February was melting into March [...]
One month after the previous chapter.
"'Carpentered in Haste.' Witty, too. What of it?"
"My lord, we found the man who printed them, a William Colyngbourne."
"The Tydders are an old and notably rebellious Welsh family," Hywel said, turning the medallion over in his fingers. Owain Tydder managed, somehow, to acquire Henry the Fifth's widow as a wife. [...]"
Consistent with our history.
"[...] They had a son, but Owain was killed not long after and his brother Jasper raised the boy... here and there and on the run."
This implies that Henry Tydder was Owain Tydder's son, which is either an inconsistency or a confusion -- it skips a generation. In our history, Owain's children included Edmund and Jasper. It was Edmund who died after fathering Henry, who was then raised by Jasper.
(Jasper Tudor, incidentally, married a sister of Rivers.)
Hywel's hesitation on "raised the boy" may be significant. Hywel grew up in Wales, and knew about the hidden places there (see p243). It is possible that he knew, or even helped, Jasper and the young Henry.
But it is also possible that Hywel is merely thinking of his own parents, who died on the run somewhere in Wales, and left him to be raised by an innkeeper.
This statement leans on two facets of Hywel's boyhood. First, that he once met Glyn Dŵr's son Meredydd ap Owain. At the time, Hywel took Meredydd for a wizard (see p13); he has now clearly dismissed that notion.
Tyrell decided not to execute Rivers, as we saw on p334. And the answer to Hywel's question is, approximately, "in our history." Without Rivers, Richard would have had no good explanation for the disappearance of the Princes... although the difference is more of tone than of fact. Richard became king in our history regardless.
(But see p374, later.)
Still in his high boots and spurs, James Tyrell clumped into the throne room [...]
"Tydder's sailed. Three days ago, from Brittany."
Dimitrios said "But the weather's been foul--"
This combines two attempts Henry Tydder made upon England in our history. In 1483, he tried to land an army, supported by the revolt of Buckingham. Tydder was blocked by bad weather, and Buckingham was caught and executed. (See p335.)
"I almost... wanted to follow it," she said haltingly. "Wherever... wherever it led."
"And if you had carried one for months now," Hywel said, "you would have followed it. [...]"
We discover that Hywel did have a good idea what the medallions were, back in chapter 9. He was acting, as he always acts, in the most indirect way possible: weakening the spell. (Or perhaps altering it, so that "home" becomes a secondary imperative under "follow.")
A woman in a widow's black dress was running towards them, dropping to her knees. "Rhiannon, Gwydion, aid my son."
Perhaps an allusion to the phrase "Who will help the widow's son?" in Freemason lore.
"Why, his grand'fa' fought them in the French wars, and his faith's good--"
"Them" seems to be the Jeshites.
The boy's grandfather's day would have been around 1430. That implies that the "French wars" were the Hundred Years' War (the tail-end of it, anyway) -- Henry VI's struggle to hold on his territory in France, which was being retaken by Charles VII. (This was well after Owain Glyn Dŵr's rebellion had failed, so Welsh soldiers would have been fighting for England.)
In our history, Charles was famously aided by Joan of Arc. We presume that this was so in TDW as well, and that Joan was still a Christian. This gives the villagers a basis for their prejudice against Jeshites.
Another squatted beneath the corner of the roof thatching; there had been a torch in his hand, and the thatch was sooty.
The people of Llangorse were not openly hostile to Mary when we first met them (p233). And there seems to be some lingering resentment from previous generations (p354-355). But the sudden onset of mob violence must be the medallions again.
Cynthia stood in the yard, looking this way and that, leaning on her stick each time she became dizzy, thinking about the knife in its hilt.
"Her blessing, I think. We forget that anyone who can curse can bless. I think... she told them to find... peace."
Note that it is not Hywel who stops Cynthia. Mary once stopped Cynthia from striking a child (p234). So it may be her memory, her magic, or some remnant of her presence that holds Cynthia back from violence now.
"[...] Now help me find something to draw these nails."
Mary, like Christ at his death, blesses the people who are executing her. But this is a muddy and ambiguous reflection of her faith. The villagers would have died if Cynthia and Hywel had not come; it is already too late for the one who drowned (p355), and another has likely lost his hand.
One could take Mary's death as a constrast with Jesus; she did not forgive the villagers. But then, Jesus did not say "I forgive you," but "Father, forgive them." And if Mary did not explicitly ask that of Cynthia, she did leave the task in Cynthia's hand.
Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.
