Friday, February 17, 2012

Renaissance Women

Erzebet lived at a time that was particularly turbulent, but also enlightened. Old, pagan worlds classed literally as countries warred and borders were reformed. Religions that clashed in the past did so again, and new religisou wars also sprang up. The Ottoman Empire was not ready to let go, and Erzebet's village was on the brink of that warzone. As a relative of king's, dukes, and other royalty, aristocracy, Erzebet found her live was defined for her. Women in this caste only spoke from certain subject positions, i.e., when they were dying, about to die [be exectued], from madness, with permission of male relatives/husbands [of which not much was given]. By her time, queens had already lost their heads [The English Anne Boleyn and her cousin Catherine Howard], and others had been divorced or displaced, again, look to Henry's Catharine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves. Misogyny was rampant, and witch trials in the Germanic countries were reaching their peak in Erzebet's time.

Yet, in the somewhat isolated, heavily forested regions where she lived, people still believed in the old ways, in werewolves, and in vampires. Many of these legends had been perpetuated by The Church, and by wars caused by The Great Schism centuries before. She may, or maynot have given belief to these legends. She did maintain, though, that it was her servants who carried out these many rituals, and indeed, I'm looking for evidence that strange deaths took place at her other palaces, or at the courts in Vienna where she spent a lot of time.

The book, Forests of the Vampire is a good general read about the area, as is Raymond McNally's Dracula was a Woman. I've get to see a scholarly/legal approach about her life. Also, many historians write that she was a Protestant, still not popular in a country largely Catholic and dominated by the church. Other such "scandalous women," e.g., Anne Boleyn, appeared as champions for Protestantism, though Anne did not actually convert. Lady Jane Grey is another such person. The Church often vilified them, yet authors like John Foxe put some in his Book of Martyrs, as he did Anne, where he calls her the Deborah of her People. Quite a title for the king's whore.

Norah Lofts has written novels about Elizabethan women who owned property, and had a hard time keeping it. She could have written about Erzebet.

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