Despite the fact that I have published more contemporary works than historical (to date), I still think of myself as an author of historical romance. I’ve always loved history, loved reading about different time periods when things were done just a bit differently (or a lot!).
I may say that I love one time period more than another, but to date, I have written novels set in the medieval, Georgian, and Victorian periods. I have detailed outlines for several set in the Regency period also. I am waiting for inspiration to write a Civil War era romance, a Renaissance tale, and one set in the Wild West.
All of these periods have fascinated me at one time or another. I was a history major in undergraduate school (no shock there I’m sure), and my love for historical research has stood me in good stead for the past three years.
If you had to pin me down, I would probably say that my favorite historical period is the medieval period. Especially for romance. The Middle Ages were a time of societal upheaval—life was harsh, even for the nobility. But the strict mores of the time brought forth the ideals of courtly love and the romance of the knight in shining armor flourished.
Courtly love is not exactly what many people believe it to be. One of the more interesting “rules” was that the knight did not fall in love with his own wife, but with some other woman. Marriage for the nobility during the Middle Ages–and well into the 19th century—was a business arrangement. If you were lucky in your spouse you got along well and became partners. But for love, men were expected to look elsewhere (women might look elsewhere, but consequences were dreadful if they were caught). This “other” lady became the knight’s “ideal woman” who was the epitome of all the attributes of womanhood.
The idea of “courtly love” was codified in a 12th century manuscript by a priest (that’s right, a priest!), Andreas Capellanus, who wrote “The Art of Courtly Love” as a guide for a friend. Follow the link to find out more than you probably ever wanted to know about this time period’s ways of expressing love. It includes a list of 31 “rules” for a love relationship between people of the noble classes. I’ve listed a few of the more interesting ones below.
1. Marriage is no real excuse for not loving.
2. He who is not jealous cannot love.
3. When made public, love rarely endures.
4. The easy attainment of love makes it of little value; difficulty of attainment makes it prized.
5. Every lover regularly turns pale in the presence of his beloved.
6. When a lover suddenly catches sight of his beloved his heart palpitates.
7. A new love puts to flight an old one.
8. It is not proper to love any woman whom one should be ashamed to seek to marry.
9. If love diminishes, it quickly fails and rarely revives.
10. A man in love is always apprehensive.
My medieval romance trilogy, Time Enough to Love, is actually set in the High Middle Ages, in the 14th century and close to the time of the Renaissance. My hero and heroine are part of an arranged marriage and the idea of courtly love comes in to play, but is turned inside out so to speak. My couple has wonderfully diabolical problems! I’m very excited because in May I will begin work on revisions of this work—my very first novel—and plan to self-publish all three volumes of the trilogy by the end of the summer!
So if I could be any “when,” I’d be there with Alyse de Courcy, Sir Geoffrey Longford, and Thomas Knowlton, Earl of Brayton as they navigate the stormy waters of medieval times. I’ll be bringing you more news of them as revisions commence in mid-May. But first I’ll whet your appetite with an excerpt from the beginning of Book 1: Betrothal. The time is June 1348, the place London, England at the court of King Edward III.
Excerpt from Time Enough to Love: Betrothal
Where is he?
Lady Alyse de Courcy walked with studied grace into the Great Hall, her face carefully composed into pleasant lines, hoping to mask her inner turmoil. He would be at dinner. Her stomach fluttered at the thought, her whole body racked with a sudden trembling anticipation of seeing him again. She nodded and smiled at Lady Brisbane. Where is he? Her gaze darted up and down the hall, searching in vain. Is he not coming?
Despite her distraction, Alyse managed to maintain the proper distance behind Princess Joanna as they headed toward the royal dais. As they neared his usual table, Alyse craned her neck, hungrily searching the groups of nobles dressed in their finest. He was not there. Her heart gave a funny little skip, and she tugged at her bottom lip. She had waited all day for this one chance, and he was not here.
The Princess continued to her accustomed place with the royal family while Alyse turned toward the trestle tables set up on the left side of the hall for the attendants. She joined Lady Maurya Wakefield and her husband Sir John at the table closest to the dais, all the while busily scanning the courtiers.
“Your father has still not sent word?”
A sharp poke on her arm made Alyse jump. “Oh, no, Maurya, he has not given me the merest hint.” Alyse‘s tone voiced her pique at her father’s lack of communication on such a vital matter. In April Etienne de Courcy had sent his eldest daughter to King Edward’s court with the knowledge that he was negotiating with several prominent families regarding her marriage. To Alyse’s dismay, however, he refused to tell her which eligible men he was considering. At the moment, however, her betrothal was not on her mind.
Alyse scrutinized a new courtier who entered the hall, then shook her head and leaned towards her fellow waiting gentlewoman. “My only hope is that my father’s interests and mine are similar.” Pray God they are exactly the same. She strained in the uncertain light to catch sight of the man whose mere presence incited her heart to riot.
Lady Maurya gave a sharp laugh and glanced towards her own husband. “As most women can attest, Alyse, fathers’ interests are seldom the same as their daughters’.
“Aye, Maurya.” The thought did little to comfort her. “I only hope I am able to accept my father’s choice with fortitude should he not choose. . . ..” Alyse stopped abruptly before the name could escape her lips, her face heating like a flame. She took a sip of ale to cover yet another blunder then glanced surreptitiously at Maurya, who wore a smug smile.
“You might as well say the name, Alyse. Everyone knows you favor Lord Brayton.”
“I. . .I do not. . . He is not. . .” Stuttering and humiliated, Alyse closed her eyes and silently cursed to think her secret passion for Thomas Knowlton, the Earl of Brayton was common knowledge. She cringed at the realization that Lord Brayton himself might know of her regard.
If you are a history buff, which ”when” would you like to visit (or live in)? I’d love to hear your comments.