Category Archives: Royalty

Amazing What People Respond–And Don’t–To

Oh, Michal.

Writing about someone for over five years can be exhausting and painful. You search for facts but also need to know others’ perspectives. It opens my eyes when people have different views which makes me consider my material. Over five years, I’ve attempted to contact different kinds of people with a variety of opinions.

The people who have a generally positive view of Michal have thoughtful insights—sometimes I agree and sometimes I don’t, but I like hearing from them just the same.

Then there are those who take a negative approach to define her character…

Let me tell you about these people. They might include her in an anthology. Or a book on marriage. Sometimes to make a better story, they smear her name. I try to reach out regardless to know how they came to certain conclusions. Perhaps they don’t actually consider her overall story. Correction: they don’t at all. Maybe that’s why I haven’t heard from these people. Not one single response from them in my five years of research and writing about the Israelite princess.

If one Anti-Michal contacts me, I will put blue streaks in my hair this summer. Maybe red. I’ll leave it up to my readers. I will definitely post it.

Now I know Michal is not alive but I am still very protective of her and want to take the hair dye an extra step further. If an Anti-Michal says “I’m sorry,” I’ll also take a reader to a steak dinner.

Further Views of Catherine of Braganza

I know that there are those who don’t share my favorable views of prominent women I post about. I am also well aware that Catherine of Braganza herself has haters.

To some, Catherine is responsible for the slave trade due to her dowry she brought with her marriage to Charles II and England. This is a serious issue we need to consider.

Catherine’s parents took risks in order to prevent Portugal from crumbling. Catherine was a woman in her early twenties when she found out she was going to marry the king of England in exchange for protection against foreign threats.  This case is hard to judge because a country’s princess acted out of duty . She was a good queen and wife to Charles, but made comments that she didn’t look at the marriage as favorable towards her.

She was tied in a tough spot (like most of her life). Catherine did what was in her power to save people and individuals. Sometimes she succeeded and sometimes she didn’t. In a book about the Popish Plot, it talked about how she stepped in for individuals but at the same time, the queen couldn’t save everybody.

Catherine’s life and the events surrounding it were so complex. I don’t see her as responsible for the trade.

 

 

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She Lives With Angels: Others’ Views of Michal and Catherine

 

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Okay, since November 25 was Catherine of Braganza’ birthday, I decided to add another post about her…

If you look around my blog, you might discover that I’m writing a biography of Michal,King  David’s first wife, and the similarities she shares with other princesses. Now,  I don’t imagine Michal looking like any of those princesses.

The last princess I’d ever compare Michal to in physical appearance is Catherine of Braganza. As I was doing some online Michal research, I came across a website about biblical woman and was taken aback that the author, Elizabeth Fletcher, inserted Catherine’s portrait into a her Michal post.  Ironic, isn’t it?

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Catherine_of_Braganza, by (after) Dirk Stoop

I emailed her about my project and asked why she used Catherine’s picture. She responded:

“I used her face because the emotions on the Princess’s face seemed to sum up what Michal must have felt…I see sadness, real grief and the beginning of wisdom/understanding in the Princess’ face, even though she is so young. It is a subtly tragic face, and no other image I’ve seen fitted Michal so well.”

That makes sense.  Neither princess foresaw the struggles they’d face. Dirk Stoop’s painting of Catherine before her marriage to Charles screams naïve.

It would be a mistake, however, to judge the two women solely on that portrait. As I mentioned in my earlier post about Catherine , you can see her story unfold with her further portraits.  She transformed from a neglected princess bride into a calculating queen. I cannot rule out, though, both princesses might have carried a certain sadness described by Ms. Fletcher.

Did Catherine ever view herself as Michal?  Neither produced an heir, and both saw their husband as father to many. Even if she didn’t, others made a connection during her lifetime.

