Varia

What Should Be Tarantino’s Next And Last Movie?

Disclaimer: This blogpost is nothing but free mindless rambling. Don’t mind it.

This blogpost also contains spoilers. Be warned.


I bet Tarantino gets all riled up when he reads history books. Why? I’m gonna tell you why.

Have you seen Inglourious Bastards, Django Unchained and Once Upon A Time In Hollywood or did you live under a rock for the past few years? Well, if you’ve seen those movies, you’d understand that Tarantino is not a big fan of how History actually played out and that he’s got a lot to say about it.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

I walked into the theater not knowing who Sharon Tate was and how she died. If I did, I would have been clinging at the edge of my seat like my father did next to me, dreading every scene where we see her living carefree and having a good time. Mindhunter, season 2, should have put me on the right track, though. Alarm bells would then have ringed in my head. Instead, I just witnessed Margot Robbie living the ultimate bourgeois life and I was like… ‘Uh, yeah. She’s rich! We get it! Can we go back to Leonardo now?’ I couldn’t for the life of me understand why Roman Polansky, Sharon Tate’s husband, was Rick Dalton’s neighbor—Rick Dalton being the character played by Leonardo DiCaprio.

Let me brush out the story for you in case you didn’t see the movie.

The Synopsis

Rick Dalton was a big time Western actor who’s now reaching the end of his rope. His best bud, personal chauffeur and stunt double, Cliff Booth, drives him everywhere. As Rick Dalton tries to make the most out of his roles as a ‘heavy’ despite strong addiction issues towards alcohol and tobacco that turns him into a living mess, Cliff Booth remembers the time he fought off Bruce Lee and lets young girls entice him into borderline hitchhiking drives. Meanwhile Sharon Tate goes to the movies and enjoys watching herself in The Wrecking Crew being a goof and a bad ass.

Cliff Booth eventually drives a teenage girl back at Spahn Ranch, where Rick Dalton used to shoot his prime-time TV show Bounty Law. Of course, Cliff Booth knows the place. He also knows the owner. That’s why he feels there’s something fishy when he witnesses lots of teenagers, mostly young girls, squatting the place and living an obviously shady lifestyle. It all ends up with Cliff Booth knocking someone’s teeth out and driving away.

Six months later, Rick Dalton and Cliff Booth come back from Italy where Rick starred in spaghetti westerns, made some money and met his new wife, Francesca Capucci. They plan for one last night out together. Rick doesn’t have the money to support his friend anymore and he has to let him go. They go to the restaurant. They come back home. Cliff goes walking his dog, a gorgeous pit bull, and he smokes an LSD cigarette he bought six months ago to the hippie girl he drove to Spahn Ranch. On the other hand, Rick mixes himself some margarita. He’s far from over his alcoholism. That’s when four ‘hippies’ from Spahn Ranch drive up to his house in a noisy old car. They intend to get into the Polansky residence and kill everyone they find up there, but Rick gets on the porch and starts to yell at them. He orders them to drive away and smoke pot someplace else. We see that they have weapons but they do drive away. Rick then goes to relax on his swimming pool, listening to music with a head set on.

Cliff comes back from his walk and the LSD starts to work its magic on his brain. He gets into the living room and prepares food for his beautiful big dog. All of a sudden, three of the four hippies who’d driven up to Rick’s house barge into the living room. Cliff finds himself surrounded. He laughs it off as the LSD keeps messing up with his brain, then he summons his dog to kill two of the three hippies. It all turns into a very gory scene. One of the wannabe murderers ends up in the pool and scares Rick to death, who retrieves a flame thrower from his shed and crisps her to death.

It is all very enjoyable.

The Historical Significance of the Movie

Right after I was the movie, I walked my father back to the tramway station. That’s when he revealed to me that Sharon Tate had been actually killed by indoctrinated hippies led by the infamous Charlie Manson.

Charlie Manson! The serial killer at the head of the Manson Family that we see being interviewed by the FBI agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench in Mindhunter? Wait. Wait-wait-wait!

Before I continue, can I address Rick’s awesome flamethrower for a minute?

Inglourious Bastards: Killing Nazis Is Always Fun!

At the beginning of Once Upon A Time In Hollywood we have a short summary of Rick Dalton’s cinematic career. Among other things he’s depicted handling a flamethrower in a movie where he kills Nazi officers from up a ledge. Who cannot be reminded, watching that scene, of the ending of Inglourious Basterds, when Brad Pitt (who plays Cliff Booth in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and was Aldo Raine in Inglourious Basterds) rained bullets on Nazis from box seats in a burning movie theater? It all weaves together very well. It also starts to redeem Leonardo DiCaprio within Tarantino’s own cinematographic universe.

