I’d like to thank all of you who participated in the book giveaway for Priscilla Royal’s new mystery, Satan’s Lullaby.  The lucky winner is Anne; if you have not done so already, Anne, you can reach me at or Priscilla at
I am doing something unusual for this blog, recycling a past one.   This was In Six Words or Less, which addressed the six word memoirs fad.  As I explained in that blog, when Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write a short story in just six words, he delivered a knockout punch:   “For sale, baby shoes.  Never worn.”        In my blog, I cited some clever or poignant efforts by those inspired by Ernest.    “Came, saw, conquered.  Had second thoughts.”    “Like an angel.  The fallen kind.”   And “Everyone who loved me is dead.”
I then moved on to some of our favorite historical characters and tried my hand at reducing their larger-than-life histories to six words or less.    Here are a few examples that I came up with in that blog.   Henry II:   “Happier if I’d only had daughters.”    Richard I at Chalus: “Damn!  Should have worn my armor.”      Thomas Becket:  “A saint now.  I win, Henry.”   I came up with six word memoirs for almost all of my major characters—the Welsh princes and their wives, Simon de Montfort, and the Yorkists.    And I concluded by challenging my readers to come up with six word memoirs of their own—for themselves, for historical characters, whomever came to mind.   And they really responded, crafting some wonderful responses.  Unfortunately, those stellar efforts won’t show up on this blog.  But for any of you curious to read them, here is the link to that earlier blog. It was posted over two and a half years ago, in October of 2012, the major reason why I decided to rerun it; I realized that I have so many more Facebook friends now that many of them probably never saw it.    So here is the challenge again.   Read the blog below and then try your own hands at it.   Good luck!
*      *      *      *      *
Some of you may remember a few years ago when six-word memoirs became the rage.   Supposedly this trend could be traced to an anecdote about Ernest Hemingway.  Challenged to write a short story in just six words, he sat down and scribbled:  “For sale, baby shoes.  Never worn.”    Whether that was true or not, many people were inspired to take a shot at it, and at least one book of their split-second memoirs was published.  I thought it might be fun to try it for historical figures.  But first let me give you some examples from Six-word Memoirs.  They are funny, ironic, wry, poignant, tragic, playful, disillusioned, clever —in other words, they run the gambit of human emotions.
Here are some I found sad:   “I still make coffee for two.”  “I like girls. Girls like boys.”  “I hope to outlive my regrets.”   “Everyone who loved me is dead.”    “Was father. Boys died. Still sad.”   “So devastated.  No babies for me.”    “Coulda, woulda, shoulda.  A regretful life.”
Here are some I thought were clever or amusing or thought-provoking.   “Verbal hemophilia; why can’t I clot?’   “Woman seeks men; high pain threshold.”   “Perpetual work in progress.  Need editor.”  “Memory was my drug of choice.”   “Came, saw, conquered.  Had second thoughts.”  “Always working on the next chapter.”   “Lapsed Catholic.  Failed poet.  Unpublished prayers.”    “Like an angel.  The fallen kind.”   “Giraffe born to a farm family.”  “Tried not believing everything I thought.”    “The militant who became a monk.”
Okay, everyone ready to play?   How about this one for Henry II, a bit trite but true:  “Happier if I’d had only daughters.”    Or Richard, musing on his deathbed at Chalus.  “Damn!  Should have worn my armor.”     Eleanor: “Rebellion?  Probably not a good idea.”      John:  “Why do people not trust me?”    Hal:  “I was king; no one cared.”      Geoffrey:  “I was always the forgotten son.”    Thomas Becket: “A saint now.  I win, Henry.”      The Empress Maude:  “I was cheated of my destiny.”     Eleanor and Henry’s daughter, Leonora: “I couldn’t live without my husband.”    Berengaria: “If only I’d had a child.”     Joanna: “I found love, but too late.”   The French king Philippe: “God rot all those accursed Angevins.”      His unhappy queen, Ingeborg: “Why did I ever leave Denmark?”        King Stephen:  “The crown brought me little happiness.”    Here’s another one for Henry, which probably crossed his mind during his last days at Chinon:  “Betrayed by all whom I loved.”    Rosamund Clifford:  “Loved by Henry, forgiven by God.”     Henry’s illegitimate son Geoff, the Archbishop of York:   “I never wanted to take vows!”     Richard again, “The Lionheart legend lives on, Philippe!”       Eleanor: “A mother shouldn’t outlive her children.”     Geoffrey of Anjou, who died within a month after Bernard of Clairvaux prophesied his death:  “Don’t let Bernard gloat about this.”    Or Maude again, maybe wistfully this time:  “I’d have been a good queen.”      Her brother Robert, barred by illegitimacy from the throne: “I’d have been a better king.”      And I’m going to cheat now and give John the last word, this one from Here Be Dragons: “I always knew I’d die alone.”
Moving on to Llywelyn Fawr:  “Poor Wales, so close to England.”    Joanna:  “I loved him; he forgave me.”      William de Braose, who was hanged by Llywelyn for his infidelity with Joanna:  “Hellfire, no woman is worth this.”    Llywelyn’s son Gruffydd, about to escape from the Tower:  “Now if only the sheet holds.”      Llywelyn’s grandson, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd:   “God help Wales once I’m dead.”   His wife, Ellen de Montfort:  “But we had so little time together.”     Their daughter Gwenllian:  “Tell me, please, where is Wales?”   Davydd ap Gruffydd:  “Could not live with my regrets.”    His wife Elizabeth de Ferrers:  “My crime?  That I loved Davydd.”     Their son Owen, imprisoned from the age of three by Edward:   “Why am I being held here?”
Edward I:  “For me, more was never enough.”    Henry III:  “Westminster Abbey was my true legacy.”   Simon de Montfort:  “I died for a just cause.”    Also, “My brother-in-law was such a fool.”    His wife, Nell: “I’d do it all over again.”      Their son Bran:  “Never enough wine to drown memories.”  Guy de Montfort, who committed suicide in a Sicilian dungeon after Edward I blocked a ransom: “Please God, let me go mad.”
Edward IV:  “Burned my candle at both ends.”      Richard III:  “Please bury me at York Minster.”     Anne Neville: “I wanted Middleham, not Westminster Palace.”     Elizabeth Woodville: “I should have known—damn Edward!”     Edmund, 17 year old Earl of Rutland: “This cannot be happening to me.”   Marguerite d’Anjou:  “My life?  Much grief, few joys.”       Cecily Neville: “My life?  It lasted too long.”    Elizabeth of York:  “My life?  I did my duty.”  Henry Tudor:  “Tudors lay claim to Hollywood next.”    George of Clarence:  “What’s that?  A butt of malmsey?”
Okay, how about everyone else giving it a try?   You can choose any historical character, though Henry VIII and his wives might be too easy.    You can write your own memoirs instead, if you wish.  (You may notice that I cravenly ducked that one.)    Have fun.

*     *      *      *      *
I hope you all agree with me that this was worth redoing.  And here is more information on the book I cited in that blog, which was great fun to read.   Not Quite What I was Planning; six word memoirs, edited by Rachael Fershleiser and Larry Smith.
PS.  How ironic is it that I created this six word memoir for Richard III in that earlier blog:  “Please bury me at York Minster.”
March 11, 2015

84 Responses to “SIX WORDS OR LESS–AGAIN”

  1. Meri Brady Says:

    I’m very fond of this idea: thank you for repeating it!

    For myself: She takes care of everyone else.

    Owain Glyn Dwr: Beloved country: besieged, beleaguered, betrayed, betwixt.

  2. skpenman Says:

    That is a very good one,Meri!

  3. Amy Goetz Says:

    For myself: Found poignancy in everything around her.

  4. Patrick O'Toole Says:

    Phillip Augustus=…..If I just outlive them all….

  5. Patrick O'Toole Says:

    HRE Heinrich….”The bid is to you,John……

  6. Anne Says:

    Oh poor Llewelyn. Both of them. I’ve read all of your books and still love those two most.

  7. Anne Says:

    Just saw about the giveaway. So exciting! Thank you both!

  8. Ellen Says:

    William Marshal: loyalty, luck, long life- England’s Regent.

  9. Joan Says:

    So happy you’ve repeated this Sharon. I had a ball with it last time. No kidding about the irony of your Richard III memoir!! I’ll have to get my thinking cap on now.

    Good one Meri!!

  10. Joan Says:

    Joan of Arc: And they say I’m crazy!?! Jesu!!

    Mary Queen of Scots:

    …..Next life…..set sail with Bothwell!

    …..One bolt…red silk…cost inconsequential

  11. Elizabeth Says:

    William Marshal: “Served five kings. Beat that Lancelot!”

