A Concordance for John M. Ford's The Dragon Waiting
[Dec 1477 - Jan 1478] 7. Up

[...] the lengthening of the day after the Solstice, the longest night itself (and the lost things found upon it), the birth of Mithras, Saturnal, year-change [...]

Confirms that the calendar in TDW is reckoned from January to December, more or less, as ours is.

(This is not a foregone conclusion; the early Roman Empire began the year in March. But the change to January occurred in 153 BC, long before TDW history diverged from ours.)

It is the end of 1477 AD.

[...] minnesingers weeping into their lutes.

A German troubador tradition, performing songs of courtly love.

See also: p269 (Minnesänger)

[...] the Worshipful Company of the Art and Mystery of Dentistry was turned out in mass to cheer the passage of the sun into Capricorn, auspicious for the pulling of teeth.

The astrological sign of Capricorn governs the skin, bones, and teeth. The sun enters this sign (in its annual trip around the zodiac) on the winter solstice; so this celebration must occur every year at this time.

"A dragon of the Chinas," Hywel said. "The little thundercrackers are harmless, but mind your horses." He turned to Cynthia.

Cynthia's reaction -- still and expressionless -- reflects the pain she feels at being reminded of Lorenzo's fireworks (p66). Hywel, having touched her mind (p133), understands this.

Cecily Neville, dowager Duchess of York, had been called the Rose of Raby in her youth; [...]

Introduces the mother of Edward, George, and Richard.

"Raby" is the castle where Cecily was born.

"My daughter Margaret," she was saying to Cynthia, "considered becoming a priestess of Minerva, but there was a German alliance to cement. And Ursula, the youngest, seems determined on a career in one of the knightly orders. [...]"

Our history:

Margaret of York married Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, in 1468 AD. Ursula died young (aged perhaps three).

Much later, after the deaths of her brothers, Margaret championed the Yorkist cause and organized revolts against Henry VII. (See Lambert Simnel, Perkin Warbeck.)

The idea of a woman entering a knightly order would be outre in our history, but seems to be presented matter-of-factly here. (Ursula would be 22 at the time of this scene -- the same age as Cynthia.)

Cecily's owl pendant is a symbol of Minerva.

"[...] When they drove my Richard out of the country, I turned myself and the children over to King Henry; he didn't dare hurt me then, for fear of thunderbolts as an oathbreaker... but believe me, dear, in that year I learned what rudeness was."

This was Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, and the year 1459-1460 AD.

If Henry swore an oath to protect the family of his enemy, was he kept to it by fear of losing face in front of his allies, or by fear of genuinely being struck by lightning? If the latter, the gods are more active than we have seen thus far.

"[...] And is there such an agreement?"

"No such document exists, my lady."

"That is good news, then... to know there is one tiny bone of sense in George's body."

Hywel lies to Cecily by omission; he implies that the exemplification never existed. Apparently he keeps to a need-to-know policy, even with Cecily, who is clearly an ally and a longtime friend.

He was not tall, but was powerfully built, with a warrior's big shoulders. Dark hair hung to his collar; his features were even, flat, not unattractive. He pulled off his cap with a ringed hand, shouted, "Good evening, Mother! Time for rejoicing: despite the roads and London, the younger son is--" He looked around the dinner table. "Oh, shit."

Introduces Richard of Gloucester, soon to be Richard III of England.

His greeting is slightly elevated towards the theatrical, albeit probably as a conscious gesture; when he sees that Cecily has guests, he cuts himself off with an entirely un-self-conscious obscenity. (Note that he will not recognize Hywel for another few moments.)

Shakespeare's plays:

Richard is portrayed, in his play, as an ugly, twisted dwarf (act 1, scene 1).

"What Peredur means," Richard said, "is that I chase Scotsmen around Robin Hood's barn."

"I've told them something of your situation," Hywel said, "and they're willing to serve with you. If you're interested in having them, of course."

