Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thoughts on Sytherin's Retirement

I suggested a while ago that Salazar Slytherin went to the fens, surrounding Ely, to join the last Saxon resistance to the Norman Conquest when he argued with his fellow Hogwarts founders about who is permitted entry in their school. Back before the last book came out and anything could still be significant, I argued that the arrival of the first Malfoys into his house was probably the last straw for Slytherin and so he went to join Hereward.
It may be that Rowling had never thought that far afield when planning her novels. It may be that she did think of somewhere that he went and it will be included in the oft mentioned encyclopedia that she may publish at some point in the future.
Since Slytherin's descendants now went by the name of Gaunt, I assumed that they somehow married into the family of John of Gaunt, son of Edward III and Duke of Lancaster, but there is another Gaunt, who owned the lands where I thought Little Hangleton was placed on. This Gaunt was Gilbert of Gaunt, a knight from Flanders who came over with William the Conqueror. This Gaunt was also possibly godfather to Hereward and nephew to William's queen, Matilda. This provides Hereward with a powerful friend to reconcile the king to him and any that broke through the siege at Ely with him.
Once the surviving resistance leaders like Hereward or Edric the Wild were reconciled to the king and other potential leaders like Earl Morcar or Earl Edwin were dead, was there any point in carrying on the resistance? And even if you could defeat William, who would you replace him with? Edgar the Aetheling should have been the heir to the throne but he was not able to attract the following that Hereward was and possibly lacked the talent in tactical matters that Hereward seemed to have. Even with Earl Morcar, one of the most important of the remaining Anglo Saxon nobility and an heir of the Mercian royal family, at Ely, Hereward was the resistance leader. So, would Slytherin, by now an old wizard, want to carry on a bush war that had no hope or would he opt for peace and settle on a bit of land?
The other piece of the Gaunt family history, the Peverils also settled in the same area of Little Hucklow ( my candidate for Little Hangleton) where William Peveril, a Norman knight and possibly William I's bastard had a castle.
Another question would be - did Slytherin marry late in life after the pardon by the king or did he retire to a farm with a family that he already had? This is my guess then. He already had a family, took a pardon and retired to Little Hucklow and his only daughter or granddaughter caught a Peveril or (most likely, since the Gaunts were Flemish and not of the hated Norman invaders) a Gaunt eye and so the family name was lost, although the genes and propensity for talking with snakes was passed on.

17 comments:

Tracy said...

As you say, I doubt JK Rowling thought that far ahead. Saw the movie on Saturday with the family - they've made some interesting changes (though it's so long since I read the book I've forgotten more than I remember) - but the similarities with LoTR are even more striking on the big screen.

rattlesnakeroot said...

I love all the genealogy stuff. I love the mingling of real history with the magical world and I enjoyed those parts of HBP and DH, since that's an interest of mine beyond HP.

But I have to agree that JKR didn't think too far ahead.

The Red Witch said...

So far any comments from fans about the changes have been positive. Even the endless camping trip seems less pointless on the screen.
I loved how JKR tried to integrate her wizarding history with Muggle history to make it seem more real. I still read stuff and sometimes relate it to HP.

Kristin said...

Excellent!

Since Slytherin's descendants now went by the name of Gaunt, I assumed that they somehow married into the family of John of Gaunt, son of Edward III and Duke of Lancaster, but there is another Gaunt, who owned the lands where I thought Little Hangleton was placed on.

But there were the Peverells in between, from whom the Gaunts are descended (in the female line?). William Peverell was an illegitimate child of William the Conqueror. Is there a historical connection between the two? You betcha. William Peverell was married to Avise de Lancaster and they were related to a ton of famous Norman names, especially in the Nottinghamshire area.

The Domesday Book (I think it was), there is specific mention of Riddles and Potters fighting in the Conquest--some for Harald and some for William. I'd bet anything that the Malfoys are descended from the Vikings who later became the Normans.

Most authors do have some background on their characters. Whether or not JKR was really familiar with all this history is up for debate, but I think she was.

Kristin said...

PS--The only child of William Peverell and Avise de Lancaster (de Montgomery) was a daughter named Margaret. Margaret married Robert de Ferrers Earl of Derby, and their sons were William I de Ferrers, Earl of Derby, and Walcheline de Ferrers Lord of Egginton.

Hermione says in DH that the Peverell name was one of the first ancient wizarding names to go extinct in the male line. And in fact, that's what happened when William and Avise had only a daughter.

anachronist said...

Great research and interesting questions! Of course JKR didn't go that far but it is interesting nevertheless, contrary to the last movie. I've read several bad reviews and I am not going to see it for sure. Is it true it has been divided into two parts?

The Red Witch said...

Yup it is in two parts. I have geared good things about the movie. I shall let you know when I see it if I like it.
Some great points there Kristin. Were the Peverells not the common ancestor to Harry? They must have lasted in the wizarding world for a few generations. I find it easier to think the Slytherins married into a Flemish family before a Norman one became acceptable. It couldn't have been their Vikingness that offended him since he was friends with Helga Hufflepuff, being French and a Northmen might have been too much. Plus it was a very bitter conquest, especially in the North.

Kristin said...

Were the Peverells not the common ancestor to Harry?

Yes, both Harry and Voldemort were descended from the Peverells.

They must have lasted in the wizarding world for a few generations.

I messed up. The William who married Avise is the son of the William who was illegitimate. My mistake. This William wasn't born till 1080 and died in 1155.

There's this, too:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honour_of_Peverel

There was also a Maude Peverell who married Robert Fitz Martin, Lord of Cervais. Robert's son William married Angharad, a daughter of Rhys ap Gruffydd. (They're related to just about everyone, aren't they? Royalty all the way around.)

