Some of you may remember a few years ago when six-word memoirs became the rage. Supposedly this trend could be traced to an anecdote about Ernest Hemingway. Challenged to write a short story in just six words, he sat down and scribbled: “For sale, baby shoes. Never worn.” Whether that was true or not, many people were inspired to take a shot at it, and at least one book of their split-second memoirs was published. I thought it might be fun to try it for historical figures. But first let me give you some examples from Six-word Memoirs. They are funny, ironic, wry, poignant, tragic, playful, disillusioned, clever — in other words, they run the gambit of human emotions.

Here are some I found sad: “I still make coffee for two.” “I like girls. Girls like boys.” “I hope to outlive my regrets.” “Everyone who loved me is dead.” “Was father. Boys died. Still sad.” “So devastated. No babies for me.” “Coulda, woulda, shoulda. A regretful life.”

Here are some I thought were clever or amusing or thought-provoking. “Verbal hemophilia; why can’t I clot?’ “Woman seeks men; high pain threshold.” “Perpetual work in progress. Need editor.” “Memory was my drug of choice.” “Came, saw, conquered. Had second thoughts.” “Always working on the next chapter.” “Lapsed Catholic. Failed poet. Unpublished prayers.” “Like an angel. The fallen kind.” “Giraffe born to a farm family.” “Tried not believing everything I thought.” “The militant who became a monk.”

Okay, everyone ready to play? How about this one for Henry II, a bit trite but true: “Happier if I’d had only daughters.” Or Richard, musing on his deathbed at Chalus. “Damn! Should have worn my armor.” Eleanor: “Rebellion? Probably not a good idea.” John: “Why do people not trust me?” Hal: “I was king; no one cared.” Geoffrey: “I was always the forgotten son.” Thomas Becket: “A saint now. I win, Henry.” The Empress Maude: “I was cheated of my destiny.” Eleanor and Henry’s daughter, Leonora: “I couldn’t live without my husband.” Berengaria: “If only I’d had a child.” Joanna: “I found love, but too late.” The French king Philippe: “God rot all those accursed Angevins.” His unhappy queen, Ingeborg: “Why did I ever leave Denmark?” King Stephen: “The crown brought me little happiness.” Here’s another one for Henry, which probably crossed his mind during his last days at Chinon: “Betrayed by all whom I loved.” Rosamund Clifford: “Loved by Henry, forgiven by God.” Henry’s illegitimate son Geoff, the Archbishop of York: “I never wanted to take vows!” Richard again, “The Lionheart legend lives on, Philippe!” Eleanor: “A mother shouldn’t outlive her children.” Geoffrey of Anjou, who died within a month after Bernard of Clairvaux prophesied his death: “Don’t get Bernard gloat about this.” Or Maude again, maybe wistfully this time: “I’d have been a good queen.” Her brother Robert, barred by illegitimacy from the throne: “I’d have been a better king.” And I’m going to cheat now and give John the last word, this one from Here Be Dragons: “I always knew I’d die alone.”

Moving on to Llywelyn Fawr: “Poor Wales, so close to England.” Joanna: “I loved him; he forgave me.” William de Braose, who was hanged by Llywelyn for his infidelity with Joanna: “Hellfire, no woman is worth this.” Llywelyn’s son Gruffydd, about to escape from the Tower: “Now if only the sheet holds.” Llywelyn’s grandson, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd: “God help Wales once I’m dead.” His wife, Ellen de Montfort: “But we had so little time together.” Their daughter Gwenllian: “Tell me, please, where is Wales?” Davydd ap Gruffydd: “Could not live with my regrets.” His wife Elizabeth de Ferrers: “My crime? That I loved Davydd.” Their son Owen, imprisoned from the age of three by Edward: “Why am I being held here?”

Edward I: “For me, more was never enough.” Henry III: “Westminster Abbey was my true legacy.” Simon de Montfort: “I died for a just cause.” Also, “My brother-in-law was such a fool.” His wife, Nell: “I’d do it all over again.” Their son Bran: “Never enough wine to drown memories.” Guy de Montfort, who committed suicide in a Sicilian dungeon after Edward I blocked a ransom: “Please God, let me go mad.”

Edward IV: “Burned my candle at both ends.” Richard III: “Please bury me at York Minster.” Anne Neville: “I wanted Middleham, not Westminster Palace.” Elizabeth Woodville: “I should have known-damn Edward!” Edmund, 17 year old Earl of Rutland: “This cannot be happening to me.” Marguerite d’Anjou: “My life? Much grief, few joys.” Cecily Neville: “My life? It lasted too long.” Elizabeth of York: “My life? I did my duty.” Henry Tudor: “Tudors lay claim to Hollywood next.” George of Clarence: “What’s that? A butt of malmsey?”

Okay, how about everyone else giving it a try? You can choose any historical character, though Henry VIII and his wives might be too easy. You can write your own memoirs instead, if you wish. (You may notice that I cravenly ducked that one.) Have fun.

October 21, 2012

248 Responses to “IN JUST SIX WORDS OR LESS”

  1. Rania Says:

    Damn Tostig, the harvest and William.

  2. ken john Says:

    I wish I’d…Oh, never mind..

  3. skpenman Says:

    Ken, we are counting on you to play the game. You and Stephanie were born for this!
    I like yours, Rania, bet Harold would, too.

  4. ken john Says:

    She loves me….she does not….!

  5. Kristina Says:

    Interesting one for Joanna, Sharon. Was she speaking of Llewelyn or Will? Could apply to both…she loved Will, and he forgave her before he was executed; or, of course she was speaking of the love of her life - him forgiving her for her infidelity…hmmm. As for my own: “Regrets are few, lived with passion”. And here is one for Eleanor: “Passion isn’t everything, trust is more”

  6. Alma Alexander Says:

    Lost love never dies. I endure.

  7. ken john Says:

    Othon!…. Eleanor!..Oh…, Othon….! Oh…, Eleanor!

  8. skpenman Says:

    Interesting responses. Hope Edward doesn’t see yours, though, Ken, or he’ll give you nothing but grief for the rest of your book. Kristina, I answered you on Fafebook; Joanna did not love Will. (At least my Joanna did not) She slept with Will, but she loved Llywelyn. I like your memoir and think Eleanor would like hers. Since she led about half a dozen different lives in the course of her 80 years, she probably needs half a dozen memoirs.

  9. ken john Says:

    LLywelyn ap Gruffudd: ” Dafydd, of course I trust you!”

  10. ken john Says:

    Dafydd ap Gruffudd: “Llywelyn…, brother…, trust me, I’ll nev …!

  11. ken john Says:

    ‘Troublesome Priest? I never said that!”

  12. ken john Says:

    Joanna: ” Sorry Llywelyn. It’s you I love”
    William (de Braose): “Hang it all, I love her!”

  13. ken john Says:

    Sharon, You’ve only gone and done it again! It’s gone viral on your FB page. Very naughty of you!

  14. Koby Says:

    Oh, quite witty. I think we’re all going to have great fun with this.
    How about: “Neglectful parents, dismissive siblings, rebellious vassals” for John? Or “Too little time to preserve Wales” for Davydd ap Llewellyn? “Stephen/Maude wasn’t worth this” - just about any noble in the Anarchy. Henry I: “So much time, women and laws.” William Marshal: “Being a true knight is rewarded.”
    Louis the Spider King: “Should have taught Francis more.” Francis: “Never fight a land war in Italy.” Charles of Burgundy: “Keep out of Switzerland and France.”
    I think that’s all for now - I am for bed.

  15. Rutabaga (Denise Mogge) Says:

    Empress Maude’s Triumph:

    White sheets. White snow. I’m gone ~

  16. Rutabaga (Denise Mogge) Says:

    Empress Maud’s Tombstone - Reader’s Digest Style…

    Birth, Marriage Motherhood - great, greater, greatest.

  17. Donna Simpson Says:


    my sons, my sons, just Richard

  18. A Voting Plea, A Clown Movember and A Six Word Story | The Mercenary Researcher Says:

    [...] In Just Six Words or Less Rock Star Sharon K Penman [...]

  19. skpenman Says:

    I love these!

  20. Karyn Osborne Says:

    “too many wives, no living sons”

  21. Jiltaroo Says:

    Four boys, no regrets, except love.

  22. Rutabaga (Denise Mogge) Says:

    Sharon - I did not post that link to my blog on here - I don’t know HOW that happened… I WOULD NEVER EVER DO THAT

  23. Wayne Ingalls Says:

    Richard III: My kingdom for a horse. Not!

  24. Nancy Tyrrel Theodore Says:

    I trusted, should have verified. RIII

  25. skpenman Says:

    Denise, I am happy for you to post a link to your blog here. You’re one of the funniest people on the planet, after all. :-)
    These are all so good. I especially like yours, Nancy.

  26. Richard III read rumbles onward! Week 4 « Me + Richard Armitage Says:

    [...] Another fun thing to do: Sharon Kay Penman’s very popular blog today asks readers to offer a six-word biography for a historical character. [...]

  27. Sandy Says:

    For me: Alone with my cats. Never lonely.
    Anne Boleyn: What I would give for boys.
    Ann of Cleves: Better my brother than my executioner
    Richard III: Where did those little princes go?

  28. Patti Bachrach Says:

    Eleanor (to Henry): it’s not over, ’til it’s over.

  29. JennyB Says:

    A legend in my own mind!

  30. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, what a delightful idea!

    Has it ever struck you that Hal and John were the brothers, who- a little bit ironically in the light of the events- both won nicknames connected with land:-) Here we go,

    Hal:”That misbegotten Johnny! Always lacks land…”
    Johnny (pleading): “An inch of your Lesser Land!”

  31. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    And Louis VII upon receiving the news of Geoffrey’s arrival into this world (some time in late September 1158):

    “Bad, bad Eleanor! Three living sons!”

  32. skpenman Says:

    Love these, Kasia. Patti, I can just see Eleanor saying that to Henry, can’t you?

  33. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Thanks, Sharon. Presently I’m toying with the idea of writing about Hal/John Land Affairs on Henry’s website. When I finish the Fornham Battle thing, of course. When would that be? I cannot tell:-) Now, back to bed. Still got two hours of sleep left:-)

  34. Stephanie Says:

    As always, I am amazed at the level of historical knowledge of everyone here. I bow at the greatness of you all and am once again humbled by the insignificance of anything I could contribute. May the best post win, because it certainly will not be mine.

  35. Joan Says:

    Joanna upon seeing Llewelyn for 1st time……”Celtic moustache gave me whiplash!”

  36. Joan Says:

    Pondering my growing piles of books on everything & anything medieval…..

    “Too many pages in Middle Ages!”

  37. Anke Says:

    Saladin: “Why can’t they just stay home?!” or “Richard. Finally, there’s a worthy foe.”

    Cleopatra: “When in Rome…? No! Bite me!” or “Augustus or snake? I choose snake.”

    This is fun!

  38. John Phillips Says:

    Henry Plantagenet. ‘ Life is a bitch called Eleanor. ‘
    Richard the Lionheart. ‘ What a simpleton up there ; Ouch ! ‘

  39. Joan Says:

    Hywel, poet-prince to Sharon Kay Penman…..

    “Please photoshop cause I was hot!”

  40. John Phillips Says:

    ” Sire, these lampreys are really tasty ! ” Henry I ( or Eustace, Stephen’s son, and no doubt countless others less famous )
    ” Stamford Bridge and back for what ? !! “. Harold
    ” A King , sly, lusting , and vengeful “. King John
    ” My reward for being the best “. Thomas Becket.

  41. Paula Mildenhall Says:

    “Landless knight makes good, runs country”. William Marshal
    “Two husbands, two sons, I rule”. Queen Emma
    “Duty, love of Maude, sustains me”. Brien Fitz Count

  42. Paula Mildenhall Says:

    “Loyalty binds me. Doesn’t bind them.” Richard III

  43. Vicki Wright Says:

    Married thrice, borne twice, virtues, vice. - my memoir

  44. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Hmm, what can I add to this witty stuff? Perhaps a few words about me and one of my favourite books entitled Shakespeare & CO. by Stanley Wells:

    “Me and Shakespeare. Shakespeare and Company”

    And fallowing suit, albeit travelling back in time and taking liberty with Master Shakespeare/ Prospero a little bit:

    Hal on his deathbed, addressing Will Marshal:
    “Our revels now are ended…”

    And giving instructions (poor Will how he must have felt):
    “Body to Rouen. Cloak to Jerusalem!”

    Good Day:-)

  45. ken john Says:

    From ‘The Reckoning’. Nell receives the news of Bran’s death from Hugh:

    “You did not forsake my son”

    “How, then, could we forsake you?”

    Brings tears to my eyes even now.

  46. RominaP Says:

    Elizabeth Woodville to Edward:

    ‘I’m older, but I seduced you.’

  47. Koby Says:

    Today, I can think of only two events, one birth and ode death, of two great and entirely different men. Charles Martel died today, he who lead the Franks to great victories at Tours and elsewhere, Grandfather of Charlemagne, credited with a seminal role in the development of feudalism and knighthood. 330 years later, William IX ‘the Troubador’ of Aquitaine was born. Interestingly enough considering his marital troubles, he was considered illegitimate at first due to his father’s earlier divorces and his parent’s consanguinity. I have no doubt Sharon will be able to inform us of many of his adventures.

  48. Joan Says:

    Who else lost sleep thinking up new ones?!?

    Wrath of Henry re rebellion 1173-74 (this one’s for you Kasia)

    “YOU’RE to blame, Eleanor of Aquitaine!!!”

  49. Joan Says:

    Note found by Eleanor after Henry’s death—re his inability to bring his kingly abilities into his family life….

    “sorry, luv, I couldn’t gov”

    And this brought tears to my eyes.

  50. Koby Says:

    Oh my goodness, I found an amazing link with William IX of Aquitaine’s works in Old French with English translations, it’s simply beautiful:

    Here’s a verse of which we usually only hear of the last line:
    I still remember a morning
    when we ended a fight
    and when she gave such an important gift,
    her love and her ring:
    god let me live long enough
    to put my hands under her cape.

  51. skpenman Says:

    These are all so clever and so funny. I think I’d be too intimidated to try my hand at any more with competition like this.
    Thanks for this wonderful link, Koby. By coincidence, I mentioned this very song in my Facebook Note below.