Luke 23:34, King James Bible, via U. Virginia
What this has to do with the (French) province of Brittany is unclear. (Brittany has of course been held by Britain at various times through history, but the site of Mount Badon, though disputed, is certainly in Britain.)
One possible connection is a story in Procopius's History of the Wars, which refers to emigration from Britain to France.
The island of Brittia is inhabited by three very numerous nations, each having one king over it. And the names of these nations are Angili, Frissones, and Brittones, the last being named from the island itself. And so great appears to be the population of these nations that every year they emigrate thence in large companies with their women and children and go to the land of the Franks. And the Franks allow them to settle in the part of their land which appears to be more deserted, and by this means they say they are winning over the island. Thus it actually happened that not long ago the king of the Franks, in sending some of his intimates on an embassy to the Emperor Justinian in Byzantium, sent with them some of the Angili, thus seeking to establish his claim that this island was ruled by him. Such then are the facts relating to the island that is called Brittia.
Procopius, The History of the Wars, book 8, ch. 20, ln. 6-10
(Some confusion has clearly trickled in; earlier in this section Procopius discusses "Brittia" and "Britain" as separate places.)
"Their numbers vary with every report. If it isn't bad scouting, which I do not think, he seems to be both gaining and losing men."
Hywel referred to the mobilization of Welsh villagers as "the dragon." (Or rather, he referred to their leavings as "dragon spoor" -- p352). Here we find that he discussed the matter with Richard and the others, in an offstage explanation.
The Welsh army is gaining men as the medallions draw them in, but losing them as Hywel's countermeasures take hold (see p353). The medallions are still more effective than not; the estimated total, ten thousand, is roughly twice what Tydder had at Bosworth in our history.
Anne Neville was not at the Battle of Bosworth Field. She had died several months earlier, in London, probably of tuberculosis. (Not that she would have been on a battlefield, in any event.)
It is now the eve of the battle, which occurred on August 22, 1485 in our history.
The date in TDW history is harder to determine; the last milestone we were given was the beginning of the chapter (p349.) Since then there has been time for Hywel and Cynthia to ride to Llangorse and back. (At speed, as Rivers notes.)
We may also take a cue from our history. Tydder sailed on August 1 of 1485, landed on August 7; Richard got the news on the 11th, and immediately started gathering his followers for the battle. If Tydder follows the same schedule in Dragon history, then Richard gets the news more quickly (three days after Tydder sails, on p352). The battle is then eighteen days after that. It is probably the end of March, 1480.
"Then you've seen the Red Dragon?"
"This was no time to tickle its tail. But we saw what happens in its path."
See p355. The influence of the medallions is not just the formation of an army, but the emotions that lie behind it. Whether one connotes those as patriotism, nationalism, or xenophobia, the outcome is both destructive and self-destructive -- as magic always is.
"Tickling the dragon's tail" is an idiom for the pushing of any line that could turn dangerous very suddenly.
But it is best known, in our era, for the accident in the Manhattan Project (1946), in which Louis Slotin slipped while adjusting two plutonium/beryllium hemispheres. Slotin received a toxic radiation dose instantly; if he had not reacted to pull the hemispheres apart, everyone in the room would have been killed.
Hywel repeats what he has been saying for the entire story, that magic is ultimately a futile path. The alternative -- acting through simple effort or natural science -- has also been mentioned (p170, for example). But this is the first time Hywel has offered it in an purely positive light: humans can succeed at anything, and without unnatural aid.
This is not an unmixed blessing, naturally. Hywel is saying that such an army -- misguided, xenophobic, breaking the peace and tearing its people away from the country's livelihood -- could have been raised by fraud and exhortation, instead of by magic. Perhaps Ford had examples in mind as he wrote this.
"[...] Now, the Ddraig Goch is no more than a banner for them. But if we meet it on its own terms, it becomes... real, in a sense, because we have acknowledged it as real."
Ddraig Goch: Welsh, "Red Dragon."
There is something here of the idea that fighting evil with evil is useless -- descending to that level only perpetuates the problem. But Hywel's description does not quite convey that, because it has no moral judgement. The Dragon spell is not evil; or rather, the aspect of it which he speaks of -- the power of belief -- is not evil. It is meeting conviction with conviction that intensifies the situation, by setting both sides in their opposition.
(And is that a morally neutral worldview? Or is it chaotic, if not evil, in the way it perpetuates conflict?)
"Remember, everyone drawn into this through the medals knows the Red Dragon can defeat the White."
"I will watch for a chance to do something, and when the chance comes, I will do it."
Exasperated but blackly amused, Richard said "Isn't there a saying about meddling in the affairs of wizards? [...]"