When a Villain is Not the Villain

Remember Django Unchained? Leonardo played the despicable Calvin Candie in that movie, a true villain at heart.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood shows strong meta-cinematographic language. In the opening scenes Al Pacino, who’s cast as a movie producer, tells Rick/Leonardo that when people see him on screen, they don’t see the role he plays, but they still remember him as the hero of Bounty Law.

It’s a bit like when we say ‘Hey! That’s Frodo!’ when watching Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.

Anyway, that dialogue is basically Tarantino telling us, the spectators, that since we see Leonardo DiCaprio on screen in one of his movies, we could think that he plays a villain again. But, no! This time around, he’s not a villain. As Rick/Leonardo tells it to Al Pacino, he was asked to play the ‘heavy’, the bad guy, but he’s a good guy himself and we quickly pick up on this despite his high-functioning alcoholism.

It is all ‘justified’ when we see Rick on set for his next Western movie whilst Cliff drives his hippie hitchhiker back to Spahn Ranch. Rick portrays a villain and he plays it very, very well! Ian McShane would be very proud of DiCaprio’s Swearagen look-alike. At least I got some closure from the open ending of Deadwood and I hope Timothy Oliphant did too.

I got sidetracked there for a second, but yes, people, Leonardo is a good guy in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and even if he was a most convincing villain in Django Unchained, he was only so convincing because he’s a damn fine actor! Do you get it? Leonardo/Rick is a good guy now, and so is Brad/Cliff, but you knew that already. You love him since Inglourious Basterds.

The same thing kind of happened to Christoph Waltz. He was a villain in Inglourious Basterds. He became a hero in Django Unchained. However, the meta-text around that villain-hero shift was maybe not as sophisticated as what we witness in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. By the way, did you know that Leonardo DiCaprio was supposed to play the villain in Inglourious Basterds? Yeah, so there are some good reasons for Tarantino to pause the story and tell us that DiCaprio is only a ‘pretense’ villain.

I hope I haven’t lost you there. Anyway, let’s proceed.

The Chekhov’s Gun of Justice

Rick had a role where he killed Nazis with a flamethrower. It reminds us of Inglourious Basterds. It is also some strong foreshadowing! It means that divine justice, again, is going to be served, and it is indeed when Rick flames down one of the Manson Family members who broke into his house to kill him instead of attacking the Polansky residence. Also, by the time we see him pull out the flame thrower from his shed, we’ve totally forgotten about it and that, people, is a great take on Chekhov’s gun. It was especially effective on me as an unaware spectator. I didn’t know Sharon Tate was murdered by the Manson Family. I didn’t know why she was in that movie as Rick’s neighbor. I was just enjoying DiCaprio play his role like a motherf*cking wizard. I believed every single scene he played, every single one of his spits.

The Typical American Hero

American tomb. Omaha Beach.
Tomb of an American Soldier at the Omaha Beach Memorial Cemetary, 15/08/2010 (c) Stéphane Bloch

We’ve now dealt with the superficial layer of meta-cinematographic language within Once Upon A Time In Hollywood: forget about Calvin Candie, Rick/Leonardo is not an actual villain. Now, let’s dig deeper and see why and how he’s an actual American hero in its purest form.

Rick biggest acting job ‘back in the old days’ was to star in Bounty Law as a bounty hunter. Welcome to the Tarantino Cinematic Universe, who else was a bounty hunter? Django! So, not only is Tarantino telling us that Rick/Leonardo shouldn’t be mistaken for his role in Django Unchained as Calvin Candie, he also tells us that Rick is Django.

Now, who was Django do you ask? He was a slave-owner killer, pretty much like Cliff/Brad/Aldo was a Nazi killer in Inglourious Basterds—in case I should I remind you that Nazi enslaved millions of people to boost their military industry when they didn’t send them straight to death camps (you really must watch La Vita È Bella in addition to the Schindler’s List in case you didn’t know).

Also, have you seen The Longest Day? That’s kind of a big deal here. Let’s forget for a minute that John ‘The Duke’ Wayne had poor political views, as Trumbo reminds us, and let’s track back to his Western movie roles as John Ford’s favorite lead actor.

