15 October, 2006


A detail of Hugh the younger Despenser's tomb at Tewkesbury Abbey, showing some of the statues that were mutilated in the sixteenth century - his tomb was magnificent before that (for some reason Blogger won't let me upload the photo of it, so I'll save it for another post):

The Three Kings pub in Hanley Castle, Worcestershire:

The church at Hanley Castle:

The 'Kneeling Knight' of Tewkesbury - Edward, Lord Despenser (1336-1375), grandson of Hugh the Younger and grandfather of Isabelle, below. His son Thomas was created earl of Gloucester in 1397 and beheaded in 1400, trying to put Richard II back on the throne. Edward was described by the chronicler Jean Froissart as the most handsome, the most courteous and the most honourable knight in England' (qualities he probably didn't inherit from his notorious grandfather ;)

The Despenser/Beauchamp chantry at Tewkesbury - paid for by Isabelle Despenser (1400-1439), great-great-granddaughter of Hugh the Younger and grandmother of Richard III's queen, Anne Neville. Isabelle had two husbands, both called Richard Beauchamp. ;) I love this photo because you can still see the colours of the chantry.

And for no other reason except that she's terribly cute, here's my mum's dog, Tara. ;)


Anonymous said...

Love the pictures! How old is the pub?

Cute dog too!

Kathryn Warner said...

I don't know how old the pub is, unfortunately - I forgot to ask the landlady! It's been run by the same family for about a hundred years, though.

Gabriele Campbell said...

Love the pictures, too.

There's so much to see and so little money to travel.

Kathryn Warner said...

Thanks, both!

Anonymous said...

Hi Alianore,

I am the anonymous author from the crapometer site. I just wanted to thank you for your comments. The coup at Nottingham castle (with the events preceding) are great fodder for a book.

I loved the comments everyone posted, actually. You can't tell the story in one tiny prologue. That the readers of the piece questioned things, wondered about things, well that is good.

As an author, you always want the reader to turn the next page. Every chapter must be a lure. Heck, every scene must be a lure.

I promise that if this book ever comes to print I will notify you post-haste. The "She Wolf" is a wonderful character to write about.

Again, anonymous author

Kathryn Warner said...

Hi there,

I've always thought that Edward III's overthrow of Isabella and Mortimer is great material for a novel, too. I'm also trying to write an Edward II/Isabella novel, though it's a long way from being ready to post online! Such fascinating people, such fascinating times.

How refreshing to see another side of Isabella. I'm getting really sick of the recent trend to portray her as a victim/candidate for sainthood/feminist heroine. You might be interested in some of my older posts, reviewing Weir's bio and a PhD thesis of Isabella - they're in the archives for about Feb-April.

My post 'Rules for fiction starring Ed and Isa' from early Feb, I think, was intended as a criticism of the way Isa and Ed are always depicted these days.

Kathryn Warner said...

Forgot to say - please do let me know what happens with your novel, as I'm a guaranteed buyer. ;) If you put up any more extracts online, let me know!

Carla said...

Gabriele - true, but one can do virtual travel for free via other people's photos, like Alianore's here and your photos of Germany.

Alianore - any chance of a link to the mysterious anonymous author's crapometer site and/or any other extracts they've posted online?

Kathryn Warner said...

Carla, here's the Crapometer extract.

Carla said...

Cheers, Alianore. I clicked over for a quick look. It may be a little romance-y for me, though I wouldn't make a judgement on only about three pages! Interesting that the author says her main interest is the court politics - I share that, so if she went in that direction I'd be a reader. I share your concern about the names. 'Ambellshire' I could live with, since I gather she has some previous investment in the name, it's no different to George Eliot using Stonyshire, or The Archers using Borsetshire for that natter. Cedric seems unlikely for the period. For one thing, there's the scholars' view that Walter Scott made it up in 1815 or thereabouts! Even if it is a genuine Old English name, as I suppose it could be if it's an unrecorded compound of a recorded single-element name like Cedd, it seems unlikely that an upper-class character in the 1330s would have an Old English name. Norman names were the thing among the top brass by then, apart from a few famous English saints' names like Edward. The Cedric in the extract sounds upper class to me, certainly educated, certainly moves in or on the fringes of court circles, so I'm surprised that he hasn't got a Norman name. Not impossible, but I'd feel an explanation was called for. Geldrid I've never heard of at all.

Kathryn Warner said...

I'd also be much more interested in the court politics, rather than romance - I rarely read romance novels (though I'll definitely read this one, if/when it's published). I really like that the author says her main focus is the downfall of Isabella, and that she's staying as true to the historical facts as possible. I'd love to read her take on the whole Nottingham affair (when Ed III broke into Mortimer's bedchamber and arrested him).

I don't mind made up names at all - it's just that Ambellshire didn't sound that plausible to me, but now you mention it, it's no less plausible than Stonyshire!

Agree about the name Cedric, and I often feel that characters' names in romance novels are highly unlikely (Virginia Henley springs to mind here, with her Briannas and Lynxes and Lincolns).

Carla said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Carla said...

Exotic names seem to be an expected feature, perhaps ordinary names like Hugh or Margaret are thought to be just too unromantic. Or possibly too confusing, given the small number of names in use. If you walked into the great hall of a medieval castle and shouted "Hugh!" you'd be trampled in the rush.

Kathryn Warner said...

Especially in the Despenser household. :) I love the 1325ish reference to 'Hugh le Despenser, son of Hugh le Despenser the son'. It's probably just as well that the Despensers fell from power before the 3 generations of Hugh Despensers became too much of an issue...