Tolkien: "Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger."
Although that doesn't really fit the exchange. Better would be: "Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes."
Jasper Tydder was mentioned on p350.
"Quickly sustained fire with fragmenting balls creates a zone in which, in theory, nothing may live. [...]"
This is machine-gun fire, more or less. If Gregory had enough artillery to employ across the battlefield (as opposed to a single spot), Bosworth would turn into something out of World War 1.
Note that this zone is the "hot enough fire" which will drive Tydder's army -- not the trap they will be driven into. That has not yet been described.
"[...] by prostrating oneself and uttering a prayer to the Goddess of Artillery, this scientific law is suspended."
Lying flat is, of course, the least awful position to be in when in such circumstances.
Sweating sickness was a virulent fever that first appeared in England around the time of Henry Tydder's invasion. It broke out in London in 1485, killing several thousand in a few months, and then burned itself out. A handful more outbreaks occurred in the 1500s, and then the disease faded away.
Oxford did not precisely desert, nor change sides. What seems to have happened was that Oxford's troops ran into Warwick's in heavy fog, failed to recognize that they were on the same side, and clashed. Shouts of treachery flew both ways, and Oxford pulled his men out of the battle, leaving his allies (or former allies) to be crushed by Edward. Warwick was killed in the retreat, as described.
Her voice rose: "If I hear you fought on foot I'll never speak to you again!"
In fact the final fight will be on foot; see p373.
Norfolk's guns were on the western lip of Ambien Hill, poised to rake downward. Nearby, Gregory von Bayern worked an optickal range-gauge; a few feet from him was a box, cubical and about a yard on a side, made of heavy old wood black as lead.
The order of battle at Bosworth is not known for certain, but this is one of the possibilities.
The Red Dragon came out of the west.
Its broad body was a quarter-mile long, the swinging tail that long again; the neck rose into the air three times the four-hundred-foot height of Ambien Hill. Its eyes were lanterns and it drooled fire. [...]
And as the dragon moved, it changed.
Hywel said on p359 that the Dragon was only a banner, but would become real if it were met on its own terms. It is certainly more than a banner now; so something may have happened on Richard's side, despite Hywel's warning.
However, the Dragon is also now being driven directly by the Byzantine wizard. All the effects we will see are typical of magic (although powered by the enormous force of belief available to the wizard). In particular, the Dragon looks like an illusion, and not even a well-controlled one; the soldiers under its feet are not trampled.
[Hywel] held his eye, one of the finest English glass, [...]
He is scrying in his glass eye again, as he did on p257. But it is not the same one; he has traded the Venetian glass eye for an English one. Presumably this is for symbolic reasons -- Venice is under Byzantine control (see p72), and Hywel is defending England now.
He saw the wizard in his eye, carried on a litter just beneath the dragon's backside. He was a little man, bald on top, dressed in voluminous robes of velvets and China silk. His legs were folded up beneath him.
Then again, for that, he could as well be Ford himself.
The gunners were recharging. Gregory was not their commanding officer; he had no say in the matter.
But if they should lead the attack up this slope--
If they should do that they would be murdered, and such fine men should not be murdered by infernal machines of some bloodless serpent's devising.
(And in that light, Richard's impatience in this scene is also suspect.)
Buried in the earth of the north slope were more than three dozen ground mortars, some flame, some blast, some splinter. In twenty minutes, just the time it would take Tydder's men to reach the ground, the mechanism would put fire to them all; [...]
"Ground mortars," if it is not obvious, are land mines. This is the nature of Gregory's trap, which is now counting down.
[...] if he destroyed [the dragon] he would in a way be destroying them. And for what? A crown, a throne. More power.
Earlier, the dragon's eyes -- plural -- were described as steady and constant. Now Hywel is seeing one eye; a reflection of himself, in some sense. And he too is now having doubts about his earlier thoughts (p359). We presume that the spell (p364) is influencing Hywel.
...and everyone else on the field.
[...] and Anne, who by the quantity of drugs in her system should have slept through an amputation, cried out long and thrust her body upward and sweated great cloudy drops.
Goedendags, Dimi had heard them called: And good day to you, sir.
Goedendag: Dutch, "good day."
Or perhaps they were on the Greek coast, the Aegean a sheet of blue crystal, passing in review by their coronal's white, white villa.
"Captain Ducas! Captain, shall we ride?"
"No," he said, "not here, not now," and then repeated it in English, for of course these men knew no Greek.
He may specifically be thinking of the ride to Seigny (p49), which he halted.
