On May 12, 1191, Richard and Berengaria were married at
Limassol in Cyprus.   I’ve mentioned
before that Berengaria has four unique distinctions—she was the only Queen of
England to be married and then crowned in Cyprus, the only royal bride to spend
her honeymoon in a war zone, and the only English queen who never set foot on
English soil; John did issue her several safe-conducts during her long
widowhood, but there is no evidence that she ever used them.  I recently realized that she has another
distinction, a very sad one—she is the only medieval English queen who did not
provide her husband with an heir. 
William Rufus did not even bother to get married, Richard II’s Anne was
still young enough when she died to have harbored hopes, Richard III’s Anne became
terminally ill soon after their son’s death, and once we leave the Plantagenet
dynasty for those ubiquitous Tudors, their fertility track record was a sad
one.  But only Berengaria had to struggle
with history’s cruel judgment of being a “barren” queen, and it is likely she also
blamed herself, although Richard was certainly at fault, too, given how little
time he spent with her upon his release from his German captivity and the
criticism he got from the Bishop of Lincoln for his flagrant adulteries.     Berengaria
is one of the least-known of the English queens and has not been treated very
kindly by historians, many of whom assumed that she must have been dull and
boring and not lively enough to hold her husband’s attention.   This is obviously unfair and lets Richard
off the hook for the part he played in the deterioration of their
marriage.    Lastly, I think she has the
most beautiful name of any English queen—not the clunky Berengaria, but her real
Spanish name, Berenguela.

            A little
while ago, I’d promised to quote from the contemporary chronicles from time to
time.  So here is what they had to say
about Richard and Berengaria.


From the Itinerarium, translated by Helen Nicholson:    “While they were each making arrangements
to begin the journey, messengers came running to inform King Richard that his
mother Queen Eleanor was hurrying after him. 
She had traveled a great distance, but was now very close, and had
brought with her a noble young woman, daughter of the King of Navarre.  Her name was Berengaria and she was the
king’s intended wife.  Attracted by her
graceful manner and high birth, he had desired her very much for a long
time—since he was first count of Poitou. 
So her father the king of Navarre had entrusted her to King Richard’s
mother so that she could take her to King Richard and he could take her as his
wife before he set off on his planned journey across the sea.  Everyone was delighted at their

The Itinerarium describes the wedding as follows:   “On the following day, a Sunday, on the
Feast of St Pancras, Richard and Berengaria were married at Limassol.  The young woman was very wise and of good
character.  She was there crowned queen.  The Archbishop of Bordeaux was present at the
ceremony, as was the bishop of Evreux and the bishop of Bayonne, and many other
magnates and nobles.  The king was merry
and full of delight, pleasant and agreeable to everyone.”


These passages are from Ambroise’s The History of the Holy
War, translated by Marianne Ailes.

“He (Richard) then made his way beyond the straits, straight
to Reggio whence news had been sent to him that his mother had arrived there bringing
to the king his beloved.  She was a wise
maiden, a fine lady, both noble and beautiful, with no falseness or treachery
in her.  Her name was Berengaria; the
King of Navarre was her father.  He had
given her to the mother of King Richard who had made great efforts to bring her
that far.  Then she was called queen and
the king loved her greatly.  Since the
time when he was count of Poitiers she had been his heart’s desire.” 

Ambroise describes the wedding:  “The next morning the young woman was married
and crowned at Limassol.  She was
beautiful, with a bright countenance, the wisest woman, indeed, that one could
hope to find anywhere.  There was the
king in great glory, rejoicing in his victory and in his marriage to the woman
to whom he had pledged his troth.”


            What is
immediately striking about these accounts is that both chroniclers were under
the impression that Richard was quite smitten with his bride.   I find that very sweet, but I tend to be a
bit skeptical, in part because royal marriages were not love matches and
because I personally don’t think Richard had a romantic bone in his body.   But it is interesting to see what Richard’s
contemporaries thought of his relationship with his bride.  

            For a more
cynical view, I give you Richard of Devizes, who was not present for these
events, here describing Richard’s departure from Sicily.   “The fleet of Richard, king of the English, put
out to sea, and proceeded in this order. 
In the forefront went three ships only, in one of which was the queen of
Sicily and the young damsel of Navarre, probably still a virgin.”   Richard and Berengaria were plight-trothed and
in the MA, that was often considered as binding as the marriage ceremony
itself, so the chronicler thinks Richard may have jumped the gun, so to
speak.  Not very gallant of him to
speculate about that, of course, but he was always a bit snarky.   Listen to what he said about Eleanor, “Queen
Eleanor, a matchless woman, beautiful and chaste, powerful and modest, meek and
eloquent, which is rarely wont to be met with in a woman, who was advanced in
years enough to have had two husbands and two sons crowned kings, still
indefatigable for every undertaking, whose power was the admiration of her

So far so good, right?   (Although this must surely be the one and
only time that anyone described Eleanor as “meek.”)  But then he cannot resist making a snide
allusion to the scandal in Antioch, more than forty years in the past.   “Many knew what I wish what none of us had
known.  This same queen, in the time of
her former husband, went to Jerusalem. 
Let none speak more thereof; I also know well.   Be silent.” 

This same monk is the only one to
cast aspersions on Berengaria’s appearance. 
He described her as “a maid more accomplished than beautiful,” though
this is sometimes translated as “more prudent than pretty.”    Richard of Devizes never saw Berengaria,
though.    William of Newburgh, a very
reliable contemporary chronicler, called her “a virgin of famous beauty and
prudence,” although he never saw her, either. 
I find it interesting that historians have usually chosen to quote
Richard of Devizes’s unfavorable assessment of Berengaria’s looks over that of
Ambroise, who actually did see her, possibly because they think royal brides
were described as beautiful as a matter of course.  But why, then, do they accept at face value
the praise given to other queens and princesses?   I think their willingness to see Berengaria
as plain ties in with the tendency to blame her for the failure of her
marriage.    But since both Ambroise and
the author of the Itinerarium believed that Richard had desired Berengaria long
before he wed her, it is unlikely that she was plain, for medievals were as
superficial as we are today and expected their heroes to be handsome and
dashing and their heroines fair and chaste. 
Okay, we’ve done away with the chaste requirement.  

To show that medieval chroniclers
were not like today’s press agents for Hollywood stars, I thought I’d conclude
with some descriptions of historical figures that were far from

Katalina of Lancaster,
daughter of John of Gaunt and Constanza of Castile, wife of Enrique III of
Castile (1372-1418)
“The queen was tall of body and very fat. She was pink and white in her
complexion and fair. In her figure and movements she seemed as much like a man
as a woman… she was not very well ordered in her body and had a serious affliction
of palsy which did not leave her tongue properly loose or her body movements
From the Generaciones y semblanzas of Perez y de Guzman


Guifred Pilosus, Count of
Barcelona (died 897)
“…[H]e was hairy in places not normally so in men…”
From the Gesta comitum barcinonensium


Frederick II, Holy Roman
Emperor, son of Heinrich von Hohenstaufen and Constance de Hauteville.

“The Emperor was covered with red
hair, was bald and myopic. Had he been a slave, he would not have fetched 200
dirhams at market.”
From the Muntazam by Sibt Ibn al-Jawzi


Kálmán, King of Hungary, son
of Géza I and Sophie of Looz, father of István II (1170-1116)
“…shrewd and learned… hairy, shaggy, squinting, hunchbacked, lame, and
From the Chronicon Pictum Vindobonense


Amaury I, King of Jerusalem,
son of Fulk and Melisende of Jerusalem, husband of Agnes of Edessa and Maria
Komnene, father of Baldwin IV and Isabella (1136-1174)
“He was a man endowed with worldly experience, very shrewd and circumspect
in his deeds. He had a slight impediment of the tongue, not so much that could
be considered a defect, but so that he had no elegance in spontaneous, flowing
speech… His body was of pleasing stature, as if it had been measured
proportionally so that he was taller than the average, but smaller than the
very tall… His face was attractive… His eyes were bright, and somewhat
protruding; his nose, like his brother’s, aquiline; his hair yellow, and
slightly receding; his beard covered his cheeks and chin with pleasing
fullness. However, he had an uncontrollable laugh, which made him shake all
over… He was fat beyond measure, in such a way that he had breasts like a
woman, hanging down to his belt…”
From the Historia rerum in partibus transmarinis gestarum of William of
Tyre (c.1130-1185)


The description of King Amaury of
Jerusalem comes from Deeds Beyond the Sea by the man considered one of the
greatest medieval historians, William, Archbishop of Tyre.   He also gives us a fascinating glimpse of
William de Montferrat, older brother of Conrad de Montferrat, who was wed to
Sybilla, Queen of Jerusalem, later the wife of Guy de Lusignan.  He describes William as handsome and bold and
intelligent, but then adds that he was inclined to drink too much and when he
did, he was very quick to anger.   Such a
pity he died in 1186, for I’d have loved to have read what he would have said
about the English-French feuding during the Third Crusade!    

