Perpulchra

Perpulchra
(to Gila)

Eleanor of Aquitaine was good looking. Very good looking. Perpulchra, said of her Geraldus Cambrensis, who knew how to say very good looking in Latin and that is why they published his books. And when she turned fifteen, she became an orphan. Very orphaned. With an inheritance left by daddy that included some land from the Mediterranean to the British Channel.

Filthy rich, orphaned and perpulchra.

Louis VII, King of France by the Grace of God, who sometimes is inclined to test us thus, lifted up his ears when the sages in his Privy Council enumerated the reasons for him to marry Eleanor. That was not the only part of his anatomy that suffered a lift. And since he was a chaste Christian king, he immediately ordered a cold bath and submerged himself in it until his ears returned to a normal size. In this he spent a few days after which, with Franc determination, ordered his Council to start preparations for the wedding.

When Eleanor found out that the King had determined to make her his bride, she had a tantrum. Now, just now that she was finally free, that damn frog comes here wanting to end the fun before it could even start! But, a royal order is a royal order and Eleanor, who had many idiosyncrasies but was no fool, prepared for the nuptials.

As soon as they said “I do” in front of the Bishop, Louis took her to his palace across from Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. And as she first beheld her new abode…she had another tantrum.

Louis VIII and Eleanor of Aquitaine

Cheap, stingy bastard frog! — Some claim she screamed at Louis as she surveyed room after room with no curtains, carpets or any of the comforts of her home in Aquitaine. It was not an auspicious beginning to their married life.

It didn’t get any better.

Following the wise counsel of his priest, who claimed to know a lot about these things, Louis informed Eleanor that they would only share a bed to make heirs and to sleep. No hanky panky. That’s why they called him “the Chaste.” Eleanor called him a number of things, but chaste was not one of them.

Soon, while Louis spent his time between kingly business and cold baths, many of his friends, allies, nobles, visitors, servants, neighbors and a couple of Japanese tourists made their way to greet the Queen in her quarters, which she had duly appointed with the curtains and carpets she missed and all the necessary furniture, including a very large round bed and an emergency exit.

Among the most frequent visitors was Geoffrey of Anjou who, in spite of his name, was quite a handsome lad. Over the following four years, Louis and Eleanor had one daughter, Marie, corresponding to an equal number of conjugal visits. During that same time, Louis sent into exile some 50 noblemen, poets and diverse Court attendants for displaying excessive familiarity with the chief Courtesan.

More or less at this stage of the soirée, suitcase in hand arrived in Paris Eleanor’s younger sister who, for reasons that history does not tell us, had been burdened with the name of Petronilla. Name aside, it seems some qualities run in the family. Petronilla was way more beautiful than her name suggested.

The sisters got to doing what sisters do after a prolonged separation, and spent several days and their nights gossiping nonstop and telling each other their troubles. Both had them in spades. Those of Eleanor, of course, we already know. Petronilla’s problem was that she had fallen head over heels for Raoul de Vermandois. He was a dashing young man of good family, playful and loving like no other, but with a problem. Well, not really a problem: a wife. He was married to Eleanor, daughter of Stephen, Count of Blois and Champagne, and it appears that he had to drink several cases of her father’s famous bubbly to come anywhere close to the missus. To get close to Petronilla he didn’t even need a glass of water.

Thus Eleanor began her intrigues in favor of her sister. Soon, they convinced the Bishop of Noyes, coincidentally Raoul’s brother, and the bishops of Senlis and Laon — perhaps because Louis vaguely referred to the integrity of the one thing that differentiated them from nuns— to annul the marriage of Raoul with the Champagne gal alluding to a heretofore unknown state of consanguinity. Nobody even mentioned that their family relation was nowhere near as close as, say, that between Louis and Eleanor. That subject would come up later.

A day after the annulment, the same three bishops married Raoul and Petronilla, giving the new union the requisite Divine blessings. As the bride and groom retired to consummate what under no circumstances could be called hymenæus, Louis and Eleanor returned to Paris for the relief of all, especially of Louis who could not stand his sister in law and craved some peace.

That peace was not to last long.

A few days later, when the Count of Champagne open the castle door to find his daughter, former Countess of Vermandois, deflowered, disgraced and sent packing, he went berserk. He spent several days mouthing all kinds of obscenities in French, which sounds so much better. The Count of Champagne was a very polished fellow and everything he said he said it in French. When he run out of obscenities, he went to see Bernard de Clairvaux —a cousin who was launching a new religious order, the Cistercians, while the town gossips where betting that anything with such a name could not possibly take off. Then as now, town gossips never understand a thing. Bernardo, naturally, depended on his cousin the Count for financial support down to the purchase of underwear, if he had used any. For at that time nobody did.

