When Christopher Lee made a Heavy Metal Opera about Charlemagne
Sir Christopher Lee is perhaps one of the most interesting men in the world. He was former WWII intelligence officer who worked with the SAS, master fencer, and legendary actor whose famous roles include Dracula, Count Dooku, Lord Saruman, and James Bond villain Francisco Scaramanga. Perhaps for someone like Lee, it is not unusual that in his late 80’s and early 90’s he would make a series of heavy metal albums, after all, he was a singer who had a background in opera and had worked with some metal bands in the past. But a heavy metal opera about the Medieval Frankish King and Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne?
In 2010 Lee released the album Charlemagne: By the Sword and the Cross, a Symphonic Metal Opera based on the life of Charlemagne. The album included Lee himself, who played Charlemagne, as well as a number of guest singers and musicians who played roles such as Pepin the Short and Pope Hadrian. Lyrics were composed by Marie-Clarie Calvet while music was composed by Marco Sabiu. The album was released on March 15th, 2010. For his work on the album, Lee received the Spirit of Metal Award from the 2010 Metal Golden Hammer Gods Award, the award being presented by Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi. In 2013 Christopher Lee released a sequel album called, Charlemagne: Omens of Death, which featured music arranged by Judas Priest’s Richie Faulkner and Guatamalan guitar virtuoso Hedras Ramos.
Charlemagne (Karl der Große or Karolus Magnus) –also know as the Emperor with the Flowery or Flowing Beard because of his long and white beard– was the King of the Franks, the King of Italy, and from 800 the first emperor in western Europe since the collapse of the Western Roman Empire three centuries earlier. He was born in modern day Belgium, the son of the Frankish king Pepin the Short. When Pepin died in 768, his kingdom was divided between his two sons and for three years Charlemagne ruled with his younger brother Carloman. When Carloman died suddenly in 771, Charlemagne became sole ruler. He spent the early part of his reign on several military campaigns to expand his kingdom. He invaded Saxony in 772 and eventually achieved its total conquest and conversion to Christianity. He also extended his dominance to the south, conquering the kingdom of the Lombards in northern Italy. In 778, he invaded northern Spain, then controlled by the Moors. Between 780 and 800, Charlemagne added Bohemia to his empire and subdued the Avars in the middle Danube basin to form a buffer state for the eastern border of his empire. In 800 a rebellion against Pope Leo III began. Charlemagne went to his aid in Rome and defeated the rebellion. As a token of thanks, Leo crowned Charlemagne on Christmas Day that year, declaring him emperor of the Romans. Although this did not give Charlemagne any new powers, it legitimised his rule over his Italian territories and attempted to revive the imperial tradition of the western Roman emperor. The immense territories which Charlemagne controlled became known as the Carolingian empire. Charlemagne introduced administrative reforms throughout the lands he controlled, establishing key representatives in each region and holding a general assembly each year at his court at Aachen. He standardised weights, measures and customs dues, which helped improve commerce and initiated important legal reforms. He also attempted to consolidate Christianity throughout his vast empire. He persuaded many eminent scholars to come to his court and established a new library of Christian and classical works. Charlemagne died in 814. His successors lacked his vision and authority, and his empire did not long outlive him.
More metallic wings?! Please?? I am obsessed. Also what is the "wing hierarchy" like which colors are supposedly ment to pair with each other?
The supposed best pairings are:
Platinum, silver, white gold go together.
Yellow gold, bronze, rose gold go together.
There really is no scientific basis for this except that as single people get older and start to worry about being alone forever, they tend to search for what is familiar. If I have bronze wings I will probably also look for bronze or similar colors because I see it everyday and I am unconsciously more comfortable with it. And other people do it too.
And people see this and think “Ah, yes, that makes sense that cool tones and warm tones stick together” despite the fact that there are tons of perfectly happy silvers dating bronze, or various golds dating each other, or yellow golds dating platinums. Tony’s a little older than most single people (barring Pepper, his relationships rarely lasted longer than a couple months) and as much as he likes to think that it’s all nonsense, he can’t help but wonder if he should just join one of those groups whose metallic feathers never come in and try his hand with one of them. He knows that he shouldn’t give up hope finding someone himself, but… it’s hard.