[Gregory] did not recognize them, though it vaguely seemed that he should.
It is Richard and his men charging through the minefield, as we have just seen.
No, no, no. He must not allow false parameters into the diagram, corrupting it. Physics was above such things. Physics was the purest of the sciences, the cleanest.
Gregory pushed the pointer eight minutes towards zero.
Not all the way to zero, but within two minutes of it.
We have now seen effects of the spell on each of our characters (except Cynthia). As we will learn (p371), it is an impulse of reckless or single-minded striving -- one goal or desire overriding all sense, context, or greater vision. So Hywel refrains from using magic; Dimi is caught in thoughts of becoming Emperor; Richard is heading towards personal revenge; Anne imagines giving her husband a new heir; Gregory sees people as nothing but blood and physics.
When Owain Glyn Dŵr was crowned in Harlech, men really bowed to him. When Herbert burnt Dyffryn Conwy for the sheer joy of it, the smoke really filled the lungs.
These were actual things that they did, and it was time that he, the only heir in power of Glyn Dŵr, joined in reality.
In his held eye, he saw Lord Stanley away to the south, sweating and scratching and certainly not advancing to King Richard's aid. And now William Stanley's men on the northern flank were dropping their White Boar banners and tying on red brassards.
Lord Stanley's illness was mentioned on p360. As the sweating is an indication of magic afflicting Anne (p366), it should be the same for Lord Stanley; he is being influenced to stay out of the fight.
(But, on the other hand, William Stanley changes sides without any sign of illness. But, on a third hand, several of the characters so far have been influenced without any physical sign.)
The Stanley brothers did betray Richard at Bosworth, as described.
Their loyalty was questioned from the start: Lord Stanley was married to Margaret Beaufort, the widow of Edmund Tydder and mother of Henry Tydder. Richard had tried to secure his cooperation by holding one of his sons hostage, and perhaps this kept him from joining Tydder outright, but he did not help Richard either. William Stanley also held back, but threw in on Tydder's side as soon as it looked like he was winning.
The thought of such disorder displeased Dimitrios. Stanley could be met with on better terms. Dimi called a charge in every language he knew, and whispered to Luna beneath him, and with a magnificent cheer of "Richard, Richard, the Boar, the King!" they made for the space at Richard's rear.
This implies multiple levels of confusion. Dimi has not yet realized that William Stanley is charging Richard's flank -- he thinks the Byzantine mercenaries are the target. But he was just imagining himself as a King (p367), and admiring the Byzantines, as a result of the spell. So Dimi must be attempting to destroy Stanley's men, support the Byzantines, and (presumably) go on to attack Richard and seize the crown.
His men, not knowing any of this -- and possibly having seen Stanley's Tydder-red armbands -- are simply charging in support of Richard. But Dimi has not yet understood the significance of their battle cry.
He had never wanted to be a King. Never. And Cosmas Ducas had known it.
At this point Dimi's wits catch up with him, and he breaks from the spell's influence. He also rejects the doubts that he has held since p52 and p53, when Philip and Iphigenia tried to convince him that his father had wanted him on the throne of the Empire.
But they did wheel, as much as they could, and the two bodies collided at an oblique angle.
Stanley in turn had tried to wheel right, and now tried to halt his men; [...] [but] leveled spears and shrieking horses smashed at full gallop into the flanks of the trotting Byzantines.
Several wrongs add up to a right, at least from the point of view of Richard's army. Stanley's men are pushed away from their original target -- Richard's flank -- and instead collide with the Byzantine mercenaries, whom they were trying to support.
But the strayed Ducas had found the enemy... and the purpose, and the self, he had thought forever lost on the Scottish border.
A ground mortar (p365). A wire-wrapped one would be a splinter or fragmentation mine.
(Note that Dimi is thinking of his horse by her right name now.)
Silver-match seems to be a kind of fuse for firearms. I cannot find any such term in use in our history. ("Black-match," in contrast, is simply string impregnated with black powder.)
Most likely, silver-match refers to magnesium. Magnesium metal makes a wonderful fuse, burning with a blinding white light, but it was not discovered in our history until 1808.
[...] he was damned in fact to be called back whenever peace of any kind was in his reach.
He was a vampire. He would heal. He would continue to live, and in time he would heal.
...and he has rejected suicide as an end.
"Don't you feel it? This... heat in the air? [...]"
"Did [Anne] -- try to charge off after something, too?"
Because it was the answer that would hurt him least, she said "That's why, then. They wanted to separate you."
