G is for Gracias de Gyvill

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Gracias de Gyvill was the favorite court musician of Prince Pedro of Spain (later known as Pedro the Cruel).  He was sent by the Prince as a gift to his young bride-to-be, Joanna of England, Edward III’s second daughter, to amuse her and entertain her with songs of her future home on her way to Spain.

Not much else is known of Gracias.  It is supposed that he died of the plague that swept through France in 1348.  His grave site is unknown, his body never recovered because the royal château and docks were set on fire in order to stem the tide of the plague.

Almost every source cites this exact message, of Prince Pedro’s gift to Princess Joanna.  The main exception to this rule is a novel entitled Gracias, written by Susan Wetherall, in the first person in Gracias’s POV.  In this tale, he and the princess have a lover’s tryst.

A similar situation occurs in “In the Wake of King Death,” an original play written for Northern Kentucky University Department of Theatre and Dance.  In this fictionalized version, Princess Joanna is appalled to find her retinue of courtiers dying all around her.  To assuage her grief, she seduces Gracias.

No account of Princess Joanna ever hint that she would have had an illicit affair with someone, much less with someone not of her station in life.

In Beleaguered, my third medieval novella, I do include Gracias in a very minor role as the musician sent from Spain to entertain Princess Joanna.  He teaches the courtiers a particular dance that provokes a startling reaction from Alyse.

I tried to weave small bits of historical fact—like Gracias, who was an historical figure—into my tale to give it some dimensionality.  He’s like a “fun fact” that helps bring my story to life.

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14 Responses to G is for Gracias de Gyvill

  1. Deedra says:

    Interesting factoid for sure!

    I bought and read Betrayal before I read Betrothal. I’m excited to see what happens in Beleagured to Geoffrey, Thomas and Alyse. I don’t think I have ever been less sure of an outcome. Way to keep me on my toes!

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    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      *Big grin* Thanks, Deedra! That’s a great compliment because I didn’t want this series to be predictable. Glad I succeeded with you. 🙂 Hope you enjoy the final installment!

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  2. lizaoconnor says:

    You are sending my beloved Alyce into a plague! Hasn’t she suffered enough? I always love your historical tidbits. the seem so much more erudite than mine. Perhaps it’s the presentation….

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    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      Yes, I have to. It’s her destiny, according the the story I had to write. It’s not a good time for humans, unfortunately. 😦 And your historical post are fabulous. You even manage humor in talking about deadly baby bottles. Talk about presentation! 🙂 Thanks for coming by, Liza!

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  3. Using real people as characters in books takes a lot of courage. Once they can be researched, there’s always a chance someone will come forward with a detail that was missed. I applaud your ability to use real people, well researched, to bring a special something to a book. It’s those details that can make or break a historical novel, and you do it so well! Love your articles, too. I always learn something new.

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    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      Thank you, Patricia! Yes, I am very paranoid about what I say about historical figures for that very reason. You have to get it right or it will come back to bite you in a very tender place! LOL And in historicals it’s not just people you can get wrong, but every little detail. Fortunately I love to do research. 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoy my posts!

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  4. Historical accuracy! Yes. It makes the story so much more realistic.

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  5. melissakeir says:

    I find the historical accuracies to be a fun part of the book. I don’t think Joanna would have done something with a musician until she had a male heir on her husband. Just too dangerous for the child and the wife in those days and ages. Can’t wait for book three!!

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    • Jenna Jaxon says:

      I personally don’t think she would have done anything with a musician at all! LOL Not sure where those authors came up with that scenario, but I don’t particularly buy it.. She was, after all, only 13 years old at the time! And yes, she would have known of the dangers and the need for a male heir. And if she wasn’t a virgin on her wedding night, ther bridegroom would likely turn her out of the house. Thanks for coming by, Melissa!

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  6. I love having bits of real historical happenings in novels!! Tweeted and shared on FB.

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  7. Harliqueen says:

    I like it when writers slip historical bits into books if they can and its a story that allows it, gives it a bit more of a fun read and interesting 🙂

    Like

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