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Undinė Radzevičiūtė (b. 1967) is a Lithuanian writer. Her multicultural and multi-layered books are notable for their intellectual black
humour, and her writing is a fusion of East and West, philosophy and the everyday.

She completed her art history and theory studies at the Vilnius Academy of Arts, and after four years left her doctoral studies for a job at an international advertising agency. She worked as creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi (Vilnius), Leo Burnett Vilnius, and other advertising agencies for more than ten years.

In 2003, 2011, 2013, 2015 her books were shortlisted for The Most Creative Book of the Year (Lithuania). In 2011 and 2013 her books were shortlisted for The Best Book of the Year (Lithuania). Her fourth book Fishes and Dragons won the 2015 EU Prize for Literature, was voted by PEN Centre Lithuania as one of the best books of the decade, and has been translated into eight languages.

reflections on belonging

a palmers chronicle right bw

Graphic Novels

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Birutė Zokaitytė, Distant Earth, 2002, soft varnish, 9,5 x 19 cm. From the MO Museum collection.

 

Blue Blood

An excerpt from the novel

 

WILL THERE BE AN EXECUTION?

The grey sky hung lower than usual.

Pieces of ice the size of chicken eggs spilled out when it opened up, and everyone had to take cover to avoid being killed.

But today the despicable cousin of the Master of the Livonian Order was to be beheaded!

And all the inhabitants of the town, as well as visitors, had been waiting in the market square since early morning for the execution to start, regardless of the deadly pieces of ice the size of eggs. And finally, just before noon, the sky closed its mouth.

For those not playing a part in the proceedings but just looking through small windows, made even smaller by a glazier, it seemed as if Friederich von der Borch, the Master’s cousin, was being carried along by the crowd and it was not he himself who was walking.

The crowd carried both Friederich and the men of the Vogt[1] of Reval who were escorting him, and there was no crack for even a rat to squeeze through to the Master’s cousin to see what was going on.
Is he in great suffering? Is he trembling? Is he very afraid of death?

To squeeze through and to see how the knight is feeling after losing in court against the town’s magistrate.

To see how the knight, about to be beheaded, is feeling.

For the entire town of Reval this is – a real victory! Against the Order and against the Master.

And in carrying Friederich, the Master’s cousin, to his death, the burghers of Reval rejoiced as if they were carrying the Master himself.

For those jostling in the procession it seemed that this was the most fitting revenge against the Order.

For everything!

For the brandishing of swords by the Knights of the Order in Reval.

For the burghers’ daughters and wives that had been seduced. And for the tribute which the Order extorts from the town.

For the prohibitions against the burghers wearing red hose. And all the other times, when it had not been possible to punish the high-born wrongdoer.

The Master’s cousin Friedrich the Spaniard had to die for everything and everyone.

The burghers of Reval had been so eagerly waiting for this moment that no egg-sized ice falling from the heavens could frighten them. They were afraid of only one thing – that their hearts might burst from the great anxiety and joy they felt.

Suddenly a long sharp sound caught up with the procession.

Trumpets!

And the sound of horses’ hooves?

But those walking and carrying Friedrich the Spaniard did not stop.

And then the following words were carried through the crowd to where the Fogt of Reval was at the front: ‘Twelve knights of the Order with Commander Loringhoven. Twelve knights of the Order!
But what can twelve knights do? Against a crowd like that?

And suddenly a thunderous voice was heard at the tail end of the procession:
‘Stop!’

And the procession stopped. And turned around.

Of all the knights who had caught up with the procession only Loringhoven, the Commander of Reval Castle, had his visor up.

‘From now on only the Commander of the Castle will sit in judgment over the high-born!’ roared Loringhoven the Giant. ‘Let the town’s Vogt sit in judgment over the burghers! Give back the knight Friedrich von der Borch!’

Loringhoven the Giant thundered at the tail end of the procession. His voice echoed and bounced between the houses until the crowd had heard it and taken it in.

And finally, a stone was thrown at Loringhoven.

One stone.

And Loringhoven’s breast plate rang like a battle gong.

‘We abide by the Lübeck law!’ cried out the Vogt of Reval in reply.

