The Medieval Henchman & the Master of the Mill


The love and affection John and his mother had for one another was clearly evident. They gave each other strength.

John Thornton had lost his disgraced father through suicide and seen his family fortunes fall on desperate times. It took a lot of hard work and tenacity on Thornton’a part to restore the family’s status and rebuild their wealth, while looking out for his widowed mother and his feather-brained sister. Mrs. Thornton, a woman not to be trifled with, had a fierce love for her only son and pride in the man he had become. Fanny may have been a flibberty-gibbet, but there is no doubt she also loved her brother.

In his early teens, Sir Guy of Gisborne lost both his mother and his father in a terrible accidental fire for which he long blamed himself. His father had already been taken from Guy due to the elder Gisborne’s leprosy. The highly contagious disease made him a pariah in the community, forcing him to live away from his family. After their deaths, Guy was forced to strike out to make his way in the world, with a younger sister in tow–a sister with an unstable nature who would grow up to hate her brother for arranging her early marriage.

Both Guy and John could be volatile men with passionate natures. Both had larger ambitions, a desire to better themselves and to restore their families’ good names and fortunes. Both men were deeply in love with women who managed to cause them pain along the way.

Thornton had the unwavering, staunch support of his mother, who also provided him with a moral compass. He eventually won over his Margaret with the prospect of a happy married life ahead of them. Guy of Gisborne had—the sheriff of Nottingham. Why did he stay with the sheriff, a poisonous malevolent force? The promise of wealth, power and status. And the fact was as he told Marian, he truly had no one else. And when he thought he had finally won his adored Marian and had wealth and power within his grasp, it all turned to ashes at his feet.
John Thornton, the romantic hero. Guy of Gisborne, the tragic hero. Both expertly brought to life by the talents of Richard Armitage.



Sir Guy had to deal with the sadistic malevolence that was Vasey, who preyed on Guy's desires, ambitions and insecurities in order to use his master-at-arms to do his dirty work.

15 responses »

  1. Both men work hard in a managerial capacity. Of the modern ones I’ve met, and they are legion, few can begin to approach the likes of Thornton and Gisborne.

    • Good point, Leigh. Another parallel between the two. I like to think if Guy had not lost his mother and a stable home life, he could have become like Thornton and won the love of a good and deserving woman (I know Margaret gave him a hard time, but at least she didn’t manipulate and use John in the way Marian did poor Guy).

  2. I really adored the love exchanged between mother and son. I know Mrs. Thornton looked like she could chew you up and spit you out without missing a beat. But she loved her son unconditionally and would give him strength. I prefer that tough as nails approach than the fragile Mrs. Hale (Margaret’s mom).

    However mean Guy was, I could always forgive him. He was alone in the world and he needed the love of a good woman. Unfortunately, I was busy and far from Nothingham.

  3. I love the expression his face on pic#1! He’s bearing Mama Thornton’s adjusting his cravat with such good-natured patience! This fidgeting must be a motherly thing to do, my mum used to tidy my scarf, adjusting my collar, etc. just as I was about to go out and it used to drive me mad! Of course, now that she’s gone, I miss her doing it…

  4. LOL…RA has that expression of “okay mother, go ahead and fix my cravat, I know how much you love spiffing me up.”

  5. Hannah Thornton was a difficult character for me to actually like. I could admire and respect her yes, but the only time she showed any warmth was with her son. To have brought up John to be the man he became, without the influence of his father, was testament to her love, courage and support. I loved the way their relationship was portrayed.

    Poor Guy, when he says he has nobody, in answer to Marian’s question about why he works for the Sheriff, my heart breaks for him. Actually, my poor old heart does a lot of breaking for Guy…when it’s not responding to his hotness, that is.

    • I certainly would not have relished the idea of taking on Hannah as an enemy or as a mother-in-law, either. She was a chilly personage. But there was no doubt she loved and supported John completely and yes, her influence undoubtedly helped shape and mould John into the good man he was. The moments between them-the proud mama adjusting her son’s cravat as John gives her that indulgent, affectionate smile (I like to imagine Margaret Armitage doing something along the same lines with her handsome boy) and after John has been rejected by Margaret and believes no one loves him except his mom. Such a touching scene. I can’t blame Hannah for saying she hates Margaret for hurting John. I could imagine my own mother behacing in much the same way if someone had broken my heart.

      Oh, Guy–the way his voice almost breaks with emotion when he says, “I have no one!” Guy is my tragic hero and yes, he wrenches and breaks my poor heart and he stimulates my libido very nicely, too. I alternate between wanting to take care of him, to brush his hair back and tell him, “There, there, my love. Someone does care for you very much,” and dragging him off to a nice big bed. Matter a little (or a lot) of both? 😉

  6. Pingback: Thornton for Tuesday: Mercurial mill owner, the steadfast good son, romantic hero « the armitage effect

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