TOSTIG AND HAROLD’S SIBLING RIVALRY

Battle of Stamford Bridge
Battle of Stamford Bridge: Cambridge University Library MS. Ee.iii.59

To this day, more than 950 years after the Norman Conquest, many of us are still fascinated by the causes of this pivotal event—and I am one of them. If Harold Godwineson hadn’t been 260 miles away fighting his brother when Duke William landed at Pevensey, things might have gone differently. So where does Tostig come into this? From outlawry to Stamford Bridge, Tostig was on the wrong side of the law. In that critical battle, he seems to have been second in command after Harald Hardrada and has been branded as a traitor ever since.

It was thought by many that Tostig himself persuaded Hardrada to invade, thus forcing King Harold to rush north and defend his kingdom against the Vikings. However, this conclusion is by no means certain; nobody was tracing Tostig’s movements in the early part of 1066. It’s entirely possible that the Norwegian King planned the invasion on his own, and Tostig merely fell in with his army when the time came. There is no doubt that Hardrada was the leader of the Viking invasion. What exactly Tostig thought to accomplish is uncertain. Perhaps he only wanted his old earldom back. Or, he might have bargained to rule his old earldom as sub-king to Harald. Maybe he hoped Hardrada would get killed and he could rule in his stead, unlikely though that sounds.

But why was Tostig fighting against his brother, anyway? This was the question that inspired me to write THE SONS OF GODWINE and my upcoming FATAL RIVALRY. Why was he outlawed? How could Harold allow his brother to go off in such a rage that he would come back with an invading army? Surely Tostig had his reasons; such a devastating turn of events could have not come about arbitrarily.

In a situation like this, matters usually deteriorate over the course of time. Harold and Tostig were only a couple of years apart. Was there rivalry from their boyhood? Did Tostig feel left out? When Tostig became Earl of Northumbria, his brother had already been Earl (first of East Anglia and then of Wessex) for 10 years. What did Tostig do all that time? There was no catching up; by 1055 Harold was practically the “right hand” of King Edward, and frequently took on responsibilities that the king didn’t want to be bothered with. When Tostig helped his brother during the Welsh campaign of 1063, what was his reward? Harold was lauded as a great warrior because of this campaign; Tostig barely received mention, and may well have emptied his coffers to help pay for it. Could this have contributed to the stress between them?

The real trouble started in 1065; up until then Tostig had ruled Northumbria for 10 years without any major disturbance. However, after the Welsh campaign he found himself obliged to impose new taxes on this previously undertaxed earldom. Some have said that Tostig needed to pay for the campaign. Other historians suggested he was urged to do so by Harold, acting in concert with the king who wanted to bring the north more in line with his southern provinces. There were some political assassinations that might have contributed to the unrest, but most historians agree that taxation issues pushed the troublesome thegns to revolt.

King Edward the Confessor

And what a revolt it was! Tostig was in the south hunting with King Edward when thegns from all over Yorkshire and Northumberland gathered in York and attacked the Earl’s housecarls, catching them totally unprepared. Although Tostig’s 200+ troops tried to fight back, they were unable to mount an organized defense and were killed almost to a man. The rampaging rebels broke into the armory, destroyed Tostig’s manors, and raided the treasury, making off with all the carefully gathered taxes.

Next on the agenda was to call a witan and elect a new Earl: Morcar, younger son of Earl Aelfgar of Mercia—who just happened to be standing by. This was a totally illegal move and the rebels knew it, so they proceeded to rampage their way south and force the issue with the king. Enter Harold, who was delegated to mediate for Tostig. King Edward and Tostig had every reason to believe Harold would get what they wanted, so they were more than horrified when their negotiator came back with rebels in tow. Morcar and his supporters didn’t trust Harold and insisted that the king be confronted personally with all their demands. A second round of negotiations ensued, and Harold was still unable to budge the rampaging Northumbrians. They declared that Tostig had to go and that Morcar be officially declared Earl, or else they would continue their depredations into East Anglia.

Tostig went into a rage and accused Harold of fomenting the rebellion himself. In self-defense, Harold offered his sworn oath that he was not responsible but Tostig was having none of it. Edward wanted to raise the fyrd and teach his errant subjects a lesson, but the late season and poor support for Tostig’s cause were enough to foil the king’s empty threats. Edward eventually backed down and gave into the rebel demands, though the loss of royal prestige was a blow the king never recovered from. Just over a month later, King Edward was dead.

Tostig left the country voluntarily enough, loaded with gifts from the king but still swearing revenge against his brother. Apparently Harold washed his hands of the whole situation, for he is not recorded attempting to offer Tostig any compensation until the battle of Stamford Bridge. Even after he became king, Harold supported the wily sons of Aelfgar (his former rivals) and even married their sister to prove that Tostig was not coming back. Tostig may have found this doubly insulting. By the time they faced each other on the battlefield, Harold is said to have offered back the earldom if Tostig would lay down his arms. When Tostig asked what Harold was prepared to offer Hardrada, we hear the famous line “Seven feet of English ground, or as much more as he may be taller than other men.” At this response, Tostig righteously refused his brother’s offer. (I still find this episode a little implausible; it came from Snorri Sturluson, whose account may be somewhat apocryphal.)

So his sense of betrayal was surely a driving force for Tostig’s attempted return. But there is another factor to remember: there were plenty of precedents for an Earl to rampage his way back into favor. Earl Godwine did it in 1052, and Harold himself was part of that reunion; his bloody encounter at Porlock left behind 30 dead thegns and countless others. Even Aelfgar, Morcar’s father, wreaked havoc on two occasions (the first causing the destruction of Hereford in 1055); both times he was restored to his earldom. So Tostig was just following suit; of course, his allies were a bit more powerful than Aelfgar’s!

Life in Eleventh Century Britain: The Fyrd and the Housecarls

Anglo-Saxon Shield Wall

Before the Normans brought over their own version of feudalism, the Anglo-Saxons had a different way of calling up an army in need of defense. At the top of the scale were the Housecarls, the closest thing to a paid, standing army (or household troops) the leader could summon. They were loyal to their employer—the king or a great earl—and were usually composed of Danish or English professional soldiers. Some were landowners; it’s possible that some lived in barracks. When King Harold Godwineson unexpectedly had to go north to stop Harold Hardrada in September 1066, the Housecarls were the only warriors he could initially call upon.

