Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Black Prince and the Horrors of War

From English Historical Fiction Authors:
With these two considerations in mind—Bradbury’s explanation that if the massacre did happen the prince was far from unusual, and Barber’s contention that the massacre didn’t happen and that Froissart is all wet—reconciling the accounts of the Black Prince as the flower of chivalry and the Black Prince as a genocidal maniac became a little easier.

As I mentioned above, my novel I Serve ends ten years prior to Limoges, but my understanding of the events of that siege still helped me construct the character of the prince in his younger days. Thus, in my novel, when the prince observes his own father Edward III threatening to massacre the citizens of Calais, he does not react with shocked modern sensibilities but acknowledges that the king would have the right to do so—for the siege had been a year in length and cost him much time and many men. But at the same time, he also throws in his plea with the remonstrations of the nobles and the implorations of his mother for the king to grant the citizens of Calais clemency.

And, if Barber is right, then despite all the rape, pillage, and slaughter we see splashed about the pages of the medieval chronicles, maybe clemency was the case more often than not. Maybe sieges were a bloodier affair on paper than in person. Maybe the Black Prince was not the butcher of Limoges. One can always hope….(Read more.)

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