A little intro:

    Thanks to Henk Beentje who has given his DD'accord to set his wonderful speech of the E2K Gathering in HTML.
    Unfortunately none and nothing can ever repeat the ambiance and the joy we had in Edinburgh, listening to him!

    For the slides:
    Because I didn't have them, I substituted several by links to the big and useful internet, and hope you will enjoy it as I do.
    Martine Däuwel

The Flora and Fauna of Lymondshire: a natural history of the Lymond Chronicles

Henk Beentje

The range is great: from amoebas to elephants, from seaweed to palm trees. It is a whole world of natural history, and like Dr. Maturin I have sampled with great pleasure, while being dragged along by the narrative - when Robin Stewart nocks his arrow and is about to release it at Lymonds breast it is not easy to get your pencil and note that the arrow is aspen and the quill made from goosefeathers. But I suffered for your sakes.

What I have done is studied the plants and animals of the Lymond Chronicles; what I have omitted is ornithology, because that is Dr Crane's field. In fact Diana was the one who set me off, with her observations on birds in the books.
She made such fascinating observations and vignettes on Dunnetwork that I caught the bug, and started catching more bugs such as butterflies in GoK, silkmoth in Pawn in Frankincense, and greenfly in Ringed Castle.

From the beginning of Game of Kings to the end of Checkmate, plants and animals figure. I have trawled some 1500 plants and (non-bird) animals mentioned, and those are what I will be talking about. And what better way to do this than to do it systematically, species by species in strict taxonomic order, ordered by the Kingdoms of Nature.
(slide of taxonomic system) (pause)
Any way ... would be better than that.
(slide with red herring).
From the moment that Lymond emerges from Nor'Loch, covered in duckweed (slide 1) plants and animals figure, and I'll discuss them in broad categories, illustrated with images from the sixteenth and late fifteenth century - those that Lymond will have seen. And you better pay attention, because I will be asking questions too.

I'll start with the basics, food and drink; proceed to the use of plants and animals in implements such as yew bows and bamboos for the bastinado (and a brief side-step into ambushes); go on with life's little pleasures: no, not Joleta, but luxuries and exotic pleasures ... and here we are getting into drugs, with a little segue into trade; nature and horticulture, and pets. And then the biggest category of them all (560 out of 1500), similes, comparisons, and Lymond being tiresome with his obscure quotes. And I'll end with some smells, some good, some bad.

Of course to talk on plants and animals is, in a way, an escape from the metatextual - but dissecting one of the many layers, to simple researchable facts, produces added value. So here goes, and I hope it will be a rather shallow but fleetingly tasty treat - a bit like cotignac, really.

the basics: food and drink

(slide 2: Richard Ploughing) This was a time when basic menu was bread, ale and pottage (soup), and meat if you were lucky or a grand family - or a poacher. Additional food was very seasonal, and that included pottage vegetables; preserving food could be done only by drying (e.g. smoking), salting or fermenting. Carbohydrates came mainly from bread and ale; protein from dairy products for the well off, from meat, eggs and fish if you were lucky. At St Mary's in the autumn of 1551 (Disorderly Knights 342) there were stocks of oats, wheat, barley, cuts of oak; brown peat, charcoal and ale. All plant materials, covering food, drink and warmth.

But animals were important too - when Mariotta is not totally happy with her marital arrangements, she enquires what Richard does discuss? The answer is "horses, of course... and pigs... his deerhounds' litter ... " (Game of Kings 78). When Gideon worries, when all the Somervilles stock has been abstracted, Kate reassures him with the neighbours' ewe which has been to Kelso three times (Game of Kings 216/7). And again at St Mary's, the autumn stocktaking continues: stock: wedders, rams and milk-ewes, all in good order; oxen; coneys in the warrens (Disorderly Knights 342).

First question. Who would you be if you looked out your bedroom window and saw: a damned yowe staring eye to eye with you

And the slide shows "the oxen straining in the broad fields under the clouds of seagulls" (Richard ploughing, Disorderly Knights 544)

(slide 3) to show that in the towns a good choice of vegetables could be had, in season

(slide 4): Mertoun dovecot, 1576, the oldest remaining dovecot in Scotland. The one just North of Hexham must have been similar, where Tom dropped Lymond after he had been wounded by the hackbutter in Hexham Abbey. (slide 5) showing the pigeonholes where the fat swabs could be lifted from.

We'll do a quick shift to the Mediterranean (slides 6, 7, 8) remember the 200 Calabrians, wise in the stars and the weather and in growing grapes and melons and pomegranate trees? (Disorderly Knights 108). And staying in Malta: Malta's spoonfuls of Sicilian topsoil sustained cotton and melon, figs, vines, olives with difficulty but also "patches of green; the silver-grey olives, the dense green of pine and carob, the serrated embroidery of date palms" (Disorderly Knights 97). Note the carob, which we encounter later in Djerba (the place stinks of carob seeds, Disorderly Knights 513); and also in House, where it taps ROBIN - Ceratonia siliqua, locust-bean, formerly sold as sweets in UK, and the base of the carat weight for diamonds, which are found on the market of Aleppo together with diamonds, which we encounter again in the tespi which Lymond tries to sweeten the sultana with.. but I'll come to that later, as we're shifting to trade here.