  12. Elizabeth Says:

    Eleanor: “My life‘s as a GRRM novel.”

  13. skpenman Says:

    The above ones are great, guys!

    I am a day late, but on March 11, 1152, Louis VII of France and Eleanor of Aquitaine ended their marriage, a move that Louis would come to bitterly regret and one that enabled Eleanor to prove Scott Fitzgerald wrong; there are indeed second acts, and hers would be spectacular. Yesterday was also the date of death of her daughter by Louis, Marie, the Countess of Champagne, who died in 1198. I personally don’t think she ever got over the sudden death of her son, Henri, in a bizarre accident at Acre. In yesterday’s blog, I did a six word memoir for Eleanor that reflects the sorrows that were visited upon her in her twilight years” “A mother shouldn’t outlive her children.”
    And here is a link to the trailer for the new season off Game of Thrones. Battles, bloodshed, betrayals, and dragons! Who could ask for more?

  14. Stephanie Says:

    Hee hee, Elizabeth!

  15. Joan Says:

    Berengeria, contemplating her life: “Huh???”

    William the Marshall: “Who knew?”

    Eleanor: “Whatever you think Henry, I rock!!”

  16. Joan Says:

    Henry II: “She may rock, but I roll!”

  17. davide artioli Says:

    My first time, be merciful.

    Matilda of tuscany: “is it cold out there, Heinrich? “

  18. skpenman Says:

    Very good ones, guys! You gave me my first laugh of the morning, too, Davide.

    On March 13, 1271 occurred one of the most shocking crimes of the Middle Ages, in part because of the high birth of the killers and the victim and in part because of the scene of the murder—during Mass at the church of San Silvestro in Viterbo, Italy. It had its roots in a battle, the one at Evesham in 1265 in which Simon de Montfort was defeated and slain by Henry III’s son, Edward, who also happened to be Simon’s godson and nephew by marriage, as Simon was wed to Henry’s sister, Nell. Simon’s eldest son Harry also died at Evesham, and his third son Guy was seriously wounded, although he did eventually recover and managed to escape, where he began a new life in Italy. The second son Bran was a victim, too, of Evesham, for he’d been supposed to join his father and brothers at Evesham with reinforcements. Instead, he gave Edward an opportunity to ambush and defeat his men. By the time he got to Evsham, it was in time to see his father’s head on a pike. He later joined Guy in Italy, but he never got over Evsham, for he struggled under a double burden—grief and guilt. Here is a scene from The Reckoning, page 41-42. Guy has just learned that their first cousin Hal, Henry III’s nephew, is in Viterbo and he at once vows to avenge his father and brother’s deaths. At that moment, Bran, suffering from a monumental hangover, stumbles into the hall.
    * * *
    Bran paused, blinking in the surge of sunlight, looking puzzled and a little wary to see the hall in such turmoil. Grabbing Bran’s scabbard from the back of a chair, Guy strode forward, thrust it at his brother. “We’ve no time to lose, Bran. Hal is here, right here in Viterbo! I still cannot believe it, cannot believe God could be so good to us. But Christ, why could it not have been Ned?”
    Bran had always believed the folklore that a sudden shock could sober a man. He discovered now that it wasn’t so. No matter how he tried to focus his thoughts, to banish the wine-fumes from his brain, he could not cut through the confusion. Drink did not numb as easily as it once had, so why now? Why now when he had such need for clear thinking? He looked at his brother, seeing not Guy but Harry, his constant, unseen companion, for who was more faithful than a ghost? Who understood better than the dead that there was no forgiveness, in this life or the next? What did Guy know of remorse, relentless and ever-present, goading a man toward madness? What did Guy know of that? And he must not ever learn!
    “Guy, listen to me!” Why did his voice sound so slurred, echo so strangely in his own ears? Why could he not find the right words? “But it is Hal, not Ned. Hal. And he…he was not even at Evesham!”
    He saw at once that he’d not gotten through to Guy; the look on his brother’s face was one of disbelief, not comprehension. “Why are you so set upon destroying yourself? What will it change? You cannot even say that Papa would want this, Guy, for you know he would not!”
    It was a cry of desperation, honest as only a plea utterly without hope can be. But Guy reacted as if he’d been struck a physical blow. His head came up, breath hissing through clenched teeth, eyes narrowing into slits of incredulous rage.
    “You dare to talk of what Papa would have wanted, you who killed him! He and Harry died because of you, because of your criminal carelessness, your God-cursed folly! Where were you when we most needed you? Camped by the lake at Kenilworth Castle, out in the open so your men could bathe, by God, so Ned could come down on you like a hawk on a pigeon! And Papa never knowing, keeping faith with you till the last. Even when we realized that Ned had used your banners as bait, we assumed you’d fought and lost, not that you’d let yourself be ambushed like some green, witless stripling, never that! Does it comfort you any, that our father went to his death still believing in you, never knowing how you’d betrayed him? I watched him die, damn you, and Harry and all the others. Not you, Bran—me! And mayhap this is why I did not die that day myself, so I could avenge our father, avenge Evesham!”
    Sweat stood out on Guy’s forehead; his chest heaved as if he’d been running. He drew a deep, constricted breath, then said, more calmly, but no less contemptuously, “You can come with me or not as you choose. But is it not enough that you failed Papa at Evesham? Are you truly going to fail him at Viterbo, too?”
    Bran’s throat had closed up, cutting off speech. But he had nothing to say. No denials to make. No excuses to offer. Every embittered accusation that Guy had flung at him was one already embedded in his soul, five years festering. He could not defend himself. Nor could he save himself. All he could do was what he did now—reach for the sword that Guy was holding out to him.
    * * *
    Hal’s death truly shocked medieval public opinion, for the de Montforts burst into the church during Mass. Guy struck down a priest who tried to interfere and stabbed his cousin as he clung to the altar. The killing is well documented; we even know what Guy said when Hal pleaded for mercy, “You shall have the mercy you showed my father and brother.” But there are several mysteries about this gory murder. Hal made no attempt to defend himself. And other than the priest, no one came to his aid even though the church was filled with men, some of them surely Hal’s own household knights. Nor did anyone attempt to stop the de Montfort brothers when they fled the scene after the killing was done.
    Guy and Bran earned the unrelenting enmity of their cousin Edward for this crime. But Guy was wed to the daughter of a powerful Italian count; moreover, he’d inherited his father’s battlefield brilliance, and there was no shortage of men willing to ignore his crime in order to have him fighting on their side. In 1283, Guy was even appointed as captain-general of the papal forces in Romagna! But in 1287, he was captured during a naval battle and imprisoned in Sicily. The vast sum of eight thousand ounces of gold was offered to ransom him by his family and friends, but the ransom was refused and he died after several years in captivity; one report said that he committed suicide. It is generally believed that Edward exerted the considerable power of the English Crown to make sure he would never be released.
    Bran’s day of reckoning came much sooner. He was dead, apparently of malaria, in a matter of months, after wandering the swampy wastelands of the Maremma, truly a lost soul. I’ve always felt that to him, death was a mercy, for he obviously could not live with what he’d failed to do at Evesham and what he had done at Viterbo.
    The church still exists, although it is not open to the public. But there is a plaque in the piazza telling passersby what happened there on March 13, 1271. I’ve never forgotten how close the past seemed to me as I stood there, staring down at the paving stones and finding it all too easy to envision them soaked in blood.

  19. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    March 14, 1471 was a crucial date in Yorkist history, for it was the day that Edward and Richard and their small intrepid band landed on English soil in what must have seemed like a futile attempt to reclaim the crown. But Edward was that rarity, one of those men who was at his best when things were at their worst and he rose to the challenge magnificently. He sweet-talked his way into York and as he moved south, more and more men began to rally to his banners. Within a month, he’d been welcomed into London and then scored a decisive victory over Warwick at Barnet Heath, followed by an even more impressive victory at Tewkesbury. Sadly, the reverse was true and Edward was at his worst when things were going well, and we know how that turned out.
    I was reading an article about the new Game of Thrones season and I should warn you all that the writers are saying someone dies in this season who did not die in the books and they are also admittedly deviating more from the books in this season. So even for those of us who read the books, there will be some shocks and surprises ahead. Fasten your seat-belts, guys.
    Oh, and The Dovekeepers will be starting on American television at the very end of March. I assume it will run in the UK and Down Under, too, but I do not know when. Has anyone heard what is going on with the filming of Bernard Cornwell’s wonderful Saxon series? I suspect we have a long wait for that one.