Well, it is time to return to the
dungeons of Trifels Castle, where the most dangerous enemies of the Holy Roman
Empire were imprisoned and where Coeur de Lion spent a few very uncomfortable
weeks in April of 1193.    Once I can
spring Richard from Trifels, I will surface again. 

May 12, 2012




117 Responses to “A WEDDING IN CYPRUS”

  1. Joan Szechtman Says:

    I found the less than favorable descriptions of contemporary kings and queens quite refreshing.

    From ancient times, people seem to be able to tell when people have love for one another by how they look at each other. Perhaps the chroniclers observed that “look” between Richard and Berenguela. Maybe he was smitten with her before his capture and that during his imprisonment, his captors tried to break his spirit by implicating his wife as having something to do with his current status or that she refused to pay his ransom, etc. Even if he had doubts, his experience could have outweighed his reason and didn’t allow him to be emotionally attached to her once they were reunited?

  2. skpenman Says:

    It is easy to tell you’re a fellow writer, Joan; you have the writer’s imagination and the curiosity about the human psyche that is an essential element. I do think that Richard’s captivity cast a dark shadow over his marriage and the last years of his life, but not because he felt Berengaria was in any way responsible for his plight. And that is all I am going to say since I want people to buy the book!

  3. Joan Szechtman Says:

    I’d buy the book anyway, but I understand the the spoiler issue. On NPR I heard about a study about spoilers and the surprising finding was that even though people claimed they didn’t want to be spoiled, that for the majority of readers spoilers actually enhanced the experience. Who knew?

  4. Stephanie Says:

    Poor Frederick… But this description makes me giggle every time: “Had he been a slave, he would not have fetched 200 dirhams at market.” Thanks for these descriptions. Very interesting! And I totally agree with Joan about enjoying the less favorable ones too.

  5. Cynthia Says:

    The description of Amaury I is hysterical. It made me think that if we were able to travel back in time, we most likely would be shocked to see what our historical figures really looked like. Also, I might tend to believe the opinions of the men who actually saw Berengaria.

  6. Chuck Wolfram Says:

    “Only medieval English queen who did not provide her husband with a heir…”??? I disagree. As you mention there was Anne of Bohemia, who never had children; there was also Richard II’s second wife, although she was too young to have children and the marriage was probably not consummated. Isabella of Gloucester was never proclaimed queen but she was married to John when he became king; every other wife of an English king was a queen, and I know of only two other non-morganmatic wives of kings who did not have the title of queen (Madame de Maintenon, wife of Louis XIV and Aspasia Manos, wife of Alexander of Greece). Joanne of Navarre, wife of Henry IV, never had children by Henry.

  7. Teka Lynn Says:

    When I read the description of Amaury I, I said, “My God, he’s Saint Nicholas!” Shook like a bowlful of jelly indeed.

  8. Sharon K Penman Says:

    If I get to write about the Kingdom of Jerusalem as I hope, Amaury will be a character as his second wife was Maria Comnena, mother of Isabella in Lionheart and wife of Balian d’Ibelin.

    Here is today’s Facebook Note.

    Another wedding anniversary today, this one in 1515 between Henry VIII’s sister Mary and Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk. The 18 year old Mary had been unwillingly wed to the King of France, moe than 30 years her senior. He died after less than 3 months of marriage, supposedly after over-exerting himself in the bedchamber with the beautiful Mary. She then secretly married the man she’d loved all along, Charles Brandon. Henry was not happy, wanting to use her to make another diplomatic alliance, but he was eventually persuaded to forgive the lovers. The television series The Tudors had Mary marrying the King of Portugal and then murdering him! Mary and Brandon’s granddaughter was the tragic Jane Grey; Susan Higginbotham has a new novel coming out in June about Jane, Her Highness, the Traitor.

  9. Elizabeth Chadwick Says:

    Terrific Sharon!
    I wonder when Richard would have had the opportunity to be smitten by Berenguela when he was Count of Poitiers? Did he go socialising with her family? I don’t know, I’ve never had occasion to look it up.

    I just love some of Gerald of Wales’ descriptions of people. They are so obviously character sabotages in keeping with his poisoned pen. His one of William Longchamp is hysterical. I’m sure there’s a grain of fact in there, but it can’t all be true! If you tried to sketch this description, you’d end up with an Orc!
    He was short and contemptible in stature and crippled in both haunches, with a big head and with the hair on his forehead coming down almost to his eyebrows like an ape. He was very dark, with little sunken black eyes, flat nose, snarling face. His beard below his eyes and his hair above them were all shaggy; his chin was receding, and his lips spread apart in an effective, false, and almost continual grin, which he very suitably used as a disguise. His neck was short, his back was humped, and his belly stuck out in front and his buttocks at the back. His legs were crooked, and although his body was small, his feet were huge.

  10. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Elizabeth, Berenguela’s biographer thinks it is likely Richard was at the King of Navarre’s court when he was Count of Poitou, and I thought she made a good case. But I don’t see Richard as being smitten with her; for one thing, she’d have been quite young, about 14 or so. I find it very interesting that these chroniclers were so sure she was his “beloved,” but I’m not convinced!

    No one can match Giraldus for sheer malice, can they? Poor Longchamp was apparently not a medieval Brad Pitt, but I agree with you that this is almosst a cartoon. I don’t think Longchamp was anywhere near as evil as his enemies alleged. He was arrogant, yes, and he definitely was a believer in nepotism. But he was also well educated, cultured, and had some very respected friends among the clergy. I thnk it unlikely that would be so if he were the monster his enemies made him out to be. I don’t always agree with Dr Stubbs, but I am with him in this case. Longchamp rose by sheer merit, since he had no family connections, charm, etc, to recommend him. But with enemies like Giraldus and Hugh de Nonant, he was at a double disadvantage. I always liked the legend that when Hugh lay dying, he couldn’t find a priest willing to absolve him of his sins. Aren’t we lucky that we get to write about people like this?

  11. Koby Says:

    Quite fascinating, Sharon. It’s a blessing that not only such descriptions remain, we also have authors who expand on them.
    Today, William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke died, and the Battle of Lewes took places, where Simon de Montfort defeated Henry III [IV] and took him captive, as were Richard of Cornwall and Prince Edward.

  12. Jel Cel Says:

    I am glad I am not being described by some of the chroniclers. I do not think I would come off very well, only the truly externally beautiful would have a hope, and then it looks like something could be found to be said nastily.

  13. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Koby, I’m late! I’ve got Will Marshal’s death in my notebook, and he is of great importance to me due to his connection with Hal, but my family problems… Anyway, I highly recommend Marshal’s death scene in Georges Duby’s William Marshal:The Flower of Chivalry. Although, as David Crouch points out in his biography of Marshal, Duby’s work leaves much to be desired, the very scene is truly worth reading.
    And everyone, do read Elizabeth Chadwick’s The Greatest Knight!

  14. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Here is today’s very long Facebook Note.

    May 14, 1264 was the battle of Lewes, in which Simon de Montfort defeated and captured Henry III. This was one of my favorite battles for it was so dramatic and filled with unexpected turns and twists. Lewes was protected by the river but vulnerable to attack from the west, from the Downs, and Simon made a night march to take the royal army by surprise at dawn the next morning. Edward made a major mistake by leaving the field in pursuit of the panicked Londoners, wanting revenge for the time Londoners had pelted his mother with mud, ripe fruit, and curses; he actually pursued them for several miles. Simon, a gifted military commander, realized what was happening when Edward’s vanguard chased after the Londoners and led his reserve against Henry’s left flank, a surprise strike that gave him the victory. Henry’s brother Richard was captured after taking refuge in a mill. Then Edward fought his way into the priory where his father was trapped instead of fleeing to continue the war. And of course it was a family affair. Simon was wed to Henry’s sister and his sons and Edward were first cousins and childhood companions; Simon himself was Edward’s godfather. What writer wouldn’t want to fight a battle like that?
    Simon was a man of many contradictions, with his share of flaws. But he genuinely believed that even a king should have accountability and this French-born baron would call the first parliament in which both knights and burgesses from the towns would attend and be elected. Unlike most rebellions, Simon’s supporters were fighting for a cause, not personal grievances. Simon was said to have given a stirring pre-battle speech; this is the one I gave to him. “This day we fight for justice, for Christ’s poor, for the weal of England, for the promises broken and the trust betrayed. Our cause is just, our quarrel good.” Henry’s rebuttal that as the king, he was answerable only to God did not have quite the same resonance. 
    I remember trekking the bridle path that Simon’s army would have taken up Offham Hill, not sure we were going the right way, but following Geoff, my English godson, who insisted he knew where we were going, and he did. Eventually we came out upon the Downs and there was the town of Lewes lying below us, just as Simon and his men would have seen it so many centuries ago. History seemed very close at that moment.

