Sunday, April 26, 2015

Deadly or a Curative-poisons in medications

by Diane Scott Lewis

Toxins and poisonous plants have been utilized for centuries in medications. A Persian physician in the tenth century first discovered that poisons such as mercury could be employed as curatives and not only for applying on the tip of an arrow/spear to kill your enemy. But poisons had to be managed carefully.

Plants, long the healing forte of the wise-woman in England, were a common ingredient in medicinal "potions," though many had deadly qualities.

The foxglove, with its beautiful hooded, purple bloom is fatal if eaten.

William Withering
But eighteenth century British physician, William Withering, used infusions of this plant to treat dropsy (now known as edema).

Later, digitalis for heart failure, was created from this plant.

Rosy periwinkle is also toxic to eat. However, in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine, it’s used to treat diabetes and constipation.

More well known is the Opium poppy, used to make morphine (and unfortunately heroin-the killer of many an addict). Morphine is invaluable as a pain reliever for the sickest of patients. Small doses of other deadly toxins such as henbane, hemlock and mandrake have been employed to ease the pain of surgeries. But a dose slightly too high would kill the patient.


Strychnine, derived from a tree seed or bark, was made into medicines to raise blood pressure. It was first marketed as a poison to kill rodents.

In Shakespeare’s time, poisonous extracts were added to cough medicines. Opiates were common in cough remedies, mainly for sedation. Mrs. Cotton in the seventeenth century suggested a mixture of vinegar, salad oil, liquorice, treacle, and tincture of opium when "the cough is troublesome."

No one yet understood the addictive nature of some of these drugs—if the patient lived to find out.

The chemical element mercury, another toxin, was used starting in the 1500’s to treat syphilis.

Well into the twentieth century, mercury was an ingredient in purgatives and infant’s teething powder.

Arsenic is another poison (also utilized to kill rats) that was commonly added to medications. A chemical element, arsenic is found in many minerals. In the 18th to 20th centuries, arsenic compounds, such as arsphenamine (by Paul Ehrlich, 1854-1915) and arsenic trioxide (by Thomas Fowler, 18th c.) were popular. Arsphenamine was also used to treat syphilis. Arsenic trioxide was recommended for the treatment of cancer and psoriasis.

Numerous people suffered adverse effects or died after the ingestion of these lethal ingredients.

In my recent release, The Apothecary’s Widow, arsenic is found in the tinctures used to treat the ague of Lady Pentreath. Unfortunately, arsenic is not normally one of the ingredients listed in that cure, and never in such a large dose.


Who murdered Lady Pentreath, her miserable husband, Branek, or the apothecary Jenna who prepared the medicines, a widow about to be evicted from her shop, which is owned by the Pentreaths? A corrupt constable threatens to send them both to the gallows.

Click here to purchase The Apothecary’s Widow.

To find out more about my novels, please visit my website:

http://www.dianescottlewis.org


Sources:

livescience.com
The Power of Poison: Poison as Medicine, the American Museum of Natural History

William Buchan, Domestic Medicine: or, a treatise on the prevention and cure of diseases by regimen and simple medicines [second edition] (London: 1772)

Wikipedia

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Alfred Vanderbilt – the Hero of Novel Lusitania R.E.X

This post is by finalist for the M.M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction, Greg Taylor.

Alfred Vanderbilt
Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt was born into a remarkable life. By the time he joined the ranks of the growing family of Cornelius Vanderbilt II, known as Corneil, and his wife Alice (née Gwynne), on October 20th 1877, his parents were already engaged in a sibling rivalry that would create some of the finest homes in America. It is alleged that the opening ball of the conspicuous 5th Avenue chateau built by Alfred’s Uncle Willie and his socially conscious wife Alva, the “party of the century”, catapulted the Vanderbilts into acceptable New York society.

When Alfred was only five years old, his family moved into One West Fifty-seventh Street, the largest mansion ever built in New York City. This early French Renaissance mansion of red brick with limestone boasted one hundred and fifty-seven rooms by the time his parents were finished. It was here that Alfred played as a boy, dashing up the spectacular curved staircase of Caen stone or sneaking into the two-story Moorish smoking room designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany.

The Breakers,
Newport Cottage of Cornelius Vanderbilt II
From 1895, Alfred was able to enjoy the Newport season from the family’s new Italian Renaissance palazzo overlooking the ocean. The Breakers opened that year with the coming out ball of Alfred’s sister Gertrude. Given his love of horses, however, Alfred often ventured up the road to his father’s Oakland Farm, which he would later inherit and expand.

In September of 1895, Alfred followed his two older brothers to Yale. Vanderbilt Hall had opened the year before, built by his grieving parents in memory of Alfred’s oldest brother, Bill, who died during his junior year after contracting typhoid fever from a water pump. Vanderbilt Hall was built with one special suite: for use by future Vanderbilts, it featured wood-paneled walls, an ornate red marble fireplace and a bay window with a commanding view of the campus.

Alfred prospered at Yale, pursuing a variety of sporting activities and winning a “tap” to join secret society Skull and Bones. His older brother Neily was a serious academic, but Alfred enjoyed himself at Yale and after graduating in 1899 embarked on a round-the-world tour with friends, the first leg in a private Vanderbilt railcar. Alfred was in the Orient when he received the news that his father, weakened from a stroke caused by a disagreement with Alfred’s brother Neily, had died. Alfred returned to the Breakers to learn that his older brother had been disinherited for choosing the wrong bride, leaving him, the third son, the heir at age twenty-one to the greatest fortune of the age.

Alfred gave his brother Neily a share of his own inheritance to bring him equal to the other siblings, and but Alfred remained the wealthiest bachelor in America. He was now able to indulge his passion for society and sports, particularly coaching, and attempted to set a speed record between Newport and Boston driving a four-horse brake in August of 1900. Though he failed to set a new record that time, he collected as a passenger for on the return journey the heiress Elsie French, whom he married in January of 1901.

Alfred’s love of horses and coaching gradually pulled him away from Elsie, with frequent trips to London. For one horse show, Alfred shipped a hundred horses across the Atlantic. An adventuring beauty named Agnes Ruiz, the wife of a Cuban diplomat, eventually captured Alfred’s attentions. Elsie filed for divorce and the newspapers eagerly reported the details of Alfred’s adulterous liaison with Agnes aboard his private railcar the Wayfarer. When Alfred became enamored of another wealthy American socialite, Maggie Emerson, Agnes shot herself in London. Alfred married Maggie in November 1911 and they divided their time between London, Great Camp Sagamore in the Adirondacks and the top two floors of the new Vanderbilt Hotel that towered over Manhattan from 1912.

