Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Part III: Journey to a Tourney: A Lady's Realistic Encounter

“M’lady.” A knight from her husband’s entourage assisted Elena in dismounting from her horse. She ignored the leer he was giving her.

They’d ridden at a leisurely pace that morning, and had only just arrived. The tournament was in full swing, but she knew none of the actual jousts would have started yet. Not without her and her despicable husband present.

“Thank you,” she said, extricating her hand from eager knight’s grasp.

Her ladies quickly stood around her, six in all. They proved to be a perfect barrier for her, as her husband apparently detested women. She suppressed the urge to roll her eyes and snort as he walked over to them.

“I shall see you at our place for the joust, soon.” He stressed his last word, letting her know he wouldn’t tolerate her tardiness. God forbid she should embarrass him in front of his people by not obeying his orders. She nodded stoically to him, not letting him start her knees shaking which she was sure he would enjoy. He turned from her without another word. How long would she be able to endure such a horrific match? She hadn’t had much choice in the marriage, actually none at all. Frowning she turned to her ladies.

“Let us have a look at the goods.” She smiled at their eager nods. She’d been known in the past to purchase them each a little token.

“Beautiful ladies, won’t you come over? Let me show you these elegant fabrics,” a merchant called to them.

She nodded and headed in his direction. The crowd separated like the Red Sea as Elena and her entourage passed. After being married to Lord Gloucester for three years, she still wasn’t used to the amount of respect and worship she received from the people. Perhaps they were in awe of her survival of such a man.

Oh, how she wished she could return to Ireland, her family, her friends. One in particular…

“M’lady, may I be so bold as to say your gold brocade gown brings a sparkle to your green eyes?” the merchant said.

“Thank you, kind merchant. Might you have a fabric of similar coloring, mayhap with some flowers embroidered within it?”

“I believe we do, m’lady. While I fetch it, would you care to peruse the scarves? Perhaps find one for a handsome knight?” He wiggled his eyebrows at her, and Elena and her ladies all feigned shock, gasping and covering their mouths.

“Sir, you are too bold, now go and fetch my fabric.” She softened her rebuke by smiling at him genuinely. His soft laughter could be heard behind his trailing figure.

If only she did have a handsome knight she could give a token to. All of her husband’s men were either overly eager for her affections, making it quite clear which affections they wanted, or they were just as horrid as her husband. Hurling vulgar offenses at Elena and her ladies was one of their favorite after dinner delights. She always insisted on leaving at that time, not wanting to see how far they would try to take their churlish behavior.

Elena’s nerves prickled. Someone was watching her, she was sure of it. Turning to look through the crowd, she spotted a knight’s gaze fixed on her. But she wasn’t repulsed as she normally was with gaping knights; there was something familiar about his black wavy hair. It was his eyes that gave him away. She only knew one man with eyes as powerful as his. Bright blue by the irises, then slowly fading into a brilliant green. Flecks of gold sprinkled throughout.

“Michael…” she whispered, smiling in his direction. Before he could come her way, he was blocked by the crowd. She searched the sea of faces for a moment, but he was lost to her.

“Ladies, I am indeed in need of a scarf for a noble knight.”

Elena’s blood raced through her veins. She felt giddy, overjoyed. How had he made it here? How had he known? Would he be participating in the joust? The sword fight? Oh, how she wished he was. She wanted him to win. Michael was an excellent warrior from what she remembered. But there were many skilled knights in attendance. A number of them her husband’s own knights, fighting for the charge of Captain of the Guard at Gloucester castle.

If Michael were to win –
She didn’t let her mind get away with her. It would be better not to get herself worked up. If he weren’t to succeed she would surely plummet into despair. If she thought of him winning, her husband would pick up on it and have him banished from the tournament. That couldn’t happen, Michael could be her savior from a lifetime of unhappiness.

Grabbing a sheer gold scarf from the pile, she wrapped it around her neck. Elena let each of her ladies pick a scarf, their girlish antics took her mind from Michael for the moment.

The merchant returned with a bolt of the most beautiful brocade fabric. The background was a lovely shade of gold, and maroon roses, with green vines were embroidered throughout.

“It’s lovely, sir, I will take it.”

After she paid for her purchases, Elena turned to one of her ladies maids. “Charlotte, please make sure this fabric gets to the tent.”

