I am sorry it has taken me so long to get a new blog up, but I have had to make a choice between keeping current on Facebook or putting up new blogs, and since most of the action seems to occur on my Facebook pages, that is the road I’ve chosen.   I am not the most co-ordinated of people, so my balancing acts end in a splatter more often than not—one reason why I’ve yet to venture onto Twitter like so many of my fellow authors.  I just hope this will not make me such an anomaly that when I die, they’ll carve on my tombstone, “Only writer never to tweet.”
In my last blog, I recommended a number of books that I thought would interest my readers.  But I forgot a few, so here I go again.   Those who want to protect their bank accounts might want to stop reading here.
In that blog, I’d recommended a few series that I never miss—Bernard Cornwell, Dana Stabenow, Priscilla Royal, Sharan Newman, Steven Saylor, C.J. Harris, P.F. Chisholm—all but Dana’s set in bygone times–the Middle Ages, ancient Rome, Saxon, Elizabethan, and Regency England.  But there are more, of course.
I was a fan of the Brother Cadfael series written by Edith Pargeter under her pseudonym Ellis Peters.   And how could any reader not love Amelia Peabody, the marvelous creation of Elizabeth Peters?  They both were very prolific writers, and I wish I knew their secret of continuing to produce books of such high caliber.  So often a series begins to get stale if it goes on too long; I am sure many of you can name writers who’ve continued with a series beyond its natural shelf life.   But Elis Peters and Elizabeth Peters were notable exceptions.    Another writer whose books I eagerly anticipated was Margaret Frazer.  I was lucky enough to call her a friend, and I miss her very much, for she was a wonderful human being as well as a very talented author; to learn more about her, see my blog here. .  It is very sad to think that we’ll never have another new Brother Cadfael or Amelia Peabody adventure or be able to sympathize with Sister Frevisse when her quiet convent life is interrupted yet again by the discovery of a body at her nunnery’s door.    But it is some small comfort that all three of them have left a rich legacy of books for us to revisit and for new readers to discover.
I also highly recommend Laurie King’s Mary Russell series, set during and after the first world war.  Her imaginative premise is that a brilliant young girl crosses paths with Sherlock Holmes, then in restless retirement in Sussex.  It is the first time that the fabled detective has encountered a mind as agile and insightful as his own and he cannot resist taking her under his wing, first as his apprentice, then as his partner, and eventually as his wife.  Yes, I know that very idea must sound heretical to Conon Doyle purists, but trust me—Laurie King pulls it off with panache, making their unlikely union both credible and fascinating to her readers.
I suppose Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone mysteries might be considered historical, for they are set in the pre-computer age, the 1980’s.   Sue is another writer who has not only defeated the staleness dragon, she has gleefully trampled it into the dust.  She has been moving through the alphabet—from her first, A is for Alibi to her latest, W is for Wasted—and the series is just as fresh and vital today as it was at its initial launch.   The ending of this successful series is bound to be bittersweet for her legion of fans; I will certainly miss Kinsey and I confess that I’m curious to see how Sue manages to concoct a relevant title that begins with the letter X.
I’ve often praised Elizabeth Chadwick and Margaret George’s historical novels, but it is always worth doing again.   Same for Brian Wainwright, who has written both an excellent historical novel in Within the Fetterlock and a wickedly clever spoof in The Adventures of Alienore Audley.   I am not sure how Richard III would have reacted to it, for we don’t really know much about Richard’s sense of humor, and he has always struck me as a man who was firmly rooted in the Middle Ages.  But I’d wager that his more irreverent brother Edward would have thought it was hilarious.
I’ve had readers tell me that my books introduced them to the compelling world of the Welsh princes, others who were unfamiliar with Simon de Montfort until they read Falls the Shadow, and still more who confessed that they had a totally different opinion of Richard III after The Sunne in Splendour.   I cherish these compliments, for books have so often led me away from familiar roads and onto intriguing byways that I’d otherwise have missed.  This is one reason why I want my writers to be trustworthy when it comes to research.  I knew nothing of 16th century Japan until I read James Clavell’s Shogun.  What little I know of the Valley of the Kings and 19th century archaeology comes from Amanda Peabody via Elizabeth Peters, who had a PhD in Egyptology.  And thanks to Christy Robinson, I have become aware of a truly remarkable woman, Mary Dyer.
Christy has written two scrupulously researched novels about Mary Dyer, titled Mary Dyer Illuminated and For Such a Time as This, both of which are now on my towering TBR list.  She has also crafted one of the best opening lines that I’ve encountered, a very important skill for writers as that first sentence is the bait, meant to lure readers in.  I’ve spent a lot of time and trouble with those first sentences in my own books; my personal favorite is “Richard did not become frightened until darkness began to settle over the woods,” probably because it was my first such sentence.   Mary’s is “Mary Barrett closed the wide gate of the farmyard behind her, and though she did not know it yet, this was the day she’d see her death.”   After a beginning like that, who would not want to know more?    I have asked Christy to write a few paragraphs about Mary, her compelling history, and the novels, and they can be found at the end of this blog.
I’m already on page three, so I will save the rest of my book musings for a future blog.  I will end with a mention of another extremely gifted writer who has created her very own genre.  A few years ago, I was doing a panel discussion at my favorite bookshop, the Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, Arizona, with Diana Gabaldon.   Afterward, we were taking questions from the audience and someone asked me if I could offer only one bit of advice to aspiring authors, what would it be.
I admitted that I’d made a monumental error when I first began writing Sunne; I did not write in chronological order.  At that time, I was writing for myself, not for publication, and so I felt free to hopscotch through the story of the Yorkist kings.  If I felt like doing a scene between Edward and his icy Woodville wife, I did; if I then wanted to write about Richard’s turbulent childhood, I did.   This scattershot approach spared me any attacks of Writer’s Block and was fun, too.  I proceeded on my merry way for more than four years, only then to have the only copy of this opus stolen from my car, a loss so traumatic that I could not write for almost six years.
When this mental log jam finally broke and I began again, I repudiated my earlier carefree method and embraced the traditionalist’s view—to write the book in chronological order.    I then explained to the Poisoned Pen reader that I felt this approach provided the inner discipline I needed and—most importantly—it allowed for character development.  I cited Edward as an example.   The cocky seventeen year old we meet in Chapter One is very different from the weary, cynical wastrel who dies forty years and many chapters later, whispering to his daughter that the worst secrets are those about to be found out.   If I’d written his story piecemeal, how could I have portrayed the slow deterioration of his character?
At this point, I became aware of the amusement of some of the audience members, who were glancing over at Diana and laughing.  She then confided that she always wrote in that “scattershot” way, and the monumental success of the Outlander books certainly made a very convincing argument in favor of it—if you happened to be a writer named Diana Gabaldon.  I was fascinated by her revelation, but remain convinced that the chronological approach is still the best approach for the rest of us.   Diana doesn’t need to play by the rules, not with that sort of talent and imagination.   So I am delighted that the Starz Outlander series has been getting such wonderful reviews, both from her devoted readers and those elitist critics who look askance at any book or film that can be labeled “historical.”    Then along came a modest little series called Game of Thrones.    As most of you know, I am a passionate Thrones fan, and I am sure I will enjoy Outlander very much, too.    And  I also harbor a small hope that somewhere  a Hollywood producer is mulling the success of these breakthrough series and then calling out to his loyal assistant, “Hot damn, historicals sell!  Who knew?  Find me a historical for my next project, maybe one set in the 12th century.”
And now, Christy Robinson on an awe-inspiring woman of great courage, compassion, and strength, who blazed across colonial America like a comet and would be martyred for her faith.
*     *      *      *     *
Thank you, Sharon, for the opportunity to appear in your blog. Even though my novels’ story is set in the 17th century, and half in England, half in New England, my characters’ lives were written somewhat in your fashion. They’re not light, fast reads: they’re chewy! I’ve ripped a few pages (metaphorically speaking) from your historical novels, and have constructed the missing bits by thinking through the events moment by moment, and knowing close associates and enemies of my characters. I developed an Excel spreadsheet with all the characters’ events, as well as national news (epidemics, wars, heads of state), plotted by year—for 50 years before my story, and 40 years after. This blew apart a number of myths, and filled in what must have happened in the quiet times. And it set me on a path to discover documents that have lain hidden in archives for 350 years. Those documents showed me that in Mary and William Dyer (to steal your book title for a moment), Here Be Dragons!
The two stand-alone but sequential novels center on Mary Dyer, 1611-1660, an Englishwoman who emigrated with her husband William to Boston, Massachusetts, in 1635. (Perhaps you’ve seen the Mary Dyer statue in Boston.) They were married as Anglicans, but after passing some strict requirements were admitted to the Puritan church in Boston. In a short time, they were part of a “grace” movement led by Anne Hutchinson. Mary’s third pregnancy resulted in the premature stillbirth of an anencephalic girl, which was later disinterred and pronounced a “monster” that was proof of Dyer’s and Hutchinson’s heresy. In 1638, they and other families were ordered out of the colony. They purchased several islands from the Narragansett Indians and formed the colony of Rhode Island. From the very beginning, though they were all religious people, the founders determined to form a secular democracy. (Governors John Winthrop and Thomas Dudley of Massachusetts disdained democracy. They had a theocracy, a church-state coalition.)
Mary gives birth eight times, six live to adulthood. William rises in government positions as well as in farming and trading. He’s appointed the first Attorney General in North America. He’s commissioned Commander-in-Chief Upon the Seas for the Anglo-Dutch war in America, and the Dutch city of New Amsterdam builds the “wall” of Wall Street to protect themselves from Dyer and his colleague, John Underhill. Mary returns to England for a visit in 1652, becomes a Quaker, and goes back to America via Boston in early 1657. Because she’s a Quaker and Massachusetts hates Baptists and Quakers with a murderous passion, she’s immediately cast into prison without trial, though the court meets several times to settle civil and ecclesiastical matters. William rescues her, and back in Newport, they become part of the church-state conflict roaring across New England. As many of her friends are tortured and executed, Mary determines that as a woman of high social status, her martyrdom for liberty of conscience will be so shocking that the persecution will have to stop. So she violates her banishment-on-pain-of-death to commit civil disobedience. Twice. The second time, in 1660, she’s executed by hanging. Friends write a protest letter to King Charles II, and he orders a stop to capital punishment. Meanwhile, William Dyer and colleagues are writing the Rhode Island charter for the king to seal and grant them. The charter, granted in 1663, includes religious liberty and the importance of secular democratic government. In the 1780s, the charter became a template for the United States Bill of Rights, specifically the First Amendment regarding freedom of speech, assembly, and religion. Even in today’s increasingly secular society, that right means liberty for all, not liberty for *some* who would impose their beliefs and behaviors on others.
So, Sharon, to bring it back to your blog—breathing life back into the legendary Mary Dyer, and telling William’s story for the first time ever (because Mary got all the ink!), has something of you in it through analysis of your research methods and writing style. History has to be seen in context, not in abbreviated quotes for political capital. I’m so excited about the 5-star reviews from readers, including English-lit professors (because I was a book editor before an author) and history educators. The books are found here: . I’ve written two other books, keep four blogs, and am plotting out a new novel, to be set in England in the 1650s. The main characters will allow a cameo appearance by Mary Dyer. Because I can.
*     *      *     *      *
“Because I can.”   The mantra of writers everywhere!   Thank you, Christy.
August 12, 2014

106 Responses to “BOOKS AGAIN”

  1. Lisa Adair Says:

    More books to be added to my ever growing TBR pile! But I will happily follow you into book bankruptcy!! Thank you for the suggestions! I remember we had a discussion in Houston earlier this year regarding Diana’s writing style versus yours (and everyone else’s). Fascinating to me is how the approaches may be different but the outcome is the same - incredible writing and deeply engrossing characters! I have seen the first episode of Outlander (love it and the books) and I can only echo your wishes, for I would dearly love to see one (or all!) of your books on the little screen one day, getting the respect and recognition so clearly deserved!!!

