A Squeaky Clean Renaissance Chapter the First: Rightly to be Great
Cecil Goodytwoshoes has travelled back in time to improve theMiddle Ages and to bring about a Renaissance of higher culture to asmany civilizations as possible.One might describe this as Imperial Ambition, but it is only for thegood of Simkind.
Having arrived in his new land, he declared himself Lord ofPuritania.
--and he himself seemed all that they ought to be.--
He caused a formal declaration of his Princely authority to bedrawn up, and read it himself from the throne room.“Be it known that I, Cecil, King of Puritania, dedicatemyself to the improvement of the kingdom’s morality.”
And yet, King Cecil found the people to be slow to accept him astheir monarch: insolent in their hearts, and occasionally openlyso.
“We cannot have the people doubting our claim to the crown.One must establish authority.”
“It is a question of blood, your Majesty,” said the Royal Advisor.“The people will not accept a prince who is not of royal, or at leastnoble blood.”King Cecil was taken aback.“We are descended from Roman emperors.”
“May the Watcher forgive me for saying so, your Majesty, butcan you prove that? We know nothing of you before you strodeoff the foreign ship and declared the Kingdom your own.”
“You might have dropped from the sky. And Holy Roman Emperor—I am afraid everyone says that. We’ve seen ‘em come, and we’veseen ‘em go.No, what your Majesty needs is a professional relative: someone who.can attest to the nobility of your descent.”
“This is outrageous,” said the King, coldly. “My brother has tracedthe family to—”“The eighteenth century,” he remembered suddenly. “Margery is myearliest relative. In any case, I have no means of communicating with Lytton,who will not be born for hundreds of years.”
King Cecil was quite certain that his blood could be nothing lessthan noble. Yet with no means of proof, a professional relative itwould have to be, although privately the King thought it was a lack-witted notion, and sent a pigeon to the Duchess De Bonchassure,just in case.
Viewing the professional relative did nothing to allay the King’ssuspicions. In fact, it redoubled them.
He was crude and vulgar, caring for nothing but meat anddrink, and nothing would do but that the King join him innightly revelry. King Cecil did not approve of revelry. He hadnot reveled in his previous existence, and he was not going tostart now.
“And cutting purses, too? We will not bear you company. Wewill be nothing allied to your disorders.”“Will you not, coz?” sneered the professional relative. “Notwhen you have need of me.”
“Lady Fortune and my own wits, assist me to be King,” Cecilsaid to himself, “for nothing about this man possibly can. It wouldcut my very heart to fail, but better to fail than to be aided by achurl.”
And therefore trusting to his own wits and not those of hisadvisor, King Cecil consulted the foreign princes visiting the court.And lo, the Smithmistress of Crafthole confirmed that even such avillain had plagued her kingdom.
The Merchant Prince, Samuel of Tredony, agreed.“One sees at a glance, he is not accustomed to the horse,”he said. “One sees he is not wearing the sword from young days.One sees he is no prince and no gentleman.I love what you have done to this palace, by the way.”
“Lady Fortune and my own wits, then,” vowed the King. “Ishall be monarch through merit rather than birthright.”
The professional relative had been so bold as to pilfer from the Royal Treasury and to order suits of velvet and cloth ofgold.
“A missive, sire,” said the town crier. “From the Duchess DeBonchaussure. I recognize her hand.”King Cecil took the scroll from the town crier, who looked athim in wonder. “Forgive me, your Majesty, but why did you notsay she was your cousin before? We know and respect her.”
The Duchess De Bonchaussure advised him that all noble housesearn their own crest. They must, after all, begin somewhere.“Is it even so?” mused the King. “The noble house ofGoodytwoshoes must have begun somewhere.Aha.”
The King immediately confronted the ersatz relative. “Youare presumptuous,” he informed him, “and your table manners areappalling.”“In your teeth, Sire,” the relative replied.There was only one possible course of action.
“The Pit? What have I done to deserve the Pit?”
“Har de har,” said the Constable. “Watcher’s spectacles,Bubbles, ‘e says ‘e doesn’t know.”Bubbles the Executioner prodded the man in his velvetclad nether parts.“Step lively,” he said. “I got my dinner in ten minutes.”
“I loves the sound of Ermintrude tuckin’ in, though. She got a goodappetite, bless ‘er slimy little ‘eart.”
