A couple of days ago I started reading “Prince Rupert: The Last Cavalier” by Charles Spencer (the very same Charles Spencer, brother of the amazing Princess Diana) and well…I think you may have all gathered from my post on Stuart crushes, and the fact that the blog header has a rather dashing portrait of the young man splashed across it…and the fact my new twitter user pic is the very same portrait as above, that I have a bit of a thing for the Prince from Prague. And I regret absolutely nothing. Anyway, as I was reading the book this evening during a particularly quiet period at work I came across a quote that really got me thinking (and also made me laugh out loud):
“There was a determination that the most eye-catching of the Royalist leaders should be characterised as wild, dangerous, and even devilish. He was portrayed as a deviant who enjoyed sex with his white poodle, Boy…”
At first glance the quote above seems rather shocking. How could this young man, a favourite of his Uncle Charles I’s and a celebrated military man, enjoy such depravities? But then you read a little deeper and realise that this is all propaganda circulated by the Parliamentarian forces. Did Rupert do this with his little dog named Boye? The answer is, in my humble opinion, 100% not true – Rupert was a highly religious human being, and from what I’ve read so far exceptionally honourable. The likelihood of him getting friendly with his pet dog was therefore…well…not likely in the slightest.
So why did Parliament concoct such propaganda?
The answer is relatively simple. They were afraid of Rupert. Despite his youthful years, he was an accomplished military man, had fought from the age of 14 in warfare and during the early stages of the English Civil War had been placed in command of the Cavalry by Charles I. Despite the fact he had been a prisoner of war for many, many years, he was seen by the opposition to be a formidable foe, and a man who had taken part in some of the bloodiest atrocities during the early days of the Civil War, including his demands of £2000 from the City of Leicester to stop him and his troops from invading them. Charles I in the end sent apologies to the City, saying he had nothing to do with his behaviour.
Rupert’s reputation never really recovered, especially with when it came to his little dog, Boye. Thanks to Parliamentarian propaganda Rupert faced numerous accusations of witchcraft and Boye was accused of being his familiar. Many accused Boye of being the devil in disguise, being able to find hidden treasure, being invulnerable to attack and having the ability to catch bullets fired at his master in his mouth.
Boye was sadly killed at the battle of Marston Moor. Despite having been tied up at the Royalist camp, he escaped and followed Rupert into battle, being killed in the fighting. What did Rupert think of the death of his faithful dog, an animal that had been given to him during his time as a prisoner of war? I have found very little to tell me of what he felt after this but I can imagine him being distraught. Not only that but those who produced the propaganda against Rupert and his apparently magical dog must have rejoiced.
I have plans to write a series of posts on Prince Rupert, similar to what I have previously done on Nell Gwynne and Barbara Villiers, as there seems to be so much to learn about this interesting man. His dog however, grasped my imagination this afternoon!