The Curmudgeon

YOU'LL COME FOR THE CURSES. YOU'LL STAY FOR THE MUDGEONRY.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Mission Accomplished

Historical Dialogue for Conqueror and Chorus

HERALD
Gentlemen, as I am sure you will appreciate, the Duke has had a rather tiring day, so there will be a short statement followed by a brief session for questions. Those of you from the liberated territories will address the Duke as "Your Royal Highness". Those of you from France may continue to address him as "Your Grace". Thank you.

WILLIAM, DUKE OF NORMANDY
Good evening. Some years ago, as you are no doubt aware, the then king of England, Edward the Confessor, promised that the crown should devolve upon me at his death, in accordance with international law. A little later, Harold Godwinson, who had made some pretence to the throne, was shipwrecked on the shores of Normandy and, in my presence and with his hand upon a box containing the mummified foreskin of St Ethylbreth the Choirmaster, swore not to stand in my way when the time should come for me to claim my rightful position. Harold Godwinson having broken that sacred promise and sought by armed resistance to prevent me assuming my rights, I have been forced regretfully to defend myself by force, in the face of the imminent threat that he might further decide to conquer Normandy in the near future. The coronation will take place in Westminster this Christmas, pelting with flowers optional.

HERALD
That is the end of the statement. The Duke will now take questions.

LE MONDE
Your Grace, can you tell us about the battle?

WILLIAM, DUKE OF NORMANDY
We won. (Laughter) Details of the superiority of Norman arms, particularly the Norman helmet with its famous nose-shield and the rectangular Norman shield, will be released in due course. A vivid but impartial narrative of the tapestry of events leading up to today's victory is being threaded together even now.

NORMANDIE AUJOURD'HUI
Your Grace, what are your plans with regard to Saxon property rights?

WILLIAM, DUKE OF NORMANDY
The so-called property rights of the Saxons are safe in our hands. They will merely be co-ordinated and codified in accordance with natural law and common decency, while anyone found hunting deer in the royal parks will be boiled to death.

ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLE AND NORTH WESTMINSTER ADVERTISER
Your Royal Highness, can you tell us the condition of the ki- of the Earl of Godwin?

WILLIAM, DUKE OF NORMANDY
I think I can safely say that his perspective on the matter has been improved. An arrow pointed the way. (Laughter)

DAILY MULE
Your Royal Highness, what are your views on the cultural integration which will now be necessary between Normans and Saxons?

WILLIAM, DUKE OF NORMANDY
I foresee no great difficulty. England is a potentially great country which I am proud to have subjugated in the name of decency, international law and the divine will. Once our universal values of honour and civilisation have been implanted in the population at large, I consider it eminently possible that England may one day play a not altogether unimportant role in the history of Normandy, and even of France.

DAILY OX PRESS
Your Royal Highness, did you sustain any interesting bruises during the battle?

WILLIAM, DUKE OF NORMANDY
I'm sorry, but the serial rights to my autobiography are already the exclusive property of Pillage magazine. I would, however, like to pay tribute to my allies, Harald Hardrada and my dear friend Tostig, who have stood shoulder to shoulder with me throughout this difficult and painful time, and who may without undue exaggeration be said to have played a not inconsiderable part in laying to some extent the groundwork for the potentiality of today's glorious victory.

THE SERF
Your Royal Highness, is it true that you're a bastard who likes to hurl rebels off battlements?

WILLIAM, DUKE OF NORMANDY
So long as I am of noble blood, I hardly consider my family background relevant.

THE SERF
And the hurling thing?

WILLIAM, DUKE OF NORMANDY
Anomalous. Those responsible will be found out and punished. They were doing a difficult job under difficult circumstances.

LE FIGARO
Your Grace, can you comment on the rumour that a certain Hereward is plotting your wake?

WILLIAM, DUKE OF NORMANDY
I don't think we need pay too much attention to a few terrorists squatting in caves. If they wish to disregard the wishes of God and try to disrupt our reforms, we are more than adequate to the challenge. Bring them on!

HERALD
Thank you, gentlemen, that will be all. Copies of the Duke's statement can be collected from the monk at the door. War crimes trials for the former English nobility will begin tomorrow under the jurisdiction of the new English Lord Chief Justice, Robert of Anjou. Thank you, gentlemen, for your co-operation.

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