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


***All photos accompanying posts are either owned by the author of said post or are in the public domain -- NOT the property of History Undressed. If you'd like to obtain permission to use a picture from a post, please contact the author of the post.***

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween! (A short historical video)

We hope you all have a safe and entertaining Halloween!!

Want to know a bit of history on Halloween and how trick or treating came about? Enjoy this short video from National Geographic :)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Castle of the Week: Bran Castle in Transylvania

Welcome to another rousing addition of Castle of the Week! In honor of our week of spooky posts, I bring you Bran Castle in Romania--commonly referred to as Dracula's Castle...

The castle is located on the border of Transylvania and Wallachia. The first fortress dates back to 1211, built by the Teutonic Knights, but they were driven away by 1226. In 1377, Hungarian King Louis the Great (Louis I of Anjou), approved the construction of Bran Castle, and the building was completed by 1388. The castle was occupied by a lord whom the king appointed in order to protect the area and borders.

Why is it named Dracula's castle? Because Vlad the Impaler (aka Prince Vlad III of Wallachia), son of Vlad II Dracul) was allies with the princes of Transylvania and they requested that he handle the resistance at the border. He inhabited the castle from roughly 1448 to 1476. But... Vlad would later attacked the city's suburbs and murdered hundreds. He gained the nickname by impaling his enemies on pikes. He was assassintaded shortyly into his third reign, 1477. See the video of the week for a bit more on Vlad...

The castle was leased to the Princes of Transylvania (Saxons of Brasov) from King Vladislav II Jagello, for a couple hundred years, and then was sold in 1651. By 1920, the castle became the royal residence for within the Kingdom of Romania. Today the castle is owned by its legal heirs.

The book, Dracula, by Bram Stoker, was published in 1892, and based off of myths and folklore, and in particular vampires and Transylvania. It was not the first vampire book published, but certainly the most popular. The name Dracula stems from Vlad the Impaler's father's name, Darcul, which he took after being inducted into the Order of the Dragon. Dracul, meant The Dragon, but more specifically today, it means The Devil.

I would LOVE to visit this castle one day! Here are some pics...

Bran Castle

Looking up at Bran Castle
A cross in the gardens.
A view from the inside of the castle looking down onto the village.

A secret passageway in the castle.

**Photos courtesy of Wikipedia.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Video of the Week: Vlad the Impaler

Since this is the week of All Hallow's Eve (aka Halloween), I wanted to continue with spooky videos. Having just watched the season premiere of the new show Dracula on NBC, I thought it fitting to give you the "real" Dracula. Here is part 1 of 5 videos for the documentary, Vlad the Impaler. Enjoy!

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Tower of London by Mary Gillgannon

Please join me in welcoming today's guest blogger, Mary Gillgannon. She's written a fabulous piece on The Tower of London. Enjoy!

