I asked to see Mahelt’s response to her brothers being taken hostage. Will first.
Alison: Mahelt has got her chin very set, her lips downward bending. She’s swallowing and pressing her tongue to her teeth. She screwing up all her courage and anger into that mouth movement. It’s determination. She’s saying ‘Hah, let him try, let him try to break my brother. Let him just try. My brother’s not for breaking. He’ll stand firm and true to the lion. He will be no other than a lion. And the lion favour I offered him will remind him of that always.’ I feel as if there are tears, but she’s ignoring them. She’s not sobbing, it’s just that the tears are flowing. She’s saying ‘I will never let my brother go. He is always in my heart. Always, always, always. I will be brave as he will be brave. She’s with Will. I can see that they’re on a stone floor and she’s kneeling down and they are embracing. She’s saying ‘Never leave us, never leave us in spirit.' He says ‘Surely I will not. I am of true blood as you are. I thank you for this gift and I will wear it always.’ And what he has is a silk thing folded up into a little packet and I think it’s a banner that you put on a stick. He picks her up from the floor. He swings her round. I saw his hat fall. It’s a little cap hat with a raised edge, a black one. It fell on the floor as they embraced. She’s feeling his skin and his hair. It’s as if she can even feel his eye against hers. It’s really a moment where she’s reaching to try and get inside someone. There’s a real feeling of fear in her stomach, like an electrical feeling resonating and lines going up. She doesn’t know what it will be like without him. There’s going to be a hole, like when you cut your finger and there’s a hole in your finger where you lose a flap of skin. This moment seems to be going on for a long time. She’s not letting go easily. She’s having to be taken away by somebody else – to be dragged off him really. Yes, it’s her father who’s dragging her off and she’s fighting with her fists against him. He’s passing her onto a maid and he’s going forward to talk to Will and to sort out the situation with Will.
Then Richard leaving as a hostage?
Alison: Mahelt is really angry now. She’s got her lips pursed and she’s saying ‘I will not go. I will not go and see him. No! And the reason is she can’t bear it. She can’t bear to go through it again and Oh! Cold shivers going down her body form the shoulders down, one after the other. It’s horrible. Someone’s come in at the door and has said ‘He’s going now. Are you going to say goodbye?’ She says ‘No, I’m not.’ And she can’t. She can’t bear it. All the emotion has welled up inside her. She think she will go to the window and secretly watch him going from a distance but she can’t bear to go up close to him because she knows he will never be the same again. (Alison crying here). She thinks of the tunic she’s been embroidering for him and she will send it on…because it’s not finished and she doesn’t want to give it to him now, she doesn’t want to see him. In fact she thinks she’ll have a drink now.
I comment that she’d have gone to her wedding very shortly after this and her family were on the verge of emigrating to
Alison: She’s so upset from this (Richard leaving). Taking all her self control to bring herself around. Every so often she goes off into a rage either internally or just a little bit showing on the surface. She has a lot of emotion stored up inside, pent up anger. How does she feel towards John? ‘Phwoo, if she had a knife, I think she’d stick it in him. She’d come out in a tantrum I think. Then what? Her marriage. Everything’s gone silent. She’s looking at the coffer. It’s a completely plain coffer with an overhanging lid bigger than the base so it makes a good seat. She goes and sits on it as well and it’s peaceful. Because it’s so plain and clean it can give her that feeling of peace and contentment. She’s sighing, trying to come down back to where she needs to be herself.
And she sits there for a long time before her legs start kicking – a sign with her that she wants to do something else. She goes to look out of the window. Then she turns back to the coffer. She wants to just sort through it again. Everything in there is very neatly folded. It’s all complete, nothing left to do. It gives her a feeling of peacefulness to see everything well ordered and to feel it well ordered and to put her hands on it – it makes her feel better. These are things she’s taking to her marriage then? Yes, they’re mostly textiles, clothes, linen. I don’t mean plain linen, not table linen or bed linen. These are finer things, coloured things and there are some objects as well – like little dice-shaped things on a chain. Might be curtain tie-backs. Something to do with soft furnishings. I can see that they fit onto small brackety hook things in the wall and hold drapes back. So she’s settled herself down now? Yes. She’s banged the lid shut and she’s shouting to the servant. She wants a bowl of water with rose petals in it. She wants to wash and that’s making her feel better, washing herself, particularly washing her eyes, I suppose because she’s been crying. She’s tidying her dress. It’s very fitted at the waist. She’s tightening it, making it smooth. She’s feeling better now. She doesn’t want to wear her wimple. She’s thinking ‘What’s the point?’ Can’t be bothered with it. She’s thinking if I just coil my plait and put something over it, I won’t have all this stuff over my shoulders and nobody will see anything.