"Of course," Richard said lightly.

This passes quickly, but we learn that Gregory and Dimi are going to Scotland, to fight alongside Richard.

"Around Robin Hood's barn" is an idiom for "unnecessarily complicated" or "the long way around." Richard is in charge of the permanent border scuffle with Scotland, but he implies that it is a lot of scuffling for not much gain.

"Albany is in Denmark."

"What's he doing in Denmark?"

"Wavering, I imagine."

Alexander Stuart, Duke of Albany, brother of King James of Scotland. He is at this point looking for foreign allies to help him overthrow James.

Shakespeare's plays:

Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, famously spends his play being indecisive.

[...] reading from a book on a stand, the new Caxton printing of Malory's Arthuriad; [...]

Our history:

Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur ("The Death of Arthur") was first published by William Caxton in 1485 AD. Malory had died around 1470, just after finishing his work.

The TDW equivalent appears earlier (it is 1477), and under a different title. Rather than being French, "Arthuriad" is a Greek form, like "Iliad."

Cynthia said clearly, "How many troops does she come with?"

Cecily looked up, startled. "Why, no soldiers as such, dear, but most of Norfolk duchy. I see you know how this is done."

"Only above the rank of Baron," Cynthia said.

Cynthia is quoting Hywel's line (p148), about the woman who married Sforza.

Then he swallowed, said "Oh, blast, yes," and sat down heavily.

Our history:

It is plausible (though unprovable) that the marriage of Richard and Anne Neville was a love-match as well as a political alliance.

Shakespeare's plays:

In Richard III, Anne curses Richard for killing her first husband. He pleads with Anne and convinces her that he loves her (act 1, scene 2). After he marries her, he has her killed too.

"Annie and I grew up together, in her father's house at Middleham. Runts of the litter, both of us -- hush, Mother, I've seen those verses about 'Richard liveth yet' --"

"Richard liveth yet" is a line from a mnemonic verse of Cecily's children, written when Richard was very young. Some have argued that this line supports Shakespeare's picture of Richard as sickly and deformed. Others say that it merely contrasts him with his siblings who did not survive infancy.

"I... don't know your faiths, and I am sorry if this is a wrong question, but tomorrow is an... important day. Is there--"

...a Mithraeum here, Dimi is about to ask. The day must be December 24th, because the 25th is the birth of Mithras (p45).

Richard reveals that he too is an initiate of the Mithraic mysteries, and they go outside to discuss the matter.

Hywel said "It's her pain, of course... all her senses are cut off, as an ache turns to numbness; she can function, walk, talk, but she's a shell. I think I know someone in Wales who can help... but until then, we have to keep something else from filling that shell."

The person in Wales is Mary Setright.

Hywel's description of Cynthia is essentially of post-traumatic stress disorder. (See also p177.)

Hywel spoke quite coolly. "What I learn in certain ways I do not repeat. It is an essential rule. Wizards who will not keep rules... Gregory, you saw the Frenchman die. And Cecily, I think you recall, at Wakefield, in the snow..."

"The Frenchman" was Guillaume, who died on p170. His failure was not an ethical rule, as is Hywel's attention to psychic privacy, but the conservation of energy in spell-casting. Hywel is identifying the cases anyway, which may be the point.

At the Battle of Wakefield (Dec 30, 1460 AD), Cecily's husband Richard of York was killed and the Yorkist force crushed. It is unclear what part wizardry played.

Shakespeare's plays:

In Henry VI part 3, Richard of York is seized during the battle, and then executed by Lord Clifford and Margaret of Anjou (act 1, scene 4).

"Where I am," Gregory said, "There is no death. What are we going to do?"

The question is about Cynthia. She said she wants to go with Richard, to serve as a doctor. But Hywel has said (once Cynthia is out of earshot -- p183) that she must go with him, to Wales (p183).

