German, "gunnery and explosives specialist."
The German-Danish border region (Schleswig and Holstein) was the subject of continual military fuss from TDW's era until modern times.
The Count fancied black livery for all his men (and women, because he also maintained a company from the Rheintal order of Valkyries).
Women in military orders were mentioned on p176, but this seems to be an all-female order. Rheintal is a region of Switzerland.
Eventually, he heard, the expense of black horses ruined the Count, but it was widely said that he had failed as a true artist, and also that he now sought someone to infect him with vampirism.
The Count was something of a Goth. As he was in Saxony (eastern Germany), that would be counted as a horrible pun today. 1983 might or might not be too early for that to be an intended pun. ("Goths" as a subculture label was just emerging then, although "Gothic rock" as a musical genre appeared earlier.)
Now it was another blue December day, and Gregory was riding among five hundred soldiers all in black: the entourage of King Edward V, at the gates of London. [...] The King was dead, as the saying went, long live the King.
[...] they were met by a group of men in scarlet: the Mayor and his aldermen. [...] Then another tide of color flowed from the gates: citizens, tradesmen, and guildsmen, dressed in deep violet that still seemed bright against the black the King's party wore.
This color-coded mob is straight out of contemporary accounts.
And the king drawing nere unto the citie, upon the .iiii. day of Maye, was of the maior and his citizeins met at Harnesey parke, the maior and his brethren beyng clothed in scarlet, and the citezins in violet to the nomber of .v.C. horses, and than from thence conueyed unto the citie, the kinge beynge in blewe veluet, and all his lordes and seruauntes in blacke cloth, [...]
Fabyan's Chronicle, p513
The scene occurred as described, except that Richard was not surprised by it; he was a participant, if not the originator of the idea.
"There are people who call you a Scotsman, Richard," Hastings said. "In truth, that's a compliment beside some of the things said in council. They were looking at the country as ravens see a carcass. It was necessary that they be disarmed... in one fashion, or another."
"I knew something was wrong when the council proposed [Rivers] bring all the men he could muster: there would have been six thousand -- ten, possibly." Hastings scowled. "I had to threaten to go to Calais, taking every ship and document I could find. [...]"
"[...] Was Edward murdered?"
"No, Richard. It was a sudden apoplexy, and natural, as I have cause to know. [...]"
[...] Hastings had ten years and a handsbreadth of height over Richard, and now he took the full effect of both. "It happened that Edward and I were together in chambers, that night, with Elizabeth--"
"With the Queen?"
(The Queen is also named Elizabeth -- thus the brief confusion.)
The messenger was an Italian diplomat, Dominic Mancini. He wore a fawn-colored gown with restrained gold embroidery, and half-eyeglasses. His English was extremely precise, his manner one of courtly embarrassment.
Dominic Mancini was in London when these events were taking place. However, he does not seem to have been fluent in English, so the report he wrote (which is one of our main historic sources) contains a great deal of recounted rumor and hearsay.
Since Mancini's report describes a great deal of anti-Ricardian sentiment, his grasp (or lack) of English was a significant point in the historical arguments for and against Richard. Ford is gesturing at that point.
"The Queen insisted the King's special physician be an Italian," Hastings said. "But Rivers did not bring him, nor the Queen select him. I did. He arrived a few days ago; his name is Argentine, John Argentine."
Queen Elizabeth's request was mentioned on p280.
Note that in our history, Argentine was English, not Italian.
"Yes, the University there. That's where Doctor Argentine is from as well."
"No, sir. Just the opposite. Genova is not a Byzantine province."
The claim that Genova (Genoa) is not Byzantine seems to contradict Lorenzo's assertion (p72) that only three Northern Italian states were free of Byzantium. At that point, Milan, Florence, and Urbino were all still independent, which leaves no room for Genova. This appears to be an inconsistency on the author's part.
"It is the vote and ordinance of this council, therefore, that the Duke of Gloucester shall be called Protector of the Realm, and have in his charge the safety and protection of King Edward the Fifth, [...]"
This occurred on May 10th, 1483.
TODO: Locate original document? (Not in Rot. Parl.)
"I won't take that from you, Hastings," Buckingham said, rather pleasantly. "The Queen's family didn't force you to marry their leavings. Bring my wife into this and I'll bring in your mistress: isn't Jane Shore the spiciest of scraps from a royal table?"
Buckingham was married to Catherine Woodville, the Queen's sister. The marriage was arranged when he was a boy, and he resented it. Hastings, as he said earlier (p291-292), is involved with Edward's mistress Jane Shore -- although she was not a discarded mistress, as Buckingham assumes.
