Dressing a 13th Century Historical Romance Heroine

You may not know this but I love fashion especially historical costume. I studied fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology so it is natural that I blend my two passions together: Writing and fashion.

In my medieval Highlander Romance, The Laird’s Right, my heroine Portia de Mowbray is an English woman who finds herself kidnapped by Laird Alec Cameron. Portia may be surrounded by Highlanders but she sticks to her English styled garments. The Laird's Right Cover A Medieval Scottish Romance

During the medieval times, the style is different from our modern day style but both function and fashion play an important part. After all, that is what clothing must do.

For Portia, she would be wearing numerous items both under and outer garments. First off, our tough Portia would have worn hose and garters with fancy buckles to hold them up (after all there was no elastic) and a chemise with long sleeves and a high neckline. The chemise would have been constructed of linen. And she would not be donning any underwear. No panties or bra for Portia.

Now Portia would slip her côte over her head. The côte was a wide garment. It was wide at the shoulder and narrowed at the wrist. It’s the image we all have the medieval princess that is plastered around us. The natural waist was usually belted. Portia would have worn two layers one made of a linen then a wool or silk one even a velvet one to show off her status.

She’s not finished getting dressed yet.

Of course, Portia isn’t walking away yet because she needs shoes. In the 1250s, her shoes would be a soft shoe with more of a pointed toe that could have been embroidered in a floral motif or scrolls. Anything that she thought was fashionable or like. Back then, there was no right or left foot shoe so it would look odd to our eyes. Also it would have been constructed of leather.

Now she would choose some accessories. A belt for her côte, one made of silver or gold even with jewels, depending on what she might afford. Portia could put on a brooch or a jeweled collar or pendant to add a little flash. She might have taken gloves and her drawstring purse and dirk that may have jewels on the hilt.

Now with Portia dressed, she must do something with her hair. Perhaps, she has better skills than me or her maid does better than Portia. Her long blonde hair would be parted in the center and plaited. She might have her braids twisted into a bun since she is a widow. Her head would be covered with a coif, wimple or barbette even a gold or silver chaplet to give her that romantic look.

So, Portia is ready to face the day but if it was a chilly one, she would have had a cloak, which would have been a long mantle trailing on the ground and fastened in the front with a brooch. That too would have reflected her status and her fashion choices. It would have been wool or velvet. It could have been trimmed in fur and even fur-lined.

Maciejowski_Bible_Woman
The most basic of what Portia may have looked it once dressed. Though, with more flair as she has a bit more coin.

 

To your modern eyes and sensibilities, would you don these garments? Sounds pretty comfortable to me.

 

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Love is…the story continues after all

man and woman holding each others hand wrapped with string lights
Photo by Anastasiya Lobanovskaya on Pexels.com

I write romance novels like The Marriage Alliance  because I love a happy ending. I don’t know if I can blame Disney for that but whatever. Life has enough hardships and sadness that I refuse to spend my time writing something depressing.

As a reader, I too love a happily ever after. Perhaps, it’s silly but I believe in love. As a reader and writer, I love an epilogue. I want to see the characters that I have spent my time with to have their happy ending.

The epilogue for me as a writer is showing that all the struggles and fighting have been worth something that is special and continues to grow—that love never dies.

You see for me I know that love never dies. When I was a fifteen-year-old girl, I met the love of my life. At twenty, I lost him. He died and these twenty plus years, I still love him. I know that if he were still alive, we would be married and probably I would have some kids. That had been our plan. So, my happy ending didn’t come. And you might be saying then how can you still believe?

Easily. Because it wasn’t our love that ended. His life did. In all those years, we were together and the times we were apart our love continued. Our love still lives.

That is our epilogue.

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Henry VIII and his Wives Part III

Henry VIII has now divorced Anne of Cleeves. A wife he did not pick but married for the state of England. Cromwell lost his head because of it and Henry’s eye was caught by his fifth wife—a maid of honor to Anne of Cleeves.

