Thursday, April 06, 2006

Looking back in time.

Before I disappear under another mountain of editorial work, I thought I'd post about one of the more interesting and slightly unorthodox strands of my research.

About a year and a half ago, I was having coffee with my best friend, Alison. I've known her for over twenty years now and we have always met up once a week to put the world to rights over a mug and a biscuit. I have always known she is psychic and have accepted it as part of who she is. She's not weird or away with the fairies with it, but a totally ordinary down to earth person who just happens to see auras and other things as a matter of course. I was saying to her that I was having trouble finding out details about a particular character in the novel I was writing about William Marshal. She offered to 'see' back in time and try and find out the information I wanted. She explained that, while working as a therapist in Reiki and NLP she had discovered she had the ability to Remote View. Her clients often had issues in the past that needed dealing with, and she had discovered that she could return to the moments when the issue arose. Sometimes those issues involved people who had died, but she found out that she could go back and 'see' the past when those people had been alive. If she could do it for 20 years ago, she reasoned that there was nothing to stop her going back 200 years or 2,000. Very sceptically I said 'okay' and gave her the name of the character I wanted to know about, a place and a rough date. What came through was astonishing and left me open-mouthed. It was almost like when I discovered Re-enactment and realised that here was a fabulous resource for a writer of historical fiction! The session had only been impromptu, and I hadn't been taking notes, but I arranged to set the thing on a professional footing and do some structured sessions for more detailed research.
In the eighteen months or so that we have been doing the remote viewing, we have amassed an amazing body of material that might become a book itself one day. Much of the evidence can be corroborated. I have shown the work to people who are experts in the fields of Medieval history and they have told me that what is coming through is Medieval, not modern mindset. The material that can't be verified due to gaps in the historical record still gels. Nothing has jarred so far. Sometimes I haven't believed what Alison has told me, but further research on my behalf has confirmed that she's right. Even if what is coming through is something somehow dredged from the depths of my friend's imagination (she isn't interested in Medieval history at all) I have to say that it's a fantastic resource for me as a writer. However, as session by session the evidence continues to mount up, I have to say that there are more things in heaven and earth that we will never understand and she has certainly convinced me.

Here is an example from one of our recent sessions when I asked Alison to find the character of John Marshal at the court of King Henry I in 1130. Here is what she said:
I’m there and looking at something oval shaped with watery light on it. It might be an ornamental pool or perhaps a well. It’s night time and the moon’s shining on it. I can see pincers and something like a modern rolling pin with handles and a roller in the middle. (description of a pipe roll, my words in brackets. Have also since discovered the pincers were one of the symbols of a marshal). Now I am seeing something like a diagonal cross of a metal colour but a fabric texture on a metal background. Something to do with horses – it’s a piece of horse equipment.
I can feel the character of John Marshal but I can’t see him. What I can feel is calculation. He’s not emotional. He’s strong, constant, he doesn’t veer off things once he’s fastened on them. He’s still youthful and not yet tempered by experience. He thinks well of himself and that he’s entitled to more than he has. He sees himself as ready for promotion.
I can see him now. He’s tall, well made, good looking, and straight like his attitude. Taut muscles, strong cheeks – of the kind that have lines down them. Strong mouth, straight across. His eyes are very interesting. They’re blue and tell a different story about his emotions. His eyes are powerful. They have an intense look, but it’s not an intensity of emotion although it might look like that externally. In reality it’s because he’s trying to work things out, to understand and calculate. People misunderstand it and take it for emotional intensity. It’s like when you get a pop star posing about these days and impressionable people think ‘Wow!’ but it’s a projection of their feelings onto the popstar and his look isn’t caused by what he’s really thinking at the photoshoot.
John Marshal is quite a dashing sort of man. I’ve got a feeling he wears his hair differently to the norm. It’s very short at the back, but there’s more of it on top, almost like a quiff. It’s light brown with lighter streaks in it. Hmmmm…very dashing, He works with his intellect more than his emotions and he is ambitious. Oh, must mention he has absolutely lovely skin – immaculate pores. So small you can’t seen them.

I asked about the court prostitues. According to the records they came under the auspices of the royal Marshal. It was his duty to police them and organize them etc.

Yes, it’s in John’s remit and he tries them out. They give him money (backhanders) because he allows them to be on the list of the ‘women’ of the court. It’s a constant trial to get new fresh girls who are buxom enough. He even has to go out touting and chatting up the parents of likely girls telling them what a wonderful opportunity this is going to be for their daughters.
I asked about what he did when away from court. Did he delegate this duty?
No, not much. He keeps a tight reign on the new ones. That’s where the money is. His deputies would not have such powers of procurement. The most they do in his absence is maintain the status quo. He keeps the jucier bits of the business to himself.
And what about keeping order and the other duties of the royal marshal?
Alison says when I asked this, all the sparky detail drained out of what she was seeing. He doesn’t get so much out of keeping order. Bland and mundane, not half as rewarding as keeping the whores. It’s not a big stretch to manage; he can do it easily. He’s the sort of man who’d still be at work even at the office party. He doesn’t switch off. He can’t. That’s his character. He’s a very good organizer. Has his finger on the pulse all the time. A little nudge here, a tweak there, keeps it all in order. He delegates all the tallying stuff, but when he delegates he’s very hands on. He makes sure his minions do exactly what he says. If they don’t then woe betide them. He runs a very tight ship.

