A representation of man placed between the Macrocosm and Microcosm from the works of Robert Fludd
Week Fifteen (pg. 261-274 Hilaritas edition, Chapter 3&4, Part Three, all editions)
By Gregory Arnott
Special guest blogger
Chapter 3 begins with three more disreputable, desperate men discussing the planned assassination of Sigismundo and Pierre. Pierre is still alive! Hooray -- and he seems to have learned his lesson about being directly involved with “wetwork,” even if he hasn’t found a more reputable career. While Henri, who seems to have taken the place of Lucien as the overconfident lieutenant, points out that Sigismundo is bound to be unarmed, hungry, and tired, only Louis is astounded by his feat of making it out of the Bastille. None of them seem to consider that the abilities of one who could do such a thing might still be a match for would-be assassins, even if they happened to be unarmed, hungry, and tired. (Circumstances that might make them all the more dangerous -- and I doubt that the three men here are much more well-fed or well-rested than Sigismundo.)
As in the beginning we are also taken into the confident ponderings of Lt. Sartines who is puzzling over what appears to be a record of memberships in a secret society similar to the one proposed in Holy Blood, Holy Grail. Before going over some of the names on the list I’d like to say that the line “[t]he secret usually turned out to be a Hebrew or Arabic word that meant nothing to anyone but a mystic” made me laugh.
Either the Author or Sartines is mistaken about the parentage of Charles Radclyffe. He was not the illegitimate child of Charles II but rather his mother, Lady Mary Tudor, was a natural child of James and the actress Moll Davis. Radclyffe was raised in the Court-in-Exile of the Stuarts as a companion of James II’s son James Francis Edward, the Old Pretender who led the Fifteen, and participated in Charles Edward’s invasion, the Forty Five. He has been tied to various conspiracies and named as one of the possible Past Masters of the Priory of Sion.
Both Isaac Newton, whose reputation at this point in history (18th Century) would be analogous to the present day reputation of Einstein, and Robert Boyle are claimed as members of whatever Sartines is examining. Newton and Boyle are similar as both are respected a historical founders of modern science yet both were enthusiastic alchemists and theologians. (Always worth pointing out that Science is directly descended from Magic, same as Religion.) Johann Valentin Andrea was a German theologian who is often assumed to be the author (on his own claims) of The Alchemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, the third Rosicrucian Manifesto which was radically different than the first two in so far as it was pure allegory. Andrea also wrote the philosophical romance Christianopolis which is a similar work to Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis.
Robert Fludd was an early scientist but one whose famous contributions to Science are limited to his arguments with Kepler. Fludd was much more prolific on the occult end of things and was an active participant in the Rosicrucian conspiracy/brotherhood/joke/hoax. His works are known for their lush illustrations, which are still reproduced in many books on mysticism and alchemy, and his defense of occult traditions. His enthusiasm for Qabalah, astrology, Rosicrucianism, neo-Platonism, and alchemy led to many criticisms from his contemporaries. Kepler accused him of being a theosophist in his letters, an assertion that appears historically accurate. Another commentator claims that Fludd did a lot to free occult philosophy from Aristotalean thinking which is something I would imagine old RAW, no friend of “the Master of Those Who Know,” would appreciate.
Both members of the Gonzaga family of Northern Italy mentioned here have been posited as former Masters of the Priory. Louis, better known by the Latinate form of his name Aloysius de Gonzaga, is also a Saint of the Catholic Church. The rule of the Gonzaga family in Mantua would have come to an end only a half century before the present narrative. Connetable de Bourbon, better known as Charles III Duke of Bourbon and Montpensier, seems to have been mostly interested in soldiery during his lifetime and is naturally named as a Past Master of the Priory in many other documents.
The next name on the list, you guessed it: Frank Stallone.
Sartines goes on to ruminate on Poussin’s troublesome painting which has lately been in the possession of Louis XV.
The next chapter is fast paced as letters fly back and forth discussing Sigismundo’s whereabouts and different schemes are playing out to claim him. Signor Duccio seems like Sigismundo’s best hope of escape from Paris but Sigismundo seems to reward his efforts with a punch in the gut. I believe the “P” sending communiques to the Duc de Chartres is Pierre who seems to still be the coordinating agent for the wetwork crew. Cagliostro seems smug and to be on top of matters, an attitude and circumstance I believe doesn’t change until the end of Nature’s God. We end this week’s reading with Sigismundo in a courtyard of unsold angels, confronted by the assassins from chapter three.
From Eric: “I thought of Bach’s Goldberg Variations this week, and then I thought, no, it doesn’t seem operatic enough for all this action. Then I thought of the use of the Goldberg Variations in Silence of the Lambs.”