Monthly Archives: January 2022

An update on Nell Gwynn – “Protestant Whore”

 Nell Gwynn, an English actress and “mistress of King Charles II of England.”  

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A nice lady from Iowa recently asked me, “What is voter suppression?”

I hemmed and hawed a bit, mostly because I figured most voter suppression is aimed at black voters. However, there aren’t many black people in Iowa,* so I had to come up with an answer that was “case specific.” That is, I had to frame it in a way that made sense to someone with her “purer” mindset. That is, to someone not that familiar with “diversity.” Which turned out to be way more complicated and time-consuming than I thought.

So in the meantime I offer up this reprise of “Nell Gwynn, Protestant Whore.”

That idea came from a post I did in March 2015, “When adultery was proof of ‘loyalty.” I based the original post on one of  Harry Golden‘s short pieces in his book Only in America. Harry’s column “dealt with the English Civil War, the execution of King Charles I, the Puritan Regime under Oliver Cromwell, and the Restoration of Charles II.” That is, Charles II of England.

Oliver Cromwell by Samuel Cooper.jpg

Briefly, England’s Puritans under Oliver Cromwell – seen at left – executed Charles II’s father (Charles I) in 1649. Son Charles fled to a long exile in France, and 11 years later – after Cromwell died – the English people were heartily sick of Cromwell’s Puritan regime. They welcomed back Charles II with “tumultuous acclaim.”

That is, the Puritan Regime under Oliver Cromwell had “imposed a very strict moral code upon the people.” One result: People having too much fun – or any – ended up “reported by friends, neighbors, and their own children.” (Basically, for dancing, play-acting, kissing on the Sabbath…  In short, “gaiety of any kind” was severely punished.)

Then Charles II got restored to the throne, and naturally there was some lingering concern. The new administration was concerned about people who weren’t loyal to the new king, because – after all – such people had executed the new king’s father. So in the era that followed, the best way to prove loyalty was “to have fun.” To enjoy yourself, and if you really wanted to prove to the new world order that you were “not now and never have been” a member of the Puritan Party, committing adultery was the most convenient way to prove it. (Said Harry:)

If a man and a woman were on a journey and they suspected the coachman of being a Government agent, they went to all sorts of extremes to prove their “loyalty” and throw the fellow off… And so when the coachman peeked, and saw what was going on back there, he shrugged his shoulders; “Those people are all right, they ain’t no Puritans.

In other words, after the Restoration of Charles II, “there was a bit of turnabout is fair play.”

One estimate said Charles II had 14 Mistresses, by whom he fathered 11 children. Nell Gwynn was but one, but the only faithful one. According to the site below, Gwynn “met Charles when she was just 17 and was faithful to him not just until his death, but afterward too.”

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There’s more detail in the original post, but in reviewing it I saw that – among other things – I had to upgrade the lead picture. That led me to Scandalous Facts About Nell Gwyn, England’s Royal Mistress, which led me to a story about how she got her nickname.

It seems that in 1681, Gwynn was passing through Oxford in a stylish coach. An anti-Catholic mob “besieged” the coach, mistaking her “for a Catholic rival in the king’s bed.” They started screaming at “the Catholic whore,” at which point Gwyn “popped her head out of the carriage window and assured the mob, ‘Good people, you are mistaken; I am the Protestant whore!'” Whereupon the mob cheered – “lustily?” – and let Gwynn “carry on her way.”

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I did an earlier update in March 2016, “The Protestant Whore,” and other posts from last March. (2015.) That made it March 2016, just about the time Donald Trump was solidifying his hold on Republican voters. So in March 2016, I thought maybe my “adultery – loyalty” post was a bit prescient. As in looking back to 1649, when “a bunch of radical conservatives took over the government, shook things up, and made every Englishman’s life miserable.

Which naturally gave rise to a whole lot of quasi-religious hypocrisy:

One may easily see how desire for office or promotion led to hypocrisy. If sour looks, upturned eyes, nasal twang, speech garnished with Old Testament texts, were means to favor, there were others who could assume them besides those naturally afflicted with such habits.

Back in March 2016 I asked, “Does any of this sound familiar?”  And in closing I noted one of Harry Golden’s main points, that history repeats itself in cycles. Which led to the question:

“Which cycle are we in now??”