Elena needed to walk around; she needed to see if she could catch another glimpse of her childhood love.

A strolling minstrel stopped them in their path and began a lively tune. Elena stood smiling, tapping her foot to the rhythm as her ladies danced a little to the music. Furtive glances around the crowd rewarded her with no sight of Michael. Although, several other oglers surreptitiously conveyed they would be more than willing to take his place.

Disgusted by the vast amount of unwanted amorous attention she was getting. Elena clapped her hands, turning from the minstrel, she walked towards the list fields. She would just have to sit and wait until the joust began. Besides, tournaments were only entertaining to an extent. Elena couldn’t stand when knights got hurt. She also couldn’t fathom why having animals fight each other seemed to be a sport. She always felt sorry for the poor things. The food, music, laughter and merchants good’s were exciting.

Settling herself into her chair, she waited, her ladies fanning the heat of the sun from her. Her husband sat to her left, but virtually ignored her, which she was more than thankful for. She wondered how fabulous it would be when Michael approached her. Would she be able to hide her excitement? Keep his familiarity to herself?

Elena didn’t have to wait long to get the answers to her questions. The subject of her thoughts was coming towards her at that moment. He sat straight and tall on his destrier as he approached. He held his helm in one arm the other deftly holding the reins. His oddly colored seductive eyes were locked with hers. She licked her lips nervously willing herself to calm down, lest she give away her excitement.

Fear gripped her spine as she realized she’d been openly gaping at Michael. She glanced to her husband to make sure he wasn’t paying attention. Thankfully, he was also staring at the fascinating knight that approached.

“My lord,” Michael said, bowing to Gloucester.

His Irish accent caressed her very soul. She could listen to him speak all day. Usually surrounded by English, even growing up, his burr was a tease to the heart. Then he was looking at her, his hand held out for hers. Without thinking, she placed her hand on his. Even with his chain link mufflers covering, she could feel the warmth emanating through.

Elena’s face grew hot, as she remembered several timid, innocent touches like this they’d shared in the past. How she longed to let him embrace her, kiss her.

“My lady.” Those two simple words stroked along her insides, curling up and settling in the pit of her stomach. He leaned down and placed his soft lips against her hand. His breath was heated, sensual, and then the feather light kiss was over. The skin of her hand tingled where his lips had been.

“Sir Devereux,” she said as serenely as she could, even though she really wanted to climb the railing, jump into his arms, and let him carry her away on his massive black horse. His blue-green eyes twinkled, and his lips curved slightly in the corners. Could he read her thoughts?

“I’d be honored if your ladyship would be so kind as to bestow a token on this noble knight?”

Elena bit the inside of her cheek to keep from shouting, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” Instead she smiled at Michael. Standing, she pulled the gold scarf from her neck, the one she’d purchased just for him.

She tied it the tip of his lance, and with her eyes, hoped she conveyed her hopes and well wishes for him. He bowed to her, before making his way to the lists. She sat down, her gaze glued to his retreating form.

Jousts today, swords tomorrow. The next two days would determine her future.

***

Elena perched on the end of her chair, muscles clenched, knuckles white and teeth grinding throughout the jousting tournament. Michael continued to be undefeated. But he had to tire soon didn’t he?

She frowned. He didn’t look tired. He looked—exhilarated. How was that possible? He’d been jousting with knights for the better part of two hours.

At long last he defeated all fourteen knights. Elena sighed heavily. After hours of sitting stiffly, she would need a hot bath.

Gloucester nodded to her as Michael approached. She bristled inside, how she hated needing his permission to do anything. She well understood the duties of a lady to her noble husband, and had it been any other man she wouldn’t have minded. But this cruel husband of hers was more than she could take.

“My lord, my lady,” Michael said, bowing low. When he was again sitting straight he smiled broadly.

Elena couldn’t help returning his infectious smile. He was the most handsome man she’d ever seen. Even better was his personal nature. She knew him to be strong and fierce, but he was also chivalrous, especially with her. How she wished she didn’t have to be so formal in giving him a prize for such an awesome feat, but if she were to stray from what her husband had told her to say, not only would she be punished but so would Michael.