John Wayne was cast in The Longest Day as Lt. Col. Benjamin H. Vandervoort, CO, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. As such he had the duty to pep talk and prep the troops for D-Day. Ha! That good old D-Day… Did you know that The Longest Day, the movie, was actually drafted from a book of the same name, written by the non-historian-Irish-journalist-married-to-an-American-novelist Cornelius Ryan? When he wrote The Longest Day, Cornelius Ryan built the D-Day into a three-act storyline which cast the American soldiers as trueborn freedom fighters. This take on the D-Day was basically written out to become an all-star movie and John Wayne just had to star in it. He’d been the typical cowboy American hero for years at that point and he couldn’t miss out on the morphing of the typical American hero from cowboy, to private. The cowboy had conquered and tamed the Wild West and brought civilization to a savage land. The private was to pursue the cowboy’s work by taking the Frontier a tad further and ensuring that all the people on Earth were enjoying the bliss of democracy, law and freedom. The cowboy faced the barren lands and built a perfect country from the ground up. The private now faced the wicked who threatened what the cowboy built. John Wayne, who’d been the cowboy, was now the officer telling the private how to carry on a long legacy of heroism.

Despite the fact that he has to play the ‘heavy’, Rick/Leonardo ticks all the boxes of the typical American hero. From within the Tarantino Cinematic Universe (since we’ve stated that it was actually a thing), Rick/Leonardo is a bounty hunter and that equates him to Django, the ultimate Tarantino freedom fighter. However, Tarantino is also weaving threads that link his movie to the overall history of cinema. Rick/Leonardo is portrayed as a Golden Age Western actor, pretty much like John Wayne, even though he delves into starring into Spaghetti Westerns (and hates it). Therefore Rick/Leonardo is both the American hero who brings civilization and who safeguards freedom. He is a pioneer (therefore that is no coincidence that he actually settled in Hollywood) and a gatekeeper (which is why his house is next to the Polansky’s residence gate).

The Gates of Heaven

It brings me to my next point. In Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Sharon Tate played by the delightful Margot Robbie stands as the allegory of freedom. Her house on the top of the Hollywood hills is basically the biblical ‘City on a Hill’. Everywhere she goes, she’s carefree. She does whatever she wants. She doesn’t even pay to enter the theater. It actually means that even money has no grasp on her. Her lifestyle embodies the idea of freedom. When they kill the member of the Manson Family, Rick and Cliff don’t only symbolically avenge Sharon Tate on screen, they also avenge the very idea of freedom.

What do we do to Nazis and slave owners? We kill them. And we make it fun!

In case you didn’t notice, freedom is kind of a big deal to Tarantino. Also, he’s the one who ties it to the Middle Ages in Django Unchained. So, let’s talk about that too.

Django Unchained: Freedom is a Medieval Dream

The Middle Ages saw the birth of an amazing literature that influenced Western culture, I would argue, to a far bigger extent than mythological stories inherited from the Romans and the Greeks. I will try not to go full geek on you, because I could just as easily pitch in the Lord of the Rings in this blog post with the literature masterpiece I’m about to mention, but among the great works of literature that the Middle Ages gave us, there is the Nibelungenlied. It includes a magic ring that makes you invisible. Do you catch my drift? It is also the story that Dr. King Schultz narrates to Django around their campfire when he learns that Django’s wife is called Broomhilda.

Broomhilda was a princess. She was a daughter of Wotan, god of all gods.

Anyway, her father is really mad at her. She disobeys him in some way. So he puts her on top of the mountain.

It’s a German legend, there’s always going to be a mountain in there somewhere.

And he puts a fire-breathing dragon there to guard the mountain. And he surrounds her in a circle of hellfire. And there, Broomhilda shall remain … unless a hero arises brave enough to save her.

As a matter of fact, he does. A fella named Siegfried. He scales the mountain, because he’s not afraid of it. He slays the dragon, because he’s not afraid of him. And he walks through hellfire … because Broomhilda’s worth it.

Tarantino takes quite a few liberties from the original story. It is not totally innocent also that the Niebelungenlied became a famous Wagner opera but I’ve already piled up enough Godwin points in this blogpost that I don’t need to stray on that. All that really matters is that Tarantino directly sets up Django Freeman as a modern Siegfried through the parallel of their respective love interests.

So.

Tarantino likes it R-rated.

He likes heroes that battle against true-life villains (Nazis, slave owners, Manson family members) and right wrongs by providing an alternative ending to upsetting historical events.

Tarantino also somehow traces the quest for freedom back to medieval legends.

Why, then, wouldn’t he go medieval on our eyes for his last movie?