    October 22, 1071 was the birth of one of the more colorful medieval figures, Guillaume, ninth Duke of Aquitaine and Count of Poitou. He is remembered today more for his bawdy poetry than for his ruling abilities, and is often called the first troubadour. His turbulent life included two wives, a live-in mistress, numerous scandals, a stint in the Holy Land during the First Crusade, and two excommunications. When he was excommunicated the first time, he threatened the Bishop of Poitiers with death if he carried it out. The bishop called his bluff and it was said that Guillaume sheathed his sword, saying he did not love the bishop enough to send him to paradise. His second excommunication was for carrying off the wife of his vassal, the Viscount of Chatelleraullt, the aptly named Dangereuse or Dangerosa. He installed her in his palace at Poitiers, which was the final straw for his long-suffering wife, Philippa, who left him to spend her remaining years at Fontevrault Abbey; since his first wife occasionally lodged at the abbey, they may have had some interesting conversations on those long winter nights. Guillaume refused to put Dangereuse aside even after being excommunicated. He had her image painted on his shield, explaining that he wanted her to bear her in battle as she’d often borne him in bed. He then arranged for his eldest son to wed Dangereus’s daughter Aenor by her first husband. The result of this unconventional marriage was our Eleanor.
    In Saints, I have a scene in which Henry and Eleanor are discussing their families on their wedding night and Henry is delighted by Eleanor’s stories about her notorious grandfather, laughing that “I am still mulling over the fact that your grandfather was having an affair with his son’s mother-in-law!” Eleanor tells him that her grandfather liked to joke that he planned to establish his own nunnery and fill it with women of easy virtue and that when he was rebuked for not praying as often as he ought, he composed a poem, “O Lord, let me live long enough to get my hands under her cloak.” Henry then exclaims, “Between the two of us, we’ve got a family tree rooted in Hell! Once Abbot Bernard of our marriage, he’ll have nary a doubt that our children will have horns and cloven hooves.” And indeed Bernard of Clairvaux would later proclaim that the Angevins came from the devil and to the devil they’d go, but Henry and Eleanor’s sons were highly amused that they could claim descent from the Demon Countess of Anjou, which happens to be the name of my computer—Melusine. In Saints, I have Eleanor tell Henry that she adored Guillaume, but we now know that she was actually born in 1124, not 1122, so I think it is unlikely that she’d have had any memories of him. However, she would have heard many stories about him, stories that had soon passed into legend, and from what we know of Eleanor, I think we can safely say that she’d have been fascinated.

  52. Joan Says:

    Ranulf says….

    “I’m SK’s figment to be expedient”

    Koby, thank you for that!

  53. Sherill Says:

    Richard III: “I didn’t kill my brother’s boys.”

  54. Susan Says:

    Oh I love this game…

    Here are a few, forgive me, for some (at the end) are out of the period, but wouldn’t be held back.

    It’s all been for you Henry. OR
    Redeeming the family honor is everything. OR
    Bar Beauforts from the succession, ha!
    Margaret Beaufort

    Men are unreliable, fate is unavoidable. OF
    Are all these my blood relations? OR
    Gobbling up all the good stuff. OR
    Living large, taking risks, suffering consequences.
    Elizabeth Woodville

    I lived like I’d die young. OR
    What a mess I left behind. OR
    Secret marriages never actually stay secret.
    Edward IV

    I don’t trust you Uncle Richard
    Princes in the Tower

    What has mother gotten me into? OR
    My children were everything to me.
    Elizabeth of York

    Opportunity knocked and I answered, quickly. OR
    Edward’s untimely loss is my gain. OR
    I was this close to victory. OR
    More time, I needed more time! OR
    Richard III

    Having babies is what I do. OR
    Always at the center of things. OR
    Call me a witch, will you?
    Jacquetta Woodville

    Dad used us, Mom abandoned us. OR
    Poster children for worst parenting ever.
    Isabelle and Anne Neville

    They call me kingmaker, rightly so!
    Earl of Warwick

    I so deserved to be king. OR
    Born to rule, thwarted by fools. OR
    At least my son got the crown.
    Richard, Duke of York

    Praying for peace with eyes closed. OR
    I didn’t ask to be insane.
    Henry VI

    If I don’t fight, nobody will.
    My son was worth fighting for.
    Margaret of Anjou

    Nobody treats me as they should. OR
    Unrewarded service, divided loyalties, nobody wins. OR
    Undervalued, until it was too late.
    John Neville

    Wild child who never expected greatness. OR
    Shouldn’t someone have been raising me?
    Catherine Howard

    I was fertile the whole time! OR
    Men are not to be trusted, loved. OR
    My greatest happiness alas my downfall.
    Katherine Parr

    You’re telling people I’m unappealing, seriously?
    Who you calling ugly, old man?
    Anne of Cleves

    6 wives, 1 living son. Yikes! OIR
    It’s a fact, females can’t rule. OR
    You mean it was my fault!? OR
    Men determine the sex, who knew?
    Henry VIII

    You see Dad, girls can rule!
    Elizabeth I

    Spectacularly unprepared to be a Queen. OR
    Supposed to be decorative, not functional.
    Marie Antionette

  55. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Koby, I too thank you for the link!

    Joan love your Henry amidst the Great Revolt and your “photoshopped” hot Hywel:-) Celtic moustache and whiplash, sounds … Hmm, how does it sound?:-)

  56. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Susan, I love Catherine Howard saying : “Shouldn’t someone have been raising me?” and Marie Antionette: “Supposed to be decorative, …” :-)

    I too love this game:-)

  57. skpenman Says:

    These are wonderful, people! Maybe we ought to consider putting out our own book.
    Susan, yours are classics; if it is okay, I’d like to put your post on my Facebook page?

  58. Joan Says:

    Kasia, lest your imagination gets the better of you, nothing kinky around that whiplash—it’s of the “wowsers” variety. It’s all Sharon’s fault for making these guys so appealing.

  59. Joan Says:

    On the other hand, if you like kinky, it works too!

  60. Susan Says:

    Post away — I love doing this. So silly but a challenge too… 6 words is tough. I keep coming up with 7 or 8 words and have to cut.

    Thanks for starting this!

  61. Stephanie Carroll Says:

    Awesome and addictive post!!!

    Want vote. Demand vote. I voted!
    -Alice Paul

    It doesn’t seem very creative, but first thing I thought of.

    Stephanie Carroll

  62. Elizabeth Chadwick Says:

    ‘Beware all men, even your sons.’ Eleanor of Aquitaine

  63. Yvette Hoitink Says:

    A barren wife, mother of ten.

  64. Owen Mayo Says:

    William Wallace at Smithfield:
    “I hope that knife is sharp”

    King John at Newark:
    “It came out in the Wash”

    Countess of Salisbury:
    “Come on now - chop chop!”

  65. Joan Says:

    OK, one more…..since we’re celebrating Guillaume, 9th Duke of Aquitaine & Count of Poitou……..Philippa’s last words to Guillaume….

    “Farewell schmo—to Fontevrault!”

    Now I’m hysterical—must be the paint fumes in here.

  66. skpenman Says:

    Keep them coming; you guys are gifted at this! Susan posted some more gems on my Facebook page. My favorite was Isabel Neville’s “Thanks for the loser husband, Dad.”

  67. Gratiana Lovelace Says:

    Jane Austen: Wrote about women changing their fates.

    P.S. I’m reading your “Sunne in Splendour” book now and I simply adore it! I’m at Ch. 24. Earlier in the book, I was very moved by the young Edmund’s senseless murder and his family remembering and honoring his sacrifice despite the passage of years. And Dickon is my hero!

  68. Joan Says:

    Joanna……”hubby? dad? I WILL go mad!”

  69. Joan Says:

    So I can do Jane Austen?

    “I AM sublime, just needed time.”

  70. Richard Says:

    “Won too late, died too soon.” - Henry V

    “Everybody’s luck runs out one day.” - Richard I

    “Suited in all ways - except gender.” - the Empress Mathilda

    “Dad, what hammer? And what anvil?” - William Marshal

    “August is simple, next to him.” - Philippe II

  71. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Hi, Richard:-)

    I love your five-year-old William Marshal:-) Although I would rather change “dad” into “sire”, and not addressing his father but King Stephen, all sullen and sulky upon hearing what John Marshal had just said, but still, as I can imagine, trying to comfort his little to-be-hanged hostage:-)

  72. Kathryn Says:

    Edward II:

    I love Gaveston, Isabella loves Mortimer.

    Ruling is boring; I’m going swimming!

    My son is mine, not Wallace’s.

    Carpenters are more fun than noblemen.

    Damn, what a disaster Bannockburn was!

    Take my throne, son, it’s yours.

    The poker story is a myth.

  73. skpenman Says:

    Richard, I agree with Kasia, love your WM one. Yours are great, too, Kathryn; I especially like the poker story is a myth since so many people still believe it!
    This game could get addictive, couldn’t it?

    Today’s Facebook Note.

    On October 23rd, 42 BC, the second battle of Philippi was fought between the forces of Octavian and Mark Antony and Brutus. The latter suffered a decisive defeat and committed suicide, which was considered an honorable death in ancient Rome. I know this isn’t medieval, but who isn’t interested in Roman history? But I definitely would not have wanted to live then, even though the lifestyle for highborn Romans was higher than for medieval nobility. (Much better plumbing!) Yet it was such a brutal society in so many ways—at least it was once the Republic was destroyed and the Empire established. One of the most appalling aspects of life under the Empire was that if a politician fell from favor, his family paid the ultimate price with him. I am sure you all remember what happened to Maximus’s family in Gladiator, right? One of the most chilling scenes I’ve ever seen was in the wonderful BBC series, I, Claudius. When Sejanus (played by a young Patrick Stewart) ran afoul of the emperor and was put to death, his children were doomed, too. One of the soldiers ordered to kill his 8 year old daughter was reluctant to do so, telling his sergeant that it would bring bad luck to Rome to kill a virgin. The sergeant responded, “Then make sure she is not a virgin by the time you kill her.” No, I wouldn’t have wanted to live in Rome. But it is always fun to watch and read about. I highly recommend Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome series about the twilight of the Republic. At one time, I seriously thought about writing of the Gracchi brothers, who lived in the second century BC, but that is another story, for another time.
    Moving on to the MA, on this date in 1123, Tewkesbury Abbey was consecrated. I love this church; the past feels very close to me there. Standing in the nave and listening to the whispered echoes of its ghosts, it is so easy to envision the Lancastrian soldiers lying bleeding in the shadows, listening fearfully as the abbot tries to stop the Yorkists from entering the church to take their vengeance. I am very pleased that we will be visiting Tewkesbury on our Richard III Tour next September.

  74. Joan Says:

    Visiting all those places must be the ultimate reward for a writer of historical fiction, Sharon—your ghosts would walk with you.

    Simon de Montfort (Sharon’s)

    “Carpe Diem!”

    “Sainthood not my style”

    “Arrogance? Pride? peut-etre. I wept inside.”

  75. skpenman Says:

    Joan, you are very good at this! And I love the idea of my ghosts walking with me.

  76. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Kathryn, they are all brilliant, but I especially like “Ruling is boring; I’m going swimming!”

    Everybody, do drop in on Kathryn’s blog to find out whether Edward II was as good as his word. A clue: the October Anniversaries:-)

  77. Kathryn Says:

    Thanks so much, Sharon and Kasia! Yes, Edward II did indeed spend a month swimming and rowing in the Fens in the autumn of 1315, with “a large concourse of common people.” :-) I recently saw an entry in his chamber journal of 1325 where a group of carpenters spent a few days “in the king’s company,” which is entirely typical of Edward’s preferred company. :)

  78. Richard Says:

    “Bathing in full armor? Good idea!” - Frederick I

    “Compelled beatification? Not what he deserved.” - Louis IX

  79. Kasia (Kate) Says:


    “Bathing in full armour? Good idea!”- Petronilla, Countess of Leicester at her suicide-best :-)

  80. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Speaking of Petronilla and her husband, I, most miraculously, managed to complete my Fornham text, so if you are interested in one (there were many:-)) of Hal’s defeats, click onto “Kasia” and pay us a visit :-)

  81. Joan Says:

    I think everyone is excellent—what fun!

    From the line of Abbesses at Fontevrault Abbey throughout MA:

    “Another extension, My Lord Bishop!”

  82. Joan Says:

    Kasia, I caught up the other day & now will go back to your blog. Really enjoying your writing!

  83. Joan Says:

    And thank you for the great compliment, Sharon!

  84. Eric Pratt Says:

    Wish I had seen this sooner. Let me try!
    For me: “There is life in my years.”
    For Afonso Henriques (1st king of Portugal): “Galicia out! Leon out! Moors out!” or “I am 75…Sure I’ll fight.”
    Afonso’s Mother Theresa: “Great! I finally had a boy.” or “Damn! Should have raised my boy.”
    John Adams: “Fear is the foundation of governments.” or “Don’t tell me to sit down!”
    George Washington: “Free people ought to be armed.” or “Can I have some help please?”

  85. Teka Lynn Says:

    Captain of the White Ship:

    “Should not have had that drink.”

  86. Teka Lynn Says:


    “Wrote dirty songs. Babariol, babariol, babarian!”

    (The second sentence is the nonsense verbiage used by the narrator of the Cat Poem to convince the ladies that he won’t kiss and tell.)

  87. Koby Says:

    And today, Hugh ‘Magnus’ Capet, the founder of the Capetian dynasty of France died, as did Jane Seymour, the only wife of Henry’s to receive a queen’s funeral and be buried besides him - probably because she was the only one who had a living son.

  88. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Teka, I’m sure the Captain actually said something in that vein:-) Adding a few curses, of course:-)

    I too have come up with a few new ones:

    St. Hugh of Lincoln: “Have faith! Have cheek!”

    Richard I (already at home after his involuntary stay in Germany) teasing John: “Here, … brother, seize the crown!”

    Constance of Castile, Louis VII’s second wife, after giving birth to her second child:
    “A girl? I’d better die now!”

    Henry the Young King:
    “Non-Williams out!!!”

  89. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Joan, thank you for your kind and supportive words:-)

  90. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    These are fun! And I’m learning, too, for I am not always familiar with the ones being immortalized in six words or less.

    Today’s Facebook Note.

    Jane Seymour died on October 24, 1537 of the complications of childbirth, twelve days after giving birth to Henry’s longed-for son. Jane may have been lucky to go out on a high note, exiting at the top of her game, if you will, given her husband’s increasingly erratic, unpredictable nature. (See Parr, Katherine) But imagine if she had survived. How would that have changed history? I can immediately think of three women who’d have had much happier lives—Anne of Cleves, Catherine Howard, and Katherine Parr. Her son would certainly have benefited from having his mother around. Maybe even her grasping, ambitious brothers, who could conceivably have avoided their fatal over-reaching, although I rather doubt it. Of course if Henry had only three wives, subsequent Hollywood screenwriters and historical novelists would have been deprived of some of their best material.

  91. Eric Pratt Says:

    Robin Hood and Angevins to Ridley Scott & Russell Crowe-

    “This is how you represent us!?”

  92. Joan Says:

    Think I’ll sign off with these, inspired by a post of yours, Kasia, & since you’re not going for it. (Oh, I love your “non-Williams out!”). Tell me which one you prefer.

    Davydd ap Gruffydd:

    “a small wafer….my communion host”

    “honeyed wafer….sweet, bitter….my life”

    This is me:

    “Selene, keep them close to me”

  93. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Eric, that’s hillarious!

    Following suit,

    Balian d’Ibelin: “I wasn’t a blacksmith, was I???”

    William Wallace: “Isabella… , do I know her???”

    Piers Gaveston: ” Never fell out of any window!”

  94. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Joan, love your Davydd:-)

  95. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Oh, I was to choose:-) I prefer the “bitter-sweet” one”.

  96. Teka Lynn Says:

    Catherine Howard *almost* really phrased her last words like this: “I wanted to be Culpepper’s wife!”

  97. ken john Says:

    A writer, I would feign be……..
    But a writer is not me…….!

