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Pavane (book)

Last modified: 2016-03-19 by peter hans van den muijzenberg
Keywords: book | novel | pavane | popes | english nobility |
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I just finished reading Pavane, by Keith Roberts (1966), a novel of alternate history in which Queen Elizabeth I is assassinated in 1588, Philip II's "Enterprise of England" is a success (he becomes King of England, in fact), and the Protestant Reformation is then crushed by a Catholic alliance including England. The action of the novel takes place in England from about 1968 to 1985 — and needless to say, it is a very different England from the one we know. Technology is at about the level of 1860, and the social structure resembles that of the late Middle Ages.

Pavane is a wonderful novel, by the way, even if some of its details are puzzling. For instance, though steam power is used, military technology is about on a par with that of the English Civil War period. Still, I can highly recommend it to anyone who may be interested in this particular genre of lirerature.
Tom Gregg, 13 March 2001


The "cobalt banner" of the popes is mentioned several times: blue, charged with a golden eagle. I wonder if there's any actual historical warrant for this as the papal banner ?
Tom Gregg, 13 March 2001

English Nobility

The English nobility — which is Norman French in language and culture — displays the Oriflamme. Roberts tells us that it is only flown on feast days and special occassions. Is there any reason for it to be associated with Normandy in particular? Reference is also made to the "swallowtailed Union Flag of Great Britain.
Tom Gregg, 13 March 2001

I am afraid there is no reason for the oriflammme to be associated with normandy. According to the book by Desjardins (1875), the Oriflamme was the feudal banner of the abbey of Saint-Denis. The 'protector' of the abbey was the Count of Vexin, i.e. the king of France, who took the Oriflamme before going to war. Desjardins gives the description of the ritual of Oriflamme rising. The first mention of the Oriflamme as 'belonging' to the Count of Vexin is dated from the XIIth century. Geographically, Vexin spreads over both Normandy and Ile-de-France. In order to stop the Norman invasions by sedentarizing the invaders, the king of France Charles III le Simple signed in 911 the treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte with the Norman chief Rollon (a.k.a. Rolf, Rolof etc.). The Normans were given the territory now called Normandy. It included the part of Vexin located on the right (west) bank of the river Epte, which is nowadays still called 'Vexin normand'. The other part of Vexin was kept into the kingdom of France, and is nowadays still called 'Vexin francais'.

The author of the book mentioned by Tom might have made a confusion between the two Vexins and considered the Counts of Vexin as vassals of the Dukes of Normandy.
Ivan Sache, 15 March 2001