Category Archives: Young Adult Fiction

A Red Rose and a White Rose for Valentine’s Day

White Rose of York

White Rose of York (Photo credit: psd)

I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out what to get my readers this Valentine’s day and still focus on this weeks Star-Crossed Lovers, Elizabeth Woodville and Edward IV.  So, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I have one red rose and one white rose for everyone.  Click the link below to watch Bob Hale of Horrible Histories explain the War of the Roses in three minutes and forty-nine seconds.  Your welcome.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1-5FEnQhXE

 

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Star-Crossed Lovers Week: Elizabeth Woodville and Edward IV

The War of the Roses seemed to be over.  The mad King Henry and his queen, Margaret of Anjou were overthrown and Edward IV kept the crown steadily on his head for three years.  An alliance with France and a betrothal to a French princess were in the works.  And then came Elizabeth Woodville, the Capulet to Edward’s Montague.

Elizabeth Woodville (1437–92), Queen Con...

Elizabeth Woodville (1437–92), Queen Consort of Edward IV of England (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Upon entering Margaret of Anjou’s court, Elizabeth Woodville quickly became known as the belle of England.  She was a fair-faced, heavy-lidded, flaxen-haired beauty.   Letters between Richard Neville and Richard of York describe her as the loveliest and most sweet-mannered maid in court.  The two men tried unsuccessfully to marry her to a poor knight, but Elizabeth, though penniless herself, used her fair face to rise.  She married the wealthy, yet handsome John Grey.

When King Henry went mad, leaving only an infant son for heir, the York cause grew stronger.  Clashes between Richard of York and Henry’s wife, Margaret of Anjou, fueled flames between the two lines.  Battles raged again and most in England chose either the white rose of York or the red rose of Lancaster.  The Woodville’s remained loyal to the Lancasters.  Elizabeth and her mother, Jacquetta,  served Margaret of Anjou faithfully.  Elizabeth’s father and brothers fought bravely against the Yorks.  Elizabeth’s husband, John Grey, lost his life under the red rose, dying in the Second Battle of St. Albans.

With the help of his cousin, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, Edward took the throne.  An alliance with France had been made. A marriage between King Edward and a French princess was being negotiated to secure the peace.  That marriage never happened.

Elizabeth’s sons were denied their inheritance, leaving them destitute for two years.  When Elizabeth heard the king was hunting near her mother’s castle in Grafton, Elizabeth, with a son in each arm, waited under a tree for Edward to ride by.  She dropped to her knees and begged for his mercy.  The young king fell for her immediately, but Elizabeth would not give herself lightly.  Edward was a known womanizer and Elizabeth denied him.  This only made Edward want her more. The two wed in secret in her family’s home on May 1, 1464.

Edward IV Plantagenet (1442-1483)

Edward IV Plantagenet (1442-1483) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Edward seemed reluctant to acknowledge Elizabeth as his wife.  She gave birth to their first child only five months after Edward publicly acknowledged her and it took over a year for her to be crowned.

The irony of Edward’s choosing an impoverished Lancastrian bride was not lost and never forgotten by those who helped him to the throne.  Edward must have been quite besotted with her, knowing the marriage would not only upset the truce with France, but also his English allies.  Perhaps no one was more disappointed by this union than Richard Neville, who worked diligently to secure the alliance with France.

Evidence shows that Neville tried to get along with the Woodville’s at first even though it must have been frustrating to see Edward give up a strong French alliance so he could marry a commoner.  Adding injury to insult, Elizabeth hastily married her brood of siblings into the wealthiest and most influential English families.  Edward certainly treated Neville well, too, rewarding his loyalties with land and titles, but it never was quite enough for Neville.

Eventually, Neville rebelled the Woodville influence over the king, taking up his sword. He aligned with Edward’s younger brother, George, Duke of Clarence, waging war against the king several times.   At one point, Neville even sided with his former enemy, Margaret of Anjou, marrying his daughter to her son.  Neville had Edward on the run more than once forcing Elizabeth to spend time hiding with her children in sanctuary.

All in all, Elizabeth and Edward’s marriage was a fruitful one, producing ten children.  Elizabeth rose quite high, from a low-ranking noble to the Queen of England, though the death of her second husband forced her to fall quite far.

Richard III usurped his young nephew’s throne, holding him prisoner while claiming to plan a coronation for the boy.  Elizabeth’s son and brother, who served as guardians for the prince were executed.   Elizabeth took sanctuary with her children.  Richard demanded her other son be brought to court.  Whether Elizabeth sent him or a decoy is not known.  No one knows for sure what happened to the two princes, but two bodies were found in the Tower of London in 1674.