    Ken John

  98. Stephanie Says:

    Ken, that’s more than 6 words. And it’s not supposed to be about you. :P

  99. Malcolm Craig Says:

    What if? Arthur, Henry, Conan, Geoffrey.

  100. Gayle Simmonds Says:

    Lief Erickson after colonizing Iceland,

    We grow wine grapes. What glacier?

  101. Gayle Simmonds Says:

    Native Americans reflecting upon the effect of the European’s:

    We should have sunk those three ships

  102. Koby Says:

    Today, there was a plethora of events.
    William Clito, Robert Curthose’s son and claimant to the duchy of Normandy and Throne of England after William Adelin’s death was born.
    Stephen of Blois, King of England died, leaving the throne to Henry II.
    Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester died - he was one of the sureties for the Magna Carta, was taken captive by William Marshal, and subsequently married his daughter Isabelle, in what was said to be a very happy marriage despite the 20 year difference between them.
    Geoffrey Chaucer also died today, at least according to his tomb, but as that was erected 100 years after his death, there is no surety. Interestingly enough, Geoffrey’s great-great-grandson was John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, Richard III’s designated heir.

    Lastly, and most importantly, the Battle of Agincourt took place today. I need not explain much about this famous battle, I am sure, where the English defeated the French despite being outnumbered by odds of between 4-1 to 6-1.
    Among the many dead: Charles I d’Albret, Count of Dreux, the Constable of France; Jacques de Châtillon, Lord of Dampierre, the Admiral of France; David de Rambures, the Grand Master of Crossbowmen; Antoine of Burgundy, Duke of Brabant and Limburg, and consort Duke of Luxembourg; John I, Duke of Alençon-Perche; Edward III, Duke of Bar; Philip of Burgundy, Count of Nevers and Rethel; Frederick of Lorraine, Count of Vaudémont; Robert of Bar, Count of Marle and Soissons; John VI, Count of Roucy; Waleran III of Luxembourg, Count of Ligny-Saint-Pol; Edward II, Count of Grandpré; Henry II, Count of Blâmont; Jean de Montaigu, Archbishop of Sens; John of Bar, Lord of Puisaye; Jean I de Croÿ, Lord of Croÿ-d’Araines; Jean de Béthune, Lord of Marueil; Jan I van Brederode.
    Among the captured: Jean Le Maingre, the Marshal of France; Charles of Artois Count of Eu, the French Lieutenant of Normandy and Guyenn; John of Bourbon Duke of Bourbon-Auvergne-Forez; Charles of Orleans Duke of Orleans-Blois-Valois; John of Orleans Count of Angoulême-Périgord; and Louis de Bourbon, Count of Vendôme.
    Arguably more significant than the dead were the prisoners, since by the laws of chivalry the property of a prisoner could not be seized. This meant that (in theory) great parts of France could not be called upon for military resources.
    On the English side, the notable dead were Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke of York, Michael de la Pole, 3rd Earl of Suffolk and Dafydd Gam, a Welsh hero who saved Henry V’s life during the battle.

  103. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Malcolm and Gayle, I love your posts. Koby, I’d like to post yours about Agincourt on Facebook later, as my Agincourt entry was bare bones. If I disappear for a while again, it is because my computer curse continues. Last night the new backup, Lionheart, stopped working after just three days, is going back to Best Buy this morning. And an hour ago, Melusine froze up and took half an hour to unfreeze, the second time this has happened in the two weeks since I got her back. You do not want to hear what I think about all this.

    Today’s Facebook Note.

    Some very interesting events occurred on October 25th. Here we go.
    On October 25, 1102, William Clito, Count of Flanders, was born. He was the son of Robert, the Duke of Normandy, and thus nephew to Henry I. Henry was not a loving uncle, though, and after he captured Robert in 1106, he made several attempts to get William Clito into his hands; luckily for William, he did not succeed. But William’s fortunes changed dramatically with the sinking of the White Ship, for many then saw him as the obvious male heir and preferred him to Henry’s daughter Maude. It is hard to say what may have happened had William not been wounded in July 1128 at the siege of Aalst. Gangrene set in and he died at only twenty-five, thus making it easier for Henry to force Maude upon his reluctant barons. His father, Robert, survived him by six years, dying in 1134 after over 28 years as Henry’s prisoner.
    On October 25, 1147, the Seljuk Turks decimated the army of the German king Conrad at Dorylaeum, which definitely got the fiasco known as the Second Crusade off to a terrible start.
    On October 25, 1154, Henry II’s Angevin luck continued to hold. Stephen died on that date, thus allowing Henry to claim the English crown at the age of 21. It probably would have been very difficult for the impatient Henry to have to wait around if Stephen had lived another decade or so after the peace pact that named him as Stephen’s heir.
    On October 25, 1400, the great poet and story teller, Geoffrey Chaucer, died. As a writer, I admit I find this the most interesting happening on October 25th. But there was one more event, admittedly better known.
    The battle of Agincourt took place on October 25, 1415, one of the great battles of the MA. Henry V was the victor, of course, and the French suffered a calamitous defeat. I highly recommend Bernard Cornwell’s Agincourt for a dramatic account of this battle.

  104. Eric Pratt Says:

    King Henry V at the Battle of Agincourt:
    “Thank God for those archers.”
    and one of my all time favorites
    “Wish not one man more.”

  105. Koby Says:

    Sharon, of course you may, if that is your desire.

  106. Joan Says:

    Sharon, there’s definitely a curse on your computers—it’s too eerie. Not all your ghosts walk with you!

    Loved your Gwenllian by the way & lest I forsake my pet……

    “My swaddling cloth became my veil”

  107. ken john Says:

    Stephanie, each line contained 6 words. Nah, nah! And EVERYTHING is about me!

  108. Stephanie Says:

    EVERYTHING, Ken? Even this gem?

    By beauty I am not a star.
    There are others more handsome by far.
    My face I don’t mind it.
    because I’m behind it.
    It’s the people in front that I jar.

  109. Teka Lynn Says:

    I wonder if Charles d’Orleans would have been such a great poet if he hadn’t had his years of captivity.

  110. ken john Says:

    Well, maybe not that one!
    My problem, dear Stephanie, is that it is so hard to be humble, when one is as perfect as I.

  111. Stephanie Says:

    Oh dear… I hear another song coming on.

  112. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Here is today’s Facebook Note.

    On October 26, 899, King Alfred the Great died. Alfred is a character in Bernard Cornwell’s wonderful Saxon series. Uthred, the major character, doesn’t like Alfred all that much, but his sardonic observations of the pious king are always entertaining.
    On October 26, 1440, Gilles de Rais was executed for an appalling series of crimes against children. He was not your typical mass murderer, assuming there is such a creature. A Breton lord, a Marshal of France, he’d fought with Joan of Arc against the English and won a reputation for reckless courage. Once he retired to his own estates, he began to sexually assault and murder children, with the help of a cousin and servants. His victims are said to have numbered at least 80, possibly more than 200. An investigation by the Bishop of Nantes exposed his crimes and he and his partners in crime were all hanged. He confessed and was allowed to be buried in consecrated ground, which I admit surprised me very much.
    This next one is not medieval, but on October 26, 1776, my hero, Benjamin Franklin, sailed for France in a successful attempt to seek French aid for the fledgling American Revolution. I am totally convinced that if not for Ben and George Washington, we’d have lost the war. It also would have been great fun to have an ale with Ben at the local tavern.
    Lastly, my friend Koby had a marvelously detailed post yesterday about Agincourt and agreed to let me repost it here:

    “Lastly, and most importantly, the Battle of Agincourt took place today. I need not explain much about this famous battle, I am sure, where the English defeated the French despite being outnumbered by odds of between 4-1 to 6-1.
    Among the many dead: Charles I d’Albret, Count of Dreux, the Constable of France; Jacques de Châtillon, Lord of Dampierre, the Admiral of France; David de Rambures, the Grand Master of Crossbowmen; Antoine of Burgundy, Duke of Brabant and Limburg, and consort Duke of Luxembourg; John I, Duke of Alençon-Perche; Edward III, Duke of Bar; Philip of Burgundy, Count of Nevers and Rethel; Frederick of Lorraine, Count of Vaudémont; Robert of Bar, Count of Marle and Soissons; John VI, Count of Roucy; Waleran III of Luxembourg, Count of Ligny-Saint-Pol; Edward II, Count of Grandpré; Henry II, Count of Blâmont; Jean de Montaigu, Archbishop of Sens; John of Bar, Lord of Puisaye; Jean I de Croÿ, Lord of Croÿ-d’Araines; Jean de Béthune, Lord of Marueil; Jan I van Brederode.
    Among the captured: Jean Le Maingre, the Marshal of France; Charles of Artois Count of Eu, the French Lieutenant of Normandy and Guyenn; John of Bourbon Duke of Bourbon-Auvergne-Forez; Charles of Orleans Duke of Orleans-Blois-Valois; John of Orleans Count of Angoulême-Périgord; and Louis de Bourbon, Count of Vendôme.
    Arguably more significant than the dead were the prisoners, since by the laws of chivalry the property of a prisoner could not be seized. This meant that (in theory) great parts of France could not be called upon for military resources.
    On the English side, the notable dead were Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke of York, Michael de la Pole, 3rd Earl of Suffolk and Dafydd Gam, a Welsh hero who saved Henry V’s life during the battle. “

  113. Having Fun In Just Six Words « Anything & Everything Says:

    [...] of my favorite authors, Sharon Kay Penman, devoted a recent blog entry to this intriguing concept, and I’m using this space to collect and improve upon my [...]

  114. ken john Says:

    Only took me about 30 minutes to compose this:

    “Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble
    when you’re perfect in every way.
    I can’t wait to look in the mirror
    cause I get better looking each day.
    To know me is to love me
    I must be a hell of a man.
    Oh Lord it’s hard to be humble
    but I’m doing the best that I can.
    I used to have a girlfriend
    but she just couldn’t compete
    with all of these love starved women
    who keep clamoring at my feet………”

    Combs hair and exits left whistling a popular tune….!

  115. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Eleanor of Brittany. Father, Mother, Brother; Uncle, Cousin: Confinement.

  116. Stephanie Says:

    Wow, Ken. You sure are something. I’m not sure what… but you are something. ;)

  117. Richard Says:

    I dunno, I preferred the limerick.

  118. skpenman Says:

    A sad epitaph for Eleanor, Malcolm.

    I may not be around for a while, thanks to Hurricane Sandy. Wish all of us in this monster’s path lots of luck, please.

    Today’s Facebook Note.

    This may be my last Today in History post for a while, as NJ is in the bull’s eye of the Frankenstorm bearing down upon us. Losing power will likely be the least of our troubles up and down the East Coast; the hurricane/nor’easter is so huge that it will affect people hundreds of miles from its eye.
    On October 27, 1401, the French princess Katherine of Valois was born. Katherine had an interesting life. She wed the English king Henry V, and then as a young widow, took up with the dashing Welshman (is there any other kind?) Owen Tudor. So I guess we have Katherine to blame for the Tudor dynasty, but we have to cut young lovers some slack, right? I have not read it, but I believe Rosemary Harley Jarman wrote a novel about Katherine. Readers, anyone read it or know the title?
    Also on October 27, 1469, the scholar, theologian, and humanist Desiderius Erasmus was born.
    And on October 30th, 2012, Hurricane Sandy comes calling.

  119. Rosemary Prawdzik Says:

    Fun to play this game…how about: power-hungry warrior king seeks loyal family. -Henry II

  120. Joan Says:

    Good one, Rosemary!

    Sharon, good luck—keep safe!

    Ah, no wonder you mesmerized us with your men in the Welsh novels!

  121. Koby Says:

    Ah, my condolences and best wishes. You will certainly have my prayers.

    I come incredibly late to the party (indeed, in about two hours, I would be too late, by my time), but I have more events to add to this day: Raymond VI, Count of Toulouse, was born today. He would go on to marry Joanna of England. Defeated by the Albigensian Crusade which he tried to stop, Toulouse was taken from him by Simon de Montfort (the father of Sharon’s Simon), and he stayed at John’s court with his son Raymond, who of course was John’s nephew. He eventually managed to recover Toulouse. He is also one of four figures on the ceiling of the Minnesota Supreme Court - the link to the painting is at the bottom.
    Also, Elizabeth de Burgh, Queen of Scotland and wife to Robert the Bruce died today.,-Supreme-Court-Room,-Minnesota-State-Capitol,%EC-Saint-Paul

  122. Stephanie Says:

    Koby, thanks for this information. Do you mind if I post it on Sharon’s fan club page? And I live in Minnesota and had no idea about this! It’s also interesting to know that Raymond was born today.

  123. Stephanie Says:

    Her fan club on Facebook, I should say.

  124. Koby Says:

    Please do, Stephanie! I am always happy to share! And if you live in Minnesota, maybe one day you can visit there and take better pictures.

  125. skpenman Says:

    I love yours, Rosemary! Thanks for posting about Raymond, Koby. I don’t mention you in my Facebook post below because I wrote it before I read these posts; otherwise I’d have given you credit with Rania for mentioning Raymond.

    I hope that all in the path of this monster storm will be able to stay safe. For NJ, it will get really bad tonight. I am very concerned, too, about an extended loss of power. When South Jersey lost power after that surprise Derecho that struck us in June, life was miserable for so many, especially families with young children. I bought several battery operated lamps after that ordeal and a car charger for my cell phone. Next on my wish list is a generator, though it is likely too big to fit into a Christmas stocking. As alarming a thought as it is, this is our future worldwide, with storms of savage intensity becoming the norm. Take care, everyone in the line of fire.
    I forgot that yesterday was the birthday of one of history’s most maligned figures, Raymond, the Count of Toulouse. Thanks, Rania, for reminding me, though he was born on October 27, 1156, not 1056! Raymond’s reputation was totally trashed by the Church as a means of justifying the Albigensian Crusade which destroyed the way of life in the south of France. I’ve discussed this travesty of justice often this year, so won’t go into it again. But Raymond’s day should not go unnoticed. He was denied a Christian burial in a particularly shameful act of vengeance by the Church, which used his son’s desperate desire to see him buried in consecrated ground as leverage to squeeze more concessions from that unhappy young man. But at least he can be remembered. Raymond, of course, was the second husband of Eleanor and Henry’s daughter Joanna, and so the young Count Raymond was her son. He asked to be buried with her at Fontevrault, but sadly both of their tombs were later lost.
    As for today, October 28th, in 1216, John’s nine year old son, Henry, was crowned as King of England.
    This is likely to be my last post for a while, but I am sure you all can take up the slack.

  126. Stephanie Says:

    I will have to make it a point to do so, Koby. The building is only about a 20 minute drive from my house, but I’ve only been there once in the 15 years I’ve lived here.

    And as you can see, Sharon mentioned Raymond in today’s note, so everyone has been informed.

  127. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, keep safe! I’ve heard the news on the Polish radio today. It sounds all very serious. I mean the Sandy of course.
    I too may not be around in the nearest future due to my family and occupational matters, so good luck to you all!

