A Conqueror and His Queen: A Medieval Romance

History remembers him as William the Conqueror, the first Norman King of England and the creator of the Doomsday Book. But before he defeated King Harold of England, he was known as William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy. 

William the Conqueror

In 1051 or 1052, William married Matilda of Flanders. Matilda was the niece and granddaughter of Kings of France. Viewing their status through that lens, Matilda certainly married down.

Matilda was considered beautiful and wealthy.  And not as short as we learn. She stood 5 feet tall, the average height for her time and William was 5’10 not the giant proclaimed.

Now the story of their courting. William sent his representative to ask for her hand in marriage and she turned him down. William not satisfied with that. William rode from Normandy to Bruges and found her riding to church. He tackled her in the street, pulling her off her horse by her long braids. He threw her in the street, beat her and then rode off. After that, she agreed to marry him. 

Matilda of Flanders

Some people say the story is true others say that it is not. I guess it depends on who you read.  In 1053, William and Matilda married even though Pope Leo IX banned it on the grounds of consanguinity (being closely related). Luckily for their children, in 1059, the royal couple received a Papal dispensation by Pope Nicholas II.

And William and Matilda would have children–10 to be exact who all would live into adulthood. A great feat at a time when children died. 

In 1066, William would transform from the bastard to the conqueror when Edward the Confessor (King of England) died without issue. So, William prepared to invade the isle nation since he was a cousin to Edward and stated that Edward promised his throne. Matilda outfitted a ship named Mora with her own funds. While William went off to England, Matilda was regent of Normandy for her young son, Robert II.

In 1066, William won the Battle of Hastings but not all in England was peaceful. The Danes were fighting in the North for control and there were rebellions from the local nobility and people. Historians put the number of dead at 100,000. That is a large number when one thinks about how much smaller the population was. 

Now the King of England, Matilda had to be crowned. On May 11, 1068, she became the Queen of England. But she was still in Normandy. It would take more than a year for her to visit her new nation.  Only one child was born in their new realm–Henry I who would become one of the two English kings this union produced.

In the summer of 1083, Matilda became ill and died on the 2 of November 1083. Four years later, William followed on September 9, 1087. Both are buried in France. 

England now a great amount of Williams. But history never recorded William having bastards. This couple changed Europe and the world and this is just some of their historical romance. 

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An Outlaw King and His Queen

*Since I write Scottish Romance novels, I naturally had to write about Robert the Bruce and his second wife, Elizabeth de Burgh. More so after I watched Outlaw King on Netflix. In truth, I didn’t like it and my love for Chris Pine couldn’t even save it. I felt that the flick only touched on the man who became King of Scots. 

No matter the movie, Robert the Bruce captured my interest years ago. I even included a Bruce relation in my upcoming Scottish historical romance novella The Chieftain’s Secret and now is the time I can write about this historical couple. 

Robert the Bruce or Robert de Brus was of Anglo-Norman and Gaelic nobility as well as the Earl of Carrick. He was the fourth great-grandson of David I, King of Scotland. As the saying goes, his blood ran blue. Through this line, he had a claim to the Scottish throne after the death of Alexander III. He wasn’t the only one though. 

The Scottish nobility and Edward I of England bestowed the Scottish crown on the head of John Balliol though he wouldn’t remain king for long. Robert had been married before to Isabella of Mar who died birthing their daughter, Majorie Bruce. 

During William Wallace and Andrew Moray’s battle against Edward I, Robert was among those that battled the English for Scottish Independence. In September 1298, when William Wallace resigned as Guardian of Scotland, Robert the Bruce as well as John Comyn, Lord of Badenoch another claimant to the Scottish throne as well as William Lamberton, Bishop of St. Andrews were appointed to that rank.

Bruce wouldn’t hold the position for long. He resigned in 1300. It seems that he and Comyn couldn’t get beyond their differences or most likely dislike of each other.  

By 1302, Robert and his family made “peace” with Edward I as they were rumors that John Balliol would reclaim the Scottish throne.  It was also this year when he would wed his second wife—Elizabeth de Burgh. 

Elizabeth de Burgh was born in 1284 in Ireland and was the daughter of one of the most powerful Irish nobles—the 2nd Earl of Ulster, Richard de Burgh and his wife Margarite de Burgh. Much is not know about her life but she was about eighteen and Robert twenty-eight when they wed. 

