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Istarelle, lady of the marsh (3 parts)
Posted by: zimriel (IP Logged)
Date: 11 November, 2019 05:34PM
Here's a Clark Ashton Smith story not yet completed: "The Tower of Istarelle" subsequently renamed "Sorceress of Averoigne". Smith abandoned this one.

Smith mentioned "Sorceress of Averoigne" in two places: in its own synopsis, and - as a title only - in the "Averoigne Chronicles" of the Black Book, where it appears after "Venus" (plotted 1931). The "Chronicles" does not include "Mother of Toads" (1935) nor "Enchantress of Sylaire" (~1939); instead, after "Sorceress", we got "The Oracle of Sadoqua".

Nightshade Press' commentary to "Sylaire" figured that the sorcery from "Sorceress" went into that. I expect that our author went on to mine the story's bog for "Toads". The Black Mass in this province crops up in "Queen Of The Sabbat" - or it would, but that's another story Smith didn't finish.

Smith never finished "Oracle", either. Seems to me that Smith didn't just forget about Istarelle; he wanted never to tell that tale.

Re: Istarelle, lady of the marsh (3 parts)
Posted by: zimriel (IP Logged)
Date: 11 November, 2019 05:39PM
The unfinished "Sorceress of Averoigne" has enough content that we can review it.

The story's theme from the first chapter to the last is a mapping of mens' trust in woman onto a Weird landscape of shadow and falsehood. (Much like Moore's "Jirel"!) Smith, here, did well to site it in Averoigne. The chapter title "The Mistress of Shadows" is, then, properly that of the whole tale. But the outline hasn't cohered around that, yet.

The outline makes a hash of Aristotle's rules. Hiérome shows up in the fifth chapter, and he's the man who closes the story out. Likewise, Cardinal Augustine - implicitly seated at Vyônes - is first mentioned in the closing chapters. The Black Mass in the sixth chapter (with Lucifer's appearance no less) is gratuitous. The priest is breaking his vows anyway; there is no need to grind his nose in it. Also, something this blasphemous should be the climax of any such story, and not somewhere in the middle. Smith himself likely agreed as much, and mooted another Averoigne tale with the Black Mass as its main theme.

Again, our author didn't finish . . .

To fix Hiérome: he could be the lady's "manservant" and all-around go-fer whilst all the festivities are on-going. (We already know he's the Beta Orbiter.) That would remove the fifth chapter. Further, I would thank prospective authors to keep all the themes in the sixth chapter WELL offstage. And the Cardinal can be noted in the second chapter, but I am pretty sure Smith would have figured that much out soon enough.

Given the drastic extent of the changes required to make this story work, I can see why Smith figured the job for a chore. But I disagree that it was unsalvageable.

Re: Istarelle, lady of the marsh (3 parts)
Posted by: zimriel (IP Logged)
Date: 11 November, 2019 05:44PM
We might even be able to locate a year for "Sorceress of Averoigne". Smith listed "Sorceress of Averoigne" in the "Averoigne Chronicles" after "Venus" (plotted 1931, set 1550) and before "The Oracle of Sadoqua" (plotted sometime mid-1930s, set Roman-era). Therefore we cannot use the "Chronicles" list to place "Sorceress" in Averoigne's timeline. But we have other hints.

In Istarelle's times, an Archbishop in central-to-south France - Vyônes - has been elevated to the Cardinals. This story, then, is to postdate at least "The Maker of Gargoyles" and probably "The Holiness of Azédarac" too.

I lean to the Avignon era, 1309 to 1376; less likely, the Schism, 1378 to 1417. I would prefer earlier over later given the magickal elements. The Plague is not yet here, with the concomitant collapse of Parisien authority. The English - from 1337-1349 - had been fighting in Gascony, Brittany, and Picardy; not yet as interior as Berry much less Auvergne. (In fact I don't recall that this whole region did much over the whole Hundred Years.)

"The Third Horseman" of William Rosen's book - the 1315-17 flood and famine - affected more the French (and Belgian, and Rheinlander) heartland, in the north. Although, the presence of the bog in the tale - and its sudden absence - may point to some floods, at least in the Isoile's watershed if not from rain on upland Averoigne directly.

I propose that the heavy rain starting AD 1315 is what prompted the Vyônards to Do Something about the lady of the marsh.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11 Nov 19 | 06:03PM by zimriel.

Re: Istarelle, lady of the marsh (3 parts)
Posted by: zimriel (IP Logged)
Date: 12 November, 2019 04:34PM
To continue the third part of this post : 1315 is an interesting year in Church history… because we had no Pope.

Clement V’s papacy at Avignon had been a one-off. He resided in the Dominican monastery. Clement further had installed a bunch of his relatives and friends as Cardinals, including Jacques d’Euse over in Porto-Santa Rufina in central Italy. But by December 1314 Clement’s nepots had mostly clustered in Gascony, with the English. These men opposed the faction which wanted a return to Rome, nearest Jacques’ see.

The election was duly commenced at the Curia’s then-residence, specifically the palace Carpentras. This descended into a riot, which the Cardinals fled. The Gascon and Italian factions threatened to hold their own elections, which stood to break up the Church.

So, the French Crown got involved. Mostly what this did was create a third, pro-French faction. D’oh!!

Finally Count Philip of Poitiers, the new King’s brother, herded a quorum of runaway Cardinals into a convent at Lyons where he had them all imprisoned. This conclave, in August 1316, finally enthroned 72 year old Jacques d’Euse as John XXII.

As Pope, the man stayed in Avignon – and I mean stayed: he built a new palace on the Rhône.

For Catholic doctrine John XXII’s Papacy, 1316-34, had three aims: to settle the question of the Beatific Vision (as a Cardinal he had opposed it, as Pope he settled on what’s now dogma), to reject the mostly-Franciscan notion of the Apostles’ poverty, and to eradicate witchcraft. “Istarelle” is, of course, all about witchcraft.

In 1326 John XXII put out the Super illius specula. This defined witchcraft and – thereby – put its inquisition under the Holy Office. But this Pope had been using the Holy Office’s inquisitors before that, in harmony with the Cardinals.

TL;DR: If the Istarelle story is for the anarchy of 1315 through to summer 1316: then Augustine Cardinal, de Vyônes, is likely supporting Bérenger Cardinal Fredoli for the Papacy more-or-less in alliance with the elderly Jacques. At this point Jacques is known, if at all, for his losing opposition to the Beatific Vision.

If late autumn 1316 or any point 1317, Jacques now Pope John XXII is interested in the Istarelle affair from Avignon – no great distance from Averoigne. After 1326 this Pope would have demanded his own inquisitor, and local priest Jerome; a Cardinal might however send his own team first, to observe and report.

Re: Istarelle, lady of the marsh (3 parts)
Posted by: zimriel (IP Logged)
Date: 13 November, 2019 07:37PM
"IN LIEU OF local priest Jerome", I meant. Sigh.

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