Roberta Meserole

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Madam
File:Roberta meserole-tealin.jpg
Roberta Meserole as drawn by Tealin
Name Lady Roberta Meserole
Race Human
Age
Occupation
Physical appearance
Residence The world; once bought and may stil own a house in Easy Street Ankh-Morpork
Death
Parents
Relatives Nephew: Havelock Vetinari
Children
Marital Status
Appearances
Books Night Watch.
Cameos She is mentioned, obliquely, in Guards! Guards!, as Vetinari's only living relative.

Lady Roberta Meserole, also called Madam, appears in the book Night Watch. She is a very mysterious character who prefers to pull strings in the background. Not much is known about her. She claims to be from Genua, and it is uncertain whether she has been married or not. She appears to have a liking for cats, albeit not long-haired white ones, but preferring elderly street toms with irregular bouts of flatulence.

Lady Roberta is, in fact, the aunt of Havelock Vetinari, and has been indirectly referenced in several other books, though she only makes a direct appearance in Night Watch. She played an important political role in the intrigue to overthrow Lord Winder, with the help of Vetinari, who was a student Assassin in those times.

She has sharp reflexes and the ability to throw a good punch: in Night Watch, she had an encounter with the young Nobby Nobbs, in which Nobby's advanced pickpocketing abilities proved no match for her discovery of his hand in her purse. She then showed great acumen: when Nobby regained consciousness, she realised his unique skills could be of use to her as a gofer, spy, and intelligence-gatherer. A lesser noble could have had all his fingers broken in several places, and him buried indefinitely in the Tanty: Lady Roberta saw a rough-and-ready street asset. Nobby agreed immediately, as she paid well and he had no desire to end up sharing a cell with his father.

She feels comfortable in the high society and likes to flirt with politically important people, in order to achieve her goals. Friends may call her Bobbi. Whether she really considers anybody a close friend is not certain.

Samuel Vimes seems to have earned her respect, and she secretly watches his moves and actions during the Glorious Revolution of Treacle Mine Road.

Annotations

  • Her character could be based on the character of Mylady de Winter in Dumas' Three Musketeers, or perhaps that character's real-life Roundworld counterpart, Lucy, Countess of Carlisle. During the British Civil Wars of the 1640s, the Countess used her privileged position as an aristocrat and lady-in-waiting to the Queen to secretly aid the rebellion against the Crown.
  • Other Roundworld referents might include Lola Montez, who started out as music hall dancer and occasional seamstress, but who manoeuvred her way up the ladder to become Queen of Bavaria; or actress Eva Peron, who famously and tunefully became power behind the throne in Argentina. Lady Marcia Falkender deserves a mention too: at first merely personal secretary to an ambitious young member of parliament called Harold Wilson, she stayed with him all the way up to his becoming Prime Minister. During his last term of office in the 1970's, there are rumours that as Wilson was diagnosed with Alzheimers and his role in politics consequently became shakier, it was actually she who was dictating and steering British government policy.
  • There is also the interesting example of the real-world Marquise de Monnier, an unconventional and convention-defying woman who was active in Paris as a fixer and arranger and intermediary, in the years immediately preceding the French Revolution. She was mistress to the Compte de Mirabeau, an aristo who not only dodged the guillotine, he became an influential figure (as opposed to a leader) in the French Revolutionary government. "de Monnier" wasn't her real name: she operated under a pseudonym and consequently had an aura of mystery and intrigue.