Bonus Material: Whitehall History Essay Question

16 Oct

History Exam: A History Of Whitehall

Student Name: Frieda, Daughter of Huckeba

Year: 2nd

Class: History of Magic

Assignment: detail, as best as you are able, the founding of Whitehall School, with reference to both the primary and secondary sources.

The problem with writing any sort of history of Whitehall School is that the principle sources are often in disagreement over even the slightest matters. Life of Whitehall, for example, assets that Lord Whitehall was the sole founder of the school, with only a handful of others glimpsed, like shadows, through the pages of the work. A History of Magical Schooling, however, states that there were at least five masters who collectively founded Whitehall School; Times Whitehall, written by Bernard De Born, insists that Whitehall was assisted by two others, but he was still the principle founder of the school. Life of Bernard, although not a primary source for the period, states that Bernard was Whitehall’s apprentice and later successor as Grandmaster. He would not want to slur his master in print!

Secondary sources are, if anything, rather more confused. Faerie Tales draws heavily on Times Whitehall, but adds Lord Chamber and Lord Rufus, both of whom are not mentioned elsewhere. Mountaintop discusses the similarities between Whitehall and Mountaintop, yet it makes reference to a number of works that have clearly not survived the ages. Indeed, Castles Codex makes it clear that Whitehall Castle was in existence long before the school itself, while the records in Dragon’s Den insist that the town is only a ‘mere’ three hundred years old. The writer of Castles Codex makes a number of references to other works on the castle and school, but again they have not survived. Finally, the Lay of Lord Alfred is a fictionalised version of the tale, yet it is hard to take it seriously. Alfred, portrayed as a wise man, is depicted as the power behind the throne, very much the Grand Vizier, while Lord Whitehall is a good-hearted fool. This alone would not be enough to discredit the work, but the Lay makes reference to magics that are well beyond anything else known to be possible, then or ever. Alfred might have been capable of fooling mundanes into believing he could pluck the moon from the sky, yet how could he have hoped to deceive his fellow magicians?

Therefore, try as we might, we are left with few facts about the early years of Whitehall School. We are even left guessing as to the exact date. Life of Whitehall claims that the school was founded seven hundred years ago; Mountaintop assets that Whitehall is a bare hundred years older than Mountaintop, which would imply an age of four hundred years. Castles Codex states that the building itself is over a thousand years old, but does not say when it became a school.

It is clear, it seems, that Whitehall Castle was established several hundred years prior to the school and later abandoned, for reasons alone. The builders of the castle remain unknown – even Castles Codex doesn’t offer speculation, beyond the observation that a number of other castles were established around the same time. One story, repeated as fact in the Lay of Lord Alfred, claims that the builders disturbed something nasty sleeping below the school and had to leave in a hurry. An alternate explanation was that their attempts to harness the nexus point under Whitehall failed, triggering an outflow of raw magic that killed or transfigured everyone present in the castle. All that really matters is that the castle had been abandoned for quite some time before the Whitehall Commune arrived.

Oddly, most of the primary sources agree on the composition of the Whitehall Commune. In those days, a couple of masters would band together and take on a number of apprentices, who in turn would be followed by a handful of camp followers. These apprentices, always male (women were not taught magic in those days), would eventually take on apprentices of their own, after separating from their masters. The Whitehall Commune, however, was odd in that it had only five (or seven, depending on which source we believe) masters and over fifty apprentices (and a small army of camp followers). Life of Whitehall states that Whitehall took in a number of apprentices after their masters were killed and, in the absence of any other evidence, it seems plausible.

Whitehall himself is something of an enigma. He is reputed to have concluded a brilliant apprenticeship in his youth with a figure known as Myrddin the Sane, but frustratingly little else is known of this person or Whitehall’s early life. Life of Whitehall skips over so much detail that his earliest true appearance is his early forties, as leader of the commune. Just how he rose to that point and how many apprentices he took, save for Bernard De Born, is lost to time. The only other point known about him, from other sources, is that he was a strong opponent of the DemonMasters and a firm believer that the Black Arts should be unceremoniously banned for the good of all.

Whitehall was, apparently, the key figure in making the decision to head to Whitehall Castle (quite what the castle was known before then has also been lost to time) and did so under quite some opposition. The Lay of Lord Alfred, however, insists that Whitehall had to be talked into moving to Whitehall and taking the deserted castle for his own.