Catherine Howard

catherine-howard-portraitYoung Catherine’s age range from fifteen to seventeen years of age when she married the king. She was a niece to the Duke of Norfolk and cousin to Anne Boylen. You think Henry would have stayed away from her. Instead, he married the teenager in 1540. At this point, Henry was obese, with a festering leg that had to be drained. It couldn’t have been a married a young miss desired.

Historians claim that she wasn’t as smart as her cousin and had been raised by the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk who was lax in her caring. While Catherine resided in the household, Catherine and the other girls entertained the household boys in their quarters and played games such as husband and wife, which was a nice way of saying having sex.

By all accounts, Catherine sounds much like other teenagers, loving dancing, animals and was playful as most are at that age.

In about 1541, she began an affair with Thomas Culpepper. She was loose with her words and actions by writing love letters to Culpepper and having Jane Boylen, widow of George Boylen, brother to Anne, deliver them. The treasonous affair was soon discovered.

Near the end of 1541, Catherine was stripped of her title as queen and imprisoned. She was found guilty and sentenced to death for treason. The night before she was executed she requested the chopping block and practice how to lay her head upon it.

The last words associated with her were “I die a queen but I rather have died the wife of Culpepper.” That is false. She said a speech and begged for mercy. Then she laid her head upon the block. And with a single strike, she ceased to exist.

 

Catherine Parr

KAtherine ParrThe last wife of Henry VIII was twice-widowed when she married the king in 1543. In my opinion, Henry married Parr for companionship. He was an old man and the shine of his youth had dulled very much indeed.

Catherine was raised a Catholic (she even was one of Catherine of Aragon’s ladies-in-waiting) but she held to the Protestant faith and even published two books while Queen of England—Psalms and Prayers and Prayers or Meditations, which bore her name and made her the first book published by an English Queen.

Her Protestant leanings brought her enemies and she even had an arrest warrant drawn up against her. But she was a smart woman and was able to turn the king to her side when they came to arrest her. Henry died in 1547 and left Catherine a widow for the third time.

She wasn’t alone long. Catherine married her old love Thomas Seymour, uncle to the Edward VI and brother to Jane Seymour.  The marriage brought political trouble but she continued to write and published Lamentation of a Sinner. 

Soon after that Lady Elizabeth (future Queen of England) and Lady Jane Grey (Queen of England for 9 days) resided in her household and received an education. In 1548, at 35, Catherine Parr became pregnant. She had not conceived during her other marriages. And at her age in Tudor times, it must have seemed like a blessing. Sadly, Catherine died eight days after giving birth to her daughter, Mary Seymour.  Just a year later, her husband was beheaded and Mary is sent to live with the Dowager Duchess of Suffolk. Her child is gone from records by 1550.

In my opinion, Catherine Parr’s greatest influence can be seen not with Henry but her stepdaughter Elizabeth. Both educated women of Protestant faith with inner strength and depth that still intrigues us.

History has simplified these women to divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. But each of these women from a time where women lacked power and control in fact show what women can do. And each one is much more than what history remembers.

 

 

Henry VIII and His Wives Part 2

Henry VIII and his wives. Do you remember the saying? Divorce, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived.

Well,  we are at the Died and Divorced.

Hans_Holbein_the_Younger_-_Jane_Seymour,_Queen_of_England_-_Google_Art_Project        Jane Seymour

Henry VIII’s third wife who he married days after Anne lost hers. Most Tudor experts and historians say that Jane was Henry’s most beloved wife. He is buried with her and Henry, himself, supposedly said so in his life.

However, Henry only loved Jane (in my opinion) because she birthed him a son, Edward. That was all Henry desired and had been denied him. If Jane had survived, Henry would have remained married to her until her death. Can’t risk Edward being a bastard but I certainly do not believe that he loved her as he professed.

Jane though is one of the wives that intrigues me. So much about her is lost. What is thought to be know, to me, is a shallow description. Much like Anne, Jane knew how to play Henry and with son, she could have had great influence over Henry and England. Jane took much with her to her grave.

Anne of Cleeves

Anne of Cleeves

A political marriage that ended in divorce and Cromwell losing his head. Henry certainly did not like Anne. She gave him the divorce he wanted and she came out the winner.

She was an independent woman, with lands who was welcome at court and called the king’s sister. She lived a long life. I think Henry treated Anne the best.

