Sunday, October 14, 2018

Editors Weekly Round-up, October 14, 2018

by the EHFA Editors

Never miss a post on English Historical Fiction Authors.

by Maria Grace


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About EHFA 
Britain leaves us awed by ancient castles, palaces and museums. History pours out a legacy of battles, a developing monarchy, a structured class system, court-inspired behaviors and fashions, artwork and writings that have created a love for all things British. Some of us feel that we must fuel the fire ~ we have come together to share our historical work and to reach out to our much appreciated readers. Please enjoy our posts about the history of England, Scotland, Wales and all the Empire.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Female Spaces: Circulating Libraries and the Regency era Novel

by Maria Grace

James Fordyce, in his Sermons to Young Women, counsels strongly against novels, the very sort of books offered by local and easily accessible circulating libraries. (Despite the face he had not read them, of course. But I digress…) He declared:
What shall we say of certain books, which we are assured (for we have not read them) are in their nature so shameful, in their tendency so pestiferous, and contain such rank treason against the royalty of Virtue, such horrible violation of all decorum, that she who can bear to peruse them must in her soul be a prostitute, let her reputation in life be what it will be. Can it be true . . . that any young woman, pretending to decency, should endure for a moment to look on this infernal brood of futility and lewdness? (Fordyce 176-177).

Jane Austen and the Circulating Library

Happily for all of us, Jane Austen did not seem to share that sentiment. Not only was she a subscriber to circulating libraries, her patronage was sought after. On December 18, 1798, she wrote to her sister Cassandra: I have received a very civil note from Mrs. Martin requesting my name as a Subscriber to her Library which opens the 14th of January, & my name, or rather Yours is accordingly given. My Mother finds the Money … As an inducement to subscribe Mrs. Martin tells us that her Collection is not to consist only of Novels, but of every kind of Literature, 8cc. &cc.- She might have spared this pretention to our family who are great Novel-readers and not ashamed of being so;-but it was necessary I suppose to the self-consequence of half her subscribers." (Letters 38-39). So while Austen was very accepting of novels, the local librarian realized the concern and tried to address it, even as she worked to drum up patronage for her business.

Austen imbued her many characters with a love for books and libraries as well.
Fanny found it impossible not to try for books again. There were none in her father's house; but wealth is luxurious and daring-and some of hers found its way to a circulating library. She became a subscriber-amazed at being anything in pro pria persona, amazed at her own doings in every way; to be a renter, a chuser of books! And to be having any one's improvement in view in her choice! But so it was. Susan had read nothing, and Fanny longed to give her a share in her own first pleasures, and inspire a taste for the biography and poetry which she delighted in herself. (Mansfield Park) 
Though is this case, she does have Fanny eschew novels as reading material for her sister.

Others of Austen’s characters, like Mr. Collins, clearly shared Fordyce’s disapprobation of novels:
By tea-time, however, the dose had been enough, and Mr. Bennet was glad to take his guest into the drawing-room again, and when tea was over, glad to invite him to read aloud to the ladies. Mr. Collins readily assented, and a book was produced; but on beholding it (for everything announced it to be from a circulating library), he started back, and begging pardon, protested that he never read novels. (Pride and Prejudice)
What made circulating libraries so important to not just Jane Austen, but Georgian era women in general and what was the role of the humble novel in the whole affair?

Libraries as refuges of the female middle class and gentry

During the late Georgian and Regency eras, there were few public spaces which could be enjoyed by women of good reputation, but limited means. Tea, coffee and chocolate houses might be enjoyed, if one could afford them. But women had no clubs like men did—a place to offer refuge from the day to day. They did though have the possibility of the circulating library.