It was in order to attend a meeting of the International Breeders Association in London that Alfred booked passage on the Lusitania in May, 1915. Like the other passengers, Alfred ignored that warning that the German Imperial Embassy printed in the New York papers about sailing into the war zone. The Lusitania was a passenger liner travelling from a neutral country, and Alfred knew that she was also the fastest ship in the world at twenty-six knots compared to only eight knots for a submerged submarine.

In Lusitania R.E.X, Alfred has another reason to travel to England. In this fictionalized account, he is smuggling aboard the ship a prototype rocket clandestinely developed with his Skull and Bones friends that Alfred believes has the potential to end World War One. After the arrest of three German stowaways as the liner sails from New York, the Germans realize their plan to steal to rocket with help from Irish nationalists has failed and the Lusitania is targeted.

Eleven miles from the Irish shore on the last day of the crossing, a single torpedo fired by the German U20 struck the Lusitania. There was a second, much larger explosion that ripped the ship apart. She sank in only eighteen minutes at a list so severe that only eight of the forty-two lifeboats were launched.

Alfred Vanderbilt gallantly gave his lifebelt to a woman passenger, knowing that he could not swim. He was a gifted sportsman and accomplished at nearly every pursuit befitting a gentleman of leisure, but he had never learned to swim. Alfred spent the last few minutes of his life rushing about the deck of the Lusitania with his valet gathering up children to hand into the lifeboats.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Greg Taylor's passion for research has led him to develop first-hand relationships with the descendants of some of the characters in the book, including the Duke of Marlborough and Alfred G Vanderbilt III. He was drawn to the tale of Lusitania because he was fascinated by the cataclysm of elegant Edwardian society caused by the brutal warfare the industrial success of that society made possible. His passion for research and discovery has taken him to the numerous historical sites that appear in the book. Undergraduate studies in history at Williams College in Massachusetts and the University of Durham, England, are reflected in the book. Greg attended the School of Management at Yale University where he lives one block from The Tomb of Skull and Bones. London has been Greg's home since 2000 and he has divided his investment banking and asset management career between New York and London.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Utopian Communities of the Nineteenth Century

I have invited the three finalists of the M.M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction to write posts about the research behind their novels. These posts will not always be British but will be interesting history. Tonight's post is the first.

by Steve Wiegenstein

Life is pretty much a mess, most of the time. People don't behave as they should; they follow their own interests and desires, bringing them into disagreement with others and creating unnecessary heartache and conflict. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone could agree in advance that they would act for the common good, setting aside their own wishes in favor of what's best for everyone?

That is the essence of the utopian ideal, and that's why it has fascinated me for many years. I first got interested in utopian movements when I read about the Icarians, a little-known group that lived in the United States for about fifty years in the Nineteenth Century. That interest led to a wider appreciation for the entire utopian movement, which was a transatlantic movement inspired both by Romanticism and by the newly created idea of “social science,” both of which contributed important elements to the movement in varying degrees.

When I think of the foundations of this movement, three names come to mind: Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, coiner of the memorable phrase “Property is theft”; Charles Fourier, the utopian socialist whose concept of the “phalanx” inspired communities on both sides of the Atlantic; and Robert Owen, the Welsh reformer who put his ideas into action in Britain and the United States. The intellectual roots don’t attract me as much as the human drama, though.

- the New Harmony community in Indiana,
as envisioned by Robert Owen

The Icarians, like a lot of utopian groups, originated with a charismatic leader who attracted a group of followers. But the Icarian movement was different from most others as well. For one thing, its founder, Etienne Cabet, hadn't actually intended to form a settlement. He wrote a novel, Voyage to Icaria, largely to comment on the political situation in France and to keep his name in front of the French public while he served a period of exile. But the novel, in which he set forth his communistic ideas in the form of an imaginary community in the South Seas, caught the public imagination, and in 1848 Cabet found himself leading a group of immigrants to the United States to establish a real-life Icaria. The experiment was marked by equal amounts of strife and heroism, nobility and pettiness, but the last colony of Icarians didn’t disband until 1898, and their dogged persistence in trying to live out their ideal deserves our admiration, if not imitation.

New Harmony as it actually looked

Those of you who have read my first novel, Slant of Light, will recognize that situation as the starting premise of the book – a charismatic social reformer who founds a community, almost by accident. I depart from history at that point, but certainly one of the central themes of my book is the utopian impulse that lives in us all, and whether that impulse can ever be realized. This Old World picks up that story after the devastation of the American Civil War, when the first wave of utopianism died down as dreams of a radical refashioning of human nature felt to most Americans more like a cruel hoax than an achievable ideal.

Somewhere below the surface, the utopian impulse has a dictatorial side—it's the "I know best" impulse, the belief that life's messes and strife could be avoided if only you would agree to what I know is best for us all. You can see hints of this impulse in the obsessive fascination with order that characterizes many of the utopian theorists’ visions of the ideal community. Fourier’s ideal phalanx was to have 1,620 people, equally divided among male and female, and encompassing what he imagined to be all combinations of the common passions of humanity. To the social reformer, our human imperfections are a problem to be solved. But to the novelist, they're what makes us so interesting.

- An artist’s imagining of an ideal Fourierist phalanstery

The fictional inhabitants of Daybreak, the name of my fictional community in Slant of Light and This Old World, try earnestly to arrange their lives for the common good. They hold weekly meetings to vote on everything from whether to install windows in their cabins to whether to buy cloth for mourning dresses. They eat together, work together, travel together. But their communal urges keep getting thwarted by their human desires. They envy, they betray, they fall in love with the wrong people. It's the struggle between these two sides of human nature—the desire to improve and perfect ourselves, and the desire to have what we want when we want it, regardless of others—that drew me to the utopian experience of the Nineteenth Century as a microcosm of human nature.

- the Icarian settlement in Nauvoo, Illinois

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Steve Wiegenstein is the author of Slant of Light and This Old World, the first two novels in an anticipated multi-book series. Slant of Light, published in 2012, was the runner-up for the David H. Langum Prize in American Historical Fiction, and This Old World, published in September 2014, is currently a finalist for the M.M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction. Both books were published by Blank Slate Press, a literary small press in St. Louis, Missouri.