    P.S. As for today’s anniversaries, I’m reading that my childhood favourite, Frances Hodgson Burnett died on this day in 1924. I love Secret Garden, both the novel and the film by our wonderful Agnieszka Holland. If you haven’t seen the film so far, please do! It’s absolutely a must-watch!

  128. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Oh, and Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded in 1618. He himself in his own six (or less)-words on the night before the execution:

    “Blood must be my body’s balmer…”
    “Go, Soul, the body’s guest…”
    “But could youth last…”

    And under breath:

    “Never trust that damn Scots!”

  129. skpenman Says:

    So far so good for my little corner of NJ. Heavy rains and gusts of high wind, but I have power. :-) The storm is not coming ashore though till midnight, so things are likely to get interesting as the day progresses.

  130. Joan Says:

    Kasia, Secret Garden is one of my all-time favorite films! So hauntingly beautiful. One of those films that enhances the more you watch it—also more tears. I’m really fortunate that my fave indie theater is in my neighborhood—we get some of the best in foreign film—another hunger of mine that’ll never be sated!!

  131. Koby Says:

    Today, Henry VII [VIII] of England was crowned. Also, the infamous Ballet of the Chestnuts took place.
    All our prayers and best wishes to those in the path of Sandy.

  132. skpenman Says:

    I am one of the lucky ones, for I came through the storm unscathed; miraculously I did not even lose power. But my brother had a monster tree fall on his house and two other relatives who live in Atlantic City had severe flood damage to their houses. I hope every one in the path of this Frankenstorm got through it okay. For so many people, this was a nightmare experience and it isn’t over yet, for the winds are still strong enough to knock out power and cause more damage.

  133. Teka Lynn Says:

    Sharon, it’s good to know that you and your family are safe! I hope everyone is able to rebuild.

  134. Koby Says:

    Indeed, Sharon it is good to know all are safe and sound, and I hope rebuilding will not be a problem.
    Today, Robert Fitzroy, Earl of Gloucester, Henry I’s most prominent son died, as did Leonora Queen of Castile, Henry II and Eleanor’s daughter, who of all Eleanor’s daughters best inherited her mother’s political sense and power.

  135. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, I’m so happy that you are safe. Just heard on the radio that 8 milion people are forced to manage without power. My imagination fails when it comes to fully comprehend their predicament. You must be indeed the Almighty’s favourite, or perhaps he has lent Richard his almighty ear so that you can safely work on Ransom:-)
    How is your brother? I do hope he himself and his family are unhurt?

    I’m reading that today in 1147 Empress Maud lost her beloved brother and most steadfast ally, Robert of Gloucester, and soon afterwards, at the beginning of 1148 retreated to Normandy.
    And Maud’s granddaughter Leonora died in 1214 following her beloved Alfonso. I once read that of all Eleanor’s daughters it was Leonora who enjoyed greatest power and found greatest happiness in her marriage.

    As for Polish history, Władysław Warneńczyk (Władysław of Varna), future king of Poland and Hungary, was born in 1424 only to die twenty years later at the Battle of Varna. I will write more about the tragic fate of our young king on 10 November, the anniversary of the battle and Władysław’s untimely death.

  136. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Oops Koby, I can see that I’ve been a little bit late:-) Still in the midst of writing when you’ve posted:-)
    At least you have confirmed my information about Leonora’s freedom and happiness. Thanks!
    Perhaps you too could write a few words of the battle of Varna on the 10th of November. It’s always good to know different points of view:-)

  137. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Joan, you put it rightly: Agnieszka Holland’s The Secret Garden is hauntingly beautiful. And those children actors :-). Simply remarkable.

  138. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    To cheer us all up in just five words:

    Matilda of Flanders with her braids pulled by her future husband:

    “William, you bastard! Let go!”

    Hope I didn’t exaggerate:-)

  139. skpenman Says:

    Thank you all for your good wishes. For so many people, this has been a tragedy of unimaginable proportions. I was very lucky and thankfully my family members whose homes were so severely damaged escaped physical injuries. This will be a long, difficult recovery for the Northeast.

    Today’s Facebook Note.

    It is hard to focus on mundane things like my Today in History posts when we are facing destruction of such magnitude throughout so much of the East Coast. But I will try, for two characters important to my Angevin saga died today. On October 31st, 1147, Robert Fitz Roy, the Earl of Gloucester, brother and mainstay to the Empress Maude, died. He was an honorable man who probably would have been a much better ruler than either Stephen or Maude, but he was, of course, barred from the throne because he was born out of wedlock. I liked writing about Robert and I missed him after he died.
    On October 31st, 1214, Henry and Eleanor’s daughter Leonora, Queen of Castile, died, less than a month after her husband’s death. She was said to have been so devastated by his death that she’d been unable to attend his funeral and it is hard not to conclude that she died of a broken heart—for science now says there is indeed such an affliction. She was fifty-three, and only she and John outlived Eleanor. Henry and Eleanor’s Devil’s Brood were not long-lived; none of them lived as long as either of their parents. Their first son, William, was just three when he died. Hal was twenty-eight and Geoffrey just a month shy of his own twenty-eighth birthday. Matilda was thirty-three and Joanna a month shy of her thirty-fourth birthday. Richard was forty-one and John two months shy of his fiftieth birthday. Henry, of course, was fifty-six when he died at Chinon and Eleanor lived to be an amazing eighty, which may not have been a blessing given the grief she endured in her last years. (She outlived her two daughters by Louis, too, Marie dying at fifty-three and Alix probably forty-six, for we can’t be sure of her exact date of death)

  140. Joan Says:

    Sharon, I like Kasia’s take on your fortune in this latest disaster! It was good to hear that you were kept safe. My thoughts are with all those affected & wish your family a full recovery. I was also happy to hear that my son in Toronto stayed indoors through the worst winds. One woman was killed by a flying Staples sign!

    Eleanor of Aquitaine—again, one remarkable woman!

  141. Koby Says:

    We will see when the time comes, Kasia. By the way, you did exaggerate somewhat - William pulling Matilda’s braids is a legend, and probably never happened. Would you be willing to marry someone who did that to you?
    Today, Philip II August of France was crowned and anointed at Rheims by the Archbishop William Whitehands

  142. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Koby, I know that William pulling Matilda’s braids is a legend. The word play was meant as a joke to cheer us all up. Do have faith in me:-) Have you not noticed so far that I’m rather mischievous by nature??? And yes, if a dashing young man- preferably young king and what’s more “charming, vain, idle spendthrift”- treated me this way I would say “Yes” on the spot, thinking “By the legs of God! He truly does care!” and I would never abandon him! Not in a lifetime! And perhaps even after… :-):-):-)

    P.S. “Charming, vain, idle spendthrift” is a quotation from Mr Warren’s Henry II and, as it happens, the title of my next text about Young Henry. Keep your fingers crossed so that I can finish it before Christmas:-)
    Sometimes I think it’s too much: my own spoilt children and my even more spoilt royal foster-son:-)

  143. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Oh, and I have found out that on 1 November 1141 the warring factions in England released King Stephen and Robert of Gloucester in an exchange of prisoners.

  144. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    I would forget, at Philip’s coronation it was Hal who represented the House of Anjou, carried Philip’s crown in the procession and supported his head during the coronation. The great tournamnet at Lagny-sur-Marne followed. Hal bedazzled all the present thanks to his father this time:-) The event was described in detail by the author of the History of William Marshal, so if you are interested in the costs, participants and Hal himself, I highly recommend further reading:-)

    P.S. Sharon, forgive me! I have yet one more time overused your hospitality. It’s because I’m so scatterbrained:-)

  145. skpenman Says:

    Kasia, even if it was a legend, I love your six-word epitaph for Matilda.

    Here is today’s Facebook Note.

    I hope you all will understand if I am not on Facebook as much for a while. Between the stressful deadline for Ransom and the heartbreaking aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, I may have to limit my time here, at least for a while. Please send good wishes, prayers, and positive vibes to all those whose lives were turned upside down by this monster storm.
    November 1st was a very important medieval holiday, All Saints Day. It was also the date in 1179 that Richard’s nemesis, Philippe Capet, was crowned King of France. Since everyone knows my view of Philippe if they’ve read Devil’s Brood or Lionheart, I don’t really have much to say about him today. November 1st was also the birthday in 1500 of one of the more remarkable men of the Renaissance, the talented goldsmith and sculptor, Benvenuto Cellini. His work was bought by kings, popes, and cardinals, but he was a total rogue. Luckily for us, he wrote a fascinating and shameless autobiography about his thoroughly disreputable life, which included murders and rapes and God only knows what else. There is no better way to time-travel back to sixteenth century Florence than to read his life’s story. You can get it for your Kindles at only $3.99, and paperback copies are also very reasonably priced. Check it out here.

  146. ken john Says:

    Oh, no! You can’t leave me alone with that Stephanie person and her lady friends! I hardly survived the last time. Please come back soon.

  147. Phoebe Says:

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    this in future. A lot of people will be benefited from your writing.

  148. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Thank you, Sharon! I couldn’t imagine the extent of the catastrophe until I watched the news yesterday. The sight of the people’s houses or rather what has left… Well, I hope that no Sandy thing will pay us a visit here, in Poland.

    Ken, I suggest you should seek a peaceful haven here, with us! You and Othon are always most welcome:-) Perhaps you could share one more snippet of your novel with us?

    As for today’s anniversaries, on 2 November 1160, as a result of Constance of Castile’s unexpected death in childbirth and Henry II’s master plan, Hal and Marguerite were married at Neubourg “although they were as yet but little children, crying in their cradle”. Perhaps Roger of Howden exaggerated a liitle bit, five-year-old Hal was not crying in his cradle, but two-year-old Marguerite with all probablility was. The ceremony took place in the presence of Henry of Pisa and William of Pavia “cardinal-priests and legates of the apostolic see” and enabled Henry to take over the Norman Vexin, Marguerite’s dowry. I feel so sorry for Hal and his queen, for they could hardly remember their wedding day and had no memories of their own to evoke in the oncoming years of their marriage. Precious memories even in the age when most of the marriages were purely political.

    And four years later, on 2 November 1164, Thomas Becket, the archbishop in exile, landed in Flanders accompanied by two canons and a servant, carrying with him only his pallium and his seal.

  149. Koby Says:

    I’m here for you, Ken.

    And Kasia, thank you for that information. I will add two births and two deaths: Edward (V) of England was born to Elizabeth Woodville in sanctuary in Westminster, as was Anne of York, Edward IV and Elizabeth’s fifth daughter, who married Thomas Howard. As for deaths, Matilda of Flanders, William ‘the Conqueror’ I’s beloved queen died today, and Henry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham was executed

  150. ken john Says:

    Thanks Koby. I’m counting on you.

    In response to Kasia’s polite request; another little snippet from my WIP, describing how Othon at Christmas 1254, came to be dismissed Edward’s service. Othon was completely smitten by the 13 year old Eleanor and had vowed to protect her following her marriage to Edward at Burgos on 01 November 1254. Edward’s premature ‘bedding’ of the young Eleanor against the express wishes of his parents incensed Othon and he was not able to hold back. It is recorded that Eleanor gave birth to a stillborn girl while still in Bordeaux.

    “……..In spite of the near empty treasury, Christmas was celebrated in grand style. Musicians, acrobats and jongleurs were brought to Bordeaux from all across Aquitaine and also from Castile. Eleanor’s half brother Sancho, the elect of Toledo arrived with a large party to join in the festivities. During the main feast on the eve of Christmas, Eleanor suddenly turned to Edward and asked to be excused pleading that she did not feel well. Concerned, but not feeling able to leave his guests, Edward asked Othon to escort his wife to her rooms and to call for her ladies-in-waiting.

    Othon took Eleanor by the arm and led her away. Once outside and before they could reach the stairs leading to her rooms, Eleanor gasped, doubled over retching and then vomited copiously over Othon’s shoes. Aghast, Othon held on to her as she moaned and groaned. ‘Othon,’ she gasped, ‘run and fetch Isabella and Blanche. And be quick!’ Othon went up the stairs two at a time and burst into Eleanor’s rooms where her two startled attendants were sitting by the fire sewing. ‘Quickly, your lady needs you now!’ he cried, ‘follow me!’ The women gathered up their skirts and chased after Othon as fast as they were able. Upon reaching Eleanor, who by now was sitting on the floor leaning back against the wall, Isabella took in the amount of vomit and her lady’s ashen face, told Blanche to get hot water and towelling from the kitchens and then turned to Othon; ‘Help me get my lady up the stairs.’

    Othon reached down and taking hold of both of Eleanor’s arms lifted her to her feet. At the entrance to her rooms, Isabella turned to Othon. ‘That’s far enough; you can leave her to us now.’ As she closed the door, she looked with disdain at the stricken Othon and snarled, ‘damn you men! ‘You cursed men!’ Startled, backing down the stairs, and staring at the closed door, Othon had no idea what she meant, but at that moment Blanche returned with a pitcher of hot water and towels. ‘Blanche, what’s the matter with her? Is she all right? Is there anything I can do?’ Blanche looked at him scornfully, ‘You had better ask your lord what the matter is with my lady. He will surely know!’ ‘How? How would he know?’ asked Othon. ‘Perhaps you should ask him,’ spat Blanche, and left him on the stairs.

    Totally confused Othon regained the dining hall, where Edward beckoned to him to come over to him. ‘How is my lady, Othon?’ ‘She’s not well at all my lord. She was violently sick and complained of stomach pains.’ Overhearing that Sancho interjected; ‘I hope there is nothing wrong with this food?’ No, my lord,’ replied Othon, ‘I don’t think her illness has anything to do with this food.’ Edward regarded Othon quizzically. ‘What do you mean by that Othon? What are you saying?’ Othon started to redden, ‘I would prefer to speak to you alone my lord.’ Edward, noting Othon’s embarrassment, rose from his chair and waved for Othon to follow him outside.

    ‘Well, come on Othon, what’s this all about? What’s the matter with Eleanor?’ Edward was by now very irritated. Othon turned to him and in a low voice, repeated the words of Eleanor’s ladies. Now it was Edward’s turn to redden; ‘Surely not, it couldn’t be, could it?’ he said. ‘Couldn’t be what?’ asked Othon an idea slowly forming in his mind. No! It couldn’t be; not his Eleanor! Edward had promised hadn’t he?

    ‘My God, Edward,’ he said, his face dark with anger, ‘have you been bedding Eleanor? Have you? If anything happens to her, I’ll….!’ ‘You’ll what, Othon?’ snarled Edward, ‘Who the Hell do you think you are to question or threaten me? Have you lost your senses? This is not the first time you have presumed to question me, but by God it will be the last! You are dismissed! I no longer need or want your services. You will leave now, at once.’ Othon was stung by this, but did not back down. ‘Very well, my lord, I will leave; for my part, I would not wish to serve a man who does not keep his word.’ ‘What word Othon?’ cried Edward, ‘I never gave my word! My parents and the archbishop may have wished that I hold back, but I never agreed to that and my wife had no objections.’ Othon was stricken by that. His Eleanor making love to Edward! He sealed his fate with his final remark: ‘Eleanor is only thirteen, Edward. You could have waited, you should have respected her.’ Othon’s voice trembled as he added ‘If anything happens to her it will be on your head!’