And her feelings about her family going off to
Alison: He is a lovely looking boy. He has dark, shiny hair, dark lashes, and brown eyelids and under-brow. There’s just such a shine about his eyes and there are very fine ends to them - pointed. He has a slightly lighter version of eye colour to William – an indeterminate mixture, but lighter. Not such big eyes but more finely featured. He’s wearing a very lovely shirt. It’s kind of billowy at the bottom part of the arm and tight round the wrist. He’s wearing a tunic over it. He’s playing some kind of board game. He’s holding something in his hand and using his hand higher up. Shaking dice? Ah, that’s it yes! And I can see a key on a fine chain. We need to move forward to when he’s actually told. Oh, this is when he’s actually told. I’m just seeing a confusing procession of different little artefacts. A manicure set, a whistle. So, personal belongings? Might be, but this isn’t him being told is it? It’s things he’s going to take. I’ll try and go back and slow down. I’ll try and get further into him rather than from the outside. Okay. He’s happy. He’s got his family round him, he’s joking. He’s particularly taking the mickey out of Mahelt. What’s he saying to her then? ‘Fatty!’
She’s saying ‘No I’m not!’ He says ‘Well, all girls end up fat in the end!’ Laughter from me and Alison. ‘That’s the destiny of girls. He says that men only have one fat member and that comes and goes. So he’s being a bit naughty, but enjoying himself. The door’s opening and he’s being called away. He’s really annoyed about it, so he slams the dice shaker on the board. He’s going, but he has to go quite a long way. It’s not next door as I thought it might be. It’s in an entirely different part of the building. It’s round some corridors, up some stairs and into a room with some big windows. It’s very light in there. His father’s got his back to him. His father’s sitting in a chair. Turns his head. He calls him into the room and tells him to sit down. There are one or two other people in the room; they are men, sitting alongside William. William is saying to his son ‘I have no choice.’
William jnr has no idea as yet. He thinks maybe he is being introduced into men’s work and he’s just being brought up a level and brought into some kind of conversation about it and his father is putting it over as an important job for him. William Jnr is wanting to understand. He’s a clever person and he’s intending to do a good and intelligent job. This has always been expected of him, to be able to work things out for himself. When the understanding comes that he’s going to be sent away from home, it’s like a deluge of water going through him. It’s not the gradual introduction to men’s work he was expecting there. It’s also not the life plan that he had been expecting in terms of his training. He’s quite numb. He’s putting on a brave face, a manly face, trying to fit a part he doesn’t feel is made for him. It’s not what he wanted, not what he expected. He’s being very careful, very guarded. He’s giving the right expressions that he knows his father will appreciate and find acceptable. The initial thing is that he doesn’t really want to go, but he’s beginning to see some advantages in going. His father is making it as positive as possible. His father says that William will be able to gain advantages from being at court and learn a lot that he can bring home to his family and to the benefit of his family. William senior expects his son to be a man, and he says ‘but also be my son,’ and he gives William Jnr a hug. He says ‘Never forget what you are, my son, and that I love you, and I do this out of love for my whole family and respect for them, which I trust you share. William Jnr says ‘I do – Sire.’
William Jnr’s leaving is required straight away. He doesn’t even go back to his board game. William goes with him, with his arm round him to his room. - Ah this is why I saw this earlier - where his mother and some other women are already packing his things – so they were already packing them when they were at the board game. His mother is gutted, speechless. She’s not crying but she’s very numbed. She’s doing what she must, yet she can’t do it, and it’s cutting her off from her son. She can’t be emotional with him because she’s trying to control her emotions. She can’t stand it. It’s something she doesn’t want to happen. So she has this look with her eyes of desperation and wanting to hang on which is at odds with the calm exterior of her body, which is doing the task. She wants to hug him to her. So her look has to do it all – has to hug him to her and say ‘be a man.’ It feels very strange for William Jnr when he walks into his room and finds it full of people in motion and touching his personal belongings. He feels really strange. He feels as if he’s losing everything that is familiar to him and this is the first part of the process and going off into something completely unknown. He’s not so upset by it as his mum – about their relationship. Although he loves his mother he doesn’t regard it as vitally important because she’s a woman. It’s only a part of his life, a strand of it. He feels he can live his life without her because he’s a bit beyond that, a bit older. I can’t make out what these other people are doing there. He doesn’t like them being there – two other women. He says ‘It’s all right, I can do it,’ and they say ‘No, it’s better we do it because you have other things to do.’ He’s being taken away to have a bath and clean clothes, and also to get his weapons. I’m seeing a shortish sword and something like a wire on a spool. Also they’ve to get the horse properly accoutred. All the best equipment is going onto his horse. I’m seeing all his weapons being put ready for him. I got the impression that gifts would be going as well. Yes, gifts of weapons are going – swords.