Basilique Saint-Denis. France. Photo by Amber Maitrejean
The north rose window of the Basilica of Saint Denis, the royal necropolis of all but three French kings and queens, from the 6th century onwards. The basilica stands on the site of a Gallo-Roman cemetery with the tomb of Saint Denis, thought to have been the first Bishop of Paris, who was martyred in 250 AD. This place of pilgrimage was built in the 5th century. Dagobert I was a benefactor to it in the 7th century, and Pepin the Short was crowned king here in 754. It became one of the most powerful Benedictine abbeys in the Middle Ages. The Basilica is also the first major landmark structure built almost entirely in the Gothic style.
I finally looked up and read about Charlemagne, and I’m here to tell you, the writers know what they’re doing with their symbolism. Let me break it down for you:
Pepin the Short, King of the Franks (Kenneth DiLaurentis) m. Bertrada of Laon, Queen of the Franks (Jessica DiLaurentis)
they are the parents of Charlemagne, or Charles the Great, King of the Franks (Charles DiLaurentis) Carolman, short lived joint King of the Franks (Jason DiLaurentis) Gisela, Abess at Chelles Abbey, basically Head Nun (Alison DiLaurentis)
Bertrada’s nickname “Bertha Broadfoot”
dates back to the 13th century; it is unclear why the nickname was ever given. However, many myths and legends exist in Europe and Asia in which clubfooted people are described as the link between the world of the living and the spirit world.
(In hindsight, this makes sense in relation to PLL, as it was Jessica who buried Alison alive, and Grunwald who pulled her out)
After Pepin’s death in 768, Bertrada lost her title as Queen of the Franks. Charlemagne and Carloman were “elevated to kingship”, and so inherited the two halves of Pepin’s kingdom jointly.
Pepin had been trying to build an empire at his death. One historian notes,
“…to build a kingdom from an aggregation of small states was itself no great difficulty…but to keep the state intact after it had been formed was a colossal task…each of the minor states…had its little sovereign…who…gave itself chiefly to…plotting, pillaging and fighting…”
(I think this is a good illustration of what we have seen on the show; Charles has come into major power in a big way and is running the game as King. The small states and it’s major players include:
-The Liars, and their lovers, consisting of Hanna Marin/Caleb Rivers, Aria Montgomery/Ezra Fitz, Emily Fields/Paige McCullers, Spencer Hastings/Toby Cavanaugh
-Mona Vanderwaal’s A Team, and its revolving door of members, including Lucas Gottesman, Toby Cavanaugh, Spencer Hastings, potentially Darren Wilden, potentially CeCe Drake, potentially Jason DiLaurentis, potentially Melissa Hastings
-Jenna Marshall, and her revolving door of minions, including Sidney Driscoll, Shana Fring, Nigel Wright, Noel Kahn, Garrett Reynolds
-Alison DiLaurentis, and her revolving door of aids/minions, including Gabriel Holbrook, Cyrus Petrillo, Noel Kahn, Ezra Fitz, Shana Fring, CeCe Drake, the Liars, potentially Darren Wilden
-Melissa Hastings, and anyone she can get help/answers from, including Jenna Marshall, Shana Fring, CeCe Drake, Garrett Reynolds, Ian Thomas, Darren Wilden, Mona Vanderwaal, Spencer Hastings
-Ezra Fitz, and his revolving door of paid informants, including Lucas Gottesman, Mona Vanderwaal, CeCe Drake, Garrett Reynolds
each major player with an agenda, each minor player playing different sides at different times for different reasons, all clashing/cooperating with each other)
It is commonly known that Charlemagne and Carolman disliked each other. Historians suggest that each considered himself rightful sole heir of their father; Charlemagne as the elder child, Carolman as the legitimate child (Charlemagne is sometimes claimed to have been a bastard; some historians accept this, some disagree)
Bertrada stayed at the court and often tried to stop arguments between the boys; Historians credit her support for her elder son Charlemagne over Carolman, and her diplomatic skills, for Charlemagne’s early success. Although her influence over Charlemagne may have diminished in time, she lived at his court until Carloman’s sudden death in 771 under unexplained circumstances, when she retired and moved to Northern France, where Charlemagne had set aside a royal house for her. When she died, Charlemagne buried her near his father.
(To me, this sounds a lot like Alison’s Halloween story of the twin girls fighting over their dolls; they didn’t like each other and they were always fighting. Perhaps this was a metaphor for Charles and Jason? Perhaps they would fight over baby Alison?
