"When the worlds of fae and human are open, the reflection of love shimmers like a rainbow."
Dragon Knight's Sword, Order of the Dragon Knights
This series! Order of the Dragon Knights has been such a treasure for me, introducing brave, magnificent heroes and heroines, powerful, unscrupulous villains, and a wholly unique and thrilling realm.
Happy Medieval Monday! This month marks the tenth anniversary for the series. Ten years ago this month, Mary Morgan signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press for the first book of the series, Dragon Knight's Sword.
From Dragon Knight's Sword to Dragon Knight's Ring, which is the last book in the Order of the Dragon Knights series, onto the Legends of the Fenian Warriors and the other beautiful, related books, the reader is absorbed into a magical world of fae and druids, and dragons. Coexisting for centuries, the fae and human realms are racing towards catastrophe. Despite a curse, in the face of remorseless treachery and unspeakable anguish, love proves itself stronger than all.
For me, it's very hard -- nae, impossible -- to choose a favorite book from the series. But I can name a few favorite aspects of each.
Dragon Knight's Sword -- my introduction to the Dragon Knights, so not much can top that. But I do really love the way Duncan and Brigid become aware of each other.
Dragon Knight's Medallion -- It always strikes me (yes, I've read all the books more than once), that while all of the Dragon Knights are good men, Stephen might be the gentlest. Also, I love that Aileen is part fae.
Dragon Knight's Axe -- So maybe, just maybe this is my favorite book of the series. For one thing, I'm madly in love with Fenian Warrior Rory MacGregor. For another, I appreciate that Alastair's powers come from the land. As a gardener and nature lover, I can relate.
Dragon Knight's Shield -- Angus and Deirdre -- wow! He is a tortured leader. She is a sword-wielding badass. What's not to love?
Dragon Knight's Ring -- Adam, Meggie, Jamie -- beautiful. This story sort of brings things full circle. Prepare to cry buckets.
The settings for all the books are magnificent, often the medieval Scottish Highlands -- Urqahart Castle, Loch Ness, the Great Glen, not to mention Trinity College in Dublin.
Have I mentioned there's a dragon?
There's so much love throughout this series -- friendship, brotherhood, family, true and sizzling romance. In these books, love conquers pain, evil, even time.
The Order of the Dragon Knights series, along with Legends of the Fenian Warriors, join the ranks of classic fantasy. I love them more than all because despite the battles, pain, and torment the characters go through, love and hope prevail.
And isn't that just what our world needs?
Congratulations, Mary Morgan, on the anniversary of your brilliant series. Classic.
Be sure to stop by MaryMorganAuthor.com to learn about her books.
For more medieval fun, visit both Mary Morgan and Barbara Bettis.
Wishing you a wonderful week ahead!
May peace and plenty bless your world
With joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
Bring the best to you and yours.
Happy Medieval Monday! Welcome, May!
Nestled between the spring equinox and summer solstice, the first of May has been celebrated since ancient times. It was Floralia to the Romans, Beltane to the Gaels, and in many countries has been called May Day for centuries.
Beltane was -- is -- a celebration of life, nature, and fertility. Although not yet the summer solstice, it's considered the beginning of summer.
For the medieval Celts -- and many other medieval peoples -- it was a time of joy and anticipation. Crops were beginning to grow, fruit trees were budding, and animals could finally be led to pasture. The dark days of winter were well and truly over.
Also, according to pre-Christian beliefs, it was a time when the veil between the worlds was thin. Bonfires were lit for protection against evil. Rituals, dancing, and feasting took place around the fire.
While Beltane traditions waned in later centuries, they never completely disappeared. In many places, Beltane and other May Day celebrations have made a comeback. Edinburgh's Fire Festival on Calton Hill, for one, is a huge, unique, and important cultural event.
Beltane Fire Society
A Detailed History of Beltane
At its core -- now as much as in days of old -- Beltane is a celebration of hope. Isn't that nice?
I, with my agrarian tendencies, will smile upon my little garden, think of my loved ones, and consider the world. And I will send up prayers of hope and gratitude.
