The Great Matter of a Medieval King

Say “the king’s great matter”, and everyone thinks “Aha! Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.” Okay, okay: not EVERYONE. After all, there are peeps out there who have no interest whatsoever in this Tudor king and his determination to rid himself of one wife to wed another. I know: somewhat incomprehensible to us history buffs, but …

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A slippery slope indeed…

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but after years in relative obscurity, corduroy is back on centre stage. To me, this is a material I have very lukewarm feelings towards. I remember those dark brown corduroy jeans I had as a teenager—jeans so tight I had to lie on my back to have a chance …

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The Greatest Love of All

No sooner was our third child born but I turned to look at my husband. “We have to get better at this,” I said. “We still haven’t got the breathing down pat. We need to practise more before the next one.” The midwife looked at me as if I were crazy. Hubby, to his everlasting …

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Of tangled webs and maybe-ghosts

Every picturesque ruin need a ghost or two, preferably with an intriguing and gripping backstory. Rarely do people who die peacefully in their sleep or due to an overconsumption of cake become ghosts. No, ghosts tend to be the impressions left behind by people who came to a violent end. Really good ghost stories also …

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The Sicilian affair – a lesson in 13th century politics

In 1262, a very young princess named Constanza was wed to Pedro of Aragón. He was twenty-three, she was thirteen. He was a proven soldier and leader of men, having spent many of his formative years riding side by side with his father, Jaime I of Aragón, as the latter spearheaded the Reconquista. (The Reconquista …

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The Norman Excuse For Conquest… a little matter of an oath.

I am so excited today! As we approach the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings (this weekend. I will toast Harold and cry a bit) Helen Hollick has popped by with a post about Harold Godwinson’s supposed oath of fealty to Duke William of Normandy (Bill, in the below). Personally, I am stuck on the …

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When all you want is a soap-bubble or two

We all have days when the “to do” list in our life is seemingly endless, when the chores pile up and life is far more grey than anything else. I guess all of us have different methods for coping with these days. Personally, I recommend some escapism: like living inside a glittering soap-bubble for some …

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…so dies the youth…

Say hello to John, today’s protagonist. This medieval gentleman had the misfortune to die young—which may be why he is mostly remembered for being a good and loyal brother. One of the (few) benefits of dying young is that generally you have not developed those less-than-stellar qualities that go under the label vices. Instead, a …

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Of Mondays and Fridays, bishops and axes

As I was out walking earlier this week, I found myself considering the names of the weekdays – as one does. (What? You don’t? Does this mean you don’t mull over the origins of words like “axe” either? ) Mainly, I was reflecting on the fact that the names in Swedish, German and English are …

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A field unploughed – the complicated story of a medieval land dispute

Admit it: one doesn’t really expect medieval ladies to have names like Felicia or Joyce. They sound way too modern, don’t they? And yet today we will spend some time with two ladies with these names. Joyce was the mother of Felicia, but due to events I think we can safely say that there was …

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