He could, I don’t know, avenge Joan of Arc and have La Hire and Poton de Xaintrailles free her from her prison, killing everyone on their path, evil English and treacherous French alike.

I mean, if he needs a historical consultant, he can always call me!

It’d be better than any Star Trek movie, that’s for sure…

Varia

Faltonia Betitia Proba

The following post found on St Andrews blog briefly introduces you to one of the most fascinating writer of the late Antiquity: Faltonia Betitia Proba. I mentioned her (and mispronounced her name) during my first stream about Pagan Gods in Medieval Manuscripts. Enjoy the discovery if you didn’t know her!

I was first told of Proba by Pierre-Augustin Deproost, teacher at the Université catholique de Louvain, as we shared a train many years ago. Check out his personal webpage about Latin authors, from Virgil to Thomas More (in French).

St Andrews Classics

The first five lines of Cento Probae with a depiction of the author, Faltonia Betitia Proba, holding a scroll. The first five lines of cento Probae with a depiction of the author, holding a scroll.

By Roger Rees

The most famous female writer from Greco-Roman antiquity would have to have been Sappho, the lyric poet from the island of Lesbos, but for womens history month I’m going to shout out for a Latin author by the name of Proba.

Faltonia Betitia Proba was born to an aristocratic Roman family early in the fourth century. This was a period of great religious flux, and Proba herself converted to Christianity. We know of two works by her: a lost work on the war between Constantius II and the usurper Magnentius, and the extant cento Probae. A cento is a work composed of resequenced lines (or half-lines) from an existing work, arranged to create a new narrative.

Proba’s cento of nearly 700 hexameters resequences verses from classical Latin literature’s canonical highpoint…

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Vesuvius. Naples. Napoli.
Varia

Naples Adventures

Medieval Meme
Medieval Meme – Blog Post in Progress

Chilling by the Sea

Vesuvius. Naples. Napoli.
Crossing legs in view of the Vesuvius, 21/06/2019 “Non gettate alcun oggetto dal finestrino e’ pericoloso sporgersi”, 20/06/2019 © Asinus Docet

We landed in Naples and I chose to take a cab from the airport to the city centre. Sure thing, the cab driver thought we were heading to the port to board on a boat to Capri, then once corrected he texted all the way to our destination.

His eyes though hidden under his sunglasses barely left his phone. He drove slowly and he had a big vehicle. I felt safer than I would have wanted. You don’t take a cab in Naples and don’t expect to die!

When we stepped in our airbnb we discovered our room was right across the conservatory. A young opera singer was practicing her range and it felt like we’d fell into some Halloween theme haunted house.

The room was large, the bed comfortable enough, the street noisy but we didn’t question it. It felt good to be there. We left our stuff and moved on to get a coffee. A real, dark, tasty coffee.

We drank like four coffees on our way to the marina at the end of the Toledo Avenue, where we drank an aperol spritz facing the Vesuvio. We chilled. For real. It was good. I kind of was falling asleep. I had worked all night and hadn’t slept for 24 hours.

Stopping by our favourite risotteria (Valù, go there!) to fill our bellies we made it all the way back to our airbnb where I fell asleep almost instantly. When midnight struck, I woke up.

Passing Shadows in the Night

Che Guevara. Napoli. Centro Storico. Naples.
Che Guevara graffiti in Naples city center, 21/06/2019 © Asinus Docet

Our room was on the first floor. A bar was blasting music right under our windows on the street level. People were out smoking, chanting, talking very loud and not only with their hands. Their vocal cords had joined the party with the utmost yelling fashion. It sounded like a busy Friday night at a cat strangling ritual. That electro music was just not natural!

When a saxophone started to cry in the spark of the night I was briefly reminded my dear old Belgium and I felt better. Yet it didn’t mean we could find any kind of rest staying in this shaggy place! We had to move.

Of course Morgane was awake. She couldn’t find any sleep. Her eyes wide open and her face paler than usual she told me that was okay to stay there for the night. I knew better. Not only would staying there drive her crazy but I’d end up going on a murder spree. I already felt unhinged, ghosts whispering in my souls where to find a butter knife and how to sharpen it.

We had to party all night and forgive about Pompeii for the next day altogether. Or move out!

We chose the latter option and I found us a cozy yet not too expensive hotel on the other side of the Centro Storico neighborhood. I made sure there would still be a receptionist to host us when we’d arrive and we left. Like thieves in the night.