King Cecil had not yet seen the Pit of Judgment.“So this is the Pit,” he remarked thoughtfully.“Yup, yer Majesty, sir.”
“Dear, dear,” said Cecil. “That IS a long way down.”“We’m proud of our Pit, yer Majesty, sir.”
If King Cecil thought that perhaps his judgment had beentoo severe, he gave no sign of it.“Slandering a Prince deserves it.”
“One must temper mercy with justice.”A new prince, of all rulers, finds it impossible to avoid areputation for cruelty, because of the abundant dangers inherent ina newly won state. ~~Machiavelli
“Having secured my claim, I may begin my larger mission. WhileI am about establishing a family crest, however—”
“I may as well create one. ‘I schall have virtue.’ Not ‘I will begood.’ There is a difference. Virtue means ‘strength,’ not ‘goodness.’Margery must have gotten it wrong. And ‘death rather thanuncleanliness.’ One must, after all, be neat.”“I seem to have created my own family crest. This must be one ofthose temporal anomalies Maximilian was talking about.”-________________NB: The ermine signifies purity.
King Cecil lost no time putting his unique stamp uponhis kingdom.There was, for example, the case of the young woman whowished to marry without her parents’ consent.
For other monarchs, this might have posed a dilemma.
Not for King Cecil.“Absolutely not. We must begin as we mean to go on.If later ages have low moral standards, we cannot begin withthem low. They will have no lower to go, and we shall be in asorry state indeed.”
“I –I don’t understand your Majesty, but you have brokenmy heart.”“—nonsense, child. Go back to your duties.”Fortunately, most of his subjects absolutely agreed with KingCecil. He began to be be liked. In turn, he seemed to have foundan appallingly repressive culture that suited him immensely.
He set an example of temperance and personal virtue thatwas greatly admired--
“Behold! THERE is my right!”Please leave me out of this.
“I will have you know that I am greatly favored by theWatcher.”“The W-watcher? I’m s-sorry, O Watcher. I didn’t know.”“In any case, I am the King, and you will respect me assuch.”
“We cannot have insurrection. You must have a time out.”
“Are you sorry?”“Yes.”“You won’t do it again?”“No.”
“Very well. Then you are free to go.”“One hour? Really? Wow, the old King locked you up atleast overnight. He was a right bastard, sire. Sorry, sire,language, I know, sire. Ok, thanks, sire.”
“Another victory. The people are learning not to use badlanguage. I must record this for posterity. Lytton will be sopleased, assuming the manuscript survives and he finds it.”
“Bringing about the Renaissance is a mere half of myambition, however. I must strategize to spread cultureand morality, and studying with figures on a map willnot be sufficient. Neither will travel in my former life, as theworld has changed so much, or rather, has not changed yet.”
“I must travel, incognito. This means leaving the kingdomin other hands, if only for a few days.”The King was reluctant to consign the safety of the kingdom to anadvisor who had suggested a professional relative. It was necessaryto choose a person absolutely dedicated and loyal.
One name sprang to mind: a person, moreover, who wouldwork day and night without complaint.
Fortis Mulcibera, the Kingdom’s best—indeed, only—blacksmith. Perhaps it was fortunate King Cecil did not knowthat Fortis had a weakness at the gaming tables, but since herfiscal irresponsibility only extended to her own money, it did notmatter.
Fortis surveyed the throne room from the King’s vantagefor the first time in her life.“It’s all mine for a few days,” she thought. “All that power, and all thatresponsibility.”
But she could not bear to let her forge grow cold and themines unexplored. The new kingdom needed weapons for war,and tools for peace. More and better, and she wanted to knowhow to make them.
“Gramercy, Fortis,” said the guard, “I know my sword is betterrepaired by you than it was before it was broken.I can always trust you.”“Everyone can trust me,” Fortis thought. “I’m so reliable.I’m so trustworthy.”
In addition to keeping the country running and her forgeworking, Fortis had to reassure the people that she had noambition to overthrow King Cecil and rule herself.“That’s what they all say,” said the town crier skeptically. “Nextthing, we know we’ve got a new by-the-Watcher monarch.”“I don’t,” said Fortis. “I really, really don’t.”