Most likely their marriage was not a love match but one of politics. Robert’s father was an ally and friend to Edward I as well as Elizabeth’s own father. The marriage was most likely also arranged to help Edward retain an ally in Scotland. Don’t think that peace existed between Scotland and England during these times. There was still unrest and bloodshed and much distrust on both sides. 

Four years after their marriage, Robert slain John Comyn in the Chapel of Greyfriars Monastery in Dumfries. Now Bruce was excommunicated for his crime. However, he was given absolution from the Bishop of Glasgow. Now, Bruce claimed the crown of Scotland. 

On the 25 of March 1306, Robert the Bruce had the Scottish crown placed on his head. Elizabeth became his queen consort. But this couple couldn’t have a quiet time, there were still English to be fought and banished from Scottish lands. 

In June of 1306, Bruce was defeated at the Battle of Methven. Robert placed his wife, his sisters and his daughter’s protection to his brother Niall Bruce who journeyed to Kildrummy Castle. Robert fled and went into hiding. 

At Kildrummy, the English laid siege. The Bruce ladies escaped while every man including Niall Bruce was hanged. Elizabeth along with the others took protection at St. Duthac at Tain. But the Earl of Ross imprisoned them and informed Edward. 

Elizabeth was imprisoned in harsh conditions in England. She was moved from castle to castle. 

Meanwhile, Bruce was waging war against the English. It would take eight years for Elizabeth and Robert to be reunited. During this time, Edward I died and his son Edward II became King of England. 

Bruce waged war and on the 24 of June 1314, the Battle of Bannockburn was fought. The Scottish and Bruce won their independence.

In November of that year, Elizabeth was finally reunited with her husband in a prisoner exchange. 

Elizabeth and Bruce would have four children together—Matilda, Margaret, David II of Scotland and John of Scotland. All their children but John (died in infancy) grew to adulthood. 

How their relationship was? I imagine that they grew to have tenderness and perhaps love. Elizabeth withstood eight years of harsh imprisonment. Robert must have known that and had a respect for her at the very least. 

At around forty-three years of age, Elizabeth died on 27 October 1327 at Cullen, Banffshire. She was buried at Dunfermline Abbey. 

Eighteen months later, Robert followed his queen to the afterlife at the age of fifty-five. 

*This post was meant to upload in early November but I got sick so it’s late. 

 

 

 

 

 

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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I could just eat it up. A Romance writer’s snack.

When I was a toddler in Hawaii, my Godsister Bonnie would feed me M&Ms.  I would put handfuls in my mouth and just let the chocolate melt until it ran from the sides of my mouth. My love affair with snacks started when I was very young.

I still love my M&Ms but I have transferred my preference to the peanut ones. I don’t buy them anymore because I will eat the whole bag in one go and that isn’t good for the hips and belly.

But that doesn’t mean that whenever I see the yellow bag that my heart doesn’t soar and I feel quite giddy that I can’t stop myself from smiling. Sometimes, I just touch the bag to get a little thrill.

1314582.1813268
Me as an M&M when my hair was blonde.

My family knows that I will go crazy for them and do not buy them. But with the birth of my grandnephew, that changed. He loves them and of course, I cannot steal candy for a four-year-old boy. That is just sinful. But my little man is a sweet boy and shares them with me but not the red ones because that is his favorite color.

But I don’t mind. I put them in my mouth and let them melt and I am in heaven.

Now it’s your turn. Share your favorite snack and why?

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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.

 

Release Day

Today is the day. Claiming the Highlander has hit the virtual shelves. Claiming the Highlander is the love story of Caelan and Brenna. You first met Caelan in The Marriage Alliance.  He is a man of few words and now we get to learn about his life. Historical Romance 03:06:18 Claiming The Highlander_Cover Art

So get your copy now at Amazon 

 

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.

 

 

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!

The Jane Austen Novel that Matters

July 18, 2017 is the bicentennial anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. I have read her books, seen the movies and read her letters. She has inspired me to write Regency and learn about the royal navy and even imagine strolling the streets of Bath. I have numerous copies of her novels.

But there is one book that twists my heart with a mere mention of its title and that is Persuasion. Jane’s last novel, which was published after her death in December 1817.

Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen for two reasons. The first reason I love this book is its theme–a second chance at love and the second reason is the dishy, perfect hero Captain Fredrick Wentworth.

No doubt, you must have read the novel (if you are reading this, it is likely that you are a Jane Austen fan) so I will not go into the plot. With Fredrick’s return and Anne’s family’s fortunes dwindling, both Anne and Fredrick now have a chance for second love. Their love has never died after a denial and eight long years. As I read Jane’s words, I cannot stop from imagining Fredrick out at sea, heartbroken and carrying that pain. And when he returns he is now a man of fortune and gets the chance to show Anne what she denied.