He was sitting astride a steed high up above everyone.

With the best vantage point from which both to see and hear.

‘We abide and shall continue to abide by the Lübeck law!!!’ cried out the Vogt of Reval.

‘We abide by the Lübeck law! We abide by the Lübeck law!’, the crowd echoed the words.

‘We shall bring every wrong-doer to justice!’ cried out the Vogt of Reval to the crowd and to Loringhoven.

He cried out but was already looking around.

And was counting his own forces and those of his opponents. And the crowd? Will it be a help or just a hindrance?

Hildebrand stood among the shouting burghers, not far from Friedrich the Spaniard and was unable to understand: was it all a failure? Will Friedrich’s blackened corpse soon be lying by the northern gates and his head displayed on a spike? Will Hildebrand’s liver soon be trampled on by the steeds of the Knights of the Order?

And suddenly from another direction, from the northern gates of the city there was heard… a song?

A song! Accompanied by the clatter of hooves.

Those at the front of the procession were the first to see who it was riding and singing.

The Vogt of Reval was also able to see since he was sitting on his steed high above everyone in the procession.

And there was no pointing in counting any more: from the northern gates of Reval there rode a large unit of the Free Imperial Knights of Westphalia. A large unit of knights unconstrained by anything here in Livonia.

Not by the laws of the Order, nor by the laws of Reval, nor by the Lübeck law.

And in this street, there will be a battle and the burghers of Reval shall perish, the Free Imperial Knights of Westphalia will disappear from Reval as quickly and as unexpectedly as they had appeared.

Only the blood-stained stone surface of the street will remain.

And they will never show themselves in this city again.

‘And it will only be possible to try them in their absence and then how could a sentence ever be imposed?’ pondered the Vogt of Reval. ‘There are so many of them.’

And in the meanwhile, the young, haughty and well-turned out Knights of Westphalia forced their way to the front of the procession, behind shields with their coat of arms displayed on them.

‘We shall beat the burghers of Reval!’ sang the young Free Imperial Knights of Westphalia in full voice. ‘We shall beat them so hard that blood will flow in the street.’

The knights sang in full voice and their steeds accompanied their riders by shaking their heads in all directions.

And it shall be thus. And it shall be thus.

The Vogt of Reval did another count, now including the Knights of Westphalia, and counted that there were more of them than the apostles. There were twice as many.  And even more.

‘Hand back Friedrich von de Borch to Loringhoven, the Commander of the Castle!!! The Vogt of Reval will not try a Free Knight of Westphalia!!!’

And it suddenly dawned on the Vogt that he had forgotten… the most important thing: that the noble was not just a relative of the Master, he was also a Free Imperial Knight of Westphalia!

And that was considerably more dangerous.

The Knights of the Order were restrained by the laws of the Order and their unwillingness to enter into an argument with the Vogt of Reval while the Free Imperial Knights of Westphalia are able to enter into an argument with whomsoever they please.

They are free men. One day they can be in Reval, the second day – in Riga.

There are amongst them even some who long ago have been declared wrongdoers.

Although to be declared a wrongdoer in Livonia was a simple matter: all one had to do was not to attend a court hearing just once when accused of a crime three time is a row in three cases.

The Vogt was angry at God that this time He was not on the side of the Vogt of Reval but on that of the Knights of Westphalia.

And they more often use their swords than pray.

Some of them do not even believe in God at all.

Reval is full of godless Free Imperial Knights of Westphalia: they are waiting for the princesses to arrive.

For the last ten days they have been drinking in the taverns in Reval and arguing over prices with the traders in the market.

In the town of Reval, they say, the prices are too high!

They have been laying their hands on the wives and daughters of the burghers! Out of boredom.

One of them even vomited on the daughter of the Vogt of Reval! All over her back!

The old Vogt was angry with God and the young, merry Free Imperial Knights, hungry for love and battle, ready to show what they were made of to Reval and Riga and even Pskov.

At the tail end of the procession stood the stern Knights of the Order forming an iron wall.

In the front, the insolent, drunk Free Imperial Knights of Westphalia were singing.

