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.

corn palace

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.

coat of arms

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.

real castle

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 .

Links:

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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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Book Spotlight: Sugar The World Corrupted: From Slavery to Obesity James Walvin

SugarSugar

The World Corrupted: From Slavery to Obesity James Walvin

The modern successor to Sweetness and Power, James Walvin’s Sugar is a rich and engaging work on a topic that continues to change our world.

How did a simple commodity, once the prized monopoly of kings and princes, become an essential ingredient in the lives of millions, before mutating yet again into the cause of a global health epidemic? Prior to 1600, sugar was a costly luxury, the domain of the rich. But with the rise of the sugar colonies in the New World over the following century, sugar became cheap, ubiquitous and an everyday necessity. Less than fifty years ago, few people suggested that sugar posed a global health problem.  And yet today, sugar is regularly denounced as a dangerous addiction, on a par with tobacco. While sugar consumption remains higher than ever—in some countries as high as 100lbs per head per year—some advertisements even proudly proclaim that their product contains no sugar. How did sugar grow from prize to pariah? Acclaimed historian James Walvin looks at the history of our collective sweet tooth, beginning with the sugar grown by enslaved people who had been uprooted and shipped vast distances to undertake the grueling labor on plantations.  The combination of sugar and slavery would transform the tastes of the Western world. Masterfully insightful and probing, James Walvin reveals the relationship between society and sweetness over the past two centuries—and how it explains our conflicted relationship with sugar today.

James Walvin is the author of several books on slavery and modern social history. including Crossings and A Jamaican Plantation. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and in 2008 he was awarded an OBE for services to scholarship. He lives in England.

I rate the cover five stars now if I can get my hands on a copy of this book! Everything about the premise interest me! -Stephanie M. Hopkins

Pegasus Books

Research & Writing Historical Fiction

Today Judith Arnopp talks about her research, writing and her collaboration on Sexuality and its Impact on British History with me. Judith’s life-long passion for history eventually led her to the University of Wales where she gained a B.A. in English and Creative Writing, and a Masters in Medieval History. Her first novel, Peaceweaver was published in 2009, quickly followed by two others. Her best-selling Tudor novel, The Winchester Goose lead her to create five more novels covering the lives of Anne Boleyn, Katheryn Parr and Elizabeth of York. The King’s Mother is the third book in The Beaufort Chronicles a trilogy following the fascinating life of Margaret Beaufort. She is researching her eleventh novel. Judith’s non-fiction work has been published in various historical anthologies and she is active online at her website and at Facebook  and Twitter @juditharnopp

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During the course of research for my novel The Kiss of the Concubine: a story of Anne Boleyn I constantly came up against intriguing suggestions of some sort of romantic attachment between Anne and Thomas Wyatt. Historians are divided as to the nature of the relationship and at the time, since it had no part in my novel I wasn’t able to pursue the matter. So, when I was approached by Hunter Jones to write a piece for a forthcoming anthology to be published by pen and Sword books, Sexuality and its Impact on British History, I jumped at the chance.

The project is a collaborative project between authors: Hunter S Jones, Annie Whitehead, Jessica Cale, Gayle Hulme, Dr Beth Lynne and Emma Haddon-Wright and myself, examining how romance and sex has impacted upon history. It looks at relationships from the Anglo Saxon period right through to the Victorian, throwing up some surprising facts and details.

I love researching the Tudors. I love Anne Boleyn and I also love Thomas Wyatt’s poetry so it wasn’t long before I was fully immersed, my study piled high with books and snippets of verse stuck around the room.

Wyatt’s presence in Anne’s social circle and the fact of his arrest at the same time as Smeaton, Norris, Brereton, Rochford and Weston, is often overlooked. It is only Wyatt’s surviving poems that give us pause, make us stop and consider if perhaps he was too close to the queen; perhaps he was the lucky one, the one that got away.

Even if their affection was platonic, they were friends and moved in the same circles for most of their lives. The queen’s companions were also his, he drank with them, laughed with them, jousted with them and later, in May 1536, he watched from his prison in the Bell Tower as they died on the scaffold. He may or may not have deserved to die with them but the experience was riven into his heart and coloured his poetry ever afterwards. It is clear he could not forget.

The bell tower showed me such sight

That in my head sticks day and night.

There did I learn out of a grate,

For all favour, glory, or might,

That yet circa Regna tonat.

Whether he was guilty of adultery with Anne or not, the remainder of Wyatt’s life was difficult; he spent most of his time abroad, involved in intrigue and espionage, leading to capture and ransom by the Spanish. His involvement in the attempted assassination of Reginald Pole led a second spell in the Tower of London. His marriage to Elizabeth Brooke failed and eventually he left her and lived openly with his mistress, Elizabeth Darrell. We all know how Anne died but Wyatt died of virulent fever at the home of his friend Sir John Horsey in Sherborne, at the age of thirty nine.

