Eustace the Monk: A Black Magic, Double-Crossing Pirate Soldier in the Service of the King(s)

Eustace's death at the Battle of Sandwich (13th century illustration by Matthew Paris). Via Wikispaces.

Eustace’s death at the Battle of Sandwich (13th century illustration by Matthew Paris). Via Wikispaces.

In case you haven’t noticed, Medieval history is one of my favorite historical periods. It happens to be one of the eras that I know the most about. I guess I find it fascinating because once you start to get a depth of written records and knowledge about the period, after little recorded history during the ‘Dark Ages’, you find some truly bizarre stuff is taking place and being noted.

The Age of Exploration and Age of Enlightenment have so much intrigue and a massive amount of detail, but much of the mindset and motivation and the actions of the main players makes sense. That’s not necessarily the case with Medieval Europe. You’re often left thinking, ‘I recognize the world this is taking place in, but what in the hell are these guys doing?’

If the Middle Ages is one of my favorite eras, Eustace the Monk is one of my favorite characters.

Not a lot is known about Eustace Busket’s early life. He is France’s version of Robin Hood, though we know, without a doubt, that Eustace existed. He is in official records having served the King of England, King John. He entered the monastery as a young man, but gained a reputation for foul language and gambling. His monicker of the black monk may be owed to this. His father was murdered and he abandoned the monastic life to either seek revenge or claim his inheritance, setting in motion a chain of events that would lead him to black magic, piracy and, ultimately, his head on a pole.

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Miguel de Cervantes: International Man of Action

Portrait of Miguel Cervantes de Saavedra from a copper engraving from Johann Heinrich Lips.

Portrait of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra from a copper engraving by Johann Heinrich Lips.

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra is one of the most famous authors ever to grace our fair orb. His masterpiece, Don Quixote, should place in any respectable list of the greatest novels written, is the first modern European novel (if you believe Wikipedia) and is to the Spanish language what Shakespeare is to English. The image of the title character waging war on windmills is an enduring one and the word quixotic has entered our lexicon, though I challenge you to use in in everyday life. The book has inspired artwork, a ballet, musicals, numerous films and the Donkey Hodie puppet character from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Cervantes’ work is renowned, but the exploits of his life have gone mostly untold outside of Spain. This post is about his life, not his life’s work.

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