  2. Isis Says:

    I have a confession to make. Although I love Sunne just as much as your other books, Sharon, I believe Richard was responsible for the deaths of his nephews. For me he is the likeliest candidate by a long shot, and I see him as a little colder and grounded than he is in Sunne. Just a little. To call him a monster and all that nonsense is clearly a construct of later times as well as a good dose of modern morality - I think in all likelihood he was a fairly decent sort just as you depict - but for this one thing. I kind of view him as being basicaly decent, but very much, as you say, a man of his times, and simply put I get the idea that he would do what he thought needed to be done, awful as that may sound. Medieval Europe, and kingship in Medieval Europe, was not a place where balking gained much traction, and where conversely, ruthlessness held a lot of currency. Anyway, that’s just my idea of Richard, but to me it makes sense. For him it must have been a case of weighing up this terrible moral choice against the peace and security of the realm - and I think, in the face of that, he would’ve made the difficult but necessary decision.

  3. Pamela Kelly Says:

    I really enjoyed this blog Sharon and have read many of the authors mentioned. One author who may not have been true to istory is Anya Seaton I was given her ebook “Katherine” (John of Gaunt) to read by my history teacher .
    Another great writer is Nigel Trantor who writes about Scottish History, Robert the Bruce Trilogy, The Black Douglas etc, have you read any of his books?.

    Edith Pargetter (Ellis Peters) wrote four books about”The Brothers of Gwynedd”, brilliant reads and also “The Heaven Tree Trilogy”. I read these books before picking up The Sunne in Splendour at Adelaide Airport in 1982 when travelling back to my homeland of South Wales for a holiday. I have read all your books since then and am looking forward to your latest. Keep up the good work, it pleases many. Kind regards Pam Kelly

  4. Alice Seidel Says:

    Oh boy Sharon, so many books, so little time! I have read some of these, have others waiting on my bookshelves and others in my Amazon Wish List! I love everything about British history in particular, and the Middle Ages and Colonial America.

    I just finished Devil’s Brood and I think I’m heading into your Welsh Trilogy series which looks magnificent! Princesses, castles, towers, knights in shining armor, what more can we ask for?!

    I’ll be going through these lists of authors to add to my book stacks! Who can live without books!? Thanks for some great blog posts!

  5. Christy K Robinson Says:

    Sharon, thank you so much for the kind words and the opportunity to introduce readers to Mary Barrett Dyer, whose sacrifice gave ALL of us the freedom to practice and believe (or not believe) religious principles without government interference.

    If your blog readers would like to know more about Mary Dyer, ask for Facebook friendship, and I’ll accept their requests.

    The authors you cited above are well represented on my bookshelves, with every title in their bibliographies. Thank you for including me in their company. Wow.

  6. joan Says:

    Thank you for this Sharon! Again, all the reasons I love this blogsite. It’s rich & inspiring & gets the heart beating faster! I decided to sit myself down & take it all in again. with a huge dish of freshly-made pasta sauce (with lots of home-grown basil) over delish Garofalo curly noodles. Only thing missing is a nice red vino!

    I’m intrigued with the story of Mary & William, so very timely since I will be seeing The Crucible, therefore I will order the books in the fall. Thank you Cristy & I’m overjoyed you are so inspired by Sharon. Colonial America is such a fascinating period.

    I can hardly wait for the Outlander series! I think they did a fantastic job casting & also excited about the fact that we are going to get a bit more insight into Frank & the deep love he & Claire share, setting us up for the great difficulty of her decision. The Scottish landscape as a “character’ in the series, as Cameron Moore remarked, makes it all the more compelling.

    And now I’m going to look through my books for favorite “opening lines”.

  7. joan Says:

    Oops…..Ron Moore is executive-producer!!

  8. Laura Hosking Says:

    I, too, would dearly love to see your books make it to the screen. Anyone listening in Hollywood?!!

  9. Paula Jane Mildenhall Says:

    I agree with the sentiment, so many books, so little time! Sharon, your recommendations have enriched my life over the last few years. Until you mentioned them I had never heard of Elizabeth Chadwick, Priscilla Royal or Margaret Frazer, just to name a few. I have just pre-ordered Priscilla’s latest medieval mystery, even though it won’t be released until next year. Counting down the months already………

  10. Kasia Says:

    Happy Birthday, dear Sharon! May all your dreams come true. I wish you unforgettable adventures in the kingdom beyond the sea and may the book about its citizens be a roaring success!

    Warmest regards,


  11. joan Says:

    Happy Birthday Sharon! I wish you a wonderful day & the year ahead healthy & joyful.

    Kasia wrote such a beautiful & touching tribute to you on her blogsite. You have, indeed, opened up an exciting new world to many, including me.

    And as for “opening lines”, I got carried away yesterday with your prologues…..powerful & mesmerizing!

  12. skpenman Says:

    Thank you all for the birthday wishes and kind thoughts. I truly have been blessed in my friendships.

  13. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Happy Birthday, Sharon. I hope you were able to enjoy “Shady Deal at Sunny Acres.” I certainly enjoyed the electronic thank you message you sent, with the carrousel chase and music from our childhoods.

  14. skpenman Says:

    I loved it, Mac.

    Thank you all again for so many kind and eloquent birthday wishes yesterday. It was a very good day and you guys made it even better.
    A sad week for Hollywood, with the losses of both Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall. And the world situation is so dire that it is hard to know where to begin. Pray for those in need, in the line of fire, threatened by ISIS, Ebola, flooding, fires, and man’s inhumanity to man.
    Here is one small moment of light, a brief video sure to elicit smiles from anyone who watches it.

  15. skpenman Says:

    You know the old “if a tree falls in the forest” philosophical puzzler. Well, I came up with one of my own. “If a historical figure is not mentioned in any of my books, should I still mention him or her in one of my Today in History posts?” I’ve decided that the answer is yes, assuming said historical figure is someone I find at least remotely interesting, of course.
    On August 15, 778 AD, Roland, hero of the Chanson de Roland, was slain at Roncevaux Pass, trying to defend Charlemagne’s rear guard from the Basques.
    August 15, 1040, the man known to us as Macbeth became King of the Scots when he defeated King Duncan in battle. Macbeth died on August 15, 1057, said to have been slain by Duncan’s son. He is, of course, the subject of one of Shakespeare’s most powerful and darkest plays, although the real Macbeth’s reign and personality differ markedly from the Bard’s Macbeth. Remind you of any other king who stars in one of Shakespeare’s plays?
    On this date in 1196, Heinrich von Hohenstaufen’s even more odious younger brother, Konrad, Duke of Swabia was murdered. There are two accounts of his murder, both of which put him in the worst possible light One alleges that he was killed by the husband of a woman he’d raped, and the other version is that while he was raping a virgin, she bit him in the eye and he died of the resulting infection.
    On August 15, 1369, Philippa of Hainault, queen of Edward III, died, thus freeing her lady in waiting, Alice Perrers, to come out of the shadows as Edward’s mistress, which she’d been for the past six years, since the age of fifteen.
    August 15th was also the birthdate of two of the 18th century’s most interesting figures: Napoleon Bonaparte in 1769 and Sir Walter Scott in 1771. Napoleon was a military genius, of course, with ambitions to match his intellect. He also had a concise, if cynical, way with words, famously remarking that God was on the side of the largest battalions, although he was probably not the originator of that sardonic quip. He also said “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake” and “Revolution is an idea which has found its bayonets” and “In politics, stupidity is not a handicap” and “If you are going to take Vienna, take Vienna.” Sir Walter Scott is sometimes called the first historical novelist, although I have doubts about that myself. He probably did as much as anyone to nurture the legend of evil Prince John in his Ivanhoe saga.

  16. Gabriele Says:

    Happy belated birthday.

    Macbeth, now there’s a plotbunny in the lurking should I ever tire of my Romans. ;)

  17. skpenman Says:

    I have nothing historical to post about today, so I am going for smiles instead.


    Forty students from the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance took a
    classical approach to the flashmob as they flashwaltzed Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers at the new Sarah Wetsman Davidson Hospital Tower in Jerusalem volunteers reach out to the less fortunate and the vulnerable.

    The Academy students enjoyed the day so much that they have decided to schedule regular concerts at the hospital. Hadassah Medical Organization treats over one million patients annually, without regard to race, religion or national origin.

    Absolutely Beautiful..!!!

  18. Cindie Lovelace Says:

    Dear Sharon: I have never met you but I am crushed that I missed your birthday!
    Today, 8/16/14, I plunged into an apparently futile search online …. thinking that since your two most recent books have appeared on Audible, I might be able to find your earlier books in audio format elsewhere. No luck, although I did find an old comment (October 2008) of your very own in which you remarked that you were sorry that none of your books are available as audiobooks since “it would be difficult to record books of such length without having to edit them drastically”. Yet I see that both “Lionheart” and “Ransome” appear on Audible UNABRIDGED !! (thank goodness). As a great fan of your work, I would love to revisit all of your books in audio format, starting at the very beginning (that is to say, in order of the chronology of the historical events you so beautifully describe). I love having your books in physical form, all lined up on my bookshelf as they are now, but I am constantly traveling and far from home, and I really am not a fan of “ebooks”. So I am wondering if now that you have taken the plunge with your two most recent books, is there perhaps a chance that your earlier books might be recorded and appear on Audible or elsewhere in that format ? Or perhaps you would like to advise all your other fans and followers how we might gain access to the Library of Congress to listen to their recordings of your books ?!!

    With many thanks, and tremendous appreciation for your extraordinary writing, I am forever indebted to you for many hours of reading pleasure– and as a retired corporate lawyer it’s inspiring indeed to have learned today that you were once a tax lawyer !! Maybe there is hope for me yet !!! Cindie Lovelace

  19. skpenman Says:

    Cindie, when an offer was made for Lionheart and Ransom, I hoped that might stir interest in my earlier books, for I’d love for them to be available as audio books, too. But so far it hasn’t happened.
    I was a very reluctant lawyer; were you?

    Another slow medieval news day, but here is a brief video sure to delight cat and dog lovers and anyone with a sense of humor.

  20. skpenman Says:

    I am sure Rania will post about the historical scope of August 19th if she has not done so already, so I’ll just mention two events. On this date in 14 AD, the first Roman emperor, Augustus, died. I will always think of him as he was portrayed in the excellent mini-series, I, Claudius,where his wife, Livia, wanted to poison him so her son could succeed him. But he was very careful about what he ate or drank. She outsmarted him, though, poisoning the figs in their garden as they remained on the tree. I understand that Robert Graves made her a far more sinister and murderous character than she actually was, but Sian Philipps’s portrayal was so riveting that her Livia has eclipsed the real Livia for any of us who watched I, Claudius–rather the way the real Richard III has been overshadowed by Shakespeare’s Richard. Also on this date in 1284, England was denied the opportunity to have a King Alphonso by the death of Edward I and Eleanora of Castille’s eldest son by that name, at the age of only 11.

  21. skpenman Says:

    Fasten your seat belts, Game of Thrones fans.

