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Historic Interviews

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LoveHistory
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Location: Wisconsin, USA
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Historic Interviews

Postby LoveHistory » Mon November 16th, 2009, 3:31 pm

Wasn't sure where to put this, but as Lady Moppet has collaborated with me on the first interview, I thought Group Story might work. This first interview is rather a long one.

I will need volunteers for other interview subjects. Richard III is already taken, but there are plenty still up for grabs. If anyone is interested, please PM me. Otherwise I will start writing to people and begging. You don't want that. It's not pretty.

Anyway, without further ado, I give you an exclusive interview with King John of England and Lady Moppet of Yorkshire:

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LoveHistory
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Historic Interviews: King John and Lady Moppet

Postby LoveHistory » Mon November 16th, 2009, 3:40 pm

Good day, Your Majesty. Thank you for joining us.

King John: Your Majesty...I like the sound of that. In my day it was just ‘Beausire.’ ‘Your Majesty’ wasn’t introduced until quite a bit later. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it first.

Let’s get right into this, shall we? How would you describe your relationship with your brother Richard?

King John: Difficult. There was a lot of rivalry, a lot of jealousy. You see, deep down, Richard always wanted to be me. He might have been ahead of me in the succession, but he knew he was far less suited to be king. I don’t deny that he had extraordinary military ability, but it takes more than that to rule a country. When it came to administration or the law – the day-to-day business of government – Richard was, to be frank, pretty hopeless. He used England as a cash cow to fund his wars, but why was he so obsessed with war? Because he knew any sustained period of peace would expose his intellectual inadequacies. He might dash off some poetry from time to time – he always found inspiration in his own achievements – but he never opened a book. If he’d been born in your century, he would have been the sort of man who’d say, “Yes, of course I read. I’ll read Maxim from cover to cover.”

Lady Moppet: While there’s some truth in this – Richard probably was jealous of John’s position as his father’s favourite – I think it’s just as true to say that John wanted to be him. Medieval kings were warriors first and foremost, so military ability was perceived as more important than anything else. I could never get John to admit that on hearing of Richard’s death he felt anything other than triumph because his way to the throne was clear. Actually I think a small part of him grieved for Richard, or grieved for himself because he was never the trusted second-in-command he felt he should have been. While he only seems to have named one of his sons after himself, he gave two sons the name Richard – his highest-ranking illegitimate son, Richard de Warenne, and his second-born legitimate son, Richard of Cornwall. Do you want to say anything more about that, John?

King John: Just that everyone should ignore Moppet because she has a tendency to apply post-Freudian analysis to pre-Freudian people. Pay it no mind.

What about Geoffrey?

King John: Geoffrey’s diplomatic ability is well-known. What’s less well-known is how often I acted as his adviser. I very much wanted to continue my role as consultant to the Duchy of Brittany after his death, but sadly his widow Constance didn’t trust me. Not sure why. My relationship with Constance has been misinterpreted, to the extent that some historians have gone so far as to say that I had an affair with her. That’s not true, unfortunately. I think the mistake stems from confusion between the names Constance and Clemence – Clemence being one of my favourite mistresses and the mother of my daughter Joanna of Wales.

Lady Moppet: I think John’s activities as secret adviser to Geoffrey took place mostly in his imagination. What he says about the Constance/Clemence mix-up, however, is accurate.

Having been dead for a few centuries, I imagine you’ve had a lot of time to reflect and gain some perspective. Looking back, how do you feel about your parents now?

King John: Well, they both had their favourites, didn’t they? My father, though, was a lot more sensible about it. I was his favourite purely and simply because I was the son most like him and he saw my potential. Mother’s preference for Richard, as far as I can tell, was based on his being blond. As for me, she was surprised to find out that, being a youngest son with no land, I hadn’t been drowned at birth. Inconveniently enough, I was allowed to live, so she thought the best thing was for me to be put into the Church. Can you imagine it? Me in a soutane, with a pet monkey or something. Fortunately Father overruled her. For once. Perhaps his greatest misjudgement was allowing her the autonomy that he did. Of course, it ended in rebellion. You can bet I didn’t make the same mistake with my own wives.

You have rather a bad reputation in history.

King John: I prefer to say that I have a fearsome reputation. And in the thirteenth century that was no bad thing. Kings had to be feared in order to be respected. Even though today’s leaders are expected to be more approachable, I think people are nostalgic for my management style. You only have to look at all the novels and films set in my reign to see that.

So “Bad King John” and “Evil King John” really mean “Fearsome King John”?

King John: Exactly. And let me tell you, even the most rebellious baron thought twice before crossing Fearsome King John. He knew I would take no prisoners. Quite literally sometimes.

Let’s talk for a moment about your children. Did you have a favourite?