For more Medieval Monday, be sure to visit medieval ladies Mary Morgan and Barbara Bettis.
Wishing you a beautiful day -- and a beautiful May!
Forêt Brocéliande en automne, Thérèse Gaigé, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
"And for nearly a whole day thus, I rode along, as best I could,
Till at last I issued from the wood that was in Brocéliande."
Chrétien de Troyes, Le Chevalier au Lion, c. 1170
Located near Rennes, in Bretagne, northwestern France, also known as Paimpont Forest, Brocéliande is literally a forest of legend -- as in, it's in the legends! We're talking Merlin and the Lady of the Lake (Viviane), Morgan le Fay, and the Knights of the Round Table! There's the enchanted Val Sans Retour - Valley of No Return, Merlin's tomb-- I know, right? -- standing stones, a fountain of youth, a haunted castle or two, and more than one mystical lake. It was in Brocéliande that Lancelot confessed his love to Guinivere.
Fountain of Youth -- The Celts called the fountain Jaouanc, meaning "youth". Historians say that on the summer solstice, druids would wash the year's newborns in the fountain and mark their names in the marith (register). If the parents couldn't make it that year, they would go the next and the babe would still counted a "newborn" -- one year younger!
Fontaine de jouvence, Brocéliande, Giogo, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Merlin's Tomb -- where the fairy Viviane trapped him to keep him with her forever.
Tombeau_Merlin, Raphodon, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
The Fairy Viviane's House --actually a neolithic burial chamber.
Hotié de Viviane, Fab5669, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Valley of No Return -- King Arthur's half-sister, Morgan Le Fay, caught her lover in the arms of another woman and turned them to stone. She then cast an enchantment upon the whole valley so that those unfaithful in love would be stuck there, lost in time for eternity. Sir Lancelot, true in his love for Guinevere, broke the curse. Good ole Sir Lancelot...
Val sans Retour, franek2, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Erected 4500 to 3000 B.C., there are megaliths throughout the forest. The Menhirs of Monteneuf are arranged in seven rows, east to west. Dolmens (also called "portal tombs", each usually consisting of a large, flat stone (table or capstone) on top of two upright ones) and burial chambers are nearby.
Paths branch out from the site into the forest.
Menhirs de Monteneuf, François de Dijon, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Comper Castle -- where Viviane, Lady of the Lake and Merlin's lover, swam with baby Sir Lancelot. Merlin built her a crystal palace here. It's said to be buried at the bottom of the lake. The site is believed to have been home to King Saloman of Brittany in the ninth century. The castle has been built and rebuilt many times through the centuries.
Château de Comper, Brocéliande, Centre de l'Imaginaire Arthurien, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Trécesson Castle -- The site dates back to the 700s or before -- no one knows the origin of the castle. But it's believed that the present castle was constructed in the fourteenth century. This one is purportedly haunted, but not by Merlin or the Knights of the Round Table. One story tells of a young woman -- hundreds of years ago -- dressed in white and with a wreath of roses on her head, who was pulled from a carriage and buried alive at the castle. She can be seen roaming the castle, most notably on the roof during a full moon. A ghostly game of cards has also frequently been reported.
Château de Trécesson, Audrey Le Tiec, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Mystical Forest of Brocéliande
La Voie Royale, Philippe Manguin, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Old Oak, Brocéliande, Kilobug, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
This is just the tip of the iceberg! Paimpont Forest is filled with historical sites, prehistoric megaliths, and sites linked to Arthurian legend. It is also a great place for naturalists and outdoor enthusiasts with forests, lakes, moors, and plenty of wildlife.
For more of Brocéliande in literature, check out Chrétien de Troyes' romance Le Chevalier au Lion, Lord Alfred Tennyson's Idylls of the King, Robert de Boron's poem Merlin, and Claris et Laris, to name a few.
For a bit more information on Brocéliande:
The Good Life France
There are plenty of tourism websites about the area to choose from.
I hope you've enjoyed this wee, little tour! Be sure to visit Mary Morgan and Barbara Bettis. Mary's blog isn't strictly medieval today, but it's a wonderful post (as always).
Wishing you a grand Medieval Monday!