“Sir Devereux, we are most proud that you’ve competed fairly and shown your superior skill this afternoon. We bestow on you today this diamond. We wish you luck tomorrow in the sword fighting. The prize for winning tomorrow’s feat will gain you a position within Gloucester as Captain of the Guard.” And much, much more.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Part II: Journey to a Tourney - A Knight's Realistic Encounter



Sir Michael Devereux of Wexford, Ireland scanned the English surroundings. This wasn't his first tournament, and would hopefully prove not to be his last. His squire Fletch polished his armour, while the rest of his servants set up his tent.

Although the tournament games had yet to begin, the list fields were abuzz with knights training, squires running here and there. Roars of laughter could be heard from the crowds that watched all manners of entertainment.

His nerves were shot, or else he would have surely wandered the grounds to take his mind off the games ahead. He had to win.

Ah, what he wouldn’t do for a nice cold mug of ale and slice of sweet bread.

“Sir?” His newest squire Colin, peered at him.
“What is it?” Michael’s voice came out harsher than he intended it too.

“I hear there’s a boxing match about to being, mind if I go and have a look?” His voice was filled with desperation and short of having the poor boy begging on his knees Michael relented. He remembered his first tournament…what a thrill.

Hoping to appear that he was watching the lad run off, he scanned the crowds of nobles. Where was she? Had she come?

He’d been in love with Lady Elena since childhood. Her family had held the neighboring holding to Michael’s father. They played, and when they’d gotten older, he felt for sure he could court her…but she’d been whisked away to England to marry the conniving old-

He spotted her husband, Chauncey DeBurgh, Earl of Gloucester’s, flag flying above a set of tents. It’s bright yellow backing with red or, 3 chevronels, gules, waved proudly in the wind.

Sweat broke out on his forehead, dripping down the sides of his temples, and tickling his sensitive earlobes. But it wasn’t fear of the joust, or even a sword fight. It was trepidation at the thought of not being able to speak to her, make eye contact. Perhaps, if he were so lucky, even gain her favor for his upcoming competitions. It wasn't uncommon for a married lady to bestow courtly love and tokens upon favored knights.
But what had his blood jolting through his veins the most was, the winner of this tournament would be given the charge of Captain of the Guard by Gloucester. As a second son of a nobleman, this would be an honor to him.

If he were to win the tournament, he would be closer to her… Michael paced the grounds knowing he still had an hours worth of time before he needed to begin preparing for his first joust. And then he spotted her.

“Lady Elena,” he whispered.

A sheer gold hood covered part of her hair, but he’d know those wavy honey-hued locks anywhere. She turned towards him, the fairest beauty in all of Christendom.

Her mossy green eyes met his, but before he could approach her a strolling troubadour bounced in front of him and began reciting a ballad. Bystanders crowded around him, blocking his view of Elena, as well as keeping him from moving without having to cause a scene.


Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight

Fair lady Isabel sits in her bower sewing,
Aye as the gowans grow gay
There she heard an elf-knight blawing his horn.
The first morning in May


"If I had yon horn that I hear blawing,
An yon elf-knight to sleep in my bosom."
This maiden had scrcely these words spoken,
Till in at her window the elf-knight has luppen


"It's a very strange matter, fair maiden," said he,
"I canna blaw my horn but ye call on me.
"But will ye go to yon greenwood side?
If ye canna going, I will cause you to ride,"


He leapt on a horse, and she on another,
And they rode on the greenwood together.
"Light down, light down, lady Isabel," said he,
"We are come to the place where ye are to die."


"Hae mercy, hae mercy, kind sir, on me,
Till ance my dear father and mother I see.
"Seven king's-daughters here hae I slain,
And ye shall be the eight o them."


"O sit down a while, lay your head on my knee,
That we may hae some rest before I die."
She stroak'd him sae fast, the nearer he did creep,
Wi a sma charm she lulld him fast asleep.


Wi his ain sword-belt sae fast as she ban him
Wi his ain dag-durk sae sair as she dang him
"If seven king's-daughters here ye hae slain,
Lye ye here, a husband to them a'."


(www.moonwise.com)

By the time the troubadour moved on and the crowd dispersed, Elena as nowhere to be seen. Just as well, he needed to prepare for his joust.