King John: Given the trouble favouritism caused my parents I did my best to avoid it. I provided for all my children according to their rank and many of them repaid me with loyal service. I’m thinking particularly of my eldest son, Richard Fitzroy, who fought for me during the baronial revolt. And I’ve already mentioned Joanna. As Lady of Wales she had an important diplomatic role to play. She mediated between me and her husband Llywelyn, who could be difficult to deal with on occasion. It was Joanna who warned me of an assassination attempt some of my barons were planning. I think that suffices to show the loyalty I inspired in my children. Lady Moppet can tell you more about that.

Lady Moppet: It’s quite true that John’s affection for his children is his major redeeming feature. He took care to provide for them, whether legitimate, illegitimate or even unacknowledged. I have to add, though, that this was in his own best interests. Illegitimate daughters, like Joanna, were useful political pawns, and illegitimate sons were usually more loyal than legitimate ones, as they were more dependent on their father’s favour. John escaped conflict with his legitimate sons because he didn’t live to see them grow up.

Lady Moppet joins us in this interview. How has her perspective (coming from another century) helped you to shape your reign?

King John: She told me about this appalling, corrupt institution called Parliament which denies the royal family their God-given power and interferes with every aspect of their subjects’ lives. It only made me more determined than ever to keep the barons in their place. Admittedly the last thing they would have wanted was democracy, they were just out for a bit more power for themselves, but they started the whole thing by demanding the right to interfere in government. So it gave me considerable satisfaction to learn from Lady Moppet that most hereditary peers no longer have the right to sit in the House of Lords. The monster the barons created eventually turned on them too.

Oh, and apparently I had to watch out for a troublesome fellow who went by the name of Robin Hood. Never saw hide nor hair of him, thank God. An outlaw called Fulke FitzWarin was really getting on my nerves at one point, though.

Tell us about your wives. Any favorites?

King John: There were only two, Isabella of Gloucester, and, after that marriage was annulled, Isabella of Angouleme. I think there should have been more. The harem system some other countries have is much more sensible. When you have just one queen she tends to get a bit above herself. I did what I could to counter that by keeping Isabella the First around after I remarried and providing for her almost as well as I did for Isabella the Second. Isabella the Second took umbrage at that. After she gave me an heir I had to give her a bit more leeway and she insisted that I exile my first wife from court and reduce her allowance. There’s no truth in the rumours that Isabella the Second was unfaithful to me, but we didn’t always get on very well, because she wanted more power than I was willing to give her. I wasn’t as lucky in this marriage as Richard was in his – Berengaria was an ideal queen and I admired her very much. Of course Richard never appreciated her.

Lady Moppet: And you did?

King John: I visited her and wrote her some affectionate letters. I promised her a generous dowry.

Lady Moppet: Which you never paid. She was still petitioning for it to be paid well into your son’s reign.

King John: That’s not my fault. I had to spend so much on fighting the barons that there was nothing left over for her.

What’s your ideal Saturday night?

King John: Not what you think. My barons would have you believe that I only enjoy executing people. The truth is that I like nothing more than a boys’ night out, just not with them. I prefer to relax in the company of my knights or my trusty mercenaries. And of course, Saturday night wouldn’t be complete without a visit to my mistress of the moment. In fact, no night would be complete without that.

Lady Moppet: To be John’s friend, you had to be low enough in rank that he didn’t feel threatened. Oh, and you had to let him tell the jokes.

The Magna Carta: historical records tend toward the idea that your barons all but tied you to a chair, bitch-slapping you repeatedly until you agreed to sign the document. Our readers would like to hear your version of events.

King John: I’m glad you brought this up. For some reason people now think that Magna Carta was the most important thing to come out of my reign. I myself can’t say the time I spent at Runnymede was a complete waste of time, but that’s only because I managed to get some hawking in. I tried to explain that it makes no sense for the king to make a law to limit his own powers: he is the law. No-one would listen. In the end I put my seal to the stupid charter to gain some time, but I knew I couldn’t possibly stick to it. The barons obviously thought so too since not all of them bothered to stay around to take their oaths of loyalty.

Lady Moppet: That’s why you like Shakespeare’s play about your reign -
King John: Yes, because he very sensibly omits all mention of the whole thing.

Do all your mistresses do interviews or does Lady Moppet hold a special place in your heart?

King John: As you say, Lady Moppet does indeed hold a special place in my heart and so I’ve chosen her to represent my mistresses.

Lady Moppet: I suspect the real reason John doesn’t want his mistresses interviewed is because, while he could be romantic and generous as long as the relationship lasted, he didn’t treat the women he had discarded particularly well. In addition his barons accused him of sexually harassing their wives and daughters.

King John: All lies made up by the sex-obsessed chroniclers.

Lady Moppet: So why is there a support group for your ex-mistresses?

