Historical People

W + W – a story of chance and love

We’re in the summer of 1864. Wilhelmina Kempe is presently at a German Spa, Bad Homburg, recovering after her third season. Yup. Her third season. An endless sequence of balls and other social events, of waltzing the night away, and she is still unwed. Not good. She is fast approaching twenty and is therefore the …

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The life and loves of a Spanish señorita – meet Isabel of Castile

In 1355, Pedro I of Castile, a.k.a. Pedro the Cruel (or Just, depending on your take on things) and his long-time mistress, Maria de Padilla, welcomed their third child into the world. Yet another daughter, and I imagine Pedro would have preferred a son to the newborn Isabel that lay at her mother’s breast. Things …

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The ultimate sacrifice – of a man, his honour and his son

Remember my recent post about Fernando IV? I began by describing just how tumultuous the reign of his father was, Sancho IV being plagued by one rebellion after the other. Why? Because very many felt Sancho had usurped the throne, thereby setting aside the rights of his little nephew, Alfonso de la Cerda. I bet …

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The mysterious death of a summoned king

In early September of 1312, Fernando IV of Castile died alone. Medieval kings were rarely alone. Even when they slept, there tended to be someone close at hand, sleeping on a pallet or standing guard. Not so in the case of our Fernando. Even more suspiciously, Fernando was a young man in his prime. All …

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Snatching crowns from princes

Today, we’re going to spend some time with two little Swedish boys. They happen to share a couple of things: both of them were named Gustav. Both of them belonged to the Vasa dynasty (in the case of prince number two, he was really surnamed Holstein-Gottorp, but would become known as a Vasa prince). Both …

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Of horses, crusades and premature death – a short medieval life

As part of the research for my latest series, I have had the pleasure of spending some time on the Iberian peninsula in the 13th century. And once there, I seem to have got stuck, intrigued by the constant conflicts between Christians and Moors, Castilians and Aragonese. Strong women, powerful warrior kings – Eleanor of …

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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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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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…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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