“My Lord Cecil left very clear instructions. He usually likes tosurvey the strategical map at this time of day,” said the RoyalAdvisor, “after a cold bath, writing several new laws, somemilitary training and supervising the patrols. Then he studiespolitical alliances for an hour or two before taking a frugalmeal.”“When does he sleep?”“He doesn’t.”
“We’re havin’ a party.”“What, here? In the castle?”
“No, in the Pit, with Ermintrude. Of course, here. UsuallyKing Cecil don’t hold with parties on account of his Lordshippisses ice, pardon, but you’re a good lass, eh? You won’t mind.”
“Yes I do mind, because it’s not my castle. We have toleave it the way he left it. You’re all loaded and smell like last year’s ale.Go home and take the minstrel with you before hesings another four hours about elven lore.”“Oooo, her Ladyship doesn’t like it. You just keep it upwith that superior attitude, ‘cause you won’t have no friends.”
Fortunately, King Cecil returned the next day.“Here are the keys to the castle, sire. I’ve kept themfaithfully.”“And what do you wish for a reward?”“I want never, ever to be asked to do this again.”
Soon Fortis was happily in her forge again, refining ore andlosing money, except when she was winning it from the hopelesslygood-hearted and gullible.“And that makes forty golden moidores, Sir Redcrosse.”“By my faith in the Watcher, Mistress Fortis, I cannot tell how thatcard came to be in your possession. For look, I have it in my veryhand.”“It’s a kind of magic. Oh, go on, you can owe me.”
“I shall leave you to your work, then. Would that there werea person as skillful in mending bodies as you are in mendingswords.”“Word has it that the king is planning to bring a bonesetter in soonfrom the East. They’re good at it there. In fact, I hear they can fixarms and legs instead of just whacking them off.”“I know you to be honest, else I should suspect you of telling tales.”
He was said to have come from the West, but none knewwhere. Redcrosse himself did not know, having been raised by ahermit from infancy, far from any other human being.
All he knew of his parents was that the sea had swallowedthem up, eaten by a monstrous whale.He had vowed eternal vengeance against whales, for the sakeof his lost mother and father.
This was the one violent streak in Redcrosse’s nature, for he wasnaturally gentle and courteous. The hermit had raised him to stay farfrom human society, which he felt was corrupt beyond redemption, butyet somehow Redcrosse knew he had to be a knight,and indeed he wasmatchless.The years of loneliness drove Redcrosse to seek company, while at thesame time it had made him a bit naïve and overly trusting.
And loyal. Loyal beyond all doubt and all question.“You wish me to attack Aarbyville?”“Pacify, Redcrosse, pacify.”
.”Aarbyville is a nation of cutthroats and pirates, and it is in a state ofutter chaos. Its Pirate King began a battle with cutlasses in our verythrone room. This is unacceptable.”“We will bring order, while at the same time elevating the people withour own Puritanian culture.”
“You will appreciate that we ourselves cannot sail to Aarbyville. We shallremain and forge political alliances here, although these are deep waters andwe do not wish to burden you with matters you would not understand.”“Just go to Aarbyville and bring order, there’s a good fellow.”
Although it required hiring mercenaries and using more bruteforce than Redcrosse liked, he was successful in his military mission. WithKing Cecil’s diplomacy at home, Aarbyville was annexed to Puritania. ThePirate King remained its nominal leader, but its practicesbecame less violent and more Puritanian, to wit: their table mannersimproved.
What diplomacy could not do—and diplomacy could do a great deal—King Cecil knew might have to be resolved with arms. And whileRedcrosse was indeed matchless, it is unwise to rely too heavily on thestrength of one’s subordinates.
Skill with weapons, like languages, is difficult to acquire in adulthood. SoKing Cecil kept himself in continual practice.
He became very, very good at it, capable of challenging and of winning.
As he said himself, not winning was not an option. However,he looked forward to the day when disputes did not have to beresolved crudely, with handheld weaponry, but with somethingmore definite and explosive. The sooner war ended, the sooner peace couldbegin, and only in a state of peace could culture thrive.Yet his successes could not be attributed to cunning and feats of arms alone.
Lady Fortune herself seemed to smile on King Cecil. How elseto explain the exploit of the ruffians who descended uponhim in the marketplace?While lecturing bands of robbers was very like him, such actionsseldom come to good.