King John: There isn’t.

Lady Moppet: There is! It meets in the solar at Kenilworth on Tuesdays.

King John: Shall we move on?

Certainly, Your Majesty. I interviewed Richard III recently, and I have to say he's a man of few words. I was surprised at that. Almost as much as I've been surprised to learn so much in our interview today. Your answers have a great deal more insight, and length, than I would have anticipated. Clearly you were an affectionate and responsible father. And see yourself as a great leader. Possibly ahead of your time. A visionary, if you will.

King John: I think I was about four hundred and fifty years ahead of my time in that I tried to rule as an absolute monarch. Unfortunately my subjects weren’t quite so far-seeing, hence the conflict that divided us.
Richard III probably doesn’t say much because he doesn’t want you to know what he’s thinking. He may seem affable on the surface, but he’s a devious chap underneath.

I find it interesting that both you and Richard III dealt with rumors due to the disappearance of certain family members. Would you care to set the record straight about what happened to your nephew Arthur?

King John: If only I could. No-one is more anxious than I to discover exactly what happened to Arthur. All I can say with certainty is that I haven’t seen him since April of 1203. To some Arthur seemed a confident, even an arrogant young man, but I observed that he had deep insecurities. It’s not impossible that he decided the task of ruling Brittany was simply too much to cope with and chose to make a new life in secret elsewhere. If so, I hope he found the peace of mind he was looking for.

In general, I think my record with regard to nephews is a good one. My brother-in-law Raymond VI, count of Toulouse, sent his son and heir to me to learn statecraft, and I brought up an illegitimate nephew, Henry, as my own son.

We’re getting down to the wire here. Quickly, if you can, what do you see as your legacy to England and to history?

King John: The British Empire. I began the process of building up the Royal Navy into a force which would eventually win for Britain the largest empire in history. That’s what I’m proudest of.

Last question. Possibly the most important question that historians have left unasked. What is your favorite color?

King John: Royal purple, of course.

Of course.

Well that's our time. Thank you to King John and Lady Moppet for joining us today. We hope we've been able to shed new light on one of history's most...um...fascinating figures.

Please join us next week for our exclusive interview with Richard III. Thank you.

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Mon November 16th, 2009, 10:50 pm

Brilliant stuff, LoveHistory! *much applause*

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EC2
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Postby EC2 » Mon November 16th, 2009, 11:00 pm

On the run, but dropping in to say I enjoyed the interview very much - thank you!
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal

www.elizabethchadwick.com

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Nefret
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Favorite HF book: Welsh Princes trilogy
Preferred HF: The Middle Ages (England), New Kingdom Egypt, Medieval France
Location: Temple of Isis

Postby Nefret » Tue November 17th, 2009, 3:11 am

I enjoyed that very much. Please do more in the future.

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robinbird79
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Location: Georgia

Postby robinbird79 » Tue November 17th, 2009, 3:40 am

Great interview!!
Currently Reading: Crown in Candlelight, R. H. Jarmen

http://almostcrazymommy.blogspot.com

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LoveHistory
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Postby LoveHistory » Tue November 17th, 2009, 12:10 pm

Thanks! I'm working on more. I'll post Richard III's interview next Monday.

And a big thank you to Miss Moppet (and Lady Moppet) without whom I never would have gotten the idea, or the first interview!

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Leo62
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Postby Leo62 » Tue November 17th, 2009, 12:56 pm

LOL that was hilarious! More more :D Who else are you doing apart from R3?

King John: She told me about this appalling, corrupt institution called Parliament which denies the royal family their God-given power and interferes with every aspect of their subjects’ lives. It only made me more determined than ever to keep the barons in their place. Admittedly the last thing they would have wanted was democracy, they were just out for a bit more power for themselves, but they started the whole thing by demanding the right to interfere in government. So it gave me considerable satisfaction to learn from Lady Moppet that most hereditary peers no longer have the right to sit in the House of Lords. The monster the barons created eventually turned on them too.

Oh, and apparently I had to watch out for a troublesome fellow who went by the name of Robin Hood. Never saw hide nor hair of him, thank God. An outlaw called Fulke FitzWarin was really getting on my nerves at one point, though.

ROTFLMAO!
Last edited by Leo62 on Tue November 17th, 2009, 12:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
listen:there's a hell
of a good universe next door;let's go
ee cummings

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bb
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Location: Cross River, NY

Postby bb » Tue November 17th, 2009, 2:23 pm

Greyt interview; more more. I can't even imagine how much work went into this, really nice.

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Misfit
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Location: Seattle, WA

Postby Misfit » Tue November 17th, 2009, 3:43 pm

This was great, thanks for doing it. Can't wait to see the one with R3.
At home with a good book and the cat...
...is the only place I want to be


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