I asked Alison to go to William X of Anjou and find out why he wanted to go to Compostela.
Alison: I can sense that William is longing to clear his head. It seems as though everyday life and business matters encroach on his attention so much and he has this longing for peace and for – it looks like a horizon with light on that horizon. A feeling of wanting to get away from it all. A feeling of a person who needs a good holiday. He knows he has to treat his responsibilities properly and he’s very much willing to leave everything in good order. He knows this is something he has to do for himself. It’s nothing to do with anyone else or their call on his attention. He wants to go to Compostela because he believes he can get there in time. He feels quite sick down on the left side of his stomach. He’s poorly then? I think he probably is. He doesn’t let it encroach on his normal everyday life. He can switch off from it. The emotion there is that he needs to make peace with his God and he can only do that in a place of peace away from the things that have aggravated him or caused problems in his past, or that would distract him from making his peace. There is also the element of pilgrimage being like the journey of Christ to the cross. The stripping away of everything that wasn’t needed so that he can enter heaven as a simple individual rather than the camel in the bible story. He wants Jesus to accept him and the crossover between Jesus and God is very close. It’s almost the same thing to him. It’s a matter of principle as well as emotion and he sees it as a logical thing. While he can do it, he will do it. When I say it’s a logical thing, it’s something about the academic side, the scriptures. Re his illness. It doesn’t bother him all the time, although he knows there is no real cure for it. The course of the illness is generally known; it’s not an obscure thing. He doesn’t want his daughters to see him unwell. He wants them to remember him as well and happy.
Does he think Compostela might effect a cure for him? There’s a minor possibility, but when I pressed that home, I can only see him coming half way back, I can’t see him coming the whole way back, so I think he has the strong, underlying belief that there’s no way. His main feeling is that he needs to cleanse his soul in order to become acceptable to God. He thinks that even in the place where he is, if he was to attempt cleansing his soul through the religious people that are there, it would be partial. They would ere on his side. They wouldn’t be firm enough, and he takes it very seriously. He feels that he’s left everything as it should be. He’s done all he can do, and even if he stays at home, it won’t make a difference because it will all end that way anyway.
So now go to William X saying goodbye to his daughters.
This is the hardest thing he’s ever done. His whole face has gone rigid. He’s having to hold back the tears and it makes him seem a little aloof. He’s promising to bring back gifts. He’s telling them to be good while he’s away and he’s saying to Alienor that he’s trusting her with the reins of the kingdom – similar to the reins of a horse. He finds it really hard because she’s so young and she shouldn’t have to be left in that position at such a young age. The feeling he gets is like a dagger in his solar plexus. It’s a real pain because it’s something he can’t do anything about. I just saw him with Petronella. Petronella was on a little black pony with a really bright green cloth on its back and he was holding her as he walked along. They’ve gone part of the way along the journey with him. He says ‘You can always say you have walked part of the pilgrimage route of St. James. But now I must go on. It’s time for you to return.’ And he stands and watches them ride back. It’s really hard for him to watch them go off into the distance.
And Alienor’s POV? She feels quite angry at him. This is before they set off. This is still at home. She is thinking ‘Why is he going? I don’t want him to go. She is thinking of all the different ways she could make this turn out, all the ways she could make him stay. The things she could give him to make him want to stay. Why is he going to go and leave them all alone? It’s not fair. She’s become taciturn and her mouth is quite tight. If she goes below the anger, she gets to that love underneath and finds it very upsetting. And then there’s the duty of having to be there and hold the fort. She loves her dad deeply. She doesn’t fully understand why he has to go. I don’t think she realises his medical situation fully and she thinks if he needs spiritual enlightenment, why can’t he work on it at home? Why can’t I go with him? Then she realises that Petronella couldn’t go and someone has to stay at home to look after her. When the moment of turning around comes, she acts cold because she is angry. She is very stiff-backed and rides back in the frame of mind of doing her duty which she has to do. She takes advantage a little bit when she’s at home – of being in charge and having things how she likes them, especially when it comes to food and drink.
So what’s her favourite food then? It’s like a crystalised fruit. It’s round, reddish, as if it’s preserved. There are other shapes around, not just this one. There’s a whole plate of them of different kinds. Yes. Preserved fruit.