Friday, July 19, 2013

A not so lovely start to a love story...

William the Conqueror was the illegitimate son of the Duke of Normandy.  Because of his mother's humble background, his father was unable to marry her; eventually, they were able to tie the knot and legitimize their children.  However, his enemies liked to call him William the Bastard.  As he grew to tall manhood, he noticed the diminutive Mathilda de Flanders who was under five foot, some say four foot two-eyes of blue, and was said to be beautiful.  When she heard of his attraction toward her, she called him William-the B-word, shame on her.  Coming home from church one day with all her ladies in waiting, that man had the nerve to ride up to her and pull her off her horse by her braids in retaliation for name calling.  Rather juvenile, don't you think?  He didn't even try to abduct her, just left her there in the mud.  Her father was so mad that he wanted to go to war.  As for Mathilda, she accepted William's highly unusual approach for her hand.  The Pope at first said third cousins were too closely related and refused to recognize their marriage, but finally agreed when they promised to build his and her abbeys.  The amazing thing is, the marriage seemed to be a strong one of mutual faithfulness and appreciation.  She became regent of Normandy and ruled it well while he was busy conquering England.  She did cross the channel to become crowned the first Queen of England.  I'll bet she kept her braids nicely tucked tightly up under her crown.

"The art of being wise
is the act of knowing
what to overlook."
(William James)  
This was true of Mathilda de Flanders when it came to braid pulling.
"Your head crowns you like Carmel,
And the flowing locks of your head are like purple threads;
The king is captivated by your tresses.
How beautiful and how delightful you are,
My love with all your charms!"
Song of Solomon 8:5-6

Pictures from Williamsburg (wrong century, I know)

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