The complete Author’s Note for the new hardcover edition of The Sunne in Splendour

I do plan to blog about my Richard III tour, but I am still having to devote all of my time and energy these days to fending off the Deadline Dragon, who is lurking around until I can finish the Author’s Note for A King’s Ransom.   So in the meantime, I am going to post the new Author’s Note for the hardcover edition of The Sunne in Splendour, which was published in the UK on September 12th.  Because of space constraints, my publisher, Macmillan, was forced to go with an edited version of the AN, although the AN in its entirety is included in the new e-book.     The new e-book is the one currently available for sale on, although the date given is July, 2012; it incorporates all of the changes I made for the hardcover edition of Sunne.   And I have good news for my non-British readers.  St Martin’s Press has now made their new e-book edition of Sunne available; it includes the new AN and reflects all of the changes I made to the hardcover Sunne edition, correcting mistakes that were not caught and making some minor alterations to the dialogue.   The date listed for the Kindle edition is 2008, but the one now for sale is the new one.     
As I discussed on Facebook, Book Depository, dear to book lovers for their worldwide free shipping, is refusing to sell the hardcover edition of Sunne to non-British readers.   In the past, Amazon and would pull a “foreign” book if a publisher complained.  In Sunne’s case, that did not happen, of course. No American publisher would lose sales if American readers bought the Sunne hardcover, for there are no plans to publish a hardcover edition on this side of the Atlantic.  So only Book Depository can explain why they have chosen to penalize would-be book buyers who live in the “wrong” country.   Sunne is still available for sale on,UK and Waterstones and other British book sites, although the mailing costs are not cheap.  
 Okay, end of rant.  I just find it so frustrating when artificial barriers are put up to keep people from buying books since we live in an age when book buying is in a downward spiral.  But as I promised my readers, here is the new Author’s Note for Sunne, in its entirety. 
*     *      *       *       *
I was a college student when I stumbled onto the story of Richard III, and the more I learned, the more convinced I became that he’d been the victim of a great injustice, transformed by the Tudors into a soulless monster in order to justify Henry Tudor’s dubious claim to the throne.   While I’d always realized that history is rewritten by the victors, I was taken aback by how successful this particular rewrite had been, and I began telling my friends how unfairly Richard had been maligned.  I soon discovered that they did not share my indignation about the wrongs done this long-dead medieval king.  I got a uniform reaction, a “Richard who?” before their eyes glazed over and they’d start to edge away.   
 So I decided I needed another outlet for my outrage, and it occurred to me that I ought to write a novel about Richard.  I had no idea how that casual decision would transform my life, setting me upon a twelve year journey that would eventually end in the publication of The Sunne in Splendour.   It took twelve years because the manuscript was stolen from my car during my second year of law school.  It represented nearly five years of labor–and it was the only copy.  The loss was so traumatic that I could not write again for almost six years.  And then one rainy California weekend, the log-jam suddenly broke and the words began to flow again.  I ended up moving to England to research the book, and three years later, I was lucky enough to find an  editor, Marian Wood, willing to take on a novice writer and a thousand page manuscript about that “long-dead medieval king,” and able to convince her publisher, Henry Holt and Company, that this was a good idea.   
 I am very grateful to Richard, for he launched my writing career and saved me from a lifetime practicing tax law.  I am very grateful, too, to Macmillan, my British publisher, for deciding to re-issue Sunne in a hardcover edition.   Few books ever get a rebirth like this, one that has enabled me to correct the typographical errors that infiltrated the original British hardcover edition of Sunne and to rectify my own mistakes that came to light after Sunne’s publication, the most infamous being a time-traveling little grey squirrel.  In this new edition, I have also made some changes to the dialogue.  Sunne was my first novel and was therefore a learning experience.  In subsequent novels, I came to see that in attempting to portray medieval speech, less is more. 
 It does not seem possible that thirty years could have passed since Sunne’s publication in the United Kingdom.   And because history is not static, ebbing and flowing like the tides, there have been new discoveries in those thirty years, information surfacing that was not known during those twelve years that I was researching Richard’s world.   For example, I state in Sunne that Richard and Anne wed without a papal dispensation, but there is some evidence that this is incorrect. The Earl of Warwick sought papal dispensations when he was planning to wed his daughters to George and Richard, and since he received one for George and Isabel, there is no reason to suppose he’d not have been granted one for Richard and Anne; Richard also sought and received a papal dispensation in April, 1472 because of the affinity created by Anne’s marriage to Edward of Lancaster, who was Richard’s second cousin once removed.   We still do not know the exact date of Richard and Anne’s marriage, nor do we know when their son was born, but it seems more likely it was in 1476. 
We also know more about the life of Edward’s daughter Cecily, for since Sunne’s publication, it has been established that she wed Ralph Scrope in late 1484.  He was the son of Thomas, Lord Scrope, but we know little about this brief marriage. Henry Tudor had it annulled upon becoming king so that he could marry her to his uncle, John, Viscount Welles.  He was in his forties and Cecily only eighteen, but what little evidence there is suggests the marriage was a happy one.  They had two daughters, both of whom died before the viscount’s death in 1499.  Cecily had often been in attendance to her sister the queen, but in 1502, she made what had to be a love match with a man of much lesser status, a mere esquire, William Kyme.  Tudor was furious, banishing her from court and confiscating her estates.  But she had an unlikely champion in Tudor’s mother, Margaret Beaufort, who’d apparently become fond of Cecily, and she interceded with her son on Cecily’s behalf.  After the death of her beloved sister, Elizabeth, in 1503, Cecily and her husband retired from the court and settled on the Isle of Wight.  She and William had a son, Richard, born in 1505 and a daughter, Margaret, born in 1507.  Since Cecily died on August 24, 1507, she may have died from the complications of childbirth.  This marriage, too, appears to have been a happy one.  I would like to think so, for this daughter of York, said by Sir Thomas More to have been “not so fortunate as fair,” had suffered more than her share of sorrow in her thirty-eight years. 
            And in my Afterward, I said that Francis Lovell was not seen alive after the battle of Stoke Field and probably drowned trying to cross the River Trent.   Well, now we know he actually reached safety in Scotland, for he was granted a safe-conduct by the Scots king in June, 1488. Sadly, he then disappears from history’s notice, leaving us to determine for ourselves whether he died soon afterward or perhaps chose to fly under the Tudor radar for the remainder of his days.  
 While these are undeniably interesting discoveries, none of them would be classified as dramatic or a game changer.  We still have not solved the central mystery of Richard’s reign–the fate of his nephews.  That argument goes on, unabated, with many still claiming they died at Richard’s command, others sure they were put to death by Tudor, still others confident that the younger boy survived, surfacing as Perkin Warbeck, and some agreeing with me that the Duke of Buckingham was the most likely culprit.   So my views on that have not changed in the intervening thirty years.  
 There has been, however, a truly amazing development in the fascinating, improbable story of the last Plantagenet king.   In September of 2012, DNA results confirmed that Richard’s lost grave had been found, in a Leicester car park of all places.  I confess I’d been dubious when the expedition was first announced, never imaging they’d find their royal needle in that Leicester haystack.  But once they described their find, I had no doubts whatsoever that this was indeed Richard.  The skull had been smashed in and his bones bore the evidence of a violent, bloody death that tallied with descriptions of Richard’s last moments at Bosworth.  Even more convincing to me was that this man had suffered from scoliosis, which would explain the disparity between Richard’s shoulders, noted during his lifetime; in Sunne, I had him injured in a childhood fall.    I have scoliosis myself and my heart went out to Richard, living in an age without chiropractors.  I’d always known he did not have the deformities claimed by the Tudor historians, for he’d earned himself a reputation as a superb soldier at an early age, and at Bosworth, he fought like a man possessed, coming within yards of reaching Henry Tudor before being overwhelmed by sheer numbers. I still like to think that memories of Richard’s last, desperate charge gave Tudor nightmares for the rest of his life.
What else did we learn from the discovery of Richard’s remains?   While we always knew he’d died violently, we now know he suffered no less than ten wounds after being surrounded and unhorsed.  We know he was five feet, eight inches tall.  And, most amazing of all, we now know what he looked like, thanks to the reconstruction of his face.  There are no contemporary portraits and the best-known one in London’s National Portrait Gallery was tampered with to make him appear as sinister as the stories then circulating about him.  For those who have not seen Richard’s reconstruction, it is accessible on the Internet, and will be included in some of the many books sure to be written about this remarkable archaeological find.  What struck me was how young he looks.  It is almost like watching a film about England before World War I; the characters always seem so vulnerable, living their lives with such heartrending innocence, not knowing what horrors lay ahead for them.   Eden before the Fall.  Or Eden while Edward IV still reigned and Richard was the loyal younger brother, Lord of the North, never imagining what fate held in store for him and his doomed House.   
March 1, 2013
*     *     *     *      *
 The members of my Richard III tour agreed that the highlight of the trip was our visit to Leicester, where we visited the car park and met with Philippa Langley and Mathew Morris.  Philippa was the driving force behind this quixotic, remarkable project and Mathew is one of the archaeologists involved in the dig.  Philippa’s fascinating story of the hunt for Richard’s long-lost grave will be available for sale on October 22nd.   Here is the link.    I will discuss our Leicester experiences when I am able to blog about the tour; it was a memorable evening in so many respects.   The odds were so against Philippa, but she persevered when most people would have given up in despair.  If Richard III does have a guardian angel, she lives in Edinburgh!
October 15, 2013

82 Responses to “The complete Author’s Note for the new hardcover edition of The Sunne in Splendour”

  1. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Thank you, Sharon for posting. So many discoveries made since the first publication of the Sunne. It’s fascinating to compare the two Author’s Notes :-)
    I’m looking forward to reading about the evening in Leicester. I assume very special and unforgettable.

