Thursday, June 18, 2015

What's with the Hat?

So who is Gaston and why is his hat writing a blog?

Well Gaston Thibeault is a character I created for my Honor+Intrigue campaign, which inspired this blog. Gaston is an old soldier, older in fact than the other player characters in the campaign. He ran away from home and joined the Regimente du Picardie, otherwise known as the Picardy Musketeers, during the last years of the reign of Le Grande Henri or as he is known to the histories, Henri IV King of France and Navarre. After Henri was assassinated, Gaston left France serving in several other armies including the forces arrayed against the Hapsburgs at the Battle of White Mountain in November of 1620. During the retreat after that disastrous defeat, Gaston was able to save two things, a fancy vizcaina or main gauche that he took off the body of a Spanish Don and his battered old hat. In 1621 he returned to France in time to serve in the Huguenot Wars during which his old hat again served him well. This inspired Gaston to write a poem entitled "Ode to an Old Hat"[i].

Poor old hat! Poor old hat! Thy plumes worn away

    An’ folk call us old fashioned and odd;

    But many’s the storm we have met since that day,

    When I bought thee all shiny and broad.

    As I walked ‘long the street with thee perched on my brow,

    Folk’s manners most gentle to see;

    An I thought it were me they bade ‘how-do-you-now?'

    But I know now they nodded at thee.

Poor old hat! Poor old hat! I must cast thee aside,

    For our friendship has lasted too long;

    Tho’ thou still art my comfort, an once were my pride,

    Thou art despised in this world's giddy throng.

    Don’t think me ungrateful, or call me unkind,

    If another I’ll put in thy place;

    For I think thou'll admit if thou'll open thy mind,

    Thou can bring me no more but disgrace.

Poor old hat! Poor old hat! Very soon it may be,

    I’ll be scorned an cast off like thee’ve been;

    An be shoved out the gate with less kindness nor thee

    And have nobody to care for me then.

    But one thing I’ll contrive as thy’ve served me so well,

    And thy gave thee best days to my use;

    No more degradation I’ll cause thee to feel,

    For I’ll screen thee from scorn an abuse.

Poor old hat! Poor old hat! If thou’rt thrown out the door,

    Thy may happen t’be kicked left and right,

    For like more things in this world, if thou’rt shabby an poor,

    It were best thee should keep out o’sight.

    Wine mellows with age, and old pots fetch big brass,

    And folk rave of antique this an’ that,

    And they worship grey stones, and old bones, but alas!

    There's nobody respects an old hat.

Poor old hat! Poor old hat! Ne'er repine at thy lot,

    If thou’rt useful what more can thy be?

    Better wear clean away nor be idle an’ rot,

    And remember thou’rt useful to me.

    Though it’s hard to give up what were once dearly prized,

    Thy but does what all earthly things must,

    For though we live honored, or perish despised, -

We're at last but a handful o' dust.
The hat survived a few adventures before finally succumbing to one too many holes from pistol and musket balls. It was supplemented by and eventually replaced by a more expensive hat provided by M. Percerin, Maréchal Bassompierre's own tailor, to match the elegant suit that the Maréchal gave[ii] to then Lieutenant Thibeault.

As you may have noticed, Gaston looks a lot like Captain Alatriste as played by Viggo Mortensen. This is intentional as Captain Alatriste is one of the inspirations for Gaston. Here's a couple of pictures of Gaston/Alatriste/Viggo...and the hat.

Gaston - Alatriste Viggo Mortenson hat edited.jpg                Alatriste w Hat - Viggo Mortenson.jpg

[i] Adventure 05: Musketeer’s Reward, Chapter I: Compliments of a Maréchal of France

[ii] Adapted from "Poor Old Hat" by John Hartley (1839-1915) original is in Yorkshire dialect.

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