From South to North for our much needed protein. (slides 9, 10)

Here is Lymond being logistical: there are lists of many things, including 'plethora of timber and dressed leather... they knew what stores of meat and fish, fresh, frozen and salted (there were)... what daily consumption of flour the Neglinnya corn mills could grind ... flax from Novgorod... elkskins from Rostov.. (Ringed Castle 88)

the basics: uses of plants and animals, e.g. in furnishings, transport...

slide 11: rushes green are hawked at the Wapenshaw (Game of Kings 150), and we find them in Boghall where "its strewn floor (is) roused to sweetness by the booted feet" of Lymond's guests (Disorderly Knights 554). That's all very well for normal people, but not for Lady Culter. She prefers lavender stems on her floor (Game of Kings 19). Rushes were also useful in that their peeled stems were used in candle wicks.

slide 12: Hemp is one of the few plants mentioned in all the books; of course it is what rope comes from, used on wooden bed frames to support the straw pallet; in ship rigging; and in quotes, such as when Lymond compares himself to the sheikh-al-jebal, twanging his hemp instead of eating it (Francis Crawford of Lymond to Christian in Game of Kings 168 the old man of the mountain, Hassan i- Sabbah, head of the hashishins or assasins). Flax (slide 13) was used for cattle feed, linen and lighting: flax seed oil producuing candle soot, turning every saint to an Ethiopian (Ringed Castle 149), as well as used in tricking Captain Alcantara by setting fire to packets of gunpowder at Authie R. water mills (Checkmate 502)

Question 2: Where would you expect horse glue? (slide 14)

slide 15: We come to woodworking with a slide of two important trees. Oak is everywhere - in carved oak panelling at the Tolbooth (Game of Kings 580), in an oak table at Boghall (long vista of polished oak, Disorderly Knights 554), in the oak- fortress town of Smolensk (Ringed Castle 29), but most importantly at St Mary's where it was used for the whipping post: a cross of oak, a massive, manacled cross of oak (Disorderly Knights 607). Scots pine or deal produces a strong, heavy wood, used for making lances: we learn that tilting (slide 16) produces deal splinters (at the Wapenshaw). At Calais, willow (slide 17) is used in protective screens for siege pioneers (Checkmate 198). We learn that Richard's bow at the Papingo shoot is made from yew (Game of Kings 158), and so is Lymonds bow (Disorderly Knights 159); so we can understand why Fergie is seen importing Permian yew (in Ringed Castle 89). And on a less warlike front, Lymonds lute is made from pear wood (Ringed Castle 70).

Transport in the 16th century was a simple matter. You walked, or you rode. For intercontinental travel the most cutting-edge transport mode was the Edward Bonaventure, so you were better off on a mule, such as Trotty Lockup uses (Disorderly Knights 55). Or a horse suited to the terrain, such as in Ringed Castle: "they surveyed the supply of tall Argamaks, the Turkoman horses, crossed with Arab stock ... made for speed over flat plains of the south" but no good for rough country, so for that they use: "small, short-necked Pachmat horses of the Tartars, (which were) used to wooden saddles and stirrups, and could live for a lifetime on sawdust". Horses were used in tournaments too, of course; do you remember d'Aubigny's wish list? (Queens' Play 429) (slide 18) "a pair of Turkish mares.. a pair of cobs.. a pair of Spanish jennets.. "

In foreign climes we see mules, camels (slide 19) and donkeys in Bone, when the 200 children are brought for inspection (Pawn in Frankincense 82); and the camel is used in Aleppo too, where Jerrott tells Marthe about the 50 camels a year which come loaded with opium from Paphlagonia, Cappadocia, Galatia and Cilicia. And let's not forget the duet, as in Francesco e Filipa, between Filipa and Arcimbaldo: "O boo de la thing". But you couldn't get much more exotic transport than in (slide 20) Northern Russia!

a touch of the exotic, and little luxuries

And here, at long last I can reveal the solution to the major mystery of the Chronicles. No, not the children, not Eloise, but the colour of Lady Culter's curtains. Everyone always suspected they were red; but serious scientific research in the Economic Botany collections of Kew led me to the answer. The first casual hints were dropped in Game of Kings, when the Dowager is trying to deflect an importunate query about Lymond: "did you try some brazil on your curtains" (Game of Kings 11). Later, at the Wapenshaw spice booth, Lady Culter buys many things, among which is brazil for her new wool (Game of Kings 149). Brazil is a dye from Caesalpinia sappan, a tree from the Far East, named brazil after the mythical land of medieval legend (thanks here to Beth Nachison and Elaine Thompson) - Marco Polo mentions the brasil crops of Sumatra! Now we all thought, because the heartwood of this tree is red, that the curtains would be red too. A typical touch of Dunnettry here: a red herring! I found some silk from Thailand, dyed with brazil, and it is a beautiful golden coppery colour. Lady Culters curtains were reddish gold.