  22. skpenman Says:

    August 21st was the birthdate in 1165 of the French king who’d prove to be the nemesis of the Angevins, Philippe Capet, whose birth so delighted his father, Louis, that he was called Dieu-Donne, the God-given. History would judge him as one of the great medieval kings, in large measure because he was fortunate enough to outlive the disgrace he’d incurred by abandoning the Third Crusade and the subsequent humiliating defeats he suffered at Richard’s hands; he found John to be a far less formidable opponent that Richard and he was able to add greatly to the French domains at John’s expense.
    Despite his intelligence and ambition, he lacked the charisma of the Angevins; even John had a scapegrace charm that Philippe did not. Henry had been surprisingly kind to Philippe when he came to the throne at the young age of fifteen, but gratitude was not in Philippe’s nature and he did all he could to turn Henry’s sons against him—which admittedly did not take much effort on his part. He was more anti-Semitic than the Angevins, much more so than his father, and the Jews suffered under his reign. He treated his queen, the Danish princess Ingeborg, so cruelly that it is easy to believe Henry VIII took Philippe as his role model when he sought to rid himself of his own unwanted queen. His treacherous behavior toward Richard, a crusader king, was hard for even his own lords to justify. But when he died, Normandy and Maine and Anjou were part of the French empire and success has always proven to be a very effective deodorant.
    August 21st was also the date upon which Geoffrey, the most intriguing of the Devil’s Brood, died in 1186 of injuries sustained when he was thrown from his horse during a French tournament. He was a month shy of his twenty-eighth birthday, and I think there is no question that the history of England and France would have been changed had he not chosen to ride that day. It is conceivable that Richard would not have gone on crusade had Geoffrey lived, for Richard always took Geoffrey far more seriously than he took John. He would never have said of Geoffrey what he scornfully said of John when he was told of John’s treachery while he was being held prisoner in Germany—“My brother is not the man to conquer a kingdom if there is anyone to offer the slightest resistance.” It is also possibly that England might have had a King Arthur had Geoffrey survived that tournament. Assuming that Richard still died at 41 without a son, Geoffrey would then have been next in line for the English throne. So many What ifs and If onlys are threaded through the fabric of history.
    Instead of quoting from Geoffrey’s death scene in Devil’s Brood, I decided to go instead with a brief scene between Geoffrey’s sister, Marie, Countess of Champagne, and her eldest son, Henri, one of my favorite characters in Lionheart, soon to appear again in Outremer. The scene takes place at the tournament after Geoffrey’s accident, as Marie humors her youngest son by staying so he can watch the rest of the melee, and they are then joined by Henri, who has also taken part in the tournament.
    Devil’s Brood, page 629.
    * * *
    The young Count of Champagne rode over, delighting his little brother by swinging him up into the saddle and taking him for a slow gallop around the lists. After turning Thibault over to one of his knights, Henri reined in beside the stands and Marie hastened down the steps to meet him. His flaxen hair was tousled, his face smeared with sweat and dirt and there was a reddish stain on his hauberk that was worrying until she could be sure the blood was not his.
    “Maman, I heard what happened to my uncle Geoffrey and so I stopped by his tent. He insisted that he was unhurt and said he means to attend the dinner tonight.”
    “What? Why must you men be so loath to use the brains God gave you?”
    Henri grinned, for his was a conversation they’d had before; his mother was convinced that males were born without any common sense whatsoever. “I’d want to go, too, if I were in his place,” he admitted. “It is a matter of pride. But….” Lowering his voice, he said, “The thing is that I do not think he is as well as he claims. He is very pale and hollow-eyed, like a man trying to pretend he’s not suffering from a morning-after malaise. I think it would be best if he keeps away from the revelries tonight; they can last till dawn, after all. I thought mayhap if you talked to him….” Finding a smile, he joked that she was a force to be reckoned with and Geoffrey would not dare to defy her. But Marie was not misled by his attempt at humor; Geoffrey must look like Walking Death if her daredevil son Henri had taken notice.
    * * *
    Geoffrey was given a state funeral by his new ally, the French king, and was buried with honors before the high altar in the cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. Philippe and Marie each founded two chantries to pray for Geoffrey’s soul.

  23. skpenman Says:

    August 22nd is a sad day for all Ricardians, of course, for on this date in 1485, Richard III, the last Plantagenet king, was slain at the battle of Redmore Plain, now known as Bosworth Field. Rania gave eloquent expression in her post yesterday to the most despicable thing that Tudor did—dating his reign from the day before Bosworth so he could then charge the men who’d fought for Richard, their lawful king, with treason. This was an act worthy to have come from the warped, brilliant brain of Tywin Lannister. The anniversary of Bosworth resonates even more with Ricardians because of the discover of Richard’s lost grave and what we now know about his brutal last moments, testified to by the grievous wounds he suffered. I think I’m glad I did not know all that when I was writing this chapter. It was challenging enough as it was to write; it took me three weeks to get Richard out of his tent and onto the battlefield.
    Below is a scene from Sunne, page 1197-1198 (paging from the new anniversary edition of Sunne published last year by Macmillan) The fighting has been going on for some time; Richard’s friend and ally, Jack Howard, is dead, and he has just learned that the Earl of Northumberland intends to remain on the ridge in defiance of his summons. Francis Lovell has been deputized by the others to convince Richard to withdraw, to remind him how many men will fight for him north of the Trent.
    * * *
    He found Richard and Brecher on the crest of the hill. Richard turned as he came up, gestured off to the northwest.
    “There, Francis, you see the standard? The Dragon of Cadwallader. Henry Tudor, the would-be king.” He looked at Francis and smiled. “God has not forsaken me, after all.”
    Francis stepped closer, brown eyes looking into Richard’s blue ones. “Dickon. Dickon, you realize the risk?”
    Richard’s smile didn’t waver; the sudden animation in his face was startling but somehow Francis did not find it reassuring.
    “Yes,” Richard said readily, “but it is a risk worth the taking. He’s blundered, Francis. He’s stayed put while the battle line shifted away from him.”
    Others had joined them. Rob and Dick Ratcliffe and Will Catesby. Catesby was staring at Richard in utter disbelief Too appalled for tact, he blurted out, “You cannot mean to go after Tudor, Your Grace! To get to him, you’d have to cut clean across Will Stanley’s army. If he chose to move against you, you’d not have a prayer in Hell.”
    Richard’s eyes shifted briefly to Catesby, without interest, as if listening to a language he couldn’t quite comprehend. When he spoke, it was to Francis.
    “If Tudor’s dead, the battle’s done. You do see that Francis? There is no other way to make an end to this.”
    He didn’t wait for Francis to reply, signaled for White Surrey to be led forward. The stallion was lathered, blowing froth, chest and haunches encased in armor no longer burnished, streaked with blood and dust. But he quivered expectantly as Richard reached for the pommel and, as soon as he felt Richard’s weight securely in the saddle, he danced sideways on the trampled grass, eager to run.
    Richard stroked his neck. Never had he felt so at one with the animal; as if the stallion’s pulsing, mettlesome spirit had infused life into his own depleted reserves, he felt his fatigue fall away, aches and bruises and pain forgotten. The men around him came into sudden sharp focus, sun and sky forming a dazzling backdrop of blue over their heads, in which birds wheeled and circled, as if bearing witness to the battle taking place below. Richard raised up in his stirrups; his voice was husky, hoarse from shouting, and the knights of his household crowded in closer, straining to hear
    “The battle’s all but lost. One chance remains for victory. Tudor’s within range, protected only by his guard and the knights of his body. But it means passing in plain view of Stanley’s army. I’d not order any man to this; I do ask, instead. Who’ll ride with me to seek Tudor?”
    The only sound Richard could hear came from White Surrey. The stallion snorted, sucked air into his lungs in loud, wheezing gulps. Richard’s own breathing sounded scarcely less labored to his ears. And then someone shouted, “Loyaulte me lie!” It was Richard’s own motto, adopted by him at age sixteen in defiance of the conflicting claims upon his heart. Loyalty Binds Me. Others now took it up, chanted his name and the battle cry of his House, “Richard and York!” And then the hill exploded into action. Men were yelling for their horses, snapping shut vizors, grabbing for lance and sword. Men who accepted without question that his quarrel was good, his right to the crown just. A pledge of faith to be redeemed in blood if need be.
    * * *
    And Richard’s gamble almost worked. He came very close to reaching Tudor, who was saved only by Stanley’s treachery. It is such a lovely twist of irony that Stanley would later be executed by Tudor for treason. Northumberland also learned that Richard was loved in the North and Yorkshiremen had not forgotten Redmore Plain. As for me, I hope very much that memories of Richard’s charge gave Tudor nightmares for the rest of his life On this day it seems very appropriate to thank those who found Richard’s lost grave and made it possible for him to buried with honor and respect—the archeologists involved in the dig, the University of Leicester and the city council, Ricardians everywhere, and of course Richard’s very distant kinsman who donated his DNA to make the identification beyond dispute. As for myself, I did not really expect them to find their royal needle in that concrete haystack, but once they reported their discovery, I never doubted that they’d found Richard. Thanks are due above all to Philippa Langley. Richard could have used a guardian angel at Bosworth, but at least he found one five centuries later in Philippa.

  24. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Sharon, you seem to be making most of the comments on your blog these days. I prefer it to Facebook, where the strings can run to 50 or 100 comments - hard to keep up. There are many splendid memories from our time with like-minded friends in England last September. It was wonderful that you and Philippa Langley were able to meet, as you have both done a great deal for Richard’s memory. Also, thank you for featuring Geoffrey (of course!) on the 21st. Two of our favorite medieval men were gone much too soon. My friend Sara treasures her signed copy of Sunne. When I left it on her desk, she at first thought I was simply showing her the one I had acquired in England for myself.

  25. skpenman Says:

    As soon as I became a presence on Facebook, Mac, the great majority of my readers started to post on my Facebook pages; I guess they like the immediacy of Facebook and the ability to interact with one another. Those who don’t like Facebook continue to post here, but their numbers are far smaller.
    Wasn’t that a fascinating night in Leicester with Philippa?
    I am so glad Sara liked her signed copy of Sunne. I feel so lucky to have been able to make some minor changes to Sunne and add a new Author’s Note, for authors rarely get an opportunity like that.

    And here is my Facebook post for August 24th

    With apologies to any of you who were born or got married on August 24th, this was a very bloody day in medieval history. Let me start with the happiest event. On August 24th, 1113, Geoffrey, Count of Anjou, reluctant husband to the Empress Maude and devoted father to the first Plantagenet King, Henry II, was born. I had fun writing about Geoffrey in Saints, for he was a complex man. He seems to have passed on his temper, his sardonic humor, his intelligence, and his good looks to his eldest son, although Henry certainly inherited some of those traits from his regal mother, too—aside from the humor, of course!

    August 24th was a dreadful day for Jews in medieval Germany, for on this date in 1349, there were at least two awful pogroms, one in Mainz in which at least six thousand of the city’s Jews were killed and one in Cologne where a large number of Jews died, too. These unhappy souls were scapegoated because of the Black Death, the deadly Bubonic plague then sweeping Europe. It has been estimated that at least 25 million people died of this disease throughout Europe, a casualty count that would be 40-60% of the population, as staggering as that sounds. In their terror, the people blamed this fearful plague upon the Jews, as so often has happened down throughout history.

    And then we have the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre which began in Paris in 1572, resulting in the slaughter of the city’s Huguenots, the most infamous occurrence in the French Wars of Religion.. C.W. Gortner’s fascinating novel The Confessions of Catherine de Medici dramatizes this unhappy event. And here is a first person account of the massacre.

    Lastly, I hope all my friends and readers who live in northern California came through the earthquake okay; definitely not a good way to start the day.

  26. Kasia Says:

    I prefer it here… Much cosier and more probable to get the response from my favourite author of historical fiction :-D :-D :-D One may go unnoticed while trying to get in touch with Sharon via FB.

    I have just returned from the family holidays and wanted to mention my friend Richard who is lucky enough to live in Houston, Texas. He had the chance to see a copy of Magna Carta which was on display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science for six months of 2014. Richard seized the opportunity- I would be surprised if he didn’t- and here they are… his impressions and photos. I’m including the link to his blog. Could you free it? Thank you in advance.

  27. Kasia Says:

    Here it is:

    Richard, I do envy you! Still, I have found some consolation in the genealogy chart. I spotted a certain young king there. I’m so happy he wasn’t forgotten this time.

  28. joan Says:

    Sharon, I was quite relieved when I read that last battle, not what I expected. You imbued it with pride & glory, energizing Richard at the end when he was so completely spent, in total despair, mourning his beloved Anne, feeling desperately hopeless. A touching last comment on “guardian angels & Philippa”.

    So the Tudor reign begins with that first evil act of Henry’s!! A sign of things to come!

    On the lighter side, an image popped into my head of you & Richard battling it out in his tent, till, in a final act of desperation, you throw yourself to the ground clinging onto an armoured ankle, as he drags himself (and you) out of the tent.

    Kasia, welcome back! I hope you enjoyed a great holiday by the sea with your family! Am looking forward to the link.

  29. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Sharon, after enjoying your delightful portrait of Geoffrey of Anjou in Saints, I had great hopes that you might do equal justice by his grandson and namesake, Geoffrey of Brittany. Of course, my confidence was fully justified. As Richard Barber remarked in Henry Plantagenet, the two Geoffreys shared many traits. Too-early mortality was the most unfortunate.