We were but passing shadows on walls as we lurked through the Centro Storico and zigzagged in the narrow streets between the mindless drunkards and the raging scooters. The uneven blue stone pavement made our suitcase spit its rolling sound in a hectic manner. The graffiti all over the walls towered us and the Che spectacular portrait let us walk by without question.

At the end of our trial we were greeted by a cheerful and kind night receptionist. The ghosts who’d follow me told me I couldn’t kill him. He was too cute they said. Therefore I went to bed, sunk into its memory foam mattress and blacked out from exhaustion.

Always on the Move

“Non gettate alcun oggetto dal finestrino e’ pericoloso sporgersi”, 20/06/2019 © Asinus Docet

Morgane had put an early alarm so that we’d be at Pompeii in the morning. A fool’s dream. It rang. We looked at each other. We fell right back asleep. We eventually woke up at 9:50. Ten minutes before check out time. It left me no time for my two hours long get-out-of-bed ritual. I sprung on my feet and ran to the reception. We barely made it in time to eat breakfast, then we headed to the B&B that we’d booked overnight for the remainder of our stay and that settled our lodging predicaments for good.

Noon hit us like a ton of bricks. We were starving but the heat made us oblivious to it. We were now in the Materdei neighborhood and it meant only one thing. Pizzas at Starita! The former cantina that served as decor to the classic movie ‘Oro di Napoli’. It’s only one of the best place in all Italy to eat a pizza. The air-conditioning calmed our senses and awoke our appetite then we ate at full delight. It was therefore time to catch the train to Pompeii.

This very train, however, gave me a glimpse of India. It all flashed in front of my eyes. The crowd. The heat. The sweat. The train would stop at every station but no one would ever unboard. We were stuck together in like peas in a casserole. It’s a good thing I fought my way in and got us some seats at the expense of a granny trying to come down the train with her luggage. She had a ragazzi holding her suitcase and yelling to let her pass. I figured she’d be alright. Morgane confirmed it later to me.

I was left with nothing to do while on that train so my mind started to wander. As my eyes set on a warning on the window that read: ‘Non gettate alcun oggetto dal finestrino e’ pericoloso sporgersi’ the wildest images sparkled in front on my eyes.

This was the story of a train conductor, used to see people throw garbage from the windows of his train on a daily basis. There was nothing he could do about it but to complain to himself about the state of the world. Then one day, he saw something really big being pushed through one of the window. Fast track to the train wagon where it happened. Three macho men were throwing an old man out of the train but he wouldn’t let them do it and fought back. It was quite the scene. A pretty young woman yelled and prayed for the old man to be left alone. He was her lover. The three macho men were her brothers. A lot of arguing was involved until the old men finally let go and just flew away to the stupefaction of the train conductor who just figured out that the thing being thrown out of his train was an actual human being. Damn!

The story doesn’t end there. As the train conductor returns home and is still in total shock from what he saw, someone rings his bell. He opens the window and sees the old man, injured, but pissed. He actually knows the guy. It’s an old pal! He doesn’t figure out, however, that his old friend is the unidentified person that was thrown out of his train. “What happened to your face! – You wouldn’t believe the day I had.” They put two and two together then decide to go on their own vendetta. Guns out blazing. The train conductor is a part time gun trafficker so he naturally hides an armory in his basement.

Not a single shot ends up being fired though. The old man lurks around the house of his enemies in the bushes and catch the sight of his young lover. He loses his nerves and sits on a dead trunk. He remembers his former wife who died several years ago. He sees her face clear as day in his memories. The young woman looks so much like her. She reminded him of his youth. Of his former, happier life. The old man tells it all to his friend. Then, in the dead of the night, they take their leave as they go for a drink, or two.

As I finished to make up this story, our train stopped at Villa de Misteri. That’s where we had to disembark to visit Pompeii.

“Lente Impelle”

Coming soon… Writing in progress!

Varia

I’m an ass. As advertized!

Follow up on “What 100,000 francs”: why writing history requires attention to details and constant self-criticism

This article will tell you why I deserve a good old fashion spanking (Paris, BnF, MS fr. 2644, f. 142r)

Most recently I answered a question on the AskHistorian subreddit. You can read it here.

The question was about Bertrand du Guesclin’s ransom after the battle of Najéra (1367), elevated at 100,000 castilian doblas, which was an insane amount of money for only a captain of the French army. Now the thing is that I was not the only one who had answered. Darwinfish86 also honoured us with a well-constructed answer that awoke my jealousy, not only because it was well written but because he answered first and got more likes because of it. I’ll admit can be very vain that way.