  20. Lynne Says:

    I put a bunch of them up yesterday, but they seem to have vanished? :(

  21. skpenman Says:

    I thought some of them were missing. Very strange, for I certainly did not delete them. I hope all of you who had your creations erased will repost. How odd.

  22. skpenman Says:

    Lynne, I found them. I logged onto the site and there they were. I am pasting them here. I really do not understand this since they did appear initially. I love the ones about John and Berengaria commiserating about having to live with legends.

    Senena: “It’s all that Norman bitch’s fault.”

    Rhodri ap Gruffydd: “Why does everyone keep forgetting me?”

    Simon de Montfort: “Wish someone better had been king.”

    King John: “Wish I’d learned how to trust.”

    Also King John: “Being related to three legends sucks.”

    Berengaria: “Try being married to one.”

    Henry II: “Why does everyone keep bugging me?”

    Richard III: “Wish I hadn’t worn the crown.”

    This is fun!

  23. Joan Says:

    I agree, tons of fun. I’m glad Sharon found yours, Lynne. Love Berengaria’s also! And Henry & John.

    Here’s King John in a self-loathing mood:

    “What bejewelled fiend is this?!?”

  24. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Today is the Ides of March, so be careful the way Caesar should have been. If your spouse has foreboding dreams about today, listen to him or her and stay home!
    Many of you have probably seen the controversial dress that took the Internet by storm this past week, controversial because some people see it as white and gold, while others swear it is blue and black. Here is a link to the dress and an explanation thrown in for good measure. I saw it as white and gold. What color do you see?–or-white-and-gold–dress-405695555960

  25. skpenman Says:

    Great bargain today on Amazon. You can buy our own David Blixt’s novel, The Eve of Ides, as a kindle for only 99 cents.…/…/ref=sr_1_9_twi_2_kin…

  26. skpenman Says:

    One of the most tragic events of the MA occurred on March 16, 1190, when the Jews of York, trapped in the castle by a rampaging mob, chose to commit mass suicide rather than be torn to pieces when the castle fell. A small number chose to gamble on the good faith of the besiegers, promising to convert if their lives were spared. It was agreed, but when they ventured out, they were brutally murdered. For those who want more information about this horrific slaughter, read Lionheart, Chapter Seven. There is also a novel called The King’s Persons by Joanne Greenburg. The massacre in York has been called a medieval Masada, and we will soon get to watch a miniseries about the actual Masada when The Dovekeepers, based upon the powerful novel by Alice Hoffman, debuts on March 30th, at least in the US; I am not sure when it premieres elsewhere.
    March 16th was also the day that Richard III’s queen, Anne Neville, died in 1485. She was twenty-eight and in a little more than five months, Richard would follow her to the grave. Of course she was buried with royal honors at Westminster Abbey and Richard would be tossed into a hastily dug hole with scant ceremony, his hands still bound. This injustice will finally be rectified, of course, on March 26th, when his remains will be re-interred at Leicester Cathedral. Meanwhile, here is a brief scene from Sunne, page 1133-1134.
    * * *
    “I do not mind so much any more, Richard, truly. The anger…it’s all gone now, even the fear. I am so tired, love, so tired…Sometimes I even think I’d welcome it, being at peace…and with Ned. I mind only leaving you, but I think I understand even that, think Ned does need me more….”
    Richard’s head was bowed; she could no longer see his face, but she felt his tears on her hand. She tugged weakly at his sleeve, willing him to look up.
    “Richard, listen, my love…please. I feel very close to God, in a way I never felt before, as if He’s with me now…just like Ned. And I know—I truly do know—that the Almighty is not a jealous God at all but one of forgiveness. Does not Scriptures say the Lord is full of compassion and mercy, and saveth in time of affliction? My darling, if only I could help you to see that…Richard, promise me you’ll try to believe that, to believe in God’s love, God’s forgiveness….”
    Richard nodded and Anne had to be content with that, sank back exhausted against the pillow. She wanted only to sleep, to drift down into oblivion. Ned came so often to her in dreams, waited for her. She struggled to stave off sleep a few moments more, for Richard’s sake, and then felt him lifting her up, brushing her hair back from her neck, and she opened her eyes, saw that he’d taken from his own throat the silver pilgrim cross he’d worn since boyhood. He fumbled with the catch and it took several tries before he could fasten it securely about her neck. It was tarnished, dulled with age, but warm against her skin, as if it still held heat drawn from his body.
    * * *

  27. Joan Says:

    I hope they’ve done The Dovekeepers justice as it is an unusual & brilliant novel.

    Extremely moving & contemplative experience standing inside Clifford’s Tower.

    Henry the young King, re his dad: “I’m just sayin’”

    Henry II, re Beckett: “Just sayin”"

  28. Cheryl Says:

    Still doing six words?

    For myself - Almost an author but not quite.

    I can’t remember if I saw this one but if not - Anne Boleyn - A son would have saved me.

  29. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Here is the timetable for the events in Leicester next week. The city is really pulling out all the stops. I like to think Henry Tudor is spinning in his own grave like the proverbial top now that Richard has become a rock star!

  30. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Yesterday was the date of death in 1185 of one of history’s most tragic figures, the courageous young man known as the Leper King, Baldwin IV of Jerusalem. He was not yet twenty-four, and died knowing that his kingdom was not likely to long survive him, for it was being torn apart by inner turmoil and threatened by the most dangerous of its Saracen foes, the man whom history would know as Saladin. Baldwin was stricken with this cruel disease while still a child, but he was still crowned at age thirteen upon his father’s unexpected death, for at that time, his leprosy was suspected but not yet definitively diagnosed. Here is a brief scene from Outremer, after Baldwin has discovered the truth that they’d kept from him and has confronted William of Tyre, his tutor, who would become Archbishop of Tyre and the author of one of the great histories of the MA.
    * * *
    “Why?” Little more than a whisper. “Why me?”
    William had been asked that before, of course, in the years since he’d become an arch-deacon. A cry that must surely have echoed down through the centuries, every time a parent buried a child, a wife bled to death in the birthing chamber, a husband was struck down on the field of battle, a man or woman was faced with a wasting disease, an unbearable loss. He’d told them what he’d been taught, the words he’d offered to Maria when her daughter died, that it was not for mortal man to understand the ways of the Almighty. He had quoted from Scriptures–Now we seek through a glass, darkly, but then face to face—often having to explain the meaning to the illiterate, that whilst on earth, their knowledge was imperfect, upon that glorious day when they were admitted into the Kingdom of God, all would become clear. He found now that he could not say that to Baldwin, and so he gave the boy an answer of wrenching honesty.
    “I…I do not know, Baldwin.”
    Baldwin regarded him searchingly. “I know what men say of lepers. That they are morally unclean. That leprosy is the disease of the damned, punishment for their sins.” His voice wavered, but then he broke William’s heart by mustering up a small smile. “IF this is indeed leprosy, I have not had a chance to commit any sins great enough to deserve this, William.”
    * * *

  31. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Sad news from a friend of mine in England. Rosemary Hawley Jarman has died. She is best known for her sympathetic portrayal of Richard III in We Speak No Treason. My friend said she’d been planning to attend the Ricardian ceremonies in Leicester despite her ill health. We haven’t seen any mention yet in the news, but there is a statement posted on the Bosworth Heritage Center.

  32. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    On March 18, 1314, the last Grand Master of the Templars, Jacques de Molay, and Geffroi de Charnay were burnt at the stake on an island in the Seine, in one of the worst travesties of justice in the MA. The other day we were talking about the people that Dante condemned to his Inferno. What a shame he did not include the French king Philippe IV. I am no Templar scholar, not even close, but I know some of my readers are very knowledgeable about the Order, and if they’d like to elaborate upon Jacques de Molay’s tragic fate, I am sure we’d all find that interesting.

  33. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    A belated Happy St Patrick’s Day to one and all. Today, March 19th, is the day that the swallows come back to Capistrano. It is a beautiful mission, although I’ve never been there on the right date. But I understand that fewer swallows show up than in the past. However, as far as I know, the buzzards loyally return to Hinkley, Ohio every March 15th.
    Here is an interesting article about Game of Thrones, but no, it does not give us any hints as to when Master Martin’s new opus will be done….sigh. They plan to deviate more from the books in this upcoming season, so it should be Fasten Your Seat Belts Time.

  34. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    This is an amazing video of an eclipse of the sun in the Faeroe Islands, which are in the North Atlantic, halfway between Norway and Iceland. (Yes, I had to Google that) An English friend tells me this is Eclipse Day and many in the UK and Europe will be lucky enough to witness this fascinating phenomenon; how much will depend where you live.