Though libraries did require a subscription in order to rent books, one could go to the library whenever she wished without paying a fee beyond that subscription. Not surprisingly, circulating libraries became fashionable meeting places for women to see and be seen by others. They offering their patrons sitting areas were raffles and games could be played; some offered expensive (and often distinctly feminine) merchandise for sale. Perhaps most significantly, they offered women an opportunity to read on a large scale including histories, philosophies, biographies, travel, poetry, and plenty of fictional works. (Hilden, 2018) Austen seemed to use the character of Fanny Price to suggest that circulating libraries could ideally be a means for the intellectual liberation of women of small means. (Erickson, 1990)

Not everyone held such positive attitudes toward circulating libraries. Considering libraries largely originated as repositories of theological publications, one cannot escape the irony that by the end of the eighteenth century, circulating libraries drew criticism as sources of corruption. Critics, like Fordyce, suggested that the novels that made up the as much as seventy five percent of a circulating library’s business were responsible for encouraging idleness as well as corrupting the taste and morals of young ladies especially.(Kane, 2011) Many believed that reading novels would give impressionable (and somewhat irrational) young ladies unrealistic expectations about life. (Hilden, 2018)

Because after all, women were far too stupid to be able to tell the difference between a Gothic horror and real life. It is interesting how is seems Austen took this belief head on in Northanger Abbey in the character of Catherine Morland. Though for a bit there it seems as though Catherine might have been just a touch confused as she makes assumptions about General Tilney, by the end, Henry Tilney assures her that her instincts were right even if she got the exact details a bit mixed up.

Libraries and the Rise of the Novel

Publishers also registered concerns about the circulating library, afraid that it would negatively impact their business. But James Lackington, proprietor of the Temple of Muses, noted in the 1794 edition of his memoirs, “thousands of books are purchased every year, by such as have first borrowed them at libraries.” (Erickson, 1990) Moreover, publishers found that increasing numbers of their print runs were purchased by circulating libraries. In 1770, about forty percent of a novel’s print run were sold to libraries. That number increased into the early nineteenth century. (Erickson, 1990)

To economize somewhat, libraries ordered their books with the cheapest possible bindings. Home libraries usually ordered books in cloth or, more expensive, leather bindings. Circulating libraries used a conspicuous marble patterned paper binding that distinguished library books from all others as Austen noted in the way Mr. Collins identified a library book in Pride and Prejudice. These cheap bindings also meant the books lacked the durability of privately owned books and, surviving copies of some of the period's novels are very rare. (Erickson, 1990)

Libraries as publishers

In order to keep up with demand for new books, later in the 18th century, some of the circulating libraries began to take on the role of publisher as well. Although they lacked the broad distribution channels that traditional publishers had, they held a unique distinction.

Unlike traditional publishers, these smaller presses published many works by female authors, although these were often published anonymously to avoid prejudice by the reading public.

Minerva press

Minerva Press Circulating Library in London, created by John Lane, was the largest circulating library in the 18th century. The library advertised over 20,000 titles, compared to the 5,000 titles most libraries averaged, with 1,000 considered works of fiction. (Hilden, 2018) Minerva Press, became known for printing Gothic horror and sentimental romance novels, including The Mysteries of Udolfo by Mrs. Radcliffe (that Catherine Morland read during Northanger Abbey.)

Though some argued that were hurriedly written to a formula by obscure women writers, these publishers “changed to course of publishing and really opened the door to the social acceptability of female authors, as well as created a better variety of fictional novels.” (Hatch, 2014)

It is interesting to note how much the impact of circulating libraries on publishing resembles the transformation of the publishing industry in the first decade of the 2000’s with the advent of the e-reader and electronic publishing down to the criticisms offered toward authors and books published by them.

References

“British Newspaper History”. Accessed September 6, 2018 https://www.999inks.co.uk/british-newspaper-history.html

“Book Shops” Georgian Index. 2003 Accessed August 29, 2018. http://www.georgianindex.net/books/Hatchard.html

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. New York: Tor, 1988.

Austen, Jane, Terry Castle, and John Davie. Northanger Abbey; Lady Susan ; The Watsons ; Sanditon. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Austen, Jane, Marilyn Butler, and James Kinsley. Mansfield Park. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Austen, Jane, Claude Julien. Rawson, and John Davie. Persuasion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Austen, Jane. Ed. R. W. Chapman. Jane Austen's letters to her Sister Cassandra and others. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979.

Benson, Mary Margaret. “Parasols & Gloves & Broches & Circulating Libraries.” Persuasions # 19, 1997 Jane Austen Society of North America.

Erickson, Lee. "The Economy of Novel Reading: Jane Austen and the Circulating Library." Studies in English Literature, 1500-190030, no. 4 (1990): 573-90. doi:10.2307/450560.

Feather, John. The Provincial Book Trade in Eighteenth-Century England. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1985.

