I’m trying out a new recipe in the kitchen today. It’s a sponge cake with a whipped cream frosting and strawberries for Mother’s Day celebrations! I think it would be good with a cup of tea, too…
Since theme of the month is “Medieval Queens,” I thought it might be a good time to answer some questions about my interest in the Middle Ages and – hopefully – discover if you find this era interesting! Don’t forget to leave a comment and add to the conversation.
Why the Middle Ages and Medieval Queens this month? I thought you mostly focused on American History and Civil War.
Yes, it’s true my main area of study is the American Civil War, but I think it’s fun to explore other eras and topics too. It’s been a while since Gazette665 did a European History topic, and I knew I wanted to feature some women’s history since Mother’s Day is in May! That suggested “queens” for a subject.
There’s something a little irresistible about the idea of knights in shining armor and what we dreamed of at fourteen can still influence historical interests later in life. I studied the Middle Ages in school, of course, but my real interest and knowledge of this time period came from reading lots of library books and G.A. Henty stories.
Who’s Henty? He was a 19th Century historian and storyteller who lived in Victorian England. While some of his story plots aren’t exactly original (literature critic coming out here), they are clean stories about noble young men battling in different eras of history and exhibiting an array of good character qualities. Surprisingly, the historical facts and battle details in Henty’s stories have stood the test of time remarkably well, though some other parts of his historical interpretations definitely push the limits on what might be considered “politically correct” today. However, I really do credit Henty’s books with my knowledge of various historical characters and basic battle details for quite a few eras of European History and, now of course, I enjoy exploring further with more recent studies which usually corroborate what the 19th Century researcher discovered.
I devoured all the published Middle Ages history/story books in the Henty collection by the time I was fourteen. Yeah, I was little Medieval and fictional knight crazy at the time…
Are you “crazy about” the Middle Ages? Or were you at one point in time? Ever read a Henty book? (In Freedom’s Cause or Wulf the Saxon are two really good ones in the Middle Ages collection, and you can even find them on unabridged audiobook!)
What’s your favorite historical fiction book set in the Middle Ages?
Tough question, as much as I learned from the Henty books and still enjoy some of those Medieval tales, my all-time favorite is definitely The Red Keep by Allen French. I think this book because it’s a realistic “coming of age” story that’s relatively accurate in its description of chaotic life and local feuds in the Middle Ages. The main protagonist is a guy, but there’s a really strong female character too, who is pretty exciting to “follow” through the story.
Heard you had some Middle Ages living history days…?
Yep, those were lots of fun and lots of wonderful memories with my younger brothers.
Oh, you want details?
Well, I designed a coat of arms for myself and actually had it emblazon on a plywood shield. White background, blue cross outlined in green. In heraldry colors (at least accord to the reference coloring book we had!), white was for purity, blue for loyalty, and green for happiness.
I might post some photos from one of our living history days on Gazette665’s social media next week so stay tuned.
That’s all for today – and don’t forget to wish your mom a Happy Mother’s Day on Sunday (or remind your kids today!)