The Lyme Maze Game

Daedalus escapes the maze


Universal Workshop



Why do I prefer to call the place just Lyme? Lyme it was once called and is still called half the time. Lyme Regis (“king's Lyme”) had an august ring, until I learned which king it was that granted the town its charter in 1284: Edward I, “Longshanks” (1272-1307), conventionally considered “strong” or “great” like all successful warlords. He was one of the nastiest of history's many tyrants.
     It was he who started the English punishment of hanging, drawing, and quartering. Wales (the mountainous remnant into which the original Britons had been driven) had managed to become a united principality under Llewelyn ap Gruffydd. Edward put an end to that with a massive invasion by land and sea, reorganized the ancient little country on English lines, built a ring of huge castles to hold it down, carried away its sacred relics, stole the title “Prince of Wales” for his son, and ruthlessly crushed further rebellion. When in 1283 Daffydd (David III), younger brother of the dead Llewelyn, was captured and taken to Shrewsbury, he was sentenced to be dragged by horses to the scaffold (as a “traitor”), hanged alive (for having killed some of his enemies), have his bowels burned out (for the “sacrilege” of attacking at Easter) and his body hacked into four pieces (for plotting against “his” king). If I were Welsh that would be enough to make me a Welsh Nationalist. Edward's ghastly invention was used on other “traitors,” such as, a century later, John Ball the preacher of freedom (executed for inspiring the Peasants' Revolt of 1381), up to Guy Fawkes in 1606, after which a commission tasked with finding any yet more painful way of inflicting death concluded that there was none.
     And the Scots: relations with them had been friendly for more than a century, so in 1296 Edward used a flimsy pretext to start the series of savage wars that ravaged Scotland and the borders for two and a half centuries. One incident: he refused to accept the surrender of Stirling Castle because he wanted to try out a new weapon, a huge trebuchet or catapult called Ludgar the War Wolf; it reduced the castle and the Scots inside it to powder. And the Jews: having systematically robbed them of such wealth as they still had, in order to finance his wars, Edward in 1290 expelled them all. (England remained Judenrein, “Jew-clean,” as the Nazis would have called it, until Oliver Cromwell allowed them back in 1656.)
     A less important gripe about Edward: why is he the First? He should be the Fourth, since there had been three Saxon kings of the name (spelt at the time Eadweard): Edward the Elder (899-924 — king of Wessex, but it was Wessex that grew into the kingdom of England), St. Edward the Martyr (975-978), and St. Edward the Confessor (1042-1066). For some reason the kings of “England” are treated as starting only with the 1066 invasion from France. Kings before then spoke (Old) English; from then on they, including Edward, were French-speakers, until the accession of Henry IV in 1399.

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