Part I: Speaking in Tongues
The wife of Robin Ingier expected the night to be full of sweet perfume. It was after all the time of Pentecost, the miracle of the Holy Spirit’s descent upon Jesus’s followers after his crucifixion. A Spring holiday, falling this particular year on 11 May, the air should have carried the aroma of flowers and fresh herbs.
Instead, it smelled of jellyfish.
No, wait. Sorry. That’s just my drawing.
These two jellyfish are maybe Englishmen. Or maybe not. Strangers, certainly, whose language none of the people later pleading for mercy before the Lancastrian court understood. The testimony’s very upfront about that.
English was a good guess, though. This was Lancastrian Normandy in 1421, with the territory not yet fully subdued and brought under the English heel.
Seems rather fitting that there should be people speaking in strange, incomprehensible tongues wandering about at Pentecost. Of course, the spirit that moved them was far from holy.
Not content to simply pillage the goods of Robin Ingier, in whose house these strangers had lodged, they turned their attention to his wife. She managed to fight off their attempts to rape and injure her.
First, let’s give her a solid, “You go, grrl!”
Second, let’s acknowledge that this description is coming from a petition for pardon, which means that the story is almost certainly embellished and crafted to put things in the most favorable light possible. Sadly, feminism is not the light we’re talking about.
The inclusion of the wife’s fighting off—
Hang on. I’m sorry. She needs a name. I’m going to get very tired of saying “the wife of Robin Ingier” over and over. And since we don’t know her name, let’s give her an awesome one. How about Oudine? This is after all a blog heavily inspired by comics (even if you can’t tell by my drawings), and Oudine is an actual name from the time, the feminine form of Oudin, which was in turn the French form of…well, actually, I don’t know. But I want the answer to be Odin. Because if there’s a female Thor, there should be a female Odin. Just sayin’.
She just needs an eye-patch and they’re practically the same, right?
Anyway, back to where we were.
The inclusion of Oudine’s fighting off the attackers is not there to show that she’s kick-ass, or that women don’t have to be victims, or anything that we in the 21st century might want to read into it.
It’s there to give justification for what’s going to happen later. This is a petition for pardon, and that means its explicitly about crafting a narrative of excuse. Pardon letters weren’t to say that you didn’t do the crime for which you’d been convicted. They were meant to present all the (supposedly) extenuating circumstances that actually made you (the murderer, thief, arsonist, what have you) into the victim — and crucially, almost always made your victim into the reprobate who deserved his fate.
Does that mean Oudine actually successfully escaped those tentacular grasps?
Far Too Dignified Announcer Voice: Will Oudine escape their grasp? Will anyone hear her cries for help? Find out next time in Part II of When Temptation Strikes!