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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 'S' 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.


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