Archive for the ‘General Topics’ Category

What was the Verge in 14th Century England?

In a broad sense, from the time of Henry II (and before, probably) until the 15th century, the royal court was itinerant. There was no home base as we think of it; the king often spent a few days or a couple of weeks in one place. He rarely lingered more than a couple of […]

King Richard II’s Household: The Servants

The more I research, the better I understand that what goes on behind the scenes is just as important as the high-profile episodes defining a king’s reign. So naturally, I was thrilled to discover “The Royal Household and the King’s Affinity: Service, Politics and Finance in England 1360-1413” by Chris Given-Wilson; this book brought me […]

Following the Tudors in exile: Part Two – Guest Post by Tony Riches

In Part One we followed Jasper and Henry Tudor’s escape from West Wales to Brittany. Now we follow events up to their return: When Yorkist agents began plotting to capture the Tudors Duke Francis moved Jasper and Henry to different fortresses further inland. I stayed by the river within sight of the magnificent Château de […]

Following the Tudors in exile: Part One – Guest Post by Tony Riches

In late August 1471 Jasper Tudor escaped the Yorkist siege of Pembroke Castle with his fourteen-year-old nephew Henry, the future King Henry VII.  Although Jasper owned a house in the nearby coastal town of Tenby, he knew the community could be full of York’s spies. Capture could mean execution as ‘rebels’ or incarceration in the […]

The Beginning of the Viking raids on Northumbria: Guest Post by Heidi Skarie

St. Paul’s Monastery in Jarrow, Northumbria is the setting of the opening scene of my novel, Annoure and the Dragon Ships. Jarrow is a town in northeast England on the River Tyne. Much of what we know about Jarrow is because it was the home of Bede, who was one of the greatest 8th century […]

What was Livery and Maintenance (or Retaining)?

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

As we saw in Part 1, 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 […]

The Poll Tax, Part One: The Cupboard is Bare

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?

We know that 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 date and reign of a particular warrant, but the use of lesser Seals helps us follow the movements of our itinerant kings. Edward […]

Non-native Species in Britain (for research)

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 […]