  30. skpenman Says:

    Mac, what a nice compliment. One of my favorite memories of our Eleanor tour is the one where we all swarmed Notre Dame Cathedral in search of the plaque that notes Geoffrey’s burial there, after you’d alerted us to its existence.

    August 25th was –like the 24th—a date upon which a great tragedy occurred and several important medieval people died.
    The catastrophe occurred in 79 AD when Mt Vesuvius erupted, destroying the beautiful port cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. The eruption began on the 24th, and in the early hours of the 25th, Pompeii’s fate was sealed by a pyroclastic surge of hot poisoned gases and pulverized rocks and volcanic ash. The French have a poetic term for this horror—nuee ardente—burning cloud. It buried the town and its people, as if frozen in time. Here is a video that recreates the last day of Pompeii almost too convincingly. This site also offers an eye-witness account by Pliny the younger, whose uncle perished in the eruption. In his letter, he said it occurred on August 24-25th, but archaeological evidence indicates that it actually happened three months later. Most of you know I am a great fan of Game of Thrones, and so I like Kit Harrington, whose character Jon Snow is one I find quite sympathetic. This year the actor appeared in a film titled Pompeii; it was not well received by the critics and after I watched it, I could understand why.
    Now on to the Middle Ages. Readers of Lionheart know how that nasty piece of work, the Bishop of Beauvais, and his accomplice, Hugh, the Duke of Burgundy, did their best to sabotage Richard’s crusade. Beauvais survived to slander Richard the length and breadth of Christendom on his way back to France, but on August 25, 1192, Hugh died at Acre. At the time, Richard was lying very ill at Jaffa, suffering from malaria, but a chronicler reported that when he got the news of Hugh’s death, it cheered him up quite a bit and he began to improve.
    On August 25, 1227, the Mongol ruler Ghengis Khan died; he had the bad luck to be portrayed by John Wayne in what was surely one of the more ludicrous historical films ever made. And on this date in 1270, Louis IX of France died in Tunis of dysentery on his second crusade. He was later canonized by the Catholic Church; what we’d find most interesting is that he was our Eleanor’s great-grandson. Eleanor traveled to Castile in 1200 to bring her granddaughter Blanche back to France to wed Philippe’s young son, Louis. So that would definitely give Eleanor bragging rights in any celestial arguments with Henry, for having a saint in the family probably trumped the Demon Countess of Anjou.
    And on August 25, 1482, Marguerite d’Anjou died at the age of 52, eleven long years after the death of her only son at the battle of Tewkesbury. Here is a brief scene from Sunne, in which Edward confronts the woman he holds responsible for the death of his younger brother Edmund.
    Page 507-508
    * * *
    “Self murder is a mortal sin, Madame,” Edward said evenly. “And the sin is no less if you do not do the deed yourself but contrive another to do it for you.”
    One hand moved to her throat, pressing against the beating hollow. “What do you mean?”
    “I mean that you cannot provoke me into sending you to the block. However much you do deserve it…or desire it.”
    “You did not spare my son,” she said stonily
    Edward didn’t even bother to deny the accusation, to remind her that her son had died on the field. Instead, he said with insulting forbearance, “I’ll not stain my hands with a woman’s blood.”
    Marguerite drew so deep a breath that all could see her breasts heave. The hatred on her face was unmistakable, yet curiously muted. Like one forced to call upon remembered emotions, Anne thought; the light was there, but no heat, as if the sun had given way to a perpetual shadowed moon.
    “Even if it were a mercy?” Marguerite asked, in dulled, queerly flattened tones, and Anne at last felt a faint, unwanted flicker of pity.
    For the first time, emotion showed in Edward’s eyes. For an unguarded instant, they mirrored an unhealed hatred, gave an unnerving glimpse of a searing blue-white flame, all the more intense for being under such relentless restraint.
    “Especially if it were a mercy, Madame,” he said bitterly and turned away
    * * *

  31. Kasia Says:

    I need to think it over again… I have just written that it is much easier here than elsewhere to stay in touch with Sharon :-) I guess I might have been wrong :-) Which means Malcolm might have been right :-)

    Dear Sharon, could you free the link which is awaiting moderation? I would be most grateful. It is well worth checking.

  32. joan Says:

    Powerful scene between Edward & Marguerite!!!

  33. Gabriele Says:

    I’m not going to touch Facebook with a five foot pole (I’d rather throw a pilum through one of the many security and privacy holes :P ) so I’m glad Sharon keeps this blog.

  34. Kasia Says:

    I’m glad that Sharon keeps her blog, too. I tried FB last year, but after becoming virtually an addict, I decided to give it up. Although, I have to admit, it served Henry well. There was a real danger, however, that his Polish scribe would stop serving him :-)

    I just want to mention that today marks the anniversary of Henry the Young King’s second coronation. Together with Marguerite they were crowned at Winchester on 27 August 1172 by Rotrou, Archbishop of Rouen. The bishops who crowned the young king in 1170 were forbidden to take part in this second ceremony following Louis VII’s wish (the latter was enraged that Marguerite had not been crowned with her husband in 1170).

  35. skpenman Says:

    Kasia, I had to “borrow” your post above for my Facebook posts. Hope you don’t mind. :-) Here it is.

    I am a day late, but August 26, 1346 was the date of one of the most decisive battles of the MA, when Edward III and his son, the Black Prince, utterly routed a French army. The Black Prince was only sixteen, but he soon proved that he was one of the most capable battle commanders of their age. The blind King of Bohemia rode into battle against the English, his horse roped to those of his knights to guide him; not surprisingly, neither he nor they survived. Legend has it that after the battle, the Black Prince adopted the slain Bohemian king’s emblem—three white feathers—as his own, as a way of honoring the blind king’s gallantry. Bernard Cornwell has done his usual masterly dramatization of the battle in the first of his Grail series, The Archer’s Tale, which I highly recommend; Crecy also demonstrated the fearful power of the English longbow for the first time. For those interested in learning more about Crecy, here is a link to follow.
    I’d forgotten that the 27th was the anniversary of the Young King’s second coronation in 1172, but Hal’s champion, my Polish friend, Kasia, did not, so I am stealing her post for today:
    I just want to mention that today marks the anniversary of Henry the Young King’s second coronation. Together with Marguerite they were crowned at Winchester on 27 August 1172 by Rotrou, Archbishop of Rouen. The bishops who crowned the young king in 1170 were forbidden to take part in this second ceremony following Louis VII’s wish (the latter was enraged that Marguerite had not been crowned with her husband in 1170).

  36. Kasia Says:

    Sharon, I don’t understand the question :-D Of course I don’t mind… I’m deeply honoured (although had I known you’re going to borrow it I would have written something more elaborate :-)).

    Malcolm, I have discovered a site about Geoffrey. Did you know about it? The author mentions your work about little Matilda. I’m not an expert in the Breton branch of the family so I cannot say more, but she also used Dr. Everard’s book on Brittany and the Angevins. The part about Devil’s Brood, however, made me write to the author. There were some statements I couldn’t agree with :-)

    I’m posting a link. Could you free it, Sharon? Thank you.

  37. Kasia Says:

    Here it is:

    Nice to know that our Geoffrey hasn’t been utterly forgotten.

  38. Kasia Says:

    PS The author mentiones Sharon’s Devil’s Brood in Geoffrey’s posthumous appearances section :-)

  39. skpenman Says:

    Thanks, Kasia–what would do we do without you? I posted the link on Facebook, of course.

    On August 28, 1189 began one of medieval history’s more interesting “unintended consequences” events. When the highly unpopular King of Jerusalem, Guy de Lusignan, led the army of Outremer to a devastating defeat at Hattin, he was understandably blamed for a military blunder of monumental proportions. So when Saladin released him and he retreated to the kingdom’s sole remaining bastion, the port city of Tyre, he was denied entry into the city by Conrad of Montferrat, a swaggering adventurer who was as ambitious as Guy but far more capable. Guy had many flaws but he did not lack for courage, and he and his queen, Sybilla, then gathered their few followers and set off to lay siege to Acre, which had fallen to Saladin soon after Hattin. It was a quixotic gesture and neither Conrad nor Saladin took it seriously at first. But to the surprise of many, men began to join Guy, and the Acre siege would become the focal point of the Third Crusade.

    My friend Kasia has come across a website dedicated to Geoffrey, the Duke of Brittany, which gives credit to my other friend, Malcolm Craig, for his academic article about Geoffrey and Constance’s second daughter, who died young. It also mentions Devil’s Brood, which pleases me, of course. I think Geoffrey has been unfairly ignored by history and so it is nice to see him finally getting a little bit of internet attention.

  40. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Sharon, to make the record clear, you have MANY other friends besides the two of us. Kasia, thank you for discovering the Geoffrey site and providing the link. At this time, it has nowhere near the volume or depth of the information we find on your site dedicated to the Young King. Of course, we should give its proprietress some time to develop the site.

  41. Kasia Says:

    Malcolm, I always thought (and still think) that you should run a site dedicated to Geoffrey and his family. I am well aware that there is not sufficient material to work on and share with the readers when Geoffrey himself is concerned, but it could be a site centred also on Geoffrey’s and Constance’s families, their unfortunate children, and Brittany at the time. The one I provided link to is a little bit “modest”, I know, but it was so very nice to see yours and Sharon’s works mentioned together that I needed to share it with you.

  42. Kasia Says:

    I already wrote to the author pointing out a few statements I disagreed with, e.g. I don’t think that Geoffrey was named after his uncle Geoffrey of Nantes. We all know that Henry and Geoffrey as brothers had rather strained relationship. I’d rather think that Henry’s fourth son was named after his paternal grandfather.

    I also had to disagree reading: “much could be said about Eleanor’s inadequacies as a mother”. Well-worn cliche, don’t you think? It is enough to read Ralph Turner’s biography of Eleanor, in which one can find whole passages discussing Eleanor as a mother and the role she played in her children’s lives.

    The date of little William, Henry and Eleanor’s firstborn son, is wrong. The author followed Torigni who- quite unusual for him- got his dates wrong this time.

    I found a few more, but had no time to discuss it at the moment.

  43. Kasia Says:

    Just a few words about John the Blind mentioned in Sharon’s previous post or rather his granddaughter Anne, later Richard II of England’s consort. Recently I discovered that both the Czech and the Poilsh can boast that they have their queen on the English throne, for Anne was also the great-granddaughter of our Kazimierz III [Casimir III], the only king of Poland called “the Great” :-)

  44. skpenman Says:

    Kasia, I think your idea of Malcolm running a Geoffrey website is truly inspired! Given how much work that would entail, I am not sure he’d agree with us, though.

    Here is today’s belated Facebook post.

