Medieval Passion, Arthurian Obsession & Courtly Love with Jessica Cale

Today Author Jessica Cale talks with me about her collaboration on Sexuality and its Impact on British History, about her Medieval passion, Arthurian obsession and her fascination with courtly love. -Stephanie M. Hopkins

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When Hunter S. Jones asked me to be a contributor to Sexuality and its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare, I was thrilled. This was the kind of opportunity I always dreamt of when I was a kid. (Yes, I was a weird kid.) When everyone else wanted to be doctors, astronauts, and entertainers, I was at home watching History’s Mysteries and wanting to be Leonard Nimoy. Everyone else knew him as Spock, but to me he was the host of my favorite show on the History Channel.

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Behold, the Corn Palace

From there, things progressed as you might imagine. Medieval history was my passion, and I decided to go to school for it. Growing up in Minnesota, the closest castle was the Corn Palace, so I knew if I wanted to study the Middle Ages properly, I was going to have to get on a plane. Fortunately, I was accepted to my first choice school–Swansea University in Wales. As far as I’m concerned, there is no better place to study British medieval history than Wales. With more castles per square mile than anywhere else on earth, it was my idea of heaven.

My first degree went so by so fast I barely felt it. I was fortunate to have a lot of great teachers, in particular the late Ifor Rowlands, who supervised my undergraduate thesis. It was Ifor who suggested a way for me to combine my love of Arthurian literature with the history behind it: I would compare the stories with the Life of William Marshal.

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William Marshal’s coat of arms as Earl of Pembroke. Look familiar?

Even during his lifetime, William Marshal was widely regarded as the greatest knight in the world. His life had a lot of interesting parallels to the Lancelot of legend, and in my thesis, I made the argument that the depictions of Lancelot coming out of Marie de Champagne’s court (most notably that from Chrétien de Troyes) were directly inspired by Marshal himself. He was a rock star of the High Middle Ages–handsome, noble, and his prowess was second to none. He was the tutor and companion to Henry the Young King, the eldest son of Henry II, and was rumored to have had an affair with Henry’s wife, Margaret of France. Whether or not he did, no one’s sure, but it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine the hottest gossip of the day popping up in the stories told around court.

Marie de Champagne’s court is best remembered as the unofficial birthplace of the idea of courtly love. At the very least, it is where Andreas Capellanus wrote De Amore, or The Art of Courtly Love, the entertaining, often bonkers, and nevertheless revealing treatise on the ideal and practice of courtly love in the Middle Ages.

In The Art of Courtly Love, Capellanus lays out a number of rules for being in love. Some of them are common practice, but other have changed some over the years. For example, Capellanus argues that jealousy is a good thing and that love cannot and should not exist within marriage.

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A photo I took at Pembroke Castle, William Marshal’s residence as Earl of Pembroke

As an Arthurian obsessive and a Historical Romance author, I have always been fascinated by the idea of courtly love, so when Hunter asked if I would like to be involved with her book, I jumped at the chance to examine it further. One thing that struck me as particularly interesting was the discovery that in spite of common belief and even Capellanus’s recommendations, people did marry for love.

In fact, according to Gratian, you couldn’t be married without it. Three things were required to make a marriage: love, sex, and consent. That’s right–consent. Although forced medieval marriages is a popular trope in historical dramas, in practice, the Church viewed consent as a crucial component of any marriage. Yes, people could feel pressured to marry by parents or just circumstance, but that was the exception rather than the rule. The Church frowned on marriages made only for material gain. Procreation was not the only purpose of marriage, and people also married for love and companionship as they do today.

Love in the Middle Ages was not so very different than it is now, and is it any wonder? While the world changes, human nature does not, and we have a lot more in common with our medieval ancestors than you might guess. I cover a lot of ground in my chapter from common law marriages and annulments to sex, homosexuality, and contraception. Did you know that most of the medieval churches in London were built with the profits of prostitution? True story. It was tolerated and licensed by the Church. Surprise! Along with facts like that, I found recipes for herbal abortifacients, sex magic practices involving fish (what?), a gay king (it’s not the one you’re thinking of), and transgender individuals more or less accepted in society. The more you look into it, the more you find that the Middle Ages weren’t as “medieval” as we’ve been told.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading all about it with me in my chapter in Sexuality and its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare.

Jessica ColeJessica Cale is a historian, editor, and Historical Romance author. Originally from Minnesota, she earned her B.A. (Hons) in Medieval History and MFA in Creative Writing from Swansea University while climbing castles and photographing mines for history magazines. She is the editor of Dirty, Sexy History and you can visit her website .