See more about Steve and his work on the M.M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction website.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

April 24 1558 - April 24 1567: The Nine Year Descent of the Queen of Scots

by Linda Root

APRIL 24th IS MY BIRTHDAY. IT IS ALSO THE DATE OF THE QUEEN OF SCOTS’ MAGNIFICENT DEBUT ON THE WORLD STAGE, AND THE DATE OF HER MOST CONTROVERSIAL MISADVENTURE.  COME SHARE IT WITH ME:

April 24, 1558 – Notre Dame d’ Paris

Victor Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame
(Cathedral depicted as circa 1600)
Wikimedia Public Domain
There was no butter or chocolate available for purchase anywhere near Paris. The city had long been sold out of silks, brocades, and Belgium lace. Aristocratic women who had failed to plan ahead were savaging their draperies because there was no other velvet to be had. No French king or heir apparent had been married at Notre Dame d' Paris  in living memory. The parents of the groom,  Henri II and his consort Catherine d' Medici,  had been married in Marseilles, and his father Francis I, at Saint Germain en Laye. None of Louis XII’s three wedding masses had been celebrated in the City of Light.  Although the betrothal had not become official until the week before, the prenuptial agreement had been solemnized at Stirling in Scotland when the bride-to- be was not yet five and the absentee bridegroom, barely four. The forthcoming wedding gave Parisians a long-awaited cause to celebrate.

1558 was a grand year for a French royal wedding. The bride’s uncle Francois, Duke of Guise had expelled the English from the Pas de Calais. Francois had abrogated the embarrassment of Agincourt.  On the other side of the coin, the English waged a successful siege of  St. Quentin, trapping  Francois' rival Duke Anne de Montmorency inside the city. Montmorency's detention cleared the way for the Duke of Guise  to act as Master of Ceremonies at his niece's wedding.

The mistress of the ceremony was indeed the bride. Sixteen-year-old Marie Stuart had been the anointed Queen of Scots since six days old and was comfortable in the limelight. She had lived in France since she was five and was already a  celebrated beauty and a crowd pleaser. In every respect other than being born of a Scottish King, she was a French girl. If you have read this in my other posts, I cannot emphasize it too much.  Portrayals of the Queen of Scots glossing over her French childhood (i.e., Reign) do a disservice to their audience.

It is regrettable there are no paintings of the wedding at Notre Dame. We are left to contemporary reports of bystanders and our imaginations. In all accounts, it was a public spectacle of unprecedented grandeur. The ceremony was orchestrated to allow ordinary citizens of Paris  a view of the procession and much of the ceremony. Duke Francois was a perfect host, tossing large sums of money to the assembled crowd amid cries of ‘Largesse, Largesse.’

The bride entered the cathedral on the arm of the King. She wore her hair down, and her gown was white--both departures from tradition.  Queen consort Catherine de Medici had vehemently disapproved of the choice of white for the bridal gown, and the issue was taken to Henri II  to arbitrate.  He sided with his future daughter-in-law. The dress was so heavily encrusted with pearls and other precious jewels that its train was difficult for Marie’s attendants to manage. Celebrations went on for days. After-parties arranged to entertain  visiting Scottish dignitaries and foreign ambassadors continued for the better part of a year.

Duke of Guise, Clouet
The Paris  Aprils  1559—April 1560:  

Although the focus of European royalty was still on Paris in April of 1559, developments on the world stage occurred  which impacted Marie Stuart’s life. The most significant was the death of England’s Catholic Queen Mary Tudor; a sad childless woman married to Philip of Spain who had  the audacity to claim she  smelled bad. According to the Will of Henry VIII and the Act of Succession, the English crown passed to Elizabeth Tudor, the strong-willed Protestant daughter of Anne Boleyn. At this point, the Queen of Scots seriously miss-stepped: No doubt at the provocation of her Guise uncles, the Dauphiness began quartering the arms of England alongside those of Scotland and France. The Queen of Scots had unwittingly taken her first steps toward the block at Fotheringhay by questioning her cousin’s right to rule at a time when Elizabeth I was vulnerable. Her act displayed a foreboding political naiveté and a tendency to follow an agenda written by others.

Elizabeth Coronation portrait 1559
By her third wedding anniversary, the Queen of Scots was Queen consort of France due to a jousting accident claiming the life of her father-in-law.With frail, insipid Francois II as its King, France was in the control of the Duke of Guise and his  brother Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine. Two events occurred to mar the carefree lifestyle of the young King and Queen.  An ill-conceived Huguenot plot to free France of its ultra-Catholic  overlords culminated at Amboise in the Spring of 1560. Although it failed miserably, it exposed the religious divisions plaguing France. In summer, amidst political unrest terminating her regency, Marie’s mother Marie d Guise died at Stirling.

 The  worst was yet to come.  Within days of Marie Stuart’s eighteenth birthday, her childhood confidant and adoring husband Francois II died, apparently of a brain abscess.  The new widow spent her birthday in mourning interrupted when her mother-in-law sent  agents to recover the crown jewels. Her family’s efforts to arrange another European royal marriage were stifled by Catherine de Medici, who ruled France as regent for her young son Charles. If Marie were to be a queen, it would be as Queen of Scotland, an alternative she considered a last resort.

The Scottish years: By April 24, 1561, her third wedding anniversary, Marie Stuart had run out of options. Four months later she sailed into Leith Harbor to begin her personal rule as Queen of Scots.  Although gently bullied by her half-brother James Stewart and maligned by a Protestant clergy led by the irascible John Knox, the Queen of Scots was determined to make the best of it. She spent the first year of her personal rule negotiating a face to face meeting with Elizabeth. Her foreign minister William Maitland did his best to arrange a meeting in York, but  factions on each side of the border sabotaged it. Marie Stuart’s objective was to be named Elizabeth’s heir apparent, which created issues with English Protestants. Meanwhile, Marie continued to search for a suitable husband amongst European Catholic royalty, which did not sit well with either Elizabeth or the Scottish Kirk.

Marie Stuart as a widow, Clouet
There were high points in Marie Stuart’s early reign, notably when she followed the advice of her brother James,  whom she made Earl of Moray, and her foreign secretary  Maitland. With Moray as a comrade in arms, she waged a successful armed expedition against the powerful Catholic Earl of Huntly, which pleased her English cousin. Nevertheless at the end of 1563 she still had failed to come to  terms with her cousin to the south. A successful foreign policy and the establishment of a seaworthy Navy made Elizabeth Tudor a new power on the European stage. European royals were in no hurry to offend her by catering to her charming but less politically astute cousin's marital agenda.  By April 24th, 1563, Marie was acutely aware of the need to secure her throne by producing an heir. Serious problems began when she ignored the advice of her brother and refused to give Elizabeth a right to nay say her choice of husbands, a prerequisite to being named her heir.

