King John

A surfeit of brothers doth a spicy soup make

Back in the good old days, men wanted sons. Well, OK: back in the really, really old good old days, mothers wanted daughters as most early societies seem to have been matrilineal—but that all changed when our nomadic ancestors settled down and started amassing belongings. Once you have things that belong to you, it becomes […]

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The Welsh Princess and her elusive mother

In 1230, Ralph Mortimer of Wigmore took a certain Gwladus Ddu as his wife. Ralph was a Marcher Lord, always intent on expanding his domains into Wales. His new wife was as Welsh as they came, daughter of Prince Llewellyn the Great. While Gwladus’ paternity has never been up for discussion – she is Gwladus

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Unmourned and unloved – poor Johnny boy

It’s not easy to be misunderstood. Or the youngest – and possibly unwanted – child. Ask John, a.k.a. John Lackland. He would know all about growing up in a dysfunctional family with an anything but warm and fuzzy relationship to his parents and siblings. Mind you, having a tough childhood is an explanation, not an

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Medieval Ireland: My Research Favourite Five

Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming E.M. Powell to my blog. This lady is somewhat stuck in the Middle Ages as demonstrated by her books about Sir Benedict Palmer, knight in the service of Henry II. The third book, Lord of Ireland is about to see the light of the day, and as revealed

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