Reaching into the Past
Posted Sunday, 08/28/22
Although not much is truly known about Sir Francis Bryan's persona as a whole, I found an intriguing description of it referenced in the General Biographical Dictionary by Alexander Chalmers. The volume was first published in 1761, more than 200 years after Bryan's death.
No portrait survives so we know nothing of his appearance. Bryan was a typical Renaissance courtier, a poet and man of letters who was also to distinguish himself as a soldier, sailor and diplomat. His irresistible charm disguised an incorrigible intriguer who was two-faced, manipulative and promiscuous; once, on a trip to Calais, he demanded "a soft bed then a hard harlot." He was full of pent-up energy; highly articulate and viciously witty. Observers were astonished at the familiarity he used towards the King, both in speaking his mind and telling jokes. Bryan was no creature of principle; by altering his loyalties and opinions to conform to the King's changes of policy, he managed to remain in favor throughout the reign.
In writing a semi-fictional account of Bryan's life with In the Shadow of the King, the bit of personality illumination has come in handy while creating dialog and various scenes.
But who was Alexander Chalmers, and on which facts did he base his opinion? He was born more than two centuries after Bryan's death, so how could he know?
According to Wikipedia, the full title of the work was The General Biographical Dictionary: Containing an Historical and Critical Account of the Lives and Writings of the Most Eminent Persons in Every Nation, Particularly the British and Irish, From the Earliest Accounts to the Present Time. Saxii's Onomasticon is the most commonly cited source.
My research goes on, and I still find the process utterly fascinating.