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View Full Version : Crossing borders in days of yore



Miss Plum
05-11-2010, 11:23 AM
Back before air travel or even trains, if one king went to visit another king, did the hosting king dispatch a detail of guards or something to the border to escort the visiting king to the capitol? I mean, you wouldn't just have a visiting king roaming across the country, staying at inns and such, exposed to the dangers of the open road (even though he'd have his own guard), unacknowledged until he actually got to the hosting king's residence?

Thanks.

DrZoidberg
05-11-2010, 04:56 PM
I'm no historian, but based on what I've read as a history nerd, I strongly suspect that...
a) ...it was extremely rare. Standard operating procedure is to never meet, and instead send diplomats.
b) ...when it happened each one was a special case with its own unique situation based on the current political situation and power dynamic of the time.

So basically... I think you can just make something up.

Kathie Freeman
05-11-2010, 07:09 PM
Unless you go back to the ancient Greeks etc. when kings led their own armies, kings almost never went beyond their own borders or even their capital cities. The mountain comes to Mohammed.

DeleyanLee
05-11-2010, 07:20 PM
Henry VIII met with the (IIRC) French king at some point. They met in an agreed upon location, I belive along the coast of France. It was a MASSIVE endeavor, requiring months of preparation. I remember reading about how the English tents were made of cloth of gold to impress all who saw them.

Memory fails on what was accomplished, but the entire event only took a short time and everyone went home. I'm pretty sure you can google it for more information.

In the movie, The Lion in Winter, King Philippe of France comes to visit King Henry II of England at his castle at Chenon (in France). There's no mention of whether or not Henry sent any guards, but it's a fairly small contingent that comes with Philippe and very little pop and circumstance involved. But, then, Henry was also Philippe's vassal for his French holdings as well as King of England, so that gets a little complicated I guess.

If this is for a Fantasy novel, then do whatever seems right for your story. If this is for a Historical, you might have better luck on the Historical forums if you mention your location and era.

Miss Plum
05-11-2010, 10:39 PM
Thanks, all. I knew I was having trouble visualizing this for a reason -- it's not done!

What's great about this is that I'll now have to get King A into King B's country through a device much more dramatic than some drippy little road trip.

waylander
05-11-2010, 11:01 PM
Henry VIII met with the (IIRC) French king at some point. They met in an agreed upon location, I belive along the coast of France. It was a MASSIVE endeavor, requiring months of preparation. I remember reading about how the English tents were made of cloth of gold to impress all who saw them.


Field of the Cloth of Gold
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_of_the_Cloth_of_Gold

If it was a state visit (which were pretty rare things) then I expect that the visiting king would be met at the border with an honour guard led by the major nobility of the host kingdom - if not the king himself then a royal prince at least.

Puma
05-12-2010, 06:52 AM
The most dramatic (my opinion) can be viewed in the old Errol Flynn version of Robin Hood - when Richard sneaks back into England and is discovered in Sherwood Forest.

A lot is going to depend on your time period. Kings and Holy Roman Emperors, etc did go out of their countries. It's been more unusual as we've come up in time until more recently (and then it's often a lesser personage). Puma

Miss Plum
05-12-2010, 07:52 AM
Increasingly useful, Puma. Again, thank you all.

dirtsider
05-12-2010, 09:48 PM
And I would think that the King would stay with local nobles along the way. He wouldn't stay at an Inn. The nobles' castles/manors would provide both the comfort/style he was used to and the protection he needed. He would also travel with a large entourage - bodyguards, servants (cooks, valets, etc.), members of his court and staff as well as any wives of these people.

DeleyanLee
05-12-2010, 10:05 PM
And I would think that the King would stay with local nobles along the way. He wouldn't stay at an Inn. The nobles' castles/manors would provide both the comfort/style he was used to and the protection he needed. He would also travel with a large entourage - bodyguards, servants (cooks, valets, etc.), members of his court and staff as well as any wives of these people.

Depends on the king, honestly.

Henry II would bunk down wherever he felt like it at the moment, be it a castle, an estate or peasants' cottage. He'd get the best there was to offer--displacing the host--and the rest of his massive entourage would make do as they could. It was just how the man, as a personality, operated and everyone who travelled with him knew it. It's just how he was.

Individual personality does play a part in such decisions. There were all kinds of personalities, cultures and agendas throughout history. While what you said is probably true for many European kings, I'm willing to bet it's not for all or even specific countries within Europe at all times. Nothing about people is ever as cut and dried, after all.

I can see where a visiting king might take it into his head to stay at lesser places, just to see the true status of his host is, depending on his personality and agenda. I think the OP can do whatever they want to fit the story and be able to make a historical argument for it.

dirtsider
05-12-2010, 10:54 PM
True - there are always exceptions to every "rule".

Ariella
05-14-2010, 12:44 AM
Miss Plum, if your setting is in the high Middle Ages, or medieval-esque, check out the book Medieval Travellers by Margaret Wade Labarge. It has a chapter on royal travellers and another one on diplomats.

I seem to remember an anecdote in the book about King Edward II traveling to France to do homage to Philip V for the duchy of Guyenne. He brought a huge retinue and a thousand horses. In Amiens, his party commandeered burghers' houses and actually sent in carpenters and painters to renovate and redecorate them to make them suitable for royal habitation. They cut holes in walls to make several townhouses into one palace, and then fixed them up again when the king left.