    I hope all who celebrate Labor Day are enjoying themselves; same for my British friends and readers since this is a bank holiday, right?
    Here is the historical roundup for the last day of August. The maddest of the Roman emperors, Caligula, was born on this date; I still get shivers remembering his portrayal in I, Claudius.
    On this date in 1218, Saladin’s brother, al-Malik al-Adil, died after a very successful reign as sultan of Egypt. I found him to be a very interesting man, more so than Saladin himself if truth be told. I had fun writing about him in Lionheart, as you can probably tell. Here is a scene with Richard, during their dinner together. They got along so well that Richard even knighted one of al-Adil’s sons, which amazes me as much today as it did the first time I stumbled onto this fascinating fact.
    Lionheart, pages 429-430
    * * *
    Humphrey de Toron was again acting as interpreter, seated between Richard and al-Adil so they could converse easily. (omission) He thought the discussions were conducted with remarkable cordiality. He’d not expected the two men to have such a rapport, but for this one day at least, what they shared—a love of horses and hawking, a mutual respect for each other’s courage and battle skills, a similar ironic sense of humor—was enough to bridge the great gap that separated Christians and Muslims, men sworn to holy war and jihad.
    They had a lively conversation about horse breeding and the different riding styles of the Franks and the Saracens, followed by a discussion of hunting; Richard was fascinated to learn al-Adil used trained cheetahs. Eventually, of course, the talk turned to a more controversial topic, the marriage proposal.
    “I was desolate,” al-Adil said blandly, “to hear that your lovely sister is loath to become my wife.”
    “All is not lost,” Richard assured him. “But she does have qualms about wedding a man not of her faith. Mayhap there is a way to resolve this, though. Would you consider becoming a Christian?”
    Al-Adil nearly choked on his julab, but recovered quickly. “Mayhap the lady would consider becoming a Muslim,” he parried, and when his gaze met Richard’s, they shared a smile of perfect understanding.
    “Alas, there have been further complications,” Richard confided. “Our bishop and priests are adamantly against the match, so it will be necessary to secure the approval of the Pope in Rome. It will take about three months to get his response, but if he consents and my sister is happy about it, then well and good.”
    “And if he refuses?”
    “We can still get it done. My sister, as you know, is a widow, and so we need papal consent for her marriage. That is not true, however, for a virgin maid. So I could offer you my niece as a bride. She is very young still, but of high birth, the child of my brother and the Duchess of Brittany.”
    “I will pass your message on to my brother,” al-Adil promised, and Humphrey sighed with relief, hoping this would be the end of the marriage talk, for he’d been hard put to remain impassive as Richard lied about the supposed outrage of their clerics, none of whom knew anything about the marriage proposal, and then proceeded to rewrite Church canon law to suit his own purposes. Despite his fluency in Arabic, Humphrey had not often been called upon as a translator in such high-level conferences, and he feared he might inadvertently give something away by his reaction to what was said. It was fortunate, he thought, that al-Adil and Richard were having too much fun with their verbal swordplay to pay him any mind.
    * * *
    I recently finished a scene with al-Adil in Outremer, only this time he was verbally jousting with Balian d’Ibelin rather than Richard. And Humphrey, unlucky enough to have been born with a poet’s soul in a world of warriors, will also appear in Outremer.
    Also on August 31st in 1422, Henry V died, leaving his kingdom to an infant son, the future henry VI, that sad figure who was such a convincing argument against the concept of hereditary kingship.
    And on this date in 1535, Henry VIII was excommunicated for his defiance of the Pope. I suspect it bothered him more than he let on.
    End of history lesson; back to the beaches and barbecues, people!

  45. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Perhaps a website, after I retire. My plan has been to retire at the end of next May, the month in which I am scheduled to reach 70 years. I just received such a good evaluation at work (”a model of integrity and professionalism”) though that I may need to reconsider. As Geoffrey would have said (in modern French): Nous verrons.

  46. Kasia Says:

    Malcolm, I did not mean to sound so “pushy”. If I did, I beg your forgiveness. I know what it means to suffer from permanent lack of time. Although the above “Nous verrons” of yours gave me a glimmer of hope.

    I would be honoured if you could take a look at my latest Henry the Young King post, in which I have tried to describe the circumstances of Geoffrey’s untimely death. I hope you don’t mind that I mentioned your name, calling you “my friend”.

    I know that both Sharon and Joan must be very busy these days, but they would be warmly welcome, of course. And Gabriele, and Theresa, and all readers of Sharon’s blog :-) Perhaps even our dearest Koby could drop by… We miss you here, Koby!

  47. skpenman Says:

    That would be a wonderful project for when you retire, Mac See, Kasia and I have your future all sorted out for you!
    I will definitely read your post, too, Kasia. Marsha usually makes it easy for us by posting the link on Facebook, but I don’t recall seeing it for this one. Maybe you could post it here for us?

    I hope it has been an enjoyable holiday for my American friends and readers, and a good weekend for everyone else. Nothing to chat about on September 1st in medieval history, so I am falling back on my old standby—Game of Thrones. Hey, we need something to tide us over till the next season starts or GRRM finishes the next book.

  48. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Kasia, I have no problem going to your site, since it is “bookmarked” on my computer. Though we have not met in person, I am pleased to be called your friend. Your discussion of Geoffrey’s death is a judicious one. I am still inclined to believe that the tournament injury was the likely cause of his death. Having him perish due to sudden illness is too easy a parallel to his older brother’s demise 3 years earlier. As for Geoffrey being named after his grandfather, rather than after his refractory uncle, that makes sense to me. The uncle theory may be inspired by Geoffrey’s recent death and his previous installation as count of Nantes, in Brittany. In 1158, however, Constance had not yet been born and any thought of Brittany for his third surviving son could have been no more than a glimmer in Henry’s inventive psyche. Finally, I enjoyed seeing the charming photo of your youngest child on the Young King site. I assume the partially obscured person to her right is a sibling. In answer to Sharon, as with other female friends in various contexts, I am confident that you two offer advice only for my benefit.

  49. Kasia Says:

    Thank you, Sharon and Malcolm! Sharon, we sound almost like two mother hens :-) I hope Malcolm will not get scared and run away from us.

    Malcolm, would you mind if I copy the first part of your comment and re-post it on Henry blog as a word of an expert?

  50. Gabriele Says:

    Kasia, I’ll get to it soon. :)

    And in case someone wants to check out some members of the Welfen family, offspring of Matilda of England and Henry the Lion’s youngest son, William of Winchester, you’re welcome to check out my blog. :)

  51. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Kasia, you are welcome to use any part of my comment that you find useful. In the sentence on uncle Geoffrey of Nantes, I inadvertently omitted a word (”that”). It should read: The uncle theory may be inspired by that Geoffrey’s recent death and his previous installation as count of Nantes, in Brittany. As Sharon has noted, there were so many men named Henry or William or Geoffrey that she had to resort to various nicknames to avoid confusion. I hope to reply to your personal message tonight - or soon thereafter, if I do not succeed.

  52. skpenman Says:

    Gabriele, can you post the link to your blog here, please? I have not been able to do much reading on-line; see my Facebook note below for explanation, and I am looking forward to reading kasia’s musings about Geoffrey; I’d also like to read your thoughts about Matilda’s son. I often wondered why she and her husband left the little boy behind when they were able to return from exile. I can see leaving their daughter, Richenza, since Henry was trying to arrange a marriage for her to the Scots king, and Otto was also old enough to be educated in a royal household. But William was so young! How hard it must have been for his mother.

    September 2nd, 1192 was the date of the peace treaty signed between two of medieval history’s most legendary figures, Saladin and Richard Coeur de Lion. It was actually a truce, to last for three years and eight months. The terms were not so different from those offered by Richard in November of 1191, though this time Joanna was not included as a bargaining chip. The background to this agreement is quite interesting, as readers of Lionheart may remember. Richard was stricken with malaria after his improbable victory at Jaffa and came very close to death; Baha al-Din even recorded a rumor that he’d died. He was running such a high fever that he was hallucinating at times, which enabled me to get his dead brother Geoffrey into a scene with him, always good fun. The sticking point of the negotiations had been Ascalon, which Saladin had destroyed rather than see it fall into Richard’s hands after his victory at Arsuf. Richard later camped in the ruins and spent a large sum of money rebuilding the castle. Saladin was adamant that it not remain in the hands of the Christians and Richard was just as adamant that he would not yield it without being compensated for the money he’d expended upon it. Here is where it got really interesting.
    Afraid that Richard was dying, his friends and allies were desperate to come to terms with Saladin, for they were in a very precarious position, fearing another attack by Saladin and knowing Jaffa’s battered walls would not hold off such an assault. Saladin was indeed planning an attack after learning there were only 300 knights with Richard. But then he got a message that Richard had asked al-Adil to broker a peace, and a second message from the Bishop of Salisbury saying Richard had agreed to surrender Ascalon without compensation. An agreement was soon reached and Saladin sent an envoy to Richard with a draft of the treaty.
    Lionheart, page 560-561
    * * *
    “No,” Richard said, shaking his head stubbornly. “I did not agree to yield Ascalon without compensation. I would never do that!”
    There was a shocked silence, the other men looking at one another in dismay. “You did, Uncle.” Henri approached the bed, picking up the document that Richard had crumpled and flung to the floor. “Andre and the bishop and I…we came to you and explained why Ascalon had to be sacrificed—“
    “No! I would never do that.”
    “Richard….it happened as Henri says. You do not remember…not any of it?”
    Richard’s eyes searched Andre’s face, then shifted to Hubert Walter. “No….I agreed to this? You swear it is so?” When all three of them assured him it was, he sank back against the pillows. It was very disturbing, even frightening, to think he’d made such an important decision and had no memory of it. When he glanced up again, he saw that the sultan’s envoy was becoming agitated, asking Humphrey de Toron what had gone wrong. “Humphrey….tell him that if I said it, I will honor my word. And tell him to say this to Saladin—that I accept the terms and understand that if I receive any compensation for Ascalon, it will be because of his generosity and bounty.”
    * * *
    I think this episode shows both Richard and Saladin in a good light. Richard truly did not remember agreeing to surrender Ascalon due to his high fever, but he honored his word. And Saladin demonstrated that Richard was not wrong to rely upon his “generosity and bounty,” for he did compensate Richard for the money he’d spent on Ascalon, which was then destroyed so neither side could benefit from it. Baha al-Din reported that the two armies mingled afterward and “It was a day of rejoicing. God alone knows the boundless joy of both peoples.”
    I may be away from Facebook for a while, as I am having cataract surgery tomorrow. I am looking forward to that with the same enthusiasm I’d show for a chance to go swimming with Great White Sharks or to attend a Henry VIII Fan Club conference. But I keep reminding myself that things have improved greatly since the MA, when a “doctor” would visit a town, promising to heal cloudy vision. He would then pierce the eye of the patient/victim with a needle. Apparently this actually did cause a brief improvement in vision, and by the time the inevitable infection set in, the doctor was long gone, off to the next town or village. I had two characters who went blind in Saints, Rhiannon and Willem de Ypres, and I had to do a great deal of research about this, all of which has remained gruesomely vivid in my memory over the years. Anyway, I shall return, and till then, I hope no one (no names mentioned, of course) decides to stage a coup.

  53. Kasia Says:

    Thank you, Malcolm! As for my personal message, take as much time as you need. I know how busy life can be.

    Sharon, thank you for showing interest in my Geoffrey post. To read about Geoffrey or about Matilda’s son, William, just click on our names, Kasia and Gabriele. It should suffice :-)

  54. Theresa Says:

    Good luck with the operation Sharon. A Henry VIII convention? Well at least it’s not a convention for his father Henry VII. The most unappealing and undeserving man ever to be crowned king. (In my opinion anyway)
    I have actually gone diving with Great White Sharks in South Australia and I think I would prefer to experience that again over cataract surgery. Although, I was inside the cage.

  55. Kasia Says:

    I must have missed something. Sharon is going to have a surgery? Perhaps she mentioned it to her FB friends or I am just not a careful reader. I have re-read all the above posts and haven’t seen the information. If that’s true we keep our fingers crossed for you, Sharon!

    Today I would like to wish Happy Coronation Anniversary to Richard I! I wonder whether it had ever occured to him to mentally say “Thank you!” to his brother Henry for the crown on his head. After all the latter died suddenly, prematurely and quite conveniently. Although, perhaps Richard should have been grateful to their father for all his paternal blunders… I’m sure Sharon is going to write more about today’s anniversary.

  56. Gabriele Says:

    Sharon, as Kasia said just click my name for the link to my blog. Saves you the ransom. :)

    The post is actually more about William’s descendants - he’s the one wo kept the Welfen line alive, being the only of Heinrich’s sons to have a surviving male child.

    Maybe I should try to find some more information about him and dedicate a post to him. *sigh* That list grows longer and longer. ;)

  57. Kasia Says:

    Sharon, Malcolm has just kindly written to me. I hope you are feeling well and that everything is fine. Warmest wishes from me and my family.