Some more obscure exotics: Pistacia lentiscus wept its gummy St Theodore's tears from August till September (Pawn in Frankincense 438) - this is mastic, used for varnishes (in oil paintings), against halitosis, and as a filler for caries. Exotic clothing figures in Danny Hislops interpretation of entertainment: tartar maidens in wolfskins (Ringed Castle 28). Still in Russia, the dead of Moscow are stacked on the frozen river, a scrap of birch bark in their hands, to prove they had died Christians (Ringed Castle 268). In Moscow still, a sprig of basil is used to sprinkle blessed water (by priest over Tsar Ivan, Ringed Castle 169, also in Trebizond over the Basileus - an overlooked Correspondence?). And Nostradamus, over charcoal sprinkled with saffron, uses a sprig of green stuff like verbena to touch the long silken thread with the key hanging, and so spells out Plaris and Clerasi (Checkmate 266).

We come to sports, which must qualify as luxuries. Lady Dunnett shows us archery, and horse racing, but most often we are taken on the hunt. And to hunt, one uses hounds.

(slide 21) Henri II had a famous pack of black and white hounds (Queens' Play 107) and we are also told about his "tumblers and lurchers, spaniels for hawking and fowling, harehounds, light and nervy mastiffs with their flop ears for boar, the flat-headed, vicious alaunts......" (Queens' Play 115). We see the proud Luadhas, a deerhound or wolfhound, "a noble bitch, high in heart and honest after her calling". And I could not resist a slide from the earlier House (slide 22) here is the noble Simon with his hound, and this also shows us why he became infertile. Lady Dunnett told us yesterday that it was because of vanity, and it was; but not due to heavy tilting armour, but to the latest Italian fashion in daggers, and Simons misreading of the instructions of how to wear them. As the Nikado tells us, he was beautiful, but dim.

slide 23: in Checkmate, there is the poor Arabian gazelle hound, found dead at Dame de Doubtance's house (Checkmate 54); and we are told of the mastiffs of Rhodes - said to distinguish Turk from Christian by smell (Queens' Play 382). But hunting does not happen by hound alone: sometimes the king employs a hunting cheetah from the bamboo forests of the Ganges (Queens' Play 120, slide 24). And that leads us straight to the next group:

tricks and ambushes

Lymond uses what he can find. One mile South of Hume Castle, he finds wild ponies to cause a diversion for the incoming English supply train (Game of Kings 108) - "the hill pony is a stout and independent citizen ... the herd went seriously to work, exploring all these and fresh talents"

But one of my favourite moments is when he employs armoured sheep with black roman noses (Disorderly Knights 18). I have done research on this, but with less happy results than over the brazil. I must confess that I have my doubts. I have collected sheep skulls on the Borders, and studied the helmets kept at Ferniehurst Castle. It was like trying to fit a round peg in a square hole: the blackface sheep (slide 25) does not have the right kind of skull. I mean, look at it! What did Lymond use? Elastic? Duct tape?

I really have tried my best (slide 26) but it just doesn't look right. It took me ten minutes to do these two:
Scottish warrior Sheep
  Slide 27  
so can you imagine trying to do eight hundred?

But it is not just Lymond. That the Turnbulls too are very keen on the local livestock is proved by the theft of herds of Kerrs and Scotts, and their subsequent maiming (Disorderly Knights 409) - though they secrete some for their own use, too, with "calves in the woodpile and tupps under the bed, lambs in the chimneys and a milch cow lashed to somebody's roof and thatched over" (Disorderly Knights 420). And our friend Archie hides Philippa and Kuzum, in their brief escape from Topkapi, first behind/under the leopard Victoria; then under a pile of elephant muck (Pawn in Frankincense 579).

I'll end this with two more Lymond tricks. In Paris, he uses goats to imitate the noise of people running, to lure away troops chasing Huguenots (Checkmate 112). And in Calais, with Piero Strozzi, he makes good use of a mule and a small wicker cart containing six barrels of apples (Checkmate 149).


Go all the way from the simple, such as moss for dressing wounds (Game of Kings 496, Richard treating Lymond outside Hexham) to the exotic, mentioned by Lymond to Chancellor: live earthworms mashed into alcohol (infallible against the marthambles), cornsilk and hot dough and live ants in warm oil (for joint pains), celery water and goose fat massage (for frostbite by the Samoyeds: this one works, Ringed Castle 244).