The situation developing was much more complicated than a rivalry of Queens. The same problem that was met head on in 2014 was a factor in 1563—the issue of Union. Many astute 16th century Scots including Maitland, Morton, Moray and Kirkcaldy realized a prosperous and Protestant Scotland required peace along the Borders. A permanent end to the Border Wars was best obtained through a Union of the Crowns. Such a premise was utterly alien to the Queen, whose  world view and loyalties were with the French. To Marie Stuart and other Francophiles, the Auld Alliance was very real. However, to most Scots, the Border Wars were devastating to Scotland and often instigated by its Auld Ally when a diversionary bush war in Scotland was in the French interest.
The Scottish view of the monarchy was a second factor sealing Marie Stuart's doom. Early Stuart Royals were Divine Right Monarchs, but the Scottish aristocracy had a different view of what constituted a right to rule. There was a nascent Republicanism in Scottish thought long before Marie Stuart came on the scene. Scots, not God had the final word as to who should be a Scottish sovereign. None of this was part of Marie Stuart’s mindset. She believed the rhetoric calling Elizabeth a heretic and a bastard and that she, not Elizabeth, was England’s rightful Queen. Consequently, when her brother and other advisors told her to acquiesce to Elizabeth's nominee for a second husband, she balked.

Premier Marian historian John Guy states the Queen sealed her fate when she married her English cousin Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. Guy's arguments are sound, but the seed of doom was planted earlier when she quartered the arms of England along with her own. Elizabeth was so successful at recreating herself as Gloriana that it is easy to overlook how fragile her grasp on the English throne was when she ascended in 1558. Marie’s competing claim was more than an insult instigated by French Catholics. It was a genuine threat. Elizabeth’s bullying of Marie over her choice of husbands  was at the  least a subtle pay-back.


Darnley, Wiimedia Commonds PD Art
History makes such short shrift of Henry Stuart that it is easy to suspect he was Elizabeth's minister Cecil’s plant. At nineteen, he had a reputation as an arrogant, promiscuous, mollycoddled brat. Even Cecil, who was no fan of sending  Catholic Darnley to become Scottish consort, figured he would not last long. He expected  Moray to see right through Darnley and send him back. When Moray publicly declared Darnley a disaster in the making, his love-starved sister threw Moray out and married  Cousin Henry. Not all Scots disfavored the Darnley marriage. As Henry VII’s great grandchild, his claim to the English throne mirrored Marie’s without suffering the disability of her foreign birth. Anglophiles like Maitland viewed the marriage as a guarantee of Union under a Stuart succession should  Elizabeth die without issue.  But Darnley could not behave himself for long.  By winter, Marie's advisers sided with Moray and so did the unhappy, pregnant Queen. 

A series of bizarre events plagued her pregnancy. First, Maitland convinced Darnley he had been cuckolded. Darnley in turn partnered with the Douglas faction and murdered the Queen's favorite David Rizzio in her presence. Finally, he double-crossed the Douglases and sided with the Queen, assisting in her escape. When the air cleared, Marie saw Darnley  as a danger to her unborn child. In spite of occasional public displays of domestic harmony that fooled no one, she and Darnley were estranged.  After the Prince’s christening in December 1566 which Darnley boycotted, he fled to his father Matthew Stuart’s Lennox earldom near Glasgow. From there he began to plot against his wife. He guessed the Douglases, Maitland, and the Queen's friend James Hepburn were planning to kill him. As modern political philosopher Henry Kissinger observed, even paranoid schizophrenics have enemies.
 .
Darnley was suffering from what is believed to have been tertiary syphilis and fell ill shortly after arriving in Glasgow. The queen traveled there to bring him back. One of history’s great mysteries centers on her motive. Was she delivering him into the lion’s den knowing he was marked for murder, or was she caging him in a velvet prison lest he kill her first?  It may have been a bit of both. On February 10, 1567, his lodgings at Kirk o' Field exploded, and he was found strangled in a nearby garden.

Wikimedea Commons, Drury Sketch of crime scene at Kirk o' Fields

April 24th, 1567:

By the Spring of 1566-67, the widow had chosen a new shoulder on which to lean. James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell,  was a border firebrand whose most redeeming characteristic was his unwavering loyalty to both Marie de Guise during her regency and later, to the Queen. What part he played in Darnley's death is a topic for a tome, and I shall not explore it here.  He did not appear suddenly on the scene as Darnley had done two years earlier. The Earls of Bothwell were traditional powers in Scottish politics. Both Hepburn and his father were opposed to an alliance with England, although they were avid Protestants. Lord James was among a handful of men Marie trusted to reside in Edinburgh Castle during her lying-in prior to the birth of the Prince. He had never catered to Darnley and had been a secondary target in the Rizzio murder. Although he was a notorious womanizer, there is no credible evidence linking him and the queen sexually until Darnley's father Lennox  fueled the rumors.

When, then, did Bothwell become the Queen’s lover and more specifically, what happened between them on the 24th of April, 1567? The issue is unresolved, but the clues are out there. Unfortunately, most of them address the Queen's behavior rather than exploring what was going on with Bothwell, although  he is the prime mover in the following events.  To that end, I offer a caveat: none of the actions of the parties can be judged by 21st Century standards. With that in mind, the following facts suggest a different answer than expected. Mayhap the rape was genuine.
~~
James Hepburn was a sexually attractive man, as attested by the ease of his many conquests. From the sophisticated Norwegian heiress Anna Trondsen and the icy Lady Jean Gordon to the siren Janet Beaton, who raised his illegitimate son, the women who knew him took the risks that went along with a relationship.

The Wizard Lady of Buccleugh-Braxtome, Janet Beaton
Wikimeia Public Domain

Hepburn’s womanizing was well known.  Nevertheless, the new widow frequently conferred with Bothwell in the privacy of her chambers during her period of mourning after Darnley’s death.

The privy council and other leading Scots knew something was brewing between the Queen and Bothwell by early April. Bothwell hosted a dinner party either at Ainslee’s tavern or in his apartments at court, and his guests put their names to a bond presenting him to Marie as their nominee to become her third husband.

