05 January, 2008

Happy New Year 2008

Happy New Year! Hope you all had a great festive season. I'll write a proper post as soon as I get my life organised, but in the meantime, here's a short one...

First of all, a belated "Thank You!" to Carla Nayland for giving me a 'Roar for Powerful Words' blog award. *Is very pleased and honoured*.

Here's an interesting article in The Times about Edward II's tomb.

Kevin Bradford has set up a great blog on the Plantagenet dynasty, which looks like a really helpful resource. Also, thanks to Kevin for his intelligent and thought-provoking comments here on the blog, and I'm looking forward to continuing our discussions.

I was very happy to receive an email from Tony Pratt, honorary historian of the Lackham Museum of Agriculture and Rural Life Trust, who's researching the medieval Bluet family and is also interested in the Gascelyn family, including Edmund Gascelyn, their home Sheldon Manor, and the town of Chippenham in Wiltshire. Edmund Gascelyn was a member of the Dunheved gang, and I'm delighted that someone else is taking an interest in him!

I've been reading Eleanor Herman's gossipy and extremely readable Sex with the Queen: 900 Years of Vile Kings, Virile Lovers, and Passionate Politics. Who can resist a title like that? Great stuff, except for her comment that Queen Isabella "had known only the smooth girlish hands of Edward [II] on her..." Pffft! Would a man who dug ditches, built walls, thatched roofs and went rowing have smooth girlish hands? I think not. Should have done more research, Ms Herman.

I also giggled at her depiction of Isabella and Roger Mortimer's affair: "And now this heated warrior took her, roughly at first, then tenderly. And he never, ever, imagined she was a man." Unlike poor Edward II, who "must have fantasized that he was actually making love to Piers Gaveston." She does describe Mortimer, though, as the "heterosexual version of the Despensers. Greedy, arrogant, and ambitious, he too confiscated estates from their rightful owners." Ah well, these heated warriors with their rough and tender lovemaking, they can't help grabbing an estate or two dozen.

Despite the above comments, I do actually recommend the book! It's wildly entertaining and enormous fun.

EDIT: just noticed a bit where Herman says that Edward II "allowed her [Isabella] to rule England for him" and in 1321, Isabella "had ruled a nation for almost a decade". That's so, sooo not the case. Edward II didn't give Isabella any political power, and she certainly wasn't ruling the country!

I've also just started Nancy Goldstone's Four Queens: The Provencal Sisters Who Ruled Europe, about Edward II's grandmother Eleanor of Provence, and his great-aunts Marguerite, queen of France, Sanchia, queen of the Romans (Germany), and Beatrice, queen of Sicily. A most enjoyable and informative read.

2008 will be a busy year on the blog, as we're hitting a lot of the 700th anniversaries of Edward II's life and reign: his wedding to Isabella, his coronation, Piers Gaveston's second exile, the start of Edward's deadly conflict with his cousin Thomas of Lancaster, and many more!

13 comments:

Carla said...

Welcome back, and Happy New Year!

"And now this heated warrior took her, roughly at first, then tenderly. And he never, ever, imagined she was a man."
Confused. Is the book fiction? If not, how could the author possibly know what Roger Mortimer was like in bed?

Susan Higginbotham said...

Nonfiction. Maybe the author had access to a hitherto unknown source in which Mortimer detailed his sex life with Isabella? ("How to Please a Queen in Twelve Easy Steps"?)

Kevin said...

Thank you for mentioning my blog! I've mentioned yours in the Plantagenet-Descendants-Project listserv. Readers may look up the exact URL of the list by checking: http://lists.rootsweb.com

All my best for the New Year!

Alianore said...

Thanks, Kevin!

Carla: as Susan says, it's nonfiction, but that 'rough and tender lovemaking' bit is kind of a hallmark of the author's style. I was going to quote the part about Marie Antoinette and Axel von Fersen, which goes on about "pent-up passion rxploding in rapture, intertwined arms and legs, warm lips and flesh..." and so on!

Maybe 'narrative nonfiction' would be a better label for the book!

Susan Higginbotham said...

Maybe "historical romance" might be a better description! She doesn't seem overly tied to historical facts!

Carla said...

"Maybe "historical romance" might be a better description! She doesn't seem overly tied to historical facts!"
Historical romance of the "erotica in long skirts" variety into the bargain. Though at least the title does give fair warning :-)

I'm trying to imagine how there could be as many as twelve steps. Inventive guy?

Carla said...

Alianore - there's a history meme circulating. I didn't tag anyone as such, but would you like to join in?

Alianore said...

Carla: yes, that sounds like fun! *Puts thinking cap on*

Gabriele C. said...

Lol, I think I skip that book. I'm still recovering from Virgin Slave, Barbarian King. :)

Welcome back and a happy 2008.

Alianore said...

Thanks, Gabriele, and the same to you!

elflady said...

Best wishes for 2008! Hope you've had a great vacation. Welcome back!

Alianore said...

Thanks, and same to you, Elflady! Hope you had a great 12th Night yesterday.

Kate Plantagenet said...

Maybe you could label the book you are reading "hysterical fiction".

Welcome back. Looking forward to all your writings in 2008!