Locating Fletch they headed to his tent. One of his other squires, Colin was gathering his blunt tipped lances and broad-sword. It had only been recently that the earls along with the king had deemed that no other weapons could be used. He was now only allowed his three esquires to assist him, or he’d risk imprisonment. He didn’t fault the lords, as it had become quite common place with such large tournaments for massive fights to break out, as well as the raping and pillaging of nearby towns. He shuddered to think that the men he held in as much esteem as himself, who knew to follow the chivalry code, would dare to act so heinously. He was only glad he didn’t know any of the men personally.

Jon assisted his groom in readying Black, his warhorse, making sure his caparison was in place, the heraldry of the Devereux family showing on the fabric draped over his body. His chanfron was of superior quality and fit so well, that no cursory glance from the lance would injure his horses face.

“Jon, make sure Charles puts on the high back saddle and long spurs. Fletch, you’ll help me with my armour.” His squires nodded and hurried to do his bidding. He was all business now. Everything had to be perfect.

His armourer had done a spectacular job of outfitting him for the tournament. He’d convinced his father to purchase the new suit, as his father had much pride in him that he would indeed win the spot in Gloucester’s regiment. He’d worn it during training to let his body adjust to its weight and length. Michael had no fear that he would lose the armour and his horse today. No, he was confident he would win. The stakes were too high, and he'd trained for this day for nearly ten years.

Inside his tent, Michael began to mentally prepare for what lay ahead. He took deep even breaths as he undressed, letting his body relax, and gain total control. His anxiety over Lady Elena ebbed somewhat. Jon brought him his usual regiment of cold water to splash on his face. Then he took a bit of orange letting it wet his palette, refreshing his breath and mind.

Colin and Jon together helped him to don his leggings and gambeson. The quilted doublet was long and fitted, coming to mid thigh. The slits up the front and back would enable him to sit Black without interference. Next came his hauberk of chainmail, attached to it his mufflers. Michael flexed his hands letting the soothing metal of the mufflers ease into place. He slipped into his tunic that bore his family crest, a simple white background with a fes gules, in chief three torteaux.

Jon attached his cuisses to protect his thighs, while Fletch fitted his chainmail coif over his head, and his shoulder-plates. Colin easily put his vambraces on his lower arms, while lifting his feet for Jon, and slipping them inside his leather boots.

It was like a dance with his three esquires. All knew what to do, and moved with rhythm and grace until the task was complete.

“Your helm, sir,” Fletch said handing Michael his helmet. He hated to wear the darn thing. It enclosed his entire head and face. It’s length was so long it came nearly to his shoulders. Slits were made for his eyes, ears and mouth, but the whole thing threw him off his senses.

Grasping its cool metal in his hand, he mounted his destrier and headed for the lists. His destiny was almost in his grasp.


Michael boldly approached the covered stand where Lady Elena sat beside her loathsome husband. Her eyes flickered with excitement turning almost emerald in color, as he approached, and she nervously licked her lips. For a fleeting moment their gazes locked, until she broke the spell by glancing quickly at Gloucester. The old man seemed to be oblivious, until Michael stood in front of them.

“My lord.” He bowed his head in Gloucester’s direction, feeling all the more ashamed of his Irish burr. The English truly didn’t like to have him at their games, even though his bloodline was the same as theirs. His father had been given an earldom in Ireland, where he and his brothers and sisters were raised. He swept the sourness of the earl’s distaste from his mind and turned to the object of his affection.

“My lady.” He reached out and grasped the delicate hand she offered him. So light. He wished he could remove his mufflers and feel the silky smoothness of her skin against his own sword-wielding rough ones. He pressed his lips fleetingly to her skin, breathing in her essence. Lavender, honey, and orange, a fragrance he would cherish.

“Sir Devereux,” she whispered. Her face was a mask of serenity but her eyes nearly lit his soul aflame, such was the depth of their emotions.

"I'd be honored for a token, my lady." He held his breath, as he pulled away. Elena smiled at him, not saying a word. She took the sheer gold scarf from around her neck and tied it to the tip of his lance. With the feminine piece in place he bowed his head to her and headed for the starting point in the lists, trying to ignore the soaring in his heart.

Black pawed the ground, and snorted, challenging the charger at the other end of the list field. He seemed to say, “you may have been breed for stamina and agility, but with my superior size and strength my master will deliver a devastating blow to yours.” As if in answer, the charger raised its head and whinnied, followed by a loud snort.