In contrast, the Queen was sexually inexperienced. Her marriage to Francois was likely unconsummated.  His testicles had not descended at the time of his death at age seventeen. Although she was schooled in the practices of courtly love and had flirted with the  poet Chatelard and entertained her secretary Rizzio in her chambers at all hours, there is no evidence she regarded her behavior as compromising. Obviously her relation with Darnley was sexually charged but of relatively brief duration. Weeks after the wedding he was back to the brothels and the Queen was at the gaming tables playing cards with Rizzio.

On the day after Bothwell’s dinner party, Hepburn and Maitland rode to Seton House to present the bond proposing a Hepburn marriage to the Queen. She rejected it on the grounds it might cast doubts upon her honor. Maitland had been recruited to accompany Hepburn to give the proposal credibility.  The two men were not friends. Bothwell never considered Marie might turn him down, or he would not have let a man he despised witness his humiliation.

A final point worthy of consideration concerns the prevalent mores. In 16th Century Scotland, carrying a reluctant female off and raping her was not an uncommon means to force marriage on a reluctant bride, even among aristocrats. Others had contemplated it with the Queen including John Gordon, and possibly his father Huntly, as well as James Hamilton 2nd Earl of Arran.


To innocent observers, Marie and Bothwell were  conducting business as usual the day after she rejected his proposal.  Bothwell had pressing business on the Borders. Marie traveled to Stirling Castle where she intended to relieve the Earl of Mar of the custody of her son. She planned to transfer his guardianship to Bothwell when she returned to Edinburgh.
But that is not what happened.

On April 24th,  after having been refused the custody of her son by Mar, Marie headed back to Edinburgh with Maitland, Sir James Melville, two ladies and thirty retainers. Bothwell and an army of his Borderers waylaid the Queen's entourage at Foulmouth near a bridge over the Almond River. Marie ordered her escort to stand down. Bothwell and his men took control of the Queen, Maitland, and Melville and hauled them off to Dunbar. When they arrived, Bothwell allegedly raped the Queen and boasted to Maitland he had solved her honor problem.

When Melville was released to deliver a message from the Queen to her people excusing Hepburn’s conduct, the citizens of Edinburgh had armed themselves with broom handles, picks, and pitchforks.  When a contingent reached Dunbar, it was clear the Queen did not desire a rescue. A few days later she went to Hepburn’s family's estate at Hailes and  taught him the game of golf. When they returned to Edinburgh, the Queen was in Bothwell’s physical control and clearly in his thrall. The Queen of Scots had lost her credibility with her people.

In May, Marie Stuart married Bothwell in a Protestant ceremony that had her in tears. The ceremony was followed by a wedding breakfast to which the public was invited, but few came. On the 15th of June, the pregnant Queen of Scots surrendered to the Protestant lairds at Carberry Hill on the condition Bothwell would go free. Within days, she was imprisoned at Loch Leven Castle in the custody of her brother Moray’s mother.  On July 24th, 1567, she was forced to abdicate in favor of her son James whom she never saw again.

The battlefield at Carberry-Pd Wikimedia Commons

There are three versions of what occurred at Dunbar. One presumes Hepburn raped the Queen. Another suspects she surrendered her virtue willingly. A third claims the kidnapping was a well-planned farce. The  choice is ours to make.

~~


Linda Root is the author of The First Marie and the Queen of Scots and The Last Knight and the Queen of Scots in the Queen of Scots Suite (http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=The+Queen+of+Scots+Suite) and The Legacy of the Queen of Scots series including The Midwife’s Secret: The Mystery of the Hidden Princess; The Other Daughter: Midwife’s Secret II; 1603: The Queen’s Revenge, and In the Shadow of the Gallows(coming soon).( http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=The+Legacy+of+the+Queen+of+Scots).
As J.D. Root, she has also published the first in her Daemons Ghosts & Guardian series, The Green Woman: A Scottish Fantasy. She lives in Yucca Valley, California with husband Chris, two Alaskan Malamutes, 20 hens and a chicken named Henry 8.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

“That Kiss is Her Destiny and Her Fortune”

by Deb Hunter

Last year, I began thinking of what I could write about the Tudor era. I wanted to write a story unlike anything I had ever read before. The artistic seed was there, but what would trigger the growth of a concept which led to Phoenix Rising?

Let’s examine Jane Seymour. What do we know of Jane Seymour, really know of her? She was the daughter of Sir John Seymour and Margery Wentword. Jane was the oldest daughter of ten children, six of whom lived to adulthood. In that era, six surviving children was no small feat.

Was Jane Seymour born at Wulfhull or Wolf Hall as it is now known, in Wiltshire, England, the family seat? We do not know. What we do know is that the Seymour’s were an old family, tracing their roots to one of William the Conqueror’s men. Through Jane’s maternal grandfather, she was a descendant of King Edward III of England.

Due to Jane’s pedigree, Jane and King Henry VIII were fifth cousins. Sinister enough, but get this…Jane was a second cousin to none other than Anne Boleyn. That’s when the story of Jane took a turn for me. What type of female, now or five hundred years ago, is fitted for her wedding dress at the very hour her cousin is to be executed by beheading? The concept for my upcoming story, Phoenix Rising, was beginning to take root. Then, when I discovered that Jane was presented at court by none other than Sir Francis Bryan, the story began to reveal itself to me.

Hans Holbien sketches Jane Seymour. This mural is in 
Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
Painted over 200 years after their deaths, 
we know that this picture is not accurate, or is it?


Victorian depiction
of Jane Seymour
We read about ‘Plain Jane ‘or how fair she was, so we perceive her as homely. True, her pictures do not translate well into our millennium, but let’s look at the time period and the concept of feminine beauty in the Tudor era. The archaic meaning of fair is a beautiful woman, as in “Who’s the fairest of them all?” Jane motto was ‘Bound to Obey and Serve.’ She was the epitome of the Tudor female. She even had Henry VIII’s longed for male heir. This was the real reason women were important at that point in time, right?

There is so little known about Jane Seymour. The research for Phoenix Rising was fertile territory for an historical fiction story. My imagination was enabled to fill the gaps left unknown to us by history. The story of women vying for the attention of a powerful man is timeless. Add in family intrigue, Jane was known to be ‘haughty’. Is it that difficult to imagine he felt her
station above that of Anne Boleyn? A bit of encouragement from her family and Sir Francis Bryan and she became a force to be reckoned with? Would she stop at nothing less than becoming Henry’s wife through schemes and power plays?

