Saturday 7 January 2012

Time to call a spade a spade...

“What signifies knowing the names, if you know not the nature of things.” ~Benjamin Franklin
Starting a blog is relatively easy. Select a blogging service on the web, follow the instructions, adjust a few settings and voilà, a blog is born. The one thing I struggled with was finding a name for it. In my welcome message, I said that this blog will be about anything and everything that happens to be on my mind at a particular moment in time, so when it came to naming the blog, I reached for the two things that were on my mind on that day. I found an interesting detail about both of them and put them together. That’s how Crispin’s eclipse was born. In this post, I will once more separate the two items and explain their origins.

"Any child can tell you
that the sole purpose of a middle name is so he can tell when he's really in trouble."
~ Dennis Frakes

On this particular day, I had been watching a DVD of one of my favourite TV shows: Spooks. People who know me, know that I have developed a rather addictive admiration for the leading man of season 7, 8 and 9 of Spooks, who portrays the character of Lucas North. His name is Richard Armitage and I honestly believe that he is one of the most (if not the most) talented and skilled actors of his generation.
Richard Armitage as Lucas North in Spooks
Crispin just happens to be Mr. Armitage’s middle name and although I had never really heard this name before I became interested in this man, I think it really suits him. The fact that Saint Crispin is the patron saint of weavers will mean nothing to most people, but fans of Richard Armitage will see the link with his heritage (his father’s family were weavers and spinners) and with one of his most beloved characters: Richard played cotton-mill owner John Thornton in the BBC’s adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel North & South.
Richard Armitage as John Thornton in North & South

As you can probably guess, this man seems to be on my mind quite often, so he will probably  feature in this blog on a regular basis. But I’ll try not to ramble on about him too often… and fail miserably, most likely.

The eclipse
The term eclipse is derived from the ancient Greek noun κλειψις (ékleipsis), which means "the abandonment", "the downfall", or "the darkening of a heavenly body". (Source: Wikipedia)

So now you know who Crispin is, but what about this eclipse? In fact, you could say that it was again Richard Armitage who is responsible for planting the concept of the eclipse into my brain.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s start at the beginning.
For the second part of this ‘Name that blog’-exercise, I looked for inspiration in the book that I was reading. On page 856, I found this paragraph:

“Shortly before dawn on Wednesday, March 16, Anne was given the last rites of the Roman Catholic Church. She died in midmorning, with Richard and Véronique at her bedside. Church bells were still tolling throughout the city when a queer noontime darkness began to settle over London, and as people watched in awe the sun was slowly blotted out, blackness radiating outward haloed in light. To a superstitious age, a solar eclipse was seen as a sign of God, was seen by all as an ill omen, and by many as proof that Richard had sinned against God in taking his nephew’s throne; for why else, people argued, should the sun go dark on the day of his wife’s death?”

When I was in school, my favourite subject, besides English, was history, and I can only say that this love has grown extensively over the years. I love history, not because I like to memorise important dates or life-changing events, but because history is essentially a collection of stories about people. Real people who, by the lives they lead and the choices they make, shape the world we live in.
The text above is from The Sunne in Splendour, a historical novel by Sharon Kay Penman about the life, reign and death of Richard III who was King of England from 1483 until his death in 1485. This paragraph describes the death of his beloved queen, Anne Neville.
The Sunne in Splendour - A novel of Richard III by Sharon Kay Penman
I have the annoying habit of looking at historical events from the point of view of the women. Anne Neville was daughter of ‘The Kingmaker’, wife of two future kings, Queen  consort of England and heiress of two grand English families (Warwick and Beauchamp) but she is barely more than a footnote in the history books. So while people marvel over the history of the Plantagenet princes (Edward IV, Richard III and George of Clarence), I look at their mother, their wives, their sisters and their daughters who have possibly had an even more influential, and certainly more interesting, role to play in this story.
The reference to the solar eclipse that occurred on the day that queen Anne died, is therefore my way of honouring all women in history and Anne Neville in particular.
Oh, before I forget: What does Richard Armitage have to do with this? Well, he was born on 22 August 1971, exactly 486 years after the day that Richard III died in the Battle of Bosworth Field. The Sunne in Splendour was one of his father’s favourite books (as Richard mentioned in an interview for the Vulpes Libris blog) and he named his second son after this mysterious and tragic king.
And Richard just happens to be working on a project to bring the story of Richard III to the screen in a film or a TV series. With himself in the role of his namesake, hopefully.

There you go: Crispin’s eclipse – Richard and Anne
Until next time!


  1. Wow!! You started a blog! I just found out and I'm loving it already. Will be visiting often. :D And thanks for including me in your blog roll :)

  2. Forgot to add - great name and thanks for explaining the origin. Really like how you are honouring women who have been 'eclipsed' in one sense throughout history. And I didn't know that Saint Crispin was patron saint of weavers. Totally makes sense now why this might be his middle name. Well done you for bringing this to light!

  3. I really enjoyed reading your blog. Your information is facinating and articulate. I appreciate your definition of the word 'eclipse' and putting it together with RA's middle name was sheer genius! I'm looking forward to reading more. And I have another book to read.

  4. Great post Inge. I love juxtapositions of unusual things & love the name of your blog. I share my birthday with RA and never realised this was also the day RichardIII died at Bosworth until I became a fan. Educational as well as entertaining. I've subscribed to your blog & look forward to your next post.

  5. I'm so glad you enjoyed my post. I'm really enjoying the writing process and hope to be able to provide many more entertaining posts.
    Thank you!

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  7. Your blog is a great read! I love your delving into the historical origins of your blog's name.
    Cheers! Grati ;->

  8. amazing!!! i loved it !! inge you 're brilliant!

  9. I stumbled upon your blog from Facebook. It is wonderful to read about other people's fascination with Richard Armitage. It helps me feel more sane ;) to be in such great company!
    I too adore history, and I need to reread The Sunne in Splendour very soon.
    I'll be back!

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  11. I liked how you described history: "but because history is essentially a collection of stories about people. Real people who, by the lives they lead and the choices they make, shape the world we live in." That is exactly why I love history, and why I find it to be so engaging. I also happen to have the habit of seeing historical events from the viewpoint of the women. :)