I don’t know if you overseas readers have noticed this, but we in the United States have been awfully apologetic lately. We’ve had a radio host apologizing for making racist remarks, we’ve had the president of the World Bank apologize for getting his special lady friend a handsome raise, and we’ve had our president apologize to Walter Reid hospital patients. In my corner of the country, we’ve had a district attorney apologize for pressing rape charges against three innocent men, and our state house has apologized for slavery, following the example of our neighbor Virginia’s apology for slavery. We’re just a sorry bunch these days, it seems.
Anyway, in light of all these apologies, I was pleased to find an especially timely manuscript in what scholars now know as the Geraldus de Springerus archives. It appears that Geraldus, believing the last appearance of Isabella and a very special surprise guest to have been popular amongst the audience, invited the pair back in an attempt to stage a reconciliation between them. The discovery of this particular transcript is particularly exciting: it suggests that the medieval concept of a “loveday,” wherein disputes could be settled amicably out of court, had permeated a much wider range of affairs than previously thought. One can only wonder at what further discoveries lurk in these archives.
Geraldus: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I’m pleased to introduce again our most gracious lady, the Dowager Queen Isabella, and, er–
Edward: King Edward the Second.
Isabella: You cannot call yourself the king. You are a humble monk now.
Edward: I’m very well aware of that, my dear. You reminded me of that twice backstage.
Isabella: After all, you resigned your crown.
Edward: If you call that farce a resignation.
Geraldus: If I may. Your graces, let’s face it. Neither of you is getting any younger.
Edward: I beg to differ. I’ve never felt healthier. All of this fresh air, and exercise, and—
Isabella: We know. You were born to be a peasant.
Edward: Maybe you ought to get outdoors a bit yourself, my dear. You’re looking a little peaked.
Isabella: I am not. (Consults hand mirror)
Geraldus: Your graces. Both of you look wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. But as I said, time is passing. As my people told your people, it’s time to put the past behind you and apologize to each other. You’ve each come prepared, I believe.
Isabella (Pulls out a long sheet of parchment): I certainly have.
Edward: That’s what you want to apologize for? All that? Really, my dear, it’s not necessary.
Isabella: Don’t be silly. These are the things I wanted you to apologize for. It’s a checklist.
Isabella: Item one. There’s the time you gave Gaveston my wedding jewels.
Edward: Oh, come. They suited him and not you. You were a skinny little girl of twelve and he was—magnificent. (Sighs longingly)
Isabella: Oh, for God’s sake, get your mind out of your crotch and attend to item two.
Edward: All right. Item two.
Isabella: You ignored me after the coronation.
Edward: You had all of your irritating French relatives to sit with, didn’t you? Besides, you got to talk to them about the jewels.
Isabella: All right. We will skip item two for now. Item three—
Edward: If you’re going to claim I abandoned you to the Scots, I’m leaving.
Isabella: No, no. But I did forget Bannockburn, come to think of it.
Edward: I have to apologize to you for Bannockburn?
Isabella: It was a great blow to my pride as a queen.
Edward: Oh, all right. (Aside) God forbid we should injure her precious pride as a queen.
Isabella: I heard that. Back to item three. Hugh le Despenser the elder.
Edward: Hugh the elder? What did he ever do to you?
Isabella: He spawned Hugh the younger, which accounts for items four to one hundred.
Edward (Sadly, to audience): She just never did understand poor dear Hugh.
Isabella: Oh, I understood him all right. Well. Are you ready to apologize?
Edward: I suppose. (Stiffly) My most gracious lady, I humbly beg your pardon.
Isabella: I accept your humble apology.
Geraldus: Now, that’s real progress.
Edward: Her turn! Let’s talk about my deposition. And your killing my friends, and your trying to kill me, and Mortimer, and your locking me up, and your keeping the children from me, and—
Isabella: You never did have an orderly mind, did you? Well, let’s get this over with. My gracious lord, I humbly beg your pardon.
Edward: Oh, come on. If that’s humility, I’m the king of France.
Isabella: They wouldn’t have you as the king of France.
Edward: Oh, Lord. (To audience) Now we’re going to hear about the glories of France. And you wonder why we only had four children together? We’re lucky we had that many.
Isabella: Oh, just accept my apology so we can get out of here.
Geraldus: Your grace, you could stand to look a bit more humble, in my opinion.
Isabella: Which no one asked you for, did they?
Edward: Oh, she still has her touch with the common people, doesn’t she? (To audience) Tell us. Which queen do you like better? Isabella or Philippa?
Audience (Roaring): Philippa!
Edward: That nice, sweet lady. Always a kind word for everyone.
Isabella: How dare—
Edward: So gracious. So loyal. So merciful. The way she begged for those burghers in Calais—
Isabella: Are we going to spend the rest of the afternoon talking about that irritating Hainaulter woman, or are you going to accept my apology?
Edward: Now I think she owes our dear Philippa an apology for that, don’t you?
Isabella: Damn it, I came here to apologize to you, not her, and now I’m not going to apologize to either of you! (Stalks away)
Edward: Well, then, I’m going to withdraw my apology. (Shouts in Isabella’s direction) She-wolf!
Isabella (From offstage): Sodomite!
Geraldus: Well. Sometimes people just aren’t ready to let go of the past, it seems. Folks, join us next week for “Ten Pilgrimage Scams to Avoid.”
Audience Member: Wait. She didn’t make a sincere apology, and he withdrew his apology. Shouldn’t we get our money back?
Geraldus: No. You’ll just have to accept my humble apology for that, I guess.