Bernard de Clairvaux

As monks go, Bernardo was a fairly decent writer, so he wrote a letter to Pope Innocent —he really wasn’t— in terms so eloquent, that Innocent could not but take quick and firm action. And very firmly he excommunicated the Bishop of Noyes, suspended the bishops of Senlis and Laon, annulled the annulment of the marriage between Raoul and the daughter of the Count of Champagne, annulled the marriage of Raoul with Petronilla and sent a letter to Raoul demanding that he return to his wife and throw the whore of Aquitaine out of his house.

Innocent was not nearly as sophisticated as the Count of Champagne, but we can overlook that because he was neither French nor a count. The fact that Innocent was counting on the munificence of the Count of Champagne and the assistance of Bernard de Clairvaux in the preparation of a little crusading enterprise played no role in his decision. Those are fallacies planted by people with bad intentions.

Pope Innocent

It is hard to describe Eleanor’s reaction when word got to her in Paris. Louis’ is even harder.

A whore?—Eleanor was heard screaming— a fricking whore? Who the crap does that dress wearing SOB think he is! And you! —now looking at Louis— Damn Parisian sissy! You are going to let that impotent fool say that about your wife’s sister!

Louis didn’t say anything but moved closer to his guards, just in case.

And so it went, day after long day. Until Louis could no longer hide and called his army and marched towards Champagne to have a few words with the count. In a very friendly manner he began to lay waste to anything he encountered on a road that, coincidentally, led to Clairvaux.

Bernardo did not like the way things were looking. And even less the direction things were taking. So he did what he did best, and wrote another letter to Innocent begging for a Papal intervention.

What do you want me to do now? — wrote back the Pope — didn’t you want me to annul that which we have annulled and disallow the annulment that we have disallowed? So? It’s done!

Bernard took some time to figure that one out. Innocent didn’t write nearly as well as Bernard and tended to get into complicated sentences for no reason. That is precisely the reason Innocent was Pope and Bernard wasn’t. After some thinking, he wrote the Pope with a proposed solution: If Louis is laying waste to my lands because you annulled the marriage of Raoul and Petronilla and disallowed the annulment of that between Raoul and the Champagne girl, well, now you annul the disallowment of the annulment and disallow the annulment of the disallowment and done! Let’s see if Louis wants to spend more money in the war without the raison d’etre!

Ma che catzo! — exclaimed the Pope — The French are crazy! And was absolutely convinced that the bubbly in the Count of Champagne’s cellars had something to do with Bernardo’s prose.

Bernardino, caro figlio! — He replied — What the crap are you talking about? If I disallow the disallowment of the annulment and annul the annulment of the disallowment we go back to square one and then what? The wine guy comes after me like a Berber, closes your monastery and we’re toast!

No problem — wrote Bernardo — As soon as the Chaste goes home and releases his army, you disallow the annulment of the disallowment of the annulment and confirm the disallowment of the annulment and let’s see if he can find the copper to raise another army.

Madonna! — said the Pope wondering why the heck wasn’t he a Buddhist, surely the Dalai Lama didn’t have to deal with this kind of crap.

However, Bernardo’s letter did contain an absolute truth, and anyone who didn’t get it could be told that it was a Mystery of the Church and presto! So off to write he went. And after a month, Petronilla was back with Raoul, Louis with Eleanor, the count’s daughter pouting in her room, and the Count of Champagne saying all the obscenities he had said before but in French, which always sounds so much more sophisticated, n’es pas?

But no sooner had they all settled in that the new Papal letter arrived, believe it or not. But this time Innocent did not call Petronilla a whore, just in case.

Louis was so happy and relaxed after months of defending his sister-in-law’s honor, and was so well received by Eleanor, that later they had to name it Alix, a new Princess. And soon after, he received the new letter from Innocent.

A pox on that bleeding bastard! — said Louis, who could say anything he wanted because he was King and no one dared question him (except for Eleanor, who could but didn’t). And without wasting time, off he went again to Champagne, where he intended to have a friendly conversation with Bernard de Clairvaux.