Elizabeth’s marriage to Edward was deemed illegitimate during Richard III’s reign.    Elizabeth and Margaret Beaufort arranged a marriage contract between their children: Elizabeth of York and Henry Tudor.  Upon the death of Richard III, Elizabeth was restored to the position of a dowager queen.   The marriage between Elizabeth and Henry united the Yorks and Lancaster under the white and red Tudor rose and ended the thirty year War of the Roses.

Article written by Andrea Cefalo, author of The Fairytale Keeper: a novel of corruption, devotion, and the origins of Grimm’s fairytales.  To follow Andrea Cefalo and hear more about The Fairytale Keeper series, please visit:
Sources:
http://www.luminarium.org/encyclopedia/woodville.htm
http://www.historytoday.com/jonathan-lewis/yorkist-kings-and-foreign-policy
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Woodville

Star Crossed Lovers Week: Listen to the Letters of Abelard and Heloise

Listen to the Letters of Abelard and Heloise

Lady Reading the Letters of Heloise and Abelard

Lady Reading the Letters of Heloise and Abelard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I must admit that I’ve become swept up into the great romance between Heloise and Abelard. And so, for day three of Star-Crossed Lovers Week, I am happy to link to the reading of their letters. So if you are as enamored by these love letters as I am, click the links below.  The first is a link to a theatrical reading of the letters.  The second is a clip from the movie Stealing Heaven, about the famous love affair.

 

 

Star-Crossed Lovers Week: Heloise’s First Letter to Abelard

Heloïse imagined in a mid-19th-century engraving

Heloïse imagined in a mid-19th-century engraving (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the time this letter was written, Heloise and Abelard had been parted for over a decade.  Never once had Abelard sent Heloise a letter recognizing the immense sacrifice she made for him or to check after her well-being.  Heloise’s response below comes after a letter was passed to her from a third-party in which Abelard wrote of his fears for his life at the hands of his own pupils.  After ten years of separation, Heloise worries after her lover of so long ago and writes poetically of her devotion to him and yet pain at his ignoring her.  And so while Heloise and Abelard may have been the Romeo and Juliet of their time, so may Heloise have been the Shakespeare, as well.  Below are bits and pieces of Heloise’s first letter to Abelard.

Not long ago my beloved, by chance someone brought me the letter of consolation you had sent to a friend.  I saw at once from the superscription that it was yours, and was all the more eager to read it since the writer is so dear to my heart.  I hoped for renewal of strength, at least from the writer’s words which would picture for me the reality I have lost.  But nearly every line of this letter was filled, I remember, with gall and wormwood, as it told the pitiful story of our entry into religion and the cross of unending suffering which you, my only love, continue to bear.

…You revealed the persecution you suffered from your teachers, the supreme treachery of the mutilation of your person, and then described the abominable jealousy and violent attacks of your fellow students. 

…No one, I think, could read or hear it dry-eyed; my own sorrows are renewed in the detail in which you have told it, and redoubled because you say your perils are still increasing. …We beseech you to write as often as you think fit to us who are His handmaids and yours.

…You have dealt us fresh wounds of grief as well as re-opening the old.  I beg you, then, as you set about tending the wounds which others have dealt, heal the wounds you have yourself inflicted.

…In the precarious early days of our conversion long ago I was not a little surprised and troubled by your forgetfulness, when neither reverence for God nor our mutual love nor the example of the holy Father made you think of trying to comfort me, wavering and exhausted as I was by prolonged grief, either by word when I was with you or by letter when we had parted.  Yet you must know that you are bound to me by an obligation which is all the greater for the further close tie of the marriage sacrament uniting us, and are the deeper in my debt because of the love I have always borne you, as everyone knows a love which is beyond all bounds.

Abelard and his pupil, Héloïse, by Edmund Blai...