  35. skpenman Says:

    I just had to spend ten minutes clearing snow from my car on the first day of spring. This is wrong on so many levels. Luckily we can remind ourselves that we don’t have eternal winters like in Westeros; it just feels that way. Anyway, here are the first reviews of the Tower of London screening.…/game-thrones-early-season-5-premiere-re…

  36. skpenman Says:

    It has begun. CNN has quite a lot of coverage of Richard III, his lost grave, the fight over his bones, what we learned from the skeleton, and the upcoming ceremonies and events. Take that, Henry Tudor!…/richard-iii-leicester-coffin/index.html

  37. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Live coverage below of Richard’s remarkable week in Leicester, culminating in Thursday’s ceremony at Leicester Cathedral. I’ll post other links as friends share them, and I am guessing you guys will too.

  38. Joan Says:

    King Richard III, For Whom the Bell Tolls This Day

    Powerfully overwhelming & deeply emotional watching the cortege through Leicester. The tears let loose when people began to throw their offerings of white roses onto the coffin as it passed. Pause for much thought today.

    Thank you for these posts Sharon, & I’ll look forward to others. I hope we’ll soon be able to buy a DVD of the entire ceremony. I also wonder how you are feeling today & I must thank you again for The Sunne in Splendour.

  39. skpenman Says:

    I would be surprised, Joan, if a DVD did not become available for sale. The media coverage is just staggering.

  40. skpenman Says:

    This is quite a week for all who believe Shakespeare got it wrong and Richard was much maligned. But on this date in 1429, a woman was born who’d not have joined in the celebrations, Marguerite d’Anjou. I imagine she hated Edward the most, but I doubt that she harbored warm feelings for his brother. Her life was a tumultuous one with many mistakes and much sorrow, but I have to admit that she was fun to write about.
    Meanwhile, I bet I am not the only one who was moved when the church bells began to toll as Richard’s coffin was carried into the cathedral yesterday. I think it is wonderful that his great-nephew seventeen times removed, the gentleman who provided the DNA for a conclusive identification, was the one chosen to build his coffin; he is a cabinet-maker. And I had to smile when they announced that one of the horses pulling the funeral cortege was named Lionheart.
    Now here is a ton of coverage from the BBC—many photos of the crowds in Leicester, tweets, (no, not from Richard) and links to other articles. Even if I were not a partisan of the White Rose and the White Boar, I would find all this fascinating; how often do we see medieval history brought to the forefront like this?

  41. skpenman Says:

    My agent told me they’d issued safety warnings, asking people to stay away from the cathedral in Leicester as there were thousands lined-up to pay respects to Richard and there was a four hour wait to get inside. One of my readers now says the wait is down to two hours and they are selling cold drinks, etc, to people in line.

    And here is live coverage of it all.

  42. Virginia Moore Says:

    Hi Sharon,

    I realize I’m a little behind the ball on this, but I too, have a six word short for you!

    Five Virginias make me, your family.

    Virginia Mary (mom) says hi and sends her love.

  43. skpenman Says:

    I like that, Virginia.

    Believe it or not, I am not starting out with a Richard III story this morning. But I do have a story that will have you all shaking your heads in disbelief. A young woman who lost her leg in an accident last year is learning to use a prosthetic leg and her apartment complex gave her a parking spot close to the door so she needn’t risk falling on the ice. When someone else parked there, she left them a note, pointing out that this was a disabled parking spot. In return she got a note mocking her disability, calling her a crybaby, making a veiled threat, and ending that she should tell this to someone who cared. Her sister posted this poisonous screed on-line and it turns out there are a lot of people who care. Here is the link.

    Meanwhile, dogs continue on their quiet quest to prove they are smarter than a lot of their human best friends. Certainly nicer. Here is the story of the heroic Nico, who saved a couple from drowning when they were caught in a riptide, and they were strangers to Nico, too. Just people in trouble who needed his help.
    And lest we slight other animal heroes, here is a video of a couple admiring some ponies in a field when they are suddenly attacked by a wild boar. But not to worry; the ponies came to their rescue and actually chased the boar away. They don’t say where this happened; the couple is clearly speaking French and I saw it said elsewhere that it was in Belgium.

  44. Joan Says:

    Some interesting tweets……like, people had to be banned taking selfies with the coffin. To be expected at a medieval king’s burial in the 21st century! It’s all good.

    And Benedict Cumberbatch will recite a poem at the Interment…..3rd cousin, 16 times removed! Well he has the voice!

    100 young voices will sing “Upon This Field”

    The service will be extraordinary.

  45. skpenman Says:

    I was just posting about that, Joan. Who knew?

    Stories about kings today. Another interesting relative of Richard III is taking part in the services on Thursday.
    And here is some more news about the kings (and queens) fighting over the Iron Throne.

  46. skpenman Says:

    This is a dramatic video of Mont St Michel, one of my favorite places in all the world, appearing as an island again because of a historic high tide. I’d have loved to have seen it for myself.
    Here are some photos of the abbey, temporarily claimed again by the waters of the bay.
    In Prince of Darkness, I was fortunate enough to set some scenes in this remarkable locale; I even got to commit a murder there. Here is Justin’s first look at Mont St Michel.
    Page 125.
    * * *
    They reached Mont St Michel as the late afternoon shadows were lengthening. In spite of his fear for Arzhela, Justin was awestruck at sight of the abbey. At first glance, it looked to be a castle carved from the very rocks of the isle, its towering spires reaching halfway to Heaven, the last bastion of Christian faith in a world of denial and disbelief. A fragment of religious lore came back to him, that St Michael was known as the guardian of the threshold between life and eternity, and that seemed the perfect description for his abbey, too, a bridge between the land of the living and the sea of the dead.
    * * *
    And here is Justin de Quincy and his nemesis, Durand de Curzon, making a dangerous night crossing from Genets, Normandy to Mont St Michel, with the help of a local guide. Since in the twelfth century, the tide came in fast enough to outrun and overtake a galloping horse, the risk was great indeed.
    PRINCE OF DARKNESS, pages 145-147
    * * *
    The Mont was still sharply etched against the darkening sky and seemed to have a halo of stars. The horses were edgy, sensing the mood of their riders, and Baldric had difficulty getting his mount under control. “I usually do this on foot during the day,” he admitted. “Any advice about keeping on this nag’s good side?”
    “Just do not fall off,” Durand said laconically, and the young Norman laughed mirthlessly.
    “Passing strange that you should say that, for I was about to warn you that we do not stop, not for anything or anyone. If one of you blunders off course into a bog, a pity, but we’ll not be riding back to your rescue. Understood?”
    Justin and Durand traded smiles like unsheathed daggers. “Understood.”
    Baldric was studying the clouds scudding across the sky. “At least the wind is from the north. The tide comes in faster if it’s driven by a westerly wind. Given a choice, I’d rather be crossing at least two hours before the next high tide. But we still ought to have enough time. Just follow after me, and hope that the Archangel is in a benevolent mood tonight.”
    The wind was cold and wet and carried the scent of seaweed and salt. The muted roar of the unseen sea echoed in Justin’s ears, as rhythmic as a heartbeat. Seagulls screeched over-head, their shrill cries eerily plaintive. Justin’s stallion had an odd gait, picking up its hooves so high that it was obviously not comfortable with the footing. One of the tavern customers had told Justin that walking on the sand was like treading upon a tightly stretched drum; he very much hoped that he’d not have the opportunity to test that observation for himself. Behind him, he could hear Durand cursing. Justin kept his eyes upon the glow of Baldric’s swaying lantern, doing his best to convince himself that, as St Michael led Christian souls into the holy light, so would this Norman youth lead them to safety upon the shore.
    The sound of the surging sea was louder now. Along the horizon they could see the starlit froth of whitecaps. Despite all they’d been told about the tides of St Michel, they were amazed by the speed of those encroaching waters, and it was with vast relief that they splashed onto the sands of the Mont. Baldric did not slow his pace, though, urging them off the beach and on toward the steep rocks that sheltered the village.
    They soon saw why he’d been in such haste. The water was rising at an incredibly rapid rate. By the time the tide hit the isle of Tombelaine, it had merged into a single white wave. It was soon swallowing up the beaches of the Mont, a wall of water slamming against the rocks with such force that spume was flung high into the air, and for the first time Justin and Durand fully understood why it had been so difficult to find a guide.
    * * *

  47. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Spending the night at Mont St.-Michel was one of the (many) highlights of our Eleanor Tour in June 2011. Allys and I paid three visits to le Mont while we lived in Brittany but returned to our apartment in Rennes each time. Our tour guide on the following morning was a Bretonne from Dinan. At the wedding of Constance and Geoffrey in Devil’s Brood, you had Oliver de Dinan and his nephew and heir, Alan de Vitré (later called Alan de Dinan), among the guests.