Poppy (slide 28) is used in veterinary medicine: opium is used as a sedative for elephants (Queens' Play 108), but as we all know Archie also keeps arsenic & nux vomica, as tonic; belladonna, for cough; bhang, ganja & Kuchla, for bowel upset; lime water for Hughie's back; and resin & beeswax against the flies. And the fighting cocks at Douai are kept in top trim with urine and a pat of rosemary butter (Checkmate 6). Do try this at home.

Back to the treatment of humans. Mme. Donati asks for a non-doctor to come and look at Joleta, and Kate says they only have exponents of the rosewater and fewmets school of female herbalism (Disorderly Knights 54). More animal droppings are used against sciatica, which requires hot goat dung ("a sniff from the medicinal side", Dioscorides cited by Sybilla, Checkmate 358). I encountered unexpected herbalism looking at the pilgrim with anchusa wound in his hair, who had a mad scourge of a bell in F sharp (travelling with Mikal and Philippa from Greece to Stambul, Pawn in Frankincense 278) - bugloss, Anchusa azurea, is a medicine against melancholy!

slide 29: 'I cannot eat but little meat/ my stomach is not good/ but sure I think that I can drink/ with him that wears the hood' (Thady Boy at Blois banquet, Queens' Play 192). And while we're on the subject about Lymond being fed - here's the opium poppy (slide 30), such an important element in Chef Zitwitz' cooking. Did you know, by the way, where the word 'drugs' comes from? From the Old English driggen, to dry, as in dried herbs. Such herbs as we see hanging in the DdD's rooms in Lyon: "hellebore, plantain, clubmoss, centaury, camomile, hanging in faggots from the low rafters; female ginseng, guaranteed to bring back youth & beauty; (and) foxglove, laudanum, strychnine, roots of hemlock, dry pepper, valerian; unicorn's horn... (slide 31) Ivory dust? Or narwhal, more likely" (Checkmate 56). And here's (slide 32) mandrake, as in the mandragora soaking wax candles for Francis Crawford of Lymond's bedroom, first in the Hotel Moutier in Blois (Queens' Play), then in Amiens (Checkmate 515).

slide 33: Bishop Reid warned Lymond about the de Guise family, who might wish to cure "la piqure du scorpion par le scorpion mesme" (Checkmate 409)

slide 34: A visit with Sybilla to the Wapenshaw spice booth leads into a little segue into trade - cinnamon, figs, cumin seed and saffron, ginger, flower of gillyflower and crocus, and some brazil for dyeing her new wool (later also a boxful of ox feet, which poor Tom sits upon in the inn) (Game of Kings 149). Much of this is indicative of trade: South East Asia produces the cinnamon, brazil and ginger, the Mediterranean the figs and saffron; but the cumin and gillyflower are probably home-grown, albeit not native to Scotland (both come, again from the Med). (slide 35) (clove) slide 36gillyflower is a species of carnation, clove pink, and a source of oil for soap and scent, as well as for flavouring wine and ale. I had brought one (I thought) to the Gathering, but when I ate a bit at lunch it was quite revolting - maybe I'm just not ready for the 16th century...

This brings me to natural history.

A good story is the natural history of pearls, according to Sheemy Wurmit: "on the 24th of the month this dew comes down on the water and it's collected, wrapped, and flung into the sea; and then at the right time these other fellows get let down on ropes on the sea-bed and bring it all up." 'The dew?' said Philippa 'in bags or boxes?' "In buckets" said Sheemy, oblivious. "Or nets. Ye see, it's all changed into these wee creepy worms in hard jeckets." 'Oh' said Philippa. 'And then what do they do?' "Take their jeckets off" explained Sheemy. "And there's the stones in their pockets." 'What stones?' "They stones. The pearls. These. That's where they come from." 'It's one of nature's marvels, isn't it?' said Philippa. (Pawn in Frankincense 217 )

slide 37: Another good bit of natural history takes place in the kitchen garden at Heriot: (Game of Kings 351) - Lymond is tethered beside the green mud of an ancient fishpond, and his captors are awaiting the arrival of Will Scott. Sir George Douglas has: "his elegant length curled frondwise round the base of a holly tree whose bulk was a perfect screen, and whose eavesdrip was agony." Francis Crawford of Lymond doles out advice by the book: "I am capable of reciting verse until the thyme withers and the pennyroyal is debased"

This leads seamlessly to horticulture, the use of plants for ornament and pleasure

Name some horticultural adresses: Rue de la Cerisaye, Paris; House of the Palm Tree, Zakynthos (Pawn in Frankincense 50)
or people: Tulip!, Cuckoo-spit (Game of Kings 123)
or animals: Bryony (R's horse) (slide 38)

