Monday, December 28, 2009

MEDIEVAL MONDAY: Dealing with the money men Medieval Style!

For today's Medieval Monday, I have
gone to the Anglo Saxon Chronicle for the year 1125. Here is a cheery little Christmas story for everyone, and with last year's financial difficulties and disgraces in mind, this is how Henry the First dealt with his money men when they weren't quite honest.

1125: "King Henry sent before Christmas from Normandy to England, and bade that all the moneyers in England should be deprived of their limbs, each one of the right hand and the testicles below; that was because the man who had a pound could not buy with it a pennyworth at a market. Bishop Roger of Salisbury sent all over England, and bade them all that they should come to Winchester at Christmas. When they came hither, they were seized one by one, and each one deprived of the right hand and the testicles below. All this was done within the Twelvenight, and it was all with great justice, because they had ruined all the land with great fraud; they bought all that dearly...."
Bring back the good old days eh? :-) Merrie Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

And the Winners Are....!

I've just taken time out from the big Christmas cook-in to do the draw forThe Running Vixen give away. This is my other half standing in the kitchen between chores. I am sorry not to have more copies, but the lucky five winners are numbers 8 and 11 who win The Running Vixen and The Wild Hunt, and then numbers 23, 18 and 40, who win The Running Vixen on its own. When I count the number of the poster in the blog, I find the winners are:

For the two books

Lady D

For The Running Vixen


Congratulations! :-)

If you would like to PM me a forwarding address, I'll get the books sent off first thing in the New Year. My e-mail adddress is

Sorry to those who didn't win - blame my husband who picked the numbers! I'll be running other draws though. Next one will be in March when The Scarlet Lion comes out in the USA, and then in May when To Defy a King is published in the UK.

In the meantime, merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Right, back to the baking frenzy....

Monday, December 21, 2009

MEDIEVAL MONDAY: 2 letters of King John

Today's samples of Medieval work in translation are a couple of letters from the patent rolls in the Tower of London pertaining to King John. In my novels where John makes his appearance, I have often described him as the kind of man who found it more interesting to dig tunnels than walk in a straight line on the surface.

The below are letters of John's concerning countersigns in secret embassies.
The King &c. to Robert de Vipont, greeting.
If Guido de Castellon will find you such security as we elsewhere signified to you by letter, then cause him to be liberated by this countersign: namely we commend you not to liberate him unless we should send Thomas de Burgh to you; we send you, however, in the stead of the same Thomas, our beloved and faithful Peter de Rupibus, our Treasurer of Poitou, and ye may undoubtingly credit him in this business. Witness ourself at Verneuil on the 26th day of September. By Peter de Rupibus (AD 1201).

Here's another one. Except John got in a muddle because he'd forgotten to whom he had given instructions!
The King &C. to Hubert de Burgh, his Chamberlain and Peter de Stokes &c. We command you to allow William Baudud clerk to speak with Geoffrey de Lusignan, through Thomas the clerk of our chamber, by this countersign; namely that we enjoined you, to believe nothing whatsoever, unless we should signify it to you by one of those three persons of our household whom we named to you; and we believe the same Thomas to be one of those three; and should he not be one of them, yet, nevertheless we desire that through him the aforesaid William Baudud the clerk may for the present speak to the said Geoffrey. And because we do not well recollect who those three were, inform us thereupon, that another time we may with more certainty give you our commands; for we truly wish that he may see him, and converse with him.
And if the aforesaid Geoffrey
be willing to follow, in all things, the agreement made between us and the Viscount of Thouars, a transcript of which we send to you, then we will that he be released from fetters and partially put in ring-chains. Witness ourself at Chinon on the 26th August.

I'll be publishing more from the patent rolls on other Medieval Mondays since they are a mine of information about the life of King John, the political, the social and the domestic. Here's just another small glimpse. Different this time. It's a list of what was being recieved into his treasury and it's dated December 9th, so not far off our own season.
Teste 9th December at Clarendon. Know that on the Saturday next after the feast of Saint Nicholas (8thDec) in the 9th year of our reign, we received at Clarendon our great crown which came from Germany &c.

Of course we no longer know what that crown looked like or what happened to it. Bottom of the Wash? Now there's a thought!

Don't forget, my blog contest below is still open until mid-day Christmas Eve!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

THE RUNNING VIXEN - Christmas Draw

I am coming to this later than a lot of readers, but FINALLY I have received my author copies of THE RUNNING VIXEN! The course of publishing does not always run smoothly and there was a slight delay in me receiving my set of books. Anyway, they are here now, and just in time for Christmas, I have 5 copies to give away, and the first two come with a copy of THE WILD HUNT included. I will leave the draw open until mid-day Christmas Eve London time. Just leave a note on the blog if you want to be included in the draw. I will assign each request a number, put them in my Norman helmet on folded up scraps of paper and get my husband to make the draw on Xmas Eve. Obviously the winners won't receive their book until the New Year, but I'll get them sent out as soon after the festivities as I can get to an open Post Office.

