The Tanner’s Daughter

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In the month of April, in the year 1027, in the great castle of Falaise in Normandy, Arletta, also known as Herleva, is delivered of a son. 

Arletta’s illegitimate first-born son succeeds to the title, as William, Duke of Normandy. He grows to manhood and eventually triumphs over the English army of King Harold at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 and is crowned King, known thereafter to the British as William the Conqueror. 

And thus the brief and turbulent  romance between Robert the Magnificent, Duke of Normandy, and Arletta, only daughter of the tanner of Falaise, in the summer fields of Normandy, nearly a thousand years ago, has changed the course of English history for ever. 

This is their story …

Appox: 30 min duration – 22 pages 

 

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Extract from Script:

Robert is a nobleman and Arletta a peasant girl.  All three actors are dressed in costume appropriate to 11th C. France. 

Robert is seated. Arletta stumbles into the room as though propelled. And shouts to the wings, stage right.

ARLETTA:  And you can get trussed. You oaf!

ROBERT: Welcome. Lady.

ARLETTA:  Did you see? 

ROBERT: I use the term lightly, of course.

ARLETTA: That man. He laid hands on me.  Just  now. 

ROBERT: He probably knows how eager I was to see you again.

ARLETTA:  Is that soldier to be punished? 

ROBERT:  I think not.

ARLETTA: Why not?

ROBERT:  He probably remembers that when first I summoned you he was  unwise enough to call on you unarmed.  

ARLETTA:  Next time he gets a hefty kick in the balls – and chain mail won’t help him. (Robert sighs.)

ROBERT: I see that your temper has not improved, Arletta.

ARLETTA: I hope you realise I was busy when your soldiers knocked.

ROBERT:  Woman’s work? It can wait. (Arletta studies him for a moment.)

ARLETTA:  So, now I am here?  

ROBERT: Because I sent for you.

ARLETTA:  Is it now customary, sir, in this age of chivalry, to send for a lady with a sword?

Pause.

ROBERT: Do sit down, Arletta.

ARLETTA:  I prefer to stand.

ROBERT: Well, if you grow tired do feel free to sit.

ARLETTA:  I am not staying.  You have taken me away from important work with my father. And I do not care to be summoned by force. 

ROBERT: You did not respond to my first invitation so I had to be more… persuasive. (He regards her appraisingly.)

ROBERT: You are looking well, as always, I’m pleased to say. 

ARLETTA:  I don’t care whether you’re pleased or not.  I only know that unlike those who live in castles I have work to do. So I’ll ask you again — why have you sent for me, sir?