Jane served Katherine of Aragon and openly supported Princess Mary, the daughter of Henry VIII and Queen Katherine, even before Queen Anne was beheaded. Was Jane out for revenge? Once Katherine was deceased, did she truly believe that Henry was free to marry and love again and that she was a better choice for England than her cousin Anne?


The mystery of Jane Seymour is even more enigmatic than that of her glamorous relative, Anne Boleyn. She is a true chimera. Do we know for certain this is by her hand?

Phoenix Rising reveals the last hour of Queen Anne Boleyn and the rise of Lady Jane Seymour. It is based on the star map provided to King Henry VIII by his Welsh physician, Milady Bliant. It depicts the thoughts and motives behind the main players on the Tudor stage at that one moment in time. The name is from the royal badge chosen by Jane Seymour, that of a phoenix rising from a castle with Tudor roses.

The novella will be released via MadeGlobal Publishing on May 19, 2015. Look for the cover reveal very soon via the Tudor Society. (https://www.tudorsociety.com)

Sources:
The Tudors: King Takes Queen, Michael Hirst, Elizabeth Massie.
The Six Wives of Henry VII, Antonia Fraser.
Photos: Wikimedia Commons and Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

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Deb Hunter writes fiction as Hunter S. Jones. Her best-selling poetic romance novel September Ends won awards for Best Independently Published Novel and Best Romance, based on its unique blending of poetry and prose. Her story The Fortune Series received best-selling status on Amazon in the Cultural Heritage and Historical Fiction categories. She has been published by H3O Eco mag, LuxeCrush, Chattanooga Times-Free Press, and is now a freelance contributor for the Atlanta Journal Constitution. She has recently been accepted into the prestigious Rivendell Writers Colony. Her arts, music and culture blogs on ExpatsPost.com are filled with eclectic stories regarding music, writing, the arts and climate awareness. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her Scottish born husband. Her undergrad degree is from a university in Nashville, Tennessee where she graduated with a degree in History, with an emphasis on the English Renaissance and Reformation.



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Exploring English Castles

by Debra Brown
A true castle has a heady mix of violence and decadence, bloodshed and splendor, which is why, almost by definition, no real castle can ever be boring.

Framlingham Castle where Mary Tudor was proclaimed Queen

As I sat down to lunch today to write this post, a lovely lady offered to trade tables with me to accommodate the large book on castles I’d brought along to read—and she said she had read it, too. Castles are indeed a source of awe and inspiration, a draw for people everywhere. Perhaps you have visited many, stayed overnight in a time-share castle, or married in a castle courtyard. Or like some of us, castles are too far from home, and the best you can do is to read a book on the topic.

…some English buildings that look distinctively castle-y can be a bit of a trick. Quite often a social aspirant built what was really a grand house, and with pretensions of greatness, disguised the outside with a few features of architecture to add a touch of ill-gotten grandeur.

Who can blame them?

The first castle ideas arrived “from France, always a place of cutting-edge fashion”. They were mere motte and bailey fortifications, earthen mounds with wooden structures, humble in comparison to what exists today, but according to author Edd Morris, nothing like them had been seen in medieval England, and their appearance would have been like the landing of an alien spaceship in the countryside today.

The first castle quickly followed the Norman invasion and conquest. The Norman poet Wace wrote, “The carpenters… threw down from the ships and dragged on land the wood which the Count of Eu had brought there, all pierced and trimmed. They had brought all the trimmed pegs in great barrels. Before evening, they had built a small castle with it and made a ditch round it.” (The Bayeaux Tapestry shows them roasting chicken, likely plundered, first.) One fortress, of course, was not enough. “They wrought castles widely through this country, and harassed the miserable people; and ever since has evil increased very much. May the end be good, when God will!” The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, 1066-7.

Within about two months, William the Conqueror was crowned King in Westminster Abbey, London, and he quickly set about consolidating his control by building the White Tower now at the heart of the Tower of London. And in the next twenty years, it is believed that the Normans built around five hundred motte and bailey castles.

The book I am using as a resource, Exploring English Castles: Evocative, Romantic, and Mysterioius True Tales of the Kings and Queens of the British Isles by Edd Morris, is full of details about the early structures and pictures of stone castles that followed on some of the motte and bailey locations.

It goes on to discuss several castles on the Isle and has beautiful color pictures on nearly every page. I will mention but two.

Goodrich Castle

The 1086 Domesday Book catalogs a certain “Godric’s Castle”, now red sandstone ruins in Herefordshire. Though many evolved over time, Godric’s was planned and built in one go around 1280. It is therefore cohesive, defensive areas flowing into cozy residential sections.

The Goodrich standing today was built mainly for one man, the dislikable William de Valence. Though a good friend of Henry III, he was distrusted by the English as an alien having been born in France in 1225 to the Lusignan family. Though he was impetuous, violent, and quick tempered, Henry III liked him; he was skilled in tournaments and adept at warfare, and Henry quickly knighted him.

The Lusignans had fallen from favor in France, and once granted lands in England they became arrogant and would stop at nothing to increase their holdings. They employed strongmen to collect taxes and tithes their new tenants owed. They came to be above the law when Henry decreed that no writ could be served against them, and the Court was split into factions for and against them. For a time William was exiled to France, but he returned, and though now subservient he assisted Henry and his heir, Edward I, in their conquest of Wales. Edward rewarded him with workers sent to improve Goodrich, but William died the same year after a skirmish where he was injured after a failed diplomatic mission in France. His widow, Joan, carried on in his stead caring for what became her properties.

Everything you might (not) want to know about medieval toilets is included in Dr. Morris’ discussion of Goodrich Castle including how to enter a castle undetected.

Dover Castle – “the key to England”

Dover Castle was built to resist medieval siege and adapted to survive a nuclear war. It’s physically and symbolically the strongest castle in the whole of England and has defended the realm for more than 950 years. Of course, its formidable defenses have adapted over time—morphing from a medieval stronghold to an army control center during World War II, and, most recently, to a nuclear bunker, should a third world war break out.

Seven days after the Norman success at Hastings they arrived to take Dover. Only 21 miles from France over the English Channel, it was important for them to secure this port to keep a ready supply of men and equipment coming their way. After building his fortifications there, possibly upon Roman remnants as he did in other locations, William left the castle in the hands of his half-brother Bishop Odo, an unpleasant man who came to be second in command to William over all of Norman England. Harsh and unjust, he came to be hated by the people, and when he was gone to London they rebelled.