Patterned after the Jomsvikings of Denmark (founded by King Harold, father of Swein Forkbeard), Housecarls are first mentioned in relation to King Canute—probably in 1018—and ceased to exist as an organization after the Battle of Hastings. It is believed they were in essence a military guild, with a body of regulations and the ability to call up a gemot or huskarlesteffne in the king’s presence to settle disputes or punish a transgressor.

Highly trained warriors, the Housecarls mostly fought on foot although it is more than possible that they were perfectly capable of fighting on horseback. Snorri Sturluson tells us in Heimskringla that Harold’s mounted troops attacked the disorganized Norwegians in the early phase of the Stamfordbridge battle. They would not have attacked head-on like we picture in the 14th century battles; rather they would veer past the enemy and launch javelins into their foes’ ranks, much like the Normans did at Hastings. Then they would dismount and finish the battle on foot. During the Battle of Hastings, Harold most likely spread out his Housecarls along the shield wall to support the less experienced fyrd; they were the only warriors that returned with him after Stamfordbridge, and by then their ranks had been sorely thinned. The Housecarls would have been a formidable sight; as seen in the Bayeux Tapestry, they could take down both rider and horse with one sweep of their awesome Danish axe. It was a testament to their—and the Anglo Saxon—valor that it took a whole day for William’s well-armed force to break their ranks.

Beneath the Housecarls, the fyrd was drawn from the general population of England. They responded to territorial obligations and were roughly divided into two categories, sometimes known as the select fyrd and the great fyrd. The select fyrd were usually better trained, and were generally composed of thegns, ceorls or upper peasantry. They were assigned on the basis of the 5-hide system throughout southern England (in the Danelaw, the land was assessed in carucates, but the same system is thought to be utilized). By the late Anglo-Saxon period, the hide was not a geographic unit of measure; in essence it was used to determine the amount of service owed to the king. I would theorize it had more to do with a density of population rather than its original definition (equivalent to the amount of land required to feed a peasant family). One lord’s manor could contain several 5-hide units, or perhaps several small estates would be stitched together to create one 5-hide unit. The bigger towns had the most hides even though they covered a small area. So for instance Cambridge was assessed at 100 hides; so was Colchester and Shrewsbury. Each would be obliged to produce 20 warriors.

The responsibility of the 5-hide unit was three-fold: military service, fortress work, and bridge repair. For their military obligation, each unit was required to produce one soldier and pay him for two months’ service (20 shillings) if called up by the king. This soldier was usually the same person whenever called up, so this is why he would probably be better trained and equipped than the ordinary fyrdman. Nonetheless, there was no annual training period for the select fyrd, and they were only called up in time of war; years could go by without going into service.

The most important distinction between the two categories of fyrd was that the select fyrd was expected to travel and serve for up to two months. The great fyrd, on the other hand, was called up for strictly local defense. The key difference is that the great fyrd must be able to return home at night; if the king required them to travel, he must pay them a wage. Because they were normally unpaid, they were not expected to come armed with much more than whatever came to hand: clubs, stones tied to sticks, farm utensils, etc. In many cases, they could very well supplement the better-armed select fyrd, which is perhaps what we saw at Hastings.

When taken as a whole, this system seems to have been very well organized. But it did not survive the Norman Conquest. Not all historians are in agreement about this distant era, and I used “Anglo-Saxon Military Instititions” by C.Warren Hollister as my primary source.

 

 

The Anarchy, Guest Post by Tracey Warr

Henry I and the White Ship
Henry I and The White Ship. By Unknown Medieval artist, date 1307-1327 – British Library, Royal MS 20 A.ii, fol. 6v.

Some of the events referred to in my novel, The Anarchy, are based on real historical prompts. My character, Sheriff Haith, investigates the sinking of The White Ship off the coast at Barfleur in the English Channel on 25 November 1120. Three hundred young Norman nobles were drowned in the shipwreck, including King Henry I’s heir, Prince William Adelin. Historians have been circumspect concerning the possibility of foul play in the wreck, as they must be, but I have taken fictional license and my story employs the suspicious circumstances surrounding the sinking.

The main contemporaneous accounts of the wreck of The White Ship were written by Orderic Vitalis and William of Malmesbury. It is recorded that Stephen de Blois, who later became king of England, disembarked from the ship at the harbour just before it sailed, in the company of William de Roumare. Stephen claimed to have disembarked because of a sudden illness or because of the rowdiness of the other passengers. Two Tironian monks also disembarked. A butcher named Bertold of Rouen was the only recorded survivor. William de Pirou was listed on the list of victims of the wreck but, subsequently, appeared twice at court before disappearing under mysterious circumstances. Beyond that, the ‘evidence’ discovered by Haith in my novel is my invention.

Haith is based on Hait who is documented as the real sheriff of Pembroke in the 1130 pipe roll, the court records (Green, 1986). Hait is presumed, from his name, to have been Flemish. It is my invention to make him a close friend of King Henry. According to Gerald of Wales, Hait was the father of one of Nest ferch Rhys’s sons. Nest is the heroine of my novel. I created the physical characteristics of Haith after meeting a lovely Dutchman at lunch one day at my neighbour’s house. Haith’s sister, Ida, a runaway nun from Fontevraud, is my invention.

Haith’s investigations in the novel lead him to track down the butcher Bertold and to interrogate William de Pirou. Haith suspects the Norman noblemen Stephen de Blois, Waleran de Meulan, and Ranulf de Gernon, who each had their reasons for hating King Henry and wanting to see his heir removed. King Henry also lost two of his illegitimate children in the wreck, Countess Mathilde of Perche and Richard, Earl of Chester, and his niece and daughter-in-law, Matilda, Countess of Chester. When the courtiers eventually found the courage to give the king the news, he collapsed with grief

After the devastating losses in the shipwreck, King Henry’s initial solution for the problem of the succession was that he and his new young queen Adelisa would have a son and, probably, that his oldest illegitimate son Earl Robert of Gloucester would act as regent. When the hope of a legitimate male heir faded, Henry focused on the aspiration that his daughter Maud would give him a grandson. When Henry died, Maud was pregnant in Normandy and her cousin, Stephen de Blois, rushed to England and usurped the throne.

Although Stephen de Blois had extensive holdings in England and was married to a descendent of the English kings, there is no evidence that King Henry ever considered his nephew as a potential heir. Instead, iconoclastically, King Henry I attempted to put a woman, his daughter Maud, on the English throne. He did not require his barons in England, Wales, and Normandy to swear to support her as regent, but rather to support her as his heir. If Maud’s protracted bid to contest her cousin Stephen’s usurpation of the throne had been successful, she would have been the first woman to rule England, Wales, and Normandy in her own right.