Abelard and his pupil, Héloïse, by Edmund Blair Leighton (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You know, beloved, as the whole world knows, how much I have lost in you, how at one wretched stroke of fortune that supreme act of flagrant treachery robbed me of my very self in robbing me of you; and how my sorrow for my loss is nothing compared with what I feel for the manner in which I lost you. Surely the greater the cause for grief the greater the need for the help of consolation, and this no one can bring but you; you are the sole cause of my sorrow, and you alone can grant me the grace of consolation.  You alone have the power to make me sad, to bring me happiness or comfort; you alone have so great a debt to repay me, particularly now when I have carried out all your orders so implicitly that when I was powerless to oppose you in anything, I found strength at your command to destroy myself.  I did more, strange to say—my love rose to such heights of madness that it robbed itself of what it most desired beyond hope of recovery, when immediately at your bidding I changed my clothing along with my mind, in order to prove you the sole possessor of my body and my will alike.  God knows I never sought anything in you except yourself; I wanted simply you, nothing of yours.  I looked for no marriage-bond, no marriage portion, and it was not my own pleasures and wishes I sought to gratify, as you well know, but yours.  The name of wife may seem more sacred or more binding, but sweeter for me will always be the word mistress, or if you will permit me, that of concubine or whore.  I believed that the more I humbled myself on your account, the more gratitude I should win from you, and also the less damage I should do to the brightness of your reputation. …You kept silent about most of my arguments for preferring love to wedlock and freedom to chains.  God is my witness that if Augustus, Emperor of the whole world, thought fit to honor me with marriage and conferred all on the earth to possess forever, it would be dearer and more honorable to me to be called not his Empress but your whore.

Article written by Andrea Cefalo, author of The Fairytale Keeper: a novel of corruption, devotion, and the origins of Grimm’s fairytales.  To follow Andrea Cefalo and hear more about The Fairytale Keeper series, please visit:

Source:  Héloïse, and Peter Abelard. The Letters of Abelard and Heloise. Trans. Betty Radice. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974. Print.

Star-Crossed Lovers Week: Abelard and Heloise

Abelard and Heloise: The Twelfth Century’s Romeo and Juliet

Peter Abelard

Peter Abelard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Abelard was one of the most respected, yet controversial philosophers and teachers of his time.  Though born of minor nobility, he gave up his rights as the eldest son to become a scholar, a career he was well-suited for.  While being taught at the cathedral school of Notre-Dame de Paris, Abelard defeated his teacher in argument, overhauling philosophical theory of the time.  By 1115, Abelard was no longer the student of philosophy and religion; he was the teacher, taking the chair at Notre Dame.  It is said that thousands from all over Europe came to hear him speak.

Abelard seemed to thrive on controversy and challenge.  Having quickly conquered the intellectual world, he became bored and upon meeting the seventeen year old Heloise, Abelard discovered a new conquest.

Heloise resided in Notre Dame under the care of her uncle, a secular cannon named Fulbert.  It was there that Abelard deliberately sought out and seduced Heloise.  Abelard grew careless and boasted of the affair, even allowing the songs he composed of her to be sung in public.  Fulbert acknowledged the affair and tried unsuccessfully to separate the lovers, but this only made them more desperate and clumsy.  The two were eventually caught in bed together.

Abaelardus and Heloïse in a manuscript of the ...

Abaelardus and Heloïse in a manuscript of the Roman de la Rose (14th century) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Soon Heloise became pregnant, and Abelard sent her away to Brittany to have their son.  Abelard offered to marry Heloise in secret in order to appease Fulbert, but Heloise declined the offer.  Heloise and Abelard held a negative view of marriage, seeing it as a permitting of fleshly sins, no better than prostitution.  They both viewed scholars, such as Abelard, as men who should be beyond earthly desires.  Abelard would have sacrificed his career to keep Heloise, but she insisted on being his mistress, preferring ‘love to wedlock and freedom to chains’.  Eventually Abelard sent Heloise to a nearby convent in order to avoid confrontation with Fulbert.  Abelard still visited Heloise, and the two often snuck off to the refectory for lovemaking.   Enraged at the treatment of his niece, Fulbert ordered servants to break into Abelard’s room by night and castrate him on the spot.  Abelard ran off to St. Denis Abbey and resumed teaching before his wound healed, and Heloise took her vows.

In the nine years following, Heloise raised herself to prioress.   Her love for Abelard never ceased, and her love for God never blossomed.  Abelard, lacking physical urges and finding value in his teachings, felt quite the opposite of his former lover.  Heloise heard nothing from Abelard for over a decade.  It was through a third-party that Heloise received a letter in which, Abelard shared fears for his safety while in St. Gildas.  Heloise’s first letter to Abelard shows worry for Abelard’s safety but also reveals her pain.   Abelard had not only ignored her for over ten years, he never fully recognizing the sacrifices she made for his success.  Heloise accused Abelard of never loving, but only lusting after her, a fact which he later acknowledged.