The Kent locals asked Count Eustace, who had previously attacked Dover and killed twenty men, and who had fought on the Norman side in the battle of Hastings, (yes, him,) to come to England, take over the castle, and become England’s king. And he tried. But even with most of the defenders gone, the castle could not be taken. Its men unexpectedly poured out through one of the gates, caused panic, and took many lives. Eustace fled back to France, though his nephew was taken prisoner. This is just one example of the importance of the Norman castles in putting down uprisings of the Anglo-Saxons.

Over a hundred years later, Henry II built the Great Keep of the Dover Castle. His standing as the country’s monarch devastated by the affair with Thomas Becket, Henry had to find a way to elevate his position in the eyes of his people, but also in the eyes of foreign dignitaries. A Count of Flanders and later King Louis VII of France came to England to pay their respects to the tomb of Becket, accompanied by Henry.

Henry had little to offer these grand men in the way of accommodations in Dover. He later built the Keep to provide luxurious hospitality, and its construction rendered everything the monarchy stood for: order, grandeur, glory, and ceremony right there at the gateway to England. But in a stroke of genius, he built in Thomas Becket. He built a small chapel dedicated to the man which bears great similarity to Canterbury Cathedral with its grand, ribbed, vaulted ceiling and decorative chevrons that run across the chancel. It boasts a tiny nave and an adjacent alcove likely designated as a Royal Pew—demonstrating the piety of the country’s King and subsuming Becket and the Church to him.

Why is Thomas Becket often called Thomas a’ Becket? Please comment if you know. Otherwise, you might want to read about it in Exploring English Castles.

The book has much more to say on Goodrich and Dover Castles as well as many beautiful pictures. There are also sections on Tintagel and the legend of King Arthur, the siege of Rochester, the puzzle at the heart of Bodiam Castle, the siege of Corfe Castle and the might of Lady Mary Bankes, the fall of Earl Thomas and the ruin of Dunstanburgh Castle, Framlinham Castle and England’s first Queen, and Kenilworth Castle with its very Elizabethan love story. It is a beautiful 10 by 10.5 book that deserves a place on your coffee table and will command the attention of your guests.

All quotes in the post are from Exploring English Castles. Photos are copyright Edd Morris.

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Dr. Edd Morris has been on many adventures around the world, and his blog exploring-castles.com is the result of days out in Europe, and his interest in History and Geography, alongside his passion for photography.

He calls himself a tragic, suppressed academic with a BA, an MA, a CertHe, and a MBBS (meaning he’s actually a Doctor working in the National Health Service in England).

Edd enjoys the outdoors, travel, and reading fiction on his Kindle.

Debra Brown runs the English Historical Fiction Authors blog and enjoys the perks—such as free books from Edd Morris and 1819 newspapers with news about Jane Austen.

And wouldn’t this be a good time to mention the release of the audiobook version of Castles, Customs, and Kings: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors narrated by Ruth Golding on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes? If you are not an Audible member, you can receive two free audiobooks on a 30 day trial. Please check it out HERE. The Kindle version and paperback remain available.




Monday, April 20, 2015

James Lind and the Treatment of Scurvy

by Regina Jeffers

A portrait of Scottish doctor James Lind (1716–1794)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Lind#/media/File:James_Lind_by_Chalmers.jpg

James Lind was a Scottish doctor who studied scurvy first hand. Born in Edinburgh in 1716, Lind became an apprentice at Edinburgh’s College of Surgeons at the age of 15. At 23, he accepted the post of surgeon’s mate and sailed throughout the Mediterranean, Guinea and the West Indies. At 31, Lind became the surgeon assigned to the HMS Salisbury. During his service to the HMS Salisbury, Lind conducted experiments on the cause and symptoms of scurvy. (BBC: History)   The Salisbury was a fourth class ship and during a 10 week stint where the Salisbury did not return to port, 80 of the 350 sailors on board lost their lives to scurvy. (The James Lind Library)
Lind selected 12 men from the ship, all suffering from scurvy, and divided them into six pairs, giving each group different additions to their basic diet. Some were given cider, others seawater, others a mixture of garlic, mustard and horseradish. Another group of two were given spoonfuls of vinegar, and the last two oranges and lemons. Those fed citrus fruits experienced a remarkable recovery. While there was nothing new about his discovery - the benefits of lime juice had been known for centuries - Lind had definitively established the superiority of citrus fruits above all other ‘remedies’. (BBC: History)

Lind’s publications include his 1753 “A Treatise of the Scurvy”; 1757 “An Essay on the Most Effectual Means of Preserving the Health of Seamen in the Royal Navy,” and 1768 “An Essay on Diseases Incidental to Europeans in Hot Climates.” His work brought attention to the deplorable living conditions and diets of the King’s navy, as well as listing the diseases found in the colonies the English claimed and ways to avoid becoming ill. In 1762, Lind proposed a simple method of supplying fresh water to those aboard ship. (The James Lind Library)

The Journal of Royal Society of Medicine cites the voyages of George Anson, 1st Baron Anson, Admiral of the Fleet, for bringing Lind’s attention to the dangers of scurvy. Anson circumnavigated the glove and oversaw the Royal Navy during the Seven Years’ War. Anson’s  A Voyage Round the World, in the Years MDCCXL, I, II, III, IV: Compiled from Papers and Other Materials of the Right Honourable George Lord Anson, and Published Under His Direction, by Richard Walter, Chaplain to His Majesty's Ship the "Centurion" piqued Lind’s interest in scurvy, a disease Lind had seen firsthand. Anson reported that he lost 380 men out of a crew of 510 to scurvy.

Lind sought more information on the disease but came away with the knowledge that those who written of scurvy’s symptoms, etc., were men who never once been to sea. Lind considered this lack of information on the causes of scurvy led to confusion among medical professionals on diagnosis, prevention, and cure.

