Archives: General Topics

What was Livery and Maintenance (or Retaining)?

July 17, 2017 by Mercedes Rochelle | 1 Comment | Filed in General Topics, Richard II

Livery and Maintenance went hand-in-hand with chivalry, and created problems throughout the high middle ages. Once I realized that “retaining” was the verb for “retainer” I started to get the idea. The noble or king had his retainers, who were either in his household (given food and clothing) or part of his social and political […]

The Poll Tax, Part 2: The Peasants’ Revolt is sparked

June 12, 2017 by Mercedes Rochelle | 2 Comments | Filed in General Topics, Richard II

By the Parliament of 1380, the Commons were up against the wall. The government under the new Chancellor Sudbury was desperate for money. In France, the earl of Buckingham had squandered the money raised from the last Poll Tax; the army was a half year in arrears; Gaunt needed money in Scotland; the coast needed […]

The Poll Tax, Part One: The Cupboard is Bare

May 23, 2017 by Mercedes Rochelle | 1 Comment | Filed in General Topics, Richard II

Although the poll tax was said to have been used all the back to ancient times, it’s most widely remembered in relation to the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. According to Wikipedia: “The word ‘poll’ is an archaic term for ‘head’ or ‘top of the head’. The sense of ‘counting heads’ is found in phrases like […]

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

April 9, 2017 by Mercedes Rochelle | 1 Comment | 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 ForgottenBooks.com.) 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 […]