  2. Deborah Shaw Says:

    Thank you, thank you, and thank you again. Did I say thank you?

  3. Pauline Toohey Says:

    I’m still cheering on the grey squirrel, Sharon. The cheeky time-travelling nut-gatherer takes naught away from the enjoyment you bring.

  4. Pauline Toohey Says:

    I’m still cheering on the grey squirrel, Sharon. The cheeky time-travelling nut-gatherer takes naught away from the enjoyment you bring.

  5. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, Rania kindly reminded me that on 16 October 1384 a remarkable young woman was crowned King (yes King!!!) of Poland. Jadwiga, for that was her name, is one of my favourite figures in Polish history. I still remember the wonderful tribute you wrote last year. It can be found in the archives in September 2012 :-) I have already reposted what I wrote on your FB Fan Club Page.

  6. Cynthia Ripley Miller Says:


    Thank you for such a clear explanation of the events surrounding Richard III and the new information that’s come to light.

  7. skpenman Says:

    I am sure that October 17th was not a blank slate on the medieval calendar and there were some events of importance occurring on that date. Just none that interested me very much! So I am going to focus today’s Facebook post upon my favorite detective, Justin de Quincy, who has had a good year so far. In September, three of his mysteries were finally made available as e-books in the UK; the fourth, Prince of Darkness, will be brought out next spring, both as an e-book and a paperback edition. The mysteries have been selling briskly on; yes, writers keep track of our book sales, at least when they first come out. But my British editor has alerted me that Justin is about to have a spotlight shone upon him by Amazon.
    For twenty-four hours, The Queen’s Man will be promoted on and the German and French Amazon sites as Amazon’s Kindle Daily Deal. This means that for all of today it can be downloaded for just ninety-nine pence in the UK and for a comparable price in euros. So for my British readers who’ve enjoyed the mysteries, this is an opportunity to enter Justin’s world for a minimal cost. And for those who’ve not read any of the mysteries, Justin and I hope you’ll remedy that straightaway! Justin is a modest lad, but he’d love to have soaring sales figures to use against those pushy Angevins for shoving him off center stage the way they did.

  8. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, I just want to mention that on 17 October 1173, the waring fractions of the Great Revolt were busily occupied at Fornham St.Genevive. near Bury St Edmunds :-) As we all know the victory went to the royalist forces under Richard de Luci and Humphrey de Bohun. Severe blow to Henry the Young King, for certes.

    I’m with Geoff and Jocelin of Brakelond. We have a nice walk admiring the Abbey. Geoff does not know yet that he is to get a great shock upon encountering a certain countess in a ditch :-)

    But seriously, thank you for smuggling Jocelin into Devil’s Brood. I love such precious little nuggets. I suppose we are lucky that the battle was fought in the autumn of 1173, for Jocelin entered the monastery. Had it taken place earlier in the year our dear novice might not have been there and his precious chronicle might have begun in quite different words :-)

  9. skpenman Says:

    Our lad made it. Even though his Daily Deal day is over, The Queen’s Man is now #1 on Amazon’s Kindle bestseller list, beating out you-know-who. He is als0 #1 on their Historical Thrillers.

  10. Koby Says:

    So, I have returned for the weekend; I am glad to see you have kept up well in my absence. Thank you, Sharon, for another chance at an Author’s Note, and such a fascinating one too!
    Today, the Battle of Dyrrhachium took place, where Robert Guiscard defeated Byzantine Emperor Alexius I Comnenus. The battle had several noteworthy events, including two of Guiscard’s wings breaking, his wife Sikelgaita rallying the right wing before it could flee to the ships after it broke, the Varangians being destroyed and those who fled into a church having it burned with them in it, a sortie out of Dyrrhachium (which was another siege by Guiscard) failing, King Constantine Bodin of Duklja betraying Alexius, his Seljuk allies deserting and lastly a heavy cavalry charge by the Normans, with the lance couched, that utterly smashed the Byzantines, decisively winning the battle.

  11. skpenman Says:

    Thanks, Koby. I knew I could reply upon you to mention any interesting historical events today.

    Sorry I was off Facebook today, but I was cornered again by a certain dragon, who seems to be winning our current war. Not much of medieval importance occurred today in any event, although Margaret Tudor died on this date in 1541. Margaret was the unhappy Queen of Scotland and sister to the Tudor Bluebeard. She also has the dubious distinction of being obliterated from the family history by the script writers for The Tudors series. But she still fared better than her beautiful sister Mary, who was renamed Margaret, magically and mysteriously married off to the King of Portugal instead of the King of France and then murdered him. A pity there are no defamation lawyers for the dead.
    On a happier note—what wouldn’t be happier than deadline dragons and the Tudors—I am pleased to report that there is a reason to be proud of New Jersey tonight. Jersey seems to get little respect. We are often a breeding ground for corrupt politicians, Tony Soprano is one of our more famous exports, and people joke that our state bird is the mosquito and our state tree is dead. Of course we do have Bruce Springsteen. And thanks to our Supreme Court, New Jersey now joins the enlightened ranks of states in which same-sex marriage is legal.

  12. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    18/19 October 1216, Henry the Young King’s younger brother, John, king of England, died at Newark.

    19 October 1981, Henry the Young King’s loyal scribe was born- who would say- in Poland :-)

  13. skpenman Says:

    October 19th, 1216 was the date of King John’s death at Newark on Trent. He was not yet fifty years old, had ruled England for seventeen years. His reign was viewed as a failure by his contemporaries and he has not been treated kindly by most historians, but he still remains one of the best known English kings—so sometimes it pays to have a lot of bad press! The genesis of Here Be Dragons was a question: What would it be like for a woman to discover that the father she’d adored since childhood was capable of great cruelty? That was my idea, but Llywelyn had other ideas, and when I moved to Wales to research Dragons, it took him less than a fortnight to high-jack the book right out from under John’s nose. But John’s conflicted relationship with Joanna was still an important element in the book, as I hope the following scene shows, in which his estranged daughter comes to visit his tomb at Worcester a month after his death, and is met by her half-brother, Richard.
    Here be Dragons, pages 499-500
    * * *
    They walked in silence for a while. It had been snowing sporadically throughout the day, began again as they crossed the courtyard. Joanna’s hood fell back; she seemed not to notice as droplets of snow dusted her hair, melted upon her mantle. As they entered the south walkway of the cloisters, she said, “Tell me,” and Richard did, told her all he’d learned of their father’s final days.
    “A violent windstorm struck Newark ere he died. That’s not uncommon for the season, but the fool servants took fright. Word spread that the Devil was coming to claim Papa’s soul, and some even fled.” They’d stopped by the church door. He saw the anguished question in her eyes and shook his head. “No, Papa never knew. The abbot who tended him wrote to Isabelle, said that by the time the storm reached its height, Papa was no longer conscious. He died soon after midnight.”
    “And did they strip his body of his clothes and rings? Did they take all of value, as they did when his father died at Chinon?”
    Her bleak insistence upon knowing the worst troubled Richard, but he did not lie. “Yes. But his soldiers kept faith, the routiers whom men scorned as base mercenaries, paid hirelings. They alone did not forsake him, Joanna, escorted his body to Worcester. Bishop Silvester officiated at the burial, but it was done without much ceremony and in haste. The main concern was with getting Henry crowned as quickly as possible.”
    The candles encircling John’s tomb wavered, swimming before Joanna’s eyes in a dizzying blur of brightness. She stood very still, listening as Richard’s footsteps faded. And then she moved forward. She knelt in the coffin’s shadow for an endless time, until her knees ached and she trembled from the cold. But she could find no comfort in prayer.
    “You’re proving to be a merciless ghost, Papa. I should have expected it, knowing you as I do.” Her tears were coming faster now. “What do you mean to do, Papa? Shall you haunt me for the rest of my days?” Her voice broke; kneeling on the icy tiles before John’s tomb, she wept bitterly.
    * * *
    It is surprising how often a medieval king was stripped of his rings and royal robes once he’d drawn his last breath; Henry II and John were not the only ones to suffer this fate. Richard I was luckier, probably because his mother, Eleanor, was at his deathbed, as was his fierce mercenary captain, Mercadier.
    This next story is not at all medieval, but on October 19th, 1781, the surrender at Yorktown ended the Revolutionary War. The British generals were very poor sports, though, apparently finding it very humiliating to have been defeated by a colonial. Lord Cornwallis refused to even attend the ceremony of surrender, claiming illness, and Brigadier General Charles O’Hara attempted to give his sword to the French commander, the Comte de Rochambeau, who to his credit insisted that it be yielded to General Washington.
    And on October 19th, 1812 Napoleon began his retreat from Moscow. We are fortunate that neither Hitler nor his German generals were students of history.