Romancing History: A Romance Author’s Love of the Past

The first romance novel I had ever read was a historical.  I can tell you I was hooked. Nothing matter more to me than getting my next book. Instead of doing school work, I was reading. Luckily, I still managed to pass my classes.

So when it came to writing a novel, I—of course—had to write a historical romance. I have written a couple before I actually had my first novel, The Marriage Alliance,  published then came Claiming the Highlander. 

I have always loved history. To me, history is the way we can time-travel—experience the different lives and times. While I’m writing my novels like my medieval Highlander novels I am a clan chieftain raiding my enemies lands or I am a Scottish heroine struggling to stay alive against an evil English baron trying to kill me (my next novel The Laird’s Right, which is coming soon).

I have loved history since childhood when I would stare at my mother’s porcelain doll dressed as Marie Antoinette. My child’s imagination would transport me to 18th century France.

As I started school, I wanted to learn all about the past. The details from fashion, food to even the mundane like how they stood. I swore that I could somehow become them and once knowing the information, I naturally turned to writing.

Because I just didn’t want to know it. I wanted to lay down these characters’ I concocted so that they could exist. And history is written down to be shared. You heard of method acting well I’m a method writer.

I love traveling to the Highlands of Medieval Scotland.
And to Regency England.
And Montana Territory in 1870s.
And 16th century Scotland.

I hope you will join me on one of my travels. Sign up for my newsletter at Mageela Troche

Tell me what is one of your favorite time periods. Where would you escape?

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Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon and the B.

young henry 8

Most people know Henry VIII was married six times. Quite a feat for his time period.  As the saying goes Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived. You might be wondering why am I writing about Henry and his first wife. After all they are not exactly a romantic couple from history. But I believe otherwise (at least for a while) so please read on.

Katherine of aragon

Catherine of Aragon was the daughter of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon. Henry VII needed a powerful alliance since his claim to the throne was from a bastard, servant line. He got Spain’s agree to wed Catherine to Prince Arthur, heir to the English throne.

In 1501, Catherine married Arthur but he died less than after their wedding day. But Henry VII wasn’t willing to send back Catherine so he kept her in England. She developed a bond with the new young heir to the throne—Henry.

In 1509, Prince Henry became the King of England and he married his Spanish bride.  From all accounts, he loved his wife though he was not a faithful husband. During their marriage, Catherine had been pregnant seven times. Most she miscarried but in 1511, she gave birth to a son, Henry, Duke of Cornwall. Guns were fired and the city bells rang. Fifty-two days later, the infant duke died.

Catherine had two more stillbirths until a young princess was born and survived—Mary. More stillbirths followed until she entered menopause. And Anne Boleyn saw her opportunity because the Tudor had a weak claim to the throne and Henry needed a son to rule England.

But if history had been different…if Henry, Duke of Cornwall had survived England and the world would be different.

In my opinion, Henry VIII would have never set aside both Catherine and the Roman Catholic church is his son had survived. He would have had his heir.  Also, I believe that Henry loved Catherine (at least as much as the man possessed the ability to love). He had since childhood. They were married for twenty-two years.

Besides, that Henry entrusted her to rule England while he was away, making her Regent while he battled in France. During that time, the Battle of Flodden was fought where the Scottish king James IV died. Catherine was saddened—according to the letter she sent Henry—that she wanted to send him his body so he had to make due with the Scottish king’s banner. Catherine was the one wife he had that was a true partner to him and if their son had lived…

Anne would have only been a mistress. There would have been no Elizabeth or the age that bears her name. Perhaps, Jane Seymour would have married Henry and Edward would have been born himself. And the rest…

Anne Boleyn

But Anne, she saw her chance and took it. I do not fault her that. She was a smart woman who knew how to play at court politics. I think Anne was lust, a sharp infatuation that had to be satiated. And when Anne couldn’t give him the son she promised and he desired, he rid himself of her.

In the next segment of Henry VIII and his wives, I deal with Jane, Anne and the rest.

 

How Do I Love Thee?

elizabeth-barrett-browningElizabeth Barrett Browning wrote those most famous words that are still whispered when our own words of love fail to be spoken.