"My lord Protector. I have a gift for the King... by your leave, of course?" He held out the jar. "Strawberries from my garden. Picked this morning. The King's physician suggested that fruit would be healthy for him."
John Morton really did grow strawberries at his home in Holborn.
"[...] I'm sure the King will enjoy them."
Hastings said "Doctor Morton's gardens are most remarkable." Richard said "Doctor Morton's most remarkable. He's been on councils since Henry the Idiot's time; doesn't look over sixty, does he? [...]"
An ancient Tower porter, wearing a gown and tabard that looked three or four reigns out of date, [...]
There was another peculiar circumstance, here, now, and he thought about speaking -- but it was the Duke of Buckingham's habit to state the painfully obvious, and he merely put the jar on a table and took out his knife to cut the seals.
"I'll do--" Argentine began to say, [...]
The "peculiar circumstance" that Dimi notices is not so painfully obvious to the rest of us. (Ford's writing style in a nutshell.) We will find it is that Argentine is a vampire. (On p304, although we don't confirm that Dimi realized this until p311.)
The emphasis on "secret sanctuary" is a sharp comment to Elizabeth on her defensive position. But it also gestures at a controversy in our history: whether Richard was secreting the young princes in a prison when he moved them to the Tower of London.
Today the Tower is remembered as a prison and a treasure-vault. Shakespeare used it as a dark herald of the princes' fate in Richard III (act 3, scene 1.) However, the Tower was also a royal residence until the 1600s. There would have been nothing specifically suspicious about Edward and his brother staying there. It was their removal from public view, and eventual disappearance, which led to so much speculation.
This oath was one of the concessions Richard made (p294) to get Woodville support for his Protectorship.
He certainly felt betrayed by spies as a child (p59), but he showed no such specific reluctance in Scotland (p215). His intention now may be a reaction to that mission, and its catastrophic failure (at the hands of yet another spy, p225-226). In any case, this scene will muddy that resolve.
Dimi was faintly aware of the smell of acid and leather as he crossed Cordwainer Street, as a brachet may know there is a hare in the woods without abandoning the problem of the hart.
A brachet is a type of hunting hound.
A cordwainer makes shoes (thus the smell of leather). However, this may also be a reference to the SF author Cordwainer Smith (Paul Linebarger), who worked in military intelligence all his life.
"Parliament has set the Coronation for three weeks from now; there'll be a week's celebrating with the Iambolc feast to finish it off. Elizabeth has to come out for the Coronation, after all."
Edward's coronation was set for June 24th. (In our history, as in TDW, it was never carried through.)
Dimi said "The state may make no law that favors a faith. Since not all faiths have a law of inviolability, such a law would favor those that do. In the end... it was decreed by Justinian, after the last Tarsite riots, that if the gods wished to keep sanctuary they would themselves punish its violators. He said, 'Let those who would be safe in their gods pray, and keep a spear sharp.'"
Further consequences of the Doctrine of Julian (p33). Note that Richard is considering Byzantine law, even though England is not under Byzantine rule. Possibly England has legally adopted the Empire's religious principles. Or possibly the Pantheon is considered Byzantine territory in some sense, which would be politically provocative to violate. (Although, if that were the case, it is unlikely that English legal ceremonies would be set there.)
I cannot find any reference in our history to riots in Tarsus, in the era of Justinian. (It was of course the site of many events of Christian history, such as the birth of St. Paul.) Justinian is famously associated with the Nika Riot, but that occurred in Constantinople (see p379-380).
"[...] I want you to get one of those letters itself, and look it over."
In this entire scene, Dimi carries himself with self-contempt -- ostensibly for failing to follow Mancini, but it likely goes deeper than that. He is attempting to hold his self-worth steady on his service to Richard, and it is not working. And note that Richard does not encourage Dimi in this; if anything, he very gently tries to dissuade him.
When the light failed, he thought, he would dress, and cross London to Baynard's Castle. Wetherby would let him in, and see that he had some blood from the kitchen. Some animal's blood.
One of his kind had called it "the perfection." "Why on earth would you resist it? You fill your body with garbage, but the body knows its own. Men don't eat grass, but the cattle that graze on it; vrykolaka do not drink from cattle--"
Vrykolakas is a Greek term for a vampire-like walking corpse. "Vrykolaka" appears to be a typo; the correct plural is vrykolakes.
Gregory has been eating normal food until now. But there have been other signs that his metabolism is changing: his hunger has been rising faster than he expects (p268). This may be a normal progression for vampires, or it may be because he has feeding more often than was his habit (p268).