Article written by Andrea Cefalo, author of The Fairytale Keeper: a novel of corruption, devotion, and the origins of Grimm’s fairytales.  To follow Andrea Cefalo and hear more about The Fairytale Keeper series, please visit:

Source:  Héloïse, and Peter Abelard. The Letters of Abelard and Heloise. Trans. Betty Radice. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974. Print.

All This Month: Love in the Middle Ages

Eloisa e abelardo framed

Eloisa e abelardo framed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rolling with the romance that February brings, this month’s posts will fall under the theme of “Love in the Middle Ages”.  Each week, I’ll take on a different topic.  Not only will I be writing about love, I’ll be spreading some, too.  Each week, every person who goes to and likes my official Facebook fan page will be entered into a drawing to win a free copy of The Fairytale Keeper.

So what is the topic for week one you ask??  Drum roll, please…Star-Crossed Lover’s Week!

Maddest Medieval Monarchs Week: Vlad the Impaler

Many times history is more interesting than fiction if we just look in the right places.  Follow me as I venture into the lives of some of the most scandalous, most murderous, most insane monarchs of the Middle Ages.  Day four of Maddest Medieval Monarchs Week brings us to a man  Immortalized as the love-sick vampire of Bram Stroker’s Dracula, Vlad the Impaler is probably the most infamous of the Maddest Medieval Monarchs. We often expect the fiction of a villain to be more sensational than the history, but the details of Vlad III’s life are far more horrific than those in the literary classic that made him famous.
Article written by Andrea Cefalo

Vlad III “The Impaler” of Wallachia

Vlad Ţepeş, the Impaler, Prince of Wallachia (...

Vlad Ţepeş, the Impaler, Prince of Wallachia (1456-1462) (died 1477) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vlad III inherited his famous epithet, Dracula, from his father.  Vlad II Dracul was a member of the Order of the Dragon, a chivalric order developed to protect Christian nations from the pressing Ottoman Empire.  The drac– in Dracul originates from the Latin draco, which means dragon.  Despite, Vlad III’s cruelty, parts of Bulgaria remember him and his father as protectors of the Christian faith in Europe.  However, most who know of him remember him as a murderous tyrant.
It seems that Vlad II’s oath to the Order of the Dragon was half-hearted since he sent Vlad III and his brother Radu as hostages to the Ottoman court.  Vlad III grew a strong hatred for and mistrust of his father, his brother (who converted to Islam), the Hungarians, and the Ottoman Turks whom he was forced to live with.  Vlad III was put on the throne of Wallachia by the Turks in the 1440’s after a Hungarian regent murdered Vlad’s father and elder brother.  The Hungarians invaded Wallachia and Vlad was forced to flee.  Vlad led an army back into Wallachia in 1456, retaking his throne after killing his opposer in hand-to-hand combat.   Wallachia was in ruins upon his return, and, in order to turn the country’s economics around, Vlad ruled with an iron fist and many long sharpened steaks.
Throughout his reign, it is estimated that Vlad slaughtered between 40,000 and 100,000 people.  In 1462, Vlad surrounded his capitol city with 20,000 impaled men, women, and children.  When Ottoman Turks approached the city for battle, they were horrified upon entering the nightmarish Forest of the Impaled.  Shocked and fear-stricken, the Turkish soldiers quickly fled for their lives.

1499 German woodcut showing Dracule waide dini...

1499 German woodcut showing Dracule waide dining among the impaled corpses of his victims. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vlad considered impalement an art form.  He arranged the impaled to form unique patters and would alternate his method of impalement so that some victims were impaled upright, others upside down, and some through the side.  In order to make the deaths slower and more excruciating, Vlad insisted that the stakes be smoothed and lubricated to keep from damaging internal organs.    Nobles were often invited to dine with the king in the Forest of the Impaled just before being impaled themselves.  While impalement was Vlad’s punishment of choice, he also resorted to other gruesome methods of torture, such as boiling, mutilating, skinning, as well as, cooking his victims while still alive.  Perhaps most appalling of all, he was known to force mothers to eat their own roasted children.
The Turks finally mounted a successful invasion and Vlad fled to Hungary where he was framed by a former ally and placed under house arrest for ten years.  While in captivity, Vlad captured and impaled the rodents and birds, arranging them in unique patters like he did with his human victims.  He was eventually released and reinstated as king of Wallachia where he ruled for another eight years.  He was assassinated in 1476, decapitated, and buried in an unknown grave.

To follow Andrea Cefalo and hear more about The Fairytale Keeper series, please visit:

Sources:

  • Mad Kings & Queens: History’s Most Famous Raving Royals  by Alison Rattle and Allison Vale
  •  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vlad_the_Impaler