 

There was constant warfare in England, Wales, and Normandy during the reign of King Stephen as he struggled against Empress Maud, and her supporters. Some historians have dubbed Stephen’s reign ‘The Anarchy’, whilst others have argued that it was not as anarchic as other commentators claimed. Certainly, Stephen lost significant parts of the kingdom that King Henry I had ruled including Normandy and large parts of Wales. The civil war between Stephen and Maud went on for nine years. Stephen’s brother, Bishop Henry of Blois, played a fascinating double game, frequently switching sides between the two contenders. (See my blogpost https://englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.com/2020/06/the-man-who-walks-behind-satan-on-trail.html.) It was very tempting to write about Empress Maud herself, but, in my novel I am focusing on Nest ferch Rhys and events in Wales. There are a number of good fictional accounts of the extraordinary empress (see, for example, Elizabeth Chadwick’s Lady of the English). In 1148 Maud gave up the struggle for England to her son, Henry FitzEmpress, and returned to Normandy permanently.

Civil war between the forces of King Stephen and Henry FitzEmpress continued in a desultory fashion. In 1152 the archbishop of Canterbury refused Stephen’s request to anoint his son Eustace as junior king. His queen, Matilda of Boulougne, died in that year. 1153 was a bad year for King Stephen. He was fifty-seven years old and was wounded three times; his son Eustace died suddenly and his other son, William, broke his thigh in a riding accident. Many parts of England had been devastated by years of civil war and even the hyper-aggressive Norman barons wearied of the conflict. In November 1153, at Winchester, King Stephen and Henry FitzEmpress agreed that Henry would become king on Stephen’s death, and this was ratified in a charter that Stephen issued at Westminster in December. Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine were crowned king and queen of England on 19 December 1154. Henry’s mother, Empress Maud, continued to give him advice throughout her long life and died in Normandy in 1167.

King Henry I may well hold the record for the highest number of illegitimate children (24) including at least nine sons (one of them with my heroine, Nest ferch Rhys) so it was a horrible irony that the untimely death of his only legitimate son led to civil war in this period known as The Anarchy.

Buy links:
Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Conquest-Anarchy-Trilogy-3/dp/1911293109
Amazon UShttps://www.amazon.com/Conquest-Anarchy-Tracey-Warr-ebook/dp/B087NFP6WD/
Amazon CAhttps://www.amazon.ca/Conquest-Anarchy-Tracey-Warr-ebook/dp/B087NFP6WD/

 

Connect with Tracey Warr

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Who was the real Macbeth?

Macbeth fighting Malcolm III
Macbeth fighting Malcolm 19th cent. drawing by F.Wentworth

Let me start by saying that Macbeth is my favorite Shakespeare play, hands down. But that doesn’t mean I was disappointed to discover that most of it is not true! I like Macbeth (especially the Jon Finch Macbeth), even though he is pretty wicked in the play. Yes, he really existed and had an apparently successful 17-year reign starting in 1040. No, he was not killed at the battle of Dunsinane, although the battle did take place and he lost.

Did Macbeth kill Duncan? There is a good chance he did, but not in his bed. As it turns out, Duncan in his 30’s was a reportedly rascally king. He fought five wars in five years and lost them all, then really got into trouble trying to claim Caithness which was rightfully ruled by his cousin Thorfinn of Orkney. Duncan met his end at the Battle of Burghead on the Moray Firth, where he faced either Thorfinn or Macbeth (or both).  It was also recorded elsewhere that Duncan was killed by his own men immediately after the battle.

Did Macbeth have a claim to the throne? Yes, through possibly his own and definitely his wife’s ancestry. It was thought that Macbeth’s mother may have been the second daughter of Malcolm II, so he may have been cousin to Duncan. The stronger claim was through Grouch (Lady Macbeth). Until the early 11th century, the Scottish kings were essentially elected from a group of nobles in a Celtic tradition known as the Tannist Succession. Grouch was descended from the rightful King Kenneth III, killed by Malcolm II along with her father, who was recognized as the Tanist candidate of his branch.

The Battle of Dunsinane took place in 1054, and it was led by the great Earl Siward of Northumbria in the company of Prince Malcolm. Macbeth escaped and retained his crown. It seems he kind of skulked around for the next couple of years until Malcolm caught up with him in Aberdeenshire at the battle at Lumphanan. After a short and bloody encounter Macbeth met his end; he may have been beheaded, or he may have expired a few days later, 60 miles south at Scone. No one knows for sure. He was succeeded by his stepson Lulach, who needed to be dispatched before Malcolm III could be declared King of Scotland.

Who Were the Last Plantagenets?

Portrait of Henry IV
Portrait of Henry IV- National Portrait Gallery (Creative Commons license)

Many people get confused when they read that Richard II was the last Plantagenet king. How can that be? During the Wars of the Roses, both the Lancastrians and the Yorkists were Plantagenets. And that’s true. However, Richard II was the last in the direct line—and that’s the difference.

One could almost say that Edward III had too many sons. If his heir, Edward the Black Prince hadn’t died prematurely, all would probably have gone a different route. Lionel, the second son of Edward III (who survived infancy) also predeceased his father, leaving a daughter Philippa from his first wife. It was through Philippa that we have the Mortimers, arguably the true heirs to the throne if you follow the “laws” of primogeniture (see below). The next son was John of Gaunt, the father of the future Henry IV (the Lancastrians). After him came Edmund Langley, later Duke of York (yes, those Yorkists), and lastly, Thomas of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester.

What is primogeniture? According to historian K.B. McFarlane, “a son always preferred to a daughter, a daughter to a brother or other collateral.” So the daughter’s heirs should come before the brother’s heirs (hence the Mortimers). Of course, it didn’t always work that way, even among the royals. As far back as King John, we see the youngest brother of a previous king mount the throne rather than the son of an elder brother (Arthur of Brittany—son of Geoffrey—should have ruled if the tradition of primogeniture were followed).