Fordyce, James. "From Sermons to Young Women." Women in the Eighteenth Century: Constructions of Femininity. Ed. Vivien Jones. London: Routledge, 1990. 176-79.

Glover, Anne. Regency Hot Spots: Bookseller Shops and the Subscription Library. Regency Reader. November 6, 2015. Accessed August 1, 2018. http://www.regrom.com/2015/11/06/regency-hot-spots-bookseller-shops-and-the-subscription-library/

Hatch, Donna. Circulating Libraries in Regency England. Historical Hussies. Friday, November 7, 2014. Accessed July 0, 2018. http://historicalhussies.blogspot.com/2014/11/circulating-libraries-in-regency-england.html

Hilden, L. A. Circulating Libraries in Regency England. L.A. Hilden. July 23, 2018. Accessed July 31, 2018. http://www.lahilden.com/index.php?categoryid=6&p2_articleid=206

Jacobs, Edward and Antonia Forster. "'Lost Books' and Publishing History: Two Annotated Lists of Imprints for the Fiction Titles Listed in the Circulating Library Catalogs of Thomas Lowndes (1766) and M. Heavisides (1790), of Which No Known Copies Survive." The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 89 (1995): 260-97.

Kane, Kathryn. Before the Call Number: The Pressmark. The Regency Redingote. January 16, 2015. Accessed August 29, 2018. https://regencyredingote.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/before-the-call-number-the-pressmark/

Kane, Kathryn. Regency Circulating Libraries — Why, How and Who? The Regency Redingote. October, 211, 2011, Accessed August 12, 2018. https://regencyredingote.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/regency-circulating-libraries-why-how-and-who/.

Manley, K. A. "London Circulating Library Catalogues of the 1740s." Library History 8 (1989) 3,74-79.

Mc Leod, Lesley Anne. Who Doesn't Love a Library? Lesley Anne McLeod. Wednesday, November 8, 2017. http://lesleyannemcleod.blogspot.com/2017/11/who-doesnt-love-library.html

Sanborn, Vic. The Circulating Library in Regency Resorts. Jane Austen’s World. August 30, 2010. Accessed August 15, 2018. https://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2010/08/30/the-circulating-library-in-regency-times/

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Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful.

After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

Click here to find her books on Amazon. For more on her writing and other Random Bits of Fascination, visit her website. You can also like her on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Editors Weekly Round-up, October 7, 2018

by the EHFA Editors

Enjoy this week's articles from English Historical Fiction Authors, and don't forget to comment on the Giveaway post!

by Samantha Wilcoxson


by E.M. Powell


by Ruadh Butler



A paperback copy of Delirium by Emma Rose Millar is being offered (UK readers only) - Comment on the original post by 11:59pm (PST) Sunday, Sept. 7,  for a chance to win. 

Friday, October 5, 2018

A Merchant Visits Waterford in the Summer of 1170

by Ruadh Butler

The sun is high in the sky, the wind is from the south-east and above you the square sail of your merchant vessel bulges like a bishop’s belly. It is the middle of April 1170 and you have a whole season of trading ahead. You are determined that this year will be your best year. This year is the one where you score a fortune. News of hostility between King Henry II and the exiled Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Becket, means little to you, hardly more than the stories out of North Wales where a civil war is said to rage between the sons of Prince Owain of Gwynedd. For you are a trader, a merchant out of Gloucester, and your only concern is to get your cargo of that city’s famous iron, textile and leather products across the Irish Sea.

The ship below your feet is called Kittiwake and you have captained her for almost ten years. Wide bottomed and single-masted, she has seen you safely into ports all over Europe, from faraway Bordeaux to the dangerous waters of Flanders and Frisia. In the last week, Kittiwake has seen you and your six-man crew safely down the Severn to Bristol where you had traded wrought-iron for cheap wine, and to Cardiff where you bartered for sheepskins and ale. The wine you sold to the Lord of Oystermouth, the ale to a Flemish colonist in St Bride’s Bay. At the behest of your wife back in Gloucester, you paid for Mass to be said at St David’s Cathedral. And the next morning you knew that it had been money well spent for the squalls which had dogged your journey down the Welsh coastline had finally vanished thanks to the priests’ intercession.