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I was surprised to discover John Dryden and Nahum Tate’s 1681/82 allegory poem, “Absalom and Achitophel” in which they based Michal off of Catherine. Michal/Catherine gets one of the more favorable edits:

Such was the charge on pious Michal brought
Michal, that ne’er was cruel e’en in thought.
The best of queens, the most obedient wife,
Impeached of cursed designs on David’s life,
‘Tis scares so much his guardian angel’s care.
Not summer morns such mildness can disclose
The Hermon lily and the Sharon rose,
Neglecting each vain pop of majesty,
Transported Michal feeds her thoughts on high;
She lives with angels, and as angels do,
Quits heaven sometimes to bless the world below,
Where, cherished by her bounty’s plenteous spring,
Reviving widows smile and orphans sing

Whether the two women can be considered angels, the stanza lets the reader know the risks they took to help others.

It’s a relief I’m not the only one to remember and liken Michal to figures thousands of years after her death.

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Happy Birthday, Queen Catherine!

For this November’s Nano Wrimo novel, I decided to write a nonfiction account about Catherine of Braganza. (Click here for my 2014 post about Catherine.) The Queen’s overall story is not about being the wife of a faithless husband. It’s more about doing what’s best for her country. And it is a love story, but not the way people think. I read secondary sources about Catherine falling helplessly in love with her husband. I don’t think that was the case. There were other people she cared about and loved more.

I’ve enjoyed reading about her relationship with  her family members.   One of my favorite discoveries was found in The Memoirs of Ann, Lady Fanshawe. Lady Ann’s husband served as an ambassador to Portugal. The Fanshawe family visited Portugal shortly after  the royal wedding and meeting Catherine in England.  I found it touching when Lady Ann talked about interacting with Queen Luisa, Catherine’s mother,

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Queen Luisa in 1632

 

Luisa asked about Catherine’s health and passed on a gift that Lady Ann needed to give to Catherine.

A few months later, Lady Ann did what Queen Luisa asked. Catherine received it “with great expressions of kindness.” Lady Ann recorded she stayed with Catherine for an hour and half, “which time Her Majesty (Catherine) spent in asking questions of her mother, brothers, and country.”

 

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Queen Catherine in 1665

 

The passage wasn’t sappy but a matter of fact. I find Lady Ann’s account sentimental because this situation has occurred in my life a few times. Just a couple months ago, a family friend passed through town and passed on a gift from my folks. We talked about home town news but more about little family things like dogs and upcoming weddings. Some serious, some silly things.  It’s nice when home comes to you.

 

 

Images:
Portrait of Luisa Francisca de Guzman by Alanzo Cano

Catherine of Braganza, Queen of England by Peter Lely

 

 

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Completed Summer Story: Princess Michal, Wife of King David and Daughter of Saul

My “summer” project is completed! This means the basic things I wanted people to know about Michal got posted.  Below are the posts that are in more of a chronological order.

  1. Summer Story: Princess Michal, Wife of King David and Daughter of Saul
  2. The Lord Looketh on the Heart
  3. A Family Reference Guide
  4. Early Life and Traditions
  5. Her Physical Appearance
  6. Michal in the Movies
  7. David and Goliath, or the Quest for Michal Begins
  8. Manipulation and Marriage
  9. The Good Wife
  10. The First Window Scene
  11. Why Michal Didn’t Run Away and Why David Didn’t Rescue Her
  12. The Battle of Gilboa
  13. Relationship Rumors and Allegiances
  14. Trail of Tears
  15. Blessed Are the Peacemakers
  16. Persuasion, Party, and Murder
  17. The Assassination of a King
  18. Reacting to Wives, Concubines, and Children
  19. The Ark of the Covenant and Fight Chapter
  20. Treason and Queens Making Scenes
  21. Possible Psychological Effects on Michal (Just a Few)
  22. David’s Calf?
  23. Understanding Michal—Easier When You’ve Been In Her Place

Copyright (c) by herstoryline.com and Sarah Patten

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Understanding Michal–Easier When You’ve Been in Her Place

I’m no Michal expert.

I just  try to pull her story together.  There are other women who relate to her more than I do. I relate to her, but once certain women know the basic facts of her story, they would have more powerful insights on Michal’s character and her decisions.

A lot of Michal’s outburst came from a culture–the culture of royalty–that few understand. Women have vocalized how they relate to Michal after comparing aspects of their lives to hers.

