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Godiva by Nerys Jones

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Shield-of-Dardania
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Postby Shield-of-Dardania » Fri February 1st, 2013, 12:35 pm

Heroine, actually. And she will be Saxon-Norman, daughter of a Saxon nobleman (might make him an earl now, Earl of what? any good ideas?) and an immigrant Norman mother. By some unexpected twists of fate she ended up stranded in Constantinople. Which was where she met her hero.

I'm grappling with the chronology here, because I want this to also be the time of Basileos II and the earliest stages of the Varangian Guard.

Thanks Annis. You've just given me some great links. I have actually already linked my heroine's Saxon father with Aethelred.

Emma as a maternal relative would complete the connection.

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Fri February 1st, 2013, 9:52 pm

Perhaps you could make your heroine's mother one of the ladies who (presumably) accompanied Emma to England on her marriage to Aethelred? We don't actually know who they were and it might be easier to work around a fictional person. It was common for queens to take with them a few high-born ladies and handmaids from their own households for familiar company when they married into a foreign country. And considering Emma spoke no English when she married Aethelred, no doubt she would have liked some companions with whom she could converse.

Making your nobleman an earl would be tricky. "Earl" (from the Old Norse "Jarl") as a title didn't exist during Aethelred's reign, only being created during the reign of his successor, the Danish king Cnut. There were only 4 earldoms initailly, though a few more were added later during Edward's reign. It might be better to just make your heroine's father a thegn- maybe you could hunt up some relative of Aethelred's or just make him a fictional one. It always gets trickier when you have to match details up with recorded genealogies. Aethelred was apparently notorious for "tumbling with concubines", so perhaps your man could be a fictional royal bastard favoured by the king?
Last edited by annis on Sat February 2nd, 2013, 6:52 am, edited 19 times in total.

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Shield-of-Dardania
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Postby Shield-of-Dardania » Sat February 2nd, 2013, 9:50 am

A right royal tumbler, was he? Great suggestions there. And you saved me from that earl trap too. A thegn then. Would Thegn of Somerset sound reasonable? Or Thegn of Devon. Thegn of Yeovil. Oh dear. Only the local readership around my place might not be too familiar with that rank.

Think I'll just make her grandfather some dull fictional cousin of Aethelred, and thereby her father some dull fictional nephew of him. And save her from all those sordid family details. She's eventually going to be queen of a faraway foreign kingdom one day, and that sort of stuff is not going to look good on her resume. Or would it?

I'm sure Aethelred had many cousins lying around all over the place, because his father and grandfather would have been great tumblers themselves, wouldn't they?

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Sat February 2nd, 2013, 4:26 pm

Posted by Shield-of-Dardania
Only the local readership around my place might not be too familiar with that rank.


Readers not familiar with it (especially Americans) do seem to struggle with early English history as a setting, yet it's such a fascinating period. One US author I know was told outright by his agent that his book was "too Anglo-Saxon" to be of interest to publishers!

Your nobleman would more likely to be thegn of a much smaller area. As Athelred's family connections were in Wessex, perhaps you could find a village within Wessex somewhere to attach his lands to. A typical thegn's holding would have a thegn's hall and household of hearth troops and servants, a largish acreage of lands with tenant farmers, and maybe the nucleus of a village. You could just make up a name for this fictional nobleman's holding too - Regia Anglorum for example, have created a fictional online village of Wichamstow. Perhaps you could contact them for ideas.

I don't know about Aethered's forbears' "tumbling" habits, but the story goes that his father, King Edgar, murdered the husband of a beautiful woman he took a fancy to and later married after removing the obstacle! This lady, Aelfthryth (Aethelred's mother) was suspected of being complicit in her first husband's murder and was also suspected of having Aethelred's step-brother, Edward, put to death so her own son would inherit the throne. Never a dull moment ...
Last edited by annis on Tue February 5th, 2013, 10:48 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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Shield-of-Dardania
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Postby Shield-of-Dardania » Tue February 5th, 2013, 11:22 am

Stone me! What a murderous bunch of folks. Perhaps that shouldn't be so surprising though, since they gave rise to Henry VIII. But great tidbits and info though. Do keep them coming please.

I guess a thegn could also be a breeder of fine horses then, couldn't he? I need this thegn be one, and his horse farm would include the Norman destrier. That's one reason I need the Norman connection, besides the Norman name I had already picked for my heroine.

I'm assuming here that the destrier was already an established breed, at least in Normandy, pre-1066.

She would also be involved, in her teen years, in grooming and training these destrier. So, next question: would a 13 year old girl be reasonably capable - with the help of some local peasant muscle, servants of the hero - of grooming and training perhaps like 50 young destrier? which my hero had bought in Constantinople.

