_of_irony/2009/01/30/english-hystery-2/

The Speechwriters’ Hall of Martyrs

Posted in General, On This Day on December 9th, 2010 by Eugene Finerman – 3 Comments

December 9, 1674:  Edward Hyde’s Permanent Writer’s Block

Edward Hyde (1609-1674) may have been the most miserable speechwriter in history. I don’t mean that he was the worst: a fifth century Roman orator named Sidonius Apollinarus has that distinction and could be the reason that “ad nauseum” is a Latin term. No, Edward Hyde was likely the most frustrated, unappreciated and persecuted practitioner of “executive communications.” (That is the corporate designation for speechwriters; it sounds impressive but discreetly vague, avoiding the impression that our clients require ventriloquists.)

Our poor, sorry Hyde wrote speeches for Britain’s King Charles I. If you are familiar with his Majesty’s autopsy report, you can deduce that the speeches obviously were not a success. No, Hyde was not beheaded, too; speechwriters are never worth killing. But Hyde endured humiliation, disgrace and exile–and that was by his fellow Royalists.

Charles I felt that he had the Divine Right to bully and suppress Parliament; however, he also felt that good manners required some justification for his conduct. Of course, you can not expect a busy King to spend hours scribbling on parchment, nor could you really expect a Stuart to write an intelligible paragraph. So Edward Hyde offered his literary assistance to the King. Hyde had been one of Parliament’s few moderates. He was neither an obtuse Royalist nor a fulminating Puritan. When the Civil War began, however, he preferred traditional tyranny to the unforeseen excesses of a Parliamentary mob.

Working with Hyde, the King issued a series of proclamations and pamphlets that justified the Royalist cause in a persuasive and moderate voice. Charles may even have believed those balanced and temperate words while he was with Hyde. However, when Charles was in the company of his more belligerent advisors–particularly his battle-axe of a wife, the malleable monarch did what they told him. That created a dismaying dichotomy: Charles had the voice of reason and the actions of a thug. Worse for Charles, his belligerent advisors were far better at starting wars than winning them.

But the war faction did have one success: blaming Hyde. His moderate writings allegedly sullied the the dignity of the monarchy: a king does not need reason. If you believed the Queen, Hyde was as great a danger as Cromwell. For his demeaning rationality and treacherous temperance, Hyde became a pariah at the Court. A man of Hyde’s character was obviously unfit for government, but he did seem a suitable choice as the official guardian (babysitter) for the Prince of Wales.

Unfortunately, being the moral authority to the future Charles II, Hyde had another hopeless task. At least, Hyde was not required to write speeches to justify and rationalize the young Prince’s misadventures in Britain and France, the debts and the illegitimate offspring. (If only he had, Hyde would have been the pioneer of Restoration Comedy. ) In fact, after the restoration of the monarchy, Charles II bestowed an earldom on his hapless but loyal guardian. The new Earl of Clarendon was further appointed to the Royal Council where he once again proved a political naif but a convenient scapegoat. Hyde ended up in exile again; he had plenty of free time to write his memoirs. On this day in 1674, Hyde had a permanent writer’s block.

At least Hyde died with an Earl’s title and income. Most of us will not have that comforting a retirement package. Edward Hyde may have been most miserable speechwriter in history but he was a successful failure.

Termagent of Endearment

Posted in General, On This Day on June 12th, 2010 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

June 13, 1625:  The First Martyrdom of Charles I

There was a fifty/fifty chance that one of our states might have been “Henriettaland”. Fortunately, the wife of Charles I had a more palatable middle name: Marie. That probably was the most tolerable thing about her.

On this day in 1625, she became the wife of Charles I. What an unfortunate time for an English king to be a heterosexual. It did not help that Charles was a weak-willed dolt. The French Princess Henrietta was a domineering, belligerent moron. Her father, Henri IV was a wise, adroit, charming, tolerant ruler but who died when his daughter was an infant. Henrietta took after her mother, a blundering battle-axe (yes, Henri cheated on her) whose inept regency of France triggered rebellion and coups. In fact, the Queen Mother was eventually exiled by her annoyed son Louis XIII (on the always wise advice of then Bishop Richelieu).

However, England had no Richelieus. (James I had picked his ministers for their looks.) Charles I simply…very simply…deferred to his wife. Henrietta’s goading and provocations triggered the civil war that would kill her husband. In fairness, Cromwell should have beheaded her, too–but she was watching the Civil War from a spectator’s box in France.