The Tower of London

by Mary Gillgannon

Most people are familiar with the Tower of London as a prison, where people who were alleged to have committed some crime against the king or queen were detained. But when the first structure was built on the site by William the Conqueror in late 1066, its main purpose was as a fortress. Having just taken over England, William wanted to be sure he could defend London from the Saxons, who were seeking to oust him from their country.
It was originally a motte and bailey castle, which is a defensive tower or keep built on a large earthen mound, the motte, and surrounded by a bailey, a flat raised area where buildings to maintain the troops were constructed. The whole complex was surrounded by defensive walls and a ditch. The first keep William built on the site was of wood. He later replaced it with a stone keep in 1078, which was called the White Tower, which ultimately gave the entire castle its name.
I mention William’s plans for the fortress in my book The Conqueror, when my hero and heroine visit London. The hero, Jobert de Brevrienne, is a knight in William’s army, while my heroine, Edeva, is the daughter of the Saxon eorle whose lands have been given to Jobert by William. The struggle between the Norman French invaders and Saxon natives forms the background for the book.
Over the years, William’s royal descendants continued to make improvements to the Tower of London. Some of the most elaborate additions were made by Henry III in the early 13th century. From 1216 to 1227 he spent nearly £10,000 on the Tower. Henry’s goal was to make the Tower a luxurious residence for the royal family. But his expensive construction plans angered the English nobility and led to a revolt of the barons. They eventually forced Henry to formally confirm most of the articles of the Magna Carta, which limited the monarchy’s power and became the basis of English government.
When I was researching the era of Henry III for my book The Leopard, I discovered that the Tower had another use that is seldom mentioned in history. Frederick III, the Holy Roman Emperor, gave Henry three leopards, in honor of the three beasts displayed on the royal banner, and these animals were kept at the Tower.  Henry later added a white bear, presumably a polar bear, which was occasionally allowed to fish in the Thames (What a sight that must have been!) and an elephant, for which a separate building was constructed.
The menagerie did not end with Henry’s reign. Animals were housed at the Tower for the next 600 years. Some of the species included in the menagerie were monkeys, ostriches, lions, tigers, wolves, a boa constrictor, grizzly bear, zebras and baboons.
In many cases, the caretakers of these animals had no idea what to feed them or how to maintain them and many of the poor creatures did not survive very long. The conditions they lived in would appall us today, and they undoubtedly distressed compassionate individuals even back then. Indeed, in The Leopard, my hero, acclaimed knight Richard Reivers (known as the Black Leopard), takes the heroine, Astra, to visit the menagerie, and tender-hearted Astra is very distressed by the cramped, unpleasant living conditions the leopards must endure. Her reaction to the animals’ distress makes Richard realize how different she is from all the other women he has known, and he begins to fall in love with tender-hearted, idealistic Astra.
Starting in the late middle ages until the 1800’s, the Tower housed some of the most famous prisoners in English history, including Anne Boleyn, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Elizabeth I, who was held in the Tower for eight weeks by her sister Mary during Mary’s brief reign. (She died before she could execute Elizabeth, or English history might be very different.) Today the Tower is a popular tourist site, and the Crown Jewels are still on display there, as they have been since 1669. In another note on the Tower’s connection to animals, even today six ravens are kept at the Tower at all times, due to the legend that if they are absent, the kingdom will fall.

Mary Gillgannon writes romance novels set in the dark ages, medieval and English Regency time periods and fantasy and historical novels with Celtic influences. Her books have been published in Russia, China, the Netherlands and Germany. Raised in the Midwest, she now lives in Wyoming and works at public library. She is married and has two grown children. When not working or writing she enjoys gardening, traveling and reading, of course!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Musical Notes by Pamela Sherwood

Welcome to History Undressed, Pamela Sherwood! She's written a fascinating pieces for us today on Victorian music. Enjoy!

Musical Notes

by Pamela Sherwood

I’ve always loved stories in which music--whether classical, traditional, or contemporary--plays a major role.  So when the time came to write my second historical romance, A Song at Twilight, I had no hesitation about making my heroine--established as musically talented in my first book--a professional singer, and having her love story play out against the glamorous backdrop of the Victorian music world.

The Savoy
While researching my setting, I was amazed to learn how prevalent music was as entertainment in Victorian society. For the upper classes, the opera---usually a Verdi or Wagner production--remained a popular place to see and be seen, while the wildly popular Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, staged at the Savoy Theatre, appealed to all strata of society. For the working and lower classes, there were music halls, burlesques, and even performances at the local pubs.

Almost every social occasion, from the simplest to the grandest, was marked by music. Bands and orchestras were routinely hired to play at balls and dances. Society hostesses engaged professional singers or talented amateurs to perform at their soirees. And learning how to play an instrument--most often the piano--was considered a necessary part of a young middle- or upper-class lady’s education, and schoolchildren of all classes were taught to sing. Choirs and oratorio societies flourished, as did the sheet music trade, and most towns could boast at least one brass band.

Nellie Melba
More fascinating discoveries came to light when, while trying to plot a believable career arc for my heroine, I looked into the lives of two famous singers of the time, Jenny Lind (1820-1887) and Nellie Melba (1861-1931).  I knew only bits and pieces about Lind: that she’d been nicknamed the “Swedish Nightingale,” that Hans Christian Andersen had nursed an unrequited passion for her, and that she’d toured America as an act promoted heavily by P. T. Barnum (whose advance publicity made Lind a star even before she arrived in America, creating a phenomenon known as “Lind mania”). What I didn’t know was that Lind’s career had almost ended before it had begun when she suffered vocal damage at 18 as a young opera singer and had to be carefully retrained by the famed singer Manuel Garcia, who taught her a much sounder technique. Nor did I know that she’d had close relationships--possibly love affairs--with Felix Mendelssohn and Frédéric Chopin. Or that, after two successful years on the London operatic stage, she announced her early retirement from opera at 29, for reasons that remain a mystery to this day.