  15. Sharon K Penman Says:

    In connection with William Marshal’s death, Elizabeth Chadwick has put up a fascinating post and a giveaway on her blog today. Here is the link.

    Elizabeth, of course, has breathed life into William with her novels The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion, as well as A Place Beyond Courage, about William’s controversial father, John Marshal.

  16. Sharon K Penman Says:

    One of my Facebook friends, Jo, has discovered that the BBC series She-Wolves, the episode about Eleanor and the Empress Maude, is now available on YouTube. This is very good news for those living on the wrong side of the Atlantic who were wary of programs like Expat Shield. I thought the episode was a good one, accurate and fair, not once veering off into fantasy; in other words, not The Tudors! Here is the link.


  17. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, that’s a good news:-) Thank you!

  18. Koby Says:

    Quite good of Jo. Thank her for us all, please.
    Today, Nur ad-Din Zangi died. He was Saladin’s predecessor, and his death allowed Saladin to unite both Syria and Egypt under his rule.
    Moving onwards, Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, stood trial in London on charges of treason, adultery and incest and was condemned to death, and Mary, Queen of Scots, married James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell, her third husband.

  19. skpenman Says:

    Thanks, Koby; having you for a friend is like having access to the world’s best medieval encyclopedia!

    Today’s rather long Facebook Note.

    She was one of the most remarkable women of the Middle Ages—student, lover, and then wife of Peter Abelard, then a nun and eventually an abbess. Her name was Heloise d’Argenteuil, although she is better known as the female half of “Heloise and Abelard,” for her love affair with this brilliant, arrogant scholar and theologian has captivated the imagination of the world for centuries. She bore him a son, with the unfortunate name Astrolabe, and loved him with a passion that survived scandal, the horror of his castration by her uncle, her reluctant withdrawal to a nunnery, and a decades-long separation bridged only by letters. I personally think she could have done much better.  She was brilliant herself, and possessed an amazing strength of character for one so young. Her letters to Abelard are eloquent, mesmerizing, and sometimes discomforting to read, for they were never meant for our eyes. A number of books have been written about these doomed lovers. Marion Meade’s Stealing Heaven is one of them. And Heloise is a character in Sharan Newman’s excellent medieval mystery series.

    Heloise survived Abelard by over twenty years. There is some discrepancy about her date of death. (I really should ask Sharan, for I bet she knows) I’ve seen it given as both May 15th and May 16th and the year as 1163 or 1164. There is uncertainty, too, about her place of burial. It has been said that she and Abelard were buried in the Oratory of the Paraclete, the abbey he’d founded, but the cemetery of Pere Lachaise in Paris contends that their bones were reinterred there in the nineteenth century; it has even been claimed that the reburial was done at the behest of the Empress Josephine, who’d been touched by the story of their tragic love. Whichever the truth of it, their monument in the Paris cemetery has long been a popular tourist attraction; I cannot even imagine what Heloise and Abelard would have made of that.

    Here is a link to an excellent, insightful, and ironic article about Heloise that ran in the New York Times in 2005. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/02/13/books/review/13NEHRING.html?pagewanted=all&position=

  20. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Koby, you mean Nur-ad Din, Zengi’s son, Raymond of Antioch’s nemesis?
    To Raymond’s great annoyance, Nur-ad Din (or Nurredin) turned out to be as warlike and capaple leader as his father Zengi had been, and we all know how it ended. With one unnecessary death, one quite necessary divorce, and one woman’s much desired new life.

    P.S. IMHO, Richard cannot be blamed for his proverbial bravado. It was, alongside his beloved Aquitaine, his maternal inheritance. The family flair. Although, I must admit, Raymond was the one who must have inherited its lion’s share:-)

  21. skpenman Says:

    Here is today’s Facebook Note.

    I was preoccupied with Heloise and Abelard yesterday, but Koby reminded me that May 15, 1567 was the date of the ill-fated marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots and James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell. Mary’s entire life seems highly improbable in retrospect, overflowing with controversy, scandal, betrayals, bad decisions, murder, abduction and possible rape, and tragedy, always tragedy. She would, of course, die on the scaffold at Fotheringhay Castle; it was said that her little dog crouched in her blood beside her headless body afterward. Bothwell died in a Danish prison, said to have gone insane, much like Guy de Lusignan, who supposedly committed suicide in a Sicilian dungeon, his family’s ransom attempts all sabotaged by Edward I, seeking vengeance for the infamous murder of Edward’s cousin in Viterbo. For readers wanting to know more about Mary, I recommend Margaret George’s Mary, Queen of Scots.
    Moving on to May 16th, on this date in 1204, Baldwin, Count of Flanders, was crowned the first Latin emperor of Constantinople. This was the culmination of the shameful Fourth Crusade, which ended in the assault upon the Christian city of Constantinople, during which the crusaders indulged in a brutal orgy of robbery, rape, and murder. One of their leaders was Boniface of Montferrat, brother of Conrad, and it seemed for a time that he would be chosen as emperor. But the crown went to Baldwin, who was the nephew of Philip, Count of Flanders, who played a role in Devil’s Brood and Lionheart before dying at the siege of Acre. Baldwin had an even closer tie to the Angevins, for he was married to Marie of Champagne, daughter of Eleanor and Louis’s daughter, Marie, and thus a niece to Richard and John and the sister of Henri, Count of Champagne. Baldwin was said to have been madly in love with his wife and they both died on this ill-fated crusade, Marie at Acre and Baldwin the year after his coronation. He was attempting to put down a Greek rebellion and ended up as the prisoner of Kaloyan, the Tsar of Bulgaria. At first he was treated well, but the tsar later had him killed. The circumstances of his death aren’t known, but it was claimed that the tsar had his skull made into a drinking cup. What historical novelist could make stuff like this up? He and his lovely young wife could have had a good life together if only he’d had the common sense to stay at home instead of getting caught up in the bloody fiasco of the Fourth Crusade. But common sense was often in short supply in the Middle Ages, just as it is today.

  22. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, fascinating note! As for Philip of Flanders, different sources give different dates of his death at Acre, namely June 1st and August 1st. Which is the right one?

  23. Kathy Wagner Says:

    I would very much like to go on a tour with Ms. Penman the next time she organizes one. How do I get on a list for that???

    Thank you,

    Kathy Wagner
    Atlanta, Ga.

  24. skpenman Says:

    Kasia, it is June 1st. he died before Richard arrrived and before Acre fell. His death caused Philippe to lose all of his waning enthusiasm for crusading as he was then keen to go home so he could lay claim to the rich Flemish province of Artois which had been his deceased queen’s marriage portion.

    I had another early morning brain-freeze, typed Guy de Lusignan in the note above when I meant to type Guy de Montfort—sorry.

    Kathy, I had so much fun on the Eleanor tour last June that I have agreed to lead another one next year, most likely in September. Academic Travel did the organizing; thankfully all I had to do was to show up! It is too early to take reservations, but I will bee posting about it once we have definite dates, etc. Since it is well over a year away, that won’t happen for some time, of course. If you e-mail me via my website, I will give you my e-mail address and will be sure to let you know when you should contact the travel agency.

  25. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, do you mean September 2013? I would love to go with you but I’m afraid it won’t be possible. Unless I resort to some very drastic means, such as bank-robbery:-)
    But seriously, would it be possible to meet you all somewhere on the way, let’s say, Poitiers? Chinon Castle would be better but I do not know whether it is on the list or not? My husband’s cousin married a Frenchman and they live near Rouen. Maybe it would be a good opportunity to pay them a visit at last and say hello to you on this occasion:-).

  26. skpenman Says:

    Yes, we are talking about September of 2013, Kaisa. I can’t go in the spring since I’ll still be dealing with Ransom, and going in high summer would not be a good idea since sites like Mont St Michels would be wall to wall tourists. I’d love to meet you! The travel agency cannot allow others to join in any of the tour activities for obvious reasons, but I’m sure I could manage to find a little personal time to meet you. We will definitely go to Chinon and Poitiers again since they are so important to Eleanor’s history. Have you been to Fontevrault Abbey? It is worth a trip to France just to see it. And Chinon has been completely renovated; I was astonished by the massive changes in just the two years between my visits.

