Snapcase

From Discworld & Terry Pratchett Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Patrician who came to power after Lord Winder. During his reign, he was considered "eccentric" rather than mad by the upper classes, but he is now known by most Morporkians, including the nobles, as the Mad Lord. He was sadistic, and extremely fond of torture, much like his predecessor. Mad (sometimes Psychoneurotic) Lord Snapcase was succeeded by Lord Vetinari. There are very few historical records of Lord Snapcase's Tyranny, but one documented case is that he called for the killing of John Keel / Sam Vimes. Aware that a very talented Assassin was responsible for inhuming his predecessor, Snapcase is known to have asked for files to be prepared on "up-and-coming young men in the Assassins' Guild". The intention may have been to invite the very capable young assassin round to the palace for a handshake and hearty congratulations, but in the immediate aftermath of passing a death sentence on Keel, another alternative presents itself. This is considered to perhaps at least be partly one of the reasons for said Assassin embarking on the Grand Sneer mentioned in The Fifth Elephant. Snapcase is also assumed to be the Patrician who hired the Assassin Zlorf Flannelfoot to inhume the tourist Twoflower.

Political history of the following period is almost non-existent. If the rough chronology starting with Night Watch to the "present" (i.e. thirty years later) offers any clues, then at some point after the end of those events chronicled in Night Watch, Fred Colon and Nobby Nobbs performed their respective military service. The books make explicitly clear that this was done in formal uniform as part of an army, as opposed to being part of a Watch. (ref. Samuel Vimes to a hapless Burleigh in Jingo - "I am not a military man"). This, in Colon's case, could only have been achieved by his leaving the Watch, serving for an unspecified length of time with a Regiment, where either here or shortly after returning to the Watch he is promoted Sergeant. Nobby, on the other hand, was of an age in Night Watch to have gone directly into a Regiment as a boy soldier - presumably he would have joined the Watch afterwards. As Nobby is known to have served in the Pseudopolitian army, which is expressly stated to have lost all its wars because of the extent of pilfering from the stores - and Nobby is named as a quartermaster during this time - then the question arises - who was Pseudopolis at war WITH during this period? Ankh-Morpork, perhaps? Maybe this is yet to be seen, but those few facts can be deduced with certainty. Wars happened during Snapcase's Patricianship, and if they involved the smaller city states of the Sto Plains, they would almost certainly have involved Ankh-Morpork. The wars involving Borogravia, Zlobenia and their neighbours would almost certainly have been in full spate at this time, having the potential to disrupt and destabilise their neighbours. This may explain why both Samuel Vimes and Vetinari are adamantly against war as a continuation of diplomacy by other means - as younger men they would have seen and witnessed the results. Vetinari, in both Jingo and Making Money, is horrified by the prospect of war and does everything he can to halt it. The Snapcase family still has its country seat at Sproutington Hall, in the village of Sproutington.

In fact, in Jingo, Fred Colon confirms that there were wars between Ankh-Morpork and Pseudopolis. Such a conflict may well have numbered among the many petty Sto Plains wars which Susan, in Soul Music, recalls her father Mort had spent his later years averting by diplomacy.Fred also confirms, talking to Vetinari, that Snapcase was in fact Vetinari's immediate predecessor.

It would have been under Snapcase's administration that the 20p bounty on rat tails (mentioned in Soul Music) was introduced, to suppress a serious rodent infestation in the city. As typical for his out-of-touch incompetence, Snapcase’s imposed bounty had the opposite effect of suppressing the infestation; it wasn’t until Vetinari’s more practical decree to “tax the rat farms” that the city’s rat population actually declined.

The lack of factual information - dates, events, people - about his time as Patrician may be because of Snapcase's mental disorder, which caused him to be very secretive while trying to spy on everyone else. Also, his obsession with his own security left him little time to govern or affect history: although there is only inferential evidence for it (Fred Colon would only have joined a regiment if a regiment was there to join - and why was recruitment, or, even conscription, needed?) Ankh-Morpork may have been drawn into war by default or by Snapcase's obsessive paranoia poisoning A-M's foreign policy. His overthrow, and the election of Lord Vetinari are still undocumented and even the date is in doubt.

It is hinted by Fred Colon in Feet of Clay that Snapcase wore a dress at some point.


We are told (as an aside in Interesting Times) that the end of Snapcase's reign was predicated by his treatment of an unfortunate Thief called Spooner Boggis, who came up for judgement for an unknown crime, and was forced by Snapcase to eat his own nose. The name Boggis suggests an association with the Thieves' Guild, but unluckily for Spooner, it had not at this point been formally recognised as a legitimate City guild.

The rebellion that then arose against Lord Snapcase (and, as punishment, hung him up by his figgin) was, at least in the history books, blamed on this incident. But everybody knows that in fact, the real reason a rebellion arose was just because people were fed up with Snapcase's insanity and years of inventive nastiness had built up until their grievances were too much to bear... and given the machinations accompanying Winder's fall and Snapcase's accession, it is perhaps legitimate to ask who might have been manipulating this situation with a change of Patrician in mind. Which vested interests had Snapcase finally threatened?

Incidental detail in The Compleat Ankh-Morpork tells us the Snapcase family, although diminished in importance and political influence, are still part of the city nobility. They hold extensive property investments in Ankh, and both Snapcase Street and Snapcase Square are named after the family. One of the major town houses was given to the Guild of Butlers, Valets and Gentlemen's Gentlemen and is now their Guildhall.

Annotation

Like Gaius Caligula, Snapcase elected his favorite horse as an advisor. In Feet of Clay it is mentioned that this was one of his better choices, as the other advisors at the time were a flowerpot, a pile of sand, and three men he had beheaded.