The results of Louis’ expedition to Champagne never made it to Innocent for, curiously enough, just at that very moment he decided to croak. Louis helped a new guy, Clement, to mount the throne of Rome — other mounts he mounted without Louis’ help. And since one favor deserves another, Clement disallowed the annulment of the disallowment of the annulment…well, you know what I mean.

Thus, Raoul of Vermandois and Petronilla of Aquitaine lived happily ever after and engendered a whole tribe.

Happiness is not what followed the return of Louis’ to Paris as Alix was born.

What? Another wench? — He exclaimed — That won’t do! The guys at the coffee shop are giving me tutus and dolls and call me mama! — He did not know they called him a number of other things, too. Eight years, for crying out loud! Eight years, no heir and all I have to show for them are two girlies!

Eleanor of Aquitaine and Alix, playing “The Court of Love.”

What he didn’t say is that besides the lack of a male heir, he was getting tired of getting the horns every time he went out for a walk, and if he kept sending lovers into exile soon there was going to be no one left in France to make him a cup of coffee. So, taking advantage of his new friend in Rome, he got himself an annulment on the grounds of…You guessed it: consanguinity! It took him eight years to remember Eleanor was his cousin! Could happen to anyone.

Clement, who had no inclination to pick up a fight with Louis and who wanted to finally launch that bloody Crusade to the Holy Land to evict from Jerusalem those ignorant barbarians who ate with a fork, used perfume, and God knows with what evil intent took daily baths (no end to their perversity!), signed the annulment without delay and left Eleanor out to dry.

Eleanor was not amused and, as we have come to expect, had the mother of all tantrums. Per the annulment, Louis remained in charge of HER lands until she married again, what he had no intention to allow. And so Eleanor went to visit her old friend and playmate Geoffrey of Anjou to whom, in between bouts of horizontal exercises, she told her problems.

Geoffrey the Plantagenet, Count of Anjou

No problem! — said Geoffrey, who was married to the Empress of England because at that time the English did not even think of crowning a woman. — You marry my son, Henry, and let’s see if that fruit has the nuts to come against us.

With your son? — said Eleanor unable to hide her disappointment. — But I thought…

Henry II “Curtmantle”

No, darling — said Geoffrey, the one with the plant on his head. — Matilda is the one with the mullah here. And if I let Shorty go (Matilda was 4.2) we all end up in the poorhouse and there’s no way I’m starting over. Plus, without metal, the frog will trounce us.

So, six weeks later Eleanor married Henry of Anjou before Louis could even find out. When Louis did find out, this time the tantrum was his. And I cannot repeat what he said, French or not.

Eleanor had a slew of children with Henry who, not for nothing was called “fornicatur excelsus” by the same gossip, Geraldus Cambrensis, who called Eleanor “perpulchra.”

In time, Henry became Henry II of England, because somebody beat him to the name and he could not be Henry I. And besides the slew of children he had with Eleanor, he sired a great deal more with others in miraculous numbers that, somehow, did not make it to the Annals of the Saints.

The children inherited the vigor and temperament of their parents and became players in the greatest dust-ups of their times. Richard and John, in particular, received a lot of attention although neither could bed Lady Marion.

As this things go, Eleanor eventually separated from Henry and spent a lot of time in the north of France jumping from one bedroom to another until, tired, old, arthritic and wasted in a general state of decay, she entered the convent of Fontrevault — not without an impressive if surely disinterested donation — where he gave up the ghost, vox Papam, a Saint!

Louis remarried. This time, he fired the spiritual counselor and made out like a rabbit until the awaited heir was produced after which he went to the Holy Land to get away from his wife.

Henry II Curt mantle (because he wore short skirts to facilitate you-know-what, did not spend a single moment of his life by himself and, missing Eleanor — apparently the other few hundred did not measure up to her beauty or prowess — eventually leaving his kingdom to Richard and then John who continued the family tradition albeit with some colorful variations.

But that is another story.

 

 

Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine are the author’s 24th-35th great-grandparents, several dozen times, through John “Lackland” and Isabell Taillefer, and through Eleanor of England and Alfonse VIII of Castile. Talk about inbreeding!

A Saint’s Life

A Saint’s Life

Vladimir the Great, Prince of Kiev

Vladimir Svyatoslavich, Prince of Kiev

 

The family had grown in importance. It seemed like yesterday that Roric of Jutland had come down the Volga with his band of Rus with the sole purpose —instinctive capitalist that he was—of controlling the Silk Route that run through there from Asia to the north of Europe.

