Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Want to learn more about a medieval noble's life?

Dates: October 5, 2009 – October 30, 2009
Class: A Noble’s Life in Medieval Times
Instructor: Eliza Knight

Register: www.elizaknight.com/noblelife.aspx

Class Description:

Life in medieval times was so much different than the way we live today. When readers sit down with their favorite medieval historical romance, they are taken away to another time and place.

For most readers, this is where they learn about medieval times, and it is the duty of the author to be as authentic as possible. That being said, you don’t want your book to be a history lecture either, but to just flavor it enough.

This workshop will teach you how people, particularly nobles, lived in medieval times, in order for you to be truer to the era you write about. This is an open discussion workshop, questions and comments are welcome and encouraged. There are five lessons, each of which are broken down daily. This class provides photos, video links, research links, exercises and opportunities to share your work for critique. The lessons will be presented as follows:

Lesson One: The Medieval Castle
Lesson Two: Medieval Entertainments
Lesson Three: Day in the Life of a Medieval Lord and Lady
Lesson Four: Medieval Medicine
Lesson Five: Medieval Clothes

Instructor Bio: Eliza Knight is a best-selling author of multiple steamy Regency and erotic Highlander time travel romance novellas published by The Wild Rose Press. She is a freelance copy editor, professional critiquer and President of the Celtic Hearts Romance Writers signature chapter of the RWA. Eliza's novellas have received outstanding reviews, even being nominated and voted Best Book of the Week by Long and Short of It Reviews. She also volunteers her time as a contest judge, coordinator and chair. Eliza is the author of the award-winning blog, History Undressed and has published numerous articles in various newsletters. She presents workshops on history and researching techniques to writing groups online. For more information on Eliza, please visit her website at, www.elizaknight.com or www.historyundressed.blogspot.com

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

What did nobles do for fun in the middle ages?

When there wasn’t a huge celebration, or entertainments going on, nobles still did things for fun, just like we do. Has your power ever gone out? What did you do for fun? Believe it or not, what they did for fun is a lot like what we do today for fun, without the technology and electricity.

Here’s a list of some things they might do:

  • Read quietly or aloud
  • Write – poetry, theology, philosophy
  • Art – painting, drawing, sculpting
  • Sewing – tapestries, embroidery
  • Music – playing, singing, listening, dancing
  • Gardening (flowers, herbs, picking fruit and berries)
  • Walking
  • Horseback riding
  • Mock fights (men – unless you have a feisty woman)
  • Hunting – there were a lot of types of hunting. Hunting was done on horseback with either/both hounds and hawks (falcons too). They would hunt deer (stag), wild boar, fox, and any other wild animal that caught their fancy. Women hunted too. Hunting was a dangerous and exhilarating sport. If you recall, Henry VIII injured his leg quite badly in a fall while hunting.
  • Talking
  • Playing cards (triomphe, piquet, vingt-et-un)
  • Playing board games (chess, checkers, draughts, dice, backgammon, tabula)
  • Watch or participate in a play
    Outdoor games: Bocce, Bowling games, Tennis, In France/Italy a form of football was played called la Soule
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Bobbing for apples
  • Wrestling
  • Treasure hunts
  • Christmas Game – “King of the Bean” a bean was baked into a bread or cake, whoever found it was king of the holiday feast
  • Riddling – making up riddles people had to figure out (popular among knights as well—kept their wits sharp which was just as important as keeping their bodies in shape.)
  • Puzzles
  • Gambling
  • Blind Man’s Bluff

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Guest Blogger Nancy Lee Badger on The Origin of Scottish Mythology

Welcome back guest blogger, Nancy Lee Badger! She is here today to tantalize us with the origins of Scottish mythology.

Take it away Nancy...

Scottish mythology is actually quite entwined with the Irish. One such example expounds on how settlers from Greek Asia Minor sailed across the sea to a place they called “the mountain of Ireland”. These settlers warred with Picts, invaded an area known as Britain, conquered the people, and renamed the land ‘Scotia’. When the Gaelic world assimilated the Picts into their fold, some history was lost and subsequently filled-in with myths and folklore. The people of present day Scotland grew from a diversity of cultures and their individual influences.