The men of the Commander of the Castle Loringhoven seemed as one: all of them with their visors lowered and with identical shields displaying the cross. On entering the Order, one has to give up one’s coat of arms.

This is required by their statutes.

Whereas the Free Westphalian Killers, who although they had not yet killed anyone were ready to do so at any moment – were sitting on their steeds with their visors raised. Some in the front had no helmet on at all.

So that the burghers of Reval could take note of their proud faces.

At the front of them all there was Nicolaus von Korff the Handsome behind a shield with a golden lily displayed on it.

Behind him – Justus Hoyningen-Huene with a broken nose and gold-plated half-armour covering his chest, behind a black shield with three round white rings: two at the top and one at the bottom.

Next to him was Keyserlingk the Just with a green palm on his silver shield.

The Knights of the Order were as one piece of iron. And without any palms.

But the Knights of the Order are not envious of the Free Imperial Knights of Westphalia. Modesty and temperance come from God, and all kinds of splendour – from the devil!

‘We shall soon put red caps on you!’, cried out Nikolaus von Korff the Handsome to the burghers, pulling out his sword.

The male burghers of Reval in the procession were already wearing red caps but on seeing von Korff’s sword immediately understood what would happen.

The steeds of the Free Imperial Knights of Westphalia were pushing their way through the crowd even though there was not even enough room anywhere there for a child to place its foot. The steeds, however, put their feet wherever they could: on a face, on a chest, on hands and on codpieces, crushing them as if they were pumpkins.

The crowd itself could not make a passage for them to pass – the street happened to be too narrow.

Someone threw a stone at von Korff the Handsome. One that was being saved for Friedrich the Spaniard.

The intention was to show that von Korff the Handsome and all the Westphalian Knights were unjust.

In the biblical sense.

And von Korff the Handsome raised his sword.

And the Free Imperial Knights of Westphalia raised their swords.

And they smote the burghers of Reval not only to save Friedrich the Spaniard, a Free Imperial Knight of Westphalia, from death but more probably to show those burghers what a knight is made of.

What the Free Imperial Knights of Westphalia are made of.

So that Reval would remember this for centuries.

The burghers had nowhere to run to: behind them stood the iron wall of Loringhoven and the Knights of the Order.

Even though they did not draw their swords.

Finally, they even opened up a small gap.

The crowd passed through the Knights of the Order but too slowly. Von Korff the Handsome was the first to reach Friedrich and together with Keyserlingk lifted him up onto a steed.

And suddenly a shout was heard.

‘The Greek princesses! The ship bringing the Greek princesses has arrived!

This really was Heaven’s providence. Those princesses.

They had sailed for months from Lübeck and arrived at the very moment when the burghers of Reval needed to be rescued.

‘The Greek princesses have arrived! The Greek princesses have arrived!’ the crowd shouted.

Loringhoven’s knights pulled back. The Free Imperial Knights of Westphalia stopped.

The town’s burghers ran in whatever direction they could.

Some to look at the princesses, some further away from all that misfortune, leaving dozens of people trampled and injured on the roadway.

The person who had first shouted ‘The Greek princesses! The ship bringing the Greek princesses has arrived!’ was Hildebrand, a burgher of the town of Reval and the faithful secretary of Bernhard von der Borch, the Master of the Livonian Order.

The street leading to the north gates of the city began to give off a stench only in the afternoon.

When the blood had already begun to clot.








THE GREEK PRINCESSES

The princesses of the fallen Greek empire arrived three days later.

No one up to then in Reval or anywhere else in Livonia had seen any princesses, and for that reason they all came running to stare at them. There was a tightly packed crowd on the pier: with some attempting to knock others down in order to get closer to the princesses.

After all, what do they see here in Reval every day? Nothing.

Only the daughters of merchants in the market and baronesses – in church.

But the first thing the open-mouthed burghers of Reval, and the apprehensive Knights of the Order and the restless Free Imperial Knights of Westphalia saw was a lean bearded man wearing a monk’s habit come down off the ship.

The man was carrying a wooden cross.

Of the Western Church and not of the Eastern Orthodox one!