At a session concerning the Empress Matilda, a slightly better known character: asked to see the Empress Matilda to get an idea of the personality. I asked Alison to go to soon after the birth of her son, the future Henry II in Le Mans in March 1133. Henry’s father was Geoffrey le Bel, Count of Anjou and in his late teens to Matilda’s mid twenties.
Alison: I’m with her. I’m not seeing anything yet but I’m getting her feelings. It’s a consistent feeling, not up or down, but deep. She’s on the level and it’s from the heart. She has a very good awareness of her own position and strength in the world. A good intellect. She has fortitude and she has a sort of abstract element to her character which is more spiritual than religious – very abstract/transparent, like layers of water confined by a dam.
She’s had the baby and regards it as okay. It’s been the right thing to do and it’s in line with nature and she wouldn’t expect anything less. I’m seeing her now. She has a still face which reflects a still personality. Dark, curly hair. It looks as if she likes to wear her crown thing most of the time, not just at special occasions – likes being an ‘empress.

I asked what her thoughts were about her husband.
Alison: The first word that came to me was ‘bastard.’ She hates him. She sees the liaison as a blemish and tries to blot it from her thoughts. Looks the other way. She tries not to be ruffled by it. There may be nice things about him physically but she doesn’t really want herself to appreciate it. I asked if she was down on him because she had previously been married to an emperor and Geoffrey was just the son of a count.
Alison: Yes. Like a modern person thinking you don’t look at a man unless he’s a millionaire – there are no good benefits without it. In other circumstances she might have had more time for him, but not now. The age gap doesn’t really matter. She knows he has the beauty of youth but doesn’t want to see it. Sometimes in unguarded moments she will look at him and appreciate his looks but not when she’s on her guard.
And her relationship with her father Henry I?
She loves her father and will always do her duty by him and be ruled by him. She knows her place and will do he duty even if it’s against her own wishes. Sacrifice is a sign of the Cross and only the great get to sacrifice so much.
Her relationship with Brian FitzCount lord of Wallingford?
Alison: This feels like love – like a meeting on a more equal level. A meeting from the heart and and solar plexus – a meeting of souls and understanding. The things unsaid don’t need to be said because they are already known. They have an intuitive bond.
Her thoughts on Stephen?
Alison: Contempt. She doesn’t like him. Posturing brat. He’s so much the opposite of everything she holds regal. He waters with the horses. Goes and drinks with the men in other words and wants to be one of them. Hah! That’s no way to be a king or emperor.
Her thoughts on John Marshal?Alison: Mmmmm (appreciative sound) Very handsome man. Very agile. A strong, worthy knight and warrior. I could make use of him. She has regard for him. From her position she looks at people in terms of roles in her kingdom. She wouldn’t see his personality as a whole, just that he would fulfil the role of worthy warrior in her game plan. Also when looking at him physically, she appreciates his masculine beauty in an aesthetic way rather than a lustful one.
Her response to her half-brother Robert of Gloucester?
Yes. Now this is a man who has the right idea about kingship and honour and how to behave when you have a certain level of responsibility. He’s a person in whom she has confidence. He makes a good sounding board and knows her needs.

You can see from the above why I find this a fascinating resource - who wouldn't!


AnneMarie Brear said...

What a fascinating read, Elizabeth. You are lucky to have such a friend who is helpful with research! :o)

Kathryn Warner said...

Hi Elizabeth,
I have to admit to feeling a certain amount of scepticism when I read your post about the 'seeing' on Carla's blog (a natural reaction in our super-rational 21st century, perhaps) but it seems like your friend has given you some wonderful details you can use in your work. John sounds very attractive, and I particularly enjoyed the remark about him 'trying out' the court prostitutes! I wonder if there was a lot of competition for that job! :)
I hope your latest work is going well.
Best wishes, Alianore.

Carla said...

Yes, I wondered if that was a highly sought-after (if potentially exhausting) post :-) I had no idea such a job ever existed; is it known whether it was a one-off for this particular reign, or if it was a regular position at court that existed for some time?

Elizabeth Chadwick said...