    And the happiest of birthdays to the Young King’s loyal scribe!

  14. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Happy Birthday, Kasia. You are halfway between our first two sons: March 1980 and June 1983.

  15. skpenman Says:

    Not a good day for anyone trying to fend off a deadline dragon or anyone masochistic enough to be an Eagles fan. But this is very funny. I just hope no Hollywood producer reads it and thinks some of these are good ideas.,,20302134_20746500,00.html

  16. skpenman Says:

    I feel as if I am trapped in that Groundhog Day film, for every day I wake up and start fending off the Deadline Dragon….sigh. But before the duel starts again, here are a few October 21st occurrences. In 1449, George of Clarence was born. What can we say about Brother George? I don’t know that he was the worst king’s brother in English history. I think that was John, for he not only attempted to steal Richard’s crown, he did his best to make sure that Richard ended up in a French dungeon, where death would have been a mercy. But George certainly made an unholy pest of himself and gave so much grief to his family and others in his 28 years that it may have been a blessing if he’d been one of those babies who did not survive the perils of a medieval childhood.

    On October 21, 1204, Robert Beaumont, the fourth Earl of Leicester died. He was one of the heroes of the Third Crusade, a character in Lionheart and Ransom, who was very loyal to Richard and seems to have been well regarded by all but the French king. His marriage was childless, though, and upon his death, his earldom passed to his sisters, opening the door for a young French adventurer named de Montfort to stake a claim to it twenty-some years later.

    October 21, 1221 was the day that Alix de Thouars, the Duchess of Brittany, died in childbirth. The daughter of Constance of Brittany and her third husband, Guy de Thouars, Alix was only twenty or twenty-one at the time of her death, there being some confusion about her birth date. The birthing chamber was as dangerous for medieval women as the battlefield was for their men.

  17. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Thank you, Malcolm!

    Our dear Joan has been operated recently (the surgery she mentioned some time before). I wish her a quick recovery and safe “homecoming” to us. We miss you, Joan :-)

  18. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Why are emoticons being so naughty??? It was to be just a warm and gentle smile… Sigh…

  19. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Get well soon, Joan.

    October 22, 1071 was the birthday of Guillaume or William, the 9th Duke of Aquitaine, often called the Troubadour Duke; he was famous for his often bawdy poetry, and would in time become even more famous as the grandfather of Eleanor of Aquitaine. The following is a scene from Saints, set on Henry and Eleanor’s wedding night. They are having supper in bed after consummating their marriage and she has just revealed to her new husband that her parents had not been happy together. .
    Saints, pages 645-646
    * * *
    “……I can understand why they were loath to wed. It had created enough of a scandal when my grandfather carried off the wife of one of his own vassals. But then to marry his son to that woman’s daughter—you can well imagine the gossip that stirred up!”
    Henry sat up so abruptly that he almost spilled his wine. “Did I hear you right? Your grandfather was having a tryst with Aenor’s mother?”
    “Not just a tryst, Harry. A notorious dalliance. The lady, who had the remarkably apt name of Dangereuse, was wed to a neighboring lord, the Viscount of Chatellerault. My grandfather always did have a roving eye, and he never seemed to see marriage as much of a hindrance—his or anyone else’s.”
    “But Dangereuse was different, not a passing fancy?”
    “More like a grand passion. My grandmother Philippa had put up with his straying as best she could, but his infatuation with Dangereuse could not be ignored, for after he wooed her away from her husband, he brought her right under his roof, settled her here in the Maubergeon Tower. When my grandfather refused to send Dangereuse away, Philippa left him. She retired to Fontevrault Abbey, where—as unlikely as it seems—she became good friends with Grand-papa Will’s first wife, Ermengarde, who dwelt at the nunnery whenever the whim took her. Imagine the conversations they must have had on those long winter nights!”
    “I’m still mulling over the fact that your grandfather was having an affair with his son’s mother-in-law!” Henry said with a grin. “It is not as if I come from a line of monks myself. My own grandfather could have populated England with all his by-blows. But I have to admit that this grandfather of yours seems to have had a truly spectacular talent for sinning. What did the Church say about these scandalous goings-on?”
    “Oh, he was often at odds with the Church, but it never bothered him unduly. In truth, Harry, nothing did. He liked to scandalize and shock people, but there was no real malice in him. As you may have guessed, I adored him. Most people did, for he had more charm than the law should allow. (omission) What I remember most is his laughter and I suspect that is what truly vexed his enemies, that he got so much fun out of life. He could find a joke in the most dire circumstances, as his songs attest. That shocked people, too, that a man so highborn would write troubadour poetry, but he enjoyed it and so what else mattered?”
    Henry brushed back her hair. “Tell me more,” he urged, and she shivered with pleasure as he kissed the hollow in her throat.
    “Well….Grandpapa Will painted an image of Dangereuse on his shield, saying he wanted to bear her in battle, just as she’d so often borne him in bed. He liked to joke that one day he’d establish his own nunnery—and fill it with ladies of easy virtue. And 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 gave a sputter of laughter. “Between the two of us, we’ve got a family tree rooted in Hell! Once Abbot Bernard learns of our marriage, he’ll have nary a doubt that our children will have horns and cloven hooves.”
    “The first one born with a tail, we’ll name after the good abbot.”
    * * *
    The rest of the scene is R-rated, as Henry and Eleanor found more interesting things to do than discuss their relatives. Now that we know Eleanor was actually born in 1124, not 1122, it is not likely that she had any memories of Duke William, as he died in 1127. But we know that her sons took pride in boasting of their notorious ancestress, the Demon Countess of Anjou, so I think we can safely say that Eleanor would have been equally proud of her scandalous, pleasure-loving grandfather

  20. Joan Says:

    Thank you Sharon. Alas, I’ve had to put Sunne aside for now…’s too heavy for me to manage (hardcover version). In a few days I hope to be able to prop it up on the table. Thank you for posting the complete AN. The course you mentioned sounds fantastic. Perhaps I can get in on it later on.

    Thank you Kasia, you’re so sweet. And Happy Birthday! I remember last year, disc overing & being taken aback at just how young you are!

    Koby, congrats & good luck!

  21. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Thank you, Joan! But “sweet”? Hmm. My dear hubby knows something about this “sweetness” :-) and for God’s sake, I’m in my thirties :-)

  22. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, the opportunity occured to purchase Frank McLynn’s Richard and John: Kings at War. The price is reasonable (as for the research book), but I don’t know the author, haven’t read any of his works. Perhaps you are familiar with the book. I would be most grateful for advice :-)

  23. Koby Says:

    Thank you, Joan. sharon, I absolutely loved that scene; thanks for sharing it again. I seemt o have been unable to post in the past few days; here’s hoping this will get through…

    Two days ago, many things happened, great and small: Robert de Beaumont, Earl of Leicester died. He was the son of the rebel Count Robert and Countess Petronilla of Leicester, accompanied Richard I to the Crusade, and made a deal with Philip II allowing him to keep his lands despite Philip taking Nomrandy from John. A year after this deal he died, saving him from John’s wrath. part of the lands and the earldom eventually fell to his sister’s son, our own Simon de Montfort.
    In addition, Alix of Thouars, Duchess of Brittany also died today. She was Constance’s daughter with Guy of Thouars, and after Arthur and Eleanor’s capture, was acclaimed by the nobles of Brittany as the new duchess, becoming a cats-paw for Philip II of France, who married her to his cousin Peter of Dreux.
    Charles VI ‘the Mad’ of France also died today. After the Battle of Agincourt, he was convinced to sign the Treaty of Troyes, whereby he disinherited his son, betrothed his daughter Catherine of Valois to Henry V [VI] and declared him his heir.
    George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence was born today.
    Lastly, I will mention the Battle of Trafalgar took place today where Horatio Nelson won the great naval engagement and undying fame, while losing his own life.