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1 + 2018 Sexuality in History Brits Stripped BareSexuality and its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare

Would you swig a magic potion or plot to kill your husband in order to marry your lover? These are just two of the many romantic and sexual customs from British history that you will explore as seven authors take us through the centuries, revealing that truth is stranger than fiction when it comes to love. From bizarre trivia about courtly love, to techniques and prostitution, you’ll encounter memorable nuggets of provocative information that you’ll want to share.

It’s all here: ménage a trois, chastity belts, Tudor fallacies, royal love and infidelity, marriage contracts (which were more like business arrangements), brothels, kept women, and whorehouses. Take a peek at what really happened between the sheets. Each story provides you with shocking detail about what was at the heart of romance throughout British history.

Sexuality and Its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare chronicles the pleasures and perils of the flesh, sharing secrets from the days of the Anglo-Saxons, medieval courtly love traditions, diabolical Tudor escapades—including those of Anne Boleyn and Mary Queen of Scots—the Regency, and down to the ‘prudish’ Victorian Era. This scholarly yet accessible study brings to light the myriad varieties of British sexual mores.

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Cover Crush: The Glass Forest by Cynthia Swanson

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I am not a cover designer but I can agree that cover layouts play an important role in the overall presentation of stories and I must admit, often times I first judge a book by its cover.

About the Book:

The Glass ForestHardcover, 352 pages

Published February 6th 2018 by Touchstone

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Booksellercomes a gripping literary suspense novel set in the 1960s about a deeply troubled family and three women who will reveal its dark truths.

In the autumn of 1960, Angie Glass is living an idyllic life in her Wisconsin hometown. At twenty-one, she’s married to charming, handsome Paul, and has just given birth to a baby boy. But one phone call changes her life forever.

When Paul’s niece, Ruby, reports that her father, Henry, has committed suicide, and that her mother, Silja, is missing, Angie and Paul drop everything and fly to the small upstate town of Stonekill, New York to be by Ruby’s side.

Angie thinks they’re coming to the rescue of Paul’s grief-stricken young niece, but Ruby is a composed and enigmatic seventeen-year-old who resists Angie’s attempts to nurture her. As Angie learns more about the complicated Glass family, staying in Henry and Silja’s eerie and ultra-modern house on the edge of the woods, she begins to question the very fabric of her own marriage.

Through Silja’s flashbacks, Angie’s discovery of astonishing truths, and Ruby’s strategic dissection of her parents’ state of affairs, a story of love, secrets, and ultimate betrayal is revealed.

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated with Erin at Flashlight Commentary.

My thoughts:

The premise mentions about a Glass Family and a house at the edge of the woods. I would say the cover is relevant to the story and this is the main reason why I chose this cover for my weekly cover crush. There is also the fact that I love images of trees and woods. I’m adding this one to my to-read list and I look forward to seeing if the story is as eerie as the book description makes it out to be.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Other great cover crushes from my fellow book bloggers: 

Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Colleen at A Literary Vacation
Heather at The Maiden’s Court
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired
Meghan at Of Quills & Vellum

 

New Book Alert! The Renewal by Mike Torreano

Congratulations to Mike Torreano for his new book release, The Renewal!

The Renewal By Mike TorreanoAbout the book:

Ike McAlister has finally put the ghosts of his past to rest. He’s found new joy with a spirited wife, a young daughter, and a mountain valley ranch where a man can make something of himself. But a coming railroad through the South Park valley threatens to take his land and tear his hard-won peace apart. Discovering that the railroad could easily bypass his ranch, he organizes opposition and earns the animus of the formidable foreman. When Ike’s brother Rob, the sheriff, is bushwhacked, Ike sets out on a high stakes quest to get the killer before the killer gets him.

To learn more about Mike’s story check out my Layered Pages interview with Mike Torreano HERE

About the Author:

Mike T

Mike Torreano has a military background and is a student of history and the American West.

His western mystery, The Reckoning, was released September 2016 by The Wild Rose Press and the sequel, The Renewal, is due to be released soon. He’s working on the next western now and he also has a coming-of-age Civil War novel looking for a publisher.

Mike’s written for magazines and newspapers. An experienced editor, he’s taught University English and Journalism. He’s a member of the Historical Novel Society, Pikes Peak Writers, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Western Writers of America and several other western writing groups. He brings his readers back in time with him as he recreates life in 19th century America.

Author Website

The Renewal is available on Amazon

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Novel Expressions Blog Tours

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If you are a Jane Austen fic Fan and have a blog, please get in contact with me! Thanks! My email: novelexpressions1@yahoo.com

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Novel Expressions Blog Tours

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Cover Reveal: The Case of the Boarding House Murder by Norton Upson

The Case of the Boarding House Murder (An Upson PI Mystery Book 1) Kindle EditionProving someone innocent of killing a boarding house tenant was easy. Case solved. Time to move onto the next one. Or so we thought.