For example,  poet Rachel Bluwstein wrote a poem that compared her love and hate for a man by linking herself to Michal. She explored the question: is it possible to love and hate someone at the same time? To love and hate someone is another psychological phenomenon that’s been studied more in depth the last couple years. It is something very real.

Then there’s the desire for children. For some of us, it seems nearly impossible.  I was impressed with blogger Suzanne Burden’s beautiful post “Barren Guilt By Association” who now sees Michal in a new light since they shared similarities. Even though we don’t live in biblical times, not having children is still painful beyond words.

I respect women who do what they can to do add to society. The kind of women who are like Michal. Who fight for what they believe in. Who sometimes are the victims. But victims turn into heroes by conquering themselves. They recognize and appreciate their victories.

I have the strongest feeling Michal wouldn’t want anyone to give her the full fledged label of “victim.” She would want to be known as a hero. Her example of sacrifice and bravery make her one. It’s time for her critics and sympathizers to grasp this and let others know of this heroine.

 

Further Reading:

“Barren Guilt By Association” by Suzanne Burden 

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The First Window Scene

Michal was in a tight spot (yet again) when she heard Saul’s servants were going to kill David in the morning. She prepared a couple ideas but had to improvise.

So Michal let David down through a window: and he went, and fled, and escaped. And Michal took an image, and laid it in the bed, and put a pillow of goats’ hair for his bolster, and covered it with a cloth. And when Saul sent messengers to take David, she said, He is sick. (1 Samuel 19:12-14)

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But there are two things that make people gasp. Michal has an image! A.K.A—idol!  Well, say critics, that’s proof she cares only for worldly status. Plus lying is terrible even if you’re trying to save someone.

Um, really?

Plus this is only a snapshot of her.

Was this possibly in her bag of tricks? She may have been drawn to idols, but having one nearby was so…convenient.

Her father’s reaction is full of shock.

And Saul sent the messengers again to see David, saying, Bring him up to me in the bed, that I may slay him.And when the messengers were come in, behold, there was an image in the bed, with a pillow of goats’ hair for his bolster. And Saul said unto Michal, Why hast thou deceived me so, and sent away mine enemy, that he is escaped? And Michal answered Saul, He said unto me, Let me go; why should I kill thee? (1 Samuel 19:15-17)

In Michal’s Moral Dilemma by Jonathan Rowe, he calls the use of the idol “genius.” In Leah Kohn’s essay “The Story of Michal Beyond Loyalty to Torah,” she suggests that Michal’s word choice actually saved her husband’s life while also sparing her father less humiliation.

This window scene gives a peek of Michal as a woman who kept her marriage covenant to David and did everything to save him.

The Bible mentions that she did things before this that honored David and scared Saul. (1 Samuel 18:28-29).  So there were multiple incidents of her helping David. If we were  told more details about these incidents, Michal would receive far less criticism.

Further Reading:
1 Samuel 19

Michal’s Moral Delemma: A Literary, Anthropological and Ethical Interpretation by John Rowe. (See http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/michals-moral-dilemma-9780567076885/#sthash.BZVDtEFV.dpuf  for details)

 The Story of Michal Beyond Loyalty to Torah by Leah Kohn

Painting:
Michal lets David escape from the window. By Gustave Doré, 1865.

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The Good Wife

The rabbis say Michal was a model wife. I believe it. The Midrash says that though she wasn’t required to, she wore the tefillin—scriptures on bands that could be worn around the forehead and arms. This was a reminder of how God delivered the Hebrews from Egypt as well as a sign of a clean mind and body.The Greek  word for tefillin is “phylacteries” which means to guard and protect. Whether Michal wore the tefillin or not, I believe she was prayerful, remembered scriptures, and for sure she protected David.

I have no doubt she strove for perfection. She supported David. The following Bible verses show she  cherished him very much:

“And Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David, and that Michal Saul’s daughter loved him. And Saul was yet more afraid of David” (1 Samuel 18: 28-29)

I’ve seen emphasis more of why Saul was afraid of David. And I agree with the common consensus: Saul was scared because he was even losing support from the people in his family. If that happened, he could lose the support of the nation.

