Pondering life in the time of the Montfort brothers…
By April Munday
Living in the past isn’t normal, not really. Many of us may spend time reflecting on events in our personal history, which can be healthy, but I’m referring to something else.
I spend many of my waking hours thinking about the fourteenth century. For all I know, I dream about it as well, but I rarely remember dreams. I think about how people lived then; about what influenced their lives; about what they ate and drank; and about what they wore. I think about the spaces they inhabited and what they did in their leisure time. I think about the stories they told one another and the songs they sang.
I read books about Edward III, the Black Prince, the Hundred Years War, medieval hunting, marriage in the Middle Ages, medieval trades and medieval gardens. I blog about what I discover and I even try medieval recipes.
Many pleasant hours are spent wondering about how someone in the fourteenth century would think. If they had a problem, how would they tackle it? If they had to go on a journey, how would they plan for it? How would a young man meet a young woman and what would happen if one or the other of them was already betrothed to someone else?
|Richard II's Palace, Portchester.
Years of visiting medieval castles, churches and cathedrals have made me want to know how so many people could live in such small places. Even the palaces of kings were not large. How could relationships develop when there was so little opportunity to be alone? When a man shared a bedchamber not just with his wife, but with his widowed mother, unmarried sisters and his own children, did a curtain around the bed provide enough separation for all parties when he was ‘enjoying’ his wife?
These are the joys that have led to me writing historical romance. I’m infinitely curious about the fourteenth century. If I want to know how people lived, I need to imagine them in their surroundings, going about their everyday lives. I have to think about their problems and how they were solved. This raises more questions that have to be researched and answered. I collect ‘what ifs’ and ‘hows’ about the fourteenth century on a daily basis.
Asking ‘what if’ is the starting point of writing fiction and my ‘what ifs’ led, amongst other things, to my series of novels about the four Montfort brothers: The Soldiers of Fortune.
The battle of Poitiers in 1356 was one of the most famous battles of the Hundred Years War. It was a great and unexpected victory for the English and resulted in the capture of the French king, John II. Many things changed that day for many men. I asked what would happen if five brothers went into the battle, but only four came out alive. What if the oldest brother was killed and the next brother became the heir to an earldom? What if that brother believed his younger brother had killed the oldest brother? What if another brother had to remain in France to recover from his wounds?Each question led to another question until Ancelin, Stephen, Aymer and Mark had their own lives and their own answers. They also found women to love. All of which leads us back to the question of the man in bed with his wife. That question, at least, is easy to answer. The curtain was more than enough to protect the sensibilities.
The Heir’s Tale
1357 Ancelin Montfort returns from fighting in France eager to see the woman he has always loved. Following his brother's death, he is heir to his father's earldom, and his new responsibilities weigh heavily on the young knight. He hopes that Alice will provide the distraction he needs.
Emma expects to marry Ancelin within a few days of his arrival, but he pays more attention to his widowed sister-in-law than he does to her. The more time Emma spends with him, the more she realizes that he's no longer the man she fell in love with. When he accuses her of seeing other men in his absence, Emma fights back.
The Heir's Tale is the first in a series of medieval romances. If you like vivid historical detail and fast-paced compelling drama, you'll love April Munday's The Heir's Tale.
April Munday is the author of romances set in the fourteenth century. She lives in Hampshire, where many of her stories are set. In her head she lives in the fourteenth century, but only in her head; she has learned far too much about life in the Middle Ages to want to live there in reality. She is inspired by the remnants of the past which are part of her local landscape. Her latest series, The Soldiers of Fortune, is set after the Battle of Poitiers, which changes the lives of four brothers.