A Quick Catch Up – Various Historical Ramblings

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and written a proper blog about anything. I blame work. No really I do. Also I blame the fact that I’ve been busy working away at editing my book, which I am slightly behind on because of said work. But never mind. I shall pick the manuscript back up tomorrow evening and try not to drown it in my English Civil War/Stuart family tears.

If I’m perfectly honest I don’t even know why I’m sitting here typing this because it will most likely have nothing to do with anything remotely historical whatsoever. I suppose I just felt like checking in with you all and saying hello. Oh, and telling you what historical shenanigans I’ve been up to this past week – wait, didn’t I just say this would have nothing historical? Oh well.

So, on Thursday 14th I wrote that whole post on the death of Juan Borgia, and after I saw the lovely David Oakes tweet about it being the 515th Anniversary of Juan’s death I may have, sort of, tweeted him about the piece I wrote. And a couple of days later, as I switched on tweetdeck a little thing popped up in my mentions list. I may have sat there in shock for a good few minutes before squealing at my partner: OH MY GOD DAVID OAKES RETWEETED MY JUAN POST. HE MUST HAVE READ IT AND LIKED IT!!!! Yeah, I may have gotten a little bit overexcited, I’m not sorry one bit.

It’s probably not very clear in the screen shot but it says “retweeted by David_Oakes“. Now for those of you who don’t know, or who haven’t seen Showtime’s “The Borgia’s”, David Oakes plays Juan Borgia, second son of Rodrigo Borgia – or as he is more often known “Alexander VI”. Now then I won’t spoil season 2 for those who haven’t seen it, but let’s just say that David did an utterly astounding job portraying the history of Juan, despite the inaccuracies of the time lines etc. I found myself in floods of tears seeing Juan’s downward spiral, yet at the same time I loved his sass. Honestly, if you haven’t seen The Borgias, please do check it out because it is fantastic, albeit not hugely accurate. But hey, it is entertainment after all, and very well done entertainment!!

I may have gone a little bit mad on books this past week. A few weeks ago I went on a bit of a spree buying a ton of books on Minette Stuart, just because I love her and all, and I may have ended up buying a few more than I should have…

The two lying cover up are two that I brought myself on Tuesday from a bookshop when I was on the way back from the hospital. I felt like cheering myself up after a diagnosis of Coeliac disease (I’m not going to go into it too it here as y’know this is a history blog and all but let’s just say that things weren’t entirely clear from the doctor and they said it was “mild” and I had to cut down on my gluten intake and it runs hand in hand with my type 1 diabetes. Excellent. They didn’t tell me that changing my diet to mainly gluten free would really play around with my blood sugars, but still, different story for a different day) and I ended up spending £35 on two books. BUT IT WAS TOTALLY WORTH IT! The books spine up are mainly all on Minette, except the two on the left which are dedicated to my favourite couple in history; Charles I and Henrietta Maria, and the biggest bad ass woman on the planet Caterina Sforza!

And then yesterday, this little beauty arrived! I’m not going to lie, but I have a bit of a thing for the Earl of Rochester aka John Wilmot aka the man who wrote the most obscene play of the Seventeenth Century. Have any of you seen The Libertine with Johnny Depp? If not, why not? I ADORE IT SO MUCH! I also adore Rochester. The other day I sat down and read his entire obscene play in a matter of hours, and I loved every minute of it. And no, not because if was Seventeenth Century pornography…but because I thought it was freaking hilarious and also provided an excellent commentary to Rochester’s feelings on the court of Charles II. Does that sound a bit presumptuous? Maybe. I’m not sorry.

Tomorrow I’m planning on visiting Winchester when I finish work. I went to University in that gorgeous city and haven’t been since my graduation. It’s going to be amazing to get back there. The town has such a magical quality for me, mainly for its history. The city has been there for centuries, and even has an Iron Age hill fort on its outskirts. I have many fond memories of St Catherine’s Hill, particularly sitting up there one very cold November evening watching various firework displays. My main interest in the city lies in its ties to the English Civil War – the city itself changed hands many sides during the War (which is worth a blog post on its own), and the Cathedral shows a lot of English Civil War damage in the interior, caused by Parliamentarian Soldiers. Not only that but the famous Round Table, hung in the Great Hall of Winchester Cathedral, also suffered Parliamentarian vandalism after they burst into the Hall and shot at the table with their muskets! My main plan tomorrow is to have a slow wander around the Cathedral and soak in its atmosphere – I adore the place and find it very peaceful, plus the history held in the building helps. I also have a plan to light a candle for a close friend of mine who recently passed away. There are two statues by the entrance of James I and Charles I both of which have musket damage which I am particularly interested in revisiting. And for those Tudor fans, Stephen Gardiner Bishop of Winchester is also buried within the walls. I will return with lots of pictures. I should also hopefully be meeting up with an old friend from Uni for pints which is always fun!

And if I’m honest there hasn’t been much historical fun going on for this past week. I still blame work. I’ve mainly been reading a book that is so far from history based you wouldn’t even believe it. For anyone who cares, I’ve been reading “Let’s Pretend This Never Happened” by Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess and it has to be one of the best non history books I’ve ever read. It’s not often an autobiography has me laughing so hard that tears run down my face, but this book was fantastic. Not only that but between the hilarity there were also some very serious moments that provided a very stark insight into mental illness. It is a fantastic book, very funny and very very frank. I would recommend it to anyone, whether they are into this type of book or not. I’ve also been working my way through “Restoration London” by Liza Picard which reads like a more serious version of Ian Mortimer’s “A Visitor’s Guide to Medieval England” and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I am learning so much more about what the normal citizens of London in the 1660’s would have lived like and it is rather nice coming at the era from the “bottom up” as it were…

And my old A-Level teacher would be so proud of me for using the term “bottom up” in a sentence about history.

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