When the young man who would become Edward IV fought his first great battle, a strange thing happened in the sky overhead: three suns shone together. Edward's advisors were still divided as to whether this was a sign from the gods or a refraction phenomenon of the "sundog" variety.

Edward was said to have seen such a vision in our history as well. The battle was Mortimer's Cross, a few months after Edward's father was killed at Wakefield (see p183-184).

Shakespeare's plays:

The vision is narrated in Henry VI part 3, act 2, scene 1.

See also: p374 (crimson rose)

Edward himself played no favorites: he went from no particular faith to the earnest worship of Phoebus Apollo, in time constructing a new hall in the London Pantheon, and endowed a school of opticks at Minerva College, Oxford.

The "London Pantheon" is probably analogous either to Westminster Abbey, or to St. Paul's Cathedral. (The first one, which was destroyed in the fire of 1666.)

Several of the colleges of Oxford University have Christian-derived names, which might become "Minerva College" in TDW history. None, however, seem to be associated with a school of optics.

See also: p297 (artless complex)

The little Duke of York and his bride Anne Mowbray [...]

This marriage occurred in our history (although in St. Stephen's Chapel in Westminster Palace). It is January 15th, 1478 AD.

This is one of the few scenes in TDW at which none of the protagonists are present. It is the only such scene -- except perhaps for the last line of the novel, p376 -- which is written to a personal scale, as if an entirely anonymous narrator were present. (Other such historic scenes, such as p335-p336, cover an entire city, and so can be taken as a distant view from any or all of the protagonists.)

"[...] All right, I fought you; I helped Warwick throw you out of the country; I did it, and I lost, and I know what that sort of loser gets. Just like Henry... Tell me something, Dick, about old Henry -- was it you then, too?"

George is asking whether Richard was the one who killed the imprisoned Henry in 1471.

The identity of the killer is not known in our history, or in TDW either (see p147). Shakespeare, of course, blames Richard.

"She was sending [the document] by magic," Hywel went on. "We stopped it. But we need to know whom she was sending it to, who would have taken it to the court."

"You stopped... oh, gods, Dick. I didn't... I mean, I'm sorry."

George misunderstands "we stopped it" to mean Hywel and Richard (where Hywel actually meant the group in chapter 6, p170). George is therefore reacting to the notion that Richard would have made an effort to protect him. Hywel prevents Richard from correcting this -- presumably to keep his interrogation on track.

"Last May, Doctor Stacy, and the Thoth-priest at his college, and George's man Tom Burdett were all arrested for plotting to kill Edward by magics. [...]"

Consistent with our history. The third man appears to have been named Thomas Blake. Of the three, only Blake avoided execution.

Our history:

It is possible that these executions were direct retribution for George's execution of Ankarette Twynho (p150, p187), and a warning from Edward that George should stop making trouble. If so, it failed, as George continued hurling accusations at his brother.

"[...] Of course, this was a month after George had the Twynho woman dragged out of her bed and hanged, in the speed record for legal process."

See p150.

"You weren't there when Isabel died," he said, on the edge of a sob. "She just lay there, couldn't move, couldn't lift her hands... and when I kissed her, I could taste the poison on her breath. It tasted of fruit, and she hadn't had fruit. She was so long dying... in such pain..."

Cynthia and le Chaudronnier were both certain that poison was not consistent with the timing of Isabel's death. (See p150.)

But a sweet odor on the breath is is a symptom of diabetes; and the rest of this description is consistent with untreated diabetes, as well. Although no character in the book makes this connection, it is very possible that Ford -- who was diabetic himself -- intended it.

(Hywel is familiar with diabetes; see p113. It is possible that he makes the connection but says nothing, as he is being careful not to upset George.)

Hywel said "I didn't mean to make you lie, just then."

The lie of allowing George to believe Richard helped destroy the exemplification. See p187.

Cynthia watched the wedding party spilling out from the Apollonium with its shining dome.

The end of the wedding from p184. The ordering implies that the previous scene (Hywel, Richard and George) took place at the same time as the wedding.