Hi Alianore and Carla,
Re the court whores question. The responsibility for them came under the auspices of the royal Marshal. He was also responsible at that time for keeping order at court in general, for stabling arrangements, and for the hawks and the hounds. As well as this he had the duty of arranging for billeting of court members, keeping tallies and vouchers of expenditure and keeping rolls of all who performed military service there. He also had responsibility for the imprisoning of debtors. So the whores were only part of the job! His father Gilbert held the post before him and father and son fought a trial by combat with two other men who claimed they should be the royal marshals instead. Obviously Gilbert and John won the contest! The post of Marshal continued down the centuries, but becoming more and more delegated to representatives who stayed at court all the time. The chap with the title of Marshal would only come and perform ceremonial duties at say a coronation, or at Easter or Xmas. It got less (cough) 'hands on' so to speak as time went on. The court whores were still around in John's reign. Certainly they put in occasional appearances on the pipe rolls of the time.

As to the matter of the remote viewing. I haven't a clue how she does it, but having known my friend for 20 years and how genuine she is as a person, I don't doubt her.
We must have getting on for 100 pages of notes by now. I decide perhaps a day beforehand what I want to ask her, but she never knows what it's going to be. And then I ask her to take me to people and events, without giving her any more than the basic coordinates so that hopefully her subconscious won't contaminate the 'evidence.' Sometimes material surfaces, that I know is probably right, but can't be proven. For example, she was describing William Marshal and his family preparing to go to Ireland. I asked her if Richard Marshal, their second son was with them at Chepstow at the time. She sought him out, and then she laughed and said that he was Cheshire Cat of a lad with gingery-red hair and freckles. Now, totally unbeknown to her, his maternal grandfather, Richard de Clare Strongbow was red-haired and freckled and the entire de Clare line was heavily populated with red-heads. It's a description that can't be proven one way or the other, but it certainly feels right to me and is a small piece of circumstantial evidence. There are loads of incidents in the notes that can be corroborated as hard fact, but I find the smaller details immensely rewarding too.

Juliann said...

What a wonderful story! My interest was piqued a few weeks ago when you first mentioned it on one of the lists. I have a million questions but I know you are very busy now :) Could I persuade you to be interviewed (by telephone) for the soon to launch podcast about historical fiction? -- When you have time, no rush :)

Kemberlee said...

Just discovered your blog (thanks Teresa) and it's wonderful. You know I've always enjoyed hearing about your research, and even more, I LURVE reading your published tales. Your friend is very special indeed! Your notes on the meetings about Marshal were incredible.

I was reading the other day about Jerpoint Abbey in County Wexford Ireland and how it was founded by Marshal after he'd made a vow to God to see him safely across the Irish Sea. He'd been caught in a storm and promised God a monastery if he survived the passage. He did, and he did in 1160. I haven't been (yet), but it's supposed to be an incredible structure. It was this same area that it's thought that Richard de Clare first set food in Ireland when he came over at the behest of King McMurrough to help fight off local clans that sought to unseat him as King of Leinster. It was only right that William, de Clare's son, would build a monastery on his father's landing place.

I can't wait to get The Greatest Knight. It's on my 'must buy' is everything else you write! I have this incredible feeling that Hollywood is going to pick up this book and turn it into a blockbuster epic that will surpass all other historical epics to date. Mark my words!!

Keep up the amazing work.

~ Kemberlee

Elizabeth Chadwick said...

Hi Kemberlee, thanks for dropping by!
Haven't spoken to you in ages. Life continues to fly past at speed with me hanging to the coat tails!
I'm not sure you've got the history quite right. William Marshal wasn't de Clare's son but he married de Clare's daughter, Isabelle, and the date wasn't 1160. William wasn't born until circal 1146/7 (the son of John FitzGilbert Marshal, who I'm writing about at the moment) and first visited Ireland in 1201 for a short stay. It was on the rough winter sea crossing that he and his family almost drowned and where he made a vow to found an Abbey where they made landfall if he survived. The Abbey may have had Jerpoint as one of its names (not one I've heard) but it was also known as Tintern Parva and the Abbey of the Vow (de Voto. Definitely 13thC though.
A film - goodness, I wish! I know Sharon Penman's had several near misses with Here Be Dragons. It's one of those literally one in a million chances!

Elizabeth Chadwick said...

Hi there!
Re an interview - sure. Just drop a line to my regular e-mail and will see what I can do.

All best

Janie said...

That's a fascinating post. My mother and I collect your books, so it's nice to see you blog. Mother is 86. Now I'll have something really interesting to discuss with her as she loves William Marshall.

Good luck on your work.

Tess said...