Upon Restoration of the monarchy, she returned to England where her belligerent nature quickly exasperated her wise, adroit, charming, tolerant son Charles II (who obviously took after grandpere). She was encouraged to retire to France.

Nonetheless, as an observant Catholic, Henrietta Marie did have some admirers–among them her fellow parishioner Lord Calvert. In 1632 Calvert decided to sponsor a Catholic colony in North America, and it seemed a clever idea to name the haven for both the Queen of England…and the presumed Queen of Heaven.

English Hystery

Posted in General on January 30th, 2009 by Eugene Finerman – 3 Comments

On this day in 1649, King Charles I ascended the scaffold. He turned to the crowd and began making perfunctory compliments about English dairy products. With his usual keenness, Charles thought that he was addressing the opening of an agricultural fair. He could not ignore the angry cries of the mob, so Charles offered to cure any of them of scrofula.

Charles, who was known to have lost tic-tac-toe matches to an untrained chicken, had to be informed that he was the guest of honor at his execution. The embarrassed executioneer asked, “Don’t you remember your treason trial?” Charles recalled attending some sort of debate but really hadn’t follow the topic. “Boring lawyer chitchat, you know.”

Realizing now, however, that he was about to lose more than tic-tac-toe, Charles did rationalize the advantages of decapitation. “Well, it would make painting my portrait easier.”

p.s. I may have taken a few liberties with the last words (and meager thoughts) of Charles I. But the victory of Parliament over the King guaranteed me those liberties. Thank you Mr. Cromwell.

Termagant of Endearment

Posted in General, On This Day on June 13th, 2008 by Eugene Finerman – 1 Comment

There was a fifty/fifty chance that one of our states might have been “Henriettaland”. Fortunately, the wife of Charles I had a more palatable middle name: Marie. That probably was the most tolerable thing about her.

On this day in 1625, she became the wife of Charles I. What an unfortunate time for an English king to be a heterosexual. It did not help that Charles was a weak-willed dolt. The French Princess Henrietta was a domineering, belligerent moron. Her father, Henri IV was a wise, adroit, charming, tolerant ruler but who died when his daughter was an infant. Henrietta took after her mother, a blundering battle-axe (yes, Henri cheated on her) whose inept regency of France triggered rebellion and coups. In fact, the Queen Mother was eventually exiled by her annoyed son Louis XIII (on the always wise advice of then Bishop Richelieu).

However, England had no Richelieus. (James I had picked his ministers for their looks.) Charles I simply…very simply…deferred to his wife. Henrietta’s goading and provocations triggered the civil war that would kill her husband. In fairness, Cromwell should have beheaded her, too–but she was watching the Civil War from a spectator’s box in France.

Upon Restoration of the monarchy, she returned to England where her belligerent nature quickly exasperated her wise, adroit, charming, tolerant son Charles II (who obviously took after grandpere). She was encouraged to retire to France.

Nonetheless, as an observant Catholic, Henrietta Marie did have some admirers–among them her fellow parishioner Lord Calvert. In 1632 Calvert decided to sponsor a Catholic colony in North America, and it seemed a clever idea to name the haven for both the Queen of England…and the presumed Queen of Heaven.

English Hystery

Posted in General, On This Day on January 30th, 2007 by Eugene Finerman – Be the first to comment

On this day in 1649, King Charles I ascended the scaffold. He turned to the crowd and began making perfunctory compliments about English dairy products. With his usual keenness, Charles thought that he was addressing the opening of an agricultural fair. He could not ignore the angry cries of the mob, so Charles offered to cure any of them of scrofula.

Charles, who was known to have lost tic-tac-toe matches to an untrained chicken, had to be informed that he was the guest of honor at his execution. The embarrassed executioneer asked, “Don’t you remember your treason trial?” Charles recalled attending some sort of debate but really hadn’t follow the topic. “Boring lawyer chitchat, you know.”

Realizing now, however, that he was about to lose more than tic-tac-toe, Charles did rationalize the advantages of decapitation. “Well, it would make painting my portrait easier.”

p.s. I may have taken a few liberties with the last words (and meager thoughts) of Charles I. But the victory of Parliament over the King guaranteed me those liberties. Thank you Mr. Cromwell.