    ‘Enough!’ shouted Edward, ‘Get out! Get out of my sight you pompous prick! Get yourself back to Savoy and reflect with your family on the future that your pride and arrogance has thrown away!’ He turned and strode back to the dining hall……………”

  151. skpenman Says:

    Ken, you have a sadistic streak (who knew) You whet our appetite with these delicious tidbits and tell us we will have to wait months (Years?) before getting to eat any more.

    I am clearly very distracted, for I forgot several important events on this date. I have you both credit on Facebook, Koby and Kasia, and will write about them tomorrow. Meanwhile, here is my bare-bones Facebook Note for today.

    Here is an interesting article about separating the wheat from the chaff, that is the fake Sandy photos from the real ones. What is spooky is that so many of these shocking photos are real. I was very glad the one with the shark was a fake, though!
    On the historical front, November 2nd is another important day on the medieval Church calendar, All Soul’s Day. And two of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville’s children were born on November 2nd, their ill-fated son Edward in 1470 and their fifth daughter Anne, later the Countess of Surrey, in 1475.

  152. Stephanie Says:

    Ken, you paint me in such a dark light. These good people will think poorly of me. Koby can stand up for you if he chooses, but I choose Kasia for my side. She’s got a GREAT name! :)

  153. ken john Says:

    There are three ‘K’s on my side ‘S’ for Stephanie! You’re outnumbered as we ‘K’s stick together :)

  154. Deb Says:

    I should not have married her. (Henry III, Edward IV, Richard III, Henry VIII, Henry Viii, Henry viii, Henry viii, Charles I, Charles II, James II.)

  155. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Stephanie, Ken, don’t ask me to choose between you :-) Too difficult a choice! Almost impossible to make:-)

    As for my name, Stephanie, thank you! Although I’m very curious how you pronounce it ;-);-);-)

    Ken, I agree with Sharon! You do have a sadistic streak! To keep us and poor Othon so long in suspense! I cannot wait to meet Othon, Eleanor and Edward, and stay with them for a while:-)

  156. Stephanie Says:


    I’m sure I have it wrong. I hear it phonetically as Kasha. I do really love it. And a little secret for you… The main character in the story I am writing is named Kassia (with another “s” than your spelling). I had chosen this last spring before I “met” you. So when I become a world-famous author, your name will become quite popular because everyone will want to name their daughters this. If I ever had any more children (which I will not), I would consider this name because I think it’s beautiful.

    (PICK ME!!! PICK ME!!!! PICK ME!!!!!)

  157. ken john Says:

    Talking of World famous authors:

    My writing was drying up and Othon also thought it lacked ooomph! So he advised me to ask the advice of a World Famous Author. I did and boy am I glad that I did. Although I’ve changed a few of the words from his suggested opening, I think you’ll see that I’ve pretty well followed the advice of this World famous Author. Excerpt:

    “The storm had raged for nigh on two weeks. Day after dreary day, the unrelenting rain, sleet and snow carried on gale force winds slashed across the landscape with hardly a glimmer of sunlight to break the gloom. No-one in Savoy, huddling in their dwellings struggling to keep dry and warm, could remember a colder, wetter or more miserable period, not even those whose memories stretched back 30 years or more……. ” So, thank you World Famous Author …..!

  158. ken john Says:

    Sharon, Would you please let Ken’s comment in, Love and kisses Othon and Angelique.xxxx

  159. skpenman Says:

    Kasia, I was mentally pronouncing it without the h that Stephanie inserts. Which one of us is right? I assume it is a not a long a sound, either?
    Ken, I will happily do so if you pay the ransom, another snippet about Othon and company.

    For anyone interested in knowing what it was like to be caught in Sandy’s path, I highly recommend this story.

  160. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon and Stephanie, there is no “h” in Kasia, only soft “s”, soften by the “i”. I cannot find any English word to compare it to and make it all easier for you to pronounce. I guess the only way to teach you is to meet you. So that we can practise together:-)

    Ken, I will say after Sharon: “Another snippet about Othon and company!”

  161. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, I’m speaking up for my foster son (BTW, I cannot agree that William Adelin was the most pampered prince in Christendom :-)): will it be okay if I post a few words concerning Hal’s involvement in Philip Capet’s coronation and the great tournament at Lagny that followed?

  162. Stephanie Says:

    Kasia, I teetered between those two pronunciations, actually. And that’s actually how I say my character’s name, so I’m not sure why I do it differently for your name! “Kah-see-uh” — Is that closer?

  163. ken john Says:

    By popular demand :) I’ll just add the opening half of the Prologue to Othon’s story, describing the collapse of Mont Granier on the 24th November 1248:

    “The storm had raged for nigh on two weeks. Day after dreary day, the unrelenting rain, sleet and snow carried on gale force winds slashed across the landscape with hardly a glimmer of sunlight to break the gloom. No-one in Savoy, huddling in their dwellings struggling to keep dry and warm, could remember a colder, wetter or more miserable period, not even those whose memories stretched back 30 years or more. In the upper reaches of the western Alps, the heavy snowfalls made passage through the mountains impossible and travellers caught up in the blizzards had no option but to seek refuge in the few safe havens available and await better times.

    Some 8 miles to the south of the town of Chambery, on Mont Granier, part of the sub-alpine chain of mountains which dominated the town, a violent shudder from deep within, was the first sign of the catastrophe that was to come. Over the millennia, the interior of the limestone mountain had become riddled with caverns and galleries and now, under the incessant ingress of water, one of these massive cavities collapsed. Moments later, there came a second, even more violent shudder, as other cavities followed suit and part of the summit, weakened by the lack of support within, broke free and crashed on to the saturated slopes below. The force of this impact generated a slippage of the entire surface of the mountain, which, gathering momentum, pounded down towards the valley, obliterating everything in its path.

    The mass of rock sliding down the saturated surface now generated a flow of near-liquid mud and rock which, gathering speed all the time, pulled with it, not only the fallen summit, but also a complete section of the mountain now deprived of the support it needed at its base. Half the entire mountain joined the fall and millions of tons of debris hurtled down the natural slope to the north-east and towards the villages of Cognin, Vourey, Saint-Andre and Saint-Peran.

    The inhabitants of these villages and others in the smaller hamlets in the path of the landslide had barely time to register that something was terribly wrong, before their houses, farms, livestock and they themselves were engulfed in a sea of mud and rock.”

    The link I gave above shows Mont Granier as it is today.

  164. ken john Says:

    Sorry, I forgot the link. If Sharon can allow it in:

  165. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Kasia, you can post here about Hal any time–or about anything else, for that matter.
    Thank you for paying the ransom, Ken. What a wonderful treasure-trove you offered. I cannot imagine anyone reading these paragraphs and not be eager to keep reading (and also to be thankful they did not live back then)

    I haven’t been on Facebook for a day or two, but here is what I just posted, and I will do a Today in History post tomorrow.
    I am sorry I’ve been flying under the radar recently, but I couldn’t help it. History has cooperated by making early November a “slow time” for historical events, births, or deaths, so I don’t feel too guilty about skipping my Today in Medieval History posts.  Tomorrow is a much more interesting day, though, and I promise to make up for all this lost time.
    If anyone heard a whoop of delight this afternoon, that was me. I got an early Christmas present today—an advance copy of Priscilla Royal’s new medieval mystery, The Sanctity of Hate. I am a huge fan of Priscilla’s series; her plots are always suspenseful and surprising and she excels at bringing thirteenth century England to vibrant life and in capturing the medieval mind-set. Her characters are always firmly rooted in their time—no Plantagenets in Pasadena in any of Priscilla’s books! This new one looks particularly intriguing as it deals with the ugly underside of medieval life—anti-Semiticism. Unfortunately, The Sanctity of Hate does not hit the book stores until December 4th, but I have no doubt it will be well worth waiting for.
    I hope those who were affected by that accursed storm are coping as best they can, which may be all we can hope for right now. As strange as it sounds, Sandy may have done us a favor, forcing us to have a serious, long-overdue public discussion about climate change. And believe it or not, we are bracing for a new Nor’easter along the East Coast. All this battered, water-logged region needs is more heavy rain and high winds.
    Meanwhile, back in the 12th century, Richard finally was reunited with his wife. I am sorry to report it did not go all that well. And the Duke of Austria, finding himself the chief scapegoat for the scandalous imprisonment of a crusader king, is making some very ominous threats.

  166. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, thank you! I’m grateful for being given an opportunity to share one of few moments of glory in Hal’s short and, in many respects, sad life.

    1 November 1179

    Let me begin with Roger of Howden’s account of Henry the Young King’s involvement in the coronation of his brother-in-law.

    “… William, Archbishop of Rheims, crowned … Philip, the son of his sister Ala [sic!] who was now in the fifteenth year of his age, and anointed him king at Rheims, in the church there of the Pontifical See, on the day of the feast of All Saints, being assisted in the performance of that office by William, archbishop of Tours and the archbishops of Bourges and Sens, and nearly all the bishops of the kingdom. Henry, the king of England, the son, in the procession from the chamber to the cathedral on the day of the coronation, proceeded him, bearing the golden crown with which the said Philip was to be crowned, in right of the dukedom of Normandy.”

    Henry the Young King, aged four and twenty, accompanied by his younger brothers, Richard, duke of Aquitaine and Geoffrey, duke of Brittany represented the House of Anjou at the coronation of his brother-in-law, Philip, later known as Augustus*. On All Saints’ Day, 1179, not yet fifteen-year-old Philip, following Capetian tradition, was anointed and crowned at the cathedral of Reims by the archbishop of Reims, Guillaume aux Blanches Mains [William Whitehands], his uncle. At the time of the ceremony, Philip’s father, Louis VII was yet alive, but “labouring under old age and a paralytic malady” unable to attend. Philip’s mother, Adela of Champagne was also absent, probably tending to her ailing husband.

    Henry the Young King carried Philip’s crown in the procession and supported his head during the coronation. He had already bedazzled all the present with his retinue and most precious gifts for the new king, the fruit of his father, Henry II’s most unusual fit of generosity and largesse. The old king not only sent silver, gold and “the results of his hunting in England”, but also provided for his son’s journey so that the latter “accepted free quarters from no-one, either on the road thither or during the festival”.

    Also at the great tournament that followed young Henry outshone all other participants. The tournament was held at Lagny-sur-Marne* and was later described in detail by William Marshal’s biographer. Thanks to him we can learn that beside usual “… great noise and tumult … mighty blows … great clash of lances, from which the splinters fell to the ground” the Young King came in the company of eighty chosen knights “not merely chosen, but the pick of the chosen”. Later the author corrects himself giving the number of “seven times as many” under the command of young Henry. Every knight in his service received twenty shillings a day for “each man he had with him”. The author sums up: “there were at least two hundred and more … who lived off the purse of the young King and were knights of his”. He also gives a fascinating account of how the Young King found himself in a great predicament, almost captured when left behind by his men, and his brother Geoffrey, who instead of protecting him chased after booty. It was William Marshal in the assistance of William de Preaux, who came to his rescue so that he ended up with his helmet torn from his head, but his face saved. It could all have ended in much more humiliating way. The Young King might have been captured and forced to pay a ransom. After the tournament Young Henry praised the Marshal saying that: “… never before had finer blows been witnessed from a single knight, or known of, as those dealt by the Marshal that day”.

    The author of the History of William Marshal also enumerates other prominent participants: Philip, count of Flanders, Young Henry’s relative, friend and one-time mentor, who carried the great sword at the coronation and as always used his ingenious, albeit a little non-knightly technique at Lagny (it had nothing to do with the chivalry the way we understand it today); duke of Burgundy; David of Huntigdon, the brother of the King of Scotland and many others, both French and English, all together three thousand knights.

    *The site on the border of Champagne, between Lagny-sur-Marne and Torcy, east of Paris, on the east bank of the River Marne was a major site for holding tournaments in the late twelfth century and it has remained a popular entertainment venue till today, part of it being now occupied by Disneyland Paris (David Crouch, Tournament, p.51)

    For further reading, I recommend The History of William Marshal (the above excerpts come from the History’s detailed account of the tournament at Lagny), and of course Dr Crouch’s invaluable Tournament.

  167. Koby Says:

    I too have returned - my job has kept me busy, and without historical events happening, I had little reason to post… but today, Joanna of Castile, Queen of Spain, commonly known as Juana la Loca was born.

  168. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Ken, I do agree with Sharon: it seems that you are hiding a treasure chest full of precious pragraphs, descriptions, whole chapters… I hope that very soon this chest will finally become a book:-), so that we can all learn more about Othon the Grandson, stiil a little bit enigmatic figure, even after reading the snippets you have shared :-)

  169. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Koby, wasn’t it today in 1153 that the Treaty of Wallingford/ Winchester was made? I, or rather my worn-out notebook :-) may be in the wrong, though. I hope it was the 6th of November, for I have already posted a few words about November anniversaries on Henry’s website:-), including a short note about Henry Fitz Empress “Big Day”:-)

  170. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Yes, you are right, Kasia; I cover that in my Note below. A fascinating post of Philippe’s coronation. It always seemed rather sad to me that Henry had done so much for the Philippe (even saving his throne) only to be brought down by the young ingrate. :-) yes, I know, gratitude does not thrive in the soil of statecraft, but another sort of man might have shown a modicum of appreciation!
    Here is today’s Facebook Note for November 6th.