  48. skpenman Says:

    I e-mailed you about this post, Mac. Let me know if you did not get it and I’ll resend.

    On Friday evening, March 26, 1199, Richard the Lionheart made a typically reckless decision to supervise the siege of a nondescript castle in the Limousine at Chalus-/Chabrol without bothering to wear his hauberk. He would pay for that carelessness with his life, dying of gangrene on the evening of April 6th, at the age of 41. Normally I would devote more time to this unfortunate episode, for it would change the course of history. But as it happens, Richard must share the limelight today with another king who bears that same name. This is the day that Richard III is being re-interred in a solemn ceremony at Leicester Cathedral, truly a once-in-a-lifetime event. Five hundred years late, but this is as close as most of us are likely ever to come to witnessing a miracle. Finding Richard’s lost grave and then being able to verify his identity through DNA; it is truly amazing. I would like to thank Philippa Langley again, for she was the moving force behind this project and if not for her dedication and determination and PR skills, Richard would still be entombed under that car park. My publisher asked me to write something about Richard’s remarkable final chapter and they have posted it on their website. I will put up the link here later today. Macmillan is also running a book giveaway for Sunne; it is only for UK readers, though. Here is the link.
    Now I just want to say, Richard Plantagenet, R.I.P.

  49. Joan Says:

    I’ll look forward to reading your post, Sharon. This is all very moving & it hit me anew last night as I read the ceremony’s proceedings on the medievalist website. Reading some of the prayers, which included Richard’s name, really brought it home, considering the immeasurable value such prayers would have been to Richard & his kin. The immensity of what was happening stunned me. How the ceremony would be performed much as it would have been in the 15th century, thanks to a document being discovered in the British Library in 2009 on an actual case of reburial. I tried to imagine what it would be like in the cathedral, so close to Richard himself & all that history right in front of you. Very surreal…….like you say, Sharon, a miracle. So I’ll join you in wishing King Richard III an eternal rest.

  50. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Les morts malheureuses pour les trois rois Richards. It was a pleasure to meet and talk with Philippa in Leicester in September 2013. She did labor long to produce a miracle. I remember watching Sharon and Philippa share breakfast the morning after our visit to the car park - Richard III’s Guardian Angels. I did receive your e-mail message, Sharon, and thank you. I intend to respond this evening.

  51. skpenman Says:

    I am very glad that we had an opportunity to meet Philippa, Mac. A shame the Richard III Center wasn’t done yet, though. Another reason to go back, though!

  52. Malcolm Craig Says:

    They did put the Richard III Center up very quickly though. Having just sent you my private e-mail message, it is time to retire, so I can get to work in the morning. Bonne nuit.

  53. skpenman Says:

    It was a good feeling this morning to awaken knowing that Richard III is finally at rest. My British publisher asked me to write a brief article about Richard, the discovery of his lost grave, and how that discovery has already changed history. It was intended for an audience not as knowledgeable about Richard III and the Middle Ages as my readers, so you won’t be reading anything you did not already know. I did get a chance for a few zingers aimed at the Tudors, though! Macmillan has posted it on their new history website. Here is the link.

  54. Joan Says:

    Brilliant post, Sharon. I am now sending it on to friends & family.

  55. skpenman Says:

    Thank you so much, Joan, for the lovely compliment and for sharing the article!

    One of my readers posted this on Facebook this morning.

  56. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    For those who missed it, here is Benedict Cumberbatch reciting the poem by the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, at the ceremonies on Thursday at Leicester Cathedral.
    And on March 28, 1461, was slain a man greatly hated by the Yorkists, John, Lord Clifford, who’d murdered the seventeen year old Edmund, Earl of Rutland, on Wakefield Bridge. He’d removed his gorget—why we do not know—and took an arrow to the throat, probably choking to death on his own blood. He was killed at the battle of Ferrybridge, which would be utterly eclipsed by the bloody battle of Towton the next day.

  57. skpenman Says:

    On March 29th, 1461, the battle of Towton was fought, a battle that changed the course of English history. Below is the post that I put up on Facebook two years ago.
    * * *
    March 29th, 1461 was the date of the largest and bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil. It was a Palm Sunday, and was fought during a Yorkshire snowstorm near Towton. Medieval chroniclers’ estimates of army size were usually in the realm of fantasy; it was not unusual for one to blithely report that 200,000 men marched into battle while they actually numbered in the range of 5,000. But military historians believe that the numbers at Towton were huge, possibly 40,000-50,000 on each side. It is impossible to know the numbers of the dead, though some historians think that over 20,000 men may have died that day, most of them in the rout after the Lancastrian line broke. A mass grave discovered in 1996 gave graphic evidence of the brutality of the combat. The death toll was so high in part because soldiers are always more vulnerable once they are fleeing; moreover, both sides had agreed beforehand that no quarter would be given. Below are two links that are of considerable interest, one about the mass grave found and the other offering a video of the battlefield.
    Towton was Edward of York’s bloody coronation, and he was still a month from his 19th birthday. I did not dramatize the battle itself, instead had the reader waiting with Marguerite at York to hear the outcome of the battle. But she was given a gruesomely vivid account of the carnage. Sunne, page 94-96 of the new edition.
    * * *
    “All is lost. The victory has gone to York.”
    It was what she’d known he would say. And yet the impact was no less brutal. She gasped, drew icy air into lungs suddenly constricted, unable to function, and cried, “How? We had the greater army…How?” She was as skilled a strategist as any man, knew how to wage war as other women knew how to manage households. She knew battles were not decided by numbers alone. Yet now she found herself repeating numbly, “How could we lose? Ours was the larger force!”
    “That did favor us at first, Madame. In the early stages of the battle, the Yorkists did give ground…But York was all over the field, in the thick of the fighting, and he held them, Madame. All day we fought, hacked at each other like madmen, and the dead…Oh, my God, Madame, the dead! So many bodies there were that we had to climb over our own dead to reach the Yorkists…only to find that they, too, were walled in by the bodies of the dead and dying. Never have I seen—“
    “What of Somerset? Does he still live?”
    He seemed unnerved by her interruption. “Yes,” he said doubtfully. “That is, I do believe so, Madame. We were able to escape the field at the last, when we saw all hope had gone…when the Yorkist reserves did suddenly appear on our right flank. The Duke of Norfolk it was, Madame; I saw his standard. We did fight on, but the battle was lost with his arrival, all did know it. We were pushed back toward the Cocke, into the marsh…and then our line broke, then the slaughter truly began!” He shuddered, not from cold, and then said bleakly, “My lord Somerset did charge me to give you word of our defeat, to warn you away from here. My lord Somerset said…said you must flee into Scotland, Madame. He said you must not let yourself or the king fall into the hands of the Yorkist usurper.”
    “What of the other lords? Northumberland? Trollope? Exeter and Clifford? Surely they cannot all be dead!”
    “We did hear the Earl of Northumberland was struck down in the fighting. Trollope, I do know to be dead. I know nothing of Exeter. It was a slaughter, Madame. Thousands must be dead…We did give the command before the battle that no quarter be shown and York was said to have done the same. For ten hours, Madame, the battle did last…ten hours! With the wind coming from the south and blowing the snow back into our faces till men found their eyes sealed shut with ice and our arrows were falling short and they gathered them up and used them against us…and the river….Oh, Jesus, the river! So many men drowned that a bridge of bodies formed for the living and it ran red for miles, like no water I’ve ever seen….”
    * * *
    Today I am posting additional passages from this scene.
    Marguerite was suddenly conscious of the cold again snow had seeped into her pattens until she could no longer feel her feet. Her skirt and under-kirtle were damp, too, clung about her ankles and trapped her in clammy folds as she struggled to rise.
    She was already up before the abbot could offer assistance, but as he shifted the lantern, he inadvertently brought it up to her eyes. Night-blinded, she was caught in its glare, just long enough to step back only a treacherous icy glaze. She had no hope of preventing her fall, landed with jarring impact upon the base of her spine. The abbot cried out, dropping the lantern as he reached for her and, when his own balance went, almost tumbled down on top of her. The soldier wisely stayed where he was and coughed to cover the startled laugh that was as involuntary as a sneeze and as devoid of amusement.
    Weighed down by her sodden skirts, unable to catch her breath, watching as the abbot floundered beside her in the snow, while her servant struggled to maintain his own footing and gingerly extended his hand toward her, Marguerite suddenly began to laugh, jagged bursts of strangled mirth, the sound of which nightmares are made.
    “Madame, you must not give way!” The abbot, less timid than her servant at laying hands upon royalty, grabbed her shoulders and shook her vigorously.
    “But it is so very amusing; surely you see that? I’ve a little boy and a sweet helpless fool asleep in your lodging and no money and I’ve just been told I no longer have an army, and look at us, my lord abbot, Sacre Dieu, look at us! If I do not laugh,” she gasped, “I might believe all of this were truly happening, and happening to me!”
    “Madame….” The abbot hesitated, and then plunged ahead courageously. “You need not flee, you know. York would not hurt a woman, still less a child. Your lives would be safe with him, I do believe that. Stay here, Madame. Entreat York’s mercy, accept him as king. Even if you reach Scotland, what then? Ah, Madame, can you not let it lie?”
    The lantern light no longer fell on her face; he could not discern her expression. But he heard her intake of breath, a sibilant hiss of feline intensity. Her hand jerked from his.
    “Oui, Monseigneur,” she spat. “On my deathbed!”
    * * *
    It is hard for me to believe that more than three decades have passed since Sunne was first published. The work of twelve years, I am so proud that it has stood the test of time and is still attracting new readers, some of them not even born when I was first caught up in Richard’s story. My only regret is that Benedict Cumberbatch did not read a scene from Sunne during the reinterment ceremonies at Leicester Cathedral!