    Yesterday, William IX ‘the Trobadoru’ of Aquitaine was born.

  24. skpenman Says:

    Joan, I hope you’re soon on the mend. We may make an e-book convert of you yet, for they are so much easier to hold when we’re feeling under the weather.
    Kasia, I have not read the John half of the book, and friends have told me they were not thrilled with it. But I did read the Richard half for Lionheart and he got his facts right, so I can recommend the first half, have to abstain on the second.
    Another great post, Koby.

    This is for my fellow Game of Thrones fans. I bet I can safely say you never expected to see Khal Drogo and his Kaleesi dancing a Viennese waltz to their show’s theme music. I am about to fill that hole in your lives, here. I personally agree with the author that the judges were clearly secret Lancastrians.

  25. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, thank you for recommending the first half of the book. Now what should I do with this? It’s the first time someone recommended the half of a book to me :-) But seriously, I’ve read the excerpts on Google Books and observed that Mr Lynn’s main secondary source has been Professor Gillingham’s Richard the Lionheart, which I’m presently re-reading. What a coincidence! I’ve decided against buying the book. As for John, I would love to purchase King John: New Interpretations, but the price is staggering.

    I don’t know about today’s events, but tommorow is going to be a very busy day. Historically.

  26. Joan Says:

    I just realized that Canada’a Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for Literature. I’ve loved her work, admired her, & so proud of her. Here is a site with a video, etc if anyone is interested.

  27. Joan Says:

    Sharon, I posted a link re Alice Munro that needs releasing…….thank you.

  28. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, I have already posted about a few important events on FB, but here I just want to mention that today we are celebrating Mongrel Day (Polish “Dzień Kundelka”), here, in Poland. It’s informal and I don’t know whether you will hear about the simillar event in other parts of the world…. In my country on this day the meetings are organized during which mongrel owners gather to admire the pets they take with them (we have a very nice word in Polish “milusiński”- meaning favourite pet, which happens to be a cutie at the same time. I know, pretty complicated :-) ), chat about them and share experience. Is there a simmilar day in the US? Or other countries?

  29. skpenman Says:

    The Deadline Dragon has flown away! Muttering that he’d be back, though, for I get the page proofs on November 7th. But for now the house is dragon-free and it has been a long time since I’ve been able to say that.
    October 25th 1154 was the date of death for King Stephen. Henry was so lucky in those days, as he was until the end of his life, for Stephen died only a year after they’d made their peace and Henry was acknowledged as Stephen’s successor. No way to prove it, of course, but I always thought that Stephen lost heart after the deaths of his wife and son, Eustace.
    October 25th, 1400 was also the date of death of the great writer, Geoffrey Chaucer. His Canterbury Tales is a literary classic and offers a mesmerizing view of medieval life.
    And one of the most significant battles of the MA occurred on October 25th in 1415, at Agincourt, with the English king Henry V winning a great victory over the French. Bernard Cornwell’s Agincourt is a wonderful account of this campaign; I know I’ve said it before, but I don’t think there is anyone who writes better battle scenes than Bernard Cornwell.

  30. skpenman Says:

    On October 26, 899, the only English king to be known as the Great, Alfred, died. I confess that almost all that I know about Alfred has been filtered through the skeptical eyes of Uthred, the major character in Bernard Cornwell’s splendid Saxon series. But although Uthred did not like Alfred all that much, he still accorded the English king reluctant respect, acknowledging that Alfred’s accomplishments were impressive.
    And for those curious to see what a Deadline Dragon looks like, we can thank Adele for posting this on one of my Facebook pages; the best comment to date came from Alan, who observed that dragons do occasionally leave Wales to raid into England.
    PS Is it coincidence that this “sighting” was over Ken’s Cornwall? I think not.

  31. Koby Says:

    Indeed, Sharon. Also, you forgot to mention that on the 25th, William Clito, Robert Curthose’s son was born, who tried to reclaim Normandy from Henry I.

  32. Koby Says:

    Today, Ramond VI of Toulouse, who married Joanna Plantagenet was born, as was Catherine of Valois, mother of Henry VI [VII] and Edmund and Jasper Tudor.

  33. skpenman Says:

    On Thursday, I watched a very powerful and troubling documentary, Blackfish, about the death of a young trainer in 2010, killed by Tillikum, one of the orcas at Seaworld. It will be shown again tonight by CNN at 9 PM, EST, and it will be available as a DVD in November. It makes a compelling case that killer whales should not be kept in captivity like this, that it is cruel and abusive to tear these highly intelligent, social animals away from their families and pods and condemn them to an unnatural, isolated existence so they can entertain us. The death of the trainer was a tragedy, compounded by the fact that Seaworld was not honest with its trainers about Tillikum’s past. But Tillikum’s life at Seaworld has been a tragedy, too, and something needs to be done to prevent this from happening again. I won’t mislead you; it is often a painful film to watch. But I hope it gets as wide a viewership as possible, for that is the only hope for change. Here is a link to an interview with a man who trained both Tillikum and Keiko, the “Free Willy” killer whale. The story also offers other links to interesting articles about the subject of killer whales in captivity, all of them worth reading, too.

  34. Joan Says:

    I haven’t watched the video yet, Sharon, but thanks again for posting such important issues. I developed a huge interest in the humpback whale while in Hawaii… first close-up-&-personal experience with a wild animal in its natural habitat & really got to understand our relationship with our fellow animals, their rights, & why the urgency to protect all living things on this planet.

  35. skpenman Says:

    I saw a family of orcas during a day cruise off the coast of Alaska, Joan, and felt so lucky.

    I hope that all of my friends and readers in the UK came through the St Jude storm safely. It is now pounding northern France and Belgium. In the US we’d categorize a storm with such high winds as a hurricane. The Great Storm of 1987 was called one. But unlike the St Jude storm, the Great Storm stuck without warning. My memories are still vivid. I was on my way into Wales and I’d stopped for the night in the Cotswolds. The next morning I turned on the BBC news and the announcer was saying, “Do not go outside if you value your lives,” which definitely got my attention. It caught the country by surprise, reminding us of what it was like to live in times when weather forecasting could not predict coming storms. One of the most tragic examples in the US was the hurricane that destroyed Galveston, Texas in 1900, killing at least 6,000, including all of the children and nuns of an orphanage, whose bodies were later found roped together. There are two riveting accounts of the Galveston storm, Isaac’s Storm and A Weekend in September. Thankfully, the death toll from the Great Storm and the St Jude’s storm were much smaller, but the Great Storm leveled Kew Gardens and took down thousands of trees in Kent, isolating people in villages for weeks. Two Dover-bound ferries had to be diverted to Deal; being out on the English Channel in the midst of a killer storm is one of the last places I’d rather be. We all know the story of the sinking of the White Ship, but that was due to a drunken crew; during Henry II’s reign, though, a ship sank during a storm in the Channel, drowning over four hundred people. We are very lucky to live now. I hope power will soon be restored and the cleanup can begin.

  36. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    My husband’s two brothers live in the UK, so we were worried, but fortunately they were spared the worst. We had two days of blustery weather here, in Poland, but the wind quietened down (it was really scary at night, when our house seemed to sway forwards and backwards, and all those sounds it made were really frightening).

    Sharon, the sinking during Henry’s reign, did you mean Godfrey, the Young King’s chancellor, who with three hundred others, drowned while crossing from England to Normandy on 27 September 1177? I have recently come across this info while looking through Eyton’s Court, Household and Itinerary of Henry II.

  37. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    I’m reading that “the occasion was the sinking of several ships in a storm, in which Robert Magnus, magister scholarum of York, and 300 others perished”.

  38. skpenman Says:

    Yes, indeed, Kasia, and you do realize that you are probably the one person in a million who knew that! I mention it briefly in Devil’s Brood. Henry is getting grief from his sons, started by Richard, for not bringing Eleanor from England for their Christmas court so she could be reunited with her daughter Tilda, and Henry uses the dangerous winter crossings of the Channel as his excuse, citing that tragedy at sea. Constance then sticks her oar in those troubled waters, murmuring that it should have been Eleanor’s choice. I am very glad that you and your family came through the storm okay.

    On October 29 in 1618, Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded on a charge of treason. I always felt that he got a raw deal.
    And one year ago, October 29, 2012, a monster storm, Hurricane Sandy, was bearing down on the East Coast of the US, doing horrific damage and turning lives upside down. Even now, many people are still displaced and others continue to struggle, while there was a story the other day about all the lost Hurricane Sandy pets still in need of homes.
    Below is a link to a Publishers Weekly review of George RR Martin’s anthology, Dangerous Women, I was so pleased that the PW review signaled out my short story as they only mentioned six of the twenty-two stories! I’d never done a short story before and am still amazed that I was able to pull it off. You guys may have noticed that brevity does not come easily to me. I am so looking forward to reading the stories by the other writers, especially a Game of Thrones one by Master Martin.