And everyone, on seeing the cross of the Western church, quietened down. The Greek princess had come with the cross of the Western church!

A person dressed in red, with golden flowers, followed the monk with the cross.

A princess!!!

No, that was not a princess but a youth. Younger than most of the knights.

Somewhat.

His tight hose was gold in colour, and his blood-red velvet garb with golden flowers left one in no doubt… 

‘A peacock,’ said von Korff the Handsome.

Friedrich the Spaniard raising himself up in the saddle was trying so hard to make out the fate that awaited him that he did not even hear the words.

The youth looked haughtily down on the crowd that had collected. He looked even more beautiful than St. George. And suddenly a sonorous voice was heard from heaven.

Not from heaven but from the ship.

‘Prince Andreas Palaiologos!’

The brother of the princesses?

Then they showed themselves.

‘Princess Zoe Palaiologina[2]!’ announced the hard-to-be-seen master of ceremonies.

There was a ripple of movement in the crowd, shouts were heard.

From those being squeezed.

Everyone was pushing to see, the smaller ones went under the bellies of the steeds of the Knights of the Order, and the steeds kicked out at them with their hooves.

‘There’s the younger one! The one promised to the Russian tsar!’ people were explaining to one another and pointing.

The Knights of the Order were closest and could best make out the princess promised to the tsar.

She had large eyes, she was tall, straight, and dressed in azure-blue clothes.

‘Like the Virgin Mary,’ said von Korff the Handsome and even had to close his eyes because of her beauty.

All the Westphalian Knights nearby agreed: she really is beautiful. And her beauty was really like that of the Holy Virgin Mary, the Redeemer of Sins.

‘Princess Helena Palaiologina!’ announced the master of ceremonies.

To Friedrich it seemed that the princess that had been promised to him resembled Death.

She was dressed in a black velvet dress and a heavy, black velvet outer garment.

Supposedly a widow. A poisoner?

After all, that was what she was.

Von Korff stayed silent. He did not even know whom she could be compared to. She did not look either like the Holy Virgin Mary or Eve the sinner.

She did not smile but she most probably had teeth, a matter over which both Friedrich the Spaniard and von Korff the Handsome were so much concerned.

Besides the prince and the princesses, the Tsar’s envoy had also come on the ship.

He had cunning, dark, slanted eyes.

‘A fox,’ said von Korff the Handsome and, as it turned out, he was completely right.

The fox’s name was Ivan Friazin and, truth be told, he was not a Russian but an Italian.

Loringhoven was told this by the God-inspired monk carrying the cross.

After he had finally taken the cross into Reval Castle and put it down.

The bearded monk’s name was Antonio Bonumbre and he was prepared – after resting for some time in Reval - to carry that cross into Russia itself.

And through it.



To the knights the princesses Zoe and Helena Palaiologina looked like two tigers.

Beautiful and frightening at the same time. Threatening, like their coat of arms: a two-headed golden eagle on a red shield. Princess Zoe was taking that Greek imperial coat of arms to Russia, whereas princess Helena was going to leave it in Livonia.

‘One of the heads represents Rome, and the other one – Constantinople,’ explained the monk Antonio Bonumbre to Loringhoven, the Commander of Reval Castle.

The monk who was carrying the cross.

The prince and the princesses had not come on their own: they came with servants, maids, protectors and cooks.

And the arrangement established by the Order in Loringhoven’s castle came to an end.

The descendants of the failed Greek Empire, accompanied by Friazin the Fox and the monk Antonio Bonumbre, completely destroyed that arrangement.

Already the following day, Princess Zoe, the one who had been promised to the Tsar of Russia, went out for a walk outside the walls of the castle.

Alone. And with her disappearance causing considerable confusion.

No less a confusion was caused in the castle by Princess Helena. After night prayers, in the quiet hours in the castle, before sleep, she played her flute made of bone, awakening in the heads and hearts of the knights of the Order all manner of inappropriate thoughts.

The Tsar’s envoy with his cunning brown eyes – Ivan Friazin, whose real name, as he himself confessed, was de la Volpe[3], won five thousand shillings playing cards against Loringhoven, the Commander of the Castle.

