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  • Writer's pictureJon Bolitho-Jones

And now for a pedantic distraction...


I hope everyone is taking care and hiding inside. It’s scary at the moment, so for all of you with grandparents, older parents, and/or high risk friends I wish them the best of health. To all those working in hospitals, driving supplies around, stacking shelves, and caring for those in need, I send you all my love and gratitude. You are the true heroes.

For the rest of us though its staying in and watching Netflix whilst eating cake. My wife and I don’t mind it too much. I can imagine the more outgoing of you are going a little bit mental at the moment, pacing from side to side desperate to get out into the spring sunshine. It seems the weather is taunting us a little bit at the moment too. However for us, most of our leisure activities can be found inside our home. My wife loves World of Warcraft, playing Zelda games, colouring in, and reading, while I have plenty of writing and advertising to do. I also have video games, reading, and Warhammer to obsess over. I should be doing some editing of book 3 of the Edimor series at the moment but I’ve ended up a bit distracted. You see I have found myself obsessing instead over this Facebook quote which keeps popping up...

With pedantic mode set to full let me take apart the inaccuracies found within it. To give you context Pepys was a prolific diarist (amongst other things), and recorded lots of the key events that occurred in London during the reign of Charles II. His diary is a wonderful first hand account for historians, and though these things aren’t always completely reliable, it is invaluable to have such resources. Pepys also appears in Horrible Histories - in fact here he is:

Isn’t he delightful? Anyway with that let’s attack this quote:

1. In regards to the line ‘Her Majesty’s men” we have some problems. For a start Charles II was on the throne and he was a man. Is this trying to imply that Queens Elizabeth I, II, Victoria, Mary, Anne, or Lady Jane Grey had bizarrely long and oddly placed reigns, while Charles II didn't exist? I promise you that he can be found on Horrible Histories too - he even has a song! I know our Queen is currently the longest serving British monarch (not longest of all time might I add), but surely we can’t have her reign stretch that far? A lot of Edwards and Georges would be pushed aside (Victoria wouldn’t be too please either!) The Queen at the time, and Charles' wife, was Catherine of Braganza. She was a pretty cool character, and I recommend you look her up when you get the chance! What it could be is that Pepys is referring to a body of soldiers under patronage of said Queen. This is not an uncommon practice, and many units were referred to as “Lord so and so’s men” (not literally of course). It’s a pretty handy way of telling where loyalty lies, And you don't just get it with soldiers. These were treacherous times - we must remember that the memories of the English Civil War were still fresh in people’s minds. So far my research has led me to nothing - there is no reference to Catherine having her own troop of soldiers.

2. That year at the bottom - 1664? I’m pretty sure the Great Plague of London was in 1665. Most of the deaths happened during the hot summer months too. There were of course other smaller epidemics that flared up on occasion but generally people gave them little regard beyond the immediate settlement, county, or province. In fact plague still pops up even today. Of course this occurs in remote corners of our world. It wasn’t just the Black Death and the plague of 1665, there are plenty of other smaller/non British examples! Look them up, see what you can find. I won’t write a complete morbid list of them here however. Also does anyway know what 1665 means anymore? There was a war on you know, with the Dutch, and people wore floppy hats…

So in conclusion this quote, from my examinations, shows us that one should not believe every cool soundbite or quote you find on social media. There are very naughty people out there! Secondly, people can be incredibly lazy with these sorts of things. Us pedantic history nerds will notice your mistakes straight away and will certainly tell you about it. Please put some effort into things thank you! I don’t want to see another Robin Hood film with Higgins boats in it. As you should know being factually accurate is a trait next to cleanliness, though this is can be quite difficult to maintain with the abundance of information you can find nowadays. I’d also like to add that the famous plague doctor outfit with the stork mask is not medieval, it first appeared in the early 17th century.

Not medieval, so stop it! Anyway enough of this – rant over.

The penultimate part of my conclusion is that it is pretty obvious, looking at the evidence, that I need to stop procrastinating and get on with some editing. I am a specimen who is easily distracted. And finally, and perhaps most importantly, my deductions have made it pretty clear that you should all go and buy my book, in both paperback and eBook formats. Link found, as always, below. Cheers!

With that it’s bye for now. I’ll be back soon.


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