  27. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, I haven’t been to Fontevrault Abbey, but visiting Henry, Eleanor and Richard, and meeting you at the same time (of course in conspiracy- by meeting you, I didn’t mean to join the tour, do not be afraid:-)) would be too much for me. I’m sure that I wouldn’t be able to utter a single word.
    The only thing I would be able to produce would be tears streaming down my face. Not a very tempting prospect, don’t you think?
    Well, September is a very good time of year. As you said, the waves of tourists pouring in and out are gone. Together with my husband we prefer spring and autumn when it comes to family trips.
    Chinon would be perfect. Not only because of Henry and Eleanor, but also because of Hal and his escape:-) I have to assess it from the strategic point of view (directions, terrain, etc.)
    But there is still plenty of time for planning.

  28. skpenman Says:

    Great, Kasia. We have plenty of time to lay our plans. But you have to see Fontevrault, whether you meet me there or not. It is just amazing. We are so lucky that the effigies of Henry, Eleanor, and Richard survived; Isabelle d’Angouleme is there, too, but she always seems like a party crasher to me! Have you seen Jude Maris’s incredible work on YouTube in which she brings their effigies back to life? It is eerie and utterly mesmerizing. My readers all agreed this is how they envisioned Eleanor and Richard, but we weren’t too keen on what she did with Henry.

  29. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Yes, I’ve seen Jude Maris’s work. My children were delighted. They waited impatiently for the moment when Eleanor, Henry and Richard would open their eyes :-) And I was literary forced to play all the videos over and over again:-)
    As for Isabelle, it was my intention not to mention her presence. In some way she is a party crasher. Still, I cannot help it and I do feel sorry for her. She seems so lonely among her first husband’s family. BTW, how did she find herself at Fontevrault? Was it her intention, her deathbed wish, or a pure accident?

  30. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Kasia, if I went on that second tour, I might perhaps meet you to. Your written English is very good. Do you speak French as well?

  31. Malcolm Craig Says:

    To answer Kasia’s question, Isabelle was later added to the group at the insistence of Henry III, her son and a grandson of Eleanor and Henry II.

  32. skpenman Says:

    Malcolm, is there any chance you might come on the second tour? That would be fantasstic!
    Kasia, Isabelle and her husband Hugh de Lusignan got involved in a plot against the French king and she took refuge in Fontevrault. She spent the last three years of her life at the nunnery and when she died, she asked to be buried in the nun’s cemetery, which was done. When her son Henry III visited the abbey, though,he was upset that she had not been buried in a more royal state and at his insistence, she was reburied in the abbey church. You probably know that Henry and Eleanor’s daughter Joanna and her two sons are buried there, the first being the stillborn infant named after Richard who was buried with his mother and the second being Raymond, son of the Count of Toulouse and later the count himself. Both Joanna and Raymond requested burial at Fontevrault, as did Richard, who asked to be buried at his father’s feet in a possible gesture of remorse or contrition. Joanna, like Eleanor, took the veil in her last hours. Joanna’s case was complicated since she was married, but Eleanor intervened on her behalf and it was allowed. The hearts of John and Henry III are also buried there. Henry’s heart was not sent to Fontevrault until after the death of his queen and it has been conjectured that she was not willing to part with it.

  33. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Malcolm, that really would be fantastic!!! BTW, did you receive my latest
    e-mail? The one in which I asked you about your Breton adventure, and Brittany as a part of France? I didn’t get any information from Mailer Deamon so I assumed that my message reached you, only you were too busy to write back.
    I don’t speak French, only English, German, Czech and Slovak. I have to admit that I do have a flair for languages but I’m a little bit lazy too:-)
    As for my English, it is good but still not as perfect as I would like it to be.

  34. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon and Malcolm, thank you for your exhaustive answers to my question. The one concerning Isabelle and her resting place.

  35. Koby Says:

    This is all very interesting. I doubt I’ll be able to go, but who knows? Time will tell.
    Today, Edmund, Earl of Rutland was born.

  36. skpenman Says:

    Okay, my earlier post to Koby and Kasia has vanished; not happy about that. I will recreate it as soon as I can–hint, I had lots of nice things to say about you both. Meanwhile, here is today’s Facebook note, thanks to you, Koby.

    I did not think I had any historical events to discuss today, but once again Koby the Great came through with flying colors, letting me know that on May 17, 1443, Edmund, Earl of Rutland, was born. Edmund would be brutally murdered on the Wakefield bridge on December 30, 1460 after the battle fought outside Sandal Castle by Lord Clifford, and his head would be placed with those of his slain father and uncle on Micklegate Bar in York. When I googled Edmund, I was surprised and pleased to see that over 900,000 hits came up; it is nice to know he has not been forgotten. And his Wikipedia entry says that he even has his own biography, written in 1875. I was not aware of this when I wrote Sunne in Splendour thirty (gasp) years ago; I marvel sometimes how I could write a thousand page novel without the benefit of the Internet or a computer. I hammered it out on an electric typewriter, having to use white-out and carbon paper; that sounds as primitive today as using parchment and a quill pen. Edmund was the first important character I had to kill, and I approached the project with some trepidation. I actually made use of something from my own past in that scene. I’d become ill as I studied for my final exams during my first year of law school. We’d been told there was no excuse for missing one so I ploughed ahead even as I got worse and worse, finally collapsing and ending up in the hospital with a near-fatal bout of pneumonia. (And the law school did let me make up the exams I missed.) But when I lost consciousness, I was thrown into a whirling kaleidoscope of hot, swirling colors, like a tornado of blood. So when I came to write Edmund’s death scene six years later, what he experiences on Wakefield’s bridge when his injured knee slams into the wall is what I experienced on that January day in Tucson, Arizona. I was very nervous about my first “death scene,” and it was a great relief to be told that the scene moved so many readers. Rest in peace, Edmund.

  37. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Koby, I would love to meet you too! Maybe we could all meet in France?
    Talking about France: Ken, are you still there? Sipping good wine in a company of your noble ghost? Did Othon ever visit Chinon? Maybe you could find him there too? In September of 2013?

  38. skpenman Says:

    Wow, wouldn’t it be amazing if I could meet you, Kasia, and Koby and see Malcolm again next year? And at Chinon? Does it get any better than that? Only if we add George Clooney to the party. :-)

  39. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, George Clooney for you, Jeremy Irons for me:-)

  40. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    After second thoughts, Daniel Day Lewis. Definitely!

  41. Malcolm Craig Says:

    OK, then. I would invite my favorite rising soprano, Layla Claire. She is currently in Aix-en-Provence, practising to perform as Sandrina in Mozart’s “La Finta Giardiniara.” Since Layla is probably younger than all three of our sons, I would of course show a paternal interest in her career. Kasia, fantasy aside, my extremely busy time with youth baseball ended two days ago. I did receive your message, and I intend to respond to it during the upcoming weekend. You have mentioned your children. Two, or more?

  42. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Fortunately only two:-) Emilka (Emily) and Franek (Frank). I’ll wait patiently for your reply. No pressure:-)

  43. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    A very important date in Polish history! Today, in 1920, Karol Wojtyła, better known as Pope John Paul II was born. He was the second-longest serving Pope in history and the first non-Italian since 1523. Upon his death on 2 April 2005, a number of clergy at the Vatican and laymen throughout the world began referring to the late pontiff as “John Paul the Great”—only the fourth pope to be so acclaimed in the history of papacy. He was beatified on 1 May 2011 by his successor Pope Benedict XVI.
    But apart from being a pope, he was also a scholar, philosopher, lecturer, poet, playwright, at some point even theatrical actor, and polyglot.
    He played a major role in ending communism in Poland and eventually all of Europe. He also significantly improved the Catholic Church’s relations with Judaism, Islam, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Anglican Communion. But the thing I greatly admire him for was his apologies to almost every group who had suffered at the hands of the Catholic Church throughout the ages. As Pope, he officially made public apologies for over 100 wrongdoings, including: the crusades, the Church Hierarchy’s role in burnings at the stake and the religious wars that followed the Protestant Reformation, the inactivity and silence of many Catholics during the Holocaust. In November 2001, from a laptop in the Vatican, Pope John Paul II sent his first e-mail apologising for the Catholic sex abuse cases.
    To sum up, he truly was a remarkable man, open-minded and courageous, admired by all, believers and non-believers, people of different religions and races. And to be honest, I miss his comforting presence, there in the heart of Italy, and his pilgrimages to Poland.

  44. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    I’m sure that Sharon and Koby are going to mention a certain couple that was preocuppied with more down-to-earth things (than the above-mentioned His Holiness) on this day (Sunday I think it was) in 1152:-)

  45. Koby Says:

    Kasia, I quite enjoyed your tribute to Pope John Paul II. He was truly a great man.
    And of course, you are right. 960 years ago, on this date, it was indeed Whit Sunday, and a very important wedding took place. No doubt Sharon will furnish us with all the details.

  46. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Kasia and Koby correctly guessed the topic of the day, although it turned out to be much longer than I’d anticipated, since I could not resist detouring to the weddings of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd and Ellen de Montfort and Llywelyn and Joanna. But here is my Facebook note, an anniversary gift to my favorite Angevins.