"Perfection" was a notion of the Catharists, a medieval Gnostic sect. Perfection consisted of rejecting the material world. The most dedicated Catharists, called the Perfecti, were ascetics and did not eat meat or dairy.
"Leave? Where for?"
"To... the Duchess Cecily's house. I was offered... her hospitality, as we all were. [...]"
[...] He wondered if Dimitrios had caught him in his lie.
Gregory was not lying about going to Baynard's Castle; that was his intent (p300). But he allowed Dimi to believe that he was changing his living quarters, not just visiting to borrow a cup of blood. It is not clear, however, why the distinction matters to him.
[...] he thought: Pliny's Transposition.
If he had to encipher a long letter every few weeks, transmitted long distances so that keywords could not be readily exchanged, it would be the system of choice...
No ciphers are particularly associated with the famous Roman Plinys. (Although Pliny the Elder described an invisible ink.) However, in 1859 of our history, a man named Pliny Earle Chase invented a "fractionating" cipher which Gregory's description could plausibly apply to.
By the time he reached the gates, the Heinzelmännchen would have begun kicking holes in the word-lattice building up in his mind.
By the time Gregory was finished, and dawn was lightening the window, he knew a great deal about the loyalties of a great many persons. And one for whom loyalty was not the issue at all. And he knew whom Margaret of Anjou had seen in his face.
"I also," Gregory said. "However, this gun was built by me. It uses fulminate locks, which are touchy but never miss fire. It fires two cylindrical bullets, three-quarters of an inch in diameter; the bullets are sawn radially to expand and splinter. [...]"
"Fulminate locks" are gun-primers of chemical explosive, rather than the flint or matchcord locks of more primitive guns. The bullets Gregory describes would be called "dum-dums" in our era; they cause very large wounds.
According to our legendry, bullets with a cross cut into them are good for hunting vampires. The expanding property of nose-cut bullets is sometimes given as a real-world basis for those legends. Similarly, silver bullets expand when striking flesh, because silver is a soft metal; the same logic can be applied.
[Argentine] gestured toward the jar on the table. "Do you mind if I finish opening that? I think it'll interest you." He picked up the shears. "This has to be done properly: break the lead and it'll be full of strawberries. Ah. Ecco esso, professore!"
Ecco esso, professore! Italian: "Here it is, professor!"
This is identical to the jar Morton brought (p294), and it explains Argentine's behavior earlier; he wanted to open that jar himself (p296). Dimi didn't know the secret, and got the strawberries instead of the blood.
"[Edward will] be all right now," Argentine said. "They said a Ricci of Fiorenza treated him, and I can't believe it -- rare disease, beautiful surgery. But it could not cure him, of course. I know the disease [...] and for this one only I am the cure. Forgive me, Professor. Only we."
("I can't believe it" is presumably a typo for "I can believe it.")
Was this part of the original scheme that Buckingham and Morton collaborated on? Morton is certainly involved now. However, Hastings said earlier (p293) that he chose Argentine as Edward's physician. Nothing in the story has made Hastings appear untrustworthy. However again, it is possible that his choice was influenced by magic.
Cautiously, the Duke reached for the papers, glanced at them.
A very brief palming of the narrative: the reader will at first assume that it is the Duke of Gloucester who has entered, not Buckingham. We now realize that Gregory has tipped his hand to the wrong player.
They could hear chairs being shifted in the chamber behind the door, and voices being raised; [...]
Richard III, act 3, scene 4.
Buckingham stabbed a finger at Hastings. "We have considered you very long, sir, and it is that consideration that has allowed you to carry out your considerable crimes." He swung his finger on Dimi and the troopers. "Take this traitor out and consider him properly!"
Richard's reasons are the subject of much historical debate. Possibly he was preparing to take the throne, and acted to remove a powerful politician who was unswervingly loyal to Edward. Possibly Hastings really was involved in some plot with Elizabeth Woodville.
Dimi was struggling to think. Something seemed to be preventing him, like a hand closed on his mind. He wanted to draw his sword, use it. Surely there must be another traitor here.
As on p281, Dimi is having trouble thinking, Richard is furious, and Buckingham is maneuvering to have people executed. It seems inescapable now that Buckingham is responsible. (Although he will turn out not to be a wizard himself; see p327.)
"I? Good my lord, I prune my gardens with different tools than this."
This story certainly comes from Buckingham. Note that although Buckingham appeared carrying sheets of paper (p306), they are not necessarily Gregory's translation of Mancini's report. Buckingham seized that, and has every reason to manipulate what Richard learns.