I had read those words when I was a young girl who had never been in love and who was more of a tomboy than a young lady. But that one question had me wanting to feel a love like that and to one day have someone love me with such emotion that one simple question poured with that sentiment. Of course, I read the rest of the poem then I read it again. Then I had to learn more about the author named Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Elizabeth Barrett and I shared only two things in life but her story and poems have always stayed with me. Elizabeth was the eldest of twelve children. She was a smart child who read at four and started writing poetry at six years old. At 15, she fell seriously ill and the laudanum prescribe had adverse effects on her health.

In 1838, Elizabeth published her first collection of poems. Her most prolific years were between 1841 and 1844. These poems would change her life.

Her 1844 volume of poems were read by another writer named Robert Browning. Her words stirred him so that he had to write to Elizabeth. Robert wrote, “I love your verses with all my heart, dear Miss Barrett.”

Robert Browning was six years younger than Elizabeth and a poet in his own right as well a playwright. Though he did not have the success Elizabeth had, he had some promise. robert-browning-9228980-1-402

For nearly two years, they communicated through letters, falling in love in the pages until they finally met in May 1845.  Elizabeth couldn’t believe that this strong, worldly man loved her— a woman of frail health and older than himself. Their courtship was carried out in secret since Elizabeth knew her father would disapprove. During the two years of their courtship, Elizabeth wrote the most famous question though they were not yet published.

However, in 1846, Robert and Elizabeth married in a private ceremony at St. Maryleborne. And in September 1846, Robert spirited his wife away to the warmer climate of Italy and many believe that benefitted his bride and prolonged her life.  Mr. Barrett disinherited her as he did all his children who married without his consent. However, Elizabeth kept the Barrett surname as was required of all the children.

Now in Italy, Elizabeth suffered numerous miscarriages but in 1849 she gave birth to a son named Robert Barrett Browning or Pen Browning as he was known. Besides, their child, Elizabeth published Sonnets from the Portuguese.  This book republished her earlier poems and also included the poetry from their courtship. Elizabeth thought them too personal but Robert convinced her to include them and she included Sonnet 43.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for right.

I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.

I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old’s griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints. I love thee with the breadth,

Smiles, tears, of all my life; and if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

In that same year, Elizabeth was a candidate for poet laureate after Wordsworth’s death and was a rival for the position with Tennyson, who would claim it in the end.

On June 29, 1861, the love story ended with Elizabeth’s death in Florence. Robert continued to write but most believe his best years of his writings were years he shared with his wife. Robert died on 12 December 1889.

*Once a month I will be telling the love story of a true historical couple.

 

 

Ten of the Hottest Actors in a Historical

I love♥ nothing more than a handsome man then add talent—*fanning myself* I can swoon. So, here is a list of some HOT, Talented men. This list may be numbered but these men are not arranged in order of their hotness.

10. Jacob Collins-Levy from The White Princess

Jacob Collins Levy

9. Alexander Ludwig from Vikings

Alex Ludwig Viking

8. Francois Arnaud in The Borgias

Francois Arnaud Borgias

 

7. Richard Rankin from Outlander

Richard Rankin Outlander

6. Sam Heughan from Outlander

Samheughan Outlander

5. Toby Stephens from Black Sails

Toby Stephens Black Sails

4. Kit Harington from Gunpowder

Kit Harington Gunpowder

3. George Blagden from Versailles

George Blagden Versailles

2. Jason Momoa from Frontier

Jason Momoa Frontier

1. Tom Cullen from Knightfall

tom cullen shirtless knightfall

Sign up for my Newsletter just by commenting so you can receive my free Regency Read Reforming the Rake when the romance short story is nice and polished for your pleasure.

10 Romance Novels To Read

If you are anything like me, your TBR pile is as tall as the Statue of Liberty and much like the lady, you have a book in your hand too. But that doesn’t stop me from purchasing new books.
This is the list of the books (kindle e-books) that are on my list. They are in no particular order though the books are numbered.

