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Womens' rights in King John's reign

Writing historicals is always a challenge. Not just giving the facts, but doing justice to the times without getting caught up in anachronisms is my biggest endeavor. The reason I love the period of King John's England is for the very reason that women's rights--let that read widows' rights-- were of utmost interest to John's subjects.
Widows, made so at young ages by disease and accident to their spouses, often held large tracts of land and hence, too, earned the monies destined for the households' coffers. So were these youthful women made wealthy. So, too, were they prizes to be handed over by legal ties of matrimony by the king to men whom he wished to please or reward.
John all too often used the women in his realm to his own ends. Demanding they marry as he chose, he could and did imprison one and perhaps more for failure to do his will. In one case, he did indeed (as I recount in FOR HER HONOUR) imprison his own cousin for her failure to wed whom he chose--and then too castrated her lover for his disobedience.
The Magna Carta, long known as a prime document and marker in the progress toward English freedoms, reflects the outrage of John's nobles over his misuse of his power over widows.
My Swords of Passion series, of which FOR HER HONOUR is the second, shows John's willfulness...and waywardness.
The Carta is justifiably his comeuppance!
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Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello, Cerise,

I found your post really interesting. What I really wonder what got you interested in this period? It's not one of the historical romance "favorites".

I agree that writing historicals is more difficult than any other sub-genre. There's such a risk that you'll make a real faux pas, and a savvy reader will throw the book across the room in scorn.

Good luck with this one!

All the best,

Delicious Romance From Cerise DeLand said...

Lisabet, Thank you.
To answer your question about how I became interested in this period, I must say I first studied Eleanor of Aquitaine who was Henry II's wife, King John's mother and King Richard's. (My heroes in this Swords of Passion series all went to the Holy Land with Richard.) Eleanor was not merely a political powerhouse but also supported musicians, artists and those who wrote the first romances in France. (So did her father.) While Eleanor pre-dates this series, she certainly affected the English sensibilities about women and their rights.
And as for those pesky mistakes in historicals, I work diligently not to make them. As a trained historian, I pride myself on being accurate to the point that, many times, I defy those who have made them so often they have created anachronisms. Example? Use of the English language as we would recognize it did not occur until approximately Chaucer's time. The nobles of King John's reign spoke Norman French with a smattering of Anglo-Saxon to communicate with the original inhabitants.

Anonymous said...

good read, post more!