My chapter on Anne and Wyatt, named These Bloody Days in honour of one of his best poems, took a great deal of time and consideration. One day I’d hold one view, the next I felt differently but the more I read the more I became immersed in the desperate sorrows of that time. My personal life took a back seat and I fell behind with my novel The King’s Mother – Book Three of The Beaufort Chronicles, the life of Margaret Beaufort. I distinctly remember one afternoon sitting on the floor surrounded by books and documents and realising that I just had to stop researching and get something on paper or I was going to miss the deadline. Once I began to write it, things became easier, as I slowly made order out of chaos I began to feel better and when it was time to send it off to the editor, I knew it was going to be all right.

As luck would have it, once Anne and Thomas were out of my head I was able to return to Margaret’s story and met the deadline on that project too. All the authors involved are in a fever of excitement and the book has been received with a great deal of enthusiasm and we are all set to go.

Author Judith Arnopp

 Sexuality and Its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare 

Banner II Final for Sexuality and its imapct on history

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.

Available on Amazon 

History Book Recommendations

History Recommedations

I’m looking for non-fiction and historical fiction titles of the following:

(Note: I’d like the Historical Fiction titles to be as accurate as possible of historic events. This list reads like a history book glossary, I know.)

  1. Stories and historic events that take place in Africa.
  2. Mesopotamia
  3. Events including Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism.
  4. Empire of China
  5. Alexander-Empire-Builder
  6. Ancient Rome and Early Christianity
  7. The Kingdom of Aksum and East African Trade
  8. Hunters and Farmers in the Americas
  9. Byzantium becomes the New Rome
  10. Germanic Kingdom Under Charlemagne
  11. The Age of Chivalry
  12. Church Reform and the Crusades
  13. Trade, Towns, and the Financial Revolution
  14. Mayan Kings and Cites
  15. The Aztecs control over Central Mexico
  16. The Inca
  17. The Ottoman’s Empire
  18. The Columbian Exchange and Global Trade
  19. The Enlightenment of Europe
  20. Age of Democracy and Progress
  21. Peace of Augsburg ends religious wars in Germany 1555.

My Thanks! I appreciate the help.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Image (Public Domain): Peasant Dance, c. 1568, oil on wood, by Pieter Brueghel the Elder

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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Sexuality And Its Impact On History (The British Stripped Bare)

Available for pre-order on Amazon UK and Amazon US

1 + 2018 Sexuality in History Brits Stripped Bare

Previously published at LA.P. it Marketing 

Learn of the scandals and romance that shaped Great Britain. This provocative collection of essays depicts the cultural and societal kinks of the British, from the Anglo-Saxons, Medieval, Tudor, Regency, and Victorian eras. Discover the ménage that changed the course of the Anglo-Saxon throne, go undercover to explore Courtly Love, learn about the business of Tudor and Regency marriages.

Read of a possible dalliance involving Queen Anne Boleyn, and the controversial marriages of Mary, Queen of Scots. Peek into the bedrooms of Victorian prostitutes. Each story provides shocking detail about what was at the heart of romance throughout British history. 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 when 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 info that you’ll want to share with friends and co-workers.

It’s all here: Lady Godiva and Peeping Tom, ménage a trois, chastity belts, Tudor fallacies, royal love and infidelity, marriage contracts (which were more like business arrangements), and 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.

The Impact of Sexuality in 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.

About the Authors

Emma Haddon-Wright is from Plymouth UK and a lover of all things macabre & mysterious. She has a BA (Hons) Medieval to Modern European History. She is devoted to her family, history and is thrilled to be included in Sexuality & Its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare! You can find her on Twitter @RedLunaPixie

 
Annie Whitehead spends her life researching and writing about Anglo-Saxon history; the kingdom of Mercia in particular. She is an editor for English Historical Fiction Authors, the winner of the Historical Writers’ Association/Dorothy Dunnett Award, and is a member of the Royal Historical Society. She’s written three novels set in Mercia, blogs at Casts Light upon the Shadow, and was a previous Independent Author Network Book of the Year Finalist. She is currently writing a history of Mercia to be published in the autumn of 2018. Find Annie online at her website  on Facebook and  Twitter @ALWhitehead63

Jessica Cale is a romance author, editor, and historian based in North Carolina. Originally from Minnesota, she lived in Wales for several years where she earned a B.A. in History and an MFA in Creative Writing while climbing castles and photographing mines for history magazines. She kidnapped (“married”) her very own British prince (close enough) and is enjoying her happily ever after with him in a place where no one understands his accent. She is the editor of Dirty, Sexy History and can be found on Facebook and Twitter @JessicaCale

Maryanne Coleman lives in the English countryside and can be found mainly digging in archives, or her garden. Her passions are King Arthur, Shakespeare and Kit Marlowe. She has many degrees, mainly in English Literature, Tudor History, and Elizabethan Theatre. She isn’t online, so no need to look for her. Although she may often be found at Heathrow Airport waiting on a flight to the French Riviera.
 