The Black Prince took nothing for granted, and on his deathbed he asked both his father and his brother John of Gaunt to swear an oath to protect nine year-old Richard and uphold his inheritance. Even this precaution didn’t guarantee Richard’s patrimony, and Edward III felt obliged to create an entail that ordered the succession along traditional male lines. This meant that the Mortimers were excluded. It also meant that John of Gaunt was next in line after Richard, and after him, Henry of Bolingbroke. This entail was kept secret at the time because of Gaunt’s unpopularity, and it’s possible that Richard later destroyed at least his own copy. It might have been lost to history until the last century when a badly damaged copy was discovered in the British Library among the Cotton charters (damaged by a fire in 1731). It clearly gave the order of succession as Richard, then Gaunt and his issue, then probably Gaunt’s brothers; parts of the manuscript are lost. According to historian Michael Bennett, “While crucial pieces of the text are missing, it is tolerably certain that the whole settlement is in tail male…”

John of Gaunt by Lucas Cornelisz de Kock
John of Gaunt with his coat of arms attributed to Lucas Cornelisz de Kock source: Wikipedia

Why is this important? It’s more than likely that at least members of the royal family knew about the entail. King Richard II and Henry Bolingbroke never got along, and as Richard continued to remain childless, the thought of Henry succeeding him was anathema. He still refused to name an heir, and since he remarried in 1396 the 29 year-old king was still young enough to father a child, even though his new queen was only seven at the time. It’s interesting that he never gave the Mortimer line much credence; he only mentioned them once in his own defense when his barons grew rebellious in 1385: why usurp Richard and replace him with a child? (The Mortimers had a history of dying young and the current heir was just a boy.) Nonetheless, many of his countrymen assumed Roger Mortimer was heir presumptive and didn’t think to question it. By 1397 the grown-up Roger was very popular, but was killed in Ireland shortly thereafter.

Fast forward to Henry IV’s usurpation. Legally, he had a problem. There was another living under-aged Mortimer heir (he quickly took the boy hostage and raised him alongside his own children). Richard abdicated the crown to Henry but only under duress. The new king was advised against claiming the crown by right of arms, because the same thing could be done to him. His reign was riddled with rebellions, and because things didn’t improve like he promised, people started remembering Richard with nostalgia. They wanted the old king back, and rumors of his escape to Scotland only added fuel to the proverbial fire.

Henry IV only ruled for a little over thirteen years, and the last half of his reign he was a very sick man. There were times he couldn’t rule at all and had to depend on his council. His son, the future Henry V, was ready and willing to take over; he even tried to persuade the old man to retire. But that miscarried and Henry dragged himself back into action for a short time, dismissing his son from the council and taking control again. But his days were numbered and everyone knew it. Henry V’s short and glorious reign was cut short by dysentery, and the long and pitiful reign of his infant son Henry VI drove the country into civil war. So much for the Lancastrians.

The Yorkists were descended from both Edmund Langley, the first Duke of York and Philippa, ancestor of the Mortimers. That’s why they felt they had a superior claim to the throne. But by the Wars of the Roses, the Plantagenet line was pretty much diluted. It’s ironic that Henry Tudor, father to the next dynasty, was himself actually descended from a Plantagenet through his mother. Margaret Beaufort was the last surviving member of the bastard line issuing from John of Gaunt (and legitimized by Richard II). It sounds like poetic justice to me.

The Fate of Ulf Godwineson, Guest Post by Ralph Murphy

Edith discovering King Harold's corpse on the battlefield of Hastings
Edith discovering King Harold’s corpse on the battlefield of Hastings by Horace Vernet

The fate of Ulf is of great interest to the Norwood family who claim descent from Harold through him. The researches of Marian Callum Norwood, the noted genealogist and family historian who did much to develop the histories of the various branches of the family, is the source of these claims. In the many years since Marion’s death however, others who have followed her work more critically have taken issue with the absence of a credible connection between Jordanus of Sheppey, the 12th century patriarch of the family from whom the Norwood clan indubitably descended and Alnod Cilt or Ulf, the son of Harold.

Ulf was seized after Hastings (where he was too young to fight) and confined in Normandy. But later, like Wulfnoth, the youngest brother of Harold, he was released by William on his deathbed, reportedly at the urging of the church, as an act of mercy. The record shows that William’s estranged son, Robert Curthose, the next Duke of Normandy took a shine to Ulf and knighted him not long after.

It is inconceivable that Ulf would not have remained close to his benefactor and fought with him during the many actions that troubled Normandy from the rivalry between Robert and his siblings, William Rufus and Henry and the activities of other unruly knights. It is equally improbable that Ulf did not accompany him as a mature warrior when he went on the Crusade. This service would have been the most evident route towards reacquiring and retaining his ancestral lands, the defense of which was an inherent element in the knight’s role.

Ulf’s aspirations to land were associated with Kent, so after his formal release in 1087, and after his belting as a knight, he is likely to have sought restoration. By this time, his Anglo-Saxon identity would have been transformed by 20 years of Norman tutelage. It is clear from Domesday that Anod/Cilt/Ulf once had major manorial holdings in Kent which overlap with the later location of the Jordanus/Norwood family properties. This link is said to consolidate the supposed connection. Alnod’s former lands are well laid out from Domesday in Marion’s third book and cover widespread manors in Alnod’s name from Rochester to Dover, embracing Canterbury, Whitstable, Sheppey, Thanet, Norwood, Chart Sutton and many more. These had been held by Alnod /Ulf from King Edward, presumably from childhood, but were subordinated to the feudal over-lordship of Odo of Bayeux, William’s half-brother and the Church after the Conquest. Marian asserts that Alnod recovered some of these and that they continued in the possession of Jordanus of Sheppey and the Norwoods for 300 years.

There is no complete record of the knights who served Robert and who participated in the First Crusade which was known to be hazardous but Pope Urban had said that “by the will of God, he absolved all penitents from their sins from the moment that they took the cross of Christ”, which produced a surge of participants. Around 60,000 soldiers took part in the Crusade of which around 6,000 were knights and a further 30,000 provided support. This is not the place to detail the history of the Crusade but the crowning moment for Robert was in August 1099 when after victory in Jerusalem, the crusaders were confronted by an Egyptian Fatimid army at Ascalon, southwest of Jerusalem. Robert commanded the centre division of the Crusader Army and charging at the heart of the Egyptian camp, personally captured the Vizier’s banner and his tent. The Emir fled and was lucky to escape, leading to a great victory for which Robert’s part was much celebrated. After the battle and before beginning the return home, Robert completed his pilgrimage by immersing himself in the River Jordan. It was this act which encouraged crusaders to give themselves the soubriquet “Jordanus”, the title held by the founder of the Norwood family.

