Cue Gregorian plainchant as the lights dim and our featured guest walks slowly to the famous black chair. The audience gasp in wonder at his attire; long flowing red cloak over finely woven top, the arms of King Edward the First emblazoned thereupon. He is a tall man, finely clipped grey beard and flowing hair giving us a clue as to his longevity and the finely wrought belt-ends and brooches attest to his exalted position. This is a powerful man of high status. He takes his seat, the lights dim and he sits resplendent in the glare of the spotlight. The audience watches with baited breath as he clasps his hands together then they gasp as they notice his right hand – six fingers instead of five. The hand is slowly hidden beneath his left palm. Taking a soft breath he looks to his interlocutor.
Your name? Sir Cristian Gilleson. Lord of Longhurst and many manors. Companion to King Edward the First.
Your chosen subject? The life and thoughts of a medieval knight with special emphasis to your modern world.
How old are you? I was born on Friday, June 17th in the year of Our Lord 1239. I share my birthing day with my lord Edward once King of England.
When did you (how can I put this delicately?) die? I cannot answer that question – you will have to read of such events in the books by Darius Stransky – “The King’s Jew”. Most of my life is detailed therein but if I answer your question it would spoil the experience for other readers. Mayhap I did not die and I still live on in the pages of a book eh? I doubt you would ever have had such an opportunity for eternal life. Have you?
With respect lord Gilleson, I will ask the questions! Ask away.
Do you prefer your medieval world or this modern way of life? Life was hard in my thirteenth-century world. Although born into poverty I raised myself to walk at the side of kings. Yet this was because of a lucky accident when I was a child. Perhaps the best way to answer your question is to say that some things never change. It really is a question of not WHAT you know but WHO you know. I knew I lived the life of a humble peasant and everything changed when I met a future king. As his star and reputation soared so did mine. It seems the same applies in your twenty-first century world. Life is as unequal now as it was then.
You are often referred to as ‘The King’s Jew. Why is that? Ah, that hoary old question again. In brief; I am of mixed blood. The blood of the Israelite runs through my veins as does that of the Christian. I try to walk the fine line between misunderstanding and acceptance in a world of intolerance and bigotry. My enemies gave me that name in order to distance me from my companion the King. Through all the centuries, it is the name I am most comfortable with. Though Edward and I disagreed on certain things and I tried – in my own way – to sway him to treat others with respect, the will of the King was paramount but I saved many good people from his wrath.
Could you elaborate on that? No, it is all written down. Certain answers belong here and others you must seek out.
You say you were ‘friends’ with King Edward but did you ‘like’ him? Who can know the real mind of a King? He ruled England for many years. His priority was the well-being of his people and his lands. He did what any medieval King would do to uphold his position. Never forget he was chosen by God first and the people second. We accepted the divine right of Kings to rule over us. If you oppose the King you oppose the will of God. Thus it was in my day. But did I like him? I loved him like a brother and often put my life in jeopardy to achieve his ends. Mayhap we will speak of this more another time eh?
As you will. This last question (for this session) was sent in by Peter Weeks from Canada.
“How does Lord Christian feel about modern terrorism based on narrow views of religious belief? Does he see parallels to the thirteenth century, and if so, what are they?”
God’s bones! I am a knight not a philosopher. Give me a moment …
The word ‘terrorist’ has no meaning in my medieval world. What you call ‘terrorist’ I call enemy. Narrow religious beliefs? England, nay the whole of Europe were Christian lands and their ruler’s owed allegiance to the Pope. There was no division in the Holy Roman Church. We fought in what you call the Crusades because we were ordered to; maybe our enemies at the time thought we were ‘terrorists’ eh? Methinks some crusaders were bad people for they slaughtered indiscriminately. Edward survived an assassination attempt whilst abroad – was it terrorist or enemy that attacked him? You decide. Are there parallels from my day to yours? A simple answer –nothing changes, mankind never seems to learn from his mistakes.
The lights rise and Cristian Gilleson moves from the chair and exits stage left to rapturous applause.
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