Jenny Lind
Lind still continued to sing at concert halls in Europe and, later, America. She negotiated a high price for the concerts she gave while touring with Barnum in 1850, donating most of the proceeds to her favorite charities, which included the endowment of free schools in her native Sweden. In 1852, she married the German composer and pianist Otto Goldschmidt. The couple settled in England and had three children. Lind continued to give concerts, though she retired as a performer in 1883.  Appointed professor of singing at the Royal College of Music (founded in 1882), she instructed her pupils not only in vocal studies but diction, deportment, piano, and at least one foreign language.

Melba’s life was no less colorful. Australian by birth, she studied music in Melbourne and achieved some modest success at amateur concerts. After a brief unsuccessful marriage to an abusive husband, she moved to Europe with the intent of pursuing a singing career. Failing to catch on in London, she went to Paris, where she found a dedicated teacher and advocate in Mathilde Marchesi and ultimately professional success. In 1889, after a triumphant performance in Romeo et Juliette, Melba was acknowledged as a star in London as well. During the 1890s, she established herself as the foremost lyric soprano at Covent Garden.

Melba toast
International success also proved within Melba’s grasp when she sang at the Metropolitan Opera in New York during the 1893-1894 season. Despite New Yorkers’ snobbery against professional singers, Melba’s talent and determination eventually earned her the same phenomenal success in America that she enjoyed in London and Paris. So celebrated was Melba that Auguste Escoffier, the great French chief created no less than four dishes in her honor: Peach Melba, a concoction of peaches, vanilla ice cream, and raspberry sauce; Melba sauce, made from pureed raspberries and currants; Melba Toast, thinly sliced dry toast, often topped with cheese or paté; and Melba Garniture, tomatoes stuffed with chicken, truffles, and mushrooms in a velouté sauce.

In later years, Melba embarked on a series of highly profitable tours of her native Australia and taught at the Melbourne Conservatorium, passing on many of her techniques to promising young singers. During the First World War she devoted herself to fund-raising for various war charities, and was created a Dame of the British Empire for her efforts. She officially retired from Covent Garden in 1926, but continued to perform until her death in 1931.

Whew! Compared to Lind and Melba, my heroine’s life--despite a doomed early romance--is quite tame! However, Sophie’s career trajectory is not dissimilar: like both of her historical counterparts, she benefits from supportive teachers who help her voice to develop properly. And who guide her steps as she makes the transition from gifted amateur to seasoned professional, first touring concert halls, then accepting a role that suits her (in this case, Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro) for her operatic debut.  And like Lind and Melba, Sophie commits wholeheartedly to her music, understanding the dedication that a singer’s work requires, even as love comes knocking at her door, in hopes of a second chance . . .

Thank you for hosting me today at History Undressed!

Leave a comment for your chance to win one print copy of  A Song at Twilight!  (US or Canada only).


Late in England’s Victorian age, the world is changing–new freedoms, new ideas, and perhaps a chance for an old love to be new again…

A love too strong to let go …

Aspiring singer Sophie Tresilian had the world at her feet–fame, fortune, and true love–until the man of her dreams broke her heart. Now she’s the toast of Europe, desired by countless men but unwilling to commit to any of them. Then Robin Pendarvis walks back into her life …

Four years ago, Robin had hoped to make Sophie his bride, but secrets from his past forced him to let her go. Seeing her again revives all the old pain–and all the old passion. It might be against every rule, but somehow, some way, he will bring them together again…


Pamela Sherwood grew up in a family of teachers and taught college-level literature and writing courses for several years before turning to writing full time. She holds a doctorate in English literature, specializing in the Romantic and Victorian periods, eras that continue to fascinate her and provide her with countless opportunities for virtual time travel. She lives in Southern California where she continues to write the kind of books she loves to read.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Louvre: France's Greatest Castle by McKenna Darby

Welcome back to History Undressed, McKenna Darby! Today she's written a great article on one of my favorite places in Paris, France -- The Louvre. Enjoy!


by McKenna Darby

We all know the Louvre as one of the world’s greatest art museums, but the building that houses the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa began, in every sense of the word, as a castle.