We all have wanted to do that and some have had the chance to do it. And Fredrick does what many have done and acted as if he is not pained by the sight of her. Though, he is unaware that she too had been tormented by what could have been.

Captain Wentworth leaving Anne the love letter.

When Fredrick learns Anne still loves him, he takes his chance. And oh, the way he declares it, tears fill my eyes and my throat closes up and my bottom lip shakes.

I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone I think and plan–Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes?–I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice, when they would be lost on others.–Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating in 

F.W.

I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening, or never. 

Reading this novel, I feel the love between Fredrick and Anne as well as the longing. These emotions seep from the ink and soak into my skin and fill me. I can’t stop myself and must always hug it to my heart.

Then I can’t help but wonder–As Jane neared death, did she yearn for a second chance at love? She must have. We all do.

 

 

 

Love Letters

Chocolates taste great. Roses smell wonderful. But a love letter—oh! A love letter is a true gift and beautiful expression of love. We all wish to receive one and when you get them they will stay with you forever. I still have mine though I no longer have the man in my life.

So to celebrate Valentine’s day, here are three love letters from history.

Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn

In debating with myself the contents of your letters I have been put to a great agony; not knowing how to understand them, whether to my disadvantage as shown in some places, or to my advantage as in others. I beseech you now with all my heart definitely to let me know your whole mind as to the love between us; for necessity compels me to plague you for a reply, having been for more than a year now struck by the dart of love, and being uncertain either of failure or of finding a place in your heart and affection, which point has certainly kept me for some time from naming you my mistress, since if you only love me with an ordinary love the name is not appropriate to you, seeing that it stands for an uncommon position very remote from the ordinary; but if it pleases you to do the duty of a true, loyal mistress and friend, and to give yourself body and heart to me, who have been, and will be, your loyal servant (if your rigour does not forbid me), I promise you that not only the name will be due to you, but also to take you as my sole mistress, casting off all others than yourself out of mind and affection, and to serve you only; begging you to make me a complete reply to this my rude letter as to how far and in what I can trust; and if it does not please you to reply in writing, to let me know if some place where I can have it by word of mouth, the which place I will seek out with al my heart. No more for fear of wearying you. Written by the hand of him who would willingly remain your

HR

 

John Keats to Fanny Brawne

My sweet Girl,

I am living to day in yesterday: I was in complete fascination all day. I feel myself at your mercy. Write me ever so few lines and tell you (for me) you will never for ever be less kind to me than yesterday—. You dazzled me.There is nothing in the world so bright and delicate. When Brown came out with that seemingly true story against me last night, I felt it would be death to me if you had ever believed it – thought against any one else I could muster up my obstinacy. Before I knew Brown could disprove it was for the moment miserable. When shall we pass a day alone? I have had a thousand kisses, for which with my whole soul I thank love–but if you should deny me the thousand and first- ‘twould put me to the proof how a great misery I could live through. If you should every carry your threat yesterday into execution–believe me ’tis not my pride, my vanity or any petty passion would torment me–really ‘twould hurt my heart–I could not bear it. I have seen Mrs. Dilke this morning; she says she will come with me any fine day.

Ever yours

John Keats

Ah hertè mine!

 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning To Robert Browning

My Own Beloved, if ever you should have reason to complain of me in things voluntary and possible, all other women would have a right to tread me underfoot, I should be so vile and utterly unworthy. There is my answer to what you write yesterday of wishing to be better to me…you! What could be better than lifting me from the ground and carrying me into life and the sunshine? I was yours rather by right than by gift (yet by gift also, my beloved!); for what you have saved and renewed is surely yours. All that I am, I owe you– if I enjoy anything now and henceforth, it is through you. You know this well. Even as I, from the beginning, knew that I had no power against you…or that, I had it was for your sake.

Dearest, in the emotion and confusion of yesterday morning, there was yet room in me for one thought which was not a feeling – for I thought that, of the many, many women who have stood where I stood, and to the same end, not one of them all perhaps, not one perhaps, since that building was a church, has had reasons strong as mine, for an absolute trust and devotion towards the man she married, –not one! And then I both thought and felt, that it was only just, for them…those women who were less happy…to have the affectionate sympathy and support and presence of their nearest relations, parent or sister…which failed to me,…needing it less through being happier!