Tag Archives: Myths and Folktales

FOOL KILLER PART THIRTY-ONE: JULY OF 1921

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE 

Fool Killer picPART THIRTY-ONE: Moving on to the July 1921 issue of James Larkin Pearson’s monthly Fool-Killer publication. The Fool Killer’s (I prefer no hyphen) targets this time around were: 

*** Politicians and pundits who were still pushing the notion that the World War which ended in November of 1918 really was “The War to End All War” and that the world was poised for an era of peace and tranquility with no more bloodshed.

*** Nations which were still trying to develop ever-deadlier chemical weapons, despite the uproar over the long-term consequences of such weapons in the war from 1914-1918.

*** In particular the Fool Killer targeted jingoistic U.S. War Department scientists and /or officials who spoke of a deadly gas that our country had just developed – a gas which could supposedly “depopulate a whole city in a few minutes.” 

              Mascot new lookPearson and his Fool Killer wondered if, despite official claims that the government was trying to prevent other nations from getting hold of the formula, the U.S. might wind up using the gas ourselves at some future time and therefore become “the Huns” of a new war. 

              Here in 2020 we are accustomed to the notion that our own elected officials – from both parties – may be as totalitarian and destructive as any others. That realization came after decades of real-life scandals plus fictional espionage and science fiction stories using (eventually overusing) the “Are we are own worst enemy? theme. 

              I find it incredibly intriguing to see a contemporary 1921 example of that justifiable suspicion. The image of the Fool Killer – homicidal vigilante though he’s always been – taking down scientists, military men or politicians gambling with such poisonous gasses is wildly ahead of its time.  

*** In a REALLY prescient bit, he targeted people who felt that Germany should be forced harder and harder to try to pay war reparations no matter what damage it did to that nation’s economy. We all know where that wound up taking the world. Continue reading

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CHARLEMAGNE: REINOLD, MAUGRIS THE MAGICIAN AND BAYARD

Here’s a bonus Charlemagne post in honor of Twelfth Night. FOR THE FIRST CHAPTER ON CHARLEMAGNE’S PALADINS CLICK HERE

Reinold and BayardREINOLD, MAUGRIS THE MAGICIAN AND THE ENCHANTED HORSE BAYARD – Reinold was another of Charlemagne’s nephews, like the Paladin Roland. Reinold, also called Rinaldo, was the son of the Emperor’s sister Aya and her husband, Duke Aymon of Ardennes. Reinold’s sister Bradamante, covered previously at Balladeer’s Blog, was the white-armored Paladin in Charlemagne’s court, making her literally a “white knight.”

Reinold, like his three older brothers and his sister distinguished himself in battle and was knighted by the Emperor. Reinold, already showing the maverick streak that he would become famous for, declined a sword at the knighting ceremony, vowing that as one of Charlemagne’s Paladins he would carry a sword taken from the next adversary he bested in combat.

MaugrisOnce, while riding outside Paris, Reinold was presented with a magnificent suit of armor by Maugris the magician, the younger, more active counterpart to Merlin from Arthurian lore. (In some versions Maugris – aka Malagigi – also gives Reinold a horse, but since this tale centers around Reinold’s taming of the mount Bayard I’m omitting that to keep the story stream-lined.)

Not long after, Maugris the enchanter again appeared before Reinold, this time in the forest of Arden. Maugris told the young Paladin that a mightier steed than the one he currently rode was on the loose in the forest, killing everyone who tried to tame him.

Maugris went on to explain to Reinold that the horse, named Bayard, once belonged to Amadis of Gaul. After Amadis’ death, Maugris had cast a spell on the horse that granted it supernatural powers, making it impossible for the beast to be subdued by anyone except another Paladin as brave and capable as Amadis himself.

All the other Paladins that Maugris had sent to try taming Bayard had been killed by the horse. Reinold was undeterred by that knowledge and rode off toward the cavern lair of Bayard.  Continue reading

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CHARLEMAGNE: OGIER AND THE CROWN OF DENMARK

FOR THE FIRST CHAPTER ON CHARLEMAGNE’S PALADINS CLICK HERE Ogier

OGIER AND THE CROWN OF DENMARK – King Geoffrey of Denmark saw his lands invaded by pagan Vikings from the north. The ferocity and numbers of the invaders proved too much for Geoffrey and his men so the king sent messengers to Emperor Charlemagne asking for help.

Charlemagne nobly set aside the lingering hostility he felt for Geoffrey from the time when that King of the Danes refused him tribute and the Emperor had led his armies to defeat Geoffrey. Charlemagne decided to send troops to assist Denmark but also to test the character of his Paladin, Ogier the Dane … Geoffrey’s son.

The Emperor wanted to see how Ogier would conduct himself in such a situation, facing superior odds in the field AND having to contain his resentment toward his father Geoffrey for having sent him as a hostage to Charlemagne’s court after his military defeat long years earlier.