    November 6th is a day I could not possibly ignore; it would be like neglecting Mardi Gras or the day the swallows come back to Capistrano. Several eventful happenings on this date, at least eventful to my books.
    On November 6th, 1153, the Treaty of Wallingford was signed. This momentous treaty ended the civil war that had torn England asunder for almost two decades. Under the terms, the young challenger, Henry Fitz Empress, recognized Stephan as king and Stephen agreed to name Henry as his heir. We probably have some eels to thank for this, as I doubt Stephen would have agreed if his eldest son Eustace had not died so conveniently back in August; I suspect it was easier for Stephen to rationalize disinheriting his younger son William, since he’d not been raised with the expectation of becoming king one day. I think that Stephen was exhausted, emotionally and physically, still grieving the loss of his queen and son, worn down by the demands of a kingship that he may never have wanted all that much. (I tend to see his wily brother, the Bishop of Winchester, as the moving force in that usurpation.) It is possible, even likely, that this treaty was the cause for the rumor in later centuries that Henry was Stephen’s son, for surely it is the only time a civil war ended with an adoption! Once again, Henry’s fabled luck came through for him, as it would until the last year of his life. Stephen could easily have lived for another ten years. He did not survive the Treaty of Wallingford by even a year, dying on October 25th, 1154, at age 58, and a month later, Henry Fitz Empress became King of England at just 21.
    November 6th was also the day of a significant battle in 1282. Edward was holding the island called Mon by the Welsh and Anglesey by the English, and he meant to build a pontoon boat bridge from the island to the mainland so he could launch an attack into the heart of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd’s Gwynedd. On November 6th, John Peckham, the Archbishop of Canterbury, had come to Llywelyn’s palace at Aber under a flag of truce in an attempt to convince the Welsh prince that he ought to submit to the English Crown. It was on this day, though, that the English on the island, led by a brash knight, Luke de Tany, crossed their bridge onto the mainland. They’d ventured several miles inland when the Welsh struck. The English seem to have been taken by surprise, oddly enough, and fled back toward their bridge. Here is what happened next, as described in The Reckoning, page 506.
    * * *
    “Llywelyn!” Davydd reined in his roan beside his brother, sending up a wild spray of sand….Davydd’s face was streaked with sweat and a smear of blood that did not appear to be his; his eyes were blazing with excitement, greener than any cat’s. “I’ve an idea,” he panted. “Let’s see if we cannot set fire to the bridge!”
    That same thought had occurred to Llywelyn, and he’d just put some of his bowmen to the task; several men were searching for wood that would be quick to kindle, as others hastily improvised makeshift fire arrows, knotting them with cloth that could be ignited. Turning in the saddle now to see if they would have time before the English reached the safety of the island, Llywelyn caught his breath, transfixed by what had just occurred out in the straits. “There is no need,” he said, “not now. Look!”
    Davydd swung his mount around to see. “Jesus God,” he murmured softly, almost reverently, for the bridge was breaking up.
    * * *
    The bridge had not been made to withstand the panicked rout, and it was dangerously overloaded. It was also high tide and the currents in the Menai Straits were treacherous. When a large section of the deck collapsed, the sinking boats rapidly took on water, and the straits were soon filled with floundering men and horses. The Welsh then sealed the bridge’s doom by prying up the grappling hooks that had been meant to anchor the bridge, which then snapped sideways, flinging the last of the soldiers into the water. At least one hundred and fifty men died. Fifteen knights drowned that day, including Luke de Tany, and while that may not seem like much to us, it was a shock to their world. Knights did not expect to die in battle in the 13th century; at the worst, they expected to be captured and ransomed, not to drown in icy waters as Welsh arrows seared the air overhead.
    November 6th, was the date in 1429 when the young Henry VI was crowned; although he’d actually become king at nine months after the premature death of his father, his coronation was not held until he was eight. This was also the birthday in 1479 of Juana of Castile, sister of Katherine of Aragon, who would tragically be known in history as Juana la Loca, Juana the Mad. Christopher Gortner’s The Last Queen does justice to Juana’s sad story, and I highly recommend it.
    Two final thoughts. November 6th is a very important day in the US, and I hope everyone votes, even in the Sandy-ravaged states; people in NJ can even vote today by e-mail! And Happiest of Birthdays to Ellyn, who picked a very good day on which to be born. You share your birthday, Ellyn, with the brilliant American director, Mike Nichols; also with Sally Field.

  171. Joan Says:

    What a sight to have witnessed! I loved that scene.

    Good luck America! May vigilance rule!

    ….from your northern neighbor

  172. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Indeed, Sharon. Thanks to Henry’s help Philippe was able to defeat such a formidable enemy as Philip of Flanders. Also, it was Henry who helped the young French king to overcome the family crisis. Still, Philippe, despite his ingratitude and cunning (or perhaps due to these very traits) is claimed to be the most capable of the Capets, and of the French medieval kings in general. At least, so they say:-)

    I cannot resist chuckling to myself at the thought of: “How can one express his/her gratitiude to eels?” :-) Perhaps we should start a new game???
    Oh, and the only case of civil war ending with an adoption… And what adoption!!! In the light of all the events that had taken place before 6 November 1153, it does sound ironic, doesn’t it? But, at the same time, how very Stephen-like :-)

    P.S. As for Juana la Loca, her daughter Mary is one of my favourite historical figures. One day I’m going to write a novel about her and her young husband, Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia, the grandson of our Kazimierz Jagiellończyk (Casimir IV of Poland and Lithuania). Theirs is a story ready to be shaped into a novel. But, for the time being, Mary and Louis will have to wait, for I’m spending most of my time at the courts of our eleventh-century rulers:-)

  173. skpenman Says:

    Kasia, I know nothing about Juana’s daughter Mary, so when you get a chance, can you tell us a little about her?

    Today’s Facebook Note.

    I have no comments on the election since I try very hard to stay away from politics here, though it isn’t always easy.  But my readers’ views span the political spectrum (rumor has it that even a few Tudorites have infiltrated our ranks) and I want everyone to feel at home here. Also, as we all well know, nothing can turn a discussion toxic more quickly than politics! So I will confine myself to saying what I know we all fervently believe—Thank God it is over!
    Please send some positive vibes toward the East Coast, which is getting battered by another Nor’easter today. For people who’ve been shivering in the cold and the dark since Sandy, this is the last thing they need.
    Lastly, I know this has been posted here before, several times in fact. But no one can listen to this without smiling, even those who are not fans of the Ice and Fire series. It probably can apply to any writer whose readers think he/she takes too long to produce a book. I think it is hilarious and very clever. So, Write Like The Wind, George RR Martin.

  174. Joan Says:

    Well all I’ll say then is…….High Five America!!!!!!!!! Big job ahead!!

    My thoughts still going out to everyone affected by the continuing storms.

  175. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    I was lucky again, did not lose power during this Nor’easter, which was primarily a snowstorm in my corner of NJ. But they say 100,000 more people are now in the dark. New Jersey’s governor spoke for us all when he asked when we can expect the locusts and the plague.
    On November 8th, 1246, Berenguela of Castile died. She was the daughter of Alfonso and Leonora of Castile and therefore Henry and Eleanor’s granddaughter. She was born in either 1179 or 1180 and was betrothed or wed in 1188 to Conrad, Duke of Saxony, the fifth son of the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa and younger brother of the hated Heinrich. Conrad came all the way to Castile, but the marriage was not consummated since the little bride was only about 8. Frederick Barbarossa’s interest in this union was that Berenguela was then the heir to Castile. He lost interest in the marriage when Berenguela’s parents then had a son. Berenguela’s family got the Pope to annul the marriage contract in 1189. She had a close call here, for Conrad of Honehstaufen was a thug. He had a very bad reputation according to the German chroniclers and he would be murdered in 1196, purportedly by the husband of a woman he’d raped.
    Berenguela then was wed to King Alfonso of Leon, her first cousin once removed; she was only about 11 or so at the time, but apparently they did not consummate the marriage until she was older, for she did not have her first child until 1198, when she was 18. She and Alfonso then had five children in rapid succession—1998, 1200, 1201, 1202, and 1203. But in 1204, something outrageous (at least to me) happened. One of my least favorite popes, Innocent III, declared the marriage was void for consanguinity. What makes this outrageous is that Berenguela and Alfonso had secured a dispensation from the previous pope, Celestine. They tried desperately to get Innocent to change his mind, but he refused to give them a dispensation. The most he would agree to do was to declare their children legitimate. So this obviously compatible young couple was forced to separate and Berenguela returned to her parents in Castile. Apparently she took their children with her.
    When Berenguela’s parents died within a month of each other in 1214, the crown of Castile passed to her brother Henry. She acted as regent since he was underage during a period of turmoil in which Castile was threatened by civil war. But then young Henry died in a freak accident (hit by a roof tile) in 1217. Berenguela was now Queen of Castile, but she abdicated almost at once in favor of her 16 year old son, Ferdinand. She acted as his closest adviser, and arranged a marriage for him with Elizabeth of Hohenstaufen, the daughter of the Holy Roman Emperor Philip (youngest brother of the horrible Heinrich and the only good Hohenstaufen..) She showed herself to be no less shrewd than her more famous grandmother and was a great asset to her son during his reign, ruling on his behalf when he was away fighting the Saracens during the Reconquista. She also showed her Angevin family’s interest in literature and music, proving herself to be what we’d today call a patron of the arts. Like the Lionheart’s better known Berenguela, she is often called Berengaria, but Berenguela was her actual name. She sounds like a strong, highly capable woman, one whom I am sure would have gotten along splendidly with Eleanor. Well, a few differences—she was esteemed by the chroniclers for her virtue.  And unlike Eleanor, she had no interest in being a queen in her own right. But I think they would have discovered that they had much in common, both of them survivors who proved to be resilient, courageous, and devoted to their sons.

  176. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, I will write a few words about Mary and Louis tomorrow. Recently I’ve been occupied elsewhere. To find out where click onto “Kasia” :-) My friend, computer geek’s security system on Henry’s website proved to be so impregnable that it would not only stop all the spam, but also the much-awaited comments. That is why I have decided to take care of Henry’s readers myself. After all the point of running websites and blogs is to exchange the ideas with the people who share your interests, is it not?:-)

  177. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    As for Berenguela, fascinating post! She must have been very like her grandmother and mother indeed! Her husband, Alfonso IX of Leon was an exceptional man in his own right. I had an opportunity to “meet” him when writing about his father-in-law’s great victory at Las Navas de Tolosa. In April 1188- remind me when the first session of the Parliament of England occurred? :-)- he called an extraordinary meeting of his curia at Leon. For the first time in the history of Christian Spain and in the history of western Christendom, representatives of the towns were summoned to attend the king’s court together with the bishops and magnates. Alfonso’s innovative move made medieval Spain the cradle of democratic parliament in Europe.

  178. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    I must sound very selfish to you! Caring more about the dead than the living. It’s because I spend more time in the eleventh and twelfth centuries than in “here and now”, daydreaming and thinking over new posts and my Polish novel, scarcely ever watching the news. I’m sorry to learn of yet another disaster.

  179. Koby Says:

    I have returned. I apologize fr my absence, but I was extraordinarily busy. Still, I see you’ve help up excellently without me, and very interesting posts by all.
    Yestrerday, Louis ‘the Lion’ VIII of France died. He was the son of Philip II and Isabelle of Hainaut, and his wife was of course Blanche of Castile, Leonora’s daughter.
    Today, Isabella of Valois, Queen of England was born. She was wife to Richard II. After his death, Henry IV [V] wanted her for his son, but she refused. Eventually, her sister Catherine would marry Henry V [VI], and give birth to Henry VI [VII].

  180. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Welcome back, Koby. Very interesting information about Alfonso of Leon, Kasia; I admit I knew nothing about him

    I am asking here what I asked on Facebook last night. Does anyone have any recommendations for a good e-mail program? Last night my Windows Live Mail purged all of my e-mails again, the second time in five months this has happened. This is beyond ridiculous. I have a gmail account for Facebook, but I am not crazy about its setup. So any advice will be much appreciated. Meanwhile, here is today’s Facebook Note.

    November 9, 1389 is the birthdate of a young woman whose appeal continues to shine across the centuries—at least to me. Isabella of Valois was the daughter of a French king and at age six she became Queen of England when she wed Richard II. Richard was still grieving for his late wife, Anne of Bohemia, and it is likely that he saw this marriage to a child bride as a way to avoid having to form a marital bond before he was emotionally ready for one. Whatever his motivation, he apparently treated little Isabella very kindly and she became quite attached to him, as she would soon prove. Four years after their marriage, Richard was deposed by his cousin, who then claimed the English crown as Henry IV, the first Lancastrian monarch. Henry thought the ten year old Isabella would make a good bride for his son, the future Henry V. But Isabella would have none of it. This brave child defied the new king, refused to wed his son, and once she became convinced that Richard was dead, she went into deep mourning. Eventually she proved to be such an embarrassment that Henry agreed to allow her to return to France. I have encountered too many stories over the years of medieval women who were married off against their will, so I have always been impressed by Isabella’s resolve and courage, especially in light of her age. In 1406, Isabella, then seventeen, wed her cousin, Charles, the Duke of Orleans. Sadly, she died in childbirth at the age of nineteen.
    Her younger sister was treated more kindly by fortune. Catherine wed the man spurned by the young Isabella, Henry V, and gave him a son, the future Henry VI. The widowed Catherine then took up with a dashing Welshman, Owain Tudor, and her grandson would eventually claim the English throne as Henry VII.

  181. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Today’s Facebook Note.

    Some interesting birthdays today. On November 10, 1433, Charles the Bold (or the Rash) was born; he was the husband of Margaret of York and reluctantly gave refuge to Edward and Richard when they were forced to flee England. He has the dubious distinction of being the only great prince to be eaten by wolves; after his death at the siege of Nancy in 1477, by the time his body was found, it had been partially devoured by animals. He appears in one scene of Sunne and I am sure he is a character in Anne Easter Smith’s novel about Margaret, Daughter of York.
    On November 10, 1480, Bridget, the youngest daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville was born. She was sent to Dartford Priory to become a nun in 1487 at the painfully young age of seven years. When I was checking her birth date on Wikipedia, I discovered something fascinating, something that was definitely not known when I wrote Sunne three decades ago. Apparently Bridget was a reluctant nun, for she may have had an illegitimate daughter in 1498, Agnes of Eltham. I know Wikipedia can be hit or miss, but they do cite a new history of the Plantagenets as the source. As I’ve often explained, I could not keep up on Ricardian research if I wanted to write other novels. Anyone who is more current on Ricardiana than me know anything about Bridget and Agnes? We certainly know there were many unwilling nuns in the MA, girls sequestered at an early age like Bridget or Gwenllian, others compelled by family to take vows to in squabbles over inheritances, some who were compelled by circumstances or sudden poverty. The histories mention runaway nuns. This case seems unusual in that if it is true, Bridget had her baby while still a nun and continued to remain a nun until her death. Being a king’s daughter and the sister of Elizabeth of York probably played a role in her more lenient treatment. But wouldn’t we love to know more about all this?
    On November 10, 1483, Martin Luther was born, to the grief of popes everywhere. And although it is not medieval, on November 10, 1566, Robert Devereaux, the Earl of Essex was born, to the subsequent grief of Elizabeth I.

  182. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Sharon, Thomas Bisson includes a lengthy discussion of Alfonso IX, especially the early years of his reign, in The Crisis of the Twelfth Century (Princeton, 2009).

  183. Koby Says:

    Today, Alfonso VIII of Castile was born, who would marry Leonora of England, and Blanche of of Castile, their daughter, gave birth to Alphonse, Count of Poitiers, who would marry Joan of Toulouse, the daughter of Raymond VII of Toulouse, who himself was the son of Joanna of England.

  184. skpenman Says:

    Thanks, Malcolm!
    You, too, Koby.

    Today’s Facebook Note.

    Veteran’s Day, a time for remembrance. I feel it particularly keenly this year, as I’ve been doing a lot of reading about PTSD, which makes it painfully clear what a high price men and women and their families may pay for serving their country. War should always be the last resort, for there is too much truth in Albert Einstein’s observation that older men start wars and younger men fight them. Above all, I think we need to do more to support veterans when they come home, if they are lucky enough to come home.

  185. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    I’m glad to be back with you:-) I’ve been a little bit busy these gloomy days in mid November.
    Sharon, is my notebook right? I’m reading that on 13 November 1160, Eleanor’s “ex”, Louis VII of France married his third wife, Adela of Blois. His second wife, Constance of Castile had died giving birth to yet another daughter and Louis, never giving up hope to sire a male heir, did not waste time. As Ralph of Diceto noted in his usual matter-of-fact style:
    “ The queen of France, daughter of Alfonso emperor of Spain, died in giving birth to a daughter who fortunately survived. King Louis, however, did not observe the proper time of mourning but within two weeks had married Adela, daughter of Count Theobald of Blois”.
    Eleanor must have seen it as the most unusual action by her usually monkish first husband, the one that prpbably brought a smile to her face, but in 1160 Louis was already forty and the father of four daughters. No wonder he was in a hurry and to the good effect. Five years later Adela gave him a much-awaited son, Philip.