The Louvre was built in 1190 as a watchtower and fortress. Its location — on the right bank of the Seine, at the city’s western edge — was strategically chosen by Philip Augustus, last king of the Franks. His goal was to protect Paris from my ancestors, the English, whose territory included parts of what is now western France, just 60 kilometers from Paris.

The Louvre protected the city’s western flank, deterring an attack by land, and guarding traffic on the Seine, the city’s main commercial water route. A defensive wall starting at the Louvre was built around the city’s entire right bank. A second wall, built later, secured the city’s left bank. (Although largely demolished centuries ago, portions of this wall are still visible at spots in modern Paris.)

Philip Augustus’ cylindrical watch tower (known as the Grosse Tour and originally surrounded by a dry moat), was soon expanded with the addition of a courtyard surrounded by a square wall fitted with turrets. A water-filled moat was dug around the wall. The original tower became home to the city’s archives and the kingdom’s treasure. The fortress held the city’s arsenal.

In the centuries that followed, the Louvre grew and expanded, becoming the home of French rulers from Charles V in the 14th century until Louis XIV moved the French court to Versailles in 1682. After the Revolution, Napoleon again used the Louvre as a home, sharing the space with the art museum begun when Louis XIV left the city.

Louvre from inside Pei's pyramid
At the start of the Renaissance, Philip Augustus’ Louvre was demolished, lost to history. Or so we thought until 1983, when excavations for a new underground visitor’s center beneath a glass pyramid designed by I.M. Pei uncovered the foundations of the original castle. Today, visitors to the Louvre can walk around those remarkably preserved foundations, treading where the wet moat once protected the keep, and see the pediments that supported the drawbridge. Of all the Louvre’s wonders, this basement display is one of my favorites, almost like stepping into a time teleportation device.
Ancient Moat
Another favorite spot is the Cour Carrée, the last externally visible remnant of Francois I’s Louvre . For 100 years after the death of Charles VI, the Louvre was largely abandoned. That changed in 1527, when Francois decided to leave behind the Loire Valley and reside in Paris. He demolished Philip Augustus’ fortress and began an entirely new Louvre, which became the foundation for expansion and renovation by every ruler that followed.
Court Carree
Most of the Louvre’s facades are relatively modern, dating to the 1800s. But this one courtyard is exactly as Francois, the country’s first Renaissance king, planned it in the early 1500s. It was completed after the king’s death by his son, Henri II, who was married to Catherine de Medici. Catherine was devoted to her husband, whom she adored, but Henri was devoted to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. Whenever I visit this courtyard, I imagine an echo of Catherine pacing, seething over some new defeat at the hands of her rival.

The other place I picture Catherine is in the Chambre de Parade du Roi, the room where the royal rising ceremony was held in the 16th century during the reigns of Catherine’s sons, Charles IX and Henri III. The ornately carved wood paneling in this room, commissioned by Catherine’s husband Henri II and carved by Scibec de Carpi, is considered the finest Renaissance paneling that survives in Paris. In that room, I can almost hear the arguments between Catherine, a Catholic who fought most of her life for religious tolerance of the growing Protestant movement (although she is also widely blamed for sparking the largest massacre of Protestants in French history), and the Duc de Guise, Henri’s uncle and an avowed Protestant-hater. Pity the king caught between that irresistible force and immovable object.
Henri II woodwork
Ironically, it was not one of Catherine’s sons but her nephew, the Bourbon Protestant king Henri IV, who built the Grand Galerie (Grand Gallery) to link the Louvre with Catherine’s pet construction project, the Tuileries Palace. Henri IV was assassinated before he could finish the project; it was completed by Louis XIV. The Tuileries burned down in 1871, torched by an angry political mob, but the Louvre was saved. The Grand Gallery, home to most of the museum’s Leonardo da Vinci collection, features prominently in Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code, as the site of the murder that launches the story.

Another beautiful Louvre spot is the Salle des Caryatids, named for the four female figures sculpted by Jean Goujon in 1550 to support the musician’s gallery above. 