The crowd laughed and shouted, their excitement rippling from one end to the other. “Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!” Michael looked once and then tuned them out.

He only half listened as Fletch shouted of his family heraldry, his strengths, his victories and then the other knight's squire shouted about him. He didn’t want to focus on that, instead he studied his opponent. He sat his horse well, his armor looked just like his. His size was impressive, but he was not nearly as muscular as himself. With the weight of Michael’s horse and the extra muscle weight he no doubt had on the other knight, he could easily throw him from his horse. All he had to do was-

It was time. His opponent immediately took off, charging towards him. Michael counted, one, two, three, and spurred Black forward. Thrusting his body forward, he leaned a little to the left and lifted his lance into place. As his opponent neared, he leaned back and then – WHAM! He thrust his body forward, the extra weight of he and his horse unseated the other knight, in a flash.

The crowd cheered, and his squires rushed to him, shouting and slapping each other on the backs.

“One down, thirteen to go.” There was no time to celebrate his victory, or that he’d just won the unconscious man’s armor and horse. He walked Black to the prone knight just to make sure he hadn’t killed him with the force of his blow. As he drew near he saw the heraldry of Warwick. A powerful man’s son. He gloated for a moment on that note.

The fallen knight lifted his head slightly and shouted, “Good tactics, my lord!”

Michael was impressed with the Warwick knight's show of chivalry. “Thank you, my lord, for allowing me to display my skill. I am equally impressed with your horsemanship.”

The subsequent jousts were quick and easy. Now he would only need to prove himself in the sword fights. His future was almost within his grasp.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Part I: Journey to a Tourney- A Medieval Merchant's Realistic Experience

“The names Rory. Are ya ready? We’ve got to hurry, we’re goin to the tourney today!

You know the tourney don’t ya? You don’t? Where have you been? I s’pose we’ve a few minutes for me to explain. We’re going to a tournament, you know, the chivalrous play fighting of the knights. Jousting, sword fighting, and the like. Well it’s always got lots of people, lords, ladies, merchants like meself and Gerald, and even the lowly peasants attend…

But we must get goin or I won’t be able to set up me shop and show you around. Come on now!”

Rory hustled the odd group of people into the back of her wagon filled with all her wares. She didn’t know where this group had come from, but she was forever being tested by the merchant’s guild and didn’t want to cause any problems.

Music, laughter and the clanging of armor could be heard before the tournament was even in sight. As they drew closer, she pointed to the tents, covering the fields, with flags for each knight posted. A field was sectioned off with special seating for the nobility and stands for lesser folk.

Upon entering the masses of people and tents Rory’s husband, Gerald handed her the reins and hopped off the wagon. “This’ll be where we set up love.”

She nodded giving him a loving smile, she was so pleased to be married to Gerald, he treated her like a partner rather than a servant. She turned from him to study the people in the back of her wagon.

“Now you folks just sit tight, after we have everything set up, I’ll take you around to see the entertainments.”

Rory glanced from the corner of her eye at the strangers who watched in open mouthed anticipation as she and Gerald erected their tent and tables. She smirked, remembering her own first time at a tourney. She’d have to show this lot a good time.

She helped her husband meticulously spread out their wares. She was still in wonder herself at the opulence of their goods. Bolts of the most beautiful fabrics and scarves for any lady who may have forgotten one, or desired another. Brocades, in bright opulent colors and rich designs, velvets in rich blues and reds, some with aglets of silver gilt, bordered with spangles, silks and fine wools, and soft linens. Noble ladies walked by, arms linked with their husbands or courtiers and eyed the products on display. She called out to them to come and have a look.

Peasants looked out of the corners of their eyes, their gazes devouring and wishing they could just have a feel of the fine fabrics. To them she gave a glower, not wanting their kind to put their grimy fingers on her livelihood.

“Welcome to the tournament,” a strolling minstrel said to her entourage, making grand gestures with his hands. The group seemed enthralled by his grand manor. “Be sure to come and watch my lord, the Earl of Stafford joust this afternoon. He is by far the most talented knight, a most excellent horseman, and very pleasing to the eye.” He winked to the ladies in the wagon, and then strolled away, stopping to praise his lord to another group of tourney visitors.

