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King Pedro of Castile and Leon...Cruel? Crueler? Cruelest?

Is the answer in Peter the Cruel by Edward Storer?

Well, not really.

The very nice local librarians at Ames Free Library borrowed this text for me to link with the section on Peter the Cruel mentioned in Froissart.

I was tickled to get it, until I read it. . .OK, OK. . . that wasn't nice, I know and I am really sorry. Sorry because I was hoping for something entirely different after reading some more of Mr. Storer's work which I really liked.

Then I realized that he was probably very young when he wrote this, since all the rest of his works were done much later. So I tried for understanding, but it is a little hard in this case. Partly, because I am not a fan of editorialized history (unless I do it, of course) and partly because I always wonder about the accuracy of popular histories, which this is.

Nevertheless, it is the only book I can find that covers Peter 'the Cruel' in any depth and is the only book on the subject for a couple of centuries. It does have some charming sections, and Storer states that he was determined to be as fair to this King as his sources would allow him to be.

I satisfied myself by making the background color purple, which I will do for similar flowery histories. History in purple prose is still more likeable than dry as dust tomes that have no passion in them for the subject in any form, I guess.

This is easy reading, though, and the pictures are very interesting. I am, of course, eager to read what the people that Peter the Cruel was not cruel to —the Jews of Spain and the Saracens on the Iberian Peninsula and the common folk— have to say in defense of this man who was their advocate and punished for it by those chivalrous Christians. I'll probably wait a long time to know because this is not a big topic of interest these days--salvaging reputations of the less bigoted of this world--which is a darn shame.

The question of the truth about Peter remains unanswered to me, satisfactorily at least, by the current English material on the subject.

The label of "Cruel" was supplied by his enemies who overturned him and killed him, passed on by the people who worked for them. Typical.

The reason that he was called El Justiciero, 'The Just', by the common people of his country, or why many Castilians believe they are taught that it is correct to lisp whenever they say the letter 'C' or 'Z' to honor him is not addressed anywhere (he was born with this speech impediment). This means that the man has not been adequately studied. The reason that everybody loved his 'wife' but could still hate him is also a conundrum. This book doesn't answer these questions either.

I am on the hunt for Dillon and Prosper M. on the same subject but don't hold your breath.

Take a dip in Peter the Cruel by Edward Storer, the water is mawkish but appears essentially correct as far as it goes... but I don't know enough yet to be certain of even this assessment.

Come to think of it, I did like it enough to keep on typing so this book was overall a good, readable place to start learning about this King.

2018 Update: I do like this book a lot more, because I have read so much boring and inaccurate history since. This is interesting, and very accurate in the details and Storer's style is a refreshing change. Plus after putting up so many of his books, I feel like he is my good friend. When I have hand-typed many of his books, proofread them twice, at least, the author becomes much more real to me, and so do the characters or subject written about!

This feeling is not uncommon in appreciative audiences, and I can prove it by the example of Poggio, Jest (Facetia) LVII, translated by Storer, also on this site:

Antonio Lusco's Story

Ciriaco d'Ancona, a talkative and wordy fellow, one day when we were together, began deploring the fall and destruction of the Roman Empire, and seemed to be greatly afflicted thereat.

Then Antonio Lusco, a most learned man who was present, laughing at the foolish sorrow of the other, said:

"You remind me of that man from Milan who one holiday, hearing in the public square one of those singers and travelling bards who tell the stories of the old heroes to the people, listened to his narration of the death of Roland, who had been dead seven hundred years. The man began to weep hot tears at the story-teller's words, and when he went home his wife, who saw him all depressed and afflicted with grief, asked him what the matter was.

"Alas, my dear, I am a dead man."

"My friend", said the wife, "whatever is the matter with you? What has happened? Come, cheer up, and take your supper!"

But he continued to weep, and refused his food.

Finally he gave way to the entreaties of his wife, and told her the reason of his woe.

"Don't you know?" he said —— "haven't you heard?"

"What?" asked the woman.

"Roland is dead, Roland the only man who defended the Christian."

The wife consoled the foolish fellow, and persuaded him to take his supper.

Of course, I don't think that fellow was a fool at all, (or I am one, too!), since I get just as involved or enmeshed in a good story!


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