  39. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Thank you, Sharon, but I have come across the info accidently. I was delighted to discover the identity of yet one more member of Henry’s household I knew nothing about :-)

  40. Gabriele Says:

    Northern Germany really got the brunt of that storm. It’s the first time in my life we were sent home from work ‘before it gets worse and you’ll run into danger of getting hit by falling trees’. I’m surprised the fuchsias on my balcony survived almost intact; must be a hardy breed. I think I’ll dub them Plantagenet. :)

  41. Malcolm Craig Says:

    When our son Andy and I drove down to Sarasota in 2006 to see Tom Rush perform, he sang “Wasn’t That a Mighty Storm?” about the Galveston Flood. Of course, I have the song on CD, and we heard it again last December at Symphony Hall in Boston (singing along with the audience) when Tom closed his very successful 50th anniversary group performance with that song. Rush said that the song’s source is a 1940 Lomax recording of the Reverend Sinkiller Griffin at a Texas penitentiary. Tom learned the song from Eric von Schmidt. Kasia, I have the Eyton book, in reprint form, of course. Is the English of you brothers-in-law as accomplished as yours? Sharon, the Dangerous Women article is very interesting, and of course they had to mention your short story! I now see what book I need to buy myself for Christmas, while I await the publication of King’s Ransom.

  42. Koby Says:

    Well, I’m glad to hear everybody is doing well despite the storm, and it is a joy to read praise of your story, Sharon. I cannot wait to get my hands on it!
    Today, Henry VII [VIII] of England was crowned.

  43. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Koby, we’re so happy to have you back. Indeed, it seems that we are all doing well despite the storm.

    Gabriele, what a brilliant idea! Call your fuchsias Plantagenet. Why has it never occured to me to do such thing with my flowers.

    Malcolm, their English is pretty good ;-) Mine is not as accomplished as it may seem. I always try to improve it.

  44. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, I’m so very curious about your story. And the fact it’s a short story only whets my apetite :-)

  45. Joan Says:

    Cannot wait to get my hands on Dangerous Women as well!!

    I’m thinking of all those affected by the storm (see email to you, Kasia)

    Fuschias yet!! I would expect it of the hardy geranium, but fuschias!!

    Sharon, I would have expected you to have dubbed everything in your realm!!

  46. skpenman Says:

    Welcome back, Koby. A friend and I have been talking about visiting Israel for my next book, so there is a chance we might get to meet.
    Kasia, my short story is about Constance de Hauteville, Queen of Sicily and unhappy empress of the Lionheart’s nemesis, the Holy Roman emperor, Heinrich. Constance was in one scene in Lionheart and gets much more stage time in Ransom. Joan, what a great idea!
    On October 30, 1485, Henry Tudor was crowned at Westminster as the seventh Henry to rule England since the Conquest. He was actually the eighth Henry, but Henry II’s eldest son, my Hal, is ignored by historians even though he was crowned twice. It is not because Hal never truly ruled in his own right, for with fine inconsistency, Edward IV’s eldest son has gone down in history as Edward V and he not only never ruled, he was never crowned. A sad day for Yorkists. A good day for England? I’d offer an emphatic “No” but Elizabeth unbalances that equation. Without a doubt, though, October 30th 1485 should be a holy day for Hollywood screen-writers and novelists.

  47. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    I know, Sharon. I remeber how you mentioned you were writing it. Last year, I think. God, how time flies!

  48. skpenman Says:

    October 31, 1147 was the date of death of a man I’ve always admired, Robert Fitz Roy, Earl of Gloucester, illegitimate son of King Henry I and half-brother to the Empress Maude. He was an honorable man who’d have been a good king, probably a far better ruler than either Stephen or his sister. Below are two scenes from Saints. The first scene is one of the few times when Robert’s self-control cracked. Maude is embittered that men still refuse to acknowledge her because she is a woman and her outburst touches a raw nerve with Robert.
    Saints, page 343-344
    * * *
    Rising, she began to pace. “To have come so close and then to have it all snatched away like this….it is so unfair, Robert, so damnably unfair!”
    “Life is unfair,” he said, sounding so stoical, so rational, and so dispassionate that she was suddenly angry, a scalding, seething, impotent rage that spared no one—not herself, not Robert, not God.
    “You think I do not know that? When has life ever been fair to women? Just think upon how easy it was for Stephen to steal my crown, and how bitter and bloody has been my struggle to win it back. Even after we’d caged Stephen at Bristol Castle, he was still a rival, still a threat…and why? Because he was so much braver or more clever or capable than me ? No…because I was a woman, for it always came back to that. I’ll not deny that I made mistakes, but you do not know what it is like, Robert, to be judged so unfairly, to be rejected not for what you’ve done, but for what you are. It is a poison that seeps into the soul, that makes you half-crazed with the need to prove yourself…”
    She stopped to catch her breath, and only then did she see the look on Robert’s face, one of disbelief and then utter and overwhelming fury, burning as hot as her own anger, hotter even, for being so long suppressed.
    “I do not know what it is like?” he said incredulously. “I was our father’s firstborn son, but was I his heir? No, I was just his bastard. He trusted me and relied upon me and needed me. But none of that mattered, not even after the White Ship sank and he lost his only lawfully be-gotten son. He was so desperate to have an heir of his body that he dragged you back—unwilling—from Germany, forced you into a marriage that he knew was doomed, and then risked rebellion by ramming you down the throats of his barons. And all the while, he had a son capable of ruling after him—he had me! But I was the son born of his sin, so I was not worthy to be king. As if I could have blundered any worse than you or Stephen!”
    Maude was stunned. She stared at him, too stricken for words, not knowing what to say even if she’d been capable of speech. Robert seemed equally shattered by his outburst; his face was suddenly ashen. He started to speak, then turned abruptly and walked out.
    * * *
    In the next scene, Maude has come to Robert to apologize, something she rarely did.
    p. 345
    “I am sorry, Robert. I do not say that as often as I ought, but never have I meant it more. You have been my rod and my staff, more loyal than I deserved. You would have made a very good king.”
    His shoulders twitched, in a half-shrug. “Well, better than Stephen, for certes,” he said, with the faintest glimmer of a smile.
    “Robert.” Her mouth was suddenly dry. “I am never going to be queen, am I?”
    “No,” he said quietly, “you are not.”
    She’d known what he would say. But his uncompromising, honest answer robbed her of any last shreds of hope. She averted her face, briefly, and he, too, looked away, not willing to watch the death of a dream.
    “Maude.” She turned back to face him, slowly, and he said, “You are not giving up?”
    “You know better than that, Robert. I may have lost, but I’ll not let Henry lose, too. I shall fight for my son as long as I have breath in my body. He must not be cheated of the crown that is his birthright.”
    She saw sympathy in his eyes, and what mattered more, respect. “I will do whatever I can,” he vowed, “to make sure that does not happen.” And in that moment, she realized the truth—that he’d been fighting for Henry all along.
    * * *

  49. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, I love both scenes. IMHO, Robert was one of the most eminent children born out of wedlock in history. What a pity he hadn’t been given a chance to be his father’s heir. Just think, with Robert on the throne, England could have been spared all the atrocities of the long civil war.

    As for today’s anniversaries, I’ve just found out that the 31st of October, 1175, was a day when Henry the Young King and his father met the papal legate, cardinal Huguzon at Winchester to discuss the prosecution of clerks, accused of forest-trespass. Furthermore Henry II tried to obtain the papal consent to divorce his captive queen.
    I love how you described the whole affair in Devil’s Brood. The tavern scene is one of my all time favourite. In my view, to make a reader laugh is the most challenging part of the writing process.

  50. Joan Says:

    I also love the scenes with Maude & Robert… much said in a few paragraphs…..something you always do brilliantly, Sharon. The other thing I’m always aware of in your writing…….”from the particular to the universal”.

  51. skpenman Says:

    Kasia, I had so much fun doing that tavern scene in DB. The boys were old enough then to start showing their distinctive personalities.
    What a lovely compliment, Joan.

    November 1st was not a historical date to remember fondly. In 1180, the fifteen year old Philippe Capet was crowned as king of France. While French historians give him high marks as a medieval monarch for greatly expanding French territory at King John’s expense, there was nothing warm or lovable about the guy, as his unhappy Danish queen, Ingeborg, and the French Jews could attest. Henry’s sons, Hal, Richard, and Geoffrey, attended the coronation, and Hal kindly helped to balance the crown on the youthful king’s head as it was too heavy for him. I can’t say I find Philippe very likable, and I have another reason now to look at him askance. I would love to have my novels translated into French, but Philippe appears at his worst in Ransom, so I can’t see French publishers beating a path to my door after it comes out!
    November 1st was a bad day for English Jews, too. In 1210, John put a high tallage of 60,000 marks upon the country’s Jews and those who could not pay were arrested and imprisoned until they scraped up the money.