Kittiwake is really more of a coastal vessel, but she has proven herself on the open ocean before, and the short crossing from West Wales to the south-eastern tip of Ireland takes only six hours thanks to perfect sailing conditions. You trim your sails, and point your bows towards a faint grey blur on the horizon. It is a mountain in the midst of Ireland that some amongst your crew call Mount Leinster. Several hours into your journey, you spot land. The nearest town to Wales, Wexford, is normally your overnight stop before you head north to the great market of Dublin. However, you’ve heard stories of a Norman knight from Ceredigion, Robert FitzStephen, and his violent takeover of Wexford the summer before, of disruptions to trade and his ejection of the Danish townsfolk, of your usual business contacts in the city. That all screams ‘lower prices’ and so you pull the steering board to your stomach and change course. Kittiwake is going west and you soon pass between the mainland and some little islands filled with squawking gulls. It is already late afternoon and ahead on a long thin peninsula you see a fire burning brightly. It is only as you draw nearer that you see the beacon out on Hook Head, warning sailors of the danger of the low lying landmass and maintained by the monks of St Dubháin.

As you round the cape and enter the estuary you feel the weight of the tidal race as it slams against Kittiwake’s hull. However, the wind is with you and although you are driven towards the western shore by the current you have the skill to keep her at a safe distance.

The river narrows as you sail northwards, the forests which hang heavy on both sides seem to close in around you. Your crew’s voices drop to barely a whisper as if they fear that to speak loudly will lead to attack from assailants unseen. There are muddy beaches with little coracles pulled up on shore. There are small settlements here and there, but each seems deserted of people. You pilot Kittiwake to the deepest parts of the river anyway. The wind has dropped and your men have taken to the oars. Ahead a lone hill guards the point where the river splits in two. You were told in Wales that the arm heading north is called the River Barrow while the other, bearing west, is the River Suir. It is on that western course where the great Ostman city of Waterford lies, but you are already wondering if you have taken a wrong route for surely you would have seen some hint of the city by now? You have travelled fully six miles from the sea. Evening is falling and you determine to keep going along the wide winding river. It is only as the Suir turns north-west four miles later that you breathe a sigh of relief for, above a vast marsh, Waterford has come into view.

Map of Waterford during the late medieval period
(Richard Roche, The Norman Invasion of Ireland; Anvil Books, 1970)


The first thing you see over the swaying mass of bulrushes and sparse trees is Reginald’s Tower. It is the most eastern point of the city and is at least thirty feet tall. Though made out of timber, it is covered from top to bottom in daub so that it looks like it might be made of stone. A long wall, similarly constructed from daub and wood, stretches for a fifth of a mile along the riverbank to where a second stronghold, Turgesius’ Tower, reaches skyward in the extreme north-west. Below this wall, numerous jetties extend into the midst of the Suir and you can already see that the wharf is crammed with shipping, the beach with merchants, tents and their wares. The opposite bank of the wide river is blanketed in heavy forest for as far as you can see inland.

Reginald's Tower was reconstructed in stone on the site of the Viking
building around 1200 by the victorious Normans (Ruadh Butler)


With all the jetties full of vessels, you spot a second landing point – a deepwater pool has been cut out of the marshland and a smaller wharf has been constructed under Reginald’s Tower. You push the steering board away from you and, still under oar, Kittiwake pulls towards the wharf below the tower. Ahead you see where the walls of the triangular city join and you call out the orders that bring you safely into a berth.

The man on the wharf shouts a greeting in several languages – Gaelic, Norse and Danish – none of which you understand. In dress he is little different to the Englishmen who work your ship, although his clothes bear a strange swirling Irish designs along the hem. At his hip is an axe. You call back questions in Norman French and then in your native English, but he does not understand. You try a third time, in stammering Latin and, somewhat surprisingly, he seems to comprehend, replying in equally poor Latin that there is a daily fee for using the port and that you have to pay it directly to the Jarl. It is not expensive and soon you and some of your crew are walking through the tight little streets made from splits logs inside the city walls. You estimate that in total Waterford covers around twenty acres. Each house bears the signs of commercial activity: a blacksmith, a silversmith, a leather worker, an inn – every abode in the city doubles as a shop. Every house has a garden too. Many have cattle or pigs or geese and the largest have high stone fences separating them. There are houses outside the walls of course but they are of less quality, the homes of the poor.