Call me no longer Locksley, my Liege, but know me under the name, which, I fear, fame hath blown too widely not to have reached even your royal ears. I am Robin Hood of Sherwood Forest.
-- Sir Walter Scott, Ivanhoe
Happy Medieval Monday! I was having coffee out on our patio this weekend, staring at the trees dotting our view and reflecting on how much I love forests. Then it came to me! How fun would it be to research some of the more famous forests from medieval legend?
And so today it’s not Robin Hood we’re after, but Sherwood Forest. While we might never be entirely sure who Robin Hood was, it’s nice to know that there really was a King John, Nottingham, and Sherwood Forest. It lends credence to the possibility of the Prince of Thieves, don’t you agree?
The earliest mention of a mention that I can find of Sherwood Forest follows – and it’s repeated in several places on the web.
The name ‘Sherwood’ was first recorded in 958 A.D. when it was called ‘Sciryuda’ meaning "the woodland belonging to the shire".
It seems to me the name “Sciryuda” was recorded, not “Sherwood”. I’m not even sure what language that is and evidently don’t know where to look to find out. I’m going to email one of the sources, however. We shall see who knows what! In any case, it’s been a recognized area for at least a few thousand years.
The Domesday Book of 1086 mentions the forest as covering most of Nottinghamshire. According to various UK government agencies, it comprised around 100,000 acres in medieval times.
Romans cleared some of the forest during their occupation of the area. Later, following William the Conquerer’s invasion in 1066, it was designated a Royal Hunting Forest.
When Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, powerful dukes were granted the lands. Called “the dukeries”, most of the estates are still intact and well worth visiting.
Today, Sherwood Forest is much smaller than it once was. Excluding the vast estates, it’s comprised of around 1,049 acres, filled with pine, birch, and ancient oak trees. The oaks are major players, some of the oldest oaks in Europe -- about a thousand of them. The Major Oak has its own trail. Estimated to be between 800 to 1,000 years old, this huge and venerable tree has a circumference of around 36 feet, is approximately 52 feet tall, and its canopy spreads around 92 feet.
All the usual woodland creatures make their home in Sherwood Forest -- deer, rabbits, hedgehogs, squirrels, bats, birds, and plenty of insects! Cattle can also be found grazing.
It’s surrounded by Nottinghamshire, which includes the city of Nottingham. To my surprise – I don’t know what I was thinking – well, I do know. I was thinking King John and Robin Hood. It’s a bustling, modern metropolis with lots to offer both historically and otherwise. There are manmade caves, a castle, great restaurants and museums. I begin to think it’s a must-see!
I did not realize what a vast undertaking research on Sherwood Forest would turn out to be. Each estate is worthy of several posts of their own. I have to say – I’m writing this after reading back over the full post – finding exact and matching numbers and information has not been easy. It might be that it’s out of of my realm of experience. This is British land – trusts, private estates, counties, reserves, so much history… There's doubtless a great deal of information that a citizen might take for granted that I'm completely unaware of. While I don’t believe there are any wild discrepancies, please feel free to share your knowledge!
Links for more information:
I hope you will have enjoyed this brief foray into the home of Robin Hood and his Merry Men.
Next week, King Arthur’s forest, Brocéliande!
For more medieval fun, be sure to visit medieval ladies Mary Morgan and Barbara Bettis.
Robin Hood proposing to Maid Marion, St. Mary's Church, Edwinstowe, Nottinghamshire
Entry into Jerusalem, c. 1304 - 1306
Giotto di Bondone
Happy Medieval Monday!
Let's talk religion!
I just laughed out loud. Ahem, you say?
Don't worry. This is me, after all.
Did you know I am Catholic, albeit with a strong, Antiochian Orthodox background? This week is Holy Week for me and my family, along with millions of other Catholics and Protestants. Passover also begins this week. Next week is Holy Week for Orthodox Christians. This year, the month of Ramadan is also during this time.
So, in these next few weeks, we have Easter, Passover, Ramadan -- and we know there are many, other, countless religions and belief systems. Let us wish each other well.
The Medieval era -- the whole thousand years of it -- was marked by religious violence and war.
