A Concordance for John M. Ford's The Dragon Waiting
Epigraph; Historical Notes

  • Now have appeared, though in a several fashion,
  • The threats of majesty, the strength of passion,
  • Hopes of an empire, changes of fortune, all
  • What can to theatres of greatness fall,
  • Proving their weak foundations.
  • --from Perkin Warbeck

In the first few years after Henry VII secured the throne of England, two Yorkist pretenders appeared to challenge him. The first was Lambert Simnel, who attacked Henry in 1487. The second was Perkin Warbeck, who began pressing his claim to be the vanished Richard of Salisbury in 1490.

Many of the remaining Yorkists gathered behind Warbeck's banner -- not because he had deceived them, but because he was useful. He undertook several attacks against Henry from 1495 to 1497, but never came close to victory. Eventually he was captured and imprisoned. He attempted an escape in 1499, but was recaptured and executed. (See Warbeck's entry for more details.)

This epigraph is taken from a play titled Perkin Warbeck, written around 1630 by the English playwright John Ford. John M. Ford enjoyed tying his own works to those of John Ford the playwright (as well as John Ford the movie director). Certainly the lines (from the play's Epilogue) describe TDW to nice accuracy.

In this best-documented of all possible worlds, [...]

(An alteration of Leibnitz's phrase, "best of all possible worlds.")

Ford here begins his "Historical Notes," explaining (as much as he ever does) the elements that went into TDW.

I will not quote them all here, tempting or enlightening as that would be.

[...] in 1404 the infamous Fourth Crusade had achieved its one success by sacking and looting the chief stronghold of Christianity in the East.

This is a typo. Constantinople was sacked in 1204 AD.

See also: p0 (Ahistorical Note)

The Emperor Julian, called Apostata, [...]

Notes on Julian and Constantine.

[...] As Edward Luttwak comments, a better man than Julian might have reestablished paganism. And so I have made him.

Edward Luttwak is a modern historian and analyst of war and politics. Ford quotes from "Last Pagan in Purple," Luttwak's review of G. W. Bowersock's Julian the Apostate.

Bowersock's Julian is not a liberal humanist; rather, he sought to persecute Christianity as his Christian relatives had persecuted him [...] Nor is Bowersock's Julian the Neo-Platonic philosopher whom many have wanted him to be; his principal intellectual baggage was not Neo-Platonic philosophy but rather Neo-Platonic mysticism, which had already degenerated into magic-making of a vulgar sort. A better man than Julian, a more fortunate soldier and a more successful politician, might well have reversed the tide of Christianity; other Eastern religions temporarily ascendant had earlier been pushed back into their own corners of the empire. But Julian was not the man to defeat the Church, which was already provided with its strongest instrument: a hierarchical and disciplined organization that emulated the secular organization of the empire.

"Last Pagan in Purple," from Strategy and Politics: Collected Essays, Edward Luttwak, Transaction Books, 1980.

About the Emperor Justinian I there are two principal views: [...]

Notes on Justinian and Theodora, and the historian Procopius.

Lorenzo de' Medici was described [...] as the pleasantest tyrant Florence could have known.

Notes on Lorenzo and Giuliano de' Medici, the Pazzi Conspiracy, and Savonarola.

The career of George, Duke of Clarence, was essentially as I have presented it [...]

Notes on George and the Exemplification.

Anthony Woodville was a Renaissance Man before the Renaissance had quite started: [...]

Notes on Anthony Woodville, Earl Rivers and his sister Queen Elizabeth.

[...] the fair-haired, smiling figure of knighthood had worn a hair shirt under his clothing.

See p339 for the TDW version of this ascetism.

John Morton is an amazing example of the political survivor.

Notes on Morton, who is described in the same terms by Margaret of Anjou (p160) and Hastings (p295).

[...] leaving behind a form of legal extortion known as "Morton's Fork" (though it was probably invented by his assistant Richard Fox) [...]

Morton used this principle while serving as Henry VII's tax collector. It runs: if you are living extravagantly, you can obviously afford to pay high taxes; if you are living frugally, you are obviously saving your money, and can afford to pay high taxes.

[...] this book does not attempt to provide a "solution" to the "problem" of Richard III.

Notes on Richard and the Princes in the Tower.

Our revels now are ended, the airy constructions fading. Only the music remains, as it always remains, waiting for another improvisation of life.

The first line quotes The Tempest:

Shakespeare's plays:


  • Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
  • As I foretold you, were all spirits and
  • Are melted into air, into thin air: ...
  • --from The Tempest, act 4, scene 1

The rest, of course, quotes Marsilio Ficino, on p69, and then Cynthia again on p243 -- both as played by John M. Ford.