Picture of the Three Sisters river basin at Cheekpoint with the
River Barrow at the top and River Suir flowing to the left
(Irish Cruising Club Sailing Directions, tenth edition 2001)


Under Reginald’s Tower is the biggest of all the houses in Waterford, bigger even than St Olav’s Church which you pass on your journey. It is built like a feasting hall, and is obviously the home of the leading man in the city. It is in that direction that you walk. Being a man of Gloucester which still bears Roman walls, and having visited some of the greatest cities of Europe, Waterford doesn’t impress you much. But as you pass through you begin to understand its importance. Twenty different languages are spoken and you cannot mistake the jingle of coins as they swap hands. Commodities of every type are bartered, far more range than in Gloucester or any of the Welsh towns on the coast. Only Bristol or Chester could rival the range of products! You see Frankish and Flemish and Frisian men; men in great turbans from distant Outremer; you hear Portuguese and Spanish and see great vats of wine bearing the arms of Cadiz and Sicily.

A flimsy looking wattle fence divides the great hall from the rest of the city and you are searched for weapons as you enter the building. It is dark inside, but you have been in a feasting hall before and know all the customs. Up on the dais are three men and you are introduced to them in the Danish and Irish tongues. Jarl Ragnall is the oldest man and beside him sit two younger men both called Jarl Sihtric. Each is head of one of the leading families in the city, and each vies for supremacy over the other. Factional infighting breaks out often and it is only in times of crisis that these men come together as one. For more than a century that has been in order to face the might of the O’Brien Kings of Munster, to either accept their terms as overlord, or to fight them. Now, however, a different threat faces the city and all three men, upon hearing details of your journey, demand answers of you.

Ragnall himself asks about a Welsh baron called Sir Richard de Clare. You have heard of him of course and his castle at Striguil on the border with England, and you tell him all that you know. Ragnall is disappointed with your answers outlining Sir Richard’s military power. The two Sihtrics then begin their interrogation. They ask how long it would take Sir Richard to raise an army, how many ships he could assemble and where he would land if he were to journey to Ireland. They demand to know about the deal he struck with the King of Leinster. That strikes a chord in your memory. You do remember hearing how an Irish king promised his daughter in marriage to Richard de Clare! The deal was that the Norman baron would fight for the king and in return he would become heir to the land of Leinster.

"Will he come to Waterford," Ragnall demands, and you don’t have an answer for him.

Almost as an afterthought, one of the Sihtrics demands a few coins for your berth on the city wharf and then grants permission for you to trade in the market the next day. Dismissed, you leave the hall and walk back through the city. Tallow candles burn behind shuttered windows, but it is a clear night and the moon casts enough light for you to safely find your way back to Kittiwake.

Gloucester is famous around Europe for the quality of its iron products and you soon sell out of those. Your cargo of textiles and leather goods last longer but they are all sold by the time the market wraps up the next evening. You and your crew spend the night drinking and making merry in Waterford and leave, a little bit worse for wear, at dawn. Kittiwake’s hold is now stuffed with animal hides – cow to be made into vellum by Frankish monasteries; sheep, wolf, marten and otter skins to make clothes to guard against the winter cold; and bird skins, the most valuable of all. You also had three large Irish dogs and many sacks of wool. Your destination is Flanders where such commodities are in high demand. With the profits you will journey down the coast to Aquitaine where you will purchase wine to sell in Gloucester and Bristol.

The thought of all those profits warms you as you journey back down the River Suir towards the Irish Sea. No light burns in the Hook Head beacon as you round the cape. You follow the coast eastwards, hoping to make Wales by late afternoon, but you have only gone a few leagues when something catches your eye. On a little headland just a mile from Hook Head you see a ship pulled up on a beach. On closer inspection you identify it as Norman built. Above it is a vast pennant, blowing in the wind and you recognise the coat of arms: crimson chevrons and a golden field. They are the colours of Sir Richard de Clare. You tug on the steering board and direct Kittiwake further out to sea for you don’t want to be part of their sort of trouble. Strongbow has come to Ireland and the Norman conquest of Waterford will soon begin.