Horticulture in the books goes all the way from the simple, such as Kate, peering at and then watering a rather dilapidated flower in a pot (Game of Kings 214); to Philippa pouring soapy water on her roses and intoning prayers for the greenfly (Disorderly Knights 456); to the elaborate - Sevigny: under the archangel wings of beeches, Sevigny Avenue (slide 39), a carp pond... there were sunflowers still, their yellow heads yearning westwards (Checkmate 132); arbors (slide 40) and elm bowers, knotbeds and box groves, walled orchards and water gardens; a grotto covered by a vine trellis (Checkmate 485) (slide 41). Maybe they used the same horticultural firm as Hampton Court, where there were also box hedges, between which Queen Mary walks about during her endless confinement (Ringed Castle 111) (slide 42, 43)

slide 44 Question 3: Where would you be when: roses grew by your pillow and petted carp swam to your hand in raised channels of marble veined in pink and blue. You lay on silk and are fed from black hands on new bread and nectarines and sea food seethed in fresh milk?

slide 45: and here's an almond tree, such as the one next to Gabriel's house, climbed by Francis Crawford of Lymond (Pawn in Frankincense 584). Another Turkish plant: (slide 46) tulips. Anna Pavord got it wrong: tulip bulbs begged by the French Ambassador from his colleagues in Turkey and Venice were brought to England by Philippa, and grown by Sir Henry Sidney (Ringed Castle 447) - and that is how the first tulips got to England. Another gardening reference: the garden trees near Rue de la Cerisaie: cherry trees, birch, beech, elm, weeping thorns, lilac, vine stems, holly, row of Bergamot pear trees (Checkmate 288). I went back to check, and not much has changed (slide 47)

Question 4: who had mother/daughter relationship with Betsy?

Which leads to Zoological adresses:

Rue des Papegaults, Blois; Lion Gate , Amboise (Queens' Play 222); Tour aux Puces, Thionville (Checkmate 451); Auberge Porc-epic, Dieppe (Queens' Play 12). And people with animal names: Oyster Charlie, a hard man to cross (Pawn in Frankincense 223), and of course Turkey Mat (although I'm told that's more likely from the country). And who could ever forget our Marigold!

slide 48: Archie oversaw the menageries we see: tame deer, donkeys, dromedaries and ibexes, boars, ewes, deer & porcupines (Queens' Play 304, in the moat at Angers), and before: bear, lions, elephants, bulls, giraffes (can this be true? I thought the first giraffe in France since Roman times in 1826: Zarafa, but who knows where DD's research leads her...)

Question 5: who said "the only livestock I ever kept was a budgie"

which leads to pets

there's Mungo Tennent's sow! and ( slide 49, 50) Ma Hunters little lapdog; Jenny Fleming's marmoset, bitten by MQS (Queens' Play 62); Meg Douglas' monkey, dies 2 pages after first mention (Queens' Play 270) - it's a tough life in her household! and the king of venery, the melancholy hare - and Suzanne (slide 51).

Question 6: can you tell whose pets these were:
ma belle being a cow elephant named Annie
Herpestes ichneumon

Animal are also used as symbols:

Mungo Tennent's symbol, appropriately, is a boar's head in chief; there are the lilies of France (slide 52, 53); the salamander of Francis, the porcupine of Louis (Queens' Play 113); the Sign of the Elephant, Sign of La Corne du Cerf (printers signs, Checkmate 114); (slide 54) the thistle of the Scotland (Checkmate 229), as told to us by Ross Herald, first taken as a symbol by James III; and of course the pheon and phoenix of Culter (Checkmate 326).

My last section is on similes, enjoyable comparisons,

and Lymond being tiresome with his obscure quotes.

There are some great characterisations, with people compared to plants and animals: Lord Grey as the clammy, stiff-backed old pike (Game of Kings 97), and later (Game of Kings 202) Lord Grey again, with the simile continued, and complaints and entreaties pursuing him like hagfish. I think that's great stuff.

Mr Crouch, wittily obese like a middle-aged titmouse (Game of Kings 132). The group of arrow boys, minute fungi under cartwheel rush hats (papingo shoot, Game of Kings 154) (slide 55) this is perfect! And, of course, a sensible Health & Safety measure, with those arrows plunging down.

Archie comes in for his bit: he has talbot-hound features; skin like the sloughed hide of a serpent; a face seamed like a walnut (Queens' Play 53). And Lymond, when asked by Master Zitwitz if M. le Comte needs jewels, laughs about himself as "a hairy alpenrose in dimity ruffles", which is certainly different from his normal demeanour, "shy as a dogtooth violet".

And there's Gaultier, who lined his rooms like naked mice in an eyrie (Queens' Play 233) - by the way, I have traced a direct descendant, and it fits beautifully: the same desire to design sumptuous, elegant objects with weird bits shooting out on ratchets: slide 56.