“All set, my love. Go and help those poor folks,” Gerald said waving his hand in the direction of the wagon before turning to the crowd. “Ladies and gentleman!” shouted Gerald with a huge smile on his face. “Come and see me wares! I have the finest fabrics from France, the Orient and places you can only dream about. Feel their fine lines and gaze upon their rich designs.”

As if pulled by a magnet, people began to mill about as Gerald the merchant advertised his products.

A drum roll began in the distance which shook the strangers from their attention on her husband. Rory rushed to the wagon, time to give this group an introduction to the grandest of entertainments. “Come on folks, there’s a joust about to begin, lets go and see.”

The group jumped with enthusiasm from the wagon and followed Rory through the throngs of people. The smell of baked goods, smoking meats, herbs, flowers and leather wafted all around them. A few in the group exchanged coins with a baker for sweet rolls, while a couple more were drawn into the evocative jokes of the jester.

Rory stopped short to stare and call out at a passing acrobat who flipped through the air, and another who balanced himself on blunted sword tips. It was a wonder to her that they didn’t slice their feet off or break a bone.

Her attention was caught again by a bawdy musician singing. She couldn’t help but laugh at the words or the astonished looks on her guests face.

WOMEN.

[Lambeth MS. 306, leaf 135.]

Women, women, loue of women,
Make bare purs1 with some men,
Some be nyse as a nonne hene,2
Yit al thei be nat soo.
some be lewde,
some all be schrewde;
Go schrewes wher thei goo.

Sum be nyse, and some be fonde,3
And some be tame, y vndirstonde,
And some can take brede of a manes hande,
Yit all thei be nat soo.
some be lewde,
some all be schrewde;
Go schrewes wher thei goo.

Some cane part with-outen hire,4
And some make bate in eueri chire,5
And some cheke mate with oure Sire6,
Yet all thei be nat so.
Some be lewde,
and sume be schreuede,
go wher thei goo.

Som be browne, and some be whit,
And some be tender as a tripe,
And some of theym be chiry ripe,7
Yet all thei be not soo.
Sume be lewde,
and some be schrewede,
go wher thei goo.

Some of them be treue of love8
Beneth the gerdell, but nat above,9
And in a hode aboue can chove,10
Yet all thei do nat soo.
Some be lewde,
and some be schreude,
go where thei goo.

Some cane whister11, & some cane crie,
Some cane flater, and some can lye,
And some cane sette the moke awrie,12
Yet all thei do nat soo.
Sume be lewde,
and sume be schreuede,
go where thei goo.

He that made this songe full good,
Came of the north and of sothern blode,
And some-what kyne to Robyn Hode,13
Yit all we be nat soo.
Some be lewde,
and some be schrewede,
go where thei goo.

Some be lewde, some be schrwde,
Go where thei goo.

(For translation of some of the lines visit: http://www.luminarium.org/medlit/medlyric/women.php)

The atmosphere was jubilant and there was not a moment to spare to boredom. Entertainments were everywhere. Bear-baiting, cock-fighting, jugglers, mimes, troubadours, and contortionists. It was easy to get lost along the way to the field to watch the jousting, and an hour went by with the group of odd folks and Rory wandering from entertainment to entertainment.

“Well we’ve missed a few of the jousts, lets head on over there, before we miss the whole day!” Rory hollered to the group trying to round them up.

After their initial shock and awe, this group was truly enjoying the festivities. A few waved her off, too busy in their cups of ale and watching the amusements. One of the tipsy fools even took it upon himself to try and juggle daggers…it didn’t end in death, but it didn’t end well either.

What few were able to make it to the tournament made it just in time. Rory got them seated close to the field.

“Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah!” the crowd shouted, and Rory encouraged her followers to join in.

A knight decked out in the finest of armor on a beautiful stallion approached the seat of noble lady. He bowed to her, his lance outstretched and waited patiently as she elegantly tied a gold silk scarf to the tip. She blew him a kiss which he captured and held to his heart. Rory couldn’t help but sigh, it really was very romantic. She named him the Golden Knight.

The Heralds toted their respective knights valor, family lines, and talents. And then it began. The two horses facing each other from opposite ends braced their lanced and then CHARGE! The hoof beats on the ground vibrated Rory’s seat, and she felt the familiar buzz of exhilaration in her blood.