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Ruadh Butler is the author of Swordland and Lord of the Sea Castle. They tell the story of the 12th century Norman invasion of Ireland. The third in the series, The Earl Strongbow, will be published by Accent Press on October 4th.


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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Crime and Punishment Under Henry II

By E.M. Powell

King Henry II of England is best known in the popular imagination for the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket, a murder for which the King was blamed. Four knights broke into Canterbury Cathedral on 29 December 1170 and slew Becket in the most brutal manner.

The Murder of Thomas Becket c 1480 Public Domain- British Library

Whatever one’s view of the volatile Henry, there is one achievement from his thirty-five-year reign that stands above all others: his reform of the English legal system, which laid the foundations of the English Common Law. When he came to the throne in 1154 at the age of just twenty-one, his realm was in deep disarray following civil war. He urgently needed to re-establish royal authority and impose order and set about doing so with his customary relentless drive. The judicial system was the subject of much of his attention and he was aided in this by the talented Becket, who was his chancellor at the time.

Henry II enthroned, arguing with Thomas Becket c. 1307 - c. 1327 Public Domain- British Library

Henry addressed reform of both land law and criminal law. With land law, cases relating to an individual being dispossessed or those in which inheritance was in dispute were now settled in a trial by jury. The jury system was far quicker and more efficient than the system it replaced. Given that said system was one of trial by combat, one can see why it was not just the efficiency of the new system that made it so popular.

His reform of criminal law was even more impressive. He issued new legislation at Clarendon in 1166 and Northampton in 1176. It was at Clarendon where the procedures of criminal justice were first established, addressing how serious felonies such as murder, robbery and theft would be dealt with. Juries of presentment were established, consisting of twelve lawful men in each hundred (a subdivision of a county) and four in each vill (village). These juries were not there to decide on guilt or innocence, but to support an accusation of a serious crime.

Anyone who was accused of such crimes would be put in prison to await trial. Those trials could only be heard by the King’s justices, who travelled the country to do so. Henry first introduced his system of itinerant justices at Clarendon but refined the system at Northampton. England was divided into six circuits, with three justices, the justices of the general eyre, allocated to each.  Twelfth century chronicler Roger of Howden lists the eighteen justices itinerant and their circuits for 1176.

Detail of an historiated initial 'I'(udex) of a judge c. 1360- c. 1375 Public Domain - British Library

One of the justices listed was Ranulf de Glanville. De Glanville was one of Henry’s staunchest allies, securing key victories for the King in the rebellion of 1173-74 and rising to the position of Justiciar of England. The ‘Treatise on the Laws and Customs of the Kingdom of England’, produced in the late twelfth century, is the earliest treatise on English law and is commonly referred to as ‘Glanvill’, though it is unlikely that de Glanville was its author.

The justices provided a system of criminal investigation for the whole country. The impact of the arrival of the travelling court should not be underestimated. It could consist of several hundred people, all of whom were tasked with supporting the royal justices in administering the law in the name of the lord King. As well as being administratively impressive, it would have been a spectacle that reinforced Henry’s power over all his subjects. It would also have instilled awe and fear in all those who witnessed it, especially those who were accused of a serious crime.

The accused were brought before the justices. Proof of their guilt or innocence could be established in a number of ways, such as witness testimony, documents or the swearing of oaths. Unlike criminal trials today, the jury acted as witnesses and not an impartial panel. They would give the account of what had happened.

Five judges and three plaintiffs c. 1360- c. 1375 Public Domain - British Library

In cases that were not clear cut or in those of secret homicide where there were no witnesses, the justices used the ordeal. Ordeal could be by cold water or by hot iron. The blessing of the water and the iron served to bring the notion of God’s judgement, judicium Dei, into the proceedings.

There was great ceremony and a long build-up attached to the ordeal, which would have added to the pressure on the accused to confess. The accused would be taken to church four days before the day on which the ordeal was due to take place. They had to wear the clothes of the penitent, fast and hear several masses. If they still did not confess, the ordeal would take place.

Two judges addressing a prisoner held by a court officer c. 1360-c. 1375 Public Domain - British Library

The most innocent of hearts must have quailed. Stripped to only a loin cloth, the accused would be led to the pit, which was twenty feet wide and twelve feet deep and full of water. A priest would then bless the water. God would now be the judge: His blessed water would receive the accused if innocent, reject him if he was guilty. The accused would be bound, thumbs to toes, and lowered in from a platform.