Question 7 is about cornflower blue eyes: we all know which three had these, but who had gentian blue eyes? And who had eyes like dark blue Iris?

and that leads me to

nice images

Tom Erskine felt like the bird which cleans crocodile teeth, assailed by hideous doubts (Game of Kings 143)

... and the gourds seated, green and yellow and fat as aldermen on their walls (Rabat on Gozo, Disorderly Knights 122)

the Dauphiné, like a lotus in a crocodile swamp (Ambassadors ship among corsairs galleys in Algiers harbour) (Pawn in Frankincense 83) - to me, an image like that is close to perfection!

slide 57: (Francis Crawford of Lymond on Joleta) whoever lay by the rose has emphatically borne the flower away, if not the bush (Disorderly Knights 573). slide 58: that's Jerrott thinking about Philippa: with a sort of flat-chested innocence and the doggedness of a flowerpecker attacking a strangling fig (Pawn in Frankincense 14). slide 59: 'I had an extraordinary feeling', said Lymond, 'like a bat sitting in a cannonball tree, that I was going to be thrown on my own initiative' (Pawn in Frankincense 480) Couroupita guianensis, the cannonball tree from Venezuela!

slide 60: like a dragonfly pinned to some page of a royal book of hours (Pawn in Frankincense 485) - which could be the image defining the similes!


'a mistake is something you build on - it's the irritant that makes the pearl' (Richard, Lord Culter) Game of Kings 544 [compare this to natural history of pearls by Sheemy - Richard is so sensible!]

'no-one with theological training is ever going to believe that nine times out of ten what is best for ones character is the primrose path, not the thicket of thorns' (Francis Crawford of Lymond, Disorderly Knights 639)

'a wife, a spaniel, a walnut tree/the more you beat them, the better they be' (Checkmate 305, Francis Crawford of Lymond to Catherine d'Albon)

Some people are compared more than others. One of my favourites, Sir Wat, comes in for floral and faunal comments: Wat has a tongue on him like an anteater (Janet, Lady Scott, Game of Kings 179); Buccleughs burst-whinbush whiskers (Game of Kings 168); like a sea urchin calling in its needles, Buccleugh's whiskers withdrew (Game of Kings 274); Wats eyes soft as a spaniels (new baby, Game of Kings 284); and (slide 61): you look as if you'd been boiled in a pot with a pasque flower (Lady Culter to Wat S, Game of Kings 325). My research failed to turn up why anyone would boil a pasqueflower, maybe to colour eggs?

And, of course, our M. le bloody Comte himself:

drama entered, mincing like a cat (Game of Kings 19)

slide 62: a tow-headed daisy with a private banshee (Francis Crawford of Lymond and the piper to Argyll in the Ostrich, Game of Kings 199)

he has coordination like a hunting tiger (Gideon on Francis Crawford of Lymond, Game of Kings 430)

enter the wily fox (Francis Crawford of Lymond on himself, Queens' Play 13)

while M. le bloody Comte did everything but grow runner beans on his bow (Jerrott on behalf of Joleta, Disorderly Knights 383)

you nasty, lascivious little rat (Jerrot to Francis Crawford of Lymond, Disorderly Knights 361) or just "ye rat" (Thompson to Francis Crawford of Lymond, Disorderly Knights 513), sharp as rat's teeth, aren't ye?(Thompson to Francis Crawford of Lymond, also Disorderly Knights 513)

trim as a cat (Kate on Francis Crawford of Lymond, Disorderly Knights 457)

circling the room like a blowfly (Kate to Francis Crawford of Lymond, Disorderly Knights 459)

wolf! misbegotten hog! (la Donati to Francis Crawford of Lymond) Disorderly Knights 546

a hairy Alpenrose in dimity ruffles (Pawn in Frankincense 40) - this has a great sonorous ring to it

Mikal asks Philippa what her beloved's face looks like - "a lemon?" said Philippa (Pawn in Frankincense 284)

Francis Crawford of Lymond's hair, yellow like mustard (Ringed Castle 339)

Danny on Francis Crawford of Lymond's smile: cooled in snake blood (Ringed Castle 346)

you bloody Indian clam, Adam said (Checkmate 442)

a clam? not always - Francis Crawford of Lymond is always happy to talk back - sometimes about himself:

I have the refinement of a cow-cabbage (Game of Kings 20); my natural habitat, like the squirting cucumber (Francis Crawford of Lymond to M. Lennox, Game of Kings 303)

but more often with his snappy comebacks; and, as Turkey Mat states, he has a tongue on him like a thorn tree (Game of Kings 30, slide 63)

(you have) 'the emotional stability of a quince-seed in a cup of luke warm water' (Francis Crawford of Lymond to Will, Game of Kings 280);
'Mariotta, my sarmatian poppy!' (Game of Kings 333) which sounds fine, but a few lines later he is laying into her: 'if you had a brain larger than a chickpea' (Game of Kings 333);
better to be stung by a nettle than pricked by a rose (said Lymond coldly to Philippa, who has read him Scorpio's characteristics, Checkmate 68)

slide 64: with Lymond, we will sniff the wind from Bokhara for musk, spices and ambergris, when I end with some

smells, some good, some bad.