My favourite name from a medieval romance is 'Mellyora' from a Shannon Drake novel set in the 12th (I think) century. Remember those 'Rules for historical fiction' we all had such fun with a few months ago? Elizabeth Chadwick mentioned some of the really 'out there' names from medieval romances in
her list.

Carla said...

Curiously, I wouldn't have any problem with a Mellyora as long as she was Cornish. According to my Oxford Dictionary of English Christian names, there's a Meliora recorded in the Assize Rolls in 1218, which is only a difference in spelling. And there's certainly a Cornish church dedicated to a Saint Melior.

Roman families were even worse - you get generation after generation after generation in the late republic and early empire when there were only two or three names in use in a given family so in every generation the eldest son was Lucius Julius and the second son was Gaius Julius. I suppose it helped to keep everyone's social position straight :-) You knew Lucius was the heir and you knew Gaius was the consolation prize.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention the Isabel le Despenser whose husbands were each named Richard Beauchamp. At least she never had to worry about offending husband 2 by accidentally calling him by the name of husband 1.

Kathryn Warner said...

Mellyora in the Drake novel is Scottish.

It must be a nightmare to write novels about Roman families!

Susan, one of the photos is of Isabel(le) Despenser's chantry at Tewkesbury, built for the first Richard Beauchamp in her life, presumably.

Anonymous said...

Oh, you guys are great!

I love reading the comments on this site. Yes, I am the anonymous author

I have to give you a little background on myself. The Devon and Cedric character names are from my first book. And when I say first, I mean literally my FIRST book.

I'd been reading historical romances for years, and when I lost a great job after 9-11, I fell into a deep funk. For the area I live in, I found I was too overqualified to be hired anywhere else. Since we had just built our house and my hubby had been at his job for twenty years, moving was out of the question.

Enter hubby (my own knight in shining armor) who prodded me to try writing. Daily, ad nauseum. Trying to explain that being a technical writer did not translate into a fiction writer didn't sell.

So, I started writing. I finished the first book after much research of my time period. Not enough to be a scholar, but enough that I felt I captured the surroundings and the inheritance laws, etc, of the time.

Well. The book was finished in a year, and I set it to the side. I never truly believed anyone would be interested. However by that time I'd garnered some steadfast writer friends who insisted I shop it.

Lightning struck, and next thing I knew I had sold the book.

(I'll continue this in the next post)

Anonymous said...

So anyhoo, in that first book Devon was the main character and Cedric was his "man".

But Cedric was coming across so strong that I had to give him a background in case I wanted to use him in another book.

He is named Cedric for a definite reason. And I can't tell you why exactly, Teehee. (True, I probably didn't pick an acurate enough name, but it was imperative I set him apart from the Normans.) It's one of those plot things that comes out as the story rolls on.

It tickles me pink that people question the name. (Unfortunately, as a green writer I am stuck with the Devon name.) At least Cedric has purpose. LOL

You can bet I will be researching this site often as I take up this story again.

And there will be romance in this, I can't deny it, maybe even more than most non-romance readers will like. But I think part of the reason I stalled in the writing was because I did NOT want this to be "flowery". I'm trying to find the balance. Breaking romance rules, I have Isabella as a viewpoint character. Unfortunately she is so much fun to write as the "She Wolf", I sometimes can't wait to get to her parts. LOL

Again, thank you all

Kathryn Warner said...

Hi again!
That's great, that your husband is so supportive of your writing career. And many congrats on selling the book! It's insanely difficult to get a novel published these days, so yours must really have something. I know you'd probably like to remain anonymous, but is there any chance you'd want to tell us what your novel is...??

Myself, I really like a bit of romance in a novel - I'm just not a big fan of romance novels as a genre. Sounds like yours has a pretty good balance. Isabella as a POV character is great! I know what you mean, she's so much fun to write! Same for the younger Despenser...in my work in (endless) progress, he's a manipulative, ruthless b*stard, but an intriguing one, I hope...;) Getting into his head is great fun!

Gabriele Campbell said...

Gabriele - true, but one can do virtual travel for free via other people's photos, like Alianore's here and your photos of Germany.

Thank you, Carla.

It must be a nightmare to write novels about Roman families!

Alianore, actually it's fun. Roman naming patterns follow rules and once you get these, it's not difficult to sort the lot out - or invent Roman families. :)

Hi Anonymous,
I found your excerpt today and agree with the others here; it sounds interesting. I can imagine there's a way to make Cedric work as name. Good luck with it, and tell us about that first novel. :)

Anonymous said...

I have done quite a lot of research and believe that I am decended from the much maligned
Despenser. Maybe I'm biased but he sound like a cool guy to me.

Kathryn Warner said...

Hi Alan! Yes, I'd say it's very plausible that Despenser is your ancestor - he has a lot of modern-day descendants. I'm glad I'm not the only person who thinks he's cool...; A total villain, of course, but hey, the guy had style. :)

kmg said...

This blog is so much fun to read!
Alianore, You do a fantastic job with all the info you provide. I wanted to tell you as well that all of your responses and comments are so refreshingly fair, unbiased and well researched. You set the perfect tone on this blog!

Kathryn Warner said...

Hi Kathryn - thank you very much, and I'm so glad you're enjoying the blog (especially happy to hear that it's fun)! Please feel free to comment on anything you like - I'd love to hear more from you.