Tomb of Robert Curthose
Tomb of Robert Curthose, Gloucester Cathedral

The obvious conclusions that one draw might from this story is that Ulf after his release from nominal confinement in Normandy, receiving his knighthood and giving service to Robert, was able to claim back at least some his lands. His 20 or so years in Normandy had “Normanized“ him. Ulf would have been at least around 40 and possibly older when he challenged for the return of his land. His most likely date of birth is around and possibly before 1050. As Harold’s older sons, starting with Godwine were of an age to contest the throne, post Conquest, it must be assumed that the hand fast marriage with Edith took place in the 1040s with children appearing at regular intervals. This would have made Ulf 16 at the Conquest, 37 upon his release by William in 1087 and in his late forties during the First Crusade. What appears to be clear and is suggested by a number of references in Domesday is that Alnod/Ulf successfully reclaimed land that we know is associated with the subsequent Northwode aka Norwood holdings.

Ulf would have been at least around 40 and possibly older when he challenged for the return of his land after the Penenden Heath trial. His most likely date of birth is around and possibly before 1050. As Harold’s older sons, starting with Godwine were of an age to contest the throne, post Conquest, it must be assumed that the hand fast marriage with Edith took place in the 1040s with children appearing at regular intervals. This would have made Ulf 16 at the Conquest, 37 upon his release by William in 1087 and in his late forties during the First Crusade. What appears to be clear and is suggested by a number of references in Domesday is that Alnod/Ulf successfully reclaimed land that we know is associated with the subsequent Northwode holdings. Marion says that Alnod/Ulf had held 20 manors but at the Domesday Survey, none, as almost half had been conveyed to Odo of Bayeux. At Penenden Heath, Alnod’s name is cited as a recent subtenant of Manors which Odo had assumed. The thesis is that on his release and rehabilitation by Robert Curthose, Ulf seized back two parts of Kings Wood on Sheppey which he was allowed to keep not by feudal but by costumal tenure, which effectively recognized the earlier status of his ownership. The source for this is Henry Bracton (c.1210–c.1268) an English cleric and jurist. These properties were also held by gavelkind, which means that they were sellable and not just held in fealty to an Earl. It is not clear which other properties Ulf recovered.

Notwithstanding these credible assertions, it is most unlikely on the face of it that Ulf was the father of Jordanus of Sheppey, as the latter was born in 1135 making Ulf around 85 at the time of his conception. This is not impossible but it is improbable. However, there is a possibility of a link between Ulf and Jordanus if we postulate that the honorific title acquired by Ulf after Ascalon passed to Jordanus of Sheppey though a third person. As some commentators have suggested, Jordanus could be the grandson of Ulf through an illegitimate or unrecognised son.
Some Norwood online trees trace their genealogy directly back to Jordanus de Sheppey, and then to Harold Godwineson as his father, basing this on Marion Norwood Callum’s researches – that cannot be true. The chronology does not hold; court documents for Jordan’s wife and children make it clear that he had to have been born long after Harold Godwinson was dead at Hastings, indeed in 1135.

Finally, there is the intriguing reference to Loup Fitz Heraut (Wulf son of Harold). It is regrettable that more is not known about this knight. An area worthy of research.

The Wily Archbishop Arundel

Portrait of Archbishop Thomas Arundel
Lambeth Palace portrait, Wikipedia

It’s hard to decide whether Thomas Arundel was a villain or an asset. On the one hand, he was a brilliant administrator. On the other hand, he tended toward despotism. If you read Terry Jones’ entertaining but very biased Who Murdered Chaucer? he was practically the devil incarnate: “The war on heresy, which Archbishop Arundel announced in that winter of 1401, added a new dimension to a period already characterized by fear and intimidation. Gone was the experimental and questioning ‘blue skies’ intellectual environment of Richard II’s court, to be replaced by repression and censorship. The country slid into a regime of Orwellian thought-control and MacCarthyite witch-hunting.” Wow. Colorful though this opinion is, I couldn’t find anyone else who agreed with it—at least to the extent of the archbishop’s oppressiveness. And I looked for it. Yes, anti-Wycliffe dogma was prevalent in Henry IV’s reign—with the approval of the king—and Arundel did attempt to control the curriculum at Oxford with varied success. Yes, the first heretic was burned in Henry’s reign (two total, I believe). But wholesale burning of heretics would have to wait until Mary Tudor.

Thomas Arundel was the younger brother of Richard Earl of Arundel, one of the Lords Appellant in Richard II’s reign who traumatized the king during the Merciless Parliament of 1387.  Thomas was serving his first of five stints as Lord Chancellor. He sided with the Appellants against the king, an error he was to pay dearly for ten years later during the Revenge Parliament. By then he was Archbishop of Canterbury, which probably saved his life; Richard shrunk from executing an archbishop. He was sentenced to forfeiture and outlawry instead, commanded to leave the country. A new archbishop was raised in his place.

When Richard outlawed Henry Bolingbroke, he demanded that the exiles never contact each other. Of course, who was going to enforce that? Just as soon as Richard left the country for Ireland, Arundel showed up on Henry’s doorstep in Paris and together they plotted Lancaster’s return. Would Henry have had the audacity to take such a risk without Arundel’s prodding? Many historians wonder. Up until that point Henry had been the obedient son, apolitical and relatively carefree (at least, before his exile). Now he was about to launch a major rebellion, with Arundel beside him every step of the way. Not long after they landed in England, Arundel took up his role as archbishop again (without any official appointment) and proceeded to preach against Richard II, allegedly spreading propaganda lies to encourage the people to rebel. You can see the dubious faces of his listeners…

Archbishop Arundel preaches against Richard II
Arundel preaching: British Library Harley 1319 F12

Of course, all went according to plan and Arundel is credited for putting together the means to legitimize Henry’s usurpation. Over the course of his reign, Henry came to depend on him more and more, though at first their association was more political than friendly. But as Henry’s health declined after 1405, he began to spend extended periods of time at the archbishop’s residences. While the king faded into the background, Arundel took a major role in governing the council as well as serving as chancellor from 1407-10 and again from 1412-13. The gap in his official duties was due to the opposition of Prince Henry, who was gaining ascendance as his father was increasingly unable to rule. In fact, the very day Henry V became king, he sacked Arundel and replaced him with his uncle, Henry Beaufort, who was the archbishop’s bitter political opponent. Arundel died a year later and was buried in Canterbury Cathedral. Interestingly, his tomb and chapel were destroyed by Archbishop Cranmer in 1540, presumably as revenge for his repression of heresy.

