Sunday, 3 December 2017

"When the Game is Over, the King and the Pawn go in the Same Box"

Those were the first words spoken by Cortana. Who? Ah. No, not the Microsoft one, the one in Halo.
Oh. Well, I was idly wondering why Microsoft chose that rather stupid name for their lumpy attempt to create a virtual 'Personal Assistant' to rival Apple's equally stupidly named 'Siri'.
Google has one too, living in my phone, and it's somewhat more pedestrianly named 'Google now', I rarely use it in the sense in which it has been designed, because its voice recognition is less than stellar in performance, so it's usually easier to just type my queries.

Cortana, then. Googling 'Cortana' pulls up some interesting stuff, which I might have scraps of in the back of my brain, and I was wondering why it seemed such a made  up name and whether some product somewhere that I had encountered was called 'Curtana'.

Before we go there, and you're welcome to leave if you're bored, my brain has always tended upon random diversions, I'd just like to say 'Siri' is quicker, easier, and less stupid-sounding to say than 'Cortana'.  As would be 'Bozo', or 'Plonker'.

Googling, yes, googling, not Binging. Who bings? Hands up bingers? Oh. I see there are three of you... And you all work for Microsoft? Oh. And you've been told very bad things will happen to you and everybody you love.... including Fluffy, if you're caught googling, ever?

I see. It doesn't surprise me. Bing. Like google's needy sibling. Look, Microsloth, I neither want nor need tropical fish over coral reef pictures, when I'm chasing bits of information, I'm distracted enough already, without you showing me sunset over Ayers Rock.... Although its not permitted to call it Ayers Rock anymore, bit like Denali, isn't it.

Cortana. Well there it was in the back of my brain. Curtana! Curtana is the sword used in all of Britain's coronations.
Well, since A.D. 1236, anyway, in Henry the third's reign, when it was employed during the coronation of Eleanor of Provence.  Not so fast though... The one currently used was forged, so far as I can tell, in 1661, though it claims to be forged from the steel of the original Curtana, that was Cortana, going back to the ages of chivalry. There were three swords forged from the same steel, all were extraordinarily good swords, themselves vested with power beyond their steel.  The first of these was Joyeuse, the sword of Charlemagne, (which can be seen in the Louvre), said to incorporate the Spear of Destiny in its hilt,  the second, Durendal, carried by Charlemagne's right-hand man, Rolande, -Rolande was an unstoppable swordsman, and his sword carried magical powers, great juju, because it was made of magical steel, and had in its hilt a tooth of Saint Peter, blood of Saint Basil, hair of Saint Denis, and a piece of the raiment of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was indestructible, and when Rolande was ambushed by Saracens, at the battle of Roncevalles, he tried to destroy his sacred sword by smashing it on the rocks of the mountain, but instead cut a great cleft, 300 feet deep in the ridge. But all was not lost, because he cunningly hid it beneath is gold-armoured body as he died, so the saracens wouldn't find it.
Which brings us back to Cortana, because that was the third, carried by the hero, Ogier, the Dane, son of  King Geoffroy of Denmark, who, defeated by Charlemagne, had to send his first-born as hostage, to live in Charlemagne's household as as a lowly page.
Ogier, howeverscorned he had been,  distinguished himself in battle, saving Charlemagne's life, and turning the tide so the Saracens were routed.
"The rest of the day and the next were spent in the rejoicings of the army. Turpin in a solemn service implored the favor of Heaven upon the youthful knights, and blessed the white armor which was prepared for them. Duke Namo presented them with golden spurs, Charles himself girded on their swords. But what was his astonishment when he examined that intended for Ogier! The loving Fairy, Morgana, had had the art to change it, and to substitute one of her own procuring, and when Charles drew it out of the scabbard, these words appeared written on the steel: “My name is Cortana, of the same steel and temper as Joyeuse and Durendal.” Charles saw that a superior power watched over the destinies of Ogier; he vowed to love him as a father would, and Ogier promised him the devotion of a son."

Allegedly, this sword, gifted by Charlemagne to Ogier (also known as Holger), had previously been the sword of Sir Tristan, Knight of the Round Table. )



  1. I wrote this several years ago... Just found it in my drafts folder.


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