Life and death

Death Cleaning – a gentle art to embrace?

This morning, I had a crisp roll with my tea. Crisp rolls are one of Sweden’s contributions to the world, albeit we call them “skorpa”. Traditionally, crisp rolls were made from left over bread that was cut into slices and then baked in the oven at low heat for a very long time, resulting in …

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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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A last gasp – the death of a British Celt

Sometimes, the dinner discussions in our home veer towards the macabre, which is how we ended up talking about bog bodies – you know, those ancient remains that now and then crop up when someone cuts too deep into a peat moss. Most of these remains are very old, but we were discussing Bockstensmannen, Sweden’s …

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Killing my darlings

The drawback about writing books set in the past is that any ”real” character one decides to include is dead. There is no ambiguity there, no leeway for twisting things slightly so that the person in question gets to enjoy some years of sunset and peace before passing on—not if the facts unequivocally state that …

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Elizabeth who? A reflection on the life of a medieval woman

Most of us are destined to pass through this life and be quickly forgotten, buried in the huge drifts of human life that border history. Only those that truly stick out—whether for good or bad—get a moment or two of air-time, and for obvious reasons most of these highlighted people tend to be rulers. And …

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In Memoriam – of graveyards and mothers

A recent survey here in Sweden has concluded that a majority of Swedish people feel we should spread the ashes of those that have died in the great outdoors. A gust of wind and what little remains of a human after cremation would soar upwards, spread and eventually settle back on the ground. No need, …

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Of Easter witches and dire death

I just spoke to one of my colleagues who asked me if I was already comfortably seated on my broomstick. “Not yet,” I told him. “Some hours to go before the annual get-together:” “Ah. And do you use GPS or a more traditional compass?” I snorted. “I just point the broom in the right direction, …

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A lady with claws

The other day, I was at the dentist. I detest going to the dentist, no matter how much I like the actual dentist. My dentist is a charming man who entertains me with anecdotes from Paris while he drills. Doesn’t help much, but at least he tries. Anyway: the single upside with going to the …

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Treason on Twelfth Night

On October 13, 1399, Henry of Lancaster was crowned king of England. There was just a teensy-weensy problem: the king he succeeded wasn’t dead. Instead, Richard II had been forced to abdicate. Henry and Richard were cousins, their common grandfather being Edward III. Richard became king as a child and grew up to be a …

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Dead #otd: Roger Mortimer

There are a couple of death dates I know by heart: Being Swedish, I know the death date of Karl XII who died in Norway November 30, 1718 purportedly having been shot by one of his own with a button. Hmm. Since then the button part has been dismissed, but whether or not he was …

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