Early Islamic invasions, the Reconquista, crusades to the Holy Land, Viking invasions (in that they were non-Christians attacking monasteries), and persecution of Jews throughout. The conquest of Constantinople in 1453 commonly marks the end of the Middle Ages. And while these events occurred throughout a millennium, they only cover a portion of the strife and a portion of the world.
As we know only too well, the history of the world is not a peaceful one. It's one of the reasons I love romance novels. But it's not the only reason. :)
I will be mostly on hiatus this week. I believe I scheduled one other post. I hope to observe our high, holy days quietly, prayerfully, while working around home and garden in preparation for our family's Easter celebration. I feel very fortunate to be able to do so.
For more Medieval Monday, be sure to visit wonderful medieval ladies Mary Morgan and Barbara Bettis.
Peace and joy are relative to the individual as well as to a society as a whole. With all my heart, that's what I wish for you -- joy and peace -- this week, next week, and always.
Update: All Shook Up
Happy Medieval Monday!
Good news! This past weekend, I finally sent All Shook Up off to my wonderful editor! Oh, but it's an emotional story!
How about a teeny, tiny, peek?
Scottish Highlands, 1336
Foreigner Gael. Rónán winced as Aonghas shoved Lachlann hard. Why did they call him that? He had a Gaelic name and he’d been born here in the highlands, just like the rest of them. Why couldn’t they just leave him alone?
But the push that would have sent Rónán flying across the grass hardly moved Lachlann. He just stood there, still and silent as a stone. His blond hair hung around his face, his gray eyes wide and cold. He was as tall as Aonghas, and their shoulders looked about the same. But Aonghas was thicker and meaner and had his friends with him.
Rónán drew closer to the little circle on the hill.
“Gall Ghàidhell!” Aonghas pushed Lachlann again. “Are you a mute, now?” He snickered. “No one wants to hear you talk anyway, dumb ox! You don’t know how!”
“Shut up, Aonghas!” Rónán knew he would regret it, but he couldn’t help himself. Lachlann was his friend. Aonghas was a bully. “He speaks Gaelic better than you do and he speaks Norroena!”
Aonghas hardly spared him a glance. “You have a defender,” he told Lachlann, then started laughing. “A dumb ox and a cripple!” He snorted. “Good team!”
Swiftly, without a word, Lachlann punched Aonghas right in the nose. Rónán’s mouth dropped open. Suddenly, everyone was fighting. He hesitated, itching to jump in and not sure how. Then, he just did. He jumped in. Soon he was kicking, punching, and pushing like the rest of them. He even used his teeth a few times. It felt good to fight back.
And Lachlann proved that he was an ox after all, just not a dumb one. Nothing stopped him as he fisted his way through the throng. One by one, Aonghas’ friends fell away. As Rónán lay on the ground, trying to catch his breath, Aonghas and Lachlann stood staring each other down.
“I’ll get you next time, a dhaimh! Dumb ox! Your little friend won’t be able to help you.”
“We’re the same age, stupid,” Rónán grumbled, sitting up. He and Lachlann were nine. Aonghas the Ass was ten.
The bully took a step towards him but stopped when Lachlann stepped up.
“I’ll take care of you later, cripple,” he snarled.
Without another word, Aonghas turned and stalked off down the hill towards their village.
That's all for now, folks! For more Medieval Monday, be sure to visit lovely medieval ladies Mary Morgan and our birthday girl Barbara Bettis. Best wishes, Barb!
Wishing you a wonderful week ahead! Cheers!
March 20, 2023: Vernal Equinox
Springtime! For gardeners and farmers, it's a busy time of year. It always has been.
I've been busy preparing the manuscript for All Shook Up, so I thought to celebrate today with a simple post, an springtime excerpt from Tremors Through Time.
“ ‘The sun hung midway between heaven and earth, the great loch silver beneath it, as Lachlann An Damh plowed his field.’ That sounds good, don’t you think? Must you do that?”
Lachlann stopped in his tracks to glare at Rónán, who sat on a rock, sketching and watching him work.
“Must I do what?”