Lind judged his relatively small number of observations on twelve patients, reported in some detail, as convincing, particularly because the differences shown were so dramatic. In fact he “confirmed” them by selected observations on other patients, but these were not as reliable as his experimental results, nor were they quantitative. In these, as well as in other experiments designed in advance, it was the quality of basic observations rather than their quantity that was important for Lind. Careful observation of a single case could even be decisive; for instance, Lind said that that he had never had a great opinion of the elixir of vitriol because he had witnessed a patient contracting scurvy to whom he had prescribed it as a "reconstituent", that is, “while under a course of medicine recommended for its prevention” (Lind 1753, p 196). Similarly, postulated treatments for scurvy had not only been debunked by Lind’s experiment, but were “contradicted by the daily experience of seamen, [and] by the journals of our sea-hospitals…” When claiming this, he seems to have such evidence in mind, although he did not quote it explicitly. (The James Lind Library)

Lind’s therapeutic findings made little impact on medical opinion in Britain: indeed, the year after their publication (1753) the Navy’s ‘Sick and Hurt Board’ rejected a proposal to provide sailors with supplies of fruit juice. In fact, aware of the storage problems for adequate amounts of fresh fruit or fruit-juice during long cruises, Lind recommended that a condensate (called “rob”) should be prepared by evaporating a dilution of fresh fruit juice in nearly boiling water over several hours. Unfortunately, as we now know, heat destroys much of the ascorbic acid in fresh juice, and it is unsurprising that subsequent observers were unable to detect any beneficial effect of the condensate. (The James Lind Library)

In hindsight the story of how Lind’s work was received, entailing a lag of 42 years between his clearly described and experimentally “proven” treatment and its actual introduction by the relevant authorities, seemed to some “one of the most foolish episodes in the whole history of medical science and practice”. However, the Navy Sick and Hurt Board did not, during the first thirty years, act unreasonably when one considers that Lind’s was only one of a great number of treatises on the subject (see Lind’s own Bibliotheca Scorbutica, an appendix to the first edition of his work); the Board was inundated with suggestions concerning scurvy; lemon juice was by no means a new cure (a fact of which Lind was perfectly aware); and not least because, together with his "rob", he also recommended a list of vegetables for preventing scurvy which, on the basis of modern analyses, were unlikely to have been effective. Lind’s recommendations thus sometimes ignored his declared rejection of unwarranted speculation and his professed reliance on carefully observed facts.
(The James Lind Library)

For more on Lind and The Rise of Preventive Medicine in the 18th Century, join me today on my blog "Every Woman Dreams."

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Meet Regina Jeffers:

Regina Jeffers is an award-winning author of Jane-Austen inspired novels/mysteries, as well as Regency romances. A master teacher, for thirty-nine years, Regina passionately taught thousands of students English in the public schools of West Virginia, Ohio, and North Carolina. Yet, “teacher” does not define her as a person. Ask any of her students or her family, and they will tell you Regina is passionate about so many things: her son, children in need, truth, responsibility, the value of a good education, words, music, dance, the theatre, pro football, classic movies, the BBC, track and field, books, books, and more books. Holding multiple degrees, Jeffers often serves as a Language Arts or Media Literacy consultant to surrounding school districts and has served on several state and national educational commissions.

As the author of nineteen books, Jeffers is always busy writing, She has five new titles arriving in 2015, including The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery; Elizabeth Bennet’s Deception: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary; Mr. Darcy’s Fault: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary; A Touch of Emerald: the Conclusion of the Realm Series, and Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep.

Website: http://www.rjeffers.com
Every Woman Dreams: https://reginajeffers.wordpress.com
Join Regina on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Old Words!

by Scott Howard Higginbotham

When you hear the words, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,” something can get lost in the translation.  Our modern lexicon rarely uses such high and lofty words as seen in the King James Version of the Holy Bible.  The preceding passage comes from 1 Corinthians 13: 4 and, is more easily understood as love being patient, kind, not boastful, and not proud.  Once you break through the archaic verbiage the words come alive, bringing forth a powerful rendering of the English language.  

This does not mean that modern readers are necessarily droll.  However, words used in yesteryear seem to carry more weight.  But how do we inform, educate, and keep dozing readers from falling asleep when they read such words?  Is there a magical and contextual tension where a relatively ancient word form can be used without alienating the reader?  Indeed, and the key is finding that perfect balance.  

This post is not centering on what words to use and the balance that can be created, but focuses on what some words commonly appearing in historical novels actually mean.

Ague- malaria or a similar illness
Betimes- in good time; early
Carl- a man of low birth
Demesne- a region or domain
Ere- before
Fain- pleased or willing under the circumstances
Gallant- a young gentleman
Hie- go quickly
Howbeit- nevertheless
In sooth- actually
Knave- dishonest or unscrupulous man
Leman- lover or sweetheart
Mayhap- perhaps or possibly
Otiose- lazy or slothful
Piepowder- a traveler or an itinerant merchant or trader
Perchance- by some chance
Peradventure- perhaps
Thither- to or toward a place
Varlet- an unprincipled rogue
Withal- in addition
Wight- a person of a specified kind
Wherat- at which
Whilom- formerly
Ye- you
Yea- yes


Photo by Scott Howard Higginbotham

Indeed, reading an historical novel is a leap for the uninitiated, but creating that perfect tightrope balance of old and modern words can draw and keep those readers that have not crossed over.  Lastly, this post would not be complete without something near and dear to me.  Enjoy some sword terminology!
 
Drawing by Scott Howard Higginbotham

Pommel: a termination point for the blade’s tang. Screws onto or is otherwise secured to the tang. Also provides balance for the sword. Can be used offensively.
Crossguard: protects the user’s hand and is a transition piece between the blade and the grip. This style has religious symbolism due to its shape. Can be used offensively.
Grip: a hollow piece of wood that covers the tang; for gripping the sword. Can be wrapped in leather, brass wire, or any suitable material that aids the user or declares his status.
Fuller: a groove running down the length of the blade.  Removes weight and the two ridges at the ends of the concavity help strengthen the blade.
Double-edged blade: can cut on an upswing and a downswing.
Tip: the sharp end that no one wants to be facing; the business end.
The typical medieval sword was about 3 or 4 pounds!  Stamina played such an important role, coupling this with strength made the knight a potent force.

Photo by Scott Howard Higginbotham


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http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007EHUMSC?tag=forathogen-20&camp=0&creative=0&linkCode=as1&creativeASIN=B007EHUMSC&adid=0EC3CR9J80NNHXXSP77Q
A Soul’s Ransom

 
Scott Howard Higginbotham writes under the name Scott Howard and is the author of A Soul’s Ransom, a novel set in the fourteenth century where William de Courtenay’s mettle is tested, weighed, and refined, and For a Thousand Generations where Edward Leaver navigates a world where his purpose is defined with an eye to the future.  His new release, A Matter of Honor, is a direct sequel to For a Thousand Generations.  It is within Edward Leaver's well-worn boots that Scott travels the muddy tracks of medieval England.