Five thousand shillings taken from the treasury of Reval Castle, intended for the construction of a tower. And then Loringhoven lost another five hundred when he tried to win back the money he had lost.

‘That damned Italian fox lead me on,’ complained Loringhoven the Giant to Friedrich the Spaniard.

Because even though he was caught cheating, and even though he was physically set upon, Ivan Friazin de la Volpe, the Tsar’s envoy, did not want to return those shillings.

Well, he might perhaps return half.

‘While the princess….’ complained Loringhoven, the Commander of Reval Castle, short of sleep and in agony because of tooth worm, to Friedrich the Spaniard. ‘While the princess…’

All night he poured first hot wax, then hot oil on that tooth but neither helped.

And the barber from the town of Reval was in no hurry to come.

‘Which one, which one?’ asked Friedrich the Spaniard.

‘The one promised to the Tsar,’ explained Loringhoven the Giant between howls of pain. ‘She asked me what I thought of Pythagoras.’

‘And what was your answer?’

‘I answered,’ said Loringhoven the Giant, after giving it some thought. ‘He wasn’t very brave.’

‘And who was he?’ asked Friedrich the Spaniard. ‘Who was this Pythagoras?’

‘I don’t know,’ said Loringhoven the Giant, the Commander of Reval Castle, with his hand against his cheek.

‘So why did you say he wasn’t very brave?’

‘If he had been a very brave knight or warrior…’ explained Loringhoven. ‘We would have heard of him.’

‘And the princess?’

‘She didn’t speak to me anymore,’ said Loringhoven the Giant and growled: ‘Make the barber come quicker!’

But instead of the barber, Hildebrand, the Master’s secretary, appeared.

‘Princess Zoe is complaining about the pigs,’ said Hildebrand.

‘What pigs?!’ asked Loringhoven.

He was sitting holding his cheek while the tooth worm was aggressively gnawing away at his bottom wisdom tooth, making an ever-bigger hole.

‘The ones walking around in the castle yard,’ said Hildebrand, the Master’s secretary.

‘And where should they walk?’ asked Loringhoven the Giant, not taking his hand away.

‘Princess Zoe says that in Rome and the Greek Empire pigs don’t walk around in a castle yard,’ said Hildebrand.

‘Princesses. Pigs get in their way,’ muttered Loringhoven, not taking his hand away.

‘Princess Zoe said that the castle yard smells.’

‘Of what?’ asked Loringhoven, the castle Commander.

‘Manure.’

‘I can’t smell anything,’ said Loringhoven. ‘Doesn’t it smell in Rome?’

‘She says it doesn’t.’



Zoe, the azure-blue princess, appeared to be not just very haughty but also dangerous. She appeared even more dangerous than Helen, the black princess.

Although Friedrich von der Borch was more afraid of his black princess.

More than of an enemy.

As soon as he saw her hands held together for prayer, he would withdraw and hide.

Friedrich the Spaniard was afraid of the princess and loathed the golden, puffed-up prince from the moment he saw him.

‘He looked at me as if I were some dirty creature,’ said Friedrich the Spaniard to von Korff the Handsome.

‘He doesn’t address me but just waves his hand for me to come up to him or go away,’ said Friedrich the Spaniard to von Korff the Handsome for the second time.

Friedrich the Spaniard and the prince seemed to be of the same age but Andreas Palaiologos was a prince of the Greek Empire while Friedrich the Spaniard was only some threadbare baron from a faraway province in Europe.



Loringhoven, the Commander of Reval Castle was unable to fall asleep. He was hovering in the castle yard like an old wraith with a white face and a beard reaching his belly.

Even though he had joined the Order, he had not shaved off his beard.

He was still waiting for a war.

The barber had pulled out the tooth with all of the worm the day before so that the Commander of Reval Castle could enjoy a blissful sleep, but he still unable to fall asleep.

From the remaining pain and the distress over losing the shillings.

And also because of such an influx of knights and guests there were no cabbage leaves left in the dansker tower.[4]

There was no cabbage left in the castle! But one could not tell the princesses that, could one?