“It would be much more picturesque, and my drawing would look a lot better, if you would guide your oxen like any normal tuathanach. But no, you can’t be like other farmers. You have to pull the plow yourself, like one of your beasts.”
“At the moment, I have more land than beasts,” grunted Lachlann, straining as he pulled the heavy, wooden plow over a deep rut. “One day, I’ll have more oxen. In the meantime, if you wish to draw a picture of my team, they’re in the next field with Fearghus.”
“Unfortunately, you’re my subject, not the oxen,” Rónán murmured as he sketched.
Lachlann sighed. He had too much on his mind for senseless banter.
“I’m to get married,” he announced abruptly and continued down the field.
He glanced back, satisfied to see his friend hastily unfolding his long, lean form from the boulder.
“You’re getting married?” Rónán questioned as he joined him.
“To your cousin, the chief’s niece.”
“The chief’s…do you mean Allasan?”
Lachlann nodded. “Allasan.” He glanced at the bard.
Rónán looked stunned. “But…she’s not your type!
She’s half your size!”
“She’s not even friendly!”
“You mean that she doesn’t like Norsemen. Believe me, I know.”
“She doesn’t like anyone. Whose idea was this?”
“Your chief’s. He and Allasan’s father approached my father.”
“Are they forcing you?”
Lachlann had to smile. Rónán sounded appalled. He shook his head. “No one’s forcing us.”
“Then why are you marrying her?”
“It will be another bond between our people.”
Lachlann paused to adjust the plow. “And I’ve no one else in mind. Why offend the chief and upset my family?”
“A bond between our people? What about the bond between you and your wife?” Rónán was almost shouting.
“You worry too much, my friend.”
“I would wish you happiness.”
We know that this good man and tuathanach extraordinaire does find happiness where he would never expect to.
For more Medieval Monday, be sure to visit amazing medieval ladies Mary Morgan and Barbara Bettis.
May springtime be a time of joy and renewal for all.
Happy Medieval Monday! I'm delighted to celebrate today with Virginie Marconato, multi-published author of medieval romance. Virginie's writing is captivating, throbbing with passion and emotion as it immerses readers in another time and place. We'll talk about her latest book Shadows in the Mist, which just launched in February, but first let's get to know Virginie a little better. Welcome, Virginie!
1) What sort of books did you enjoy reading as a child? Did you have a favorite book or series?
Oh, I’ve always loved reading! The first books I remember rereading over and over again are Fantastic Mr Fox and White Fang, which everyone will know, and Pimprenelle and the Whimsical Leek, which no one will. The story of a leek with the powers to transform itself into anything. Very random but aged 7 or 8, I loved it.
And of course the series of the Six Compagnons, a band of friends very much in the style of The Famous Five, with their own dog, Kafi. I wore them thin, all 20 of them.
Of course, I read all this in French. I’m wondering now what the first whole book I read in English might be… Maybe Animal Farm, or 1984.
2) What sort of books do you enjoy reading nowadays?
No surprises there, romance! In all sorts of subgenre and level of spice, with the exception of clean. I feel cheated if I don’t get the natural conclusion of a love story. I also love Jasper Fforde, Mark Gatiss, Karen Maitland.
Or I read a lot of nonfiction about the Middle Ages for research and pleasure.
3) Around what age did you realize that you liked to write? And when did you know that you wanted to write books?
Hum… Aged 11 at school we started to do writing essays and I really loved that. I always had top marks, actually.
The idea that I could start writing books popped into my head when I was about 28. “Why couldn’t I write something? Other people do… Why not me?” I thought out of nowhere.
I tried poetry, contemporary romance but the results were not conclusive. And then one day (whilst swimming in my pool) I realised where I was going wrong. I was not writing about what I loved most! As soon as I started to write a story set in the midst of the Hundred Years War I knew I had found my path.
It’s like falling in love, I think. When you meet the right person it clicks, even if you don’t know exactly what it is about them that draws you to them.
This is such a beautiful explanation.
4) What’s the first thing you wrote that you remember being proud of?
One of those writing essays I just told you about probably. We had to imagine what came next in an Arsène Lupin scene. The teacher was so impressed with my work she read it out loud to the class. I could have cringed, but I was so chuffed!
