Books for Four Seasons 2012

As Christmas approaches it is time to review four of my favourite historical novels of this year. I have chosen four that are set in the seventeenth century and each of these absorbed me during 2012. Again, I have selected one for each season. Winter The Bleeding Land by Giles Kristian I have just finished reading The Bleeding Land by … Read More

Midwinter in the Eleventh Century

In the December drawing of the Julian Work Calendar the nimble little figures that labour month by month are flailing, winnowing and taking away the produce of their harvest in baskets of fine woven wattle. The medieval Calendar is dedicated to work and prayer and its message is that you must labour as unquestioningly as you worship God. November was … Read More

Lagos, Henry the Navigator and The Algarve Writers.

Lagos is one of the prettiest, relaxed ports on the Algarve. Some time ago I had bid on the rental of a gorgeous five bedroomed villa to support cancer research at our village charity auction. Consequently we washed up close to Lagos in October 2012. I used the second week of the rental to invite some of my writing friends … Read More

King Harold’s Daughter

Gunnhild Godwindatter was the youngest daughter of King Harold II who lost his kingdom to Duke William of Normandy in 1066. Around this date, possibly before it, Gunnhild was at Wilton Abbey. After the Norman Conquest many heiresses took refuge in abbeys as King William encouraged inter-marriage between English and Normans. It was one way that made the take-over easier … Read More

Marriage in the Eleventh Century

The domestic institutions of medieval society faced change around the year 1000. The Church reorganised itself in a great reform movement and during the eleventh century tried vigorously to shape and direct secular society. It developed a canon law of marriage. The Church also successfully claimed the right to judge marriage cases within its own courts. The ages and the … Read More

Falconry, Lepers and the Angel

The medieval festival in the small Tuscan hill town of Montevettolini takes place in September for one day only. Montevettolini nestles in the hills about a half hour’s drive from Lucca and dominates the hinterland a few miles south of Montecatini Terme. This annual medieval experience is a crowd drawing event; being a fortified hilltop town there is only one … Read More

An Early Medieval Wardrobe

The Bayeux Tapestry and various manuscripts provide the writer of historical fiction with an insight into early medieval costume. For example the lavish wealth of this world is evident in Aelfric’s Colloquy where a merchant sold purple silk and precious gems, coloured garments and dyes. Anglo-Saxon wills are another source of information as they reveal bequests of clothing. Unusual Garments … Read More

A Medieval Summer Picnic

The early medieval climate from circa the ninth century until the Norman Conquest was mild enough to allow the cultivation of vines in Hampshire. Bede remarks ‘the land is rich in crops and trees, and has good pasturage for cattle and beasts of burden. It also produces vines in certain districts, and has plenty of both land-and waterfowl of various … Read More

Medieval Travel, Trade, Pilgrimage, Maps and Journeys

Exactly one year ago I took to the pilgrim route from Ferrol to Santiago de Compostella. It was the one favoured by the English pilgrims who sailed to either Ferrol or A Coruna to begin their pilgrimage to the shrine of St James. This experience reminded me of how much travel went on throughout the Middle Ages. Pilgrim routes were … Read More

The Bayleaf Farmstead, a Late Medieval Building

The Bayleaf Farmstead, a Late Medieval Building, is an inspiration for anyone who loves timber-framed constructions. This building is a Wealden Hall house that was extended in two separate stages and has now been transported from Chiddinghurst in Kent to the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum in West Sussex. The first phase has been dated to 1405-30 when it … Read More