    I’ve written a large number of death scenes, a much smaller number of weddings. Probably my most dramatic wedding was the one in which Llywelyn ap Gruffydd finally was able to wed Ellen de Montfort; they were actually already married as it had been done by proxy in France. But, Ellen, of course, was kidnapped on the high seas by Edward I and then held as a hostage, used as leverage against the Welsh prince. Edward then added insult to injury by insisting upon throwing them a large, royal wedding. So I pulled out the stops for that long-suffering couple, and went into great detail about the clothes worn, the food eaten, the entertainment provided, and the ribald jokes at the raucous bedding down ceremony. I ended the chapter by quoting from the chronicle of Osney, “Thus did Llywelyn win, with a heart that leapt for joy, his beloved spouse, for whose loving embraces had so long ago yearned.” This sort of romantic writing was highly unusual in a medieval chronicler, and I couldn’t resist making use of it. I confess that I am not always consistent about such things, for I was quite willing to believe the Osney chronicler knew what he was talking about, while I remain skeptical of similar language in the crusader chronicles that describe Berengaria as Richard’s “beloved” and claim he had desired her since he was Count of Poitou. But Ralph Waldo Emerson said that consistency was the hobgoblin of little minds and who am I to disagree with Ralph?

    I’ve written only one other marriage scene that can compare to Llywelyn and Ellen’s wedding, that of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, which occurred on May 19, 1152 in Poitiers. It was nowhere near as lengthy a chapter and there was no wedding revelries or bedding down scene because I had Henry become so irked with Eleanor’s Poitevins that he spirited Eleanor off to their bedchamber even before the wedding feast began. This, of course, was my imagination at work; it just seemed to me that this was something Henry would have done.  I assumed readers would know that, but maybe not, for one of the most frequent questions I am asked is whether Joanna really burned Llywelyn’s bed. (My Joanna did.)

    I do not mean to slight Joanna and Llywelyn, by the way, for I really enjoyed writing their wedding scene, too. We know almost nothing about it, though, not even when it occurred or where it took place. I selected Chester as the most likely venue and I still remember the letter I received from a woman who’d made a trip to Chester and was highly indignant that the cathedral made no mention of this important event. She took them to task for this and reported that they’d promised to remedy their neglect. I had to explain the murkiness surrounding their marriage, but at least I was able to reassure her that Llywelyn ap Gruffydd and Ellen de Montfort were actually wed in Worcester.

    Back to our couple of the day. Henry and Eleanor were indeed wed in Poitiers and when my Eleanor tour group visited that city last June, we felt as if history’s veil had slipped for just a moment, giving us a tantalizing glimpse of this remarkable couple on one of the happiest days of their turbulent, passionate and ultimately doomed marriage. It was impossible to stand in Eleanor’s magnificent great hall, now the Palais de Justice, and not catch glimpses of Henry and her from the corner of our eyes. So let us take a moment today to remember what was and what might have been.

    The last word I shall give to Eleanor; okay, the words are mine, but they are a fair verdict on this tumultuous relationship, one that truly did change history in ways that still resonate today. Henry and Eleanor had been playing a medieval version of Truth or Dare, which not surprisingly ended in acrimony. I had Henry regretting not having pressured the pope to annul their marriage so that “you’d be cloistered in some remote Irish nunnery today and I’d be rid of you for good!” Eleanor paused in the door and then told him he was as blind to the truth about them as he was to the truth about their sons, saying:

    “We’ve been wed for twenty-five years, have shared a bed for more than twenty of those years. I bore you eight children and we buried one together. We’ve schemed and fought and loved until we are so entangled in hearts and minds that there is no way to set us free. God help us both, Harry, for we will never be rid of each other. Not even death will do that.”

    Eleanor was right, of course, as she usually was.

  47. Sharon K Penman Says:

    One of these days I will post something without a typo, but today is not the one. It should read May 18th, not the 19th.

    Kasia, I am in awe of people with linguistic skills, so I am so impressed by your abiility to speak so many languages.
    Koby, your ears must have been burning recently. When I had dinner with friends, one of them asked about the mysterious Koby I quote from so often. She assumed you must be a university professor, and was astonished and even more impressed when I revealed you were a college student. At this rate, you are going to have quite a large fan club.

  48. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Thank you, Sharon. I don’t know whether I deserve your admiration since the level of my German and Slovak cannot be compared to the level of my English and Czech:-)
    With my laziness I will never be able to achieve this:


  49. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    I have encountered some minor problems while posting this message, so here I try again:

    Thank you, Sharon. I don’t know whether I deserve your admiration since the level of my German and Slovak cannot be compared to the level of my English and Czech:-)
    With my laziness I will never be able to achieve this:


  50. Malcolm Craig Says:

    It will not surprise Sharon that my favorite marriage scene she has written is that for Geoffrey and Constance in “Devil’s Brood.” Historical evidence only tells us that they were married in 1181, before October. So Sharon placing the wedding in August, at Fougères, is certainly plausible. We do know that they had a successful and fruitful marriage, producing three children in only five years, before Geoffrey’s sudden end in Paris. Thecouple clearly governed Brittany effectively together, and Constance’s confirmation to St-Gildas de Rhuys, which I used to prove the existence of their second daughter, shows that she did care for her late husband. Sharon brings their relationship to life as wonderfully as only she can do during the later chapters of “Devil’s Brood.”

  51. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Their wedding scene was one of my favorite scenes to write, Malcolm. And the scene in which Constance learned of Geoffrey’s death was one of the most painful. Geoffrey is too often the forgotten son because he was never crowned, but I think he’d have been a very good king, probably the best of the lot, smarter than Hal, not as emotionally damaged as John, and not as reckless as Richard. I tihnk he had the happiest marriage in the family, too. One of my favorite memories of our Eleanor tour last year was of the members searching Notre Dame for Geoffrey’s plaque, which we knew about thanks to you, Malcolm.

  52. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, I was looking for some information concerning Gervase of Tilbury, a member of Hal’s household and a great admirer of the Young King, and found out that on this day in 1218 Otto IV Holy Roman Emperor, Henry the Lion and Matilda’a son died. Gervase entered Otto’s service around 1190 and wrote his Otia Imperialia (1213-14) for him.
    Could you write a few words about Otto? I know that he was brought up in England and was Richard’s favourite. He went with him into war with France and Richard had him made the Count of Poitou. I also know that he died excommunicated but here my knowledge ends.

  53. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Kasia, I already have my Facebook Note ready about another death on this date, but I agree that Otto deserves a mention and I will get back to him later today. I am looking forward to introducing him as a character in Ransom–if only because he is one of my few German characters not named Heinrich or Friedrich! Meanwhile, here is the Note I was about to post on Facebook, A Murder in May.

    On May 19, 1536, one of history’s more shameful judicial murders occurred, when Anne Boleyn was beheaded at the Tower, her crime that she was married to a megalomaniac who already had his beady eye on another woman. There is no other English king with so much blood on his hands. Occasionally, novelists will make Anne guilty of adultery for the sake of high drama, but I don’t know of any reputable historian who believes in her guilt. Even at the time, there were those who saw the truth behind her sham of a trial; I recently mentioned the courage of the Lord Mayor of London who spoke out on her behalf, saying bluntly and bravely that he thought she was innocent of the charges. By all accounts, she handled herself with grace and dignity during the trial, but the verdict was a foregone conclusion. As soon as the cannons boomed out to signal her death, Henry went galloping off in pursuit of his new quarry, Jane Seymour. I sometimes wonder what Jane really felt about this courtship. Did she think being a queen compensated for having to take Henry into her bed and then live with the shadow of Anne’s ghost? Or was she bullied into submission by her rabidly ambitious family? I don’t know enough about Jane to make a judgment. Has there ever been a decent biography of this elusive woman?
    I think the best film about Anne is Anne of a Thousand Days with Richard Burton and Geneviève Bujold and the best novel is The Concubine by Norah Lofts. I am currently reading Bring up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel’s sequel to Wolf Hall, but I am not far into it, so I have no idea how she will deal with the question of Anne’s innocence or guilt. I would be very surprised if her Anne engages in adultery in light of the obvious research she has done for these two books. Here is a link to an interesting audio review of Bring up the Bodies in the Economist. The interviewer—I am sorry to say—cannot resist taking a swipe at historical novels in general, implying they are not real books like Ms. Mantel’s novels. But the reviewer knows better and tactfully rebukes this snobbish bias. The interview includes a brief description of Anne’s death scene in the novel, but that does not qualify as a spoiler! (Although I know someone who was upset with me for “ruining” The Tudors by mentioning that Anne would be beheaded.) Anyway, for those who would like to listen to it, here is the link. http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2012/05/hilary-mantels-bring-up-bodies Rest in Peace, Anne. You won the war even if Henry did win the battle.