As we know from p260, it was Morton who killed Edward, but with Buckingham's aid, not Hastings's. Buckingham may be trying to dispose of an ally who is no longer of use. Or, possibly, the accusation may have no force against Morton. It certainly doesn't appear to worry him.
"I thought it was over bloody Calais. And it was just my brother's merry harlot. Well, we'll bring her in as well, and if she's a witch we'll have it out of her."
Hastings was the Lieutenant of Calais under Edward. Richard is presumably musing about his earlier suspicions, about what lay behind Rivers's (supposed) coup attempt (see p291). Now, he thinks, he has the real traitor -- Hastings -- in hand, and the motive is simply jealousy.
Morton swept his hand along the sword. There was a sparkling light as it passed, and then the blade was clean. Morton knelt, rubbed the same hand down Stanley's wounded arm. Then there was no blood there either, nor tear in the fabric of Stanley's sleeve.
Morton goes out of his way to magically clean away the blood, and apparently heal Stanley's arm. (The latter is not stated, but seems to be the case.) Either collecting blood is valuable for his own purposes, or for the jars he makes (p304).
Again, Buckingham is using his own version of Gregory's translation (see p307); there is no reason to believe anything he says. However, he is also using a version of the truth; he knows that Cynthia and Hywel became involved in Wales (p260).
Buckingham, of course, is doing very well out of the turmoil.
Richard nodded absently, then looked up, with a puzzled expression; he shook his head dismissively and waved farewell [...]
Dimi is thanking Richard on Gregory's behalf; Gregory said he was going to Cecily's house for the quiet (p302). Richard is unaware of this, because Gregory was captured before he left or talked to anyone except Buckingham. Both Dimi and Richard, unfortunately, miss the discrepancy.
Buckingham nearly dropped the ring of keys in his hand. "How did you know that?"
"I should have known it sooner, much sooner." And maybe I did, he thought, but I didn't want to be a spy.
"Then [Morton] must have been the one she thought she saw, when..." He was trying to remember what Hywel had said. And Gregory had been there too. "You said Doctor Argentine was not one of them," he said, feeling suddenly very cold, "but I'm certain he must be. Some remaining part of Mancini's letter must mention him--"
Dimi was about to jump for him anyway, but then he recognized the weapon, knew he could not hope its firelocks would fail.
Long ago, in Gaul, Dimi owed his life to a misfiring gun; see p58.
They had put Clarence in the Bloody Tower. And then bricked it up.
The name is a small anachronism; it was called the "Garden Tower" at this point in history. The name "Bloody Tower" may have arisen as a reference to the deaths of the Princes in the Tower, which have not (quite) yet occurred in the narrative. Alternatively, the term may date from the suicide of Henry Percy in 1585.
"Yes. But I... I suppose I knew you too well, and I thought..."
"Hastings did not kill anyone," Gregory said, "nor the Shore woman. Hastings was treating secretly with the Queen Elizabeth, not trusting Mancini entirely. Mancini was outliving his usefulness, I think; that is why he wrote such a long and detailed letter."
"Which Buckingham is using only selected parts of."
"[...] I organized my deciphered text in a manner that would have made such use easy. German scholar at work."
"There was no mention of them. [...]"
We finally get the full truth about Mancini's letter. Note that Hastings had a secret after all; and it was the one which may have been true in our history as well (see p306-307). But he was not involved with Byzantium. (He mistrusted Mancini in his public role as Elizabeth's messenger, not as the Byzantine spy.)
But then who was the one Gregory noted (p303) was not motivated by loyalty? It can't have been Buckingham, because he wasn't in the letter (p312). Argentine and Morton are the remaining major players; but we know little about their loyalties as yet.
"But Mancini was writing to the Byzantine spymaster in Genova -- his name is Angelo Cato, if we are ever able to make use of that -- about master plans. Suppose that Buckingham is not part of that plan."
"But we know he's allied with them."
"Perhaps they have not told him he is not a part."
Note that Mancini was writing openly to Cato; it was only the contents of the letters that was hidden. So Cato's tradecraft was imperfect. He should have had the letters go through a third party, so that his own secrecy was not predicated on Mancini's.
It is also curious that he is called "Angelo"; this is a Christian-derived name which should not be common in TDW history. The other Angelo of our history who shows up in TDW is Angelo Poliziano, as "Arturo" (see p65).
(Although, really, most of the names familiar from English history -- John, James, Anne, and so on -- were taken from the Christian bible. In TDW history, they should exist only as obscure Jewish forms. I take their presence as a concession to comprehensibility.)
Gregory said "I' dacht', i' hört die Schlüssel."
German: "I thought I heard the keys."
"I have some pins. Up my sleeve, like a conjuror. [...]"