A Fantasy Tip From History: Doo-Dooing The King

Nicholas C. Rossis

Hand Of The King | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's books Hand Of The King pin (image: Dark Comics)

In Game Of Thrones, it is the King’s Hand who exerts some real power of the Seven Kingdoms. His symbol, appropriately enough, was a pin depicting a hand.

But in yet another example of reality being stranger than fiction, it was the Groom of the Stool—named for the close stool, the king’s 16th-century toilet—who filled a highly coveted position in the royal house. How powerful were they? Well, historians believe that both James I and his successor King Charles I were so swayed by their grooms’ counsel that political discussions of the king’s privy helped fuel the 17th-century English Civil War.

As Natalie Zarrelli of Atlas Obscura observes, every day, as the king sat on his padded, velvet-covered close stool, he revealed secrets. He asked for counsel, and could even hear of the personal and political woes of his personal…

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