THE RUNNING VIXEN is a re-issue of my second novel and belongs to the time when I was writing at the more romantic end of the historical fiction market. It's a stand alone follow up to THE WILD HUNT and is about the natural daughter of my hero from that novel the half-Welsh Heulwen (which means sunshine. I found out after I'd written the novel that my sister in law lives next door to a Welsh lady called Heulwen). It has been interesting rewriting this one as there are moments including Geoffrey of Anjou and the Empress Matilda. I am writing about the latter at the moment and both she and Geoffrey are not entirely the same now as the characters I created all those years ago. Back then I just used to start writing, never knowing where the book would take me. It was a flying by the seat of the pants approach, but it seemed to work!
THE RUNNING VIXEN was published in paperback in the UK and the USA in the early 90's but sadly had a very short shelf life. This was partly due to the natural vagaries of the industry at the time and partly due to the death of publishing mogul Robert Maxwell. After his death his publishing empire was split up and there were some tough times ahead for his authors, me included. THE RUNNING VIXEN arrived and vanished faster than the time it takes for milk to become yogurt. But anyway, that's all water under the bridge and here it is now. For the chance to win a copy, just leave a note on the blog and I'll take it from there.
The third book in the series THE LEOPARD UNLEASHED is due for publication next December once I've re-edited it.

First UK cover

USA version

German book club - recognise
the cover of Lords of The
White Castle here?

From Russia with love!

Monday, December 14, 2009


Today's excerpt comes from Jocelin of Brakelond's Chronicles of the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds.
Jocelin was a monk there and wrote a narrative of events there between 1173 and 1202.
On the night of St. Etheldreda - 22nd June 1198, he tells us that a fire broke out in the shrine itself when part of a candle set fire to a wooden dais under which there was a storage space containing wax, linen thread and sundry items - the general impression being that it had become a kind of dump-all for the wardens of the shrine. The fire spread and calamity threatened....

'....the clock struck for Matins and the vestry master, on getting up, saw the fire, and ran as fast as he could, and beat upon the board s if someone were dead, and shouted in a loud voice that the shrine was on fire. We all rushed up, and met the incredibly fierce flames that were engulfing the whole shrine and almost reaching up to the beams of the church. Our young monks ran for water, some to the rain water tank, some to the clock, and some, with great difficulty, when they had snatched up the reliquaries, put out the flames with their hoods. When cold water was thrown on the front of the shrine, the precious stones fell down and were almost pulverised. Moreover, the nails by which the sheets of silver were held to the shrine came loose from the wood underneath, which was burnt to the thickness of my finger, and without the nails the sheets were hanging one from another. Yet the golden Majesty on the front of the shrine, with some of the stones, remained stable and intact, and was more beautiful after the fire than before, because it was solid gold.'

I was very interested the first time I read this because I hadn't realised until then, that clocks were around as early as the end of the 12thC. Somehow I'd thought it was slightly later. I was also fascinated by the detail that the monks were aroused from slumber by someone beating on a board. I'd have expected them to ring a bell, but no. The details concerning the shrine itself were interesting too.
The translation is readily available in the Oxford World Classis series.
The shrine at Bury St. Edmunds was one of the most important places of Pilgrimage in the 12th and 13th century and St.Edmund was the closest thing England had to a patron saint at the time.
My hero in The Time of Singing, Hugh Bigod, carried the banner of St. Edmund into the battle of Fornham St. Genevieve in 1173 when King Henry II's supporters defeated the Young King's rebel army.

Monday, December 07, 2009


I had started to run a small feature titled Medieval Monday at Facebook, but found that I didn't have enough room for the post on my profile. I've therefored moved it over to my blog. Basically, in between my usual blogs and every Monday, I will quote a small piece in translation from a Medieval primary source. It will be as it takes my fancy, but I hope to show the rich texture of Medieval life and how similar and different it was to our own.

My first post for this new series at my blog venue comes from the Historia Novella of William of Malmsbury, who wrote this prior to 1142. I'd written a shortened version at Facebook a couple of weeks back, but here it is with fuller flavour. It concerns men with long hair.

'In the twenty eighth year of his reign the king returned from Normandy to England. In the twenty ninth year a thing befell in England that may cause wonder to our wearers of long hair who, forgetting what they were born, enjoy transforming themselves to look like women. One of the knights in my part of the country, proud of his very luxuriant hair but alarmed by the stings of conscience, imagined in his sleep that he saw someone strangling him with his own tresses, and so, on waking up, he promptly cut off all the excess of hair. This precedent quickly made its way through England and, as a penalty just suffered is wont to influence the mind, almost all the knights had no objection to their hair being cut to a reasonable length. But this strictness did not last for long, since a year had hardly passed before all who regarded themselvs as courtiers relapsed into their old fault; they vied with women in the length of their locks and when the hair was inadequate, they fastened on a kind of wig, forgetting, or rather not knowing, the Apostle's judgement. 'If a man have long hair it is a shame unto him.'

Nothing new under the sun is there?

As I have the time, I am also adding to my sidebar the first and last sentences of my work in progress each day. It'll keep changing. First lot's tonight, but will be different tomorrow!