  54. ken john Says:

    Kasia, Yes I’m still here and sipping a nice glass of cold Tourraine Sauvignon Blanc as I type! Othon doesn’t like French wine, so he’s facing me across the deak sipping a white wine he brought from Savoy!

    Meeting up in France next year sounded really good until I heard George and Daniel were going too. Think I might stay at home then!

  55. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Who are George and Daniel, Ken? And how can Othan not like French wine? This is the first time I heard he had a character flaw!

  56. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, Ken means our companions, George Clooney and Daniel Day Lewis! Ken, why would you possibly object to their much-desired presence?

    P.S. Sharon, could you possibly take a look at my note above? I do not know whether my information is correct? The one concerning Otto IV. I would be grateful for your confirmation.

  57. Koby Says:

    Well, I’m finally back from Sabbath. First of all, happy Jerusalem day to any who celebrate without me! I think Sharon has mad enough people feel the importance of the city without ever having been there simply through Lionheart, but it can use always use more recommendations.
    On Facebook, Sharon mentioned Anne Boleyn’s execution, and here we are discussing weddings; I’ll mention that another Tudor event, a marriage took place today, though only by proxy: Catherine of Aragon was married by proxy to Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales.
    In other events, Stephen II, Count of Boulogne, the father of Stephen I of England died today in the (Second) Battle of Ramla. I think Sharon expressed with great skill the effect this has on his son, the future Stephen I.
    Lastly, Kasia is indeed right; Nearly a year after the disastrous Battle of Bouvines, where Otto was carried off the field by his wounded and frightened horse, having been forced to abdicate the imperial throne, he died of sickness in Harzburg castle. In the words of Ernst Kantorowicz (who also wrote Kaiser Friedrich der Zweite on Frederick II and The King’s Two Bodies): “deposed, dethroned, he was flung full length on the ground by the Abbot, confessing his sins, while the reluctant priests beat him bloodily to death. Such was the end of the first and last Welf Emperor.”

  58. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Koby, that sounds terrible! Was this really how he died? It hurts to read about it. I feel almost physical pain on the very thought of it. He was one of Henry and Eleanor’s grandchildren after all. What had he done to deserve such fate?I have to learn more about him. At least the before-mentioned Gervase of Tilbury (Hal’s former chaplain) stayed with Otto to the very end.

  59. Koby Says:

    Well, it is said he asked to be mortally expiated of his sins; it is assumed that he willingly submitted to being beaten, though he had been absolved of his excommunication by then. Kantorowicz was writing some 700 years later; but he is an eminent historian, and his words are usually sourced. In any case, Otto certainly died from his sickness rather than the beating, though that may have hastened his death
    Also, I see I also have a typo - it was not almost a year, but almost 4 years later, in 1218.

  60. Koby Says:

    And today, the Second Battle of Lincoln took place, where the Royalist army under William Marshal, the Earl of Chester, and William Longsword defeated the French Army besieging Lincoln, with the French Commander, the Comte of Perche (who was a cousin of Marshal’s) dying during the battle.

  61. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Thank you Koby for reminding me of the Battle of Lincoln. I’ve just read a vivid description of the Marshal’s triumph in Sidney Painter’s William Marshal Knight-Errant, Baron, and Regent of England, with the author drawing on Roger Wendover and The History of William Marshal.

    P.S. Of course David Crouch’s biography of William Marshal is the best and most reliable that has been written so far, but Sidney Painter’s is also worth reading.

  62. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Here is today’s Facebook Note.

    I wrote at some length about the first battle of Lincoln, in which King Stephen was defeated and captured by the forces of the Empress Maude’s brother, Robert, Earl of Gloucester. But there was a second battle of Lincoln, also of great importance in English history, fought on May 20, 1217. Philippe Capet’s son Louis had taken London and had himself proclaimed as King of England; Henry and Richard must have been spinning in their graves like tops. But John’s death changed things; by dying, he probably saved the throne for his nine year old son. Our favorite, William Marshal, (see Elizabeth Chadwick’s The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion) was named as regent for young Henry and rose to the challenge magnificently. The French had been besieging the city of Lincoln and William Marshal gathered an army and marched to lift the siege. The town had been taken by the Count of Perche but the castle still held out for Henry. William Marshal’s men got into the city and they would eventually prevail. The Count of Perche refused to surrender and fought bravely to the death; Plantagenet blood flowed in his own veins, for he was the son of Richenza, the daughter of Eleanor and Henry’s daughter Matilda, Duchess of Saxony, Tilda in my books. Richenza has appeared in Devil’s Brood and Lionheart and will appear again in A King’s Ransom; her husband fought with Richard in the Holy Land. Richenza was spared knowing of her son’s death at Lincoln, as she herself was dead by then. Sadly, the town was sacked by the victorious army, under the pretense that the townspeople had supported the French, in what came to be known as the Lincoln Fair. But the Marshal won a great victory that day, for he undoubtedly saved the Plantagenet dynasty—and thus won the eternal gratitude of generations of historical novelists, myself among them.

  63. ken john Says:

    Kasia. So, have the invites gone out to George and Daniel, or can we lesser mortals come instead? Sharon, Othon was a protoge of Peter of Savoy. Peter spent his life protecting Savoy and the whole of the Western Alps from the greedy clutches of the French. In 1248, The French backed the Count of Geneva to attack Savoy and one evening on the 24th November, the Count’s forces were encamped at the foot of Mont Granier, near Chamberry preparing to attack when half the mountain simply collapsed on them, wiping them out. The Savoyards took this as a sign that God was with them. Othon was not particularly fond of the French, but I’m sure you’re right - he had to love their wine!

  64. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Ken, let me remind you it was Sharon’s idea to take George with us. I only added Daniel, and Malcolm added Layla:-)
    But seriously, your notes concerning Othon are always fascinating. And as you, step by step, lift the veil of the mystery surrounding Eleanor and Edward’s faithful courtier, I am more and more eager to read your book.

  65. ken john Says:

    Thanks Kasia. If you google Mont Granier, you will be able to see the jagged cliff of the remaining half of the mountain.

  66. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Here is today’s Facebook Note.

    May 21st was a busy day in medieval history. In 1172, Henry made peace with the Church at Avranches, doing token penance for Becket’s murder—nothing as dramatic or as spectacular as his own self-imposed penance at Canterbury two years later. Yesterday we discussed the second battle of Lincoln and how William Marshal may have saved the Plantagenet dynasty. Well, on May 21, 1216, a year before that decisive battle, Philippe Capet’s son Louis was in London, laying claim to the English crown. And in 1471, the sad life of Henry VI came to an end in the Tower of London. Edward had it put about that the last Lancastrian king had died of melancholy after learning of the death of his son at Tewkesbury. I would guess as many people believed that then as do now. Probably because of his known personal piety and his murder, some English came to see him as a martyr, and Edward did his best to keep this belief from spreading, even removing Henry’s statute from the Rood Screen at York Minster in 1179. But Richard took the opposite approach, having Henry’s body removed from his modest grave at Chertsey Abbey to a new shrine at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, where Edward himself was buried. Lastly, on a personal note, my father would have been one hundred years old today had he been able to fulfill his goal to reach the century mark; he only missed it by seven years.

  67. Koby Says:

    Well, having been busy all day, it was no surprise Sharon would get there first; but there is a typo in your post, Sharon: you wrote “removing Henry’s statute from the Rood Screen at York Minster in 1179″, and of course, it was 1479, not 1179.

    For myself, I will mention that Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk, who fought for Edward IV at Barnet where he was wounded, for Richard III at Bosworth Field where his father died and he was captured, served as Lord High Treasurer for Henry VII [VIII], and finally, at the age of 60, crushed James IV of Scotland at Flodden for Henry VIII [IX] died today. And one of my personal heroes, James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose, ‘The Great Montrose’ was ignobly executed today in what was nothing less than foulest betrayal and judicial murder.

  68. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Koby, it is amazing, but even when I proof-read, I still screw up my dates. At least this mental typo makes sense, as I am currently so rooted in the 12th century. I am not familiar with The Great Montrose. Can you tell us more?