Salle des Caryatids

When visiting the Louvre, it’s difficult to tear your attention away from the magnificent paintings on the walls and the sculptures lining the halls, but don’t forget to look up. The Louvre’s breathtaking ceilings tell much of its history as a castle.

The Denon Room, named for the Louvre’s first director under Napoleon I, features a ceiling created for Napoleon III’s legislative assemblies. It was painted by Charles-Louis Müller to glorify state patronage in France. Flooded with light from the third story windows that circle it, the ceiling is one of the castle’s most impressive works of art.

Denon Ceiling

Perhaps the most fitting piece of art in a castle that has seen so much change and strife is in the former study of Louis XIV. Beginning in 1722, it was used as a meeting room for the Académie Royal, protectors of French culture. The ceiling painting in this room is by Jean-Baptiste Mauzaisse. Created in 1821, ostensibly to celebrate discovery of the Venus de Milo, the painting has a title that roughly translates: Time Lays Low All Things of Man.

Time Lays Low

McKenna Darby writes romantic historical novels set during the French Renaissance and the American Civil War. Visit her at http://mckennadarby.com

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Video of the Week: Horrible Histories Scary Special Part 2

Last week's video was Horrible Histories Scary Special Part 1, and this week it is Part 2! I just can't get enough of these videos :)


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Video of the Week: Horrible Histories Scary Special Part 1

In celebration of All Hallows Eve (Halloween), this week's video is Horrible Histories Scary Special Part 1. Stay tuned next week for Part 2!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Dragons, Mythology, and Romance by Nancy Lee Badger

Welcome back to History Undresesd, guest blogger, Nancy Lee Badger! Nancy writers historical/paranormal romance. Today she's written a post for us on dragons and mythology! You may remember reading a couple of years ago her post on Dragons of Scotland, if not its worth a read! Enjoy! 

Dragons, Mythology, and Romance
 by Nancy Lee Badger for History Undressed

I love dragons. Who doesn’t? Whether you consider them an extinct species, or mythological hokum, there is mystery to dragons that make them work in a paranormal romance novel. They fill books and songs, have been immortalized in paintings, and their stories have been passed down through folklore. I have written several books where one of my main characters is a Scottish dragon in human form. Some have chosen to change into a human while others transform into a dragon unwillingly.

If you were to open a dictionary, you might see dragons described as mythical monsters that are traditionally represented as great in size, having a lion’s claws and serpent tales. They usually have wings, some have horns, and all are covered by scales. Of course, the word ‘dragon’ is sometimes used to describe a fiercely vigilant or intractable person, or any of various lizards, such as the Komodo dragon, or a flying lizard. Representations of dragons appear in normal life since many countries have adopted them on their flags, coins, statues, and other decorations.

Why choose dragons when I could have just as easily wrote about shape-shifting wolves or cheetahs? We know wolves and big cats are real animals, and people would most likely relate to them more than to dragons, but I like that dragons are naturally surrounded by mystery. Who are we to say they do not exist? This possibility intrigued me. Unicorns give me the same warm feelings, since I love horses, but I focused on dragons. Maybe a story filled with unicorns will pop into my head next!

DRAGON Bites, my collection of several Scottish dragon tales, includes Dragon’s Curse, the story of Draco and Brianna. I searched maps and the internet for an island that would suit my story. When I came across a video of Staffa, near the island of Mull, I saw a huge cave. This cave has been the subject of paintings, and I immediately felt it would be the perfect place for my hero to hide when in his dragon form.

In Southern Fried Dragon, I chose my story’s setting after I visited Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, down in coastal South Carolina. Why couldn’t my heroine be a Scottish dragon looking for love among a fort filled with soldiers while hiding from a rogue dragon?

While researching stories about dragons for these stories, I came across a listing of Loch Ness. Folk lore says that the Loch Ness monster is a dragon? I was very surprised since I always thought it might be a trapped dinosaur. The idea formed into my award-winning short story, Dragon in the Mist. All three of these stories are available individually in ebook form, but I recently bundled them into one book that is also available in print.   

