Nostrum: Episode 3 Released


*SPOILER ALERT* The post below contains minor spoliers for Episode 3. Read at your own risk.

Another second Tuesday means another episode of Nostrum. In this episode, Edward, Tristan and Belisencia have their minds blown by a medieval televangelist, but does King Matheus really believe what

he preaches? That’s the question, and it’s a question I didn’t want to answer just yet. What do you guys think? Does he really think Judgment Day has come? Or is he profiting from the plague? I’d like to hear your thoughts on it.

Robert Daniels, one of my readers, asked about the tapestry that Matheus showed to Edward, Tristan and Belisencia. He wanted to know if it was a real tapestry, and my answer to that is: 42. *grin*

The Garden of Earthly Delights, a triptych by Hieronymus Bosch.

The tapestry is *realish*. It’s quasi-real. It’s Pamela Anderson after she took out the breast implants real. There was no prophet named Joseph the Devout who had visions. I made him up. But when you look at medieval artwork, a stunning amount of it is devoted to depictions of hell and purgatory. There are many famous depictions of Judgment Day and the netherworld. In fact, this sort of macabre painting school has its own name: Doom Painting. The artist Hieronymous Bosch was probably the most famous, although he wasn’t around until the 15th century. But his paintings were the ones I was thinking of when I wrote about the tapestry. Most of the doom paintings are quite gruesome; their painters were encouraged by the church to be as graphic as possible, to scare Christians straight. Many of the elements I spoke about in the tapestry are elements that I took from real works of medieval art. So, is the tapestry real? 42.

The crumbling remains of a spiral staircase leading to the top of the gatehouse at Bodiam Castle. Why did Edward build them clockwise?

In the episode, Edward notes that the stairs of the church tower spiral anti-clockwise. That is, anti-clockwise when going down the stairs. This allows defenders coming down the stairs to swing their weapons freely, while attackers will have difficulty swinging because of the spiraling wall of the staircase. Edward also mentions that he overruled Elizabeth, and that the stairs in Bodiam Castle would be similarly anti-clockwise. But  he relented a little (Elizabeth might have cried), because there are two sets of clockwise staircases in Bodiam. One is on the servants quarters (possibly so that servants could not revolt and hold part of the castle) and a second above the main gates of the castle.

Why would Edward want stairs going clockwise to the top of the castle gatehouse? He had a very sound reason. A free signed copy of The Scourge to the first person to post the correct answer in the comments.

That’s all for now. Hope you are enjoying episode 3 and that you continue to enjoy Nostrum!


13 thoughts on “Nostrum: Episode 3 Released

  1. Gate houses would be stormed with latters and other siege machines. This meant that the defenders would be on the lower level or ground trying to keep the attackers from fighting down the stairs and into the courtyard. Going up the stairs, defenders had room to swing their weapon hands, but descending attackers could not do this easily.

    • Very close. If no one else gets it, the book is yours (might send one anyway because is a very feasible answer, although defenders probably wouldn’t scale a gatehouse).

      • I’m clutching at straws here but: was it to allow for the defense of the gate house should attackers get inside the walls and attempt to open the gate to allow the rest of the attacking army in?

        • It was for defense of the gatehouse, but not from invaders already past the walls . Brooke answered correctly below. Clockwise stairwells at the gatehouse allow defenders to carry buckets in their right hands. These buckets could hold such fun murder-hole munitions as boiling oil, searing sand, boiling water, boiling tar, etc. The defenders at the top of the gatehouse would take the buckets and dump them down the murder holes and machicolations of the gatehouse onto the “soon to be living the rest of their short miserable lives in excruciating pain” attackers. But your earlier comment could be seen as correct as well, so you and Brooke get a signed copy of Scourge!

    • Yes, you’re right Jeff. Wasn’t thinking in those terms. Although if you scale the wall, you might not want to bother with the gatehouse (other than opening the gates for your army).

  2. I am so intrigued! Was it so the defenders could more easily carry up heavy things in their right hands like buckets of rocks and the always fun boiling oil (was that even a thing?) to dump down from the top of the gateway tunnel on the invaders should they get through? Or alternatively carry up and then throw down live animals should you be French:) Although my plan seems a bit short sighted because unless you get everyone with your rocks, oil or cows they are going to come up the stairs and get you. Hmm. Nothing left to do at that point but start yelling “Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!”

    • Absolutely correct! You win (another) signed copy of The Scourge. Would you like me to use European or African swallows to deliver it to you? Yes, clockwise stairs allowed defenders to carry buckets of really bad things up to the murder holes at the top of the gatehouse and pour the really bad things down onto attackers. Well done!!

      • I’m starting an exclusive collection! If I recall correctly I think it has to be the African swallow due to weight ratios and the ability to maintain air-speed velocity. Perhaps you could wait until Nostrum is completed and printed then sign one of those for me?

        • Sounds good Brooke. I think there was a counter-theory that European swallows could indeed carry a book if two of them gripped the covers and worked together. Don’t believe all that gibberish about wingbeats per minute and airspeed dynamics.
          If you don’t hear from me after Nostrum goes to print, please send me a polite prod (something in the nature of “hey dumbass, where’s my book?” works really well). I am the world’s most disorganized person in the world (it’s true, check Guinness).

          Thanks for your continued continued support Brooke!

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