"[...] Das Leben ist Lieblich. [...]"

German: "Life is lovely."

"Gregory, are you well?"

"Well? Ja, 'bin ganz wohl. There is no disease that can afflict me, no drug poison me. I will live for a long time... Who knows how long. [...]"

German: "Yes, I am well."

Confirms that vampires are completely immune to these dangers...

He held [the knife] loosely in one hand, squeezed. The steel blade bent into waves between his thumb and fingers.

...and that vampires are inhumanly strong, as well.

"I cannot promise she will go to Wales," Gregory said, "but I do not think she will go to Scotland."

Wales is where Hywel said Cynthia might be helped (p183). Scotland is where Gregory and Dimi are going with Richard (p179).

"I am all right. Though while I spoke to her..." He laughed once, ash-dry. "In fact, I am well. I told you, I have given this... performance... before. It is not all play-act, of course; I am the hungry animal, I know. But this time, the reason was better than hunger... Yes, I think I am well."

Thus, the entire previous scene (p189-191), in which Gregory acted fey and dangerous, was just that: an act, to convince Cynthia not to go with Richard to Scotland.

When Gregory said "I told you..." he is referring to a conversation which is not in the book. It must have followed his question "What are we going to do [about Cynthia]?" (p184).

Gregory's repetition of "I am well" echoes his speech to Cynthia (p189-190).

"[...] She's not a hollow vessel needing someone to fill her; she's a knight needing a quest. For her soul's sake." She paused, looking at the illustration on the book page, of jousters riding one another down. "That's why she must go with Hywel: there are better quests than war."

The book, we recall, is Malory's Arthuriad (see p180). The "hollow vessel" was Hywel's description of Cynthia (p183).

This short scene, the heart of the chapter, considers quests. Arthur's Grail quest (or "Cauldron quest" in TDW history; see p231) is archetypical. Cecily is comparing it to Cynthia's needs: her desire to be a doctor in Richard's war, and some greater need beyond that.

But we also have Gregory's comment (p191) that helping Cynthia is a "better reason" to play the vampire than hunger. (He may have used that persona to seduce donors.) He too is better off when pursuing a goal beyond survival.

And, unspoken, all of them remain involved in Hywel's enterprise: the overthrow of Byzantium.

"The said duke nevertheless, for all this no love increasing but growing daily in more and more malice..."

The bill of attainder quoted in this scene matches the one in our historical record. (Rotuli Parliamentorum, vol. 6, p193-195.) The unabridged act is three pages long.

Dimitrios said "How do the English put a royal duke to death?"

"My father had his head hacked off," Richard said. "But I don't think Edward will want anything so spectacular." He looked across the hall at George, still motionless. "Perhaps we should ask George."

"[...] 'Enough wine to sate him,' indeed. [...]"

Dragon history:

The scene makes clear that George chose the means of his own death, and did not struggle against it. (See p193.)

Our history:

George was convicted of treason in January of 1478, and sentenced to death. He was spared a public execution, but died nonetheless -- almost certainly at Edward's word -- on February 18. The tradition is that he was drowned in a butt of malmsey wine, but this is unverifiable.

(Although, for what it's worth, Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable agrees with TDW that George chose his fate.)

Shakespeare's plays:

In Richard III, George is murdered in prison. It is Richard who gives the order to kill him, but the two hired thugs who come up with the idea of drowning him in malmsey. (Act 1, scene 4).

He faced Dimi and Gregory. "Will you come with me, and chase Scotsmen? There's no glory in it, and it's terrible for your soul, but by the Dog it's the only war we've got. And the pay is good."

The Dog is a figure from Mithraic myth; see p49.

This confirms what Dimi and Gregory seem to have chosen already (p179, p191).

Dimi gave a brief glance to Tyrell, who stood quietly by; then, with his mouth open as if he had just understood a mysterious thing, he looked at Gregory.