Persona history, Jan van Seist

The shire newsletter has been granted permission by Jan to publish this biography in order to encourage the gentles of the shire who wish to share the stories of their personae. Jan refuses to confirm or deny any of the following.

He was born in the sixteenth century in a small town in the bishopric ofUtrecht, near its border with the country of Holland. It is rumoured that hisname is actually a pseudonym adopted either to conceal a more noble and possiblyroyal lineage (Jan’s version) or to evade creditors, outraged husbands andinquisitive inquisitors (the accepted version).

Jan is sometimes known by his nom de guerre,”el loco loro” (*), a namegiven him by his Spanish fencing master in honour of his unique style. As ayoung man, he was a most loyal servant of his king, Philip II, and was attachedto the household of his regent, the bishop of Utrecht. He was not and never wasa member of the inquisition and did not enrich himself at his countreymen’sexpense. However, he worked very hard at whatever it was he did and accumulateda modest sum as a result.

It is not entirely clear why Jan left the Netherlands. Some assert that when he was quite innocently instructing a young lady in comparative anatomy, the bishop walked in and, in an understandable but mistaken fit of virtuous outrage, banished him from the territory.

Incidentally, contrary to the more scurrilous rumours, the lady was not the mistress of the noble and upright bishop. Others assert that Jan left because, shortly before King Phillip’s universal death sentence against his Dutch subjects was promulgated, word reached him that the inquisition had been told that, while Jan’s name was on the list of exemptions, it had been added in a handwriting suspiciously like Jan’s own.

Whatever the reason, Jan moved to Paris in the mid-sixteenth century. At this time, the Huguenot star was in the ascendancy and he chose to join the household of Admiral Coligny. By his own account, he was absent on a secret mission on St. Bartholomew’s day and, as a result, avoided the unpleasantness that occurred at that time. He was definitely not insensibly drunk in a seedy Paris brothel when the riot occurred.

When he sobered up and assessed the situation, Jan decided to rediscover his Catholic roots and left immediately on a pilgrimage to Rome. Although he left France very rapidly, he tarried awhile in Northern Italy. He found the Florentine court to his taste, and would be there still if a jealous nobelman hadn’t misunderstood his chivalrous behaviour towards his young wife. Although Jan won the duel, some of the more conservative Florentines objected to his use of the battle axe, and he was forced to hurriedly hack his way out of town. On winning free, he promptly took a quick horse to Pisa and embarked on a Portuguese boat sailing for the far East.

Jan enjoyed his voyage immensely, and took the opportunity to meet people ofmany and varied cultures. However, on the return voyage, some of the wealthy Asian passengers began to speculate among themselves on Jan’s remarkable successat various games of chance. To avoid an unpleasant misunderstanding, Jan choseto quietly diesmbark while the ship was anchored in Table Bay, and thus arrivedin Adamestor Shire. Jan has found Adamestor’s pleasant clime, soothing seabreezes and lack of police records very much to his taste, and he resides therestill – a paragon of chivalry and virtue.

(Chronicler’s note: since the date of the above writing, Jan van Seist has left Adamestor, somewhat hurriedly, bound for the Flemish wilds en route to the Holy Land. Any rumours surrounding his departure will be of great interest to the Shire).

(*) “the demented parrot”