By the time his grandson, Svyatoslav, made his debut into the world, the Rus controlled most f the lands of the Slavs, and had settled in their ever more important base of Novgorod. The control extended especially to the Slavic women, the Rus’ favorite pastime.

Svyatoslav was the son of Igor and Olga, who upon receiving the holy oils took the name of Helena and who, at the death of her husband was left the burden of their irksome children, reason enough to have passed into history as St. Helena.

Olga of Kiev, the saint who buried people alive

One fine day Olga went to Constantinople to pay a visit to Emperor Constantine VII, Basileus of Byzantium. With the growing fortunes of the Rus, it was time to butter the bread of the Great Kahuna. But Constantine didn’t give a damn if these barbarians had made a dime or two, and did not receive her. Instead, he sent a minister of low rank, leaving Olga fuming at the snub. The effeminate Greek had made an enemy.

To make matters worse, at her return to Novgorod she found that Svyatoslav, free from the controlling glance of his mother, had been fooling around with the housemaid, Malusha, all the more evident considering the notable increase in Malusha’s waist.

Every attempt to convince the recently converted Olga that divine intervention by the Holy Spirit had a hand in the miraculous conception was for naught. And Malusha was sent packing, rather hurriedly, to the house of her brother, Dobrynia some 500 miles away.

Olga’s calm and collected admonitions to Svyatoslav must have been heard, for he never again admitted responsibility nor recognized any of his numerous bastards, nor did he ever again brought the objects of his desire home.

In due time, Malusha gave birth to a cute baby boy, Vladimir. Not even Olga would disown the recognized Prince of Novgorod, so Malusha and her offspring were allowed to return and join Svyatoslav and his new wife, by now in her 7th month, awaiting the arrival of the second son and first heir to the throne, Yaropolk.

And people ask where do the Russians come up with stories like the Brothers Karamazov!

To further complete this lovely picture of a Christian home, cousin Astrid arrived with her son Olaf, escaping a little dustoff in which her husband, Trygvar, had managed to lose his head and his kingdom at the same time.

As the children grew up to manhood, Svyatoslav gave Yaropolk the kingdom of Kiev, and the bastard Vladimir got the consolation prize of Novgorod, displaying an absolute lack of geopolitical sense, or of the character of his offspring.

Olaf, of course, didn’t get anything.

The first thing Yaropolk did as King was to depose Vladimir and send him packing. Which he did, in company of cousin Olaf, and the two of them spent a few years doing tourism, splitting heads and spreading bastards from the Volga to the Danube and from the Dardanelles to Sicily.

Having thus acquired some experience in the art of negotiation by head-butt, they returned to Novgorod. It appears Vladimir was itching to negotiate with Yaropolk.

And that he did. Soon after arriving, he shoved a few choice arguments down his half-brother’s throat and took the now widowed wife of Yaropolk as his concubine, adopting their child, who seemed to be a good boy.

Back in Novgorod, and with Kiev also in his pocket, Vlad started looking around for ways to expand his dominions. He was never satisfied.

He found the way in the form of Rogneda, darling daugter of the Count of Polotsk who, in spite of her name, was one good looking lass.

Rogneda of Polotsk

Vladimir sent emissaries to Polotsk to request Rogneda’s hand in marriage. Uncle Dobrynia, Malusha’s forgotten brother led the team. When Dobrynia relayed the request to the Count, he laughed to the point of needing an oxygen tent. Alas, those were not yet available.

—  Rogneda, boys, come over here! He called his household to witness the event. Look! HAHAHAHA! What an interesting Bwahahaha proposal these folks bring us! Awhahahaha!!!!!!

Come here, Dobrynia, please share the proposal with us.

—    Sire, my nephew Vladimir, the Great Count of Novgorod and Prince of Kiev requests the hand of your daughter Rogneda in marriage.

—    Hiiiiiiii…..the hand of…..haaaa. Rogneda, darling, what do you think about marrying the “Prince” –he said while trying to catch his breath.

—    The heck if anybody thinks I am going to clean the boots of a housemaid bastard! –said Rogneda who was very class conscious and had never read Gorky.

—    You see—the count said to Dobrynia—if the girl doesn’t want to….hehehe.

—    I’d respectfully suggest you reconsider—said Dobrynia—Vladimir is not the understanding kind. A little bugsy, even.

—     Bugsy?—piped in Rogneda’s brother—The way he carries on crabs and fleas are the least of his problems!