With ordeal by hot iron, the accused had to undergo the same preparation of fasting and penitence. A length of iron would be blessed and heated in a fire until it was red hot. The accused would have to take it in one hand and carry it for three paces. The injured hand would be bandaged and then examined three days after the ordeal. If it had healed, then innocence was proclaimed. If it had not, then the accused was guilty.

Both forms of ordeal were terrifying and horrific in themselves, and the lengthy preparations would have only added to the pressure to make a confession. Once the accused made a confession, it could not be retracted. In 1215, the Church forbade priests to take part in the ordeal, bringing an end to its use.

A man hanging from gallows c. 1360-c. 1375 Public Domain - British Library

For those found guilty, the King’s punishment awaited. Hanging was reserved for the worst crimes. Thieves and robbers could lose a foot and, from 1176, their right hand. The law also had a final judgement it could impose, even if the accused was acquitted by undergoing the ordeal. If it was judged that the accused had a particularly bad reputation, as sworn to by the jury, then the accused was to leave the King’s lands as an outlaw and had to swear under oath that they would never return.

And lest anyone think that they could take the law into their own hands and administer punishments themselves, the King’s justices had a clear system of heavy fines for those who would dare to do so. Order would prevail. Henry, the consummate administrator, had thought of everything.


References:
All images are in the Public Domain and are part of the British Library's Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts. 
Bartlett, Robert, Trial by Fire and Water: The Medieval Judicial Ordeal (Oxford, 1986)
Bartlett, Robert, The New Oxford History of England: England under the Norman and Angevin Kings 1075–1225 (Oxford, 2003)
Hudson, John, The Formation of the English Common Law (London, 1996)
Pollock, Frederick, and Maitland, Frederic William, The History of English Law Before the Time of Edward I (Cambridge, 1898)
Warren, W. L., Henry II (Yale, 2000)

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E.M. Powell’s historical thriller Fifth Knight novels have been #1 Amazon and Bild bestsellers. Her new Stanton & Barling medieval murder mystery series starts with THE KING’S JUSTICE, followed by THE MONASTERY MURDERS.

As well as blogging for EHFA, she is a contributing editor to International Thriller Writers The Big Thrill magazine and is the social media manager for the Historical Novel Society.

Born and raised in the Republic of Ireland into the family of Michael Collins (the legendary revolutionary and founder of the Irish Free State), she now lives in northwest England with her husband, daughter and a Facebook-friendly dog. Find out more by visiting www.empowell.com.



Monday, October 1, 2018

Giveaway - Delirium by Emma Rose Millar

A paperback copy of Delirium by Emma Rose Millar is being offered (UK readers only)

1881
Saint Anne’s Lunatic Asylum, London

One woman whose secret has driven her to the brink of insanity; another who claims she can tell fortunes and communicate with the dead. With seemingly no way out – and everything at stake – only one of them has the tenacity to survive. 

Lies, murder, obsession... Delirium.

Delirium was shortlisted for the Chanticleer Book Awards in 2017, and is Emma's third novel. Her first novel, Five Guns Blazing won the Chaucer Award, Legend Category in 2015; her novella, The Women Friends: Selina was shortlisted for the Goethe Award for Late Historical Fiction in 2016. She is currently writing her fourth novel, The Perfumier, based on the life of Italian poisoner, Giulia Tofana. She will also be having some historical children's poetry published by The Emma Press in Birmingham in 2019.

For a chance to win, simply comment below - and don't forget to leave your contact details!

The giveaway will close at 8pm (BST) Sunday 7 October 2018 and the winner will be notified shortly afterwards

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Coronation of Queen Mary I

By Samantha Wilcoxson

Princess Mary Tudor was crowned Queen Mary I on October 1, 1553, in an event without precedent. After fighting successfully for her birthright, Mary became England's first queen regnant.