Other than that my first historical romance scene where the hero feeds the heroine a juicy pear in an orchard. It was the first time I wrote something I thought was representative of my own style, and I enjoyed myself thoroughly.
5) Tell us about the creative force within you. What inspires you to write, to create?
No idea. I only know that I have all these ideas floating around. It’s not a case of finding inspiration for me, rather harnessing and organising the chaos and deciding what has potential or not.
Of course visiting ruined castles helps but it could be anything. Listening to a historical documentary, looking out over a beautiful landscape, listening to a piece of music, seeing an animal, anything can trigger an idea. Then generally I take a long walk to let it develop in my head. I suppose it’s a bit like picking a flower bud and then waiting for the petals to unfurl. Sometimes it takes longer than you would like but you have to be patient. It will open eventually.
Rhuddlan Castle, Wales
6) What’s your writing space like?
I don’t have one. I write anywhere and everywhere. At home it’s usually on the sofa but it could be at night in my bed, while I am queuing at the market, on public transport… I always have a notebook and pen in my bag with me so I can jot down ideas or even write whole scenes. Then I type it into my computer, padding it out as I go. Sometimes I find it hard to get going and cannot write more than a few lines at a time, sometimes the words come pouring out for hours on end, it really depends.
But once I start, I get into my bubble and I am no longer on a plane or in the kitchen but in a castle in the fifteenth century or galloping through the forest with brigands in hot pursuit. So the place doesn’t matter. As long as I’m comfortable physically.
7) Do you have a favorite time of day to write? Any habits or little rituals that put you in a writing mindset?
No favourite time, but definitely when they children aren’t around easiest. I always do other things like crochet at the same times, check on the quiche in the oven, get the washing out. I time these activities for when I can’t get a sentence right. By the time I come back to the computer, the knot had entangled itself.
For the mindset, it’s more a case of shaking myself out of my story. I will be shopping, chopping herbs, washing my hair and all the while thinking of my WIPs.
8) Time to talk about Shadows in the Mist (rubbing hands together)! But first, how did you come up with the idea for the series? Are there any interesting tidbits you’d care to share with us?
This particular one came after I read in one of my nonfiction books that widows whose husbands had fought on the wrong side of the war would have their allowances taken away from them. I could not stop thinking of the poor women innocent of any wrongdoing. I decided to give at least one of them, my heroine, Rose, a way out and a happy ending.
Her name, along with her hero Philip, comes from the couple in Sleeping Beauty, which my daughter was watching at the time, my favourite Disney. Philip and Aurora, who the fairies call Rose in the forest.
That's fascinating. Sweet, too, that your characters' names come from Sleeping Beauty and that you have a favorite Disney movie. :)
9) I comprehend that you’ve just recently published a book. Still, I can’t help but ask – do you have anything waiting in the wings?
Most definitely! My first Scottish romance Dark Highlander is coming out in June. I have a real soft spot for my hero Cormac, whom I enjoyed very much to write – and mentally picture!
I have other stories in the editing stages. Two should be out this year, I think.
I am so looking forward to a Scottish romance from you!
11) Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Oddly enough, I cannot write in my native language - French. I’ve tried, because my friends and family, who don’t read a word of English, pester me to, but I can’t! It sounds contrived, unnatural, insipid. I think I would even hate to read a translation of my books in French. Now, in Italian I would love it!
This, I find very surprising! But I'm not going to complain. I'm glad you write in English! :)
Thank you for sharing Medieval Monday with us today, Virginie. Congratulations on your latest release!
The woman Philip finds in his bed one night is not the one he thought would be there for a playful romp, a night’s entertainment. That’s all he wants to provide to the women who try to snare him as a husband. Yet he is more honorable than his stepbrother, the person this woman awaits.
A penniless widow, Rose has accepted a humiliating marriage offer in the hope of being reunited with her son, taken from her by his grandfather. But the fiery lover who comes to her in the dark and finds her in his bed is not the future husband she was expecting...
How can she overcome this setback in her plans and still keep her dignity and reputation?