  69. Koby Says:

    Of course, Sharon, and it is my pleasure to do so. Montrose started building his reputation when during the Bishops’ Wars (when Charles I tried to force an Anglican-oriented prayer book on the Scots) he joined the side of the Covenanters, as they were called, and was one of their most energetic leaders. He was no Puritan, but he objected to the power Charles was giving the Bishops, and believed they should be free to worship as they will. Matters became rather complex after the Treaty of Berwick, so to sum up, by the time the Civil War had come to Scotland, Montrose was supporting the King, because Charles had conceded regardign the authorities of the Bishops and Montrose objected to the Presbyterians who wanted to force Presbyterianism on Scotland as Charles had tried to do with Anglicanism.
    With small but dedicated forces, Montrose successively won the Battles of Tippermuir, Aberdeen, Inverlochy, Auldearn, Alford and Kilsyth, all against much greater odds, with about the same force of between 1,000-2,000 men. In his greatest victory, the decisive Battle of Kilsyth, at the height of his power, he only had 3,000 foot and 500 horse. He was appointed lord lieutenant and captain-general of Scotland, but all for naught; Charles I lost the Battle of Naseby, and having had to hurry to his rescue, Montrose was surprised by at Philliphaugh by David Leslie and some 8,000 men, 6,000 of the mounted. He himself had only 800 with him, and was forced to flee.
    He returned from exile for Charles II; but that man betrayed him for the support of Archibald Campbell, Earl of Argyll, Montrose’s bitter enemy who was the leader of the Presbyterians. Surprised once more in the Battle of Carbisdale with no support from Charles II, he was captured several weeks later, betrayed by Neil Macleod, to whom he had come seeking shelter. He was hanged on 21 May and after execution his body was dismembered, the quarters were publicly displayed in Aberdeen, Glasgow Perth and Stirling and the head on the Tolbooth in Edinburgh, where it remained for eleven years.
    History would vindicate him, though, and in 1661, his limbs were gathered, led with much fanfare and honor back to Edinburgh, and placed in a splendid coffin, which lay in state in Holyrood Palace. A near-royal funeral was held in St. Giles’ Cathedral, where this great leader, warrior, poet and loyal friend rests to this day.

  70. Malcolm Craig Says:

    “Bonnie Dundee” was also a Graham. For many years, Allys and I have enjoyed the song of that name, sung by the Corries.

  71. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    On Whit Sunday (22 May) 1149, assisted by his own son and Ranulf, earl of Chester, David I of Scotland (1124-1153) knighted both Henry fitz Empress and Roger, Earl of Hereford at Carlisle (John D.Hosler Henry II: A Medieval Soldier at War, 1147-1189).
    Henry promised David that all the land north of Newcastle and the Tyne should belong to the kings of Scotland for ever. (John Gillingham The Angevin Empire).
    We know that Henry, already a King, broke that oath and it were David’s grandsons, Malcolm IV and William I who were forced to submit to Henry’s unquestionable superiority.

  72. Koby Says:

    Indeed, Kasia. And elsewhere and in different times, The Hashshashins attempted to murder Saladin near Aleppo, John of England and Philip of France signed the Treaty of Le Goulet, settling the matter of the English possessions in France for a while, and the First Battle of St. Albans took place, where Richard, Earl of Warwick and Richard Duke of York won a great victory over the Lancastrians, capturing Henry VI [VII], and killing Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset, Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, and Lord Thomas de Clifford, who died in the battle and ensuing rout.

  73. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Thanks, Koby, for the fascinating information about Montrose. I’m late in posting my Facebook note this morning as I gave myself the luxury of sleeping in, but here it is. Oh, and yesterday’s post should have read 1479, not 1179! Also statue, not statute; the latter was a typo, but I think the date switch is proof that I am firmly rooted in the 12th century.

    On May 22, 1455, the first battle of St Albans was fought, which resulted in a victory for the Yorkists. Sadly, for the people of St Albans, their streets were the site for a second, bloodier battle just six years later, on February 17, 1461. How unlucky could one town be? The second battle was won by the Lancastrians, lost by the Earl of Warwick. Luckily for the fortunes of York, the young Duke of York, Edward, won at Mortimer’s Cross and soon held London.
    On May 22, 1149, Henry II was knighted at age sixteen by his uncle, the Scots king. And on May 22, 1200, Philippe and John signed a peace treaty at Le Goulet. John gained recognition from the French king for his continental lands, but it came at a high price; this was another day in which Henry and Richard must have been spinning in their graves like the proverbial tops as the Angevin Empire was whittled away. This purported peace was sealed with the marriage of John’s niece, Blanche, whom Eleanor had fetched from Castile, to Philippe’s son, Louis. The peace did not last, though; within two years, England and France were at war again. Eleanor mercifully died before Normandy was utterly lost, but she must have seen the handwriting on the wall when Philippe captured Chateau Gaillard on March 8, 1204. The castle had been Richard’s pride and joy, which he called his “fair daughter.” Constructed in just two years at great expense, it was unique in many ways and Richard himself is thought to have been the architect. One of the most celebrated exchanges between the French and English kings occurred over Chateau Gaillaird. When Philippe boasted, “I would take it if its walls were made of iron,” Richard retorted, “I would hold it if its walls were made of butter.” I hope that Eleanor’s final illness kept her from realizing that Normandy was doomed, although that is probably not likely. She would have appreciated the irony, though, that her beloved Aquitaine remained under English control for several centuries after the loss of Normandy and Anjou. I like to imagine her and Henry having some lively discussions about that in the afterlife!

  74. Dave Says:

    Tomorrow(May 23rd) is the 850th anniversary of the election of Thomas Becket as Archbishop of Canterbury.

  75. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Thanks, Dave; I missed that, as you can tell from my Facebook Note below. Maybe Henry was subconsciously willing me to forget that date!

    May 23rd is a rather sad day for medieval history buffs. On this date in 1430, Joan of Arc was wounded and captured at Compiegne by the Burgundians, who sold her to the English, who turned her over to the Church—shades of Pontius Pilate. She was charged with heresy, and after a farce of a trial, she was found guilty and burnt at the stake in Rouen on May 30, 1431. Twenty-five years later, an inquisitional court examined the verdict and proclaimed her innocent and a martyr. She was canonized by the Catholic Church in 1920,is one of France’s four patron saints—and also the heroine in some rather bad films.
    And in the Cynical Sweepstakes, we have another winner. On May 23, 1533, Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, declared that the marriage between Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon was null and void. This finding was hardly a great surprise, as Henry had already married Anne Boleyn, who was then pregnant with the child considered to be one of England’s greatest rulers; irony was definitely on the ascendancy during the Tudor years. Like so many who sought to curry favor with Henry VIII by jettisoning their scruples, Cranmer did not prosper for long. He would be burned at the stake in 1556, charged with heresy by Henry’s daughter Mary. I sometimes have commented that the Plantagenets (especially the Angevins) led improbably dramatic lives, but reality really took a holiday during the years of the Tudor dynasty, where fact trumped fiction almost every day.

  76. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, also on this day (the Monday in Rogation-week) in 1183 Hal took the castle at Aixe. I have to agree with you that he could not have rejoiced over that “hallow victory” (in your own words:-)). Richard had already departured and the castle was left only with a small garrison.

    I have to say goodbye to you all for some time. There are family matters that need my presence and attention. I will write as soon as everything returns to normality.

    P.S. Don’t forget about my ‘Sir Bountiful”! In three days he will find himself in Uzerche. Ailing.

  77. Koby Says:

    Well, Sharon and Kasia have covered what there was to say… but, I still have an ace up my sleeve! Today, Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor, who was Matilda of England’s husband died, allowing her to return to England and so eventually setting off the Anarchy.

  78. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Kasia, we will miss you; I hope you can resolve these family mattes quickly. Koby, that is quite an ace! Had Henry–or Heinrich–lived another 10 or 15 years, not only Maude’s history but the history of England would have been quite different.

  79. Sharon K Penman Says:

    With acknowledgments to Dave and Koby, here is my second Facebook Note of the day.

    I was so preoccupied with Joan of Arc and those ubiquitous Tudors that I forgot several other important events that occurred on May 23rd. I would like to thank Dave for reminding me that today is the 850th anniversary of the election of Thomas Becket to the archbishopric of Canterbury. (I suspect that Henry subconsciously influenced me here, as I’m sure he’d like nothing better than to forget that particular date.)
    And once again Koby rides to my rescue by mentioning a rather important death. On May 23rd, 1125, Heinrich V, the Holy Roman Emperor, died, thus leaving Maude a young widow of 23. Heinrich was only 39 and had he lived another 15 or 20 years, think how different Maude’s life and the history of England would have been. This is a fascinating What If scenario. Without his daughter to name as his heir after the sinking of the White Ship, what would Henry have done? We now know his young queen was not barren, for she had numerous children with her second husband, the Earl of Arundel. But since Henry had so many children himself (at least 22—23 if you count my Ranulf  ) he may have decided to put her aside and try to beget an heir with a new wife. Or he may have reconciled himself to the fact that he’d not have an heir of his own blood to succeed him and designated his nephew Stephen as his heir. Or he may have come up with an entirely different option. I think we can safely say that Maude’s life would have taken a happier trajectory had she been able to stay in Germany. But I would try to reassure her restless spirit that her sacrifice was in a good cause—to further the careers of dozens of future historical novelists who’ve made our living writing about the Plantagenets.