The slippery Edward, Earl of Rutland Part 2: Henry IV

Henry Bolingbroke kneels to King Richard II
     MS BL Harley 1319 f.50, Wikipedia

In Part I, Edward Earl of Rutland abandoned King Richard’s cause after the forsaken monarch left his rapidly declining army in South Wales and dashed north to join the Earl of Salisbury in Conwy—where he expected to find another army waiting for him. Richard was too late, for Salisbury couldn’t hold his force together. Frantic, the king sent for Rutland to bring the southern army, only to learn that his cousin had deserted to Bolingbroke. The rest, as they say, is history.

Edward could congratulate himself on joining the winning side. But his trials were far from over. During Henry IV’s first parliament, he was among the six surviving Counter-Appellants brought to task for the murder of the Duke of Gloucester. There was quite a ruckus as lord after lord threw their hoods on the floor and challenged him to a duel until King Henry put a stop to the disturbance. All the Counter- Appellants suffered the loss of their new ranks—awarded by King Richard after the Revenge Parliament—but further retribution was avoided. Henry didn’t want to start his reign with a blood bath. After a brief imprisonment, all were released.

Unfortunately for Henry, their rancor had not diminished as a result of his leniency. Within three months of the coronation, they were plotting to kill the usurper and put Richard back on the throne. Their plan was to infiltrate Windsor castle during the Epiphany tournament, where they would dispatch the king and his family. They might have succeeded except at the last minute, someone told Henry and he fled Windsor just hours before the assassins showed up. Who betrayed the conspirators? No one knows for sure. Some thought an indiscrete accomplice told his mistress who passed it on. But most contemporaries point the finger at Rutland. Did he only pretend to be part of the conspiracy so he could tell the king? Did he change his mind at the last minute and tell his father? Or, as Shakespeare portrayed, did he give himself away by accident, whereas his father forced him to confess to the king? He apparently confirmed his guilt by abandoning his confederates later on, when King Henry showed up with his army. One thing’s for sure: he wasn’t punished. The rest of the rebel leaders were lynched by the mobs, showing their loyalty to the king. Whatever Henry felt about Rutland’s participation has been lost to history.

Though apparently the king trusted him, or at least found him useful. Soon afterwards he was sent to Guyenne as lieutenant for two years. On his return he was made Duke of York, for his father had died in his absence. Then the king made him lieutenant of South Wales, where he worked closely with Prince Henry. But this was certainly not a favor! The exchequer was out of funds and Rutland had to dig deep into his pockets to pay his men (he was still owed money from Guyenne). This could well have stretched his loyalty to King Henry.

In February, 1405, his sister Constance abducted the two Mortimer boys, kept hostage at Windsor Castle; the eldest was considered by many the true heir to the throne and kept in close confinement. Since she was apprehended taking them to Wales, there was no doubt that she was planning to deliver them to Owain Glyndwr (and their uncle Sir Edmund Mortimer, who had joined the rebellion). Constance immediately implicated Rutland, who initially denied any knowledge of her plot, but later he confessed and was imprisoned for seventeen weeks at Pevensey Castle. By October the king showed signs of forgiveness and two months later Rutland received his lands back. A year later he was made Constable of the Tower, landing on his feet again!

Battle of Agincourt by John Gilbert – Wikipedia

Apparently the Prince favored Rutland as well, for after Henry IV’s death he was involved in diplomatic matters for the new king. He accompanied Henry V to Agincourt in 1415, where he was killed on the battlefield.

One can only assume he was a man of considerable ability, which would help explain why he was given so many positions of responsibility despite his dubious reputation among his contemporaries.  As an aside, Rutland was an authority on hunting and made an English translation of Gaston Phoebus’ Livre de Chasse, with the addition of several chapters he wrote, himself.

Dual identities of some Exeter Cathedral carvings, Guest Post by John Ramsden

Exeter Cathedral Nave, Source: Wikipedia

In this post I present detailed evidence to support my contention that, surprisingly, the corbel carvings in the nave of Exeter Cathedral have represented, at various times and different places over the centuries, two lots of people.

I believe they were originally of Norman and Angevin monarchs and were in Old Westminster Abbey, but were salvaged from there when this started being demolished in 1245 prior to its rebuild over the following twenty or so years by Henry III. Presumably they then languished in some depot or in the Tower of London for some years while people wondered what to do with them, or more likely almost forgot about them.

In the early 1350s the then Bishop of Exeter, John de Grandisson, needed a set of carvings to complete the nave and the splendid barrel roof of the rebuilt cathedral. To save money and, very likely because no stone carver of sufficient skill was available following the Black Death, which had ravaged the Kingdom only a couple of years earlier, he decided it would be easier to reuse existing carvings by adding suitable extra layers of plaster and paint. The revamped carvings would represent Edward III and members of his family, including the Black Prince, and the bishop himself and his wife.

I suggest that de Grandisson learned of the Norman carvings put aside and was able to acquire them. In positioning them, he ingeniously managed to preserve the order of succession of their original Norman identities, from West to East along the nave, perhaps out of respect for who he knew they had been, while achieving a felicitous arrangement of their new identities, given the choice he had to make of who would best correspond to who from their physical similarities.

Corbel of King Stephen. Source: Alamy

Three hundred years later, in the 1650s, when richly ornate and gilt carvings were no longer fashionable or even tolerated, de Grandisson’s surface alterations were scrubbed and scraped away, leaving the original Norman identities. By then few would have guessed who these were, or in the unlikely event they did were (luckily) symathetic and kept quiet about the new identities uncovered, because carvings of monarchs would not have been welcome in Cromwell’s republic! Perhaps they were presented as Old Testament characters such as Saul, David, and Samuel, etc.

The carvings remained a drab grey and indistinct, and anonymous, until modern times when they were repainted once more, only a few years ago I gather. The lady entrusted with this task did a splendid job and really brought them to life. But, not knowing the carvings’ identities, she understandably chose the wrong colours for the hair and beards of some.

My evidence mostly relates to their present (and thus original) appearance, based on comparisons with contemporary descriptions of the monarchs I claim they represent, and the few surviving representations of them, which are mostly copies of originals. The evidence for their intermediate identities, between c 1350 and 1650, is ably provided in [Ottery]. So I have little to add to that.

Tying the two together is solely my conjecture, although I hope a well-disposed reader will agree in the end that it is plausible, and that in fact it would be hard to find any other explanation that accounts for all the features, including a couple of strange anomalies, of their present disposition.

A corollary of this, if true, is that for once the mighty Wikipedia is wrong! Its article on William the Conqueror states that “No authentic portrait of William has been found”. However, as I hope to convince the reader, an accurate carving of him, very likely the last that still exists, looms over the western door of the cathedral as large as life!

