Today’s look at the Royal Occultist universe deals with one of the previous incumbents – the oft-mentioned Earl of Holderness, Prince Rupert of the Rhine.
Prince Rupert of the Rhine, 1st Earl of Holderness, Duke of Bavaria, soldier, admiral, scientist, slave-trader and sportsman was the holder of the offices of Royal Occultist during the turbulent period of history known as the English Civil War.
It is unknown what incident marked Rupert’s elevation to the office of Royal Occultist not long after his arrival in England, but he soon proved his aptitude for the esoteric during the Affair of the Buckinghamshire Devil in 1642.
With the broken remains of the eponymous devil buried beneath an innocuous field, Rupert set about proving his worth as both a military commander and the Queen’s Conjurer.
Rupert’s career as Royal Occultist was fraught, to say the least. The civil war was a period of mass chaos, marked by witchcraft and necromancy on an unprecedented scale as dark forces sought to take advantage of the troubles. From the renegade alchemist O’Neill to the degenerate d’Amptons of Derbyshire, Rupert’s opponents were too numerous to properly record. Even so, he managed to assemble one of the largest occult libraries in the Occident, as well as a not inconsiderable arsenal of mystical artefacts over the course of his tenure, and he is known to have developed and refined a number of rituals still used by the holder of the offices to this day.
Despite this, his conduct during his tenure was not without blemish–Rupert was not above attempting to turn the horrors he faced to his own advantage, such as his attempt to bind the monstrous Knights of St. George to the Royalist cause or his association with a certain mysterious ‘Lapland lady’, who often accompanied Rupert on his investigations in the shape of a white dog. Indeed, Rupert is known to have used vile sorceries against the King’s enemies on no less than two occasions, and is rumoured to have made an attempt on Oliver Cromwell’s life through mystic means.
Rupert was stripped of the offices in 1655, and soon after, his quarrels with the Royalist court-in-exile sent him to the Germanies, where he is known to have consulted with a certain Baron Vordenburg of Styria, on the matter of the Devil Ferenczy, as well as the Circus of Night. He re-assumed the post briefly in 1660 following the Restoration in order to combat the machinations of the Kind Folk, but, weary and disinterested, soon stepped aside, in favour of another.
Rupert is one among a number of historical personages that I tapped early on to be former holders of the office of Royal Occultist. I thought that by interweaving real and imaginary people, I could give the stories a bit of grounding. Too, Rupert, like John Dee, is interesting in and of himself. Scientist, artist, statesman…Rupert was a Renaissance man in the truest sense of the word. If you’re interested in learning more, I recommend Charles Spencer’s book, Prince Rupert: The Last Cavalier (2007).
While Rupert’s adventures have yet to be chronicled – though I’m considering it – his presence is felt in a number of the Royal Occultist stories. Like John Dee, he’s mentioned in most of them, however briefly. And “The Riders of St. George” – which you can read for free on Patreon – deals with the fallout of one of Rupert’s own investigations.
For more on the adventures of St. Cyprian and Gallowglass, as well as past and future holders of the office, take a look at the Royal Occultist chronology on this site, as well as a number of free short stories, available only on Patreon. And be sure to ‘Like’ the Royal Occultist Facebook page, in order to keep up with all the latest news and info on the series!