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Joseph N. Welch (at left) tries to figure out a way to escape McCarthyism…”

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The upper image is courtesy Nell Gwynne – Image Results

Re: Black people in Iowa. According to Iowa Population demographics 2020, 2019, African-Americans make up two percent of Iowa’s population. (Which is 91% white, with “Hispanic or Latino” as the second-largest racial group.) Compare that with Georgia – where I’ve lived for 10 years now – which has a black population of 32.6 percent. (While “Non-Hispanic Whites” make up only 50.1 percent of the population – a bare majority – compared to Iowa’s 91 percent white population.)

Re: Number of “kingly” mistresses. According to the link in the main text, the record for most mistresses goes to King Henry I, who had twenty-two. And the site Henry I of England – Wikipedia listed nine illegitimate sons and 15 possible illegitimate daughters.

The “hypocrisy – sour looks” quote comes from the book by Winston S. Churchill, “The New World.” (Volume Two of a four-volume series, A History of the English-Speaking Peoples, Chapter XX, “The Lord Protector.” See also Chapter XXII, “The Merry Monarch,” which told of the relief the English felt when Charles II took “a mistress from the people,” Gwynn, and further that the King’s example “spread far and wide,” demonstrating a “sense of relief from the tyranny of the Puritans.” (More prescience?) 

The lower image is courtesy of McCarthyism – Wikipedia.  See also Joseph Nye Welch – shown in the lower image at left – as “head counsel for the United States Army while it was under investigation by Joseph McCarthy’s Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations for Communist activities.” See also – re: history repeating in cycles – Historic recurrence – Wikipedia.

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A look back at 2021 – Some unfinished draft posts…

You may notice one possible missing member of this Presidents Club – by mutual consent?

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It’s the beginning of January, 2022, just after New Year’s Day. Which makes this a good time to look back on 2021, and – in my case – back on some draft posts I never finished.

One such project – last revised on January 24, 2021 – I tentatively called, “Flag distress, etc.” (And that’s why I call it a draft. A “place to make mistakes, to try out new ideas, to explore variations on existing ideas.”) It had to do with Trump supporters flying the American flag upside down, explained below. But for some reason I started the draft post off like this: “Thank you, Donald, for just giving me the lede to this new post: Trump shuns ex-presidents club.” Along with a note that “for the uninitiated, this highly-exclusive club is – or was – made up of five men:”

After serving the highest office of American government, five men – Jimmy Carter, the late George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama – became members of the world’s most exclusive fraternity. In Team of Five, Kate Andersen Brower [offers] a glimpse into the complex relationships of these five former presidents, and how each of these men views his place in a nation that has been upended by the Oval Office’s current, norm-breaking occupant, President Donald Trump.

Incidentally, the full book citation is Team of Five: The Presidents Club in the Age of Trump. The book itself is said to offer a “poignant, news-making look at the lives of the five former presidents in the wake of their White House years, including the surprising friendships they have formed through shared perspective and empathy.” Unsurprisingly, that group of five former presidents does not include Donald Trump. (Perhaps by mutual consent, if not relief.)

Another note: It’s now a group of four, since George H. W. Bush died on November 30, 2018. And Jimmy Carter is now a ripe old 97 years of age. (“Bless his heart,” as we say in Georgia. And see also my last post, “Will I REALLY live to 120,” as to my own aspirations in that area.)

I haven’t read Ms. Brower‘s book yet, but I did read The Presidents Club:  Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity. And in February 2016, I did a post reviewing the book, “Brother from another mother” and other ex-Prez tales. I ended that post with a photo of three ex-presidents, with a caption asking “Who’ll be the newest member of The Presidents Club on 1/20/17?”

I never dreamt that the answer would be “Donald Trump.”

Which brings us back to those upside-down American flags. I saw an example of the phenomenon just after the Biden Inauguration: “A lifted-up Georgia pickup truck with two American flags, with both of them flying upside down. I assume the driver was a Trump supporter, so I Googled ‘upside down american flag distress.’” And found out that an upside-down American flag was designed to be a signal of “Dire distress and extreme danger to life or property.” But it’s also been used as a signal of protest, which to me brought up this thought, last year at this time: “No doubt the same people now flying the American flag upside down complained most loudly about professional athletes kneeling down during the National Anthem.”