    Malcolm, thank you for the recommendation. It is so nice to hear from you.

    Joan, Stephanie, Ken, knock, knock! Are you there?:-)

  186. skpenman Says:

    Kasia, I don’t know what Joan and Ken are up to, but Stephanie is doing well; I’ll tell her she is missed.

    Today’s Facebook Note.

    November 13, 1143 was the date of death of Fulk, Count of Anjou and King of Jerusalem, husband to Queen Melisende; I’ve always been interested in this capable, strong-willed woman and I am delighted to report that Sharan Newman is working on a biography of Melisende. (No pressure, Sharan, but I would say to you what his fans say to George RR Martin, “Write like the wind!”) Fulk died as the result of a gruesome hunting accident. His skull was crushed by the saddle when his horse stumbled and fell on top of him. According to my favorite medieval historian, William of Tyre, “his brains gushed forth from both ears and nostrils.” (I hope no one is reading this while eating breakfast.) Fulk lingered in a coma for three days before finally dying. Coincidentally, I just finished the chapter in which Richard’s nemesis (one of them, anyway) Leopold, the Duke of Austria, died as the result of another hunting accident. His was just as grisly as Fulk’s, but I’ll let you all read about that one in Ransom. Fulk was, of course, the father of Geoffrey of Anjou and thus the grandfather of Henry II. One of his daughters wed the Count of Flanders and a second daughter was widowed by the sinking of the White Ship and later became Abbess of Fontevrault. By Melisende, he was also the father of two Kings of Jerusalem and was therefore the grandfather of Isabella, who appears in Lionheart.
    November 13, 1160 was the wedding date for Louis VII and Adele of Blois, who would later do what his first two wives could not, give him a son. Louis’s second wife had died the month previously, after giving birth to his unfortunate daughter Alys, so he did not have much of a mourning period. By marrying Adele, Louis thus became brother-in-law as well as father-in-law to her brothers, for they were betrothed to his daughters by Eleanor. I had fun doing a scene in Lionheart in which Henri of Champagne tried to explain his convoluted family tree.
    And November 13, 1312 was the birthday of the future Edward III. This must have been a very happy day for Edward II and Isabella, who did not have many of them—at least not together.

  187. skpenman Says:

    Since it is Edward III’s birthday, I also wanted to mention that one of my Facebook friends, David Pilling, writes a mystery series set during Edward’s reign. Here is the link to David’s Amazon Author’s Page.

  188. Joan Says:

    Hi there, I’m still here & getting ready to fly out for a family wedding. Also have been busy with decorating & also a new book I picked up. Sharon, I cannot purchase a trade paperback of Lionheart till the new year (paperbacks stretch my budget!) so have taken your oft-given advice—-am presently thoroughly enjoying Margaret George’s “Mary Queen of Scotland & the Isles”. I love her style & approach, seeing the world through young Mary’s curious, adventurous, fun-loving, precocious, intelligent eyes—–lovely writing & so many beautiful passages so thank you for recommending her. Take care & hope the sun shines soon, Kasia.

  189. Stephanie Says:

    Hi Kasia, thanks for your concern! I often lurk here, but most often don’t comment because I cannot even hope to compete in the history knowledge department like everyone else. I see my role as a professional wise-cracker, here to provide comic relief. :) As to Ken’s whereabouts, he’s just old and forgetful. I’m pretty sure he is at home right now looking for his misplaced false teeth while humming show tunes from the last century. I’ll zing him with a spit-ball and let him know you are concerned about him.

  190. ken john Says:

    Hmmmm! This very old person just woke up from his afternoon nap (just wait, you’ll be old one day) and found that Stephanie person was maligning me. I’ll have you know that I still have all my own teeth and I am not forgetful. Now, where was I? Oh, yes, I remember. Unlike Stephanie person I am really nice and generous and recently (on her behalf) I posted an excerpt from her WIP on Face Book, but, oh yes, unkind person that she is, she had forgotten that!… Now where was I?… ? Oh yes, I’ll repost it here so you FB refusers can also see it. Now, where did I put it? I’m sure its around here somewhere. Oh, There it is!:

    ‘Having posted a few snippets of my own WIP and now getting on with completing the darn book, I thought I’d let you know about the WIP (s) of another you know well on this page. I have been reading through her works as they currently exist and I am really impressed. She writes with an ease and fluency that I can only aspire to and she has an incredible imagination. Like many an aspiring author (me very much included), she is full of self doubt, which I am trying to help her overcome with honest appraisals. Here is an excerpt of her story as yet unfinished, provisionally entitled ‘Winds of the Storm’:


    “The saddle beneath him felt as hard and unyielding as marble and the muscles in his legs ached from riding a horse which was too large for him, but Tren did not mind. In truth he did not. He was on a great journey, the first of many which he hoped to have, for he was young and his life stretched out in front of him like a vast canvas waiting the design of a master painter. He had come to Estynor Castle four years past to serve the Royal House of Viranthos and was presently serving as a page to Sir Rikard Pircy, a household knight in service to the queen. Though his service was to Pircy, ultimately he felt that he owed loyalty to his queen. This was his first opportunity to serve her on such an important errand, to prove his worth, and he intended do everything asked of him no matter how difficult or menial. He was only a page after all, but everyone had to start somewhere.

    The purpose of the convoy was to escort his queen’s oldest and dearest friend, Sabia Cenbryth, wife of Ael, King of Asacon, to Estynor Castle where the two would reunite for the first time in many years. Sabia had only recently given birth to twin daughters and she had seen this as a cause to celebrate with her friend. A small guard from Estynor had awaited the arrival of Queen Sabia at Asya, on the coast of the Espean Sea where her royal barge had arrived from Portstead near Brenin Rock in Asacon. They had departed Asya just this morning, and because the road was flat and in good condition, their modest convoy had made many miles so far on their journey to Estynor Castle.

    The day was hot and dry, and flies buzzed around the horses making them swish their tails in assertive agitation. Tren broke from his reverie to reach up under his coif, scratching around the edge where the sweat and dirt had been accumulating throughout the morning. Reaching for his water pouch, he tipped it to his mouth and a small cool trickle of sweet water wet his dry mouth.

    “Tren!” Sir Rikard called to him. Tren turned his face to the older man awaiting his instruction. “Her Grace requires fresh calta leaves to soothe the babes. Get to it!” With a nod of understanding, Tren left the road and ventured out into the meadow to see what he could find. The infants had been extremely fussy during the sea voyage to Asya and Sabia had just begun using calta leaves in order to help the restless babies sleep. The plant was very plentiful throughout the countryside and Tren did not expect to have much trouble finding a good supply.

    From his perch high atop the horse he had a good vantage point from which to see the deep purple blooms of the calta. When his initial search alongside the road produced unexpected nothingness, he next made his way through a large copse of trees and over a small ridge. On the far side of the clearing before him he had a clear view of the road which had wound its way back on itself. If his search in this clearing was successful he need only wait for the carriage to make its way around the turn and he could rejoin the party.

    Tren heaved a sigh of relief when not more than an arrow’s flight away from the road bloomed the calta plant in abundance. Dismounting, he loosely tethered his horse and began to collect the leaves in earnest, hoping to have enough in hand before the procession could catch up to him. The sun was hot on his back, and a small trickle of sweat began to bead its way down his forehead and between his eyes. As he reached up to swipe it away he heard the snap of a branch from somewhere behind him. Assuming it to be the scout riders, he turned to make his greeting but had only the briefest moment to hear a rush of air before he was knocked back to the ground. Looking down he saw the feathered shaft of an arrow protruding from his chest and his eyes went wide with disbelief, staring as if trying to comprehend what had just happened. As his breathing became more and more shallow, his vision began to dim, the light fading. Though he couldn’t be certain, he thought he saw a man briefly hover over him then disappear into the trees just as the light went out completely….”

  191. ken john Says:

    I hope that you are suitably ashamed Susan - no its not Susan is it? It’s Samantha isn’t it? Isn’t it? Maybe Sheila? Oh, bother, I give up. Can’t remember!

  192. Stephanie Says:

    Yes, Mr. Jean. I am suitably shamed. Am hanging my head this moment.

  193. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    I love you, people:-) What would I do without you???

    Stephanie, no need to hang your head:-) Just admit that Ken Notorious Troublemaker John is the most intriguing, charming and witty man you have ever met. This is exactly what I told my husband. He’s angelic by nature, remember? And he’s a musician, doesn’t care about writers, so… no repercussions:-)
    And Stephanie, Ken is right, your story just “flows”. I love the snippet.

    Joan, thank you for the recommendation. Margaret George’s Mary sounds really tempting:-) Good luck with the family wedding!

  194. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    And Ken, one of the FB refusers is very curious whether you and Othon are still in Cornwall or in the south of France, as you once wrote you were going to be?

  195. ken john Says:

    I’m still in Cornwall, leaving for Australia for a few weeks on the 8th December to see my son and family in Sydney. I will return to France as soon as the ferry from Plymouth to Santander starts again in March 2013 after the winter break. That is, if I can remember where I put my passport, I know it was around here somewhere…………….

  196. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    I do not know what I’d do without you guys, either. I feel blessed with my friends, though I wouldn’t mind being blessed with George Clooney, too. Sadly, self-doubt is programmed into every writer’s genes, but I hope your self-confidence will increase, Stephanie, as more and more people tell you how good your writing is. Same for whatshisname in Cornwell, who is bringing Othon to vivid life; can’t wait to see what he does with Angelique!

    I am posting today’s Facebook note below; I am going through a crisis right now with Tristan, my shepherd, so if I am not around for a whle, this is why.

    I am sorry I was not on-line yesterday, but my shepherd, Tristan, is very ill and it is not looking good for him. Please send him some positive vibes, as I fear we’ll both be needing them. I did do a Today in History post on Tuesday before Tristan’s crisis, so I am posting it today.
    November 14, 1687 is the death date for one of my favorite historical figures, Restoration actress and long-time mistress of Charles II, Nell Gwynn. Charles was obviously very attached to Nell, for their liaison lasted from 1668 until his death in 1685. They had two sons, one of whom died young; the older boy was made a duke by Charles, who was always generous to his mistresses and illegitimate children. Nell was said to be pretty, charming, and witty. Her most quoted quip came when her carriage was stopped by a mob who thought it contained Charles’s unpopular, aristocratic French mistress, who was Catholic at a time when Catholicism was a trigger point in English society. Not at all daunted by the turmoil, Nell stuck her head out the carriage window and called out, “Good people, I am the Protestant whore!” On his deathbed, Charles famously told his brother James, “Let not poor Nelly starve.” James was not the most admirable of men, but he did honor Charles’s request, paying Nell’s debts and giving her a pension. Sadly, she survived Charles by only two years. She suffered a stroke in March of 1687 and had several others that incapacitated her before her death on November 14th of that year; her most recent biographer thinks she’d contracted syphilis. . She was only thirty-seven. Not surprisingly, she has been popular with Hollywood and writers over the years. I highly recommend Exit the Actress by Priya Parmar, a very well researched and highly enjoyable account of Nell’s life. I was glad when Priya did not take the readers to Nell’s deathbed; I would rather think of her in her prime, bedazzling audiences and the king.

  197. Stephanie Says:

    Aw, thanks, Sharon. I’ve got a some great supporters. ;)

  198. ken john Says:

    Sorry to hear about Tristan lovely girl and I hope he recovers soon. I haven’t had a dog ‘friend’ since my days, long ago in Kenya. Have thought about it quite a lot, particularly since I’ve been alone, but hesitate to ‘befriend’ a dog again. I do like to travel around and the thought of having to leave him/her every time I leave is a bit too much to handle. Plus the worry, as you seem to have all too often about their health, would be depressing. Maybe one day……….!

  199. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    I’ve just read your yesterday’s post Sharon. Do hope Tristan is better! Big hug for him.
    Ken, you’re right! It quite depressing when your pet-friend is ailing. Last year we, I mean me and my family, were all very unhappy when our dachshund had a surgery. Fortunately she came to herself quickly, but the experience has left us all rather anxious. About the future.

    And Sharon, great note on Nell Gwyn. The Restoration is such a colourful period in English history, but after all which period is not… :-) I love Samuel Pepys’ diary. Often come back to it, esp. when bad mood is drawing near.

  200. Koby Says:

    Great post about Nell, Sharon, and I hope Tristan feels better soon. Today, Henry III [IV] of England died, making Edward King. However, Edward was on crusade, and would take almost a full year to return home once hearing the news. Edmund Rich, Archbishop of Canterbury during Henry III’s [IV's] reign, who negotiated the peace of Middle with Llewellyn Fawr also died today. As did Queen/Saint Margaret of Scotland, who was sister to Edgar Ætheling, and Queen to Malcolm III of Scotland. Her daughter Edith married Henry I and bore him Matilda, who was Queen of England in her won right, and her daughter Mary married Eustace III of Boulogne, and bore him Matilda, who was Queen of England by right of her husband Stephen.

  201. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    I’ve just dropped by on Kathryn Warner’s blog only to find out that Edward II was captured on this day in 1326. Do pay a visit to Kathryn and read yet another fascinating post concerning the circumstances of her royal ward’s capture.

  202. Koby Says:

    Today, John Balliol, supposedly King of Scotland died. He was known as ‘Toom Tabard’ (empty suit) for good reason. He would (eventually) be succeeded by Robert I the Bruce. More importantly, Mary I of England died today, making Elizabeth Queen.

  203. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, how is Tristan? I do hope much better now?

    Koby, I did not know that John Balliol was called “Toom Tabard”. I have to learn more about him. BTW, how are you? Still quite busy, I suppose.

    On the historical front, I have learnt that on 18 November 1169 Henry II met Louis VII at Montmartre to discuss the reconciliation between the English king and the exiled Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, whom the king of France, acting as a mediator, had taken under his protective wing. Despite the promising beginning- Henry II promised to withdraw all obnoxious usages and customs and guarantee full freedom to the Church when matters of appeals and visitations were concerned and the Archbishop, in his turn, agreed to omit the saving clause and return to England at once- the meeting ended in failure. The reason being Thomas Becket’s obstinacy. He demanded the kiss of peace, saying that “he would not for the present make peace with the king, unless, in accordance with the pope’s advice, it was ratified by the kiss of peace” as the guarantee of his safety. This was met with the king’s refusal, who “weary after a full day and with this long night’s ride before him, again and again cursed the archbishop on the way, reckoning up and recapitulating the labours, vexations and distresses which he had caused him”. This is how Herbert of Bosham, one of Becket’s clerks and the eyewitness to the event explained the Archbishop:
    “ Thus, it seemed, and we all hoped, that after so many and various storms we were on the point of entering harbour, when the archbishop, through the mediators, demanded some guarantee of peace offered to him, not because he suspected any treachery on the king’s part, but because he harboured suspicions about the king’s vassals, on account of the enmity they had so long showed towards him…”

    And, in 1189, Joanna’s fisrt husband, William II of Sicily, frequently referred to as William the Good died, aged thirty-five. For the circumstances of his untimely passing see Lionheart. The monastery at Monreale, William’s foundation, is on my Bucket List :-) Has any of you had the occasion to pay respects to William at the cathedral?

