tinyjo is currently doing an Open University course in history. This is excellent, as she is kind enough to keep the serious learning and document analysis to herself, but to supply me with those tit-bits and oddities that were the only bits of history I was ever really able to enjoy or retain. One such morsel is Charles the Bold's hat, constructed, it is said, of gold and adorned with rubies and pearls. This unlikely chapeau inspired the following whismical fiction reconstruction of primary source material (which incidentally, tinyjo informs me, is actually longer than her essay on Charles, though perhaps a little less well researched):
Laste Nyght, my Wyfe and I attend'd a moste singular soireé at the country abode of the Lord and Lady Wellingthorpe. We were passyng time moste pleasantlie discussing ye latest in Politics, Scandals, &cetera, when Count Charles of Charolais arrived. He (Charles) has been always of a moste Mercurial and Capricious temprement, but I daresay he outdid hymself that eveninge.
Hys very entrance was moste Unconventional, as he prevail'd upon Lord Wellingthorpe's liege-man not to announce hym in the customary fashion, but to request that all of the Gentlemen in the drawing room crie "Ho", follow'd by a similar entreatie to those Ladies present. Many, and I confess that I was in that number, respond'd not with the joyous Outcry that Charles appear'd to anticipate, but rather with a to-do of puzzl'd glances, polite coughs, and agitated adjustments of the Perriwig.
Undaunted, Charles perambulated into the room, and by my troth!, he cut a singular Figure. He walked with a Cane chased in sterling silver, was bedecked with many a Ring and Chain of wond'rous craftsmanship and size, and had swath'd hymself in a fullsome Robe of finest ermine and purple with moste intrycate designs of Golden thread. "Of course", One might rejoinder, "Such Vestments are no more that befits one of hys standyng". Suche is true, but I'll wager one thousand golden guineas that no other Gentleman's Robe in Christendom is embroider'd with scores of the finest seed pearls, arrang'd so as to spell out the words Bad Arse. Astonyshingly, said Robe was notte the moste strikinge of hys Garments. That Honour, if suche it be, fell to hys head-gear: an Hatte fashion'd from nothyng less than beaten Gold, encrusted all around with an arraye of the finest of Jewels, suche as to threaten the onlookyng Eye with bedazzlement.
It soon became apparent that hys introduction and garb were not the onlie thynges with which the goode Count was resovl'd to defie Convention. He mov'd thru the room with some-thyng akin to a Swagger (an unseemly gait perhaps occasion'd by undoubtablie prodigious weight of hys remarkable head-piece) and, shewing no regarde for the Natural Heirachy of Nobility, began to solicit of all and sundry that they slappe their palms vig'rously against hys owne.
Many of those attending were shock'd unto staring by such Inappropriate Familiarity, perhaps none so astonish'd as the noble Sir Welchly, known throughout the countie as a Gentleman of exemplary Manners and Chivalry. He approached Charles, intending to remonstrate with hys behaviour, but once again that Count confounded both our Expectations and Proprietry itself. When Sir Welchly addressed hym as "Count Charles", that other interrupted hym with a demand that he be instead address'd as 'Charles The Bizold'. When Welchly blanched at such an Affront to the Queen's Englishe and Ettiquette alike, Charles strucke hym across the cheeke with an open palm! Furthermore, as the luckless peer was to discover, said palm was laden with Rings of suche size and substance that it may as well have been encased in a gauntlet of plate mail, and the Impact caused hym to topple to the floor as if fell'd by a Bolt from the very Heavens.
Lord Wellingthorpe, vex'd beyond endurance by the shameless conduct of hys guest, confront'd the Count and said to hys face that hys apparell and demeanour suggest'd no-thyng so much as those of a Whore-Monger. We gasp'd, judging that such free behaviour toward hys Social Better, however justify'd by Circumstance, would surely lead to an Invitation to a Duel. To our redoubled Astonishment, Charles seemed as pleased by thys as by any other thyng that eveninge and, draping a companionable Arm around the bemus'd Lord's shoulders, declar'd hym to be hys Brother, and led the Gentleman out to hys Carriage.
They soon return'd, our Host resplendent in a new Chain, and both in surpassing goode Mood. Explanation for suche was forthcoming when Charles produced a curious Pype of Glass to share amongst the Guests. I know not what Tobacco was contain'd therein, but it certainly set one's head aspin. My recollection of the eveninge's Remainder is curiously vague, but I avow with confidence that I will recall that Nyghte, and most assuredly that magnificent Hatte, until the ende of my days.