So after he’s set off does he look back at all? It’s taking ages to set off. They are waiting for someone. They’re waiting for the posse to come and collect him. The gate’s opened and I’m seeing rows of men on horses, wearing mail coming in. William senior has a couple of men ready to go with his son, but they are being told no, they are not allowed. I can feel William Senior’s stomach sink when that’s said. William jnr looks at the escort and thinks he would like to fight with them. In his imagination he is strong enough to fight them off their horses. He is thinking ‘I don’t want to go, I don’t want to go!’ But he’s not showing any of that on his face. He particularly doesn’t want to go from his dad, but he has to remain impassive like his dad, so he’s gritting his teeth and putting his nose up to look brave. He just glances at his mother and he recognises the pain in her eyes now because he’s feeling it too. He wants to reach out and hug her. ‘Mama, Mama, goodbye.’ He wanted to hug her and yet they haven’t done any of that. It’s like a sore that hasn’t been closed. It’s from both sides. There hasn’t been that fond farewell. He’s turned his head and put his chin up and he’s brave, but inside he’s crying as the door’s shut behind him. He feels very alone although he’s taking an interest in the jangle of the mail and other stuff as they’re riding. Very sad.
And now Hugh Bigod with his brothers
Now to Hugh’s relationship with his brothers, starting with Ralph.
Alison: We haven’t specified a time so I’m just being taken back randomly here. Hugh’s got his arms round a young boy and it’s like a roly poly and a cuddle and a fight all at the same time, very much a boyish sibling thing. They’re rolling about down this hill now. It’s cub-fighting, play-fighting, but there’s love involved too. So FFW to just before Ralph is going to go off to war, to Bouvines, 1214. Hugh is getting on a horse. I could feel Hugh flying up onto the horse. I can’t tell so easily what Ralph is doing. I’m seeing thumbs busy on a piece of metal. The thumbs are interesting because they are very rounded at the ends with wide, short nails. I think he’s got a polishing cloth and he’s threading the cloth through whatever’s being polished. Hugh’s saying ‘I’ll leave you to it then, I’ll see you when you return….didn’t Hugh go? (I don’t know. He might have done, he might not. It would be useful to find out.) Ralph’s not replying, but as Hugh rides off, he looks up and thinks ‘I might not see you again.’ He’s looking at the sides and back of Hugh as he rides off and it’s like a big boy’s parting – play down the emotions. So find out if Hugh went. I am seeing something with rollers on and another piece in the middle. Pulleys. It doesn’t feel like a war situation. I feel as if I’m in a building, like a mill.’ So he’s not in the middle of a battle field. That’s all I needed to know, no need to go further in this instance.
So now Hugh’s relationship with his brothers Roger and William. Roger first. There’s a bit of an age gap here. Roger is a lovely boy. He’s got smooth hair, longish with a fringe that goes across his face and he’s got really rich brown eyes that are very marble-like and cherry lips. In a lot of ways he takes after Ida. He’s very intelligent and artistic in a learned way, to do with letters. He’s very deep thinking and sensitive. Hugh really appreciates him for that. Roger is not visually artistic like Hugh is, but it’s to do with literary things. Hugh is more like an over figure for him, an encouraging figure but also a disciplined figure. Alison asks if I want to go to an incident but I say not at this point because I’m just taking thumbnail snapshots. I may need more detail later.
Go to William. This is the sweet rascal of the family, the little boy who has curly hair and a slightly longer face. He’s mischievous, chatty, not as solid as some of the other boys but a fair talker. He could charm the birds off the trees and could use this to forge his way in the world, and sometimes never mind the consequences. He’s a little bit wayward, a little bit his own man, doesn’t easily form relationships with other people, even his brothers, so Hugh can’t quite get up close to him. So no real sibling rivalry between them? Hugh has to keep the peace sometimes. There’s always something going on between them but it usually turns out okay because underneath they have family ties and there is a sense of structure in the family. Does Hugh have a favourite brother? I think he probably feels closest to Roger because of the sensitivity they share, but that’s on an emotional level. On a practical level he works well with Ralph. Probably Roger is not such a person of action as the other two.
Here's an excerpt involving Ralph Bigod, younger brother of Hugh, and William Longespee, their royal half-brother.
I asked to see Ralph Bigod and his relationship with his half-brother William before the battle of Bouvines.
Alison: I can see a circular structure with triangular supports to the inside of the circle and a walkway along the tope of the circle – a bit like a wall of death in modern day terms. It’s made of wood. I’m looking down on it. I’m looking across, I’m on other side of it looking across it. I’m on a walkway. I’m looking down into the centre now. There are lots of men in the centre, soldiers, making different formations. It’s a fight I’m seeing. The soldiers below are attacking the soldiers on the walkway and are actually inside the tower. (not sure which faction are in the tower here) The soldiers on the top of the walkway who are not as many as the soldiers down below are throwing things and attacking the people at the bottom. I can see a sling and Ralph’s throwing a net with lots of things in it – rocks and it’s crushed a lot of people. Ralf and William have thrown that net together. I’m seeing them from the outside now and they want to jump after it. They are, they’re jumping after it, they’re jumping on top of the soldiers. God, that’s a hell of a jump! And they’re going at it. They’re fighting, they’re digging daggers in, Oh…It’s a bit like a Robin Hood film! Gosh, there are just a few of the soldiers down there that are left and they are cowering against the wall. The others are just in a heap dead and the few soldiers they had on
Does Ralph get on all right with