Corbel of William the Conqueror

Besides the corbel carving, which I claim is his, and very likely the most accurate, I am aware of only four surviving representations of William I’s face, in increasing order of likely accuracy:

  • Contemporary coins (hardly accurate at all, but a few may be vaguely suggestive)
  • Bayeux tapestry (maybe slightly more accurate than coins, but not much)
  • 17th century copy of earlier wooden face mask in Tower of London
  • Engraved copy of now lost painting of him and family on chapel wall in Abbey of St Stephen, Caen

The Tower of London houses a copy of earlier wooden mask of William I. This copy was produced in the 1680s from an original that was by then in very poor shape and (to my knowledge) no longer exists. The facial features are likely a fairly accurate reflection of the original, but the same certainly cannot be said of the head shape.

It seems new copies of several masks of former sovereigns were produced for a public exhibition planned by King James II somewhat similar to a waxworks display. His aim was a foolish and outdated desire to extol the merits of absolute monarchy and try to restore it. He had evidently learned nothing from the then recent grim fate of Charles I, who had also tried to maintain the divine right of kings past its sell by date!

17th century copy of contemporary wooden carving of WIlliam I

In those days people had firm ideas about what constituted an aristocratic head shape, and that was a narrow head. So, given the propaganda aims of the exhibition, if William’s original mask had an embarrassingly broad and robust face shape and lantern jaws, like a peasant’s by the refined standards of the day, then they would have thought nothing of making those of the copy much narrower and flatter, with a suitably delicate small jaw! Also, in fairness, the original may have eroded and shrunk, or lost outlying parts, to a point where the overall head shape was no longer obvious.

The superficial features of this face include: prominently arched eyebrows, a straight nose, full mouth, and cold supercilious eyes. But (predictably!) the head shape is narrow, with no prominent cheekbones nor a lantern jaw nor even jowls. This is not the face of the corpulent person William I became in his final years, possibly letting himself go somewhat and comfort eating following the death of his wife Matilda in 1083, three years before William’s death.

12th century carvings v 14th century rebuild

On the face of it, the fact that the barrel roof was not built until the 1350s is a conclusive objection to a claim that carvings which are an integral part of it can be from the 1100s, because the foliage above the carved heads definitely follows the present curved ceiling arches and thus could not have been present in the original Norman cathedral.

However, again, my proposal explains this if the carved heads were taken from elsewhere and reused at the time the roof was rebuilt.

A keen researcher, willing to root through old parchments in Exeter Cathedral library or in the records of Westminster Abbey (a task I have neither time nor skill to undertake), could perhaps confirm whether a stonemason was paid for the relevant corbel carvings as part of the cathedral rebuild. If not then, like “the dog that didn’t bark in the night”, that would tend to support my contention that these already existed from earlier times.

But note that the foliage adornments would have needed freshly carving. These carvings are exquisitely done, and to the uninitiated (such as myself) this achievement looks hideously difficult and complicated, more so even than carving faces, given the deep and convoluted 3D structures required. But it may be one of those skills that are actually fairly simple and routine with practice, and the carving of accurate life-like faces that is the more subtle and demanding task.

There’s much more to read on this subject.  Click HERE for the full article.

 

A Traitor’s death is a hard one, Guest Post by Anna Belfrage

Being a medieval king came with all sorts of challenges, chief among them how to stop people from rebelling and in general causing unnecessary upheaval in your country. Sheesh: couldn’t they just accept that the one in charge was the king? Only the king? Clearly, something had to be done to keep people on the straight and narrow, which is why – or so the story goes – late in the 13th century, Edward I decided he needed to up the death-penalty somewhat, make it even more of a deterrent. Specifically, Edward I wanted people considering treason to think again – which was why, on October of 1283, he had the last Prince of Wales, Dafydd ap Gruffydd, subjected to horrific torture before the poor man finally died. Dafydd thereby became the first recorded person to be executed by the gruesome means of being hanged, drawn and quartered. I’m guessing Dafydd would have preferred being remembered for something else… It is still a matter of dispute whether Edward I is responsible for the introduction of this terrible punishment. There are indications Henry III, Edward’s generally rather mild father, condemned someone to die like this for an attempted assassination. I imagine that had Simon de Montfort not lost his life at Evesham, he’d have been a prime candidate for being the first ever nobleman to die thus. Fortunately (well relatively speaking: Montfort’s death was no walk in the park) Montfort did die on the battlefield, and so instead here we have Dafydd as the eternal poster boy for dying slowly and very, very painfully. To be thus executed involved a lot of stages. First, you were tied to a horse (or in some cases several horses) and dragged through the town. Doesn’t sound too bad, you may think, but imagine being dragged over uneven cobbles, over gravel and stones, mud and slime, while the spectators lining the road pelt you with stuff – hard stuff, mostly. By the time the victim arrived at the gallows, he was a collection of bruises and gashes, his garments torn to shreds. Chances were, the man couldn’t stand, but stand he had to, and soon enough he was hoisted upwards, to the waiting noose.

The second stage involved the hanging as such. In medieval times, hanging rarely resulted in a broken neck. The condemned man didn’t drop several feet. Instead, the victim was set to swing from his neck and slowly strangled to death. A painful and extended demise, with the further indignity that when a man dies, his bowels and bladder give. However, the unfortunate sod who’d been condemned to being hanged, drawn and quartered, never got to the bladder and bowels part. He was cut down before he died and placed before the executioner and his big, sharp knife. The horror was just about to begin.

In some cases, the executioner started by gelding the man. Loud cheers from the spectators – or not, depending on who was being executed. Executions generally drew huge crowds, people standing about and snacking on the odd fritter or two while watching the condemned die. Nice – but hey, we must remember this was before the advent of TV and stuff like Counterstrike 4. People have always enjoyed being entertained with violence – which says a lot about the human race in general.

Once the condemned man had been relieved of his manhood (not something he’d ever use again anyway), he was cut open. A skilled executioner would keep him alive throughout the process, ensuring the dying man saw his organs being pulled from his body. And then, once the poor unfortunate finally expired, they chopped him up, sent off selected parts to be displayed in various parts of the kingdom, and buried what little was left over.

Not, all in all, a nice way to die. Men condemned to die that way must have swallowed and swallowed, knowing full well that no one could bear such indignities and die well. Before he drew his last breath, he’d have cried and wept, suffered horrific pain, hoped for the release of unconsciousness, only to be brought back up to the surface so as to fully experience what they did next to him. A truly demeaning death – most definitely a deterrent!