  58. Joan Says:

    Yes you should be proud of Sunne, Sharon, as we are proud to know its author & to share its contents wherever we can. A reading at the ceremonies would have been the pièce de résistance!

    Very informative sites you included. I can’t get enough of skeletal findings, what we can learn with today’s technology & how bone forms with strenuous exercise, etc. Bernard Cornwell explained this well in his essay on the longbow. I cannot visualize a field with that many men fighting, or the immensity of what remains on the field after battle!

    The ceremony of the “reveal” is wonderfully creative. It’s still uncanny that this is Richard’s home now, he is staying here! There’s such a sense of peace looking at his tomb.

  59. skpenman Says:

    I agree, Joan, that this final chapter in Richard’s story is so improbable. That is what makes it so magical.

    Many of you know—since I have whined about it in the past– that my on-going struggles with Deadline Dragons have too often deprived me of one of life’s great pleasures—reading for the pure joy of it. For an avid reader, it is not an easy burden to bear. Because some of my readers have told me that they will buy a book based solely upon my recommendation, I am careful not to endorse a book unless I have read and enjoyed it myself. But I do try to bring books to the attention of my readers and Facebook friends if I think they might be of interest. I have such a book to mention today, The Holy Lance; the English Templars Series, Book 1, by Andrew Latham. It is set in Outremer at the time of the Third Crusade and so I am sure Lionheart readers will be encountering some familiar faces and familiar battles! Andrew is a professor of political science at a college in St Paul, MN, teaching International Relations and Medieval Political Thought. Prior to writing The Holy Lance, his first novel, he published Theorizing Medieval Geopolitics: War and World Order in the Ages of the Crusades, so he is clearly at home in the realm of historical research. The Holy Lance definitely sounds intriguing. Here is the Amazon link.
    On the medieval history front, March 30th, 1135 was the birthday of the great Jewish physician, philosopher, and theologian, Maimonides, who was also the personal doctor of the Sultan of Egypt best known as Saladin.
    March 30th was also the date in 1191 when the French king, Philippe Capet, made a hasty escape from Sicily, apparently unwilling to meet the new arrivals, Richard’s bride-to-be, Berengaria, and the woman who’d once been wed to his father, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Sounds like Philippe, doesn’t it?

  60. Theresa Says:

    The memorial service for Richard III was very moving.In a way I was reminded of the final passages of The Sunne in Splendour when Bess makes mention of the truth being revealed at last. I can’t recall the exact words, but they did bring a tearful reaction.

    I would have almost liked to have seen Tudors reaction if he had known his rival would have such a magnificent burial service, however this is not their affair.

  61. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    This is amazing. Such hopeful news for those suffering from MRSA, including someone very dear to me.

  62. Joan Says:

    Just read it, Sharon, & sent it on to my son-in-law to see if he’s heard about this yet.

  63. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    I know many of my readers and Facebook friends share my love of Alice Hoffman’s brilliant novel, The Dovekeepers. The two-part miniseries begins tonight in the US. I am sure it will be shown, too, in the UK and Australia and other countries, but I don’t know there will be a delay or not. The book was so powerful that I am a little nervous about watching it unfold on film, for what can be more vivid than our own imaginations?

  64. Sharon K Penman Says:

    I am rather late with this, for it was that kind of day; I’ve been playing catchup since I awoke this morning. But I couldn’t not post about April 1st, for that is the traditional date given for the death of Eleanor of Aquitaine, most likely at Fontevrault, although Poitiers has been suggested, too. But since she was said to have taken holy vows toward the end, Fontevrault would make much more sense. This was quite the fashion in the 13th century, with a number of highborn lords and ladies becoming monks or nuns on their deathbed. Both Llywelyn Fawr and his son Davydd were said to have done so.
    Getting back to Eleanor, I felt I owed her a death scene since she has been a major character in six of my nine historical novels and in all four of the mysteries to date. Because Ransom ended in 1999, I added an Epilogue on Eleanor’s behalf.
    A King’s Ransom, page 657
    * * *
    Richenza slipped quietly into the chamber, holding a candle aloft. At her wordless query, Dame Amaria shook her head, saying that the queen had not regained consciousness. “But she was talking, my lady.”
    “She’s done that before,” Richenza said sadly. She yearned for some last lucid moments with her grandmother, but Eleanor’s fevered murmurings were incoherent, not meant for them.
    “This was different, my lady. She said ‘Harry’ and ‘Richard’ so very clearly. It was ….it was as if she were speaking to them, that they were right here in the chamber with us. The doctor insisted it was the fever, but I do not think so. See for yourself.”
    Richenza turned toward the bed and her eyes widened. It had been a long time since her grandmother had looked as she did now—at peace. It was as if all the pain and grief of her last years had been erased, and the candlelight was kind, hinting at the great beauty she’d once been in the sculptured hollows of her cheekbones and the flushed color restored by fever. Leaning over, Richenza took the dying woman’s hand.
    “Grandame?” Eleanor did not respond, but Richenza was suddenly sure she was listening to other voices, for the corners of her mouth were curving in what could have been a smile.
    * * *

  65. skpenman Says:

    April 2nd is the birthdate of Charlemagne, first Holy Roman Emperor, in 742 AD. It is also the death date of Henry III’s brother, Richard, Earl of Cornwell, in 1272. But the most interesting death occurred in 1502 when Henry VIII and Elizabeth of York’s eldest son, Arthur, died at the age of fifteen, leaving Katherine of Aragon as a young widow. This is one of history most fascinating What Ifs. Think how history would have been altered had Arthur not died so prematurely. Imagine how different England and Europe would have been if his brother, Henry, had never become king. We don’t know enough about Arthur to say what sort of king he would have made, but it is much easier to envision an England without Henry at the helm. No break with Church of Rome; that seems very safe to say, and that alone is a monumental change. We’d have been spared Showtime’s The Tudors series, surely a blessing, no? But England without Elizabeth? Without Gloriana? I for one would miss her.

  66. Joan Says:

    Wolf Hall begins on Masterpiece Theatre this w/end.

    Happy Easter weekend Sharon & everyone!

  67. skpenman Says:

    Thanks, Joan. I hope you have a wonderful Easter, too.

    Happy Passover to all my Jewish friends and readers.
    Meanwhile, on the quasi-medieval front, George RR Martin has a new excerpt up on his website from the book we are all awaiting with bated breath.

  68. skpenman Says:

    A British friend sent me this review of Wolf Hall, which premieres in the US tomorrow evening on PBS channels. The critics seem to love it, unlike The Dovekeeper, which I confess I found disappointing; it lacked the power and magic of the book. It will be interesting to see how Wolf Hall translates to the screen.…/wolf-hall-pbs-masterpiece-hila…

  69. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Happy Easter to my friends and readers. And here is an interesting link to how Richard III’s reburial was covered by news media around the world.