Excerpt from Shadows in the Mist
“I came to give you this.”
With those words he handed her a piece of paper. With its big waxed seal, it looked official, as official and impressive as Philip himself. His tunic of dark velvet made him appear darker himself, and he was wearing a hat adorned with a brooch. She had never seen him in such magnificent apparel. He was dressed in a manner more suited to a visit to court than to an impoverished widow in the country.
“What is it?” she asked, looking at the paper. She could not quite bring herself to touch it.
“It is an ordinance from King Edward.” There was a pause. “Your pension has been restored to you. You do not need to wait for charity from Baron Maltravers or anyone else. From this day hence, you will be, if not exactly a rich woman, at least comfortable enough to get your son back.”
Rose’s mouth opened in shock. Get her son back? She had hoped to hear these exact words so many times, but now that she had…they didn’t seem real.
“Why… The king…” She was speechless. “Why would he do this for me? I never petitioned him. I do not know him.”
“No, but I do. I asked for an audience with him. That is why I left so abruptly the morning you left Wicklow Castle, something I did not even apologize for,” Philip said.
He gritted his teeth. How had he not thought she would be hurt by his apparent desertion? He’d had a good reason for leaving her at such an inopportune moment, but of course Rose had not known that. She would have thought him as callous as Gilbert, sending her away without so much as a goodbye.
“By chance I had heard the day before that he was on progress in a nearby town,” he explained. “The opportunity was too good to miss, and I had to leave without delay. I did not tell you at the time because I did not want to raise your hopes too much in case I could not gain access to him. But I did, and here is the result.”
“You went to the king to petition on my behalf and ask for my pension to be restored?” Rose wasn’t sure she’d heard him correctly. But Philip nodded as if this was the most natural thing in the world.
“I fought for him in various battles and was made a lord for my services. He was kind enough to remember me and grant me this small favor. Our sovereign is a generous and forgiving man. I argued that a widow could not be made accountable for her husband’s unfortunate allegiances and promised that you would not use your influence to foment rebellion against him. I trust you not to make a fool out of me now and raise an army to bring him down.”
His lips quivered. They both knew that she had no influence and would never pose any threat to the king, but he enjoyed teasing her. She had a ready sense of humor and was not easily prone to offense. It was one of the things that had drawn him to her and what he had missed the most.
Rose understood Philip was teasing her, as was his wont, but she could not smile back. She was too dumbstruck, too touched that he would have taken the trouble to risk angering the king, all for her.
“Why would you do this for me?”
The brown eyes glittered. “Apart from an innate sense of justice, you mean? What happened to you is appalling. I do not see that an innocent woman should be punished and pay all her life for her husband’s decisions in such an extreme fashion, when we all know that more often than not she has no input in them and may not agree with them.”
“Yes, apart from that,” Rose whispered.
Though she could readily believe that Philip would be moved by such a situation, she had a feeling that he had meant to help because of who she was, not for a mere question of principle. His next words confirmed it.
“I think you will agree that I owed it to you. I was the one who, albeit unwittingly, denied you the solution you had found to your predicament. I still do not agree that you should have married Gilbert, so I cannot be too sorry about being the cause of his change of heart, but I can feel responsible for the consequences.” He pursed his lips like a man who had eaten an unripe fruit by accident and could not get the tart taste out of his mouth. “I could not in all conscience have left it at that, after hearing your story. This is for little Edward as much as for you.”
About the Author
I think I became a writer the day I decided to write a (very bad, shamefully close to the real story) version of White Fang when aged nine or ten! As for the Middle Ages I fell in love with it at school during a history lesson, then Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood put its final seal on it all. A girl of twelve then, I never recovered!
Coming soon, The Dark Highlander!
For more Medieval Monday, be sure to visit medieval ladies Mary Morgan and Barbara Bettis!
Happy Medieval Monday! Since March is Womens' History Month and today is our granddaughter's saint's day, I thought it the perfect time to consider Nicolette Boellet, otherwise known as Saint Colette, and the life of medieval nuns.