Myths are often considered an aspect of folklore, but not all. Mythology might include the belief in the supernatural, where as folklore and folk tales derived when people had the need to explain mysterious events. Pre-Christianity might have had a hand in old world myths and folklore. A people’s yearning to believe in the hereafter, or in some type of entity, lived on through stories passed generation to generation. Once Christianity became widespread, mythological creatures, such as the “Fairies”, faded away.

Scotland has a rich Celtic History going back over 2,000 years, at a time when superstition was rife and where unusual events were ‘explained’ by legends and whimsical stories. It is therefore not surprising that Scotland has an extensive heritage of myths and folklore. Many objects, including castles, have accumulated their share of myths and legends, such as circles of stones or cairns. These standing stones, and megalithic remains, highlight these reminders of the ancient inhabitants of Scotland.

Some believe that religion was an adaption from stories and memoires or evolutionary biology. In other words, religion evolved as byproduct of psychological mechanisms that evolved for other reasons. These mechanisms might have told early people how to watch for things that could cause them harm (omens). This morphed into an ability to come up with causal narratives for natural events (folk tales) while other people had minds of their own with their own beliefs, desires and intentions (mythology and the precursors of organized religion).

Unexplained observations (thunder, lightning, movement of planets, and other complicated events of nature) were the basis of stories. These word-of-mouth explanations changed with the frequency of their telling which is why one myth could have many different descriptions or endings.

The distinctive features of Scottish Folklore are filled with the characteristics of Scotland’s varied scenery. The serene lap of the deep mountain loch, the trickling of a tiny creek, the harsh splendor of the mountains, the solitude of the moor, reflect in their folk tales and myths. The fairies, the brownies, and the bogles of Scotland are similar to those the Irish believe live in their own hills. Their Irish nooks and crags, streams and meadows might be different, but many legends are told with similar aspects except, maybe, for how they dress.

An example of the similarity between the land of the Highlands and the land of the four-leaf clover is the legend of the Selkie. In Scotland, this mythical Selkies are shy marine creatures in the shape of a seal, usually found near the islands of Orkney and Shetland. A female can shed her skin and come ashore as a beautiful woman. If found, a man could force her to be his wife. Of course, as the legend goes, if she recovered the skin, off she’d go. Male Selkies are said to be responsible for storms. What better explanation for the sinking of a ship?
Selkies of Irish lore are said to come from Co. Donegal in Ireland, which happens to be where many people made their living from the sea. Living by the sea might cause people to craft stories as a way to explain its mysteries. The Irish considered the Selkies to have the same characteristics as those of Scotland, even though they considered other sea creatures more malevolent. Most scholars believe the seals and sea lions from which these myths evolved had sweet, non-threatening dispositions. This might have allowed them to easily be transformed by myth into non-threatening Selkies. At least, the females!

Religion changed much of the thinking of the people who listened or read the more popular beliefs which were often rammed down their throats by the hierarchy of a given land. Myths and folklore slipped to the back burner, but never disappeared. Many tales are quite popular today and have thousands of followers. Think of the legend surrounding the Blarney Stone in Ireland or the Loch Ness Monster. Even Girl Scout troops around the world call their youngest recruits ‘Brownies’ after helpful creatures that do good deeds.

Myths and folk tales live on because people need to believe in them. There are hundreds of wonderful stories out there about kelpies, fairies, banshees, and the like. I recommend the following websites if you would like a taste. You might even recognize one or two stories!

http://www.sacred-texts.com/ where you click on
About Nancy Lee Badger:

A Scottish Highlander, chocolate-chip shortbread, wool plaid, dirks and bagpipes fill my life as I travel to and volunteer at present day Highland Games while dreaming of past pleasures. I live with my kilted husband in Raleigh, NC. I am a member of RWA, Heart of Carolina Romance writers, Sisters In Crime, the Celtic Heart Romance Writers, and FF&P.