  58. Cindie Lovelace Says:

    Dear Sharon: Thanks so much for responding to my inquiry about the chance that ALL of your books might some day be on Audible. Here is one theory: the release of your two most recent books in audio format may well have stimulated interest among Audible fanatics like myself in seeing your earlier books available on Audible, but they are all as frustrated as I am ….. how are we to show how much we want ALL your books to be available on Audible if they are NOT — in other words, how do we get it done ???? Do we carry placards up and down the street in front of Audible/Amazon corporate offices ? I have yet to succeed in convincing Audible to offer any particular book despite deluging them over the years with “content requests” (which they answer with a form email that is far from encouraging, and I doubt they even read such requests). Isn’t this something that your agent should be all over like a wet t-shirt? (an inelegant but useful expression here among us Yanks). And yes, I loved law school but practice left me cold. Cheers !!

  59. joan Says:

    Sharon, I trust the surgery went well. I hear nothing but positive things about the success of the procedure & I’m sure I’ll have first-hand knowledge one of these days. Heal quickly!

  60. joan Says:

    Sharon, I’ll be thinking of you & your Angevins & all those other great figures for the next while as I take in all the sights & history & marvels of Jolly Olde. And Richard III on my York visit. My trip will be so much richer for this. I hope you are healing nicely.

    Kasia, I’ll be thinking of you when visiting Winchester Cathedral where young Henry was crowned (for the 2nd time) with his wife Margerite on her first crowning. And probably many other times.


  61. Theresa Says:

    On September 7th 1533, Elizabeth I of England was born. A slight disappointment to her tyrannical father Henry VIII who sacrificed so much (and so many) for a son.

  62. Kasia Says:

    Sharon, I hope you are feeling better. We miss you here! Without you it’s not the same.. And without Joan, who is visiting the land of her ancestors right now.

    I just want to wish “Happy Birthday!” to Richard I, who was born on 8 September 1157 as the second surviving son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

  63. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Cindi, I wish I knew how to make that happen. I would love it if my other novels were available as audio-books.

    I am happy to report that my cataract surgery went quite well, as has the recovery. I want to thank everyone for the good wishes. All of you who assured me that it was pain-free and anxiety-free were quite right. I still have to get the left lens changed, of course, so I can’t read much on the computer screen until that is done, but I am delighted with the results. And it is also true that colors do seem brighter.
    I missed several important Angevin milestones this past week, so I will post some retroactive comments as I slowly catch up. Meanwhile, today is the birthdate 857 years ago, September 8th, 1157, of the most famous of the Devil’s Brood, Eleanor’s favorite son, Richard. I couldn’t resist posting from a scene in Time and Chance, a scene frozen in amber, in which Henry and Eleanor’s marriage was still whole and happy and they still thought the world was theirs for the taking.
    Time and Chance, page 53
    * * *
    Somewhere along the way from the castle, Henry had found a garden to raid, for he was carrying an armful of Michaelmas daisies. These he handed to Petronilla, rather sheepishly, for romantic gestures did not come easily to him. Crossing the chamber in several strides, he leaned over the bed to give his wife a kiss. (omission)
    “Are you hurting, love?”
    Eleanor’s smile was tired, but happy. “Not at all,” she lied. “By now the babes just pop right out, like a cork from a bottle.”
    Henry laughed. “Well….where is the little cork?”
    A wet nurse came forward from the shadows, bobbing a shy curtsy before holding out a swaddled form for his inspection. Henry touched the ringlets of reddish-gold hair, the exact shade of his own, and grinned when the baby’s hand closed around his finger. “Look at the size of him,” he marveled, and as his eyes met Eleanor’s, the same thought was in both their minds: heartfelt relief that God had given them such a robust, sturdy son. No parent who’d lost a child could ever take health or survival for granted again.
    “We still have not decided what to name him,” Henry reminded his wife. “I fancy Geoffrey, after my father.”
    “The next one,” she promised. “I have a name already in mind for this little lad.”
    He cocked a brow. “Need I remind you that it is unseemly to name a child after a former husband?”
    Eleanor’s lashes were drooping and her smile turned into a sleepy yawn. “I would not name a stray dog after Louis,” she declared, holding out her arms for her new baby. She was surprised by the intensity of emotion she felt as she gazed down into that small, flushed face. Had God sent him to fill the aching void left by Will’s death? “I want,” she said, “to name him Richard.”
    * * *

  64. Kasia Says:

    Sharon, how good to have you back! I’m happy to read that everything went well and that you are well.

    I love the scene of Richard’s arrival. At present I am waiting impatiently to read Elizabeth Chadwick’s scene in the second part of her Eleanor trilogy. As I’m reading, it should be published on 14 September? But perhaps I got the dates wrong. I’ll check it.

  65. skpenman Says:

    I enjoyed your blog about Richard and the Young King, Kasia. Whenever I visit your website, devoted to Hal, I always feel that somewhere he must be smiling!

    Going backward in time, September 7th was a date worth writing about—even for someone in post-cataract recovery. In 1151, Geoffrey, the Count of Anjou, better known today as the father of Henry II, died suddenly on his way home from their meeting with the French king in Paris. He was only 38 and the most likely story is that he caught a chill after swimming in a local river to cool off in the late summer heat. In 1191, Richard Lionheart got the best advance birthday present of his life when he scored a victory over Saladin in the battle of Arsuf. And in 1533, the only “Good Tudor” was born, when Anne Boleyn gave birth to a red-haired baby girl, whom Henry would name after his mother, Elizabeth of York. He is said to have adored her and I wonder if he’d have been a different man had she not died so young. When he became involved with Anne Boleyn and treated Katherine of Aragon and his daughter Mary so cruelly to break their spirits, Elizabeth of York would not have been 70 yet. Would he have heeded her had she been there to speak up for his abused wife and child? Just another of History’s unanswerable What ifs.

  66. Theresa Says:

    An interesting observation. Personally I always believed that Elizabeth of York would have been the only person who could have been a postive influence on Henry VIII. However her son was fairly relentless in obtaining his desires and probably no-one would have prevented his tyrannical behavior.

    September 9th 1087, William I of England died. Known as the Conqueror (to Normans and admirers) and the Bastard the conquered Saxons ( particularly those living in the north of England)

  67. Kasia Says:

    Thank you, Sharon. Although, I’m pretty sure that each time I post about Richard the Young King is spinning in his grave :-)

    I am sure you will write more about today’s anniversary, I just want to say “Rest In Peace!” to Henry the Young King’s paternal grandmother, who died on this day in 1167. According to Stephen Stephen of Rouen when she died the flower of the meadow withered and a star fell. It has just occured to me that it must have been the first time when Empress Matilda was compared to a flower. Usually she was described in quite different words :-)

  68. skpenman Says:

    I agree, Kasia, about your Maude comment :-) She did garner praise, though, in the twilight of her life, just as she did during her years as the empress in Germany. It was only in the middle years that she was savaged.

    Sadly, I have to deal with death on a regular basis in my books. It is unusual when I know for a certainty how a character died. There are battlefield deaths, of course—Richard III, Simon de Montfort and his eldest son, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, Richard I, the Welsh poet-prince, Hywel ab Owain. A few who were murdered—Edmund, Earl of Rutland and Thomas Becket. One tournament death—Geoffrey. Several deaths attributable to childbirth or pregnancy complications—Ellen de Montfort, Joanna, probably Constance of Brittany. Quite a few died of dysentery, which was a killer in the MA—the young king, Hal, John, Edward I, Amalric, the King of Jerusalem. Henry II seems likely to have died of septicemia. When a chronicler notes that a character died after a long illness, we can usually assume it was cancer, as with the Black Prince, Tancred, the King of Sicily, Constance de Hauteville, Heinrich von Hohenstaufen’s unhappy wife and happy widow, Davydd ap Llywelyn. Heinrich probably died of malaria, although historians have also suggested dysentery or typhoid. One suicide—Guy de Montfort. One gruesome death from a fall—Gruffydd ap Llywelyn as he tried to escape from the Tower of London. One death from leprosy—Baldwin, the young King of Jerusalem, although Eleanor’s nephew, her sister Petronilla’s son, was said to be afflicted with this disease, too. And one death by torture, disguised as royal justice—Davydd ap Gruffydd.
    Usually, though, we just do not know, for diseases easily treatable today were often fatal in the MA, and where the chroniclers were silent, I had to provide a plausible death for these characters: John the Scot, Earl of Chester, dying of typhus, William, the King of Sicily, dying of peritonitis, Elen ferch Llywelyn dying of a miscarriage, to cite a few examples. .
    But it is very rare that any of my characters actually died of “old age,” having reached their biblical three-score-years-and-ten or beyond. Eleanor of Aquitaine made it, as did Cecily Neville, the Duchess of York, both of whom were 80 when they died. We might include the Empress Maude in that category, too; she died on September 10, 1167, at age 65. Now we’d not consider that as “old age” today, but it was in the 12th century.
    There was another death on September 10th, though, that is unique, for while it was due to an accident, it is what we today would have called “a freak accident,” so unexpected was it. On this date in 1197, Henri, Count of Champagne, uncrowned king of Jerusalem through his marriage to the young Queen, Isabella, although he never claimed that title, nephew to Richard Lionheart, grandson to the indomitable Eleanor, died when a balcony in the royal palace at Acre suddenly gave way, plunging Henri and his dwarf, who attempted to save him, to their deaths. Henri was only 31 and was that rarity, a man who seemed to have been universally admired and liked; he was highly praised by the crusader chroniclers and the Saracen chroniclers were equally complimentary. I became very fond of Henri while writing Lionheart, and I was glad I did not have to dramatize his death. I’ve had to do that all too often in the course of my books, although I find it even harder to write about the grieving of the loved ones than the actual deaths themselves.

  69. skpenman Says:

    September 11th, 1161 was the date of death of a very interesting woman who is not very well known today—Melisende, Queen of Jerusalem in her own right, strong-willed widow of Fulk of Anjou, our Henry II’s grandfather. For anyone who’d like to learn more of her unusual history, I recommend Sharan Newman’s biography, Defending the City of God. September 11th was also the date in 1297 of the battle of Stirling Bridge, in which William Wallace defeated an English army. It was dramatized in Braveheart—well, except for the bridge and the battle tactics.
    And here is a tantalizing glimpse of the next season of Game of Thrones, which seems very far away to those of us eager to return to Master Martin’s fierce fantasy world.

  70. skpenman Says:

    There is so much tragic news in the world that we need all the morale boosters we can find, and that is especially true on the anniversary of 9/11. This brief video will do the trick, showing us people at their best and happy endings. Only the utterly heartless could watch the baby elephant’s reunion with his mother and not be touched by it.

  71. skpenman Says:

    So what happened on September 12th in medieval history? Nothing I’ve written about, but of interest, nonetheless. On this date in 1213 an important battle was fought at Muret, in which Simon de Montfort (the father of “my” Simon) defeated Peter II, the King of Aragon, who was slain during the fighting. This battle doomed the people of southern France, for had Peter won, the so-called Albigensian Crusade would have sputtered to an end, many lives would have been spared and the Inquisition would not have gotten its claws into Toulouse. But whatever his flaws, de Montfort was a superb soldier, a better one than Peter, and history took a sad turn for the worst. Peter, by the way, was the son of a minor character in Devil’s Brood and A King’s Ransom, Alphonso, King of Aragon, Richard’s erstwhile friend.
    Also on September 12th in 1369, Blanche, the Duchess of Lancaster, first wife of John of Gaunt, died of the plague. She was only 24, a great heiress, and appears as a sympathetic character in Anya Seton’s classic, Katherine.
    Lastly, for the many Bernard Cornwell fans here, he has a new book out, his first non-fiction, Waterloo, which discusses one of history’s more important battles. It is already out in the UK, published yesterday, but will not be published in the US until next May. I really do not understand why publishers cannot co-ordinate these publications. But here is the link to the Amazon.UK book. And of course we are eagerly awaiting the new book in Master Cornwell’s Saxon series, The Empty Throne.

  72. Kasia Says:

    Perhaps not on medieval front, but if we go a little bit further in time we will witness the great victory won by the united forces of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Holy League) over the Muslim Ottoman Empire at Vienna in 1683. The Battle which saved the Christian Europe from the Turkish invasion was fought on 11 and 12 September and our great king Jan III Sobieski was the commander in chief (being the most experienced in fighting the Ottomans). The decisive charge of the Polish renown cavalry unit “husaria” took place at 5 p.m. on 12 September.