Judith Arnopp’s life-long passion for history eventually led her to the University of Wales How I Review Books..Judith Arnopp_swhere she gained a B.A. in English and Creative Writing, and a Masters in Medieval History. Her first novel, Peaceweaver was published in 2009, quickly followed by two others. Her best-selling Tudor novel, The Winchester Goose lead her to create five more novels covering the lives of Anne Boleyn, Katheryn Parr and Elizabeth of York. The King’s Mother is the third book in The Beaufort Chronicles a trilogy following the fascinating life of Margaret Beaufort. She is researching her eleventh novel. Judith’s non-fiction work has been published in various historical anthologies and she is active online at her  website and at Facebook  and Twitter @juditharnopp

Gayle Hulme was born and brought up in Glasgow, Scotland and after many years of soaking up island life in Jersey, Channel Islands she returned to Scotland via historic Warwickshire, England. Back in bonnie Scotland she now enjoys hanging out with husband Paul, son Jamie and two silly, but adorable dogs, Millie and Spot. Weekdays are spent motivating women as a group fitness instructor. She spends weekends travelling the UK investigating dusty corners of historical castles, palaces and museums. Her passions and fascinations are hugely diverse. In the morning she could be reading about her favourite royal heroine Queen Anne Boleyn and by the afternoon she might be at Ibrox Stadium cheering on the Glasgow Rangers FC. By evening she could be away with the fairies or learning about ancient Hawaiian wisdom. Find her HERE

Dr. Beth Lynne is a freelance editor and author. She has a Bachelors in English (SUNY Albany), Masters in Elementary Education, Special Education (LIU/CUNY Queens), Education Administration, and a doctorate in Education Leadership (Rowan University). Originally from New York, Beth worked as a teacher in the New York City Public Schools before moving to New Jersey, where she worked teaching social studies, science, math, and English to a variety of grade levels. She decided to pursue her passion and self-published four books on Amazon. During this time, she discovered her forte was editing. Thus, BZ Hercules, named after her pets at the time, was born! Beth devoted herself to the art of examining the work of others, creating e-books and print books. This venture has been so successful it enabled her to retire from teaching in 2017. Beth currently lives in sunny Florida with her husband, daughter, and several pets. Contact Beth at her  website on Facebook and Twitter @bzhercules1

Hunter S, Jones is passionate about the history of romance, science and music, a.k.a. sex, drugs and rock & roll. She has a popular history blog, and is a historian for Past Preservers Casting. When she isn’t writing, talking or tweeting about kings, queens and rock stars, she’s living the dream in Atlanta, Georgia with her Scottish born husband. Find out more at her website  and follow her on Facebook  and Twitter @HunterS_Jones

 

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Georgia’s Hightower Trail

Me in Summer time 2017Last Monday my daughter and I drove by a Hightower Trial Marker heading towards Roswell on Shallowford. I was captivated by seeing the marker and remembering the history. It is a fascinating one and yet sad at the same time…

Learning about old roads and trails people in our own history used is extraordinary. So much happened along those roads and there were many settlements around them. Who were theses people? How far would they walk? How did they live? What did they experience? These questions always flood my mind and my thirst for learning more intensifies when I see these markers.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Hightower marker II Cropped

Text from website about the Historic marker: “Already a well-established route in the 1700s, the Hightower Trail was a major Indian thoroughfare and part of a network of trails connecting Augusta with the Etowah River area and Alabama. The path crossed the Chattahoochee River at a shallow ford below Roswell, traveled in a west and northwest direction through Fulton County, crossing Willeo Creek to enter Cobb County. It traveled over land later developed as the Mountain Creek subdivision and connected with present-day Shallowford Road near its intersection with McPherson Road. Shallowford then closely follows the original path through East Cobb. Pioneers also followed the ancient trail into the region transforming the footpath into a wagon road, remnants of which were still visible to 20th century residents living here when the area was still rural.”

Website

Hightower (Etowah) Trial – Fulton Co., GA – Ancient Traces and Roads

Thinking Roads