Out of sheer wicked pettiness, I went through his post and saw that he stated that du Guesclin had been ransomed in 1364 ransom for 100,000 francs. My brains went like… “Wait a minute buddy!” I clicked on a link he had put in and boom I landed on the Wikipedia page of the battle of Array, where it is also stated that Bertrand du Guesclin had been ransomed for 100,000 francs.

The devil within me laughed maniacally.

Paris, BnF, MS fr. 2644, f. 142r

See, I had seen in a book that du Guesclin had only been ransomed for 40,000 florins at the battle of Array. If his source was only Wikipedia, my source trumped his and I could humiliate him. But nicely. Because I’m a kind well-educated too-gentle-for-his-own-good I-never-got-into-a-real-fight person.

So here’s what I wrote:

Brief fact-checking. When Du Guesclin was captured by John Chandos at the battle of Auray (1364) he ‘only’ owed him 40,000 florins. The infamous ‘100,000 francs’ that were in fact 100,000 castilian doubloons were only due by Du Guesclin when he was captured in 1367 at Najera by the Black Prince. Trusting Wikipedia on that one was a little mistake.
The first 40,000 florins ransom was almost entirely paid by Charles V. He requested or obtained his brother help though for the 100,000 doubloons ransom (the King’s brother being the Duke of Anjou).
Cf. Valérie Toureille (ed.), Guerre et société. 1270-1480. Paris: Atlante, 2013, p. 346-347.”

I was beaming with pride. Glowing, literally. I felt like a grammar nazi who had corrected his first “your/you’re” confusion.

Paris, BnF, MS fr. 2644, f. 256r

But then my enemy wrote:

“I actually got the 100,000 francs from Ambuhl.” He meant this book: Ambuhl, Remy. Prisoners of War in the Hundred Years’ War: Ransom Culture in the Late Middle Ages, Cambridge Univ. Press, 2013.

Then my brain went like “Oh shit!” Because any historian worthy of the grade knows deep in his bones that nothing trumps a Cambridge book but an Oxford book. And the book I was relying on, well, it was travesty. I had spotted mistakes in it in the past. It had been rushed to publication and was crippled with flat out errors. I didn’t hesitate for a second. I shamelessly threw it under the bus. I showed no courage. I even went as far as to insult the French—because after all I’m Belgian.

“Could it be that Tourneille & co mixed up their numbers? I wouldn’t be too surprised about that. […] As always, apart from Contamine, never trust any French historian…”

When I blow low, I blow low. Under-the-belt-on-your-kneecaps low. With a crowbar. Then I run away because I’m a skittish little squirrel. Or a cat. Cats do run away when they’ve been mischievous.

Paris, BnF, MS fr. 2643, f. 18r

So, what happened? Who was right and what are the real numbers for du Guesclin’s ransom from the battle of Najéra?

As it happens, in Toureille’s book we can read that du Guesclin had been ransomed for 40,000 florins, but that is wrong. Bertrand du Guesclin acknowledged himself in a very official fashion that he owed 100,000 francs to the man who captured him at Najéra, aka John Chandos; see: Letters, Orders and Musters of Bertrand Du Guesclin, 1357-1380. Edited by Michael Jones. Woodbrdge: The Boydell Press, 2004, p. 36-37. However, Kenneth Fowler who never came across that piece of evidence though it had been published twice in the 19th century, wrote in a 1987 article (see page 245, note 8) that du Guesclin “was liberated on September 30th, 1365. We ignore at what price. Chandos received an account of 40,000 florins from Charles V.”

Sweet mother of Jesus, here we find the infamous 40,000 florins that put me my good name to shame. In Toureille’s book, the authors had read that article by Fowler and they had slavishly copied the information without fact-checking it! Oh. My. God.

So we have a historian who doesn’t do his homework back in 1984 and makes a mistake that is unhesitatingly copied in a 2013 publication, and then I pass for a fool!

Never trust your own books.

At Auray (1364), Wikipedia is right on that one, Bertrand du Guesclin was ransomed for 100,000 francs, and Charles V advanced 40,000 florins to help his captain in obtaining an anticipated liberation. Then at Najéra (1367), that same captain not yet constable was ransomed for 100,000 castilian doblas, and according to my calculation (based on a book that I certainly think is more trustworthy than the other), it was worth around 118,404 francs. Du Guesclin value had inflated in three years. We need to point out though that he helped to make it happen by telling everyone how priceless he was.

Paris, BnF, MS fr. 2643, f. 18r