medieval England

The mouse that squeaked – or the story of a VERY short siege

There’s something about sieges, isn’t there? An encircled fortress—or city—and it is all one long waiting game as the cat outside wonders just how long the mouse will stay in its hole before lack of food and water forces it to venture beyond the safety of its walled haven. Mind you, I don’t think the …

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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 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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