And one still had to take the gifts from the Greek Empire to the Tsar. All unplanned. Up to the border with Pskov.

And there many gifts and they were heavy.

Everyone was interested.


        
‘What are those gifts for the Tsar?’ asked von Korff the Handsome.

Friedrich the Spaniard spent a lot of time talking to the castle Commander and so he knew.

‘Some old books,’ answered Friedrich the Spaniard. ‘The monk said this was all of the Library of Constantinople.’

‘The Tsar isn’t going to read them, is he?’

‘The monk says it’s a great treasure.’

Von Korff listened to Friedrich but did not believe it. Books – a treasure? And what were the other gifts?

‘A throne!  Made of elephant ivory. Even though the monk says it’s not completely made of ivory but of some kind of Lebanese tree but covered with panels made of elephant ivory. And on those panels scenes from the Bible are etched. But these are not the most important gifts. This is what the monk is saying.

‘And what are the most important ones?’

‘Faith! Princess Zoe is taking the Western faith to the Tsar of Moscow!’

That is why the Pope’s envoy, the monk Antonio Bonumbre, walks at the front of everyone holding the cross made of cedar.



After Ivan Friazin de la Volpe, the envoy of the Tsar, had recovered from his fight with Loringhoven, the Commander of Reval Castle, and returned half of the shillings to the castle treasury, he gave a completely different account of the same story.

And there was no place left at all in that story for the irksome monk Antonio Bonumbre.

‘Princess Zoe isn’t simply taking those books from Constantinople to Russia,’ related the knave Ivan Friazin. ‘She wants to rebuild the Greek Empire in Russia. That is why she is marrying the Tsar because he professes the faith of the Eastern Christians and not of the Western Christians.

But Friedrich the Spaniard was troubled by the other princess, the older one, black as a charred stick. As terrifying as Death.

And will Friedrich the Spaniard have to wed her? After Christmas?

Morose, silent, as if asleep.

‘Perhaps she’s a mute?’ asked Friedrich the Spaniard. ‘Or perhaps someone’s cut out her tongue?’

He simply wanted to know but had not yet made up his mind: was it better that she say something to him or was it better that she remain a mute.

‘She can speak and knows languages,’ said the Tsar’s envoy Ivan Friazin, in an attempt to calm Friedrich the Spaniard.

But about Prince Andreas Palaiologos even Ivan Friazin had nothing good to say.

Nor about all of the fallen Greek Empire.

‘They look down on everyone. They view others as barbarians, as wild animals, who they are free to deceive,’ said Ivan Friazin,

And this was what the rogue Ivan Friazin related without his conscience being in the least troubled after he himself had just cheated Loringhoven, the Commander of Reval Castle, as if he were a barbarian.

A guest.

‘Prince Andreas Palaiologos is the first in line for the throne and crown of the fallen Greek Empire,’ said Ivan Friazin.

That is why he was such a peacock.

‘But even if the Greek Empire had not fallen,’ said Ivan Friazin. ‘Prince Andreas himself would have caused its fall.’

 


Perhaps the ‘black’ princess promised to Friedrich had once been beautiful but she no longer was.

A forty-year old bride, when princesses and those who are not princesses marry when they have barely reached the age of twelve.

Friedrich had three jackdaws on his coat of arms, she – the two-headed eagle, he is a baron, the Master’s cousin, she a princess, true, of a fallen empire.

‘I don’t understand,’ said Loringhoven, completely having lost his bearings and unable to enjoy the taste of either wine or beer after another sleepless night. ‘Can anyone explain this to me? She’s a princess, Friedrich the Spaniard – only a baron.

At that moment he and Hildebrand, the Master’s secretary, were on their own.

‘The princess has come from Rome,’ began Hildebrand with a long explanation.

‘From Lübeck,’ said Loringhoven.

‘But the princess came to Lübeck from Rome,’ continued Hildebrand calmly. ‘And the father of the princesses and they themselves lived in Rome for a long time, and when their father died, the Roman Pope himself cared after them.’

‘The Roman Pope? Cared after them?’