Within an instant the Golden Knight, thrust his blunt tipped lance into his opponent, who was unseated and fell heavily to the ground. Her breath caught in her throat. The crowd gasped and then grew silent as they waited. Although these games were meant merely for practice, they could be deadly.

The Golden Knight rounded his horse to stand next to his fallen opponent. The fallen knight lifted his head slightly and shouted, “Good tactics, my lord!”

“Thank you, my lord, for allowing me to display my skill, I am equally impressed with your horsemanship.”
With that they knights parted ways. The Golden Knight dipped his head to the noble lady in the stands, who blushed pink from his attention.

Rory sighed again, the knights were certainly of a different standard. So chivalrous to each other, end ever the romantics... She turned to her acquaintances. “Well my fine folks, I must be heading back to Gerald. He’ll be wanting to take part in some of the festivities as well. Good day to you.”

With that, she meandered her way back through the crowd to peddle more of her wares.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Bom-Chick-A-Wow-Wow...Aphrodisiacs Throughout History

It would be no wonder to many that the word aphrodisiac comes from the Greek goddess of love Aphrodite, for aphrodisiacs themselves are meant to stimulate us sexually and to enhance desire.

All of the five senses can get use out of aphrodisiacs, sight, scent, taste, sound and feeling. I love the smell of certain colognes…Armani Night being one of my absolute favorites. But of course there is one thing that isn’t a sense that also increases sexual desire, and that is love, ***sigh***

So today I thought I would bring you the lists of all five senses and aphrodisiacs associated with them, and then the history... Bom-Chick-A-Wow-Wow…

Sight

Sight can cover many different topics, romantic or pornographic movies, romance novels, erotic books, erotic dancing, sexy clothing…whether you and your partner do these things with each other, for each other, or separately, you get the picture, let your mind do the wandering if you don’t…

It doesn’t necessarily have to be erotic either. You may love a certain style of jeans on the perfect butt…or you see a total hottie walking down the street. Maybe all it takes is the sight of your spouse even if you’re together 24/7. I know they say that looks don’t attract…but, you can’t tell me they really don’t can you?

Scent

As I mentioned above I love certain colognes. If I catch a whiff of it, my nose turns without any regard to whether or not I want it to… So what other scents are there? Oils are a big one, with scents such as rose, jasmine, ylang ylang, myrrh, lavender, geranium, patchouli, pine, nutmeg, clary sage, cinnamon, and ginger.

Food scents are also on the list. For men, black pepper, buttered popcorn, vanilla, pumpkin pie, doughnuts and licorice (no I’m not kidding!) For women, licorice, cucumber and pumpkin pie. If one of these scents turns you on, I have to know about it! I’ve never met anyone that got hot and heavy just from making salads and pie!

Most obvious of sensually enticing aromas are natural body scents. Pheromones are also made and sold…some people add them to their perfumes and colognes.

Believe it or not but our brains associate certain smells with activities we’ve done, so if the smell of the beach turns you on... naughty naughty.

Taste

There have been many foods around for centuries that have been claimed to increase our desire and sexual prowess. Some of these foods are considered aphrodisiacs because their shapes are suggestive, others have actually had studies done that show they will increase libido. You wouldn’t believe how many of these foods are actually good for you too, so chow down and then get down…

Agave, artichoke, arugula, asparagus, bananas, caviar, celery, chocolate, epimedium grandiflorum (aka Horny Goat Weed…wonder where it gets its name from?), figs, ginkgo biloba, ginseng, honey, kelp, maca, mamey sapote, mucuna pruriens (legume), mussels, oysters, peaches, pimento, pineapple, pomegranate, puffer fish, radish, sea beans, squash, sweet potato, strawberries, thorn apples, tomatoes, truffles, turtle eggs, Walking Palm, wild lettuce.

Some spices are, basil, black pepper, cardamom, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, horseradish, jasmine, mustard, nutmeg, oregano, saffron, time, vanilla and white pepper.

Alcohol is also an aphrodisiac in limited quantities as it lowers inhibitions, champagne in particular.

Warning! Red meat is actually a turn off and has been proven to lower testosterone! So if you plan on getting a little action, don’t have a steak dinner :)

Sound

Certain types of music are considered aphrodisiacs, whether it’s a song’s words that heighten your senses, or the instruments strumming a tune to your body. As it is with all of your other senses you may have a particular memory with a song that may get you going.