Yet such was the force of his disapproval, so clear was hisimposition of High Standards and Moral Rectitude, that theruffians departed, promising to write their mothers and to leadbetter lives in future, pausing only to leave a few tokens of theiresteem.Was this owing to an upright nature, or the blind favor of LadyFortune? Who could tell?
Was it natural prudence or the smile of Lady Fortune that favoredKing Cecil against the pirates?
The superstitious seamen swore it was both. “’E arches‘is eyebrow at them and they just gives up. ‘E’s mad, but itworks.”He was beginning to be known as King Cecil the Great now.
“It is Rectitude. Posterity will show this. Posterity alwayssays this of those who prevail.Now to the next item of business:To my lord, the Archdeacon Malachi, Supreme Arbiter-in-Chiefof the Most Holy Jacoban Faith:
We accept and do not challenge the Proxy’s Authority on matters spiritualconcerning the Jacoban Faith. Matters purely temporal, material, and militaryyou may safely leave to Us.-It really is regrettable that one cannot stuff the bird. In flight,cooked. . .ah, well.
As to His Lordship’s claim that the Watcher looks with favoron his claim to the Chair of Jacobus, We defer to his Lordship’s presumablybetter knowledge of the matter.Cecil of PuritaniaHis own handA.C. 2*____*Anno Cecil.
“Sir Redcrosse. We have need of your services again. You musttravel to Yacothia.”“I understand that the Yachothians already have a developedculture, my Lord. A most religious people.”“Precisely. Overrun with religious fanatics, and greatly in need ofPeace, Reason, and Good Manners. The Yacothian Archdeacon Malachi hasasked us to intervene in what may otherwise become a bloody conflict.”“I shall, my Lord.”
“After all, if I obey His Majesty and support the cause of religion,I can scarcely be committing wrong.”
“I am sure I have not seen this lady before.”So pure an innocent, as that same lambeShe was in life and every vertuous lore.- - -Faerie Queene 1.1. 5 1-2.
The humble but lovely lady laid her hand upon Redcrosse’sshoulder. “Brother, what troubles you?”“How did you know I was troubled?”“Your countenance betrays you. It is most open and easy toread.”
“Lady, I am a knight. Bloodshed is my profession. And yet—it troubles me, as you have gleaned.”
“And so you ought. No man ought to rejoice in bloodshed. Youyourself best know if it is right and necessary. The Watcher has not sentme to judge you.”
“The Watcher has sent you? I have not seen you before. I am certain I would have remembered if I had. What is your name,Lady, and whence do you come?”
“I am Sister Una DeSpenser. I come to bring the Watcher’sPeace.”“Peace! I am to be sent to impose Peace.”
“And yet I do not feel Peace within,” Redcrosse admitted.“It is the old sorrow of your family that speaks. I am certain theywould not wish you to be driven by grief.”Redcrosse gazed into her eyes with wonder.“Maiden, you know all about me, and yet I do not know you.”
“I am not important,” said Una. “I come to bring Peace. And Love.”“Love?”“Yes, Love.”
Duessa, the new Jacoban priest, might almost have heard frominside the cathedral.“Love is very important. One might say, all important. But it mustbe controlled, Sister Una. I am sure your Knight and his Majestywill agree.”
Wherin ye shall read of most marvelous thingsThe conflict of the Jacoban and Peteran faiths and their representatives,to wit, Una DeSpenser and Duessa Error.Of the quest to aid Yacothia and what became of it, yea and the benefitsthereunto—Of the most holy intent to eliminate Fur and its many uses, lo, evenof the Dire Chinchilla which did so plague the Kingdom—Of the arrival of the most wise Robert the Physician----and many another such wonderful events, if ye will but please to read.
Quests completed:New BeginningsFamily CrestNew Gangs of AarbyvilleKing for a DayRoyal Vacation
Territories Annexed:AarbyvilleYacothia (as you shall see)
CreditsOpening picture: Albrecht Durer, The Triumph of the Emperor MaximilianGoodytwoshoes Family Crest adapted from Giovio’s ImpresePassages quoted from Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince, William Shakespeare,Hamlet,Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, and from Edmund Spenser’s TheFaerie QueenePigeons supplied by Cesare Borgia & Co.Printer’s mark, Sacrobosco
“You look awfully familiar.”“REALLY? ONE TRIES TO FIT IN.”