Another suggestion from this is that Jessica spent most of her time tending to Charles rather than Jason, which I think has been pretty evident. I think the “diplomatic skills” can be translated here as all of the work Jessica put into keeping Charles alive, yet secret; being on the Radley Board of Trustees, paying off Wilden about Marion’s suicide, covering up Alison’s murder and protecting Charles, attempting to pin it on Spencer Hastings, faking Charles’ suicide at Radley and hiding him away…all of it, for Charles.
The bit about Carolman’s death could be foreshadowing of Jason’s death, or it could metaphorically refer back to Alison’s death, which I think is the most likely.
The hints at a bastard son + Charles burying Jessica: Some of you have already pointed out that the timing might not match up, about when Jessica gave birth to Charles, started her affair with Peter, and later gave birth to Jason as a result. I think these 2 facts support that claim. If Charles killed Jessica with Peter’s medication and buried her in the Hastings backyard, perhaps this is a major clue that Charles is actually the bastard and not Jason)
Irene of Athens (or, Mona Vanderwaal) Before Charlemagne was officially crowned by the Pope, Irene was basically Empress of Rome (after having her son brutally killed to gain the position), at Constantinople, the Roman Capitol (though she ruled through the Byzantine Empire, and therefore was not Christian.) That is, she was technically occupying the imperial throne, but Charlemagne and the Pope did not recognize her as having any legitimate claim to it; Charlemagne believed her incapable of governing. As far as Western Europe was concerned, the Throne of the Emperors was vacant. Irene’s claim to it was merely proof of the degradation into which the so-called Roman Empire had fallen. When Charlemagne was officially crowned Emperor of the Romans, this effectively nullified any legitimacy of Empress Irene.
Charlemagne’s first move after coronation was to take steps toward securing the Constantinopolitan throne by sending envoys of marriage to Irene; she reacted somewhat favorably to them, and initially endeavored to negotiate the marriage. For whatever reason, this didn’t work out, and Irene was exiled to Lesbos, where she was forced to support herself by spinning wool, until she died the following year.
(Okay, so this could suggest a few things: Mona was originally A, which we know to be true. It’s possible she had a hand in Alison’s attempted murder and/or Bethany’s actual murder.
Charlemagne not recognizing Irene as having any legitimate claim to the throne reminded me of a conversation between Mona and Ezra in 4x15, where Ezra asked her, “Do you really think you’re entitled to that much revenge?” Not that Ezra is Charles, but perhaps Charles thinks of Mona as silly compared to himself.
I think Charlemagne and Irene’s attempt to negotiate a marriage parallels with Marlene King’s statement about Mona and Charles playing “A” together for a little while, before Mona basically got alienated and was demoted to the same level as the Liars, the night of the lodge fire. Funnily enough, Mona “dies” in 5x12.)
Last but not least, Gisella (or, Alison DiLaurentis)
Gisela had been dedicated to religion since her childhood. She became a nun at Chelles Abbey (a French monastery for women), where she was eventually made Abbess. As Abbess, Gisela oversaw one of the most prolific nuns’ scriptoria (a place for writing) active in the 8th and 9th centuries.
During her Abbacy, Gisela worked to broaden the scope of Chelles and effectively shaped the monastery into a political hub where monarchs and aristocrats came to worship. One Historian calls it the “centre of the monarchic cult”, indicating a unique prominence for the abbey and firm royal connections. Political contacts met there and information was collected from across the kingdom.
According to Historians, she had good relations with her brother Charlemagne, who “treated her with the same respect which he showed his mother.”
(Okay so we know Alison has never really been a saint, but from what we’ve been finding out about her upbringing, it seems as though she was originally an innocent person, and is probably a good person deep down.
I thought the bit about the scriptoria was interesting, seeing as how Ezra developed an entire studio apartments’ worth of writing and information, all centered around Alison.
About the political hub, I think that’s a good description of Alison herself; she is the hub, still full of information about what’s happened to her that she hasn’t shared yet.
and lastly, about Charlemagne’s feelings towards her: If Charles has a similar relationship with Alison as he did with Jessica, I think it’s a love/hate relationship like Marlene has hinted towards. He may want to protect her but he’s also unhealthily obsessed with her. He may love her in some twisted way, but he could also get violent with her. This probably applies to both past and present; if Charles has indeed tried to hurt/kill Alison before, it will happen again.
So, if this one clue ended up foreshadowing so much, I really think you guys need to make sure your theories are based off of something similar, because that’s how we will actually figure the story out. It turns out they don’t put film/novel/character references all over the show for no reason!