  52. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, wasn’t Philippe crowned in 1179?

  53. skpenman Says:

    November 2nd is a significant date on the Yorkist calendar. On this day in 1483, the rebel Duke of Buckingham was executed for treason. It is also important for another reason, which you’ll discover when you read the following scene. Buckingham had been brought to Salisbury the day before, given a trial, albeit one where the verdict was a foregone conclusion, and sentenced to die. He’d pleaded to speak with Richard, who refused to see him. In this scene, Francis Lovell and Richard’s nephew, Jack de la Pole, have sought him out to tell him the execution has been carried out. I chose the cloisters of Salisbury Cathedral because it is such a lovely setting and I had it in mind to contrast the tranquil peace of his surroundings with Richard’s inner turmoil.
    Sunne, pages 1037-1039
    * * *
    Shaded by cedar trees, bathed in blinding sunlight, the cloisters of St Mary offered a refuge of awesome beauty, an almost unearthly quiet. Richard was seated on a bench in the south walkway; he looked up as they approached, rose to his feet.
    By common consent, they all moved up the east walkway, sought the greater privacy of the Chapter House. Richard waited until Francis had closed the door and then said only, “It’s done?”
    Francis nodded, waited for questions that didn’t come. Richard had begun to wander aimlessly about the chamber, gazing up at the soaring ceiling, the lofty tinted windows that splashed vivid violet and ruby shades of sunlight upon the floor, upon the faces of the two men watching him.
    “Will Hastings tried to warn me,” he said at last, not looking at either man as he spoke. “He told me I was a fool to trust Buckingham. ‘Ned made more than his share of mistakes,’ he said, ‘but Buckingham was not one of them.’ Buckingham, he said, was mine.”
    Omitted passages where Francis and Jack try to convince Richard that “You cannot blame yourself because you trusted the man. He’d given you reason for trust, after all.”
    “Yes,” Richard said tonelessly. “I trusted him. And because I did, my brother’s sons are dead.” He turned to face them both, saw that neither one knew how to answer him. “Tell me,” he said abruptly. “Tell me how he died, Francis.”
    They tell him that Buckingham died badly, begging for an audience with Richard right up until the time he was taken out to the block.
    “I told him there was no way on God’s earth you’d ever consent to see him and he….well, he forgot all pride, all dignity.” A shadow of distaste crossed Francis’s face, bordering on revulsion. “I’ve never seen a man show his fear so nakedly,” he said slowly.
    “Does that surprise you so much, Francis? After all, the man knew he was facing eternal damnation. Would you not be fearful to go before the Throne of God with so great a sin upon your soul?”
    Francis was shaking his head. “No, Jack,” he said thoughtfully, “I do not think it was that sort of fear. It seemed to be purely physical, a fear of the axe, of death itself. When he saw there was no hope, he began to plead for time, for a day’s grace. He reminded the priests that it was All Soul’s Day, entreated them to intercede with you, Dickon, to persuade you to postpone the execution until the morrow.”
    “Did he, by God?” Richard was staring at Francis. “And that’s all today did mean to him…that it is All Soul’s Day?”
    Francis was at a loss. “Dickon?”
    Richard turned away. He could feel it starting to slip, the rigid self-control he’d been clinging to these past three weeks, and he bit down now on his lower lip until he tasted blood.
    “Today,” he said unevenly, “would have been Edward’s thirteenth birthday.”
    * * *
    We’ll most likely never know the fate of the “princes in the Tower.” But I remain just as convinced today as I was while researching and writing Sunne so many years ago that the Duke of Buckingham remains the prime suspect.

  54. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    I hope the Young King will forgive me this small delay, but we have a long weekend here, in Poland, due to All Saints’ Day, with family visits and vistis to the cementaries to pray and light the candles [special candles called "znicze"] for our dear ones, who already passed away, hence the belated post.

    On 2 November 1160, “Henry, king of England, caused his son Henry to be married to Margaret, the daughter of the king of France, although they were as yet but little children, crying in their cradle… the marriage … was celebrated at Newbourg on the 2nd of November, with the sanction of Henry of Pisa and William of Pavia, cardinal-priests and legates of the apostolic see.” At the time of his wedding Henry was five years old and his child bride was only two. Marguerite-Margaret brought the Norman Vexin- a heated point of contention between England and France- back under Angevin rule through her dowry.

    And exactly four years after the wedding, on 2 November 1164, the person responsible for arranging the marriage, Thomas Becket, already Archbishop of Canterbury, and already in exile landed in Flanders accompanied by two canons and a servant, carrying with him only his pallium and his archiepiscopal seal. One time chancellor would stay on the Continent for six years, spending most of his time at the Cistercian abbey of Pontigny. He would return to England on 1 December 1170 only to be murdered twenty-eight days later at the steps of his own cathedral.

  55. skpenman Says:

    Great post as usual, Kasia. Somewhere the Young King is smiling.

    Nothing of historical significance to report on this date—in other words, lots probably happened but nothing that interested me! So I am posting, instead, some videos. The first shows a spectacular display of the northern lights over Lake Superior in Michigan. The second is bit of comfort for my fellow Game of Thrones addicts, assuring us that we have the Purple Wedding to look forward to, and then third proves that it is possible to be too nice. This poor, put-upon Doberman needs to practice how to growl.

  56. Koby Says:

    I have missed several days, by the travails of both the army and the blog - it did not let me post. But, on the 31st in addition to Robert dying, so did Leonora of Castile, perhaps the happiest of Eleanor and Henry’s brood. Yesterday was indeed Edward’s birthday, as Sharon noted, as well as the birthday of his sister Anne. Matilda of Flanders, William I’s wife also died on that day. And today, Thomas Montacute of Salisbury died during the Siege of Orleans - his daughter Alice married Richard Neville, through which he became the Earl of Salisbury. Their sons were the Neville clan we know: Richard, Johnny and George.
    In any case, thank you all, and I’m glad to be back. Sharon, I would hope you visit Israel in order to better be able to write the scenery for Balian, and I hope if you come, we will be able to meet. After all, the Horns of Hattin are but 20 minutes from my house, and all of Israel is a small place in general…

  57. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Thank you, Sharon!

    Koby, good to have you back! Sharon really should pay a vsist to Israel an dmeet you, and post a few photos and trip accounts :-)

  58. skpenman Says:

    Welcome back, Koby. Another great post! As I mentioned a few posts earlier,, a friend and I are indeed planning to visit Israel for my next book, and nothing would make me happier than to get to meet you at last!