‘The Roman Pope cared after them because they are princesses of the fallen Greek Empire and they could be usefully married off.’

‘To Friedrich the Spaniard?’

‘Friedrich is the cousin of the Master of the Livonian Order, and after Grunwald there was no other Order able to go on a crusade if there were to be such a need. The Pope needs the Order and the Master has a distant relative in Rome. He was the one who addressed the Roman Pope to intercede on the Master’s behalf.’

‘The Master has a distant relative in Rome who can find a princess for a poor baron?’

‘The Master had a relative in Rome who can do much,’ explained Hildebrand, the Master’s secretary.

‘Who can do much? Borch has never boasted of that.’ Loringhoven could not believe it.

The news about the Master’s relative in Rome seemed dangerous. Now Loringhoven the Giant debated with himself: should he believe Hildebrand or not? Or was this just the product of the Master’s secretary’s imagination and simply a story?

But there was no other explanation. Only that one.

How did that morose, black princess, who played the flute at night, come to be in Livonia?

Princess Zoe was promised to the Tsar because he had seen her in a portrait and fallen in love with her, lost his head and very much wanted to wed her.

But Princess Helena and Friedrich the Spaniard?

It cannot be. Loringhoven shook his aching head.

‘The Master has a relative in Rome who can do much.’ Hildebrand wanted to exaggerate Master Borch’s power in the eyes of the disobedient Loringhoven and had said too much.

And now regretted it.

He regretted it and said in a weak voice:
‘That Antonio Bonummmmbre, that monk, the one who had arrived on the ship, is a very suspicious character.’

To Loringhoven it seemed the other way round: of all the arrivals, the monk with the cross was the only one with whom one could have a reasonable conversation. Not like with the prince, the princesses or Ivan Friazin the fox.

After all, the monk Antonio Bonumbre had not tried to win the money from the Reval Castle treasury in gambling with Loringhoven.

‘I hadn’t noticed,’ said Loringhoven.

And he could not get the Master’s relative in Rome out of his mind. The one who could do much, so much.

‘Borch has a distant relative in Rome,’ said Loringhoven, not letting go of a well-gnawed bone.

‘The monk Antonio Bonumbre is interested in everything, pokes his nose into everything, and is particularly interested in how the laws of the Order are being observed in Reval,’ said Hildebrand, the Master’s secretary, leading Loringhoven down another path.

The matter of the disobedient princesses lay heavy on Loringhoven’s heart, the gifts for the Tsar were giving him a headache, and the shillings lost from the Reval Castle treasury pressed on his conscience like two heavy boulders.

Shillings intended for the construction of a tower!

He had not yet calmed down from the fight with the Italian Ivan Friazin, and now suddenly some sort of Papal spy had appeared on the scene!

In his castle!

How much more did Loringhoven and Reval Castle have to endure for the sake of peace with Moscow?

And the calamities did not end there.

Friedrich the Spaniard together with von Korff the Handsome stirred up all the Free Imperial Knights of Westphalia to leave the castle with evening approaching.

And go into Reval!

And to show those burghers once more that Reval did not belong to them!

The Free Imperial Knights of Westphalia rode out to run amok in Reval, while the knights of the Order had to observe the laws of the Order: they went to pray and then sleep on their wooden beds, albeit laid out on a heated floor.

Even though the knights of the Order were the same age as the Free Imperial Knights of Westphalia.

And they trained harder than the Free Imperial Knights of Westphalia and, exactly like the Free Imperial Knights of Westphalia, they have nowhere to show their mastery.

Or to use their mastery, or anywhere to expend their energy. Because they had just recently taken the damned vows of chastity.

Loringhoven was somewhat daunted by this.

He was afraid that the twelve knights of the castle might not be able to resist temptation.

Tomorrow he would have to give them the order to train more and to pray more.

Both day and night.

And let at least half of them be on duty every night. After all, there are princesses in the castle.

It was good that they were fasting, thought Loringhoven the Giant.

As soon as the knights eat their fill of fatty meat, lustful thoughts and dreams immediately begin to enter their heads.



The Free Imperial Knights of Westphalia returned only the next morning.

