Images from the medieval world

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I am running a series of daily image trailers on Twitter prior to an illustrated talk that I am giving at Downham Market Library on Monday 11 December, 2-3pm.

A lot of the research I undertake for my historical fiction involves images, objects, places and maps.

To celebrate the publication of my latest novel, The Drowned Court, I will present some of these fascinating images in the talk. I aim to show how I use them to help me write and how some of these objects, faces and places have found their way into my fiction.

Booking for the talk is essential on 01366 383073. (Tickets £3, includes refreshments.)

The images above are: Statue of the Virgin, Albi Cathedral, France; December from a Book of Hours; Locust in a manuscript; the Witham Pin in the British Museum. Follow me on Twitter for more images over the next week.

Palaces and bishops

Thank you to Pembroke Dock Library for such an enjoyable event last week when I presented my new novel, The Drowned Court, and talked with the audience about medieval life and the process of writing historical fiction. And thanks too, to Bob, my ‘muse’, for driving me around Pembrokeshire again, so that we were able to tread in the 12th century footsteps of Nest ferch Rhys and her husband Gerald FitzWalter.

 

St Davids Bishops Palace cropped
Bishop’s Palace, St Davids

We visited the splendid Bishop’s Palace at St Davids where Nest’s son was bishop, and the vast Bishop’s Palace at Lamphey (after a very fine lunch at Lamphey Hall).

Lamphey Bishops Palace
Bishop’s Palace, Lamphey
Lamphey Bishops Palace drawing
Artist’s impression of the 13th century Bishop’s Palace at Lamphey

The massive corn barn at Lamphey Palace stored a huge amount of grain which the Norman overlords took in taxes from the Welsh tenant farmers. The palace’s dovecote, deer park and four ponds supplied the bishop with meat and fish, and three orchards provided apples, and cabbages and leeks for his potage.

The Bishop’s Palace at Lamphey was where Nest’s wily husband Gerald FitzWalter left a faked letter tricking the Welsh attackers of Pembroke Castle into believing that he had plenty of troops and supplies to defend the castle when, in fact, most of his men had deserted and he had no food at all. The ruse worked and he was the only Norman lord who managed to hang on to his toehold in south west Wales during that round of attacks by the Welsh.

The date of my illustrated talk at Downham Market Library has been changed to Monday 11 December, 2-3pm. Booking essential on 01366 383073. (Tickets £3, includes refreshments.)

 

Hnefatafl -Viking boardgame

Hfentafl

Since characters in Dublin who appear in my novel trilogy, Conquest, play the Viking boardgame, hnefatafl, I was excited to see a 9th century set of glass pieces from the game in a fabulous exhibition of medieval glass at the Cluny Museum in Paris this week.

I am giving illustrated talks on the Conquest novels

at Downham Market Library on 27 Nov.

Booking essential.

Library Talks – Historical Fiction

The Drowned CourtMy new historical novel, The Drowned Court, is published tomorrow by Impress Books. It covers the years 1107-1121 and focusses on the tumultuous lives of the Welsh princess, Nest ferch Rhys, and the Norman king, Henry I.

I am giving a number of library talks in November in Norfolk and Pembrokeshire to celebrate the new book:

Mon 13 Nov 11am Pembroke Dock Library. Free event.

Mon 27 Nov 2pm Downham Market Library, Priory Road, Downham Market, PE38 9JS. Illustrated talk, £3 including refreshments. Booking essential on 01366 383073.

My guest blogpost on writing the book is published on The Writing Desk.

History Questions

800px-Bertrada_Fulko-Berta
Bertrade de Montfort in the centre with her second husband, King Philip I of France. Her first husband, Count Fulk of Anjou is on the right, and Philip’s imprisoned first wife, Bertha of Holland, is on the left. King Philip and Bertrade were excommunicated for their adulterous relationship. From The Chronicles of Saint Denis in the British Library.

My new historical novel, The Drowned Court, is published next week and a guest post by me on writing the novel is up today on Tony Riches’ blog, The Writing Desk.

‘I approach writing all my novels by asking questions that I have, after researching the historical evidence.’ The questions that drove my writing in this new novel include:

220px-Empress_Mathilda
King Henry I’s daughter, the Empress Matilda, the first woman to claim the English throne in her own right.

Was the Welsh princess, Nest ferch Rhys, lascivious, or a victim, or is there another way to look at her colourful life?

What kind of man was King Henry I and what motivated his relationships with the numerous women in his life: his wives, mistresses, sisters, and daughters?

Why was Amaury de Montfort such a stubborn opponent to King Henry in Normandy?

What would it have been like to be a spy in the pay of the Countess of Blois (King Henry’s sister) at the great abbey of Fontevraud, which was ruled by women, and housed many illustrious, repudiated wives, including Amaury’s notorious sister, Bertrade de Montfort, the former Queen of France?

The Displaced Nation

51tP8HG9-uLThose of you who now live or have lived in a place other than your place of birth may be interested to take a look at The Displaced Nation and to sign up for their bi-monthly Displaced Dispatch.

For the last eighteen months I have been interviewing authors for the site’s regular column, ‘Location, Locution’.

My latest interview is with Harriet Springbett, British YA author living in France.

Other interviews include:

Jacqueline Yallop, British historical novelist and non-fiction writer living part-time in France

 

Simon Mawer, British novelist living in Italy

Charles Lambert, British novelist living in Italy

Emmi Itaranta, Finnish future fiction writer living in the UK

A.J. Mackenzie, Canadian historical crime duo living in the UK

Clare Kane, Scottish novelist living in China.

Thank you to The Displaced Nation editor, ML, for her beautiful and inventive interview layouts.

Book Reviews Request

banner‘I could not put this book down from the moment I started it. I practically inhaled the content.’ Poppy Coburn on Daughter of the Last King

To those of you who have already read one or more of my historical novels: I would be grateful if you get the time to post a brief review on Amazon or Goodreads. Thanks to those of you who already did so. A few lines is enough and it all helps. My next novel is published in a week’s time. Here are some recent reviews:

On Conquest: Daughter of the Last King:

‘As the drawbridge came down, I ventured in. In fact, I remember nothing of what happened in my everyday life until I came out at the end.’ The booktrail on amazon.co.uk

‘Nest is a fascinating character torn between two cultures and … two men. The book offers fantastic insight into the lives of women of the period; the frustration of being kept in the dark about events, the lack of control … and the constant reminders that a woman’s greatest currency is her ability to bear children.’ Lisa D on Madwoman in the Attic blog 

On The Viking Hostage:

‘machiavellious plotting … human chess played with lives and land.’ Ani Johnson on The Book Bag 

‘brings the historical condition of women to life through vivid storytelling.’ AMM on amazon.co.uk

Thank you very much to those reviewers and all readers who have enjoyed the books.