What Maggie and I didn’t count on, digging into a four-year-old federal trial. What made this one so interesting, for me at least, my father had been the prosecutor. When all his personal papers disappeared, we had to rely on the trial transcript. Except, we aren’t the only ones who wanted the testimony.

During the course of our investigation, Maggie and I discover the witnesses had been murdered even though the police reports had said otherwise. But, that’s not the worst. The body count will continue to rise if certain individuals aren’t stopped. But how? That we didn’t know.

Then, we uncover the secret these people are keeping. If they succeed their plan will have worldwide implications. Finally, the break we’d been looking for.

Where the money is coming from?

Can Maggie and I stop this global disaster from happening before we are murdered?

For Pre-order, go to Amazon

Biography

Norton Upson

Life’s full of hiccups on the road of life and I had my fair share.

Growing up I also knew what I wanted to be. A Special Agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. To start accomplishing my goal, while at UCLA besides my regular classes and ROTC I took several pre-law classes. My plan had been to do my military service then go to law school.

Then, the first hiccup came along. I was assigned to an Army intelligence group. From the very beginning I became hooked on the detailed work involved. Guess I must have gotten that from my dad who had been a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles. Anyways, instead of serving four years then go into the reserves I decided to stay in the Army.

Then, my second hiccup. July 7, 1937. I had been assigned to the embassy in China. When I was walking near the Marco Polo Bridge fighting broke out between Chinese and Japanese soldiers. I was shot in the leg and ended up getting discharged. With my injury becoming an FBI agent was out so I took what I learned in the Army and opened Upson Detective Agency.

Finally a great hiccup. I was walking down Rodeo Drive when I saw a familiar face. Maggie Neilson, my girlfriend from high school, walked back into my life.

To find out more about Maggie and myself you’ll have to read the Upson PI Mystery books as we solve some of the most baffling cases ever to cross a private detective’s blotter.
In conclusion, everything I’ve written about me is fiction. Or is it? You decide.

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Layered Pages interview with Norton Upson coming March 2nd.

It’s Monday Again…

This weekend was pretty uneventful. I stayed home and read. worked on some art projects, blog posts, website content and watched movies. One needs those kind-of weekends sometimes, you know? Today I am sharing some pictures from my weekend. I’m still reading, Gradle Bird by J.C. Sassen and I will be through with it soon.

I love journals. I started back with it recently and I have such a busy schedule right now it helps keep me grounded.

Journal 11-20-17

I’m in the process of prepping the backgrounds for #christmastags I’ll be using for giveaways at Novel Expressions #Facebook Page in December.

Link to Novel Expressions Page HERE

Christmas Tags Prep 2017

My daughter painted on canvas and when I took this picture, she wouldn’t let me see what she was working on! By the way…. she doesn’t know I took this picture. Ha-ha… Her project turned out great.

Daughter creating 2017 I

I created this tag using Tim Holtz distress inks for the background.  I am so addicted to his products! They are amazing. I do believe the  paper flower is from his product line as well. The picture I took doesn’t do the tag justice but you get the idea…

Tag I Nov 2017

Two weekends ago now at a book event (BOOK EXCHANGE/MARIETTA, GA) I was sitting with author Kimberly Brock and she said she had a friend coming and her name is Emily, do I know her? I said she sounded familiar…. She sat between us and the three of us were having a great time listening to the four southern authors that were being featured at this event. It just now came to me that Emily is the author of The Weight of Lies! I reviewed that book and loved it. Darn it all, I didn’t get a photo with her! Total fan girl here! I am definitely going to include her in my southern writer’s series here at Layered Pages.

The Weight of Lies

Thank you for visiting with me today and be sure to come back this week for more fun posts.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Vintage Art & Historical Fiction

 

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This week’s vintage art collage/card turned out great! I had a lot of fun with this project and reflected on its meaning for my life and the lives of others. The month of November is one of my favorite times of the year and this piece shows much of my creative side. Many of you will recognize the mix-media I used for this craft. Among the supplies are Tim Holtz products and The Paper Studio. The background is heavy card stock and pattern paper I punched out into small squares. As you can see, I used layers and added metal and brads.

By Gaslight

I’m not sure I will have time for art this weekend. I have several social functions to attend to and I want to get a little bit more through, By Gaslight by Seven Price. This story has over seven hundred pages! Ahem, that is a lot of pages for someone who has a backlog of reviews a mile long and has a millions other things going on.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and thank you for visiting Layered Pages this week.

Stephanie M. Hopkins