The Church played a gigantic role in medieval history. It's no surprise that books and movies set in the era often feature clergy of some sort. I've seen nuns portrayed as small-minded, harsh, cruel individuals and also as brave, intelligent, benevolent ones. Truth? Surely they were as varied as people in any station of life in any era.
During my studies, it occurred to me that in many ways, medieval clergy had a more stable life than almost anyone -- up to and including royalty. Certainly, they had more comfortable lives than peasants. For one thing, they were pretty much guaranteed a roof over their heads and nourishing (if simple) food to eat. Women as well as men were educated. Nuns were respected, too, their social status just below that of the nobility.
Nevertheless, the nuns' lives were often hard and austere. They spent a lot of time in prayer, including but not restricted to praying "the hours", which meant even rising from bed in the middle of the night to pray. Many orders demanded strict asceticism, calling for abstinence and fasting as well as hard work and prayer.
What kind of work did they do? Convents, like monasteries, were self-sufficient communities. They did everything for themselves. They had to provide their own food and clothing. There were gardens to tend, every sort of household chore to take care of, cooking, wine-making (not trusting their water source) -- no pizza deliveries or washing machines. They sewed, too, of course, and some embroidered. They also ministered to the poor and the sick, taught, and gave sanctuary when needed.
And like any community, there was surely dissension. Not everyone would have agreed or gotten along all the time. Not all nuns were kind and generous. Despite a certain stability, their lives weren't easy. Yet they managed to do a lot of good and were important to medieval society.
While many nuns came from noble families, bearing rich endowments, it was certainly not the case for all. Women from all stations of life became nuns.
Born in Corbie, France in 1381, Nicolette Boellet was not wealthy or privileged. She grew up in the shadow of Corbie Abbey where her father worked as a carpenter.
Her parents were both in their sixties when she was born. By the time she was 17, she was an orphan. She chose to embrace religious life.
From her humble beginnings, she became a force within the church.
As a nun and a mighty medieval woman, she reformed the Poor Clares. Despite much opposition, she returned the order to a lifestyle of strict poverty and devotion. She went on to found eighteen monasteries across Europe, even creating her own order, the Colettine Poor Clares, which still exists today.
Saint Colette wrote a lot, too, including a biography of Saint Clare. She is remembered for being especially mindful and caring towards pregnant women and children.
The medieval era lasted for approximately 1,000 years. Nicolette Boellet -- Saint Colette -- was just one of countless remarkable women through the ages to make positive differences in their worlds. But I like to imagine that during her time in history, when the church -- the cornerstone of medieval society -- was falling apart and women and children often had little or no rights at all, she forged ahead, holding everyone to a higher standard, caring for the weak and defenseless. And still, she took time to write. :)
Happy Feast Day, darling Colette!
For more Medieval Monday, be sure to visit awesome medieval ladies Mary Morgan and Barbara Bettis!
Wishing you a beautiful week ahead!
Happy Medieval Monday! This past weekend was our anniversary. My sweetheart and I took a short holiday -- a long weekend -- to celebrate, so I don't have much in the way of a post today. But I was inspired to look up some medieval wedding images.
Priest, no priest. Handfasting. A simple exchange of vows, no witness required. A royal procession. A good number of the marriages were arranged. During the long, medieval era (approx. 500 - 1500), wedding traditions varied widely. They also changed in the course of 1000 years. None of that is surprising, right? Even now, in our modern times, no two weddings are alike, which is as it should be.
My own wedding was 41 years and one day ago. I was 19 and my groom, 25 -- so young and in love. It was a formal occasion, honestly over our heads. I hardly remember a thing. Isn't that crazy? I don't mind, though. It was a happy, exciting day that I think of as our family's birthday. I could not be more grateful.
Most of the medieval paintings and engravings depict royal weddings or, at least, those of the nobility. They were more political alliances than anything else. But I like to think that at least for some of the couples, it was a happy, exciting day.
Just like ours was. :)
I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
For more Medieval Monday, be sure to visit authors Barbara Bettis and Mary Morgan.
Wishing you a magical week ahead!
It's no secret that I prefer fat HEAs. Where better than in a beautiful romance?
From me to you with a smile.
You have successfully joined our subscriber list.