Archives: General Topics

Great Seal, Privy Seal, and Signet: What’s the difference?

April 9, 2017 by Mercedes Rochelle | No Comments | Filed in General Topics, Richard II

We know the Great Seal was an indispensable tool for keeping the government running. Historians pay close attention to the use of the Seal; not only does this help identify the time and reign of a particular warrant, but the use of lesser Seals helps us follow the movements of our itinerant kings. Edward the Confessor is thought […]

Non-native Species in Britain (for research)

March 22, 2017 by Mercedes Rochelle | No Comments | Filed in General Topics

When writing historical fiction, one little slip like giving King Alfred a tomato can wreak havoc with an author’s credibility. The other day I was called to task for using a rabbit in Canute’s Britain, because the reviewer said that rabbits were introduced by the Normans. Yikes! I was saved by the recent archeological discovery […]

The English Manor Part 3: The Burden of the Serf

February 26, 2017 by Mercedes Rochelle | No Comments | Filed in General Topics, Richard II

The difference between the free and unfree peasant on the English Manor was dramatic. While all had to pay rent, for the most part the responsibilities ended there for the freeman, with the exception of a few boon days required by everyone during harvest time. The serf, on the other hand, was obliged to dig into […]

The English Manor Part 2: The Free and the Unfree Peasants

February 14, 2017 by Mercedes Rochelle | 5 Comments | Filed in General Topics

In Part 1 of The English Manor, I gave a broad generalization of the average manor components. In Part 2, I’m going to do my best to differentiate between the classes of manorial population: the free and the unfree. This is harder than it sounds! One of the reasons this subject is so complicated is that by no […]

The English Manor Part 1: The Land

February 2, 2017 by Mercedes Rochelle | 7 Comments | Filed in General Topics, Richard II

I discovered this amazing map in Montague Fordham’s book, “A Short History of English Rural Life from the Anglo-Saxon Invasion to the Present Time” published in 1916. (It’s amazing what you will find on I’ve recently come to the conclusion that any study of the Middle Ages is incomplete without getting your hands around […]

Lord Mayors of London

January 20, 2017 by Mercedes Rochelle | 1 Comment | Filed in General Topics, Richard II

I found this paper, interestingly enough, as a loose insert in the used book I had received from England. The name of the book is THE TURBULENT LONDON OF RICHARD II. The book is practically unreadable, but does preserve lots of names and minutiae from the period that are of no interest to almost anybody. But you […]

Excerpt from FATAL RIVALRY, Part Three of The Last Great Saxon Earls trilogy

January 5, 2017 by Mercedes Rochelle | No Comments | Filed in General Topics, The Sons of Godwine

In this chapter, Harold has come back from his ineffectual meeting with the Northumbrian rebels and must relay their demands to King Edward and Tostig: TOSTIG REMEMBERS       Editha and I stood next to the wall watching as Harold entered the great hall accompanied by a group of men who were very nervous; the newcomers […]

Yule Celebrations in the Nordic lands

December 19, 2016 by Mercedes Rochelle | No Comments | Filed in General Topics

Yule celebrations are Pagan in origin and came from the Germanic countries. The celebrations were alive and well in the Nordic lands, and were most likely brought over to Anglo-Saxon England with the Viking settlers. Eventually, the midwinter celebrations merged with the Christian festival of Christmastide, better known as the 12 Days of Christmas. I […]

Harold Marches to York, September 1066

September 16, 2016 by Mercedes Rochelle | 3 Comments | Filed in General Topics, The Sons of Godwine

While working on my latest novel, FATAL RIVALRY, I have had quite a struggle putting together a timeline for events leading up to Stamford Bridge. Many histories (even Wikipedia) tell us that as soon as Harold learned of the defeat at Fulford, he rushed north and surprised the Vikings who expected him to be at the other end […]

Cospatric and the suspicious Christmas murder of 1064

August 27, 2016 by Mercedes Rochelle | 4 Comments | Filed in General Topics, The Sons of Godwine

One of the reasons given for the Northumbrian rebellion against Tostig in 1065 was the mysterious murder of Cospatric (or Gospatric) at the Christmas court in 1064. The assassination has been pinned on Queen Editha, Tostig’s sister, and it has been said that she ordered this killing in her brother’s interest. I always thought this […]