You can find more about dragons in books such as:
DRAGONS by Jonathan Evans 

You can find information on dragons at websites such as:

BOOK BLURB: Dragon Bites
This is a collection of three novellas. DRAGON’S CURSE, set on the Scottish island of Staffa in the late 16th century, features a young man cursed to transform into dragon at inopportune times and the woman he protects. SOUTHERN FRIED DRAGON pairs a Scottish dragon-turned woman and a federal soldier at Ft. Sumter on the eve of Civil War. DRAGON IN THE MIST is a contemporary love story on the shores of Loch Ness.

More About Nancy Lee Badger
She loves chocolate-chip shortbread, wool plaids wrapped around the trim waist of a Scottish Highlander, the clang of broadswords, and the sound of bagpipes in the air. After growing up in Huntington, New York, and raising two handsome sons in New Hampshire, she moved to North Carolina where she writes full-time. Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, Triangle Area Freelancers, and the Celtic Heart Romance Writers.  

Connect with Nancy:

DRAGON Bites, a 3book Collection of Dragon Tales
Amazon Ebook      
Amazon Print          
NOOK Ebook         
B&N Print               

WIN your own piece of dragon art: Nancy is giving away this beautiful double-sided window sticker created by Jen Delyth to one person who leaves a comment. Please include your contact info. Winner will be chosen Friday Oct. 18th.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Bit of History on Admiral Nelson by Katherine Bone

Welcome guest author, Katherine Bone, to History Undressed! She's written a bit of history on Admiral Nelson for us today. Enjoy!

As a child I held the Captain Horatio Hornblower movie with Gregory Peck in the highest esteem. Fast forward to the not so present future, inspired by movies Pirates of the Caribbean, Master and Commander, and the new BBC series Captain Horatio Hornblower with Ioan Gruffald, a splendid idea hit me. Why not write your own series? Eager to combine romance, action and adventure, I set out to do a lot of research on Admiral Nelson in preparation for a pirate series I envisioned. The novels would be set between 1800-1806, when England was battling Napoleon on land and water.

What I didn’t know, and what I think all writers discover as they flesh out story ideas, was Admiral Nelson was an ideal leading man. Fascinating, unapologetic, charismatic, he was more than a bit vain. He was also not without substance. Whatever could be said of him, he deserved acclaim. Not only did he lead England into the biggest victory at Trafalgar, he did it on his own terms after crafting seven alternatives to battle. Yes. Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson was an extremely disciplined man. A tactical genius, he prevented England from being penetrated by the enemy at a time when Napoleon had already dominated surrounding countries.
Intriguing facts about Nelson lead me to believe that my series, the Nelson’s Tea Series, had a factual foundation which then allowed my imagination to soar. For instance, Nelson was never without his tea. Even during battle on board his beloved ship he was known to enjoy tea time. The young son of a vicar, Nelson took to the sea under the guidance of his uncle, Captain Maurice Suckling. As the years passed, Nelson advanced through the ranks, gaining a reputation for courage and devotion to both country and his men. Prone to seasickness, he contracted Malaria in India and was a victim of reoccurring illness throughout the rest of his life. That, however, did not stop him from doing his duty.

Before 1805, and his death at Trafalgar, Nelson had already lost an eye, an arm, and had almost lost his other eye due to another head injury. His tenacity, his sheer strength of will propelled him throughout his career to continue to fight the good fight, even at the risk of his own personal health. No author could imagine a greater hero than this, eh?

But no man is without faults. Nelson was a man dealing with demons. Vanity, and the desire to be applauded, catapulted him into the spotlight so much so that even his deteriorating marriage and the love he felt for a married woman teased the gossip mills. If not for his success, he would have been shunned in early Regency society. He would have faced court martial for disobeying orders and reacting on gut instinct, instinct that provided one English victory after another.

In late 1801, Admiral Nelson returned to England to recover from another bout with recurring malaria. At that time, he was tasked by the Admiralty Board to devise a method for protecting England’s shores. In my Nelson’s Tea Series, Nelson did just that by acquiring the help of Lord Simon Danbury, famed pirate hunter. Together, they enlisted the help of first sons willing to disguise themselves in the king’s service. Twenty men were trained in mercenary tactics and sent on missions of utmost secrecy. Duke by Day, Rogue by Night and The Rogue’s Prize follow Lord Percival Avery’s and Captain Henry Guffald’s adventures in 1804 and 1805.