  80. Dave Says:


    There is a hilarious parody of the whole Thomas Becket affair in the first series of Blackadder. The episode is titled Archbishop.


  81. Koby Says:

    Today David I of Scotland, who supported Matilda during the Anarchy and had a great many other accomplishments as well died, and Lambert Simnel was crowned in Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin, Ireland with the name of Edward VI.

  82. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Today’s Facebook Note, another long one–what a surprise, I know.

    On May 24, 1153, David I, King of Scotland, uncle to the Empress Maude and a stalwart supporter of her claims, died.
    On May 24, 1444, Henry VI and Marguerite d’Anjou were betrothed; they would be wed the following April.
    And on this date in 1487, the pretender Lambert Simnel was crowned in Dublin. Not much is known of his background, but he is thought to have been of humble birth, the son of a carpenter or cobbler. He was about ten years old and at first it was claimed he was Edward IV’s second son Richard, Duke of York. But then it was contended he was actually Edward, Earl of Warwick, who’d supposedly escaped from confinement in the Tower of London. His claim was accepted by the Irish government and his cause was supported by Richard III and Edward IV’s sister Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy. Not surprisingly, this did not end well, and he was captured when the Yorkists were defeated at the Battle of Stoke Field; Richard’s actual nephew, the Earl of Lincoln, was slain on the field, but Francis Lovell escaped. At the time I wrote Sunne, I was not aware that he apparently reached Scotland and I accepted the belief that he drowned crossing the River Trent. There does not seem to be any truth in the later legend that he’d taken refuge at his manor at Minster Lovell and starved to death when he was somehow trapped in a secret room.
    Lambert Simnel, probably because of his youth, was not made to suffer for his part in the rebellion in a rare example of Tudor mercy, and was instead given a job as a scullion in the royal kitchens, which was also a shrewd way to emphasize his status as an imposter; Henry VII was nothing if not clever. Lambert later became a royal falconer and was therefore more fortunate than the man he’d impersonated, for the real Earl of Warwick, imprisoned in the Tower since the age of ten, would be executed by Henry VII at age 24; supposedly his death was the price demanded by King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile for agreeing to wed their daughter Catherine of Aragon to Prince Arthur. Gallons of ink would later be spilled over whether that marriage was ever consummated.
    The real victim of the Lambert Simnel conspiracy seems to have been a most unlikely one, Elizabeth Woodville, for in February of 1487 she was stripped of her dower lands and banished to Bermondsey Abbey. How likely is it that she would have conspired against her own daughter to put upon the English throne a boy whom she had to know was an imposter? When she died at Bermondsey in 1492, she had nothing to leave her daughters but her blessings.

  83. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Kathryn Warner has written a brilliant blog that should be required reading for all historical novelists.


  84. Koby Says:

    Well, I will not be able to post anything from this evening until Sunday night - Saturday is Sabbath, obviously, and Sunday is Shavuot. So, Happy Shavuot to any who celebrate. If there is anything to report (and there is quite a bit that happened on the 27th), I will mention it Sunday night. Until then.

  85. Emilie Laforge Says:

    A French scientist will examine a sample of Richard I heart in order to understand what germ killed him. Here’s a link to the article from The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/9288283/French-forensic-scientist-investigates-death-of-Richard-the-Lionheart.html. The results should be published in approximately 3 months. I don’t know that this will add to your narrative, Sharon but I thought everyone here might find this article interesting.

  86. skpenman Says:

    Happy Shavuot, Koby. I know a few important events that happened on the 27th, but not “quite a lot,” so you’ve managed to stir up my curiosity again.

    On May 25th, the Venerable Bede, called the first English historian, died in 735, but that is quite a stretch for our purposes, I know. So I am posting an article that predicts what will be lost in our lifetimes. I definitely hope this is not true.

  87. skpenman Says:

    Today’s Facebook Note.

    Sharon Kay Penman

    I will be disappearing again from time to time, as I am busy laying siege to Rouen. But I wanted to mention that on this date in 1465, Elizabeth Woodville was crowned as Queen of England, a year after her secret marriage to Edward IV. And guess what, the Woodvilles have their own website here. http://www.oneinspecyal.com/​html/elizabeth_woodville.html
    Have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend, and at 3 PM on Monday, stop for a a moment to remember all those who’ve given their lives in war.

  88. skpenman Says:

    The link didn’t take, so here it is again.


  89. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    I hope all who celebrate it are enjoying the Memorial Day weekend. Tomorrow at 3 PM, observe a moment to remember all those who gave their lives in wars.

    Here is today’s Facebook Note.

    On May 27, 1199, John was crowned King of England. I can’t think of anything to say about that. 
    Last week, I described Anne Boleyn’s execution as one of history’s more shameless judicial murders. But her trial was not even the worst of Henry VIII’s perversions of justice. On May 27, 1541, Margaret Pole, the Countess of Salisbury, daughter of George of Clarence, was dragged to the block—literally, as she refused to co-operate—and beheaded on a spurious charge of treason. The executioner was either nervous or incompetent, for he needed eleven blows to kill this frail, elderly woman; she was 68 years old. (That may not be considered so elderly in our time, but it was in hers.) The story that she jumped up and had to be chased by the executioner has been debunked, but the fact that the execution was so terribly botched is true. Many considered her a martyr and in 1886, she was beatified by the Catholic Church; this is the third of the four steps toward canonization. Margaret was a remarkable woman who deserves to be remembered for more than her appalling death and subsequent beatification. Intelligent, capable, and strong-willed, Margaret was a patron of humanist scholars and among her achievements, she founded a hospital. Out of morbid curiosity, did The Tudors dare to deal with this appalling travesty of justice? I will be interested to see how Hilary Mantel handles her murder in the final book of her trilogy, for Thomas Cromwell was one of those who pushed for her attainder in parliament. Her death gave George of Clarence a dubious distinction; he had two children and they were both sent to the block by the Tudors.

  90. Koby Says:

    I cannot agree more, Sharon. That is two things; but in addition, John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset died, who was Lieutenant-Governor of France, and a bitter enemy of Richard Duke of York, and was responsible for much of the enmity between York and Beaufort. And Malcolm ‘the Maiden’ IV of Scotland was crowned, who later served under/with Henry II at Toulouse. And (a private interest of mine), the Arab polymath Ibn Khaldun was born.

  91. Koby Says:

    And today, the Battle of the Eclipse took place, James IV of Scotland and Margaret Tudor were married. A Treaty of ‘Everlasting Peace’ between Scotland and England signed on that occasion lasted for ten years. Lastly, Thomas Cranmer declared the marriage of Henry VIII [IX] to Anne Boleyn valid.

  92. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Welcome back, Koby. I actually did see the reference to Ibn Khaldun elsewhere, but I was not familiar with him and was too lazy to look up the word “polymath.” Maybe you can tell us more when you get a chance? Here is today’s Facebook Note, in which I also rely a question about Edward I from one of my readers.

    I hope you’ve all been enjoying the Memorial Day weekend in the US; I think it is a bank holiday in the UK. Remember—3 PM today is the time to pause and think of those who gave their lives for their country.
    In medieval history, May 28, 1265 was the day that Edward escaped from the captivity he’d been in since his father Henry lost the battle of Lewes the preceding year. Edward was not being watched as closely as he should have been, and he used a horse race as a ploy for his escape. For details, read Falls the Shadow, Chapter 35, starting on p. 487, she says in a shameless plug for her own work.
    I have a question for everyone from one of my readers. She wrote that she’d encountered a reference to Edward’s “female spy” in a book by Thomas Costain, but she’d been unable to find any more information about this mysterious woman. She hoped I could help, but unfortunately it has been over 20 years since Falls The Shadow was published and my memory has long since moved on to other books. I did remember Edward’s female spy; in fact, she makes a brief appearance in Shadow on p. 504-505. But I could no longer recall my source. I am positive this information came from a contemporary chronicle; I am just not sure which one at this late date. I told my reader that I would ask on Facebook. My own biographies and history books and chronicles that I consulted for Shadow are packed away. I thought someone might have easier access to one of Edward’s biographies. So that is the challenge. Can anyone help?
    Lastly, on May 28, 1533, Thomas Cranmer, Henry VIII’s ever-so-helpful Archbishop of Canterbury, declared that Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn was valid in the eyes of man and God. Had he ruled otherwise, I daresay the Christchurch monks would have been called upon to fill a sudden vacancy at Canterbury. Meanwhile, up in Heaven—having served his time in Purgatory—Henry II must have watched in wonderment, wanting to know how in the world the eighth Henry had managed to find such a pliant tool when his own archbishop would have insisted that it would snow in July if Henry predicted a summer hot spell.

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