Then again, it turns out that some people back in 2017 were Flying The Flag Upside Down To Protest Trump. As in, “to protest Trump’s being president.” So I guess that’s why the call it “Freedom of Speech.” On that note, I can say – freely and without hesitation – that Donald Trump is my favorite EX-president. (And I hope he stays that way.)

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On a happier but likely unrelated note, I started another draft post in January 2021, “On the Beatles in Hamburg.” (Last modified January 30, 2021.) That started with me watching England, the 1960s, and the Triumph of the Beatles | Wondrium. (An online course offering “a fresh look at how a pop band became one of the most compelling voices against the status quo.”)

I don’t have the space to get into all that in this post, but readers who want to look ahead can check out the in-German version of “I want to hold your hand” at Komm gib mir deine Hand (Remastered 2009) – YouTube. Or Sie liebt dich (Remastered 2009) – YouTube. For some deeper background see The Beatles in Hamburg – Wikipedia. Something to look forward to!

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The Reeperbahn nighclub as seen from the side walk with its entrance lighted. Theatre marques say "Sex" and "Peep live shows".
Hamburg‘s “Reeperbahn,” where young Beatles honed their act…

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The upper image is courtesy of Book review: “The Presidents Club” (Washington Post), with the full caption:  “From left, George H.W. Bush, President-elect Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter in the Oval Office on Jan. 7, 2009. (NIKKI KAHN/THE WASHINGTON POST).”  

Re: Upside-down American flag. As noted, Googled “trump supporters flag upside down.” And was surprised to learn this was “nothing new under the sun.” For example, see ‘Time For My Flag to Go Up’: How Anti-Trumpers Are Reclaiming the American Flag. See also What does an Upside Down American Flag Mean? – Collins Flags Blog.

The lower image is courtesy of The Beatles in Hamburg – Wikipedia. Some notes, for use in a future post: The “Reeperbahn” was one of a number of German “dives” where the band performed. Also, “German customers found the group’s name comical, as “Beatles” sounded like Low German: ‘Piedel,’ which is an infantile word for penis.” On a similar note, “the only women who hung around [those] clubs late at night were strippers, dancers, or prostitutes. Harrison (who was then only 17) called Hamburg “the naughtiest city in the world.” 

A further note: It took me awhile to find a good definition for dive bar, like the kind the Beatles performed at in Hamburg, “typically a small, unglamorous, eclectic, old-style bar with inexpensive drinks, which may feature dim lighting, shabby or dated decor, neon beer signs, packaged beer sales, cash-only service, and a local clientele.” However, in Hamburg, each such “Beatles” club had a doorman “whose job was to entice customers inside, as the drinks were expensive.”

Finally – and also for use in a future post on the Beatles in Hamburg – I got some good background from the 2009 book, Stories Done: Writings on the 1960s and Its Discontents, by Mikal Gilmore.

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Other notes, this one re: “Brother from another mother.” See also Another “deja vu all over again?” The Brother from another mother post told how I came to acquire the book, at the reception for a funeral for my step-mother. There was a bit in there about great politicians selling hope, gleaned from Chris Matthews’ book, Life’s a Campaign, as well as some thoughts on Shakespeare’s, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” As well as some thoughts on the “good old days,” when political opponents could “sup with their enemies:” Like Ted Kennedy admiring the fact that Ronald Reagan, an ardent conservative, “could sup with his enemies.” Kennedy said of Reagan:

He’s absolutely professional.  When the sun goes down, the battles of the day are really gone.  He gave the Robert Kennedy Medal, which President Carter refused to do…   He’s very sure of himself, and I think that people sense that he’s comfortable with himself…   He had a philosophy and he’s fought for it.  There’s a consistency and continuity at a time when many others are flopping back and forth.  And that’s an important and instructive lesson for politicians, that people admire that.

I added that “supping with your enemies” is something we should bring back: “We could use a bit more professionalism in today’s politics.”

Re: “Lede.” The link is to How to Write a Lede in Journalism – 2021 – MasterClass

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