    I got so involved with Richard III and Buckingham on November 2nd that I totally forgot it was also the birthday of a lady I admire—Constance de Hauteville, unhappy consort of the Holy Roman emperor, Heinrich von Hohenstaufen, and Queen of Sicily in her own right. She was born on this date in 1154, after the death of her father, the great Sicilian king, Roger II. When her nephew, William II, died unexpectedly without an heir (his and Joanna’s only son had died soon after birth) Constance was the heiress to the Sicilian throne. William’s decision to marry Constance to Heinrich had been wildly unpopular in Sicily, for the Sicilians loathed the Germans and shuddered at the very thought of giving Heinrich a claim to their throne. But William bore a bitter grudge against the Byzantine emperor and by making peace with the Holy Roman emperor, he was then free to start a war with Constantinople. I am sure he expected to have more children of his own, too, since Joanna had given birth once and was therefore not barren. (Far from it, as her second marriage would prove.) But his rash decision would have disastrous consequences for his kingdom. He lost the war with the Greeks and then died suddenly at thirty-six, giving Heinrich the excuse he needed to invade Sicily, ostensibly in Constance’s name.
    Constance appears in one chapter in Lionheart, when she and Heinrich—on their way to Rome to be crowned by the Pope—unexpectedly met Eleanor and Berengaria—on their way to join Richard in Sicily—in the Italian town of Lodi. Here is the description of Heinrich and Constance; his is so detailed because it comes from a German chronicler.
    Lionheart, page 151
    * * *
    Heinrich von Hohenstaufen was not as Berengaria had envisioned him. He was of moderate height, but seemed shorter because of his slight, almost frail physique. His face would have been handsome if it was not so thin, and his fine blond hair and patchy beard made him seem even younger than his twenty-five years. He could not have been more unlike her brother Sancho or her betrothed, the Lionheart, and her first impression was that he was not at all kingly. But she changed her mind as soon as she looked into those piercing pale eyes, for what she saw in their depths sent an involuntary shiver up her spine.
    Thinking that she’d not have wanted to be wed to this man, Berengaria had glanced toward his wife with both sympathy and curiosity, for her father’s sister Margarita had often written to them about life at the Sicilian court. Constance de Hauteville was as tall as her husband, very elegant in a lilac gown embroidered with gold thread and tiny seed pearls. Her veil and wimple hid her hair, but Berengaria was sure she’d been blessed with the flaxen tresses so praised by troubadours, for her skin was very white and her eyes were an extraordinary shade of blue, star sapphires framed by thick golden lashes. Berengaria had expected her to be fair, for the de Hautevilles were as acclaimed for their good looks as Henry and Eleanor’s brood. Time or marriage had not been kind to Constance, for in her mid-thirties now, she was almost painfully thin, and what remained of her beauty had become a brittle court mask. Her manners were flawless, her bearing regal. But Berengaria could see in this aloof, self-possessed woman no traces of the girl in her Aunt Margarita’s letters, the fey free spirit who’d been privileged to grow up in Eden.
    * * *
    Later in the chapter, Berengaria inadvertently reveals her identity in Constance’s hearing, much to her dismay, for her upcoming marriage to Richard had to be kept from Heinrich’s ally, the French king, who was still under the delusion that Richard was going to wed his sister Alys. Summoning up her courage, Berengaria approaches Constance and asks that the other woman keep her secret.
    Lionheart, page 159
    * * *
    She could go no further, overcome by the futility of her entreaty. Why would Constance agree to assist Richard, the man who’d allied himself with Tancred, who’d usurped her throne? But Constance was waiting expectantly, and she said drearily, “it was a foolish idea. Why would you want to do a service for the English king?”
    “You are right,” Constance said. “I have no reason whatsoever to oblige the English king, nor would I do so. But I am willing to keep silent for the King of Navarre’s daughter.”
    Berengaria’s brown eyes widened. “You—you mean that?” she stammered. “You will say nothing to your lord husband?”
    “Nary a word. Consider it a favor from one foreign bride to another.”
    Overwhelmed with gratitude, Berengaria watched as Constance turned away then, crossing the hall to join her husband. It was ridiculous to feel pity for a woman so blessed by fortune. She knew that. But she knew, too, that she’d never seen anyone so profoundly unhappy as Constance de Hauteville, on her way to Rome to be crowned empress of the Holy Roman Empire.
    * * *
    Constance has a much bigger role in Ransom. Here is her first meeting with Richard at Hagenau during his German captivity, as we see her through his eyes.
    A King’s Ransom, page 217
    * * *
    Richard turned then toward the woman seated beside Heinrich. Constance de Hauteville had married late in life, at age thirty-one, for her nephew, the King of Sicily, had been in no hurry to make a match for her. She was eleven years older than Heinrich and in the seven years they’d been wed, her womb had not quickened. Richard thought Heinrich would never put her aside as barren, though, for his claim to Sicily rested upon her slender shoulders. Joanna had told him Constance was lovely, but he thought she was too thin, the skin tightly drawn across her cheekbones, hers a mouth no longer shaped for smiles. He could see glimpses of the beauty she’d once been in the sapphire-blue eyes. Yet they were opaque, giving away nothing. She put him in mind of a castle long under siege, determined to hold out until the bitter end.
    * * *
    A little later, Richard seizes his opportunity for a moment alone with Constance.
    Ransom, page 291
    * * *
    “Madame, may I have a word with you?”
    “Of course, my lord king.” Correctly interpreting the glance he gave her women, Constance added, “My ladies speak no French, so I rarely get a chance to make use of my native tongue.”
    Richard appreciated the subtlety of her assurance that they could speak freely. “My chancellor told me that you interceded on my behalf, getting him an audience with the emperor. If not for your kindness, I might still be enjoying the dubious comforts of Trifels. I wanted to tell you that you have a king in your debt—and I always pay my debts.”
    To anyone watching, Constance’s smile was polite, impersonal, and as devoid of warmth as her husband’s own smiles. But Richard thought he caught a spark in those extraordinary sapphire eyes. “You owe me no debt,” she said softly, “for what I did, I did not do for the English king. I did it for Joanna’s brother.”
    * * *
    Constance had a remarkable life, filled with danger and high drama. At one time, I considered writing about her, but reluctantly concluded it was not feasible. So I was delighted when an unexpected opportunity arose to get her some time on center stage. The short story I wrote for George RR Martin’s anthology, Dangerous Women, A Queen in Exile, is Constance’s story. She was a woman of extraordinary courage and she deserves to be remembered.

  59. skpenman Says:

    Anne, one of my Facebook friends, posted this amazing video on my other Facebook page and I want to share it with everyone. It is just incredible, great fun to watch.

  60. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, thank you for the snippets above. Constance must have been an extraordinary woman, indeed. I think I will have to take a closer look at her life.

    The video is great. I know what I am going to find myself busy with in the evening- re-reading Pepys’s diary :-) One of my all time favourites.

  61. Joan Says:

    Loved your post, Sharon, & esp that it is so timely. Friends who are soon travelling to Sicily had to bear my email of a few days ago where I couldn’t help but give them just that little bit of history re Joanna & her hubby, Richard, Eleanor, & Berengaria in Sicily. Also found an answer to my Xword puzzle. And best of all, the video!! Can hardly wait to play it for my sisters, here with me now in Ott (the 2 I’ll be travelling to England with). Of all mornings, this is the one they decide to sleep in!!!

    Thanks for all the above!!

  62. Koby Says:

    Oh, Sharon, those snippets above were wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing them.
    Today, Juana of Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella’s daughter, who was known as Juana la Loca was born. A great lady, who was sadly treated by history.

  63. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    When are you going to England, Joan? Koby, I agree with you about Juana, who had a very sad history, which I mention in my post below.

    On November 6, 1153, the Treaty of Wallingford was signed, providing that Stephen would hold onto his crown until his death, but Henry (and not Stephen’s surviving son) would be recognized as his heir. Napoleon asked of a general not “Is he good?” but “Is he lucky?” Well, Henry was both good and lucky. Stephen was 57, could easily have lived for another decade. But Henry had less than a year to wait, for Stephen died on October 25, 1154. Henry and Eleanor sailed in a storm to claim his crown and the Angevin dynasty began.
    On November 6, 1479, the sad Queen of Castile, Juana, was born. She has gone down in history as Juana la Loca; she was betrayed by the men whom she had most reason to trust—her father, her husband, and then her son. But Christopher Gortner has done her justice in his novel, The Last Queen, which I recommend.
    On a non-medieval note, America’s greatest president, Abraham Lincoln, was elected to that office on November 6, 1860.

  64. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Nothing that interested me on the medieval history front on this date. Today is the day I expect the Deadline Dragon to return, though, as the galley proofs are due. So before I fall off the radar screen again, I thought I’d share the following link.
    Over the years, I’ve read about some remarkable feats by dogs. Perhaps the most astonishing occurred in Oregon about twenty years ago. I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I keep getting new Facebook friends, so that is my excuse for posting about it again. A couple was walking their Labrador retriever on the beach when the dog suddenly stopped, whirled, and plunged into the water. He swam out a great distance where a young girl was struggling desperately. When a person is drowning, it is often impossible to cry out for help; most of us do not realize that a majority of drownings occur in silence. But the Lab heard her or else he sensed her need. When he reached her, she grabbed hold of his collar and he then towed her to shore. Now what may seem most remarkable about this is that the girl was a stranger; usually dog heroics involve their own families. But what made this story truly incredible was that this dog was blind. He ended up on the cover of People magazine, deservedly so.
    Another great rescue story occurred in Philadelphia about ten years ago. A guy high on PCB went on a one-man crime spree, breaking into cars and finally getting into a house where the family was sleeping. He went upstairs and when he found a nine year old girl asleep in a bedroom, he grabbed her and started down the stairs with her, holding his hand over her mouth. She managed to kick a portrait on the stairway wall, making a noise. It was not enough to wake her parents, but it did awake the family dog, asleep on the third flood. His name was Rocky and he must have caught the scent of an intruder for he took immediate action and confronted the guy on the stairs. The girl’s father said he awoke to holy hell breaking out, snarling and screaming. He came racing out to find his daughter huddled on the stairs and Rocky taking on the intruder. Since Rocky was a Rhodesian Ridgeback and weighed over 100 lbs, he could do some serious damage and did. The guy managed to escape, leaving a trail of blood that the police could easily track. There is no doubt Rocky saved his little girl’s life and he became a national hero, one who got a lot of steak. He was known for slipping out from time to time to visit female dogs in heat, but whenever that happened, the police always gave him a ride back home, sitting in the front seat. And when he died of cancer, it made the Philadelphia Inquirer.
    But as amazing as these two stories are, this story of the dog and the abusive babysitter is even more remarkable in some ways, for it involves reasoning. Anyone who has pets knows they are capable of that, but many don’t.