I've no clue whether the first William had any other sons. It doesn't seem like it.

I find it easier to think the Slytherins married into a Flemish family before a Norman one became acceptable.

But we see marriages with the Normans by the second generation. Probably they had no choice if they wanted to get ahead--the Normans were in control and that was that.

We did a lot of research on Helga at one time.

Tracy said...

Most authors do have some background on their characters. Whether or not JKR was really familiar with all this history is up for debate, but I think she was.
Kristin, yes, most authors do make background notes for their characters, and yes, undoubtedly JKR did have familiarity with the basic history (where characters really existed), it's the amount of information incorporated that is debatable. Because she would have had to spend years researching, a lot of it pre-internet if you consider when the first book was written, to find out half the stuff you can find easily on Google now.

Anachronist - I enjoyed the movie more than I thought I would, more than the book, anyway. I'd say it's worth seeing. Have to see about the final movie.

And it's definitely far too scary for younger children, especially on a big screen with a very loud soundtrack - some had to leave the cinema. (But then, the last few books are pretty scary for younger children)

Anonymous said...

First time posting here - you'll know me from elsewhere. Followed Rattlesnakeroot's link over.

I have great interest in the way JKR has seemingly integrates actual British history into these books - and I DO believe she might have actually gone as far as you're suggesting.

For instance, I believe Godric Gryffindor was based on an actual historical person as well. She has Hogwarts built approx. 1000 year before the present-day of the 1990s. Which is almost exactly 1000 years after the Battle of Maldon (in 991). A battle that featured a Godric that some feel 'fled' an unwinnable battle (or some feel lead the sensible retreat).

It even features a decision to allow the Vikings a chance to cross the river (giving them better ground to fight upon) rather than attacking while the Anglo-Saxons still had the advantage of the better placement. Just such a Gryffindor thing to do.

Anyways - I think after 'fleeing' Godric ran far off to avoid the charge of cowardice andbasically did a lot of sword-rattling to over-compensate, especially since Godric appears to be a common enough name to feature 2 of them prominently in 1 battle.

Battle of Maldon:
http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/britannia/anglo-saxon/maldon/maldon.html

--hwyla

The Red Witch said...

Hi Hwyla. I remember you. There were two Godric's at the Battle of Maldon. I don't think everybody died at the battle just that the English were defeated. While it is true that Godric 'gecranc' which could mean fall or perish, perhaps he was just severely wounded. After all the poem ends with "Naes that na se Godric the tha guthe forbeah" Someone had to live to tell the poet how the battle unfolded. I can't see our Godric being the one who fled with Byrthnoth's own horse. Much too shameful. We are reading the poem in class at the moment in the original.

@But we see marriages with the Normans by the second generation.

In the case of Slytherin, I could see it taking a few generations before that prejudice abated enough for a marriage to take place. Or maybe someone ran off with a love potion in hand. :-)

Anonymous said...

That's interesting - I don't have the background to read from the original language, so I thought the other Godric really did die.

And yes the fleeing would be shameful, however, it is also seen by some as leading others in retreat from an all-out rout - hence the need for the leader's horse. It sounds like any who lived didso because they followed him.

But for the time - it would have been most shameful and anti-Gryffindor. I just like the irony of a shameful secret in his past. -- Hwyla

The Red Witch said...

I like the idea of a shameful secret in his past too.
The main problem with placing Godric at the Battle of Maldon is that it was between Viking raiders and the local militia in Essex which is on the east side of the country. Gryffindor's direction with the sword should have been west with the fire element, since Rowling did say the elements mattered because the four together made a balanced world.
Slytherin's element was water and the direction was east which is why I placed him at Ely. Ely was named for being 'the place of eels'. You have water, easterly direction and snakes, perfect. However, placing Godric in Essex makes it easier for the two to meet so you can't discount it entirely.
Helga was earth and south which is why her artifact was underground in London and Ravenclaw's was north and air which is why hers was in a tower in Scotland.
I don't have much of a background to read the original either. :-) Just learning it this year.

Anonymous said...

I hadn't thought about relating the elements with compass directions! And I certainly had not placed the Horcruxes in that matter. So, that's why the Locket was originally in a sea cave. How silly of Albus not not point it out to Harry - would have helped with looking for them - altho' in the end JKR just had Harry 'get lucky'

And she had Ravenclaw destroyed by fire on the 7th floor. Hufflepuff in the dungeons destroyed by basilsk venom (would that be water since venom is liquid?) Would the sword be earth since it's metal? Used on Naigini. Hmmm...more thinking to be done - THX! -- Hwyla

anachronist said...

I only regret the fans have done so much good thinking and the author - so little...there must be something wrong with me - I enjoy reading your suggestions and intelligent guesses more than original HP novels ;p

Kristin said...

I'm way late to the party on this one, but..

@Anonymous said...

I hadn't thought about relating the elements with compass directions! And I certainly had not placed the Horcruxes in that matter. So, that's why the Locket was originally in a sea cave. How silly of Albus not not point it out to Harry - would have helped with looking for them - altho' in the end JKR just had Harry 'get lucky'

And she had Ravenclaw destroyed by fire on the 7th floor. Hufflepuff in the dungeons destroyed by basilsk venom (would that be water since venom is liquid?) Would the sword be earth since it's metal? Used on Naigini. Hmmm...more thinking to be done - THX! -- Hwyla
December 4, 2010 10:56 PM

Hi Hwyla. Swords are fire.

The Red Witch said...

You are late. I don't think blogger lets you know when there is a new comment except to me.