Monday, 24 July 2017
by James L.S.Carter
Existences sharp instants fill the night:-
A car drives past, sounds cough-like, out of sight
Then ambulances' sirens shriek and fright
With which police car sirens scream and fight
Ubiquitous are thoughts most intimate
A private life thro' wider, public state
Make social traffic as does circulate
As Forth Tripontium of Trumpian date
Wednesday, 5 July 2017
SYNOPSIS: Knight of the Hospice at Soutra, by Thomas H. Leonard, assisted by J.L.S.Carter
Summary and four key features: The Scottish knight Sir Richard de Liddell visits the medieval hospitals on Soutra Hill on a regular basis to deliver herbal remedies from his garden on Calton Hill in Edinburgh. But he is forced to seek sanctuary on the Soutra during the year 1436 when his wife and squire are murdered in Edinburgh by his incestuous brother-in-law Father Baldr Sigurdsen. Richard helps to treat a shepherd Duncan Cotter who is suffering from the Cumberland fever (anthrax). When Duncan dies, Richard assumes his identity, before escaping to York. He returns to Edinburgh in1462, as Le Chevalier Duncan Le Cottier, after a quarter century of intrigue in York, France, and Nouveau Gaulle (North America), during England's 100 years war with France and the subsequent dynastic struggles between the Yorkists and Lancastrians in England.
**The knight's Jewish friends reflect the role played by the Children of Israel during the Middle Ages when emphasising the importance of developing a prosperous, peaceful, all-accepting society.
** The medical developments on the Soutra, in Edinburgh, York, Marseilles, and at the University of Montpellier in Provence play a predominant role throughout Sir Richard's life.
** The diverse nature of human feelings and emotional relationships is reflected by Sir Richard's experiences with his wives and lovers.
** Freya, the All-Seeing Eye perceives the spirits, thoughts and aspirations of all mortals as they reflect on each other.
1: Triangle of Love. During September 1436, Sir Richard leaves his loving wife Ingibiorg in his mansion in Edinburgh and rides with his loveable squire Cedric de Porthos to the House of the Holy Trinity on Soutra Hill. They are threatened by a couple of retainers who emerge from Dalhousie Castle and try to involve them in a plot against the king.
2: The House of the Holy Trinity. The obnoxious Brother Stephanus Le Fleming (later Stephen Fleming , the Master of the Soutra Abbey Hospital) argues with Cedric in the Soutra friary about their blasphemies.. Richard delivers his herbal remedies and treats the shepherd Duncan Cotter for the sheeps' sweat. After eating mushrooms, Cedric hallucinates about the Grim Reaper.
3: Journey into Jeopardy. The Troubadour of Arbroath warns Cedric in Fala about his impending doom. In Pathhead, the retainers from Dalhousie Castle again try to bully Richard and Cedric.
4:Home Sweet Home. Richard and Cedric discover Ingibiorg having fun with the fledgeling witch Adaira McTaggart. After supper, Richard visits the sheriff-depute in the Pretorium. When Richard returns home, he discovers Cedric and Ingibiorg dying together after drinking claret poisoned by Ingibiorg's brother Father Baldr Sigurdsen. Richard is accused by neighbour of murder
5: Back to the Pretorium. While trying to seek refuge in Bruchton, Richard is arrested and dragged in a large net to the Pretorium, where he is tortured at the whim of the sheriff-depute. But he is released by an erstwhile comrade-in-arms, and fights his way out with another prisoner...
6: Sanctuary of Sorts. Richard returns to the Soutra, and is granted sanctuary in an isolated barn beyond the Saint Mungus Chapel. He courts the homely lass of the woods Pigfoot McEigg.
7: Intrigue from Embro. The Soutra is raided by sheriff's officers from Edinburgh searching for fugitives. Duncan dies. Sir Richard marries Pigfoot, assumes Duncan Cotter's identity, and escapes to York. Unknown to the new Duncan, Pigfoot later gives birth to his children Seth and Sansa.
8: Reception in York. Duncan Cotter (previously Sir Richard) is robbed and left for dead near the Shambles upon his arrival in York. He spends the next few months as a brain-damaged vagrant, and then is brought back to health by Jewish Hart brothers in their apothecary shop.