Charlemagne placed Ogier at the head of an army consisting of a thousand Paladins and thousands more common Frank soldiers. Wielding his enchanted sword Cortana, the Dane led his men north. Continue reading

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CHARLEMAGNE: TWO ADVENTURES OF ROLAND

FOR THE FIRST CHAPTER ON CHARLEMAGNE’S PALADINS CLICK HERE 

RolandI. A 14 ft tall giant named Ferragus was preying upon Charlemagne’s subjects, carrying them away at will and devouring them in his cave. When the Emperor was made aware of this situation by the inhabitants of the affected region he called for a volunteer from among his Paladins to kill the giant.

Roland was the first and loudest volunteer and so Charlemagne, despite being worried over his nephew’s safety, permitted him to ride off to battle Ferragus.

A few days later Roland had ridden to the site of the giant’s mountain cave. The monster emerged to battle the armored adventurer and the two clashed. Hours went by with Ferragus unable to slay Roland and with Roland’s enchanted sword Durindana failing to penetrate the giant’s thick skin. Continue reading

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CHARLEMAGNE: CHARLOT’S VILLAINY

Balladeer’s Blog continues examining the legends of Emperor Charlemagne and his Paladins (knights).

Carolingian empireOur previous installment ended with the army of Charlemagne besieging the Muslim Saracen army which had taken Rome after forcing them to withdraw inside the city following their defeat in battle. Roland, Ogier and others had been knighted by Charlemagne himself after distinguishing themselves in combat.

The glory that Roland and Ogier had earned filled the Emperor’s treacherous son Charlot with envy and resentment and he bided his time waiting for a chance to strike at the two Paladins.

As the siege continued, boredom threatened to claim both sides, and Carahue, King of Mauritanius, one of the leaders of the Muslim forces, was filled with the desire to face Ogier in single combat. Disguising himself as a mere messenger, Carahue approached Charlemagne’s army and was taken before the Emperor himself.

Still pretending to be a messenger, Carahue told Charlemagne and his court that the King of Mauritanius extended a challenge to the Paladin who had borne the Oriflamme during the previous open-field battle. (The Oriflamme was Charlemagne’s banner as ruler of the Franks and combined the fleur-de-lis of the French with the eagle of the Germans.) Continue reading

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CHARLEMAGNE: HOW ROLAND AND OGIER BECAME PALADINS

CharlemagneThough Charlemagne was a real historical figure, a body of folkore has risen around him and his Paladins (knights). Part of that folklore was that the Pope crowned Charlemagne as the new Holy Roman Emperor on Christmas Day, even though the crowning really took place the following February. Since the story of Charlemagne’s crowning as Emperor was told as a Christmas story for centuries I always use Christmas time to examine him and his Paladins.

To start Round Three of Balladeer’s Blog’s look at Charlemagne lore I’ll examine some tales of the young Roland (Orlando to the Italians). Last December I covered Charlemagne’s reunion with his long-lost sister and her son Roland.

Roland storyHOW ROLAND AND OGIER BECAME PALADINS – The Emperor could not expect his nephew to immediately step into service as a Paladin, since he had a great deal to learn. Charlemagne placed him as a Page in the household of Duke Namo of Bavaria, where Roland began his career alongside many other young nobles.

Roland had to learn to curb his independent ways since he had up until then done as he pleased while stealing to feed himself and his mother. The young man adjusted, and learned courtly ways so well that he became a favorite of Duke Namo.

At age fourteen Roland became a Squire and began training for warfare in earnest. He learned how to handle swords and lances and how to care for the armor of the Paladin he served as a Squire. Horsemanship, hunting and swimming were also part of his education. Continue reading

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FOOL KILLER PART THIRTY: MARCH OF 1921

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT, CLICK HERE 

Fool Killer 1920sAs always part of the fun comes from the way the Fool Killer – in this case James Larkin Pearson’s version in his monthly publication – took aim at politicians from both parties and at other “fools” of the day. March of 1921’s targets:

** Newly-elected Republican President Warren G Harding, who was inaugurated this month. (The change to January inaugurations did not happen until Franklin Roosevelt) Pearson and his Fool Killer referred to Harding as “a steer that the (political) bosses have broke to faithfully pull Big Business’ yoke.”

** Outgoing Democrat President Woodrow Wilson, whom they referred to as a “mule who never did nothing but act like a fool.”

** Big Businesses from around the world. The Fool Killer blamed them for large-scale unemployment and starvation.

** The way boxers could earn $100,000.00 for a prize fight but Nobel Prize winners only got (back then) $40,000.00

** The series of Russian generals that the Allies supported as the leaders of the “official” Russian government against Lenin and the Bolsheviks. (The White – as in Tsarist – Russians against the Red – as in Communist – Russians) Four generals had been so designated and all four in a row soon went down to defeat as the Russian Civil War (1920-1922) still raged. (Sadly, Pearson’s anti-plutocrat sympathies made him support the Bolsheviks for a time.)  Continue reading

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