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Gabriele Campbell
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Postby Gabriele Campbell » Tue February 5th, 2013, 5:32 pm

"annis" wrote:I don't know about Aethered's forbears' "tumbling" habits, but the story goes that his father, King Edgar, murdered the husband of a beautiful woman he took a fancy to and later married after removing the obstacle! This lady, Aethfryth (Aethelred's mother) was suspected of being complicit in her first husband's murder and was also suspected of having Aethelred's step-brother, Edward, put to death so her own son would inherit the throne. Never a dull moment ...


And the Plantagenets are called dysfunctional. :p

I caught me an AngloSaxon plotbunny, too (as if the Roman ones aren't breeding already ;) ) and of course, it's going to be one of those multi-POV, multi-subplot monsters that takes place over half of Europe, including Germany and Scandinavia. But I could not resist the temptation to have the battles of Brunanburh, Riade and Lechfeld (both in Germany) connceted by a family saga.

Now I need to do some research about AngloSaxon culture at the time of Aethelstan. Anyone got a good suggestion?

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Tue February 5th, 2013, 8:21 pm

@Gabriele: I'm not really an A/S expert, but there are a few books relating to Anglo-Saxons and Aethelred's reign listed at the World of Royalty website which might be useful. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is probably the best place to go for contemporary source material. And Regia Anglorum (bless 'em) have a very useful collection of articles which cover many aspects of life in Anglo-Saxon England. Carla would be a good person to ask - I imagine there's not much available info about the Anglo-Saxons that she hasn't read! Look forward to your story :)

@Shield-of-Dardania: Your horse plotline reminds me of Martyn Whittock's A Stallion at Sunrise, though that's set in the 13th century during the reign of King John. Young heiress who inherits the horse breeding farm run by her father in which she's always been closely involved and a Templar knight looking for horses to buy :) Are you looking at introducing horses of Nisean bloodlines from Constantinople? I did have the idea that the destrier as a breed wasn't introduced into England until after the Norman Conquest, but could be wrong on that.

The Anglo-Saxons didn't use horses in battle the way the Normans did, but they still appreciated a good horse and bred them. A lot of attention was paid to the breeding of horses during the A/S period, incorporating the blood of imported horses, particularly from Germany. A/S kings had horse-thegns, men who bred horses for them and had overall responsibity for the royal stud, so a possible function for your heroine's father.

English horses were prized on the Continent and presumably to keep the monopoly on them, King Athelstan passed a law in AD 930 forbidding the export of English horses unless they were intended as gifts, though horses could still be imported (quite a few Spanish horses were brought in during Athelstan's reign). This could prove a stumbling block for your plot because I have no idea if this law was ever repealed before 1066. You could try contacting Regia Anglorum on that one because I don't know that much about the history of horse-breeding in England.
Last edited by annis on Wed February 6th, 2013, 3:17 am, edited 8 times in total.

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Gabriele Campbell
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Postby Gabriele Campbell » Wed February 6th, 2013, 8:02 pm

My plotbunny was reading that last paragraph with great interest.

I'm scared now that there will be another subplot. Like I could resist horses. ;)

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Shield-of-Dardania
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Postby Shield-of-Dardania » Thu February 14th, 2013, 4:39 pm

@Annis:

Well, it was like my heroine met my hero, or vice versa, in Constantinople, and they went onward to the hero's homeland. I was thinking along the line that the destrier would have been present in Normandy well before 1066. And why not 1000 AD or a bit earlier?

Meanwhile Norman adventurers, traders and mercenaries would have been visiting Constantinople and doing their stuff there well before 1066 also. Considering that Constantinople then was the megacity of its time, where trade in all kinds of merchandise flourished, it would also have been a marketplace for war merchandise, including war horses. So some smart merchants from around the region - including some of them Normans - would have smelled the money and wealth to be made from horse trading.

There would also have been local horse farms in Constantinople itself specialising in the breeding of good horses, including the destrier, I would have thought. Or a Norman merchant with good connections could buy a local farm and set up business there.

My heroine's role is then to help my hero with grooming and training up the 50 - 100 destrier he would buy there and take back to his faraway homeland - using the experience she had while on her father's horse farm, which also had some destrier, back home in England. The destrier would then form the nucleus of his future army. Or maybe a special secret weapon which would catch enemy armies with their pants down. I just thought it would make a reasonable subplot, besides providing the vehicle for a future romance.

I'm going to look for that 'A Stallion at Sunrise' in my local bookstore. Would be good if I can get it. Thanks.
Last edited by Shield-of-Dardania on Thu February 14th, 2013, 4:46 pm, edited 3 times in total.

annis
Bibliomaniac

Postby annis » Thu February 14th, 2013, 8:48 pm

Posted by Shield-of-Dardania
I'm going to look for that 'A Stallion at Sunrise' in my local bookstore. Would be good if I can get it. Thanks.


You won't find this in a bookstore, unless it's a secondhand one. Martyn Whittock, who is a historian and has written a lot of non-fiction titles, only ever wrote 3 novels, all published in the 1990s and long out of print. Quite good though - I enjoyed them all. You might have to try library interloan or online traders.


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