Edward I was quite fond of his new method of execution. Other than the unfortunate Dafydd, Edward had several Scottish “rebels and traitors” – in itself a strange label to put on men fighting for the freedom of their country – hanged, drawn and quartered, notably among them William Wallace and some of Robert Bruce’s brothers.

It is unlikely that any man subjected to such a gruesome death would be in a position to inhale and yell “FREEDOM!” as William Wallace does in Mel Gibson’s interpretation. It is far more likely that by the time the cutting began, the victim was in severe shock, incapable of uttering more than high-pitched shrieks and grunts.

There were exceptions, though. Well at least if we’re to believe some of the “eye-witness” accounts that have made it down the centuries to us. Take, for example, the case of Thomas Blount, ond of the men who conspired to murder Henry IV and his young sons on Twelfth Night. The conspiracy failed, the rebels were brutally punished, and Thomas was drawn, hanged and was watching his entrails burn when he was asked by one of his guards if he needed a drink. Thomas Blount politely declined the offer, saying that he did not know where to put it…

Back to Dafydd. He too, supposedly, died as well as one can die such a terrible death. No frantic screaming, no begging, although I imagine the poor man could not suppress the odd groan, gasp or whispered prayer.  

My recent release, His Castilian Hawk, is set in Wales during those tumultuous years when Edward I crushed the Welsh underfoot. Below, a little excerpt detailing Dafydd’s final hours on this earth as seem through the eyes of my female protagonist, Noor, who has quite the dollop of Welsh blood running through her veins.

Excerpt:

They emerged into a cold and crisp autumn day. People were drifting in the direction of the castle, there were men-at-arms everywhere, and Noor shivered, pulling her cloak tight round her shoulders. A scaffold had been erected at the top of the slope that led to the castle. To the far right stood the church of St Mary; beyond the platform rose the walls of the castle, the royal banner unfurling in the wind.

“This is close enough,” Noor said, coming to a halt. To her surprise, Marured did not protest. She was rocking the babe, eyes lost in the bright blue sky above. Soon enough, they were hemmed in, Nicholas adopting a protective stance behind them. The majority of the spectators chattered and laughed; there were wineskins passed back and forth, pies and pasties shared.

Some stood silent, little groups of mostly men who looked grim and tired. Welshmen, Noor thought, biting back a surprised gasp when she recognised one of them as Rhys, one of the men who had accompanied Dafydd when he’d visited Orton Manor. Rhys inclined his head slightly in Noor’s direction before looking at Marured and lifting a hand in a greeting. She returned the gesture, flitting behind Noor so that she stood close to Rhys, her voice low and intense as she said something to him.

“Do you think Lord Robert is here?” Nicholas asked, narrowed eyes scanning their surroundings.

“Robert?” Noor stood on her toes, craning her neck as she turned this way and that, hoping for a glimpse of a familiar leather surcoat. “I wish—”

She was interrupted by a group of men-at-arms, yelling at them to make way, make way for the traitor. Behind them came a horse, and dragged behind it was a man. A roar rose from the assembled people. Eggs, stones, offal, rotten apples—the half-naked man tied to the horse was pelted from every direction.

“Dear God,” Noor whispered.

“This is but the beginning,” Nicholas muttered in response.

The horse was brought to a halt by the scaffolds. Two men-at-arms hauled Dafydd ap Gruffydd to his feet and ripped his tattered tunic from him. They made as if to manhandle him up the ladder, but he shook off their hands and climbed up on his own. Naked, dirty, bruised and bleeding, the former prince still carried himself with dignity.

Dafydd stared straight ahead as a noose was placed round his neck. The executioner called out an order, and the rope was tightened. Noor did not want to look but could not tear her gaze away as the naked man was lifted off his feet. Limbs jerked, all of him shook, and Noor prayed and prayed that the executioner would miscalculate, thereby saving Dafydd from the coming indignities. One last twitch. The body hung still. The executioner barked instructions, the rope was released, and Dafydd tumbled onto the scaffold.

He hadn’t died. A staggering Dafydd was heaved up and tied to a ladder. The executioner held up a blade, and the mob bayed in response. From Marured came a strangled sob. From the man tied to the ladder came a high-pitched squeal, like the sound one of the pigs made when it was butchered. In difference to the pig’s squeal, this sound was abruptly cut short, as if the man being tortured had somehow regained control of himself.

Blood. So much blood. Dafydd sagged in his ropes, blood staining his upper thighs. The executioner held something up, and the crowd went wild. Marured wailed. One of the men beside her took hold of her and pulled her close.

Tied to his ladder, Dafydd was still alive. It was not over yet.

“Mother Mary, help him,” Noor groaned. “Give him strength in these his last moments.”

The crowd fell silent. When the executioner yet again approached Dafydd with the blade, Nicholas took hold of Noor and pressed her to his chest. She did not protest, hiding her face against the rough fabric of his tunic. It was as if all the assembled people held their breath, waiting. Other than the odd scuffing of shoes against the cobbles, it was so quiet she could hear her own breathing. Nicholas’ arm tightened round her. More silence, and then she heard Nicholas groan, “God save his soul.” The air filled with the faint scent of burning innards. But from Dafydd, there came not a sound, and some moments later the decisive sound of an axe cleaving flesh and bone had Noor crumpling, hot tears scalding her cheeks.

She straightened up. “May the Lord receive you into his kingdom,” she whispered, making the sign of the cross.

“Amen,” Nicholas said in a low voice. He shook himself. “Not even an accursed traitor deserves to die like that.” He nudged her and nodded in the direction of Marured, standing as if carved from stone some feet away. Her face was awash with tears, her gaze on the men still busy on the scaffold.

Rhys made the sign of the cross and muttered a soft, “Farewell, our prince.” He gestured for his companions to come with him, and they headed in the direction of the Welsh gate, a group of men who walked straight and unseeing, ploughing a path through the people still assembled. No one challenged them. Instead, they moved aside.

“He died well!” someone called out. The Welshmen came to a halt. Rhys turned in the direction of the speaker.

“All Welshmen know how to die,” he said. “It’s a lesson the English king has been kind enough to teach us over and over again.”

Amazon link: http://mybook.to/HISHAWK

MEET ANNA BELFRAGE: 

Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England. 

More recently, Anna has published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients. While she loved stepping out of her comfort zone (and will likely do so again ) she is delighted to be back in medieval times in her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love.  

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