But he has never admitted to being in love with Cynthia (see p340, p362), and he would certainly insist that his highest loyalty is to Richard. Cynthia will not disillusion him... or, knowing that she is not in love with him, she will not encourage him.
She leaned on her stick, placed her thumb against the hollow of her hand. "I was... warded, I think."
Rivers thinks Cynthia means that Hywel protected her. But she is certainly thinking of Mary. (The gesture may refer to the moment that Mary seized her hand -- p234 -- and the recollection or intervention on p355.)
The nature of the warding is not described. It could be a general blessing that Mary offered while helping heal Cynthia (p239), or a result of interacting with her death-blessing (p355). But it is likely a simpler matter: Cynthia knows what she is. When the sorcerer began his spell, she was in a field hospital (p362), and no conflicting part was elsewhere.
Hywel put the eye back into his head, sighed.
One of the litter-bearers dropped the Byzantine sorcerer, and he tumbled over on the ground, breaking a bare toe on a stone, [...]
For want of a shoe, the wizard loses his concentration. Which echoes the traditional rhyme:
"A horse! a horse! my kingdom for a horse!" is the line in Richard III, act 5, scene 4.
The dragon's mouth enveloped its tail, and began to swallow it.
The image is Oroboros, the snake devouring itself.
[...] did all the people on the plain realize that they had given months and years of their lives into a fading whorl of crimson light with darkness at its center?
As we know (p254, p345) the cost of magic is not just belief or intent. It costs in real energy, meaning people's lives. In this case the cost is spread over many, rather than draining the entire life of the caster (as on p170 and p344).
Hywel felt his heart begin to swell up into his throat, a deep pain in his left arm and his back. [...]
The symptoms of a heart attack, as Hywel recognizes.
[...] The dragon, he knew, could open his congested heart, or give him a heart of living bronze, or do away with his need for a heart at all. All he need do is allow it.
The Byzantine wizard must have died -- either drained in the dragon's collapse, or killed in the consequent fighting. Now Hywel is the only wizard present to make use of the power, which is otherwise spending itself on nothing.
The last line of the scene has a wonderful shift in tense, from past to present. It pulls the reader from the distance of speculation ("the dragon could...") hard into the immediacy of Hywel's choice.
"Richard? Is that you?"
"Aye, and who wants to know? If it's Tydder, no answer but to fight."
"There's glory for you!"
"I don't know what you mean by 'glory,'" Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. "Of course you don't -- till I tell you. I meant 'there's a nice knock-down argument for you!'"
Through the Looking-Glass, Lewis Carroll, via gutenberg
"These cannot be Balin and Balan," said a voice a little distance away, "for in the story one brother wounds the other. [...]"
[Dimi] took a long quick step in front of Richard, putting himself between the King and the spear. From the corner of his eye he saw another movement, of bright metal, and he heard Tydder say "Out of my way, you stupid--"
Dimi, in the meantime, manages exactly the same eucatastrophic confusion as on p369. He mistakes friend and foe, faces the wrong way, and manages to trip up the real enemy just enough to give someone else the necessary opening. (There Hywel, here Rivers.)
(Probably derived from an eyewitness account.)
[...] and knew that the Earl had been innocent of the tournament. A guilty man could never have brought himself to master the tainted weapon so well.
There was still a little halo in the sky as evening fell, a crimson rose on pink, with a dark center.
The crimson rose was the badge of the House of Lancaster (to which both Henry VI and Henry Tydder belonged.) The "Wars of the Roses" were thus named for the red rose of Lancaster and the white rose of York.
The rose image is fading, appropriately, with Tydder dead.
(Presumably just to relieve the congestive heart failure. Creating an artificial heart would be beyond his minimalist ethos of magic, and rendering himself heartless would be thematically absurd.)
"Nemesis Draco," Hywel said, without really thinking.
The line "...the kingdom was saved" echoes the rhyme noted earlier (p372):
"Where will you go now?"
Not looking at him, she said, "Hywel... why are we so terrible to one another?"
"We're what the world makes us. And half the world is Byzantium, while the other half looks East in wonder."
The dashing young hero gets the girl.
The most important question of the book, by the rules of fantasy, is whom Cynthia winds up with. In fact, she has brushed by Rivers, and before that Dimi and even Gregory -- and left an impression on each of them -- but if the question must have an answer, it is Hywel. And that is not a romance they will pursue, because of what he and she are separately driven to do.
(An earlier passage compared the Empire with a rapist, damaging everyone's capability for love; see p340.)
"[...] Shall we go?"
"A man must keep busy."
Without any noise, they rode away, and soon were lost to sight.