Entrance of Queen Mary I with Princess Elizabeth
into London 1553, by John Byam Liston Shaw
The spectacle had actually begun several days earlier when Mary arrived at the Tower of London with her sister, Elizabeth. They were welcomed with music, decorations, and a volley of the Tower guns by the mayor and aldermen of London. Time here was spent rehearsing for the coronation. Mary also met with her councillors and pledged herself, on her knees, to "the task God had been pleased to lay on her to His greater glory and service, to the public good and all her subjects' benefit." It was an emotional moment that left many of the men in tears. Then, on September 30, the sisters rode through the city to the Palace of Westminster, where the coronation ceremony would begin.

Their procession was planned to impress Londoners with the vision of everything they believed their monarch should be, and they were met by cheering crowds. Rich fabrics and vibrant colors glittered with magnificent jewels, silver, and gold. Even the horses were draped in beautifully embroidered cloth. Amid this dizzying array of wealth, Queen Mary was expected to stand out. She rode in an open chariot draped in gold. Her dress of purple velvet trimmed in ermine was complimented by the crimson velvet worn by her ladies and silver cloth-of-gold worn by Princess Elizabeth and Anne of Cleves. The bejeweled crown that Mary wore for the procession was reported to be so heavy that she wearily propped up her head with her hands.

Queen Mary I,  1554
by Hans Eworth
Crowds, pageants, and performers vied for Mary's attention as her procession slowly moved from the Tower to Westminster. Choirs of children sang as wine flowed from fountains. An acrobat even performed atop the weathervane of St Paul's Cathedral. After what must have been an exhausting day, Mary prepared for her coronation.

The next day was certainly one filled with both excitement and anxiety for this woman who had been at various times pampered and bastardized by a tempestuous father. Mary was not necessarily the showman that Henry VIII had been, so to be put on display before crowds would have been stressful, even without the knowledge that she was setting a historical precedent. Setting aside her shyness and timidity, Mary was determined that her coronation be held according to the customs of the kings who had come before her.

Mary wore crimson velvet robes and walked on blue fabric from the porch of Westminster Hall to the Abbey. Her auburn hair was worn loose in the style of a queen, but the orb, scepter, and crown of kingship were carried before her. Inside Westminster Abbey, swathes of cloth-of-gold hung from the choir to the altar and covered the grand chair upon which Mary was seated.

She was presented by the Bishop of Winchester:
"Sirs, here present is Mary, rightful and undoubted inheritrix by the laws of God and man to the crown and royal dignity of this realm of England, France and Ireland, whereupon you shall understand that this day is appointed by the peers of this land for the consecration, inunction and coronation of said most excellent Princess Mary; will you serve at this time, and give your wills and assent to the same."

"Yea, yea, yea. God save Queen Mary," those assembled responded.

Mary gave her offering and lay prostrate upon cloth-of-gold cushions as prayers were invoked above her. After a sermon by the Bishop of Chichester on the obedience owed to kings, Mary was prostrate again to swear her oaths as queen, followed by her anointing. Bishop Gardiner touched holy oil to Mary's forehead, temples, shoulders, and chest as she knelt wearing a sleeveless purple velvet corset. After the anointing, Mary was again regally dressed in a crimson velvet mantle and crimson cloth-of-gold slippers.

Gold coin featuring Queen Mary I, 1555
Trumpets announced the moment each of three crowns was placed upon Mary's head, and the choir sang Te Deum when the coronation ring was placed on her finger. She then received the sword and spurs that would have been presented to a crowned king and received the homage of her clergy and magnates. Finally, another offering was made, and Mary carried the orb and scepters (one traditionally the queen's and the other the king's) to her coronation feast.

She was Queen of England, but she had taken a long road to get there. Her mother's only child, Mary had been raised to believe she would be her father's heir. When Henry VIII broke with both Katherine of Aragon and the Catholic Church in order to disinherit Mary, she may have believed she would never see the throne. Through many trials and tribulations, which did not end once she was queen, Mary endured.

Additional Reading
Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen by Anna Whitelock
The First Queen of England: The Myth of Bloody Mary by Linda Porter


All images in the public domain through Wikimedia Commons

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Samantha Wilcoxson is the author of the Plantagenet Embers series featuring women of the Wars of the Roses and Tudor England. Her current project is taking her back to the beginning of the Plantagenet dynasty.

An incurable bibliophile and sufferer of wanderlust, Samantha lives in Michigan with her husband and three teenagers. You can connect with her on her blog or on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Goodreads.