The Count of Polotsk, obviously, did not know about Vladimir’s temperament. Dobrynia was right. So was Rogneda’s brother. And when the bugsy prince got the reply, his reaction didn’t take long.

—What the crap! Nobody talks that way about my mamuschka!—he exclaimed—and off to Polotsk went the Rus, looking for trouble.

After a single day of sword swinging, skull cracking and other forms of effective communication, Vladimir made it to the Count’s palace, where he found him in the company of Rogneda and her brothers. But this time nobody was laughing.

Then Dobrynia, who besides being the uncle was Vladimir’s Chief Brownose, said:

—Hey, Vlad, that one there is the one who said she’s not going to clean the boots of a housemaid’s bastard. Why don’t you make her now the whore of a housemaid’s bastard?

Vladimir, never one to recuse such an invitation, after all the Chronicles of the Rus describe him as a fornicatur inmensus et cruelis, right there proceeded to oblige his uncle while his minions held the count and his entourage forcing them to witness the event.

Immediately after, the Count of Polotsk and his family lost their heads. Well, they didn’t actually lose them, they were taken away by the Rus. All, of course, except for Rogneda’s.

It seems Rogneda had some qualities, for soon after Vladimir married her.

And it seems fornicator inmensus did, too, for this time she voiced no opposition.

In the year of our Lord 978, curiously 9 months after the fall of Polotsk, young Izyaslav (St. Isaac) was born. Just at about the same time as his half-brother Yaroslav. Vladimir wasted no time in the making of heirs.

A few years passed in domestic bliss in the house of Vladimir, Rogneda, their children and the mothers of some of them until, finally, Vlad decided it was time again to expand his dominions. This time, by marrying the Basilissa Anna Porphyrogenita, daughter of Romanus II Porphyrogenitus, Emperor of the East, and sister of Basileus II and Constantine VIII. These Greeks loved numbers in their names.

Basil (Basileus) II, Emperor of the East

But it was not to be easy. Basileus Basilius wasn’t a lowly Count, and he couldn’t be simply coaxed. Or perhaps he was. Sorrounded by Greeks, Bulgarians and a few thousand extras, he asked for Vladimir’s assistance in the form of 6,000 soldiers he needed urgently.

Vladimir and Dobrynia came up with a plan. Dobrynia then went to Constantinople and relayed the following message: Moral support, all you want. But troops, any number of troops, Vladimir can only spare for a member of the family. Now, if he were to marry the Basilissa…

—WTF!—exclaimed the Basileus Basilius, turning into a basilisk at the notion of that barbarian vacillating with the Basilissa.—Go tell that son of a whore he can stick his troops up his…

—Just a moment, brother!—interrupted the Basileus Constantine, who knew of Vladimir’s reputation and did not want to mess with him—I think we can find a solution.

—Solution my foot, replied the Basileus Basilius. If Anna finds out we’ve been keeping her pure this many years to deliver her to fornicatur inmensus

—That’s it!— said Constantine, not a bad…

Et cruelis, you moron! If Anna does find out she’ll make eunuchs of us. The nervousness in Basileus’ voice meant he was quite serious about the possible ramifications.

—Not so fast, replied Constantine, you need to get out more. Tell the palooka that we have no problem…provided he converts to Christianity, and let him be happy we are not Jews, at least he gets to keep his foreskin intact.

—I see, said Basileus, if he does not convert, we are off the hook. If he does, his own people will stew him…

—Yep, and they can send us a doggie bag.—Finished Constantine.

—Visir! — called Basileus — tell that idiot messenger to come back.

And so they sent their reply to Vladimir.

Kac? Khto eta? Said Vladimir, who spoke Russian. Is the Basileus vacillating with me? You mean if they put a little water on my forehead they deliver their sister? Tell them to send the priest and let us not waste time.

—Wait! What if the boys don’t like it? — asked Dobrynia, his worry showing in his voice. —They kind of like Thor, the forest fairies, Odin…nobody rams guilt down their throats…

—Whoever does not like it can come and see me. I’ll show them who’s boss and why they call me fornicatur inmensus.

Et cruelis, added another brown nose that happened to walk by and overheard the conversation.

Et cruelissimus, added Vladimir, never to be outdone. Every single one of you schmucks gets baptized, and I don’t want to hear a single Nyet!