    When in Vienna in 1996, I paid a visit to Kahlenberg museum where I could admire the standards of the commanders, weapon and parts of the armour used by the soldiers and the armour of King Jan. Kahlenberg is a hill outside Vienna from which the king commanded the battle.

    If you are eager to learn more about our King Jan, one of the greatest monarch in the history of Poland and the man who literally saved Europe, I’m including a link to my blog on Polish history. Could you free it, Sharon?

  73. Kasia Says:

    Here it is:

  74. skpenman Says:

    As usual, a very interesting post, Kasia. I’ll go over right away to free the post being held hostage.

    On this date in 1470, the Earl of Warwick and Edward’s loose cannon of a brother, George, Duke of Clarence, landed in England, after having been forced to flee to France. Edward could not have dreamed that in a few weeks, he and his young brother Richard would be the ones in flight. But when Warwick’s brother, John Neville, suddenly switched sides, the Yorkist king and his small group of followers had to flee for their lives.
    I have good news for my British readers. Time and Chance is finally available for pre-order as an e-book on The publication date is November 6th, but it is possible it may be sooner.
    And for my Australian readers, my British publisher is trying to find out why When Christ and his Saints Slept was suddenly and mysteriously no longer available for sale as an e-book Down Under.

  75. Kasia Says:

    Thank you, Sharon. I just had to mention King Jan. His one of my favourite figures in the history of Poland (and Europe in general).

    As for Richard and Edward forced to flee England, I can still remember how vividly you have described the night they were surprised and later the tavern scene in Burgundy.

  76. Kasia Says:

    I meant “He is one of myfavourite historical figures…”, of course :-)

  77. skpenman Says:

    I have learned so much about Polish history thanks to your posts, Kasia

    I am sorry I haven’t been able to be around much this summer, but I have been kept insanely busy by—to use that highly useful cliché—the convergence of a perfect storm. As always, I’ve been fending off the deadline dragon, who has his own room now and has even begun to demand room service. I had to get some home renovations done, and anyone who has been down that path knows all about its pitfalls and perils. I had the cataract surgery, and lately I’ve been getting ready for my research trip to Israel. So something had to go and in a choice between sleep and Facebook, my aging body insisted upon sleep. So while I’ve been unable to participate in the “Name ten books that influenced you” fun, I’ve enjoyed reading your lists; it has been a great way to add new books to my towering TBR list.
    Now one of my favorite websites,, has an eye-opening article about the greatest scandals of the MA. I am happy to report that Philippe Capet’s shabby treatment of his Danish queen, Ingeborg, made the list.

  78. Kasia Says:

    Thank you, Sharon , for your kind words. I’m happy to share what I know about the history of my native land.

    Speaking of Philippe and his marriages, the medieval Europe was a small place :-) Philippe’s third wife (or, as some claimed merely a concubine), Agnes of Merania, was a sister of our St Hedwig (we have two saint Hedwigs, this one is the “earlier” one), the wife of our Henry the Bearded [Henryk Brodaty], the duke of Silesia.

  79. skpenman Says:

    And continuing the small world concept, Kasia, Richard was allowed to escape Gorz by Conrad of Montferrat’s nephew and the count of Gorz’s wife was the aunt of Agnes of Meran, the unacknowledged (by the Church) wife of Philippe Capet, the French king.

    Medieval Wales was blessed with three great princes—Llywelyn ab Iorwerth, his grandson Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, and Owain Glyn Dwr. Llywelyn was dangerously persuasive; not only did he steal Here Be Dragons out from under John’s nose, he then convinced me I should do a trilogy about his family. I’ve not yet written about Owain Glyn Dwr, but he is as eloquent in his own way as Llywelyn and I promised that I would write his remarkable story, too, one day. Every now and then, he reminds me that my writing days are dwindling down, not very tactful but true, and I assure him his time is coming. Meanwhile, on September 16, 1404, Owain summoned his first parliament, at which time he was proclaimed Prince of Wales.
    Oh, and fly, Eagles, fly!

  80. Theresa Says:

    Owain Glyn Dwr would be a novel well worth reading. His political oponent
    Henry V of England was born September 16 1387 at Monmouth Castle.

    I just found this link about Richard III’s death if anyone is interested.

  81. skpenman Says:

    On September 17, 1179, one of the most extraordinary women of the MA, Hildegard van Bingen, died at age 79. She was an abbess, a mystic, a poet, a composer, an herbalist, a writer, a visionary, a polymath, and eventually a saint, if not “officially.” She even invented an alternative alphabet. If you’d like to know more about Hildegard, here is a link to a website dedicated to her accomplishments. She is also the subject of a wonderful novel, Illuminations, by Mary Sharratt, which I highly recommend. It drew me in from the very first page, historical writing at its finest. Mary is also the author of a heartbreaking novel about a 17th century tragic trial of several Englishwomen accused of witchcraft, The Daughters of Witching Hill.

  82. Kasia Says:

    Thank you for the recommendations, Sharon. I have been planning to follow Hildegard’s diet. Hopefully some day I will :-)

    My notebook says that Louis VII died on 18 September 1180. At this point I would like to recommend my friend Richard’s great post (the Richard you met in Houston with my copy of Ransom). I’m including a link. Could you free it?

  83. Kasia Says:

    Here it is:

  84. skpenman Says:

    I will free your post as soon as I post this one, Kasia. When you read it, you’ll see that we were both on the same page today. And yes, I remember meeting your friend Richard very well.

    On September 18, 1180, Louis VII of France died at age sixty. He’d suffered from ill health for months after suffering a stroke, ignored as the royal court turned from the sunset to the dawning sun, his sole son and heir, Philippe Auguste, then fifteen. Louis was not a successful king, being overmatched by his brilliant Angevin rival, Henry II, and today he is probably better known outside France as the ex-husband of Eleanor of Aquitaine rather than for anything he did as king. He’d been raised in a monastery, meant for the Church, but a stray pig changed his fate when it spooked the horse of Louis’s elder brother, who was thrown and fatally injured. Eleanor is famously reported to have said that she thought to have married a king, but found she’d married a monk, and there is no doubt that his early upbringing influenced Louis throughout his life. He was certainly more pious than the Angevins; no one would ever have said of Louis that he’d come from the Devil and to the Devil he’d go, the dramatic charge that St Bernard of Clairvaux leveled against the Angevins. His son—coldly intelligent, ruthless, and fiercely ambitious–was so unlike his sire that it is almost enough to make us believe in foundlings. Philippe was a better king, but I think Louis was the better man. He deserves credit for protecting the Jews in his realm, showing a diligence that was quite unusual for medieval kings, in sharp contrast to his son, who made life utterly miserable for the Jews during his reign. And I find it touching that when Louis feared for Philippe’s life after the boy had become gravely ill, he begged Henry for permission to make a pilgrimage to Canterbury to entreat that prickly saint to spare his son. In light of the fact that Louis had done his best to alienate Henry and his rebellious sons, it is very much to Henry’s credit that he not only agreed, he personally escorted the frantic French king to Canterbury.

  85. skpenman Says:

    September 19, 1356 was the date of one of the MA’s more important battles, at Poitiers. It was a bad day for the French. Not only were they defeated by the Black Prince, their king, Jean Valois, was captured and would spend four years in very comfortable confinement. He was finally freed in 1360 after payment of part of a vast ransom and the surrender of highborn hostages, including one of his sons. When that son escaped in 1363, the French king voluntarily returned to his gilded captivity in England. Naturally the best account of the battle at Poitiers is to be found in Bernard Cornwell’s Grail Quest series, titled 1356. He dramatizes battles so well that it is enough to make us believe he has found a way to time travel.
    Yesterday was the historic vote on Scotland’s independence. Sadly, no matter the outcome, there were bound to be many very disappointed people. It seemed appropriate today to mention some of the important contributions that the Scots have made over the centuries. Most Americans probably don’t know that our Declaration of Independence was influenced by the Declaration of Arbroath, asserting Scottish independence in 1320. Famous Scots include James Watt, who developed the practical steam engine, Sir Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin, Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the telephone, the economist Adam Smith, the philosopher, David Hume, historical figures Robert the Bruce, William Wallace, and Mary, Queen of Scots, and actor Sean Connery. Their literary stars include Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns, and J.K. Rowling. (I did not include politicians since they tend to be controversial.) It is often said that Ireland has had an influence upon the world disproportionate to its size and population. I think the same can definitely be said of Scotland, too.

  86. Veronica Meena Says:

    Interestingly, yesterday was the 100th anniversary of the enactment of the Irish Home Rule Bill on 18 September 1914. This would have restored the Irish Parliament in Dublin, which had been abolished by the Act of Union in 1801. However, its implementation was postponed for the duration of World War I, and by the time the war ended in 1918, the political climate in Ireland had completely changed, as support for independence by constitutional means had been replaced by support for military means and the war of independence against the British Government broke out after the end of WWI and continued until the signing of the Treaty in December 1921.

  87. skpenman Says:

    What an interesting post, Veronica. I wonder if some of the bloodshed could have been averted had the Home Rule Bill been implemented in 1914, the war notwithstanding?

    I am embarrassed that I somehow forgot to include Dorothy Dunnett in my list of illustrious Scots.

  88. Veronica Meena Says:

    Just before the outbreak of the war, Ireland was on the verge of civil war as the Unionists in what is now Northern Ireland were bitterly opposed to Home Rule, and the British Government were completely focussed on Ireland almost up to the outbreak of war. Apparently Germany thought Britain would not enter the war because they were so occupied with Ireland. But things might have worked out differently if the Act had been implemented. Another of the ‘what ifs’ of history!

  89. Kasia Says:

    My list of favourite Scots is rather short, contains three names really:

    Effie Gray
    Alice Gray
    Sophy Gray

  90. skpenman Says:

    On September 20th, 1187, Saladin began the siege of Jerusalem, which figures in Ridley Scott’s epic, Kingdom of Heaven. Most of you know I am something of a purist when it comes to historical films or novels, so you won’t be surprised by my verdict on this film. It is visually stunning, but historical fantasy. They got only two facts right about the real Balian d’Ibelin—his name and that he was the savior of the Holy City.

    Balian was one of the few lords to escape the debacle at Hattin, and he asked Saladin for a safe-conduct so he could go to Jerusalem and bring his wife and children to safety. Saladin agreed, on condition he remain in the city for only 24 hours. But upon his arrival, Balian discovered the city in an understandable state of panic, for Saladin intended to take Jerusalem by storm, which always meant a bloodbath when a medieval city was not able to surrender, an orgy of killing, rape, and looting. The capture of Jerusalem during the First Crusade had led to a massacre of the Muslims and Jews in the city, with crusader chroniclers boasting that blood ran in the streets up to the ankles of knights’ horses. It was to avenge this notorious slaughter that Saladin had vowed to take Jerusalem by force, slaying or enslaving all of those sheltering within the city.

    There was no one to organize a defense of Jerusalem and Balian was torn between his promise to the sultan and the pleading of the citizens, who begged him to stay. He finally sent word to Saladin, explaining his plight and asking to be released from his promise. Yes, there were men in the MA who took honor seriously. Saladin not only agreed, he permitted Balian’s wife and children to leave the city and provided an escort to see them to safety. Balian then tried to rally the city’s defense, which included knighting the sons of townspeople since they had so few fighting men. They managed to stave off the Saracen army for a time, but they knew they were doomed and Balian made a desperate gamble. He told Saladin that if the city were not allowed to surrender and the citizens ransomed, they would kill all the Muslim prisoners in the city, destroy all of the Muslim holy sites, and fight to the death since they had nothing to lose.