What I also get from this verse is that Michal was helping out David. A lot. She wasn’t just this princess brushing her hair longing for her prince. She was a princess at work. She was a good example of a Israelite, military wife and princess. She would have showed her support for him when she was out in public and when he was gone.

The scriptures say from the start that David is wise and well-behaved but he continues to grow and gain more support following both the mentions of Michal and Jonathan’s love. Like Jonathan, Michal would have also tutored him on royal behavior. Shortly after his marriage to Michal we see that “David behaved himself more wisely than all the servants of Saul.” (1 Samuel 18:30) Good job, Michal!

I’ll agree that Michal was attracted to the handsome hero, but I believe she looked more on the heart. Saul sent David on dangerous missions, and whatever Michal did he while he was gone, scared Saul. Rabbi David Kimhi said that Saul was scared of David because she found out Saul’s plots to kill David and prevented them.

Saul hoped David would die on these missions and that David being away from Michal would prevent the newlyweds from starting a family. Saul probably didn’t want his daughter producing an heir that would support David. Likewise, later on it seems David didn’t want have children with Michal because he wanted to prevent the blood of Saul from inheriting the throne.

But she still loved him. I wish with all my heart that she did had children. She was very deserving. I also wish the Bible gave more details about her show of love and how she stopped Saul’s plots to kill him. Jonathan gets credit his multiple rescues but she had been hard at work even before her famous heroic window scene.

Sources:
On-line Tanach Class: Michal taught by Mordechai Torczyner
(http://ohave.tripod.com/chumash/michal.htm)

“Tefillin” Wikipedia article.

1 Samuel 18

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Manipulation and Marriage

After David and Goliath…

I read a fictional book and an article where it said Michal stole David from her older sister, Merab. That Michal manipulated David into marrying her. If that’s true, I actually think that deserves applause. Alas, I don’t think that’s the case. I have to say, though, that1 Samuel 18 is a game of manipulation.

The chapter starts out with Jonathan loving David, the two making a covenant, and Jonathan demonstrating he would do whatever it took to make David king. Don’t underestimate the friendship between Jonathan and David. Between tutoring David of royal duties and training him to become a warrior king, they had to have talked about other stuff…

Saul talked to David about marrying Merab at first. David could marry Merab if he swore his loyalty and fight for Saul. For me, David seems to be putting on an act when he responded: “What am I? and what is my life, or my father’s family in Israel that I should be the son in law to the king?”

There’s no mention of Saul pressing this matter on him, but the next verse reads: “But it came to pass at the time when Merab Saul’s daughter should have been given to David, that she was given unto Adriel the Meholathite to wife.” (1 Samuel 18:17-19)

If David had a preference for either Merab or Michal, it’s likely Jonathan would know. He would know and do something about it. Or perhaps Jonathan and David discussed who would be better suited for David as a wife. Whatever the case, I’m sure Jonathan—who would save David’s life and prove that he could persuade his father—would have stepped in.

The plan for Michal to marry David could have been in action before this. Certainly, now that one of two daughters was married off, David wanted the single one for his wife and something had to happen. I believe Jonathan was instrumental in the plan.

Verse 20 sparks suspicion from two opposing sides–those who think David wanted Merab and those who think he wanted Michal. The verse reads:

“And Michal Saul’s daughter loved David: and they told Saul, and the thing pleased him.”

Yes, now that Merab was unavailable, it seems people come up suddenly and speak of Michal’s love. There were things going on behind the scenes. But I hardly believe Michal could have orchestrated this plan by herself.

Besides, we’re told already all Israel and Judah loved David. So it wasn’t as if people came forward saying, “Guess what? Your young daughter also loves David!”

That wouldn’t have been news to anyone. Surely the readers must realize this.

The verse is vague. A question that should arise is who exactly is “they”? Most likely Saul’s servants but perhaps other servants. Did Saul send them to Michal and ask if she was interested in marrying David? Or was she and possibly Jonathan plotting with them? Michal’s love was perhaps something Saul wanted to hear.

Here was Saul’s thought process and commands to his servants:

And Saul said, I will give him her, that she may be a snare to him, and that the hand of the Philistines may be against him. Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son in law in the one of the twain.