Question(s) 8: Where, are you when you smell -

Game of Kings: fragrance of roast meat curiously laced with musk

Queens' Play: rose attar

Disorderly Knights: white waxy stephanotis its scent staining the air

Pawn in Frankincense: dried roseleaves and boxwood, amber paste, jasmine powder, lemon, something frying in honey

Ringed Castle: vague smell of sulphur and horseradish (...) castor-oil, mint pastilles and onions

And a really beautiful smell experience comes to our nostrils in Ringed Castle. Francis Crawford of Lymond is blind, and in London's Lime street, when he smells "a trace of incense... of metal... of corn... of flesh... the warm scents of a stable, of horsefleshand hay... the fresh, night smell of grass and spring flowers - primroses, violets and gillyflowers, the feathers of the southernwood, the cushions of wild thyme and mint from a garden". He is in dire trouble, when suddenly henotices "a rumour of a scent... a perfume which was not that of clove- gillyflowers, or sweetbriars, or the white double violet which comes twice a year..." This is very clever - it intermingles the earlier smells, with the gillyflower (which is also one of Lady Culters' kitchen ingredients - notice the name has changed slightly, and now includes the clove bit, which is what Lady Culter buys at the Wapenshaw!), with memory scents from Russia, which I think refers back to Chancellor, and where he is desperately trying to go back to. The smell that he does smell is Philippa's scent (Ringed Castle 515), but it takes us until the next book to learn what that scent is: when she goes to visit Lord Grey, after Calais, it is pepper and musk.

4. summing up

"His novels are almost all set in periods of international crisis, but he keeps his admirable Scottish sense of proportion for big events, and his feeling of wonder for small events." (jacket blurb on Penguin 1961, John Buchan). I have wondered at the small detail, and enjoyed it to the hilt. I hope this is infectuous in some degree. Now, I believe you always have to end with a controversial hypothesis, to re-awaken your audience and make them remember. So I state here that each book has its essential plant and animal.

Game of Kings - duckweed and drunken pig, to introduce us and set the tone: homely but resourceful.

Queens' Play - monkshood and wolfhound: to show the risks of going to a foreign country.

Disorderly Knights - armoured sheep and dangerous peaches!

Pawn in Frankincense - go look, Mr Blyth, for a mulberry bush - or opium?

Ringed Castle - those fur animals, a main reason for the Russia Company to travel

Checkmate - cherry trees, spelled out by Nostradamus' key, and leading Philippa to the Hotel des Spheres; and apples, on the cart to Calais

But the main symbol for the whole series must be weasels. If Philippa had kept rabbits, instead, how would she ever have coped with the sharp teeth and sudden claws of Francis Crawford?