9: Peace among the English. Duncan helps the brash knight Sir Percival de Burgogne to train his troops for France. However, in 1442, Duncan is forced to leave York when Percival's mother Lady Rosamund gives birth to Duncan's son Harry de Burgogne.
10: Accursed Rouen. Duncan sails to Rouen with Sir Percival's troops, under the command of Richard, Duke of York. Duncan befriends a Jewish soldier Bagoas Ash and deserts with him to the French to save the life of a Scottish mercenary.
11: Sweet Marseilles. Duncan and Bagoas join La Compagnie de Marseilles, which is commanded by René, Count of Provence, father of Margaret of Anjou. Duncan becomes René's informal political advisor. Duncan also works several hours a week in the Hospital of St. John in Marseilles.
12: The Treaty of Tours. Duncan and Bagoas de Frêne travel to Tours to help the Count negotiate the marriage of Margaret of Anjou to King Henry of England. At Duncan's suggestion, René falsely asserts that the English negotiator William de la Pole agreed to cede Maine and Anjou to France.
13: St. Jakob an der Birs. The power hungry French attack Switzerland during the lull in fighting with the English. Duncan saves Count René's life during the highly dramatic Battle of St. Jakob outside the City of Basel, and is knighted as a Chevalier of France by the Dauphin himself.
14: In the Court of Good King René. Duncan and Bagoas move into an apartment in Count René's palace in Marseilles, and become lovers. Duncan is offered a large dowry to marry Countess Ruth de Camando, and he moves into her château in nearby Sephora. Fathers her sixth child Didier.
15: Back to Rouen. In 1449, Duncan organizes a successful attack on Le Grosse Tour when the French recapture Rouen from the English. However, Duncan is drenched in a shower of pitchblende, and his face is mutilated beyond recognition.
16: Sons and Lovers. Bagoas marries Meg Tuppen who worked in a tavern in Rouen, but Duncan fathers her only child Simeon. Duncan's thirteen year old son Harry gives the evil Earl of Warwick helpful advice at the Battle of St. Albans which leads to a crushing victory for the Yorkists.
17: Voyage to Nouveau Gaulle. At the suggestion of his friend Aeneas Piccolomini (later Pope Pius the Second), Duncan leads an expedition to Patowmeck in Nouveau Gaulle where the Patata and Hen clans of the Sac are remarkably peace-loving in nature. However, the explorers are asked to leave when the Sac discover that they are not a particularly peaceable lot themselves.
18: Life in Provence and Elsewhere. In 1458, Duncan's son Seth is working as a physician on the Soutra when he becomes involved in the scandals surrounding Stephen Fleming, the Master of the House of the Holy Trinity, which lead to the transfer of most of its funding to Trinity College Hospital in Edinburgh, and to the swift decline of the facilities on the Soutra. The eminent Jewish physician Henri Lustiger moves from the Soutra back to the University of Montpellier. He befriends Duncan, and advises him that he has a Scottish son and daughter, Seth and Sansa Liddell.
19: Bloodshed Around Sandal Castle. In 1460, Harry deserts the Yorkists just before the Battle of Wakefield, where Richard, Duke of York and Sir Percival de Burgogne are slain by the Lancastrians. Harry's friend Edmund, Earl of Rutland is also slain, after marrying Teresa of Osleset. Teresa's baby Alfred is arguably the rightful heir to the throne of England. Harry marries Teresa.
20: Preparations for the Future. Bagoas dies. Meg plans to purchase an inn on Dartmoor. Seth and Sansa provide medical assistance during the storming of Roxburghe Castle on the Tweed.
21: Eidyn's Fair City, Revisited In 1462, Duncan/Sir Richard returns to Edinburgh incognito where his irascible nephew Sir Lulach de Liddell is the master physician at Trinity College Hospital. Duncan's son Seth is now a physician at an asylum in Leith. The white witch Adaira McTaggart is a woman of learning with interests in medicine. Sir Richard's illegitimate son Harry helps his father to prove that his (Richard's) wife and squire were murdered by the incestuous Father Baldr Sigurdsen 26 years previously. Sir Richard establishes contact with Seth and Sansa, and sets the wheels in motion for retrieving his property in Scotland from the greedy Lulach.
A sequel 'Children of Soutra' is in preparation