  70. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    I hope you all had as nice an Easter as I did. Now if only spring will stop teasing us and hang around for a while.
    On April 6, 1199 at 7 PM, Richard I of England, AKA the Lionheart, died at the age of forty-one eleven days after he’d been shot by a crossbow at the siege of Chalus, a wound brought about by his own carelessness, for he’d neglected to wear his hauberk and his legendary luck finally ran out. It was not an easy death, for gangrene is a painful way to die. Eleanor was with him as he drew his last breath, having raced from Fontevrault Abbey to Chalus after getting word of his fatal injury. His queen, Berengaria, was not.
    A King’s Ransom, pages 597-599
    * * *
    Richard’s eyes opened when she took his hand in hers. He’d been sure she’d get there in time, for she’d never let him down, never. “So sorry, Maman….” So many regrets. That he’d not made peace with his father. That he’d not been able to free the Holy City from the Saracens. That Philip could not have been Berenguela’s. That the French king had not drowned in the Epte. That he’d taken the time to put on his hauberk. That his mother must now watch him die.
    She held his hand against her cheek. “You’ve been shriven, Richard?”
    “Yes….So many sins….Took half a day….”
    He was dying as he lived, and that made it so much harder for those who loved him. But then she remembered what she’d been told about his father’s wretched last hours. After learning that John had betrayed him, he’d turned his face to the wall and had not spoken again. Only as his fever burned higher had he cried out, “Shame upon a conquered king.” An anguished epitaph for a life that had once held such bright promise. No, better that Richard laugh at Death than die as Harry had. His body was wracked with pain, but at least he was not suffering Harry’s agony of spirit. She could not have borne that.
    Time had no meaning any longer. She assumed hours were passing, but she refused all offers of food or drink. How long would God torment him like this? Leaning over, she kissed his forehead. “You can stop fighting now, my dearest. Your race is done.”
    He’d not spoken for some time and she was not sure he could hear her, but then he said, “Did….I….win?”
    “Yes, Richard, you did. You kept the faith.” She did not remember the rest of the scriptural verse. She would later wonder how she could have sounded so calm, so composed. But it was the last gift she could give him. “Go to God, my beloved son.”
    After that, he was still. They could hear church bells chiming in the distance. Somewhere Vespers was being rung, people were at Mass, life was going on. Andre had not thought there was a need for words of farewell, not between them. But now he found himself approaching the bed, suddenly afraid that he’d waited too long. “Richard.” He held his breath, then, until the other man opened his eyes. “Listen to me,” he said hoarsely. “You will not be forgotten. A hundred years from now, men will be sitting around campfires and telling the legends of the Lionheart.”
    The corner of Richard’s mouth twitched. “Only….a hundred years?” he whispered, and Andre and Eleanor saw his last smile through a haze of hot tears.
    * * *

  71. skpenman Says:

    April 9th, 1483 was a day that dramatically changed the history of England, for on this day Edward IV died prematurely, only in his 41st year. His death led to the deaths of his sons, his brother Richard, his best friend, William Hastings, and the end of the Yorkist and Plantagenet dynasties. Had Edward lived another twenty or even ten years, history would have gone in another direction altogether. Impossible to predict what sort of king his son would have made or how Richard would have fared at a Woodville court. All we can say for a certainty is that there would have been no Tudor dynasty. After that, it is anyone’s guess.
    The Sunne in Splendour, page 880, Edward’s deathbed
    * * *
    “Yes, Papa, yes! I’m right here.”
    “Sorry….so sorry…..”
    “For what, Papa? You’ve nothing to be sorry for, nothing at all.” She could see him straining to speak and knew she should urge him to be still, but she could not; these last moments of coherent communication were too precious to lose.
    “Sweet Bess… loved.” He made an uncertain movement; she knew he was searching for her hand and quickly laced her fingers through his.
    “Do not worry, Papa. Please do not worry.”
    “Do you know…what are the worst….worst sins?”
    She bent closer, not sure she’d heard him correctly. “No, Papa. What are the worst sins?”
    “The worst are,” he whispered, “those about to be found out.”
    Bess did not understand. “Rest now, Papa. It will be all right for us, truly it will. Rest now.”
    * * *

  72. skpenman Says:

    This is for my fellow Game of Thrones addicts. Sunday! Meanwhile, here is a funny, very fast recap of the last season to refresh our memories. As if any of us could forget the Red or Purple weddings or Prince Oberyn’s duel with the Mountain.…/game-of-thrones-season-4-recap-orig.cnn

  73. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    On April 11, 1240, the greatest of the Welsh princes—at least IMHO—Llywelyn ab Iorwerth died at Aberconwy Abbey, having taking holy vows on his deathbed. He is better known to history as Llywelyn Fawr—Llywelyn the Great, deservedly so.
    Falls the Shadow, pages 115-116, scene between the dying Welsh prince and his young grandson, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd. The boy has smuggled holy water from the church, hoping that if Llywelyn rubs it on his chest, he might recover. Llywelyn refuses, quoting from his favorite verse of Scriptures, Ecclesiastes, that everything has its season. But that is not what his grandson wants to hear.
    * * *
    “Is that what you’d have me believe, Grandpapa, that it is your time?”
    “Yes.” Llywelyn shoved a pillow behind his shoulders. The pain was back—by now an old and familiar foe—spreading down his arm, up to his neck. But he did not want the boy to know. He found a smile, said, “It has been more than three years, after all. Joanna grows impatient—and I’ve never been one to keep a lady waiting.”
    Llelo’s head jerked up. “How can you do that? How can you jest about dying?”
    He sounded angry. Llywelyn looked at him, at last said quietly, “What other way is there?”
    Without warning, Llelo’s eyes filled with tears. He sought without success to blink them back, then felt his grandfather’s hand on his.
    “Try not to grieve too much, lad. I’ve not been cheated. I’ve had a long life, with more than my share of joys. I sired sons and daughters. No man had better friends. I found two women to love, and a fair number to bed with. And I die knowing that Wales is in good hands….”
    Llelo frowned. “Davydd?” he mumbled and his grandfather nodded.
    “Yes, Davydd….and you, Llelo.”
    He heard the boy’s intake of breath. “Me?’
    “Davydd has no son. God may yet bless him with one. But if not, he’ll need an heir. And in all of Christendom, he could do no better than you, Llelo.”
    As young as he was, Llelo had learned some hard lessons in self-control. But he’d never felt the need for defenses with his grandfather and Llywelyn could see the boy’s confusion, could see the conflict of pride and excitement and guilt.
    Llywelyn shifted his position; the pain was starting to ease somewhat. He was very tired and not at all sure that he should have shared his dream with the boy. But then Llelo said, “Do you truly have so much faith in me?” and there was wonderment in his voice.
    Llywelyn swallowed with difficulty. He nodded, then leaned forward and gathered his grandson into his arms. Llelo clung tightly; he made no sound, but Llywelyn could feel him trembling. “I’d be lying if I said I had no regrets, Llelo. But I was not lying when I told you that I believe it is my time.” After a long silence, he said, very softly, “I should have liked, though, to have seen the man you will become.”
    * * *

  74. skpenman Says:

    On April 12, 1555, Joanna, the Queen of Castile, died at the age of 75, after being held in captivity for years by her own son. She is better known to history as Juana la Loca—Juana the Mad. She has been eclipsed by her sister, Katherine of Aragon, but her story is actually much sadder than Katherine’s; at least I think so. Katherine did have some happy years with Henry, but Juana was betrayed by the men closest to her—her father, her husband, and then her son. Her story is well told in Christopher Gortner’s The Last Queen, which offers a sympathetic portrayal of this unhappy and unlucky woman.
    Back to the 21st century, and April 12th is a day many of us have long awaited. Yes, fellow addicts, Game of Thrones is back and all is right with the world again, at least for the next ten weeks.

  75. skpenman Says:

    Here is the Entertainment Weekly’s delightfully snarky writer on last night’s episode of Game of Thrones. Do not read it, though, unless you’ve already seen the show, for there are definitely spoilers lurking there. Since the HBO writers have warned us that they will be deviating from the books this season more than in the past and they have also warned us that a character is going to die who does not die in the books, here is an interesting Survival Guide with odds offered as to who survives the season. Bran Stark is the only totally safe one since he won’t be appearing at all this season, so he scores a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. (Of course he could always die off-stage.) These writers think Daenerys is pretty safe, too, for she rates a 9 on the scale. Tyrion rates an 8, but then it starts to get dicey for the others. Arya gets a 6, Cersei a 5, Jon Snow a 5, Sansa a 4, Jamie a 3 (uh, oh) and Stannis is the one they give the shortest life span, with a dismal 2 on the scale of 1 to 10. This is just their opinion, of course; they don’t have inside information. There actually aren’t too many characters that I want to see bite the dust since most of them are highly entertaining, even the evil ones, though I would personally push the Boltons and Freys into a tank of hungry sharks. But I realize that when we signed up for the GRRM Magical Mystery Tour, we knew we would be in for some nasty surprises. I do have a few nonnegotiable demands, however—Tyrion must survive. And no more dyrewolves must die! Anyway, here is the amusing review from EW’s James Hibbert.
    PS This is a truly amazing statistic, showing what a global phenomenon this show has become; it premiered simultaneously in 171 countries!