Heroes are not made, they are born. Heroes rise to the occasion and prove themselves time and time again. As a romance author looking for a man to base a series upon, I didn’t have to go farther than Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, Viscount Nelson of the Nile and Burnhorn Thorpe, Baron Nelson of the Nile and Hilborough. Here was a man who did his duty, valued family, loved and dared to love, but remained true to his callingprotecting England’s shores.

Are you surprised that Nelson carried on an affair with a married woman? That she gave birth to their illegitimate daughter, Horatia, while still married to her husband? That Nelson lived with both Lord Hamilton and Lady Hamilton when he returned to England in 1801?

Katherine Bone has been passionate about all things historical since she was an Army brat traveling all over the world. As a budding artist, she met and fell in love with her own Prince Charming, a dashing lieutenant vowing duty, honor, and country. Whisked away to more Army bases, castles, battlegrounds and cathedrals, it was during this time in her life that the muse called with abandon, introducing her to swashbuckling characters promising adventures that would ease the lonely hours Charming was called away on duty. No longer nomadic, Katherine and her rogue have raised four children and set down southern roots with their fluffy Maine Coon, Christine Daae. Visit her at www.katherinebone.com

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Castle of the Week: Eilean Donan

I took this pic from the parking lot :) Isn't it magical?
This week's castle is Eilean Donan on the Isle of Skye. I drove from Inverness to the Isle of Skye earlier this year to see this castle. The drive was amazing, and the castle well worth it!

Eilean Donan was built on an island in the middle of Loch Duich. You may have seen the picturesque castle with its stone bridge. There is a central tower and walled courtyard. Surrounded by water on all sides, the enemy had only two ways to reach the castle -- by water or by bridge. Either way, the guards would have seen them coming. The castle had the perfect defensive position.

The castle was a stronghold for the Mackenzies of Kintail. Robert the Bruce sheltered there in 1306--which was the prime reason I used the castle as his base in several of my Stolen Bride books (though I used creative license to move that date back a bit.) In 1504, the castle was captured by the Earl of Huntly, and severeal years later the MacRaes took charge. By 1539, the MacDonald's laid siege to Eilean Donan. By the 17th century, the Mackenzies had gained enough power to take back their castle. Their chief was titled Earl of Seaforth. During the Jacobite era, they had Spanish troops garrisoned there, but unfortunately for such an amazing castle, three English frigates battered the castle with canon fire. When their fire barely breached the 14 foot thick walls, they sent their men ashore, and those occupying the castle surrendered. As if surrendering wasn't enough, they lit 343 barrels of gunpowder, letting them explode within the tower, crumbling Eilean Donan.

The earl stripped of his lands and titles (which the clan later regained but the title became extinct in 1815), the castle would stand in ruins until the 20th century when it was rebuilt.

The castle as it stands today, is a rebuild. Bought by Lt Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap and his wife in 1911, he spent the next twenty years reconstructing the castle to its former glory (with a few added perks like electricity!). Eilean Donan remains a residence to this day--however it is open to visitors.

Check out the pics from my visit! We weren't allowed to take pics form inside, so I only have some from the outside.

One of my favorite pics I took of the castle--see the reflection of the castle in the water?

This is a picture I took from the right side of the bridge.

Standing at the gate and gazing down the stone bridge.

Me on the beautiful bridge to Eilean Donan!

This is a view of the castle after walking to the end of the bridge. Imposing and awe-inspiring. It really takes you back. The reconstruction really did justice to this medieval castle.

Stone stairs near the front of the castle leading down to the shore of Loch Duich.

Main doors leading to a small inner courtyard. Can you see that little square? That's about my height, so the doors were very tall.

An arrow-slit window several yards to the left of the main door.

Stairs near the back leading down to water and a large walking area.

Once we crossed through the main door, these curling stairs were to the left.

Standing at the bottom of the circular stair and looking up. That is the door into what was made into a billiard room, but in my stories, it served as hall for warriors.

At the top of those same circular stairs looking down. That arch leads to the main door.

From the 3rd story a picture out the window.

Standing behind the castle, I took a pic of the loch.

From behind the castle, a look up the imposing walls.

Again from behind. I wandered into the grassy area and took a pic.

Hope you enjoyed these pics from my visit to Eilean Donan! If you want to take a virtual tour of the castle, you can visit their website: http://www.eileandonancastle.com/

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