  65. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Nothing that interested me on the medieval history front on this date. Today is the day I expect the Deadline Dragon to return, though, as the galley proofs are due. So before I fall off the radar screen again, I thought I’d share the following link.
    Over the years, I’ve read about some remarkable feats by dogs. Perhaps the most astonishing occurred in Oregon about twenty years ago. I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I keep getting new Facebook friends, so that is my excuse for posting about it again. A couple was walking their Labrador retriever on the beach when the dog suddenly stopped, whirled, and plunged into the water. He swam out a great distance where a young girl was struggling desperately. When a person is drowning, it is often impossible to cry out for help; most of us do not realize that a majority of drownings occur in silence. But the Lab heard her or else he sensed her need. When he reached her, she grabbed hold of his collar and he then towed her to shore. Now what may seem most remarkable about this is that the girl was a stranger; usually dog heroics involve their own families. But what made this story truly incredible was that this dog was blind. He ended up on the cover of People magazine, deservedly so.
    Another great rescue story occurred in Philadelphia about ten years ago. A guy high on PCB went on a one-man crime spree, breaking into cars and finally getting into a house where the family was sleeping. He went upstairs and when he found a nine year old girl asleep in a bedroom, he grabbed her and started down the stairs with her, holding his hand over her mouth. She managed to kick a portrait on the stairway wall, making a noise. It was not enough to wake her parents, but it did awake the family dog, asleep on the third flood. His name was Rocky and he must have caught the scent of an intruder for he took immediate action and confronted the guy on the stairs. The girl’s father said he awoke to holy hell breaking out, snarling and screaming. He came racing out to find his daughter huddled on the stairs and Rocky taking on the intruder. Since Rocky was a Rhodesian Ridgeback and weighed over 100 lbs, he could do some serious damage and did. The guy managed to escape, leaving a trail of blood that the police could easily track. There is no doubt Rocky saved his little girl’s life and he became a national hero, one who got a lot of steak. He was known for slipping out from time to time to visit female dogs in heat, but whenever that happened, the police always gave him a ride back home, sitting in the front seat. And when he died of cancer, it made the Philadelphia Inquirer.
    But as amazing as these two stories are, this story of the dog and the abusive babysitter is even more remarkable in some ways, for it involves reasoning. Anyone who has pets knows they are capable of that, but many don’t.

  66. Koby Says:

    Today was a day for second generations: Louis VIII of France, Philip Augustus’s son died today. As Prince, he invaded England, and as King, continued the Albigensian crusade. His wife, Blanche of Castile, Eleanor’s granddaughter, was often regent for their son.
    Speaking of Eleanor’s granddaughters, Blanche’s sister, Berengaria, also died today. She was a woman as strong as her mother, grandmother and sister, ruling as Queen regnant of Castile and serving as her sons’ most influential adviser. I highly recommend people read up on her and her tangled marital and familial history.

  67. skpenman Says:

    Good post, as always, Koby.

    The news reports out of the Philippines are very alarming. A Force Five hurricane has winds of about 160 MPH; this typhoon has sustained winds of 195 MPH with gusts up to 230 MPH. Please continue to pray for all those in the path of this monster storm.
    On a happier note, here is a very moving photo of Pope Francis comforting a man deformed by severe tumors. It made me think of the story of St Francis of Assisi reaching out to lepers in the MA.

  68. skpenman Says:

    Apologies for the disappearing act, but I’m not going to be able to do much besides work on the galleys and sleep occasionally if I hope to meet that deadline. These tasks are so not the fun part of writing! I will stop by whenever I can give that blasted dragon the slip.

  69. skpenman Says:

    The news out of the Philippines just gets worse and worse. Life is going to be hellish for the survivors, too, for God knows how long. It now is aiming at Vietnam and while weakened, is still a dangerous storm. Here is a link to some of the organizations that are trying to help.
    This is Veteran’s Day in the US, so do stop to think of those who gave their lives in past and present wars. They should not be forgotten.
    On a personal note, I am still struggling with the Deadline Dragon, will be only able to make sporadic appearances until I can scare him off.

  70. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Sharon, I do hope my two e-mails written in reply to your letter safely reached your e-mail box :-)

    I’m reading that 12 November 1035 was the day when Canute the Great, king of Denmark, England and Norway, died. I thought you may find it interesting that Canute is our, I mean the Polish, contribution to English history. His mother was probably Świętosława, the daughter of the first ruler of Poland, Mieszko I (c. 940-992).

  71. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    On a Polish note, on 12 November 1596, Anna Jagiellonka [Ann Jagiellon], the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania (yes, she was crowned king, just like Jadwiga in 1384!!!) was buried in the Wawel Cathedral, Cracow. She was the last of the Jagiellons. When her brother, Zygmunt August (Sigismund II Augustus) died childless, she was elected, along with her then fiancé, Stefan Batory (Stephen Bathory) as co-ruler of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

  72. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    On 13 November 1160 Henry the Young King’s father-in-law, Louis of France (1120-1180) 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 manner:
    “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”.
    One may find it the most unusual action taken by usually monkish king, 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.

  73. Koby Says:

    I have been having problems posting yet again, so forgive me for the late dates…
    Inded, Sharon, our prayers are with them all. And I hope you succeed in your fight!
    Today, Fulk of Anjou, King of Jerusalem died. He was Geoffrey le Bel’s father. In addition, Edward III of Engalnmd was born.
    Two days ago, Henry I married Matilda of Scotland, the marraige that would produce William Adelin and the Empress Matilda. And three days ago, Charles the Bold of Burgundy was born, Margaret of York’s husband, as was Bridget of York, Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville’s seventh daughter, who became a nun.

  74. skpenman Says:

    Kasia and Koby, thank you so much for stepping up while I’ve been off on dragon duty!

    November 14, 1501 was the date of the wedding of the young Tudor prince, Arthur, and his Spanish bride, Katherine of Aragon. She would soon be a widow and many years later, her second husband, Arthur’s brother, Henry, would attempt to use this marriage to rid himself of a wife he no longer wanted, suddenly discovering that his wife (gasp!) had been married to his brother, and citing his own interpretation of Leviticus to argue that his marriage to Katherine was accursed. He must have been greatly surprised when his hither-to docile and dutiful wife balked, insisting that the marriage to Arthur was never consummated and she came to Henry’s bed a virgin. The sad story of what followed is very well known, of course, for although the Tudor dynasty ruled for little more than a hundred years, they managed to capture the imagination of historians, screen-writers, novelists, and the general public.

    Henry’s abusive treatment of Katherine was eerily similar in some ways to the way the French king, Philippe Capet, treated his unwanted wife, the Danish princess Ingeborg. Ingeborg endured twenty years of imprisonment, deprivation, psychological torture, and general misery as Philippe sought desperately to end their marriage. He disavowed her the day after their wedding night, had his tame bishops declare the marriage null and void based upon a forged chart showing consanguinity. That did not impress the Popes, either the timid Celestine or the strong-willed Innocent III, and Philippe’s next ploy was to claim that the marriage had not been consummated because Ingeborg had cast a spell upon him. Temporary impotence caused by sorcery was a recognized ground for dissolution of a marriage, but Innocent was not buying this, either, and the impasse dragged on. In 1212, Philippe came up with my personal favorite of his arguments. He finally admitted the marriage had been consummated—which Ingeborg had been insisting all along—but claimed there had been no insemination. (I bet I am not the only one who remembers a claim of smoking pot but “not inhaling.”) Innocent’s response to this was priceless. He told Philippe to spare him “insanities of this kind.” Philippe caved in the following year and released Ingeborg from confinement, although they never lived together as husband and wife. Ingeborg’s story actually had a happier ending than Catherine of Aragon’s, for she outlived Philippe by thirteen years, devoting herself to good works and acts of piety, while being kindly treated by Philippe’s son and grandson. Henry VIII, took a different tack, of course, when he could not browbeat the Pope into getting his own way; he simply started his own Church.
    Now back to an impatiently waiting Deadline Dragon.

  75. Joan Says:

    What a piece of work, that Philippe Capet! Don’t you just love these characters (from any era) who really believe they’re pulling the wool over (or know they’re not but don’t give a rat’s butt)… about one such fool in my neck of the woods currently making headlines!!

    BTW, Sharon, referring to a question you asked me awhile back, my sisters & I are planning an England trip for Sep 2014.

    Loved this post. Doesn’t that dragon ever tire?!?

  76. skpenman Says:

    I might be there, too, Joan, if we schedule the next Richard III tour then!

    Kasia, I don’t think I got the e-mails. Did you send them to my private e-mail address?

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