  76. Joan Says:

    Great article today in The History Girls blog…..”Tudor Fiction”

    I’m looking into HBO video streaming to see if it’s available for Canada. It’s killing me that I can’t watch GOT.

  77. skpenman Says:

    I think the new HBO offer should apply to Canada, too, Joan. Fingers crossed.
    I’ll check out the History Girls blog; thanks!

    This is the entry I wrote for the battle of Barnet a few years ago, and yes, I am lazily trying to avoid needless typing.
    April 14, 1471 was a very significant date for the House of York. On this day, the battle of Barnet was fought between the forces of Edward IV and the Earl of Warwick. This was the first major battle I’d “fought,” and it set the bar high for drama—the eerie, dense fog blanketing the field, Richard’s vanguard outflanking the enemy, and then the Earl of Oxford returning to the field after shattering Edward’s left wing and accidentally attacking his own side. It was eighteen year old Richard’s first taste of battle and he acquitted himself well. The victory went to Edward and among the dead were the Earl of Warwick and his brother John. But Warwick’s allies still had to be defeated, for on that same Easter Sunday, Queen Marguerite and her seventeen year old son landed at Weymouth, ending seven years of French exile. So Edward and I would have another battle to fight in just three weeks.
    This was the battle in which Richard, age 18, proved himself to his brother. Hard for us to imagine men commanding armies at 18 or 19, isn’t it?
    Sunne, page 401
    * * *
    In the third hour, Exeter’s line began to give way before them. Slowly at first, and then more rapidly, they were falling back. Richard’s men found a last surge of strength, flung themselves forward, shouting for York. The Lancastrians were in confusion, no longer giving resistance. The thought now was of flight and men broke ranks, began to scatter.
    The fog was thinning at last. Men were becoming visible on Richard’s left, men who wore the colors of York. He understood then; the van had joined with the center. Ned had smashed through Johnny’s wing.
    The Sunne banner of York gleamed white and gold. Edward’s white polished armor was dulled with dirt, dented and scratched, dark with the blood of other men. He moved forward; men parted to let him pass. Reaching Richard, he raised his visor. Richard saw he was smiling.
    Richard felt no elation, neither triumph nor relief…not yet. Only numbness, a weariness of body and mind unlike anything he’d ever experienced. Slowly he lowered his sword to the ground, let the bloodied blade touch the grass.
    * * *
    Many men died on that spring morning at Barnet Heath, the most famous being Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick and his brother, John, the Earl of Montague, who rode into battle against York wearing their colors under his armor. Torn between loyalty to his brothers and his Yorkist cousins, he has always seemed a tragic figure to me.
    This next death is not at all medieval, but is well worthy of note. On April 14, 1865, the greatest American president, Abraham Lincoln, was shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford Theatre. He never regained consciousness, dying early the next morning.

  78. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Ah, the hypnotic powers of Game of Thrones. I was so occupied with its new season premiere on Sunday that I completely forgot that was also the date that a major character in one of my books died. On April 13, 1275, Eleanor de Montfort, Countess of Leicester, daughter and sister of kings, widow of Simon de Montfort, died in exile at Montargis, France. At least Kasia did not forget and she posted about it. So here is a belated recognition of the death of a woman who knew both great joy and great tragedy in her sixty years.
    The Reckoning, pages 137-138
    * * *
    Nell’s dreams were deeply rooted in her yesterdays. They were, for the most part, tranquil and reassuringly familiar. With the blurring of time’s boundaries, her loved ones were restored to her, her family was once more intact, inviolate. She awakened from such dreams with regret, often with confusion. So it was now. The darkness was aswirl with floating lights; they swam before her dazzled eyes like phosphorescent fish in a black, black sea. For a moment she was lost, adrift on unknown currents. But as her eyes adjusted to the dark, the fish transformed themselves into the flickering flames of a servant’s candelabra, and she returned to reality with a rueful smile. This was no alien world. She was in her chamber at Montargis, on an April eve in Holy Week, and although death waited in the shadows, she had nothing to fear, for she had made her peace with God.
    There was a great comfort in knowing that all had been done. Her confessor had shriven her of her earthly sins, her will had been made, and she’d arranged for largesse to be distributed to members of her household, to the nuns and villagers who’d sought to make her exile easier. Nothing remained now except her farewells.
    “I want Ellen to have my jewels, Marguerite, except for my ruby pendant. That is for you. I’ve named Amaury as my heir, for Ellen will have Llywelyn to look after her, and the Church would not allow Guy to inherit. Dearest, will you and Philippe entreat Edward on my behalf, ask him to allow my will to be carried out? And….and urge him to be fair to my son. Amaury is innocent, should not have to pay for Guy’s sins. Make Edward see that, Marguerite, make him see that he ought to let Amaury come home…”
    “Of course we will, Nell.” Marguerite tried to sound confident, as if she truly believed that Edward would heed them. But then, she doubted if Nell believed it, either. “Nell, you must not give up. I spoke to your doctor and he still has hope, thinks you might yet rally….”
    “Simon does not think so,” Nell said softly and then smiled at the startled, dismayed looks on their faces. “My wits are not wandering. I always knew that Simon would come for me when my time was night. And now….now he is close at hand. I can feel his presence….”
    “Truly, Mama?” Ellen whispered, sounding both awed and envious.
    “Truly, love. And you know your father; he’s never been one for waiting. He always swore that I’d be late for the Last Judgment…” Nell lay back weakly on the pillow, fighting for breath. “I will not let his first words to me be ‘I told you so’” she said, summoning up one last smile, and her children discovered that it was possible to laugh while blinking back tears.
    * * *

  79. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Sorry I haven’t been around much lately, but I’ve been busy researching the awful things that typhoid does to the human body. On a much cheerful note, I know many of you have already seen this, but it is so hilarious that it well deserves a repeat performance. I can guarantee Game of Throners will be on the floor.

  80. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Yesterday was the date of death of my favorite Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin, who died of pleurisy on April 17, 1790. He was 84, a respectable age today and a vast one back in the 18th century. About twelve years ago, I did some extensive research about colonial America and the Revolutionary War. It was a way of escaping from a painful reality, for I was taking care of my dad then as this wonderful man fought a battle he could not hope to win with Alzheimer’s. I became fascinated with this period of history in general and Ben Franklin in particular. He’d always been a favorite of mine and the more I learned about him, the more convinced I became that America owes its independence to two men, George Washington, who miraculously managed to hold the colonial army together, and Ben Franklin, who bedazzled the French court into throwing in with the Americans; had they not done so, I think it exceedingly likely that the British would eventually have prevailed. Being a writer, I found myself seriously tempted to write about this period in our history; it really was our first civil war. John Adams, who was in a position to know, once commented that 25% of the population were rebels, 25% were Tories, and the rest were on the fence, hesitant to commit themselves. I even went so far as to envision two fictional families, one in Boston that supported independence and one in Philadelphia that supported the crown. I was looking forward to bringing Ben into the storyline, naturally; he’d be as much fun to write about as he must have been to know in person. But that would end up as a book not written, which I do regret, especially on days like this. Rest in peace, Ben; you earned it. And if any of my readers have some free time, use it to find out more about this remarkable man.

  81. skpenman Says:

    I am sorry I’ve been so scarce lately, but the Deadline Dragon must have been watching Game of Thrones with me, for he has become as pushy as Danni’s temperamental teenage dragons, and I’ve had to spend most of my waking hours in Outremer, under his unblinking green eyes. This weekend I had a visit from the Grim Reaper, having to kill off a character. I now have such an impressive collection of books about typhoid fever that it is likely to be very contagious in coming books whenever I have another character who has to die.
    My website now boasts the amazing graphic created by our own Paul Dalen. Here is the link; check it out and enjoy. We hope to add a link that will allow readers to print out a version, too.

  82. skpenman Says:

    Here is a very funny recap of Sunday’s Game of Thrones episode by Entertainment Weekly’s James Hibbard, who is rapidly becoming one of my favorite writers. Don’t read it, though, if you have not yet watched the show, for spoilers abound. Also, I hope to have a new blog up later today; wish me luck.

  83. Beatrice Says:

    I read this book when it first came out. I worked in a book store at the time. I fell in love with it. I have read ever book that she has written. I introduced her to my English History Professor. His commit was, That he has not enjoyed a book on Edward and Richard as much as he enjoyed Sunne… Keep up the good work.

  84. dark music Says:

    I’ll Be Sharing This with Friends

Leave a Reply