Once upon a time, long ago in a land far away (so keep your feminist panties on) there was a wise and powerful king. As despots go, he wasn’t a bad one. Within the context of his time, he was as benevolent as kings get. He cared for his country and his subjects, took his responsibilities as a ruler to heart, and if he was a little distant and formal and war-like – well – you have to take his culture and environment into account when judging him.
He ascended to the throne after his father, a much less amiable man, died choking on a partridge bone. Being an only son, the transfer of power went off without a hiccup and the country prospered. Sure, there were border skirmishes, and the new King put them down with all the bloodthirsty gusto of a monarch of his time, but for the most part peace prevailed. Crops grew, taxes were paid, loyalties pledged. He was so busy being a reasonably good king, he put off marriage for a long time.
One day, after the successful suppression of yet another border incursion, the Baron whose land straddled the troublesome border traveled to the capital bearing a token of his appreciation for sending reinforcements to protect his land. He arrived at the King’s court, resplendent in his best velvets and trailing a young, lovely golden-haired girl – his first-born daughter. The girl was demure and rosy-cheeked and her wrists were bound, in the charming and traditional style, with a pink silk ribbon to symbolize her purity, her innocence and her femininity. With a formal flourish, he led the girl behind him up the central runner in the royal receiving room and, after asking the customary permission to approach his royal personage, handed the tail of the ribbon over to the King.
“Your Highness,” said the Baron, “please accept this token of my loyalty to you.”
The token looked terrified. She had not been consulted on this at all. At sixteen, she hadn’t been consulted on anything. But when she looked up at the King, who appeared ancient to her, it was only her fear of decapitation that prevented her from bursting into tears or running from the throne room screaming her pretty little head off. It’s not that he was ugly, but he was just old. Really old. And he had a scar that ran from the outer edge of his left eye down his cheek. It made him look bad-tempered.
Emilia – for that was the girl’s name – had only recently started fantasizing about who she would marry. In all her reveries, the man was always young and brave and handsome. More often than not, she imagined him mounted on a horse, which was a safe way to picture him, since it allowed her to avoid imagining him mounted on her – something that still frightened her considerably.
Although she knew, pragmatically, that it was some great honour to be married to the King, and you got to be queen when that happened, she couldn’t find it in her heart to be delighted by the situation.
The King took the ribbon with a bit of hesitation. He knew he had to marry sometime, and he guessed this was as good a time as any. Lord knows, the girl looked healthy, didn’t have a squint or a limp or an overly hirsute upper lip. It could have been way worse. But he’d always imagined he’d settle on someone after giving it due consideration. Nonetheless, the Baron standing in front of him was a very loyal chap. He was his first line of defense at the most troublesome of all his borders. And the girl was not bad looking even if her hips were a little narrow and her breasts a little modest. Nature would probably take its course and she’d grow to look a little more womanly in time.
And so the transfer of the ribbon happened, a date for the royal wedding was set, and the formal mechanisms of tradition and custom kicked into high gear. There was a very solemn ceremony in the cathedral on a chilly October morning, a generous and well-watered banquet that lasted until well after dark. At eight o’clock in the evening, the King took his new bride to bed.
Things didn’t go badly. The King was not a virgin, of course, but neither had he spent any time in the arms of love. She lay there as instructed, with her legs spread, looking up at the brocade canopy. He got between her thighs, broke her hymen and the deed, after a short furious burst of thrusting, was done. Patting her flank as if she were a well-behaved horse, he pulled his breeches back on, and left to rejoin his companions drinking in the banquet hall. The ribbon with which Emilia had been presented to the King was stored in an ornate carved box in the King’s council chamber. Emilia herself was stored in the Queen’s royal chambers. All the King’s belonging’s were secured.
Three years passed. The King made a point of visiting his Queen and having congress with her once a week, but she did not conceive. This was remarked on and physicians were called. They examined Emilia dispassionately and thoroughly and proclaimed her to be in good health and perfectly capable of producing an heir. However, another year passed and still she was without child.
One would think that after a number of regular conjugal visits, the atmosphere between the King and the Queen would have warmed up a little. But it didn’t. He fucked her the same way every time. Patted her on the flank and took his leave. No whispered endearments across a pillow, no post-coital libation, nothing. In fact, it’s fair to say the visits got more tense with time, especially on Emilia’s part. She was never ready when he mounted her, and it was over in a matter of minutes. On the few times she attempted to engage him in conversation, or prolong the encounter it became obvious the King was simply not interested.
In the fourth year of her marriage, Queen Emilia, feeling very much like just another horse, went down into the King’s stables and, after inquiring and discovering that the King’s favourite stallion was ready to stud, positioned herself beneath the horse. The beast did what beasts do. There were, of course, unfortunate consequences. Emilia died of a perforated bowel and massive blood loss, but, it is fair to say, the whole thing was entirely consensual.
The incident was hushed up, the behaviour of the Queen put down to dubious ancestry, and the ribbon was moved from the ornate box in the council chamber and deposited on the dung heap.
A new queen was sought, and this one was more robust. She gave him three children and, eventually poisoned him to put her firstborn son on the throne.