    He must have been convincing for Saladin agreed to a surrender. Ransoms were set—10 dinars for a man, 5 for a woman, and 1 for a child. When Balian said there were about 20,000 poor in the city who could not raise these ransoms, Saladin agreed to release 7,000 of them for a lump sum payment of 30,000 dinars. Henry II had been providing money for the support of the kingdom for a number of years and Balian used what was left of this money now to buy the freedom for as many of the poor as he could. Those who could not raise the ransom were destined for the slave markets in Damascus and Cairo, but there were individual acts of mercy. Although the Patriarch of Jerusalem had departed the city with as much of the Church’s wealth as he could carry away, which shocked the Saracen chroniclers, Saladin’s brother, al-Adil, asked the sultan for the gift of 1,000 of these slaves. When Saladin agreed, al-Adil freed them all. Although the patriarch was not willing to use the Church plate and relics to save these poor souls, he did ask Saladin for 700 as a personal favor and again the sultan agreed. Saladin also granted Balian’s request for 500 of them and then ordered the release of the elderly. He gave widows and orphans money to tide them over on their journey to safety and made sure that none of his army plundered the city or harmed the captive Christians. It has been estimated that as many as 11,000 were taken off into slavery, but thousands of others were spared thanks to Balian’s efforts, Saladin’s mercy, and Henry II’s money.

    So Balian definitely deserves a film of his own for the role he played in the salvation of Jerusalem, just not the one he got. He was a member of the powerful d’Ibelin family, Lord of Nablus by his marriage to Maria Comnena, former Queen of Jerusalem, stepfather to the future queen, Isabella, who would wed one of my favorites, Henri of Champagne, so I envisioned Balian spinning in his grave like the proverbial top after he was transformed into an illegitimate French blacksmith who learned knightly skills on his two month journey to the Holy Land and ran off with Queen Sybilla (who was never his lover and had been dead for 3 years) at film’s end.

  91. Kasia Says:

    God, I think I will never cease to wonder how they could make a blacksmith out of a highborn, especially that we know pretty much about the real Balian. This must be a kind of a mianstream trend to win the hearts of the audience. Didn’t William Wallace share the same fate in Mel Gibson’s Braveheart? From knight to peasant…

    The one thing that I find heartening in the films like these is the fact that the inquisitive minds will always try to determine what was fact and what pure invention.

  92. skpenman Says:

    September 22nd, 1515, is the birthdate of the luckiest of Henry VIII’s wives, Anne of Cleaves. I think she was also very clever, for she played her cards perfectly, salvaging Henry’s massive ego while escaping from a marriage that was probably as distasteful as it was dangerous. I think the best film treatment of Henry’s marital circus is the BBC’s The Six Wives of Henry VIII, with an episode for each wife. Anne’s episode is great fun and I highly recommend it, for the series has stood the test of time admirably.
    Back in real life, my Eagles are flying high, but Eagles fans are aging fast. Way too much suspense and high drama, which I prefer to confine to my novels.

  93. Malcolm Craig Says:

    One more prominent Scot: Robert Burns.

  94. Kasia Says:

    Happy Brithday to Geoffrey of Brittany! I am certain that Sharon will write more about her favourite son of Eleanor and Henry. As far as I am concerned, I have decided to invite our dear Malcolm to our humble abode to celebrate Geoffrey’s birthday. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to ask him a few questions about Geoffrey and his family. I’m including the link to our interview. Could you free it, Sharon?

  95. Kasia Says:

    Here it is:

  96. Kasia Says:

    You can also click on “Kasia” to read our interview. Why hasn’t it occured to me? It’s so simple, after all :-)

  97. skpenman Says:

    September 23rd, 1158 was the birthdate of the most intriguing and enigmatic of the Devil’s Brood, Geoffrey, Duke of Brittany. I confess he has always been a favorite of mine, his brief rule in Brittany and his premature death raising all sorts of interesting What If questions. There is no doubt that if he’d not died of the injuries suffered in that French tournament, English history would have been changed. But how? I think Geoffrey would have been a successful king, certainly more so than John, for he’d proved his capabilities by winning over the turbulent, contentious Breton barons, and he did not share John’s emotional insecurities. Would Richard have dared to go on crusade had Geoffrey been alive in 1189? Or would they have come to a pragmatic understanding based upon Geoffrey’s likely assumption that his reckless older brother would never die peacefully in bed? After Richard’s death at Chalus, would John have challenged Geoffrey for the throne? Would England have had a King Arthur? Of course these speculations are unanswerable, probably one reason why we find them so fascinating.
    I miss writing about Geoffrey, so here is a brief scene from Lionheart in which I managed to infiltrate him into the story line despite being dead for six years. In this scene, Richard is very ill with malaria and running such a high fever that he’s begun to hallucinate.
    Lionheart, pages 559-560
    * * *
    Is this what you want, Richard? A familiar figure emerged from the darkness, holding out Joyeuse, the sword Maman had given him on his fifteenth birthday, when he’d been invested as Duke of Aquitaine. (omission) He reached for it, but his brother pulled it away before his fingers could touch the enameled pommel. What good will a sword do you when you are as weak as a mewling kitten? Geoffrey sat on a nearby coffer, tossing the sword aside. You were so pleased when you heard I’d been trampled in that tournament. Very short-sighted of you, Richard. You’d have been better off with me as your heir, much better off.
    As if you’d not have connived for my crown, too! You’d never have been satisfied with a duchy if a kingdom was in the offing
    He had no energy for speech, but he did not need it, for Geoffrey seemed to pluck his words from the air, saying with a sardonic smile, Yes, but I would have been willing to wait. Face it, Richard, you’ll never make old bones. Other men lust after women. You lust after Death, always have. You’ve been chasing after her like a lovesick lad and sooner or later she’ll take pity and let you catch her. So I could afford to wait. But Johnny had to entangle himself in Philippe’s web, the damned fool.
    You entangled yourself in Philippe’s web, too, Richard reminded him. If you had not been plotting with the French, you’d not have been at Lagny when that tournament was held.
    You know why I turned to Philippe. I got tired of Papa treating us like his puppet princes, tired of him dangling that accursed crown before us like a hunter’s lure. So did you, remember? You did me one better, too, doing public homage to Philippe for all your fiefs “on this side of the sea” whilst Papa looked on, dumbfounded. But you could safely make use of Philippe, for you knew you could outwit him and outfight him. So could I. Johnny cannot, as he’ll soon learn to his cost. Ah, well, you’ll be dead by then, so mayhap it will not matter so much
    Christ Jesus, Geoffrey, of course it matters! Furious, Richard thrashed about, trying to free himself from his sheets. If you’ve come only to mock me, go back to Hell where you belong!
    Purgatory, not Hell, Geoffrey said and laughed before fading back into the blackness. Richard called out to him, but he got no answer. He was alone.
    * * *
    Henry and Eleanor made some major mistakes as parents, but perhaps their greatest blunder was that they utterly failed to engender a sense of solidarity among their sons. Imagine how different their history would have been if Hal, Richard, Geoffrey, and John had been allies, not enemies?

  98. skpenman Says:

    Not much to report on today in terms of medieval history, so I’ll pass along some Game of Thrones news for the upcoming season scheduled to return in four years or so No Bran at all in this season, and no Hodor either. His storyline won’t figure in the plot. As long as Tyrion is front and center, I won’t complain; I was a very unhappy camper when he disappeared altogether from the fourth book.
    And here is an article about what are supposed to be the 50 best American cities in which to live. I can’t say I agree with all of the choices, but it makes interesting reading. If I had a ton of money, I’d chose my favorite city, San Francisco, with a vacation home in Honolulu, another city I really like. With frequent visits to New Orleans, for although I would not want to live there again (a climate so humid it feels like downtown Atlantis, and flying cockroaches) it remains one of the most intriguing and exotic cities on the planet, at least IMHO.

  99. Cindie Lovelace Says:

    Dear Sharon,
    So sorry I have been “away” for so long, but I am packing up my life for a move across the country so please forgive me. I checked in today because of an urgent need to tell you how EXTRAORDINARILY much pleasure your “Devil’s Brood” has been giving me every night before bed ….. I can’t even possibly express how engrossing and illuminating I find your marvelous book. I am in love with the era, and with each character, and with each new surprise your story brings - so much so that i am not rushing, I am LUXURIATING in your gorgeous pageant. Thank you Thank you…. I have abandoned all quest for more of your books to be on audio, because having the nice, fat, beautiful hardcover in my hands is such a splendid treat. Cheers from the now magical aura you have created which is now emanating, no — radiating !!- from my bedside table! Cindie Lovelace

  100. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Sharon, I think you know that episode with Geoffrey’s ghost on the coffer is one of my favorite parts of Lionheart. I appreciated your ingenuity in sneaking Geoffrey into the story several years after his demise. One would expect him and his father to be having interesting conversations in Purgatory.

  101. Patti from Michigan Says:

    I will be in England/Ireland.Italy in April to May of 2015 and would LOVE to do a tour with an author/historian, suck as Sharon Kaye Penman. Any chance of a private tour? For compensation, of course. It never hurts to ask and my travel plans are flexible. Please?

  102. Patti from Michigan Says:

    p.s. I love your writing and you could make England’s history come alive for this Yankee! I haven’t missed one of your book.

  103. skpenman Says:

    My publisher would pitch a fit if I took time off from the current book, Patti–unfortunately. Your trip sounds wonderful. I can suggest places in England and Wales that figure prominently in my novels if you like. And thank you for the lovely compliment about my writing.

    I would like to wish a happy Rosh Hashanah to my Jewish friends and readers.
    And September 25, 1066 was the date of the battle of Stamford Bridge in which the Saxon king, Harold Godwinson, defeated an invading Norwegian army. Just three weeks later, Harold would be defeated himself and slain during the battle of Hastings. For those interested in finding out more about the last Saxon king, I recommend the novel by Helen Hollick. It was published in the UK as Harold the King and in the US as I am the Chosen King, which is always a bad idea, for the potential for confusion is obvious, but writers are rarely consulted about such decisions. My British publisher at the time wanted to change the title for Here Be Dragons but I held firm and won the battle only by agreeing to change my name—no, I am not making that up. I had to drop my middle name in order to keep the title, which is why I am published in the US as Sharon Kay Penman and in the UK as Sharon Penman.

  104. joan Says:

    Sharon I’m happy to hear your recovery went so well. I’m back from my dream trip though my heart is still in England & will be for some time. An incredible journey for so many reasons, & hope this is only the beginning of discovering other parts of the UK.

    I had just sent an email off to a friend half an hour ago, talking about your title, Here Be Dragons……so thank you for holding firm. When I read in your AN or Afterword why the title, I had shivers up & down my spine. The novel could NOT have been called anything else!! But what a strange thing, having to change your name?!?

    I took a photo of an ancient German saddle in the Tower & the accompanying sign titled “Here Be Dragons”. The saddle, covered with images of dragons, was possibly a gift from Emperor Sigismund to King Henry V on his joining the Hungarian Dragon Order 1416.

    You may have some new readers across the pond, I couldn’t help but emote as I toured, talking to the volunteers (I think they’re volunteers) in the cathedrals, etc, not to mention interesting people along the way, who found it intriguing that Canadians are so interested in British history ??? So naturally I had to mention how this obsession began…..with Here Be Dragons!

    Cindie, thumbs up for reading the real book! And good luck with your move……I know all about packing up one’s life for a move cross country…..have done it too many times.

  105. Cindie Lovelace Says:

    Joan, I just want to say that i have so many “real” books that they have overtaken my bedroom and are now overflowing into any formerly free nook and cranny in the tiny condo where i have been living. Each historical period has an enormous clear plastic crate of books to call its own !! Audio format simply enables me to “read” more hours per day, since I only have about one hour at bedtime for reading, and 5 to 8 hours (several days a week) on the trails of the Rocky Mountain National Park to listen to books !!
    However for my cross country journey in the car, to be read in my 6 months at the other end of the odyssey, I have packed ALL of Sharon Kay Penman’s books (alas no more hard covers after this one, the sequence is all in very used paperbacks that I bought online)– At least the paperbacks are easy to fit into the car !!! And then with “Lionheart” and “Ransome” I will revert to audio !!

  106. Says:

    medieval wedding dresses ArticlesAisle walk is the dream of every bride, the perfect walk with the bridesmaid and flower girl. Bridesmaid obviously has all rights to look good but little angel like flower girls too should have the pretty appearance. Avoiding the importance of flower girl is like avoiding the whole theme. And, sitemap, any aisle walk will never be a perfect if it is without the flower girl. As you walk down the aisle, all the guests wait to see you in the alluring bridal dress. H