Friedrich the Spaniard claimed that there were many more injured amongst the burghers of Riga than amongst the Knights of Westphalia, of whom only three were injured.

Justus Hoyningen-Huene, the one with the broken nose, was injured so badly that even if he does not die tonight, he really would not be able to accompany Princess Zoe Palaiologina to the border with Pskov.
But later the truth became clear: more than three of the Knights of Westphalia were injured and there was not enough space for all the injured in the castle hospital.

Loringhoven, the Commander of Reval Castle, would stop and listen to see if the Vogt of Reval and his men were not trying to make their way into the castle, if they were not demanding reparation for the damage done to the town and the law, and if there was a clash of swords through which a commanding voice could be heard in the castle yard.

Loringhoven’s head ached from all the thinking he was doing.

And there was still the matter of the cabbage leaves for the dansker. There was no more cabbage in the castle!

And how were they to transport the Library of Constantinople to the border with Pskov? And there was also that Antonio Bonumbre.

Hildebrand says he is suspicious.

‘He’s poking his red nose into everything. Sniffing things out. Are they keeping to the fast in the castle? Poking about to see if the vows of chastity are being observed, if the vows of poverty are being observed, walking around and listening during the hours of silence. In the hope of hearing something? He went into the hospital, touching the knights’ clothes to find out what they’re wearing, what they’re covering themselves with in bed, looking to see what possessions they have,’ said Hildebrand. ‘This Bonumbre is suspicious. He might be a spy or an inspector for Rome.’

As if the princesses were not enough, in their midst there is also a spy, a spy! And one they could not kill or imprison. Or expel.

‘We need to send them on their way as quickly as possible,’ said Loringhoven, the Commander of Reval Castle.

‘And the worst thing is,’ said Hildebrand. ‘And the worst thing is… it seems to me… there will be no peace with the Russians… there will be no peace.’

‘No peace???’ said Loringhoven in amazement.

The new arrivals had almost destroyed his castle… All of that was in the cause of peace, and now there will not be any peace? No peace?

‘There will be no peace, even if the Master’s cousin Friedrich von der Borch weds the Greek princess Helena Palaiologina. And even if there is peace, it will last only a short while.’

Loringhoven looked at Hildebrand as if he were a prophet, as if he were a prophet… There will be no peace!

‘Why do you think that?’ asked Loringhoven the Giant, unable to control the joy and outrage he felt at one and the same time.

‘I have noticed one thing…’ said Hildebrand. ‘One small thing.’

‘What? What small thing?’ asked Loringhoven the Giant, in a hurry to find out everything. And he bent down so close to Hildebrand it seemed as if he was preparing to swallow him.

 

‘I have not heard the princesses speaking,’ said Hildebrand.

‘Speaking how?’

‘Speaking to one another.’

‘But Friedrich the Spaniard is going to marry?’ asked Loringhoven.

He wanted to make sure that his efforts and those of the castle knights had had some purpose.

‘Friedrich will marry,’ Hildebrand calmed Loringhoven down and he was right.

Both as regards the marriage and the princesses.

And as regards the fact that there would be no peace with Moscow. Or Pskov.

But as regards the monk Antonio Bonumbre, the Master’s secretary was mistaken.

He did not foresee everything.

 



From Undinė Radzevičiūtė’s novel Blue Blood (Vilnius: Lithuanian Writers’ Union Publishing House, 2017), p. 94-116.

 

1. Translator’s note. The German name, derived from the Latin term [ad]vocātus, referred to the official who exerted guardianship and secular justice over the town of Reval but was under the Commander of Reval Castle.
2. Translator’s note. Zoe Palaiologina (Greek Ζωή Παλαιολογίνα; 1440/1449-1503), a descendant of the Byzantine emperors, later changed her name to Sophia Palaiologina. She was to become the wife of the Grand Prince of Moscow Ivan III.
3. Translator‘s note. The Italian word volpe means ‘fox’.
4. Translator’s note. A dansker tower was linked to a castle by a bridge with a covered or enclosed walkway and used as a toilet facility.

 

Translated from Lithuanian by Romas Kinka

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