slide references:
1: duckweed, from: Swan, C. 1998. The Clutius Botanical Watercolours. Abrams, New York (edited by our Eve!)
2: Richard ploughing, by Simon Bening: from Kren, T. (ed.) 1983. Renaissance painting in manuscripts. Hudson Hill Press, New York.
3: market, by J.B. de Saive (1571-1634, a bit after): from a Christies catalogue
4: Mertoun dovecot: from Burbidge B & Young F. 1989. The Scottish garden. Moubray House, Edinburgh.
5: dovecot from inside: from Buxbaum T. 1989. Scottish garden buildings. Mainstream, Edinburgh.
6: grapes
7: melons
8: pomegranete
9: Olaus Magnus, 1539, Carta Marina: from a facsimile published in 1964 at Bokgillett, Uppsala
10: Olaus Magnus, 1539, Carta Marina, detail of frozen/salted fish
11: rushes and ramsons: MS Ashmole 1504 published in Putnam, C. 1972. Flowers and trees of Tudor England. Evelyn, London.
12: hemp, hop, pink: MS Ashmole 1504 published in Putnam, C. 1972. Flowers and trees of Tudor England. Evelyn, London.
13: flax, and oxtongue: MS Ashmole 1504 published in Putnam, C. 1972. Flowers and trees of Tudor England. Evelyn, London.
14: College Ste Barbe, photographed by me in summer 1996
15: oak & scots pine: MS Ashmole 1504 published in Putnam, C. 1972. Flowers and trees of Tudor England. Evelyn, London.
16: tilting
17: willow: Swan, C. 1998. The Clutius Botanical Watercolours. Abrams, New York
18: horses at tilting , in Froissart: from Weinstein, K. 1997. The art medieval manuscrips. Hamlyn, London.
19: camel: from a postcard bought in Paris, years ago.
20: reindeer pulling sledge (I can't remember where I got this from)
21: hounds at Hunt: detail from Master of the life of the Virgin, St. Huberts's conversion: from a postcard bought at the National Gallery.
22: hound w/Simon: from Landsberg S. (no date) The medieval garden. British Museum Press, London.
23: hunting: from Kren, T. (ed.) 1983. Renaissance painting in manuscripts. Hudson Hill Press, New York.
24: cheetah at hunt: from the Dunnetwork archives
25: blackface sheep - { HYPERLINK http://www.alltel.net/~corgijim/blackie.htm http://www.alltel.net/~corgijim/blackie.htm - 25-27 with permission from copyright holder
26: blackface sheep with helmets - { HYPERLINK http://www.alltel.net/~corgijim/blackie.htm http://www.alltel.net/~corgijim/blackie.htm (helmets are my addition; nobody would guess, right?)
27: herd of blackface - { HYPERLINK http://www.alltel.net/~corgijim/blackie.htm http://www.alltel.net/~corgijim/blackie.htm
28: poppy
29: Aconitum septentrionale - monkshood: Swan, C. 1998. The Clutius Botanical Watercolours. Abrams, New York
30: opium poppy, bladder campion, broad bean: from Hendrix L. & Vignau-Wilberg T. 1997. Nature illuminated (Mira calligraphiae monumenta of Rudolf II). J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
31: unicorn from the Cluny tapestry: from Landsberg S. (no date) The medieval garden. Britih Museum Press, London.
32: mandrake
33: larkspur, tulip, scorpion, millipede, hazel: from Hendrix L. & Vignau-Wilberg T. 1997. Nature illuminated (Mira calligraphiae monumenta of Rudolf II). J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
34: market, by Lukas van Valkenburgh (1530-1597), from a Christies catalogue
35: daffodil & gillyflower: MS Ashmole 1504 published in Putnam, C. 1972. Flowers and trees of Tudor England. Evelyn, London.
36: gillyflower, mayfly, fly, snail: from Hendrix L. & Vignau-Wilberg T. 1997. Nature illuminated (Mira calligraphiae monumenta of Rudolf II). J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
37: holly: Swan, C. 1998. The Clutius Botanical Watercolours. Abrams, New York
38: bryony: from Baumann, F.A. 1974. dasErbario Carrerese. Benteli, Bern
39: Sevigny beech avenue
40: arbour
41: box hedging: photographed by me in Kew Gardens, July 2000.
42: Hampton Court, 1702 (Royal Collection): from Batey M & Woudstra J. 1995. The story of the privy garden at Hampton Court. Barn Elms, London.
43: Hampton Court, 1555 (Ashmolean): from Batey M & Woudstra J. 1995. The story of the privy garden at Hampton Court. Barn Elms, London.
44: camel, lotus - from web
45: Stamboul, Topkapi gardens
46: tulips, beans: from Hendrix L. & Vignau-Wilberg T. 1997. Nature illuminated (Mira calligraphiae monumenta of Rudolf II). J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
47: Rue de la Cerisaie, photographed by me in summer 1996
48: bestiary, 12th century from Aberdeen: from Weinstein, K. 1997. The art medieval manuscrips. Hamlyn, London.
49: lady with lapdog, by Simon Bening: from Kren, T. (ed.) 1983. Renaissance painting in manuscripts. Hudson Hill Press, New York.
50: lady with lapdog: Antonis Mor van Dashorst, 1519-1576, his wife, ca. 1554
51: hare: Dürer, 1502: from Braham, A. 1965. Dürer. Spring Books, London.
52: hellebore & fleur de lys: MS Ashmole 1504 published in Putnam, C. 1972. Flowers and trees of Tudor England. Evelyn, London.
53: portinari altarpiece; iris, lily, columbine, violets;
54: thistle & teasel: MS Ashmole 1504 published in Putnam, C. 1972. Flowers and trees of Tudor England. Evelyn, London.
55: fungus: Swan, C. 1998. The Clutius Botanical Watercolours. Abrams, New York
56: Jean-Paul Gaultier, from the Gaultier website
57: dandelion & rose: MS Ashmole 1504 published in Putnam, C. 1972. Flowers and trees of Tudor England. Evelyn, London.
58: fig & flowerpeckers: Ligozzi watercolour, late 16th cent., Verona, from Blunt W & Raphael S. 1980? The illustrated herbal. Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London.
59: cannonball tree, photographed by me in 1995 in Caracas Botanic Garden
60: dragonfly, pear, carnation: from Hendrix L. & Vignau-Wilberg T. 1997. Nature illuminated (Mira calligraphiae monumenta of Rudolf II). J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
61: pasqueflower: Brunfels, from Blunt W & Raphael S. 1980? The illustrated herbal. Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London.
62: daisies: Swan, C. 1998. The Clutius Botanical Watercolours. Abrams, New York
63: thorns, photographed by me in Kora Game Reserve, Kenya, 1988.
64: gillyflower

© Henk Beentje, 2000