  204. Koby Says:

    Indeed, Kasia, busy but well. Thank you for that interesting information. I certianly hope to get to Sicily someday as well.
    You forgot two more deaths: Adelaide of Maurienne, Queen of France to Louis VI ‘le Gros’, and mother-in-law to Eleanor. Interestingly enough, her son, Louis VII, Eleanor’s ex-husband also died today, making Philip King of France.

  205. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Interestingly enough, according to my notebook, Louis died on 18 September 1180 :-)

  206. skpenman Says:

    I know that many of you took a personal interest in Tristan, following his pilgrimage up the coast from Florida to his new home and new life in the Jersey Pine Barrens after I adopted him from Echo White German Shepherd Rescue last year, and I am very sorry that I do not have good news to report. Tristan and I lost his fight on Friday. For the past two weeks, he’d been in considerable pain from what we thought was a flare up of his arthritis. My vet was treating him with acupuncture, chiropractic, and laser therapy, with high doses of pain meds and Rimadyl. He seemed to be getting better, but then Tuesday evening he lost control of his hind legs, and an X-Ray revealed disc damage in addition to severe arthritis of the spine. My doctor friend John had already diagnosed it as a collapse of his spinal canal, an impressive feat since John lives in England. As a last ditch effort, my vet tried high doses of steroids to ease the swelling that was causing the semi-paralysis. But it did not help very much; he was reluctant to eat, losing control of his bladder, and the vet said he’d never be able to go on the walks that were his chief joy in life, even more than his favorite foods. I waited too long to make the decision with my shepherd Cody and swore I’d not do that again. But it is still very hard. This is the fourth time I’ve had to do this in the last two and a half years, which is four times too many. At least with Cody, whom I wrote about on my blog, and with Chelsea, my poodle who suffered kidney failure, I knew what was coming and there was time to steel myself to losing them. But with my sweet Shadow and Tris, I was blindsided. I knew when I adopted Tristan that I’d not have that much time with an older dog, but I really thought we’d have more than twenty months. However much it hurts now, I am still grateful that he had those twenty months, the first time that he had a real home and learned what it was like to be a loved family pet.

  207. ken john Says:

    So sorry Sharon. You gave him a great home and he finally had a good and happy life. You must be heartened by the well wishers on your FB page all feeling your pain with you. Take care.

  208. Candace Smith Says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about Tristan, Sharon. We lost our beloved sheltie Jock one month ago today, in similar circumstances. I know how hard it is. I hope the pain fades quickly, to be replaced with the memories of the happy times you shared. He was so fortunate to have found you!

  209. skpenman Says:

    Thank you, Ken. I am sorry for your loss of Jock, Candace. Any pet lover goes through this too many times, but it never gets easier, does it? I hope memories of Jock will help the way memories of Tristan will ease Tristan’s loss.

  210. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, I’m so sorry… Don’t know what to write. Remember how you posted Tristan’s Echo Angel? The detail in Tristan’s story that struck me most was that he had probably never set foot on anything but grass or bare ground before. Thanks to you this could have changed and did change. I’m sure that with you, for the very first time in his life, he found the true doggy happiness.

  211. Candace Smith Says:

    Thank you, Sharon. It is getting a little easier for us, and I hope it will be for you soon, as well. Jock had a quirky little personality, and now when we talk about him there is more laughter than tears. We’ve had dogs for 36 years, and it is always so hard to say good-bye. But I can’t imagine what our lives would have been like without them. I wish you’d had more time with Tristan. But you packed a lot of love for each other into those months. You’ll always be so glad he came into your life. Thank you for sharing his story with us.

  212. skpenman Says:

    Thank you so much, Kasia. That is so true, Candace. The joy they give is worth the pain.

    Here is today’s Facebook Note.

    I want to thank everyone again for your kindness and empathy over Tristan’s death. It meant a lot. I also want to wish all of my American readers a wonderful Thanksgiving. Lastly but definitely not least, my British publisher wanted me to alert my British and Australian readers that Lionheart will soon be available for sale in its paperback format, the pub date being January 3rd. Here is a link to the page. Speaking as an utterly unbiased observer, of course, I think the Macmillan cover rocks!

  213. Joan Says:

    Sharon I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your beloved Tristan & feel badly for Holly as well. I shared the sad news with two of my sisters who have lost their favorite dogs. When I had to make that dreadful decision about our very ill cat Bob (after 14 amazing, crazy, & fun-filled years with him), I spent a lot of time with him cradled in my arms, looking into each other’s eyes, sobbing my heart out. All the great memories keep our pets in our hearts & it’s the mutual love & respect that made the relationship so precious.

  214. Joan Says:

    Wow, I hope that’s the cover I see when I get my copy of Lionheart in Canada! It has a contemporary feel.

    What a wonderful wedding last Sat. My nephew & his wife are a warm, personable, socially-responsible, fun couple & that’s what the celebration was all about. A highlight of the evening was the “photo booth” (not a little booth, as I’d expected, but a photo-shoot setup, complete with props). The plastic but quite realistic medieval weapons were my fave, along with the paper moustaches, incl Celtic! The imagination & ingenuity of people always blows me away—for pix shot with basically no prep, many were amazingly artistic!!! We were hysterical viewing them next day.

  215. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Joan, my mom has a cat Brooklyn who is thirteen, but he doesn’t show any signs of aging. Stubborn beast! He’s been a foundling, just appeared one rainy evening and stayed till now. Somehow, I cannot imagine visits to my mom’s without scratching him behind his ears:-)
    As for your nephew’s wedding, it sounds great fun, especially the realistic medieval weapons you’ve mentioned:-) Do the newly wedded also love all things medieval? Just like you?

    Sharon, I do agree with Joan! The cover has a contemporary feel, and the Richard- for I assume it must be him :-)- is sooo…. (forgive me but I can’t find better word) HOT :-)
    Ken, what say you? You are an expert in such things. Just let me remind you Angelique clinging to Edward I’s leg. Was it right or left royal limb? I can’t recall now :-)

  216. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Today is the one of probable dates- the two other being 20 and 21 November- when Roger of Pont l’Eveque, Archbishop of York, “full of days, after having happily ruled his archbishopric for twenty-seven years and six weeks” died in 1181. By some called “a learned and eloquent man, and in worldly affairs, prudent almost to singularity” by others simply a “devil”, it was he, who, acting at Henry II’s order, in 1170 crowned Hal king of England in Westminster Abbey, in the absence of the exiled Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket. The act that he was to pay for dearly. The coronation was considered illegal and Roger and the bishops who assisted him at the ceremony excommunicated.

  217. ken john Says:

    Left royal limb Kasia. It simply wouldn’t be done to hold onto a king’s right leg. How would he get on his horse? As for the UK cover, I’ll repost my comment on FB for all you non-followers:

    “I think that is a great cover Sharon. Talking about your UK publisher, I went into our local Waterstone Book Shop today and while browsing, I went to check how many of your books they had on sale. Not one! I couldn’t believe it and so went to reception and asked for the manager (I know her slightly). I explained to her about your books and told her I couldn’t believe she had none of your book either on display in the main section or in the alphabetical lists further back. In her favour she knew who you were and said she would check why they hadn’t been sent copies of your latest books. I told her I would check again next week :)”

    And I don’t even get any commision on sales……!

  218. Koby Says:

    Once again, I apologize for my absence - as a military chaplain, the recent war in Gaza required me to give more of my time.
    I am very sorry about Tristan, Sharon. It is not how this world should work. But be comforted in that he had the best time of his life with you.
    You may be right, Kasia; I admit I was in haste when I wrote that, due to the situation, and still am, so I will have to let others check it.
    Lastly, today Mary of Guise, Queen of Scotland, mother of Mary Queens of Scots was born. A happy Thanksgiving to all!

  219. Joan Says:

    Kasia, I agree with your take on “hot Richard”…..I mean HOT! In your words…….”By the legs of God” but I’ve turned into a lusty (not so old) lady!!! AND, I’m considering going to Toronto for Dec 3rd when Richard Armitage will be appearing on George Stroumbolopolous (sp?)….a fun talk show. My biggest heartthrob these days….not only HOT but intelligent, multi-talented (plays cello & deep basso voice), seems fun, & he’s humble to boot! Sharon, you can have George Clooney, Sean Bean, & Gerard Butler. Though Sean would be my 2nd choice (the voice alone!!!)

    My nephew isn’t into medieval but a few of the guests were seriously slinging that sword around.

    On a more serious note…….Koby, your work is admirable….the best of luck in these precarious times.

  220. Stephanie Says:

    Kasia and Joan, I agree with your opinions about that cover. I’m thinking I have to get a copy of this version of Lionheart also just for the cover. :)

    Koby, I didn’t realize you were a chaplain. I am sure you have been plenty busy recently. Stay safe!

  221. Joan Says:

    Stephanie, now I’m wondering how Tren is! Just got caught up & enjoyed the passage Ken posted. I hope you’ll post more as I’m very intrigued.

  222. Koby Says:

    Thanks for the compliments and well wishes, they’re very appreciated.
    Today, Margaret of York, Dowager Duchess of Burgundy died, and Perkin Warbeck was executed.

  223. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Koby, forgive me my straightforward question, but: are you exposed to danger? I do hope that as a chaplain you are safe? It all sounds so terribly serious that I do feel ashamed, bec. of my Hot Richard:-( (but he does look hot!!!)

    Joan, “By the legs of God!” is not mine. I borrow it from time to time from the afore-said Richard:-) I do agree with you about Stephanie’s writings. Stephanie we’re waiting for more:-)

  224. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Ken, I must have get it all wrong. I didn’t realize that the Edward in the cover was sitting on horseback. Well, it does make sense now! The horse and Angelique almost swinging on His Majesty’s left longish limb! What a great dramatic effect!

    As for your intervention on Sharon’s behalf, do let us know when you venture into visiting the bookshop next week. I’m very curious about the outcome:-)

  225. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sorry for the blatant grammar mistake above:-) I tend to make mistakes when I’m in a hurry.

  226. Stephanie Says:

    Koby, I am afraid I will put myself into the same boat as Kasia and ask you about your level of danger. I have known a couple of chaplains in recent years, and I know that they were right in the thick of the action. It is a very admirable job, and one that helps so very many people.

    And to Joan and Kasia, thank you so much for your kind words about my writing. It’s rather ironic you bring this up now because in these last couple of days I have nearly decided that I will have to shelf all of my work for the time being. I have taken on some new volunteer responsibilities which has eaten into my free time (which is already very precious) and I just don’t know when I’ll be able to sit down to write. I will have to see how it plays out I guess. If I was like Sharon and could sit and write into the wee hours of the night I would have no problems. My brain just does not operate well after the kids have been put to bed, so I’ve really only considered writing during the day. Your encouragement does help though.

  227. Joan Says:

    Stephanie, I remember those very busy years raising a family, volunteer work, plus all the creative projects I loved doing (no, needed to do), also working part-time & eventually off to university when the kids were teenagers. And staying up late was pure pleasure….reading & writing papers into the wee hours. It was MY time. There were always a few other lights on in the neighborhood & I’d feel a special bond with these other nighthawks (probably women), linked by our individual nocturnal pursuits, in the company of Selene. Sharon, you can relate to this. Wish I still had that energy level. Anyway, all this to say, please keep writing, even if only a bit each week.

    Kasia, that’s your fave “Richard” expletive, isn’t it? Mine is “Jesus wept” & love it when (unknowing) people say…….HUH?!?!?!?

  228. Stephanie Says:

    Thanks, Joan. It really does help to hear this from others who have been there and “get it”. I had a moment of realization this past week that I have a tendency to take on too much. I know that my kids will be older some day and will not require the same level of attention. I just need to tell myself that I will have all the time I want and need some day, and for the time being it’s okay. It’s hard to be content with that for now though when I really enjoy the creative process of writing. Not to say I won’t have a little time in each week to do it, but I’ve just felt so defeated recently in trying to carve out regular and predictable writing time (when I am home alone in a quiet house).

    Well, that’s me spilling for all the world to see! lol…

  229. Joan Says:

    Good luck with it all Stephanie! We do want to read that novel some day….no pressure though. Re “spilling”, anonymity is bliss! Also fun to imagine what everyone looks like, age, etc. When I ride the buses I love pulling a “Carol Shields”, who let her imagination go crazy creating stories about fellow passengers.

  230. skpenman Says:

    Whenever I have to fly under the radar for a while and then get to resurface here, it always feels like a homecoming. We really are family in the nicest sense of the word. Joan, the wedding sounds like a lot of fun. Koby, I confess I worry about you, too, and I hope this cease fire holds. And Ken, I am sure you put the fear of God into Waterstones, in a good way, of course; we all know how persuasive you can be. Stephanie, I hope your characters will let you put them on the back burner for a while; they don’t always go graciously. You may need one of those vaudeville hooks to get them off stage. Of course I’m always dealing with those pushy Angevins, so maybe your guys are a more cooperative lot?

  231. skpenman Says:

    I almost forgot. Here is today’s Facebook Note.

    I hope all those who celebrated Thanksgiving had a lovely, peaceful holiday. Mine was very nice. My family always celebrates on Thanksgiving Eve and on Thanksgiving Day, and one of my family members who lost her house to Hurricane Sandy insisted upon hosting a dinner at a local restaurant, refusing to surrender to despair. Just being around her is an inspiration.
    Again, thanks to all who posted such warm, loving comments about Tristan after learning of his death last week.. It meant a lot to me.
    I will try to catch up on all the Today in History entries that I missed, though I know that Rania and a few others took up the slack for me, which was greatly appreciated. I expect to have a new blog up this weekend, an interview with Priscilla Royal, whose new mystery, The Sanctity of Hate, is coming out now. She is one of my favorite mystery writers, and this novel is particularly compelling, for it deals with the ugly underside of medieval life, Anti-Semitism.
    And here is a link to a video about a remarkable young woman and her equally remarkable dog. She has had her share of grief; her baby was born with a heart defect. And last week her house burned down, so she lost everything. But she and her baby were able to escape the fast-moving fire thanks to a courageous little dachshund named True who woke her in time to escape the flames. True was a rescue, a dog that no one else wanted because he was deaf, blind, and had only three legs, and he repaid her for saving his life by saving her life and that of her baby.

  232. skpenman Says:

    Me again. Kasia, I wasn’t slighting you by not mentioning your Today in History contributions in the Facebook Note! It was aimed at my Facebook readers and despite our best efforts, neither Stephanie nor I have been able to lure you onto Facebook. What you post here for us is greatly appreciated.

  233. Koby Says:

    Today, Hugh Despenser the Younger was executed in a particularly gruesome manner, which I think I shall spare us. Those interested will be able to find it on their own, I am certain.
    An Kasia, Stephanie, there is no need to apologize; your concern is quite welcome. I am quite safe, and have been so for some time; unless a new front opens, or I am sent to a new post (which is very unlikely, as I’ve just been reassigned two weeks ago) I will remain so. Thank you for your concern and compliments; I shall certainly try to live up your faith in me.

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