At this point, another mysterious figure enters the picture. The Dark Lady is mentioned in Times Whitehall and Life of Bernard, but is completely absent from both Life of Whitehall and Lay of Lord Alfred. Indeed, some researchers believe her to be mythical. So much about her is uncertain that it is impossible to say anything for sure. Times Whitehall states that she was Whitehall’s apprentice, the first female apprentice known to recorded history, while Life of Bernard insists that she was a fully-trained magician when the commune discovered her at the castle. If so, who trained her? She does appear in several stories passed down the years, mainly as Whitehall’s wife or love interest, but this doesn’t explain why she was schooled in magic. Female magicians, at the time, were expected to have as many children as possible, not spend their days studying magic.

It is generally agreed that Whitehall and his followers entered the castle and took control of the nexus point, giving birth to the Warden. What happened next, which was truly revolutionary, was the development of an actual school. Instead of very limited occupational training, they were given a wide range of lessons, studying the different branches of magic known to exist. This led, very quickly, to the development of early alchemy, attempts to tap the magical properties of the natural world. All sources agree that alchemy was developed at Whitehall; Life of Whitehall credits Whitehall himself with the discovery.

At this point, there was a major dispute within the larger magical community, such as it was in those days. Details are quite scarce. The only point that all of the sources agree upon is that a number of masters, probably including several DemonMasters, believed that Whitehall would create a patronage network of magicians that would rapidly eclipse the previous master-apprenticeship relationships. Life of Bernard, in the meanwhile, asserts that Bernard himself was targeted by envious rivals (notably, this claim is not repeated in Times Whitehall) who feared his growing power. Lay of Lord Alfred speaks ominously of dissent within the castle and several members of the commune who, if they did not turn against Whitehall, stood aside when the castle itself came under attack. Times Whitehall does add the suggestion that the attackers were motivated by misogyny, although, as Bernard was seemingly quite taken with the Dark Lady, it is unclear how reliable this statement actually is.

What is clear is that the castle came under attack and Whitehall defeated them. Precisely how he did this is lost to time; Times Whitehall asserts that he used the wards, far more powerful than any previously raised by human hands, to drive out the attackers. Life of Whitehall claims the attackers were all turned into pigs, which were then eaten at dinner, but such gruesome details are hopefully inaccurate.

Whitehall died shortly afterwards and was succeeded by Bernard De Born, who became the first Grandmaster. Whitehall may or may not have allowed girls to study magic (it isn’t clear just when girls were first permitted to study at the school) but Bernard did allow female students, although their studies were restricted for at least a century after the original decision was made until Healers were able to prevent death in childbirth.

Bernard was determined, in honour of his master, to overcome the need to study the Black Arts and funded hundreds of research programs into strengthening magic. Times Whitehall specifically states that Bernard was responsible for discovering that cross-breeding long-standing magician bloodlines with wild magicians made them stronger (Life of Bernard claims that Bernard himself fathered at least a dozen children on five or six separate mothers) while the first true alchemists developed ways to boost magic, at least for short periods. Lay of Lord Alfred includes long and vague sections that may be a reference to necromancy, but the first true necromancers were not recorded until the Second Faerie War.

It is impossible, in conclusion, to say with any certainty just what happened during the founding and early history of Whitehall School. The dating controversy alone makes it hard to say who was alive at the time, while a number of documents dating back to the founding are either deliberately slanted, make reference to other documents that are now lost or discuss events that, frustratingly, would be common knowledge at the time. However, I believe the above represents the best picture that can be put together at present.

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5 Responses to “Bonus Material: Whitehall History Essay Question”

  1. G October 16, 2015 at 10:09 pm #

    Wonderful backstory…Emily going back in time as the Dark Lady to Lord Whitehall’s founding of Whitehall would be interesting–thrown back by a fairie ring???–but you might consider the need to wrap up a number of loose ends with Cockatrice in moving from the first to the second arc at some point–from what I’ve heard from friends of the transition at the end of Wedding Hells it’s very abrupt…When the people of Cockatrice or Alassa need help–and their going to–will Emily ignore/abandon them??. Was Emily the girl with Lord Whitehall in the picture hanging in Aurelious’ private library at Mountaintop?? How will she finish her education…future status issues in the unknown worlds society…I’m looking forward to future books!!

  2. His dad October 19, 2015 at 1:19 am #

    You previously introduced freida as freida Wandbreaker, IRC

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