Monday, December 25, 2006

Season's Greetings

Dropping in briefly to wish everyone compliments of the Season and a happy, peaceful, prosperous New Year. The photo is of one of my support team revelling in last year's cold snap and making doggy snow angels on the back lawn.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

California Dreamin'

I have to share a recent amusing moment.
Back in November while visiting a re-enactment fair at Warwick, I ordered a shield. I wanted a mid 12thC kite shield with an early depiction of the Marshal Lion. This is the shield I envisage William Marshal's father John carrying into battle. Same colours as his famous son's but with the green and yellow reversed. The lion figure is based on an early existing manuscript painting.

Anyway, Royal Mail tried to deliver the finished shield today when I was out and left a note. There was a tick beside 'Would not fit in the letterbox.', I can understand that. The postman had written at the top of the document 'surf board.' After I'd finished grinning, I thought about my psychic friend's description of John Marshal and his blond good looks. From there I took to imagining him not in a mail shirt, but walking out of the California surf in a wet suit. Phew! It certainly made a frozen, foggy UK day a LOT warmer!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Dark deeds afoot

Although I'm still working on the story of John Marshal - A Place Beyond Courage, I am also looking towards the next project which I'm due to start writing byn March 07. As usual there's no title yet, but I do know it's going to be about Roger Bigod, William Marshal's eldest grandson and will cover much of the reign of Henry III.
I've started preliminary researching and while doing so came across a primary source account of the terrible incident of the death of Roger's uncle, Gilbert Marshal. Roger had five Marshal uncles and all of them died without issue. Foul play is known in the case of the second son, Richard, and highly suspected in Gilbert's. The other three are anyone's guess but I suspect they were helped off the mortal coil since none of them made old bones.
According to Matthew Paris, Gilbert was killed at a tourney near Hertford. He had a new Italian destrier which he was having trouble controlling - he didn't have the equestrian or military skills of his famous father. His first vocation had been as a clergyman and it had been rumoured that he was 'inexperienced and useless as a knight.' His fate was sealed when he attempted to rein the horse in and his bridle leathers snapped off right beside the bit chains. Paris suggests that they had been deliberately cut so that they would snap under pressure. With no means of controlling the horse, it was almost inevitable that he would fall. Unfortunately his foot was caught in the stirrup and he was dragged for some distance, sustaining cuts, bruises and traumatic internal injuries from which he died in agony later that same day. The damaged state of his internal organs was remarked upon when he was eviscerated prior to his body being borne to London for burial in the Temple Church.
Gilbert's effigy bears poignant testimony to his demise - and perhaps something more down the ages. Whereas most knights of this period have their feet couched upon a dog or a lion, Gilbert Marshal's feet reside upon a serpent that is twisted round, chewing at his foot. I am led to wonder if this is a hint from the family that he was murdered as well as being a testimony to the manner of his death. Gilbert had plenty of enemies but I wonder who it was who gave the order to take him down. It's going to be interesting finding out.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Book Signing Date!

I have a piece to write about another visit I made to the Temple Church last week and how it pertains to Gilbert Marshal, it's just a case of getting around to it as Christmas and approaching deadlines, begin to squeeze my time even more than it's usually squeezed.

However, I'm dropping in to say I will be signing copies of The Scarlet Lion, Daughters of the Grail, The Greatest Knight, and my other novels at W. H. Smiths Meadowhall in Sheffield on Wednesday 6th December at 1pm. If you're in the area, do come and say hi if you've got a moment!