14th century

Heavy weighs the usurped crown

On July 4, 1399, a man landed at Ravenspurn, Yorkshire, returning from his exile in France. With him came a handful of companions, and I suppose the man must have been nervous, no matter how determined. He was, after all, risking his life and his future. Henry Bolingbroke had come to claim the English crown. […]

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Hanged, drawn and quartered – not a death to aspire to

Being a medieval king came with all sorts of challenges, chief among them how to stop people from rebelling and in general causing unnecessary upheaval in your country. Sheesh: couldn’t they just accept that the one in charge was the king? Only the king? Clearly, something had to be done to keep people on the

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Love unto death and beyond

Come, bitter conduct, come, unsavoury guide! Thou desperate pilot, now at once run on The dashing rocks thy sea-sick weary bark! Here’s to my love! (Drinks.) O true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die And so Romeo brushed his lips against Juliet’s and died, preferring death to living without her.

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Put not your trust in princes

Some time ago, I wrote a post about the unfortunate Danish princess Ingeborg who was sent off to France to marry Philippe Augustus and instead ended up as Philippe’s prisoner for a number of years, this after a wedding night that somehow must have been very momentous. After all, it was the morning after that

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In great ambition lies destruction

On the subject of men who carry the seeds of their own destruction within, today I’d like to introduce you to Roger Mortimer. Seems apt, given that it is 686 years today since he was executed. This is a man who epitomises the consequences of too much ambition, too much greed. He was also an extremely

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In the head of a medieval knight

“In my head?” Adam de Guirande sounds amused. “You?” “Honey, I hate to break it to you: I am in your head all the time. Or rather, if we’re going to be correct, you’re in my head all the time.” Adam just looks at me. Sheesh! Some of these invented characters are sensitive souls, and

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The king, his mistress, and his wife – A Castilian 14th century soap opera

Once upon a time, there was a king. A Castilian king, called Alfonso. By now, regular readers of my blog will know there are an uncountable number of Spanish kings called Alfonso – ok, not uncountable, but still, we’re talking far more than a dozen. This particular Alfonso was number XI and king of Castile

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Thrice married, thrice widowed

Some while back, I wrote a post about Joan of Acre, Edward I’s daughter who was married off to the much older Gilbert de Clare, went on to present her doting husband with a male heir and three daughters before becoming a widow, and then had the temerity of upending her father’s plans for her

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An arranged love-match – of Philippa and her Edward

In 1326, a not yet fourteen-year-old boy was betrothed to a girl two years or so his junior. He was Edward, soon-to-be Edward III of England. She was Philippa, one of Guillaume of Hainaut’s four daughters. The betrothal cemented the alliance between Isabella of France and Count Guillaume, whereby the count placed ships and men

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Tough times, tough lady- meet Mahaut!

Those who regularly read my blog will know I have a fascination with strong historical characters – and especially women. I suppose this reflects on my belief that I am a strong woman – and would have made a great ruling queen back when ruling queens and kings wielded real power. Of course, had I

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