  1. Brides of The Border by Kathryn LeVeque

    Brides of the border

2. War of the Roses Brides by Ruth Kaufman

Wars of the Roses Bride

 

3.  The Thief’s Countess By Cecelia Mecca

The Thief's Countess

 

4. The Silent Duke by Jess Michaels

Silent duke

 

5. It’s Hard Out Here for a Duke by Maya Rodale

It's hard out here for a duke

 

6. A Wager Worth Making by Rebecca Connolly

A wager worth making

7. The British Knight by Louise Bay

The British Knight

 

8. Saving Scarlett by Emily Bishop

Saving Scarlett

9. Secret Daddy by Kira Blakely

SEcret Daddy

10. A Cowboy for Christmas

A Cowboy for Christmas Ebook Cover

Tell me if you have a book that I should add to my TBR pile. I should be writing my next Highlander romance but that doesn’t mean I can’t escape with a good book too. Happy holidays!

A Golden Scotland

With the release of my novel The Marriage Alliance happening on Tuesday, August 15, I think this is the time to share some historical facts of my romance novel’s setting. The Marriage Alliance is set in 1256 Scotland. This era is a time when all seemed bright for the nation. No one knew that darkness would swoop in and cast the nation in a war.

In 1249, seven-year-old Alexander’s father died. Many sons lost their parents however, this boy was not another farmer. He was the Prince of Scotland. In July, Alexander sat upon the Stone of Scone and became the King of Scots. Some historians consider this period in Scottish history as the Golden Age. There was relative peace in the nation (though it was the Middle Ages so it wasn’t exactly peaceful) and the throne was secure.

At this time, England and Scotland enjoyed a close bond because of the relationships between the nobles of both nations. Many Scottish nobles possessed estates in England including the King of Scotland. To keep this ties knotted, Alexander married the daughter of the English king, Henry III. In December 1251, Alexander traveled to York to be knighted and celebrate his marriage to Margaret.

Henry III asked Alexander to do homage. But the young king understood the politics at play and replied, “I had come to marry not to answer so difficult a question.” Thankfully, this young king had loyal nobles in his government so he was able to reach his majority without a grab for his crown. The king had plans to grab some land–some islands off the coast of Scotland.

Alexander became the leader of a nation that was smaller than the Scotland we now know. At this time, the Hebrides, Shetland, and Orkney islands fell under Norwegian rule. To fulfill his father’s dream, Alexander first tried diplomacy to win the isles yet that failed. So in October 1263, the Battle of Largs happened.

The Battle of Largs is not considered a proper battle, more a series of skirmishes that occurred on the beaches of Largs.  The King of Norway and his fleet sailed to the western coast of Scotland. The Scots were helped by a gale that crushed the Norwegian fleet. The King of Norway failed to secure the isles and soon sickened and died. After this, the Hebrides became part of Scotland.

By 1275, the Queen of Scotland Margaret and sister to Edward I of England (also known as Longshanks and the Hammer of the Scots) died. Margaret was much loved and has a religious following in the nation. Now a widow, Alexander had no reason to marry again. He had three children, an heir, spare, and a daughter who was married. Soon, death came for them all. David, the youngest son, died first then his daughter died in childbirth though her daughter (known in history as Maid of Norway) survived. Then on the 17 January 1284, his heir and namesake perished.

With all three children lost, the king had to marry again. He was still a young man so the nobles were not worried that more children would one day come.  He married Yolande, Comtesse de Montford, daughter of Robert, Comte de Dreux.

Five months after their marriage, the king was in Edinburgh to meet with his council. While he was in the royal burgh, the weather took a turn for the worst. That did not stop the king from setting out to the royal castle named Kinghorn located in Fife.

Though the storm was a northerly gale with heavy snow and led to a very dark night. He was able to sail across the Firth of Forth. The men in his party begged him to stay the night instead of continuing in his travels. He continued onward.

In the darkness, somehow the King of Scotland fell to his death. His body was found at the foot of the hill the next morn. The spot is now called the King’s Crag. He was 36 years old.

His wife was pregnant but she soon miscarried and the Maid of Norway died on the crossing to Scotland. The Wars of Independence would soon rage.  If Alexander had rested his head instead jumped into his saddle then Scottish and world history would have changed.