And Saul commanded his servants, saying, Commune with David secretly, and say, Behold, the king hath delight in thee, and all his servants love thee: now therefore be the king’s son in law. (1 Samuel 18:21-22)

At first David has the same reaction as he did when Saul presented the idea of marrying Merab:

And Saul’s servants spake those words in the ears of David. “And David said, Seemeth it to you light thing to be a king’s son in law, seeing that I am a poor man, and lightly esteemed?” (1 Samuel 18:23)

Saul wasn’t about to let David go this time. Was he getting counsel from someone? If so, the whom? Perhaps Saul had made David an offer before, but David didn’t take it. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say David was being coached.

Back to the chapter and what happens after David’s passive answer:

And the servants of Saul told him, saying, On this manner spake David. And Saul said, Thus shall ye say to David, The king desireth not any dowry, but an hundred foreskins of the Philistines, to be avenged of the king’s enemies. But Saul thought to make David fall by the hand of the Philistines.And when his servants told David these words, it pleased David well to be the king’s son in law. (1 Samuel 18:24-16)

Whether David was pleased to be on his way to coming king or/and couldn’t wait to marry Michal. He doesn’t mind he could marry her. It’s kind of strange actually. He puts his whole heart in the deadly mission.

“Wherefore David arose and went, he and his men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men; and David brought their foreskins” (1 Samuel 18:27)

Saul had no choice but to let Michal and David marry. Instead of Saul manipulating the situation, David won this battle.

Jonathan had made a covenant with David. Now Michal also made a covenant with David through marriage. She would be a good wife.

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David and Goliath, or the Quest for Michal Begins

Going WAY back. To better times…

It’s hard to know when Michal actually met David. He was already a minor celebrity when, through word of mouth, got the the appointment as one of the king’s musicians. Before coming to court, he was anointed as Israel’s next king.

Saul and his household appreciated the peace he brought to court. Through Saul’s disobedient and perhaps through the traumas of battles, the evil spirit that plagued Saul left when David played. Good music is good therapy.

Very few knew of David’s call to be king at this time. He would have been more observant of Saul and his family than they were of him. There was something special, though, about this harp player that impressed Saul and others. Yet, Saul inquired more about him after he defeated Golaith. David then became a resident in the royal household.

Is This Not a Cause?

Oh, yes, we need to discuss David and Goliath.

There was terror—even from Michal’s brave father—with the threat of Goliath. There were rumors. David picked up on some when he acquired what’s up by men on the roadside. Goliath was feared and David heard some men say that “The man who killeth him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give his daughter, and make his father’s house free in Israel” (1 Samuel 17:25-27)

Did he hear that right? David asked if it true, and the people were confident that the victor would get those great prizes.

David’s oldest brother, Eliab, was taken aback when he heard David’s conversation. I find David’s reply a little enlightening. “What have I now done? Is there not a cause?” (1 Samuel 17:29)

Or a couple. Did you pick up on anything? Or anybody? Basically this was a nice lead way into gaining access to kingship.

And daughter? The passage doesn’t specify Michal or her older sister Merab which I find interesting. Perhaps David didn’t care which daughter as long as marrying one of the king’s daughter got him closer to being king. Still I find it curious that Merab’s name isn’t inserted.

David was young. Most likely too young to marry now according to Saul. Merab and Michal were surely young—maybe not even considered women yet. For sure they were going to get married since it was in their father’s best interest to make alliances.

Happy Days

It was a happy day for Israel when David defeated Goliath. Israel was pumped and chased the Philistines. David moved into the royal household.

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David had got what was promised. Almost. He was still too young to marry Saul’s daughter, but the idea was planted in his head. David always got what he wanted. Always.

I mentioned before how David would have found Michal appealing. The chances of marrying a rare Benjaminite woman of her position, were out of his world. Of course Merab fit the same criteria, but Michal was also the younger daughter. Biblical tradition shows the eldest daughter was married off first. As we see in the Jacob, Leah, and Rachel story, a younger daughter is more of a challenge to get. The more challenging, the better for David.

Sources:
1 Samuel 17

Images:
David gegen Goliath by Gebhard Fugel
David Slays Goliath by Gustave Dore