Yet, Vladimir was not able to relax. —What if these effeminate morons make me baptize and then whistle Dixie? The chroniclers will change my name to Moronius Inconmensurabilis, and I won’t be able to scare a Greek maiden!

So he finally set off to Constantinople with the 6,000 soldiers the Basileus requested…and 6,000 more in case he vacillated.

Indeed, the Basileus tried to get off the agreement by every means possible. Was the water really holy water? Was the priest sanctioned by the Patriarch or was he one of those Romish fools that we don’t care for? How about we get the soldiers now and argue the point later?

And they had good reason to play around. Anna was making the palace rounds, sharp knife in hand, making gestures that left no doubt as to her intentions if her brothers didn’t stand up for her virtue.

Finally, Vladimir had enough. And with the backing of 12,000 Rus that hadn’t even had a personal visit in months, he camped in front of the gates of Constantinople, after duly kicking the bejesus out of Bulgars and Greeks so that no distractions remained.

“I am going to have the Basilissa’s heinie nice and calmly. Or all three of yours my way,” said the note he sent to the palace.

—OK, the Basilissa’s nice and calmly, said Basileus Basilius, no longer vacillating.

—That’s it, brother — said Constantine, covering his parts as he glanced at the approaching Basilissa.

—What? Said the Basilissa, you value mine less than yours? As she continued to sharpen the knife.

The brothers looked to each other, exclaiming simultaneously: You bet! And, dear Anna, yours is lost one way or the other. Think of mama, think of papa, the purple, the Empire!

—Ok, said the Basilissa. I’m sold. Tell the Barbarian I’ll marry him.

—Great! — Exclaimed the Basileus Basilius, who could not hide his relief.

—Wonderful, we have a wedding! — echoed Constantine, still holding his crutch, just in case. — And what made you change your mind sister?

Inmensus, of course—said the Basilissa as she left the room.

And thus, in 989 A.D., Vladimir married Anna at the very gates of the besieged city and was baptized, converting the Rus because he could. At the ceremony he took the name George, or perhaps the Patriarch just gave it to him, unable to escape the image of the warrior, sword in hand, receiving the oils.

Anna Porphyrogenita

Over time, Vladimir became Basileus, reigning over a vas Empire and thousands of his own bastards.

As soon as he keeled over, efforts began to make him a Saint. Sure, he’d been a Barbarian, but after his conversion he behaved rather well, was the position of the Patriarch of the Orient. Forty bastards? Nah, that’s just gossip. In any case, I can’t believe it was that many… Ok, yes, he sired them, but at least he brought Christianity to the Rus!

But every time, his sanctification failed at the last minute. Look away all you want, they could pave over his “sins” but there was no way to even invent him a miracle. And Saints must have miracles. So there.

Several generations later,  on 15 July 1240, Tzar Alexandr, a descendant of Vladimir, was camped on the shores of the River Neva facing an enemy several times smaller and weaker than his army, the last obstacle to a unified Russia.

—What do we do Boss? Asked his Field Marshall, who was always asking questions just to show he wasn’t brain dead.

—Well, we are gonna have us some fun, replied Alexandr.

—Do I give the attack command, then?

—No. Not yet. Call me a few witnesses. I have to do something first.

The witnesses assembled, Alexandr, struggling to keep a straight face, exclaimed: “Vladimir Svyatoslavich, Little Father! Help us win this battle for the greatness of Russia and the Glory of God!”

In a matter of minutes, Alexandr crossed the Neva and decimated the enemy. Some of the usual sycophants swore to have seen Vladimir leading Alexandr’s charges during the battle.

What can I say, give a Russian soldier a bottle of vodka and he’ll see three Suns, four Moons and a corpse leading a charge.

“You welcome, Little Father.” Is all that Alexandr said after the battle, while winking an eye to the sky.

From that day on, Alexandr became Alexandr Nevsky, and was duly sainted; and Vladimir, son of Svyatoslav and the maid, fornicatur inmensus et cruelis, became St. Vladimir (St. George), a cross replacing his sword in the icons of the Eastern Church to this day.

Nobody knows why, when they take his icons in procession, thousands of women flock to his image to touch him and ask him for who knows what. It may have something to do with swords and fertility, but what do I know.

St. Vladimir

Note:

Vladimir Svyatoslavich was the author’s 37th great-grandfather through his daughter with Anna Porphyrogenita, Dobronegra Mariya Vladivorovna v’Kieva and Kaszimierz Odnowieciel “the Restorer,” Duke of Poland.