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A Place Called Gloria

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Historical and Cultural Background on Dorian’s Title

As a consequence of the Anglican schism in the 16th century, Henry VIII confiscated ecclesiastical properties, and redistributed them to existing or newly-created aristocrats (the flower of English nobility having been decimated in the War of the Roses, there were many a new nobleman created by the Tudors). Individuals were usually invested with a hereditary peerage for services rendered: and this might have been the case for Luminous Red Benedict, a privateer for the British crown in the 16th/17th century, and originally the son of a wealthy merchant.

When someone is made an Earl, their hereditary title can either be tied to a piece of land, or not. In the former case, which is obviously a better situation for the family to be, their title takes the form of:

Given Name Family Name, Earl  OF  Placename

Otherwise it is just Earl Family Name.

Opinions diverge in the fandom as to what exact name and title should be assigned to Dorian when translating from the Japanese—if we want to stick with a realist (mostly slash-slanted) take on the manga, rather than to go for a (mostly yaoi-slanted) literal translation and privilege the way Aoike represents the European setting through a Japanese filter.

One of the foremost examples is the way Dorian is addressed. In the Japanese original, Dorian is “Hakushaku Gloria”, and in direct address “Hakushaku.” The CMX and the fan translations render this literally as “Earl Gloria”, addressed as “Earl.” Which is fine if you want to stick as close to the original as possible. However, if we go for a cultural translation, Earls are not addressed as such—according to British nobility rules, the direct form of address should be “Lord Gloria” or “Milord.” The translations actually use that as well, which is confusing. For a more detailed explanation of forms of address, you can refer to Cassie Ingaben’s essay “Addressing the Earl of Gloria and His Family”

We personally subscribe to the slash/realist take, and we try to explain canonical evidence as internal to the text (‘this is what an English Earl thinks/does’), rather than external (‘this is what Japanese people think/do’).

We also like to believe that Dorian is Dorian Red, the Earl OF Gloria:

Dorian=given name

Red=family name

Gloria=title, taken from a place name

The problem here is: how do we get from Luminous Red Benedict/Luminous Benedict Red to Dorian Red, the Earl of Gloria? In Seven Skies, Seven Seas, Luminous is addressed as “Captain Red”—and sometimes he is called “Luminous Benedict Red, the son of a hanged Benedict.”

A possible way out would be:

Luminous= nickname or alias

This could be a reference to his “luminous” golden hair. It was not unknown for pirates to adopt another name (e.g. Calico Jack, Long John Silver), to avoid bringing shame on their family name or because they were running from the law to begin with—which he would, after his father was hanged

Benedict=given name (same as his father)

Red=family name

So we could postulate a Benedict Red, Junior, taking on the battle name of Luminous Red, but known privately to close friends as Benedict. There is a neat ancestor/descendant analogy: Dorian Red, aka Eroica, and Benedict Red, aka Luminous. After Benedict offs Tyrian, the Queen makes him the Earl of Gloria, so he becomes Benedict Red, the Earl of Gloria—also known as Luminous.

A second explanation (less convincing) might be:

Luminous=given name

Red=family name

Benedict=nickname or alias: “the blessed”

Benedict could thus also be a middle name, as a homage to his father Benedict Red (cfr. John Bob Smith, son of Bob Smith). In the case of Benedict being a nickname, albeit derived from his father’s name, there is a neat analogy: Dorian Red, aka Eroica, and Luminous Red, aka Benedict. After all, you need a blessing to be able to go against Tyrian Persimmon and win ;-)

A Place Called Gloria

Our chosen setup of course requires the existence of a place called Gloria, from which Dorian’s title derives.  It’s easy to postulate a Church holding near what later became Dorian's estate, possibly even Jesuit since their motto—Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam, for the greater glory of God—could have been bastardized to a post-Dissolution earldom called Gloria.

So, let’s say that Gloria is a small town, named for a local priory whose motto was “Ad majorem dei gloriam” (yes, pun on “major” intended).  When Gloria Priory was expropriated by the crown, it became the residence of the Earls, and it is now called Castle Gloria, probably because Dorian fancied himself a chatelain (!)

We have been trying to find a likely location for Gloria in the North Downs—you can see the results here. This is of course pure speculation, but it’s been fun!

The North Downs

The word “down” derives from Old English “dun” meaning hill. So, the name means the North Hills,” and it is a plural. Note that the correct usage is THE North Downs, as it is a largish area not a specific place. The North Downs are a picturesque and affluent area in the South of England. They include the counties of Surrey and Kent, and they are relatively near London (about one hour by car). Natural beauties include the White Cliffs of Dover, and the The North Downs Way National Trail.

Runner Up: Reigate, Surrey

Reigate is a good candidate for the following reasons:

  • There is a Reigate Priory. It was given by Henry VIII to some new-fangled noble family, which included an Earl
  • The name Reigate is similar to Red
  • It's in Surrey, and near enough to London (especially with a Lamborghini)

Winner: Redhill, Surrey

This by far the best candidate we could find. It is next to Reigate: they can really considered one urban agglomeration. So Reigate’s good points also apply. Moreover: 

  • The name is just perfect
  • It has an aerodrome  (for the Zeppelin)
  • It’s near an area called Earlwood
  • There was a Victorian psychiatric hospital, hosting  autistic savant inmate James Henry Pullen
  • It includes Gatton Park—an estate now opened to the public. It includes a Japanese garden, and it’s a splendid place indeed
    • Gatton Park gardens were designed by Lancelot "Capability" Brown in the 1700s—a colour last name,  and a first name that would appeal to Dorian's fanciful nature. Capability Brown was also known for his eccentric and somewhat baroque style
    •  The rose gardens were moved closer to the house –of course! Dorian wanted his favourite flowers closer
    •  "Again this garden was lost in the 1950s when regular maintenance ceased."—yep, that's when the Dorian's father fell on hard times and they had to move away.
  • There is a self-proclaimed gay-friendly Nutfield Priory Hotel & Spa, which also looks very much like Castle Gloria. (I've been there, it's amazing!)