Of course other sounds may be the sound of someone’s voice while talking or the sounds they make while you are “together.” It could be listening to others making love, for example if you are watching a movie. You may also enjoy listening to your partner read you an erotic story or just telling you one from memory.

Feeling

Besides the feelings a lover may give you physically that will have your body humming, there are several other things that can come into play. Anything that makes your body feel relaxed, completely free. This could be getting a massage, laying on the beach, going for a swim, feeling the warm breeze against your skin as you watch the sunset or rise. It doesn’t just have to be relaxing however, you may get all worked up from exhilaration. Riding a motorcycle or horse, racing down the highway in a convertible, going dancing out on the town, skydiving, skiing, etc… Exercise is considered an aphrodisiac, because it gets your body’s endorphins flowing. This may explain your panting over the sexy specimen working out next to you.

We as humans are sexual beings. We may not be the only species that has sex for recreation, but we certainly are the only ones that have developed thousands of products for sexual play. We are also most certainly the only ones that prepare a meal together or a sensual situation to turn each other on.



History

How did aphrodisiacs play out in history? Since the beginning of human time there have been mentions of aphrodisiacs. They are mentioned in the Bible in Genesis when Leah exchanges mandrakes with Rachel…mandrakes were used again in the Song of Solomon.

The Kama Sutra, an Indian book about the art of making love written somewhere between the 1st and 6th centuries, mentions aphrodisiacs as well, encouraging the consumption of chick peas and anointing your organ with black pepper, white thorn apple powder and honey. (Warning before you try this…white thorn apples are toxic, so you may want to skip that part…)

Foods throughout history have been used to heighten libido. It was often said that food should be served warm and moist… You’d find a variety of spices in the dishes, many of which I listed above. Carrots, asparagus, anise, mustard, nettles, and sweet peas were often served with meals as they were seen as aphrodisiacs as well. As we know now, aphrodisiacs are used to heighten amorous feelings, and don’t have anything to do with the actual mechanical workings. But in the past that wasn’t common knowledge. A man who wasn’t able to get an erection may chow down on a pound of carrots at dinner, just as a woman may munch on asparagus all day if she is trying to conceive.

The Greek goddess Aphrodite supposedly held sparrows as sacred because of their “amorous nature,” and so throughout history, people would consume the bird hoping to gain some of her lustful inhibitions.

Tomatoes in history were called the “love apple,” before they were called tomatoes, just as potatoes were at one time called the “apples of love.”

Cleopatra was said to use many oils and perfumes to seduce her lovers. Love potions have been concocted from the beginning of time. In the middle ages, alchemists would make a concoction with gold in it. Women who wanted to become pregnant often sought out midwives who would make them a potion of different types of herbs.

Shakespeare often made reference to aphrodisiacs in his works. In Macbeth he writes that alcohol “provokes the desire, but it takes away from the performance.”

The Greek poet Ovid admits in his work that he knows the power of his erotic words, and how they may act as an aphrodisiac. His poem Remedia Amoris (The Cure for Love) published in 5 BC, is filled with how to make love and even suggests that a man might have two girls at once… In his poem Ars Amatoria (The Art of Love, 1 BC) he writes:

Wine rouses courage and is fit for passion:care flies, and deep drinking dilutes it.

Have you ever heard of the Marquis de Sade? He is known for some very erotic writing…120 Days of Sodom, is his most notorious work. He is also known for his affinity for aphrodisiacs in which he was arrested in the late 1770’s by the French court. Why you ask? Because at a private party he slipped some chocolate covered Spanish Fly, a very potent aphrodisiac into the deserts, which then turned quite a few people very randy indeed. At least one of the girls became sick and was hospitalized for poisoning which is why he was arrested. This party is now known as the Cantharidic Bon-Bon Orgy. There is a quote from ball-goer who relates a similar story, so either it had happened more than once, or the ball incident was just a rumor…

Spanish doctor Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, wrote that chocolate “…vehemently incites to Venus, and causeth conception in women, hastens and facilitates their delivery…” in his book Curioso Tratado de la Naturaleza in 1631.

What turns you on? Have you ever tried any of these aphrodisiacs? Have you tried one not listed?