I have no trouble believing your friend can "see" into the past. As Shakespeare said ""There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

There's also a great quote from Susan Howatch's The Wheel of Fortune that goes like this:

There is no timetable for grief," said Bronwen Morgan. "Grief isn't a train which you catch at the station. Grief has its own time, and grief's time is
beyond time, and time itself...isn't very important…time is a circle, time goes round and round like a wheel, and that’s why one hears echoes of the past continually-it’s because the past is present; you don’t have to look back down the straight line, you just look across the circle, and there are the echoes of the past and the vision of the future, they’re all present, all now, all forever.
Susan Howatch, The Wheel of Fortune (Ballantine Books, 1984, pp. 365-366)

It's said by one of the main characters, Bronwyn, who represents John of Gaunt's third wife, Katherine Swynford (née Roet)
and sums up what I've often felt about the topic of why so many people experience things like deja vu, premonitions, and a strong kinship to the past.

Elizabeth Chadwick said...

Tess, that's a fabulous quote from Susan Howatch - thanks so much! I'll show it to my friend when we meet up this week for an 'ordinary' mug of tea and a chat and see what she says.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to be an anon, not registered or anything yet.
What a fascinating piece of writing about the remote accessing of history information. Every time I read one of your blogs, I want to hear you speak about your books, how do I find out when and where you do talks? I am regisitered with Wendys Yahoo groups, but nothing comes up on that :)

Thanks, and well done on the site!

Jane Henry said...

Hi Elizabeth,
Loved the piece on your remote viewing. Especially the bit about John Marshall's er extra-curricular habits! Does your friend have any means of tapping into what music your heroes listen to? Wouldn't it be great to play them some of your soundtracks and see what their reaction is?

love Janex

KC said...

Fascinating read! I just found your blog today and I'm very excited about it.

I usually buy your books online from the UK because I don't want to wait until they finally get around to publishing in the States. I loved The Greatest Knight, and I eagerly look forward to your next book!

Elizabeth Chadwick said...

Hello Anonymous (smile) Jane and KC

Various answers forthcoming in one.
Talks. I keep meaning to get them put on my website and then running out of time. But since my website is updated by someone else, it's probably easier for me to put a notice on my blog as and when. Derbyshire literature Festival at the beginning of June is my next one - Borrowash library if I remember. I'll post officially when I've checked the date.

Jane, I'm going to blog about my soundtracks pretty soon, once I've got over the extra editing I've to do. Not sure what John Marshal would make of Thrice's version of Eleanor Rigby, which is on his soundtrack, or Little Angels by Counting Crows!

KC - Thanks for dropping in. I love your thumbnail pic - gorgeous!. I'll link to your blog next time I go into my blog proper to write the next post. I must say I got very attached to William Marshal when writing The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion. It's been very hard to let go - although he'll have a bit part as a youngster in John Marshal's story!

Anonymous said...

Hi Elizabeth,
I was at Chepstow April 2005 and thought the "figure" of William Marshall was awful. I became interestd in William Marshall years ago but it was, then, difficult to find info on him. I live in a small town in the USA. Please ask your remote viewing friend to describe William Marshall.

Elizabeth Chadwick said...


Many thanks for dropping in. Myself and my friend have done extensive work on William Marshal, his family and those around him. My friend says that was he to appear in a film, then an actor like Christopher Eccleston would be fairly close in looks. I have a brief description of him from the first ever proper session we did and I'm pasting it here for you. It's not as detailed as that of his father because we were still feeling our way at that point. The date here is April 1168 and William would have been about 21 or 22.

'He has incredible courage. He’s like a bouncy castle; very buoyant. He’s riding with a lot of highborn people. He’s awed by them but not overawed. He feels as if he’s in the right place. He has a good sense of his own worth. He’s very flexible and alert, responds not just in a chit-chat way but deeply and appropriately. He knows how to say the right thing at the right time and it comes easily to him. He’s alert and all his senses are awakened. He has dark hair, long cheeks, a strong nose. His clothes are intricate. His eyes look dark but inside they feel light. I am seeing the youth and the older man mingled. It is difficult for others to gauge what he’s thinking. He has very dark eyes; might be brown, might be blue. There is a woman laughing and William is making her laugh by telling her jokes about the English being loutish and stupid. It’s probably Poitiers they are going to. The woman is Eleanor of Aquitaine.

We then moved on to other scenes as I was in 'snapshot' mode, plus at that time I only took notes of what I felt was entirely relevant to my writing. These days I write absolutely everything down during a session. But I hope you find the above interesting.

Anonymous said...

what an incredible way of finding out research. several of my mum's friends are able to read auras and tune into other people's feeling so i definately believe in it, and i think your friend is so lucky to have been blessed with such an amazing gift. i loved reading the description of john marshal, and his very unusual job description, it made me laugh. thanks for including the picture of the model, it's always good to have some eye candy while you read!! i really hope that you do make the notes into a book, because it all sounds fascinating. i was wondering if you and your friend ever visit other enigmatic historical characters such as shakespeare, elizabeth I or marie antoinette? i would love to know what you found out...