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Showing posts from October, 2015

‘And Death Will Have His Day’: Guest Post by Gillian Polack, Co-Author of The Middle Ages Unlocked

I have been invited by Amberley Publishing to participate in a blog tour for "The Middle Ages Unlocked: A Guide to Life in Medieval England, 1050-1300" by Dr Gillian Polack and Dr Katrin Kania, and today I am delighted and honoured to welcome one of the authors to our Lesser Land. Dr Gillian Polack is going to share her thoughts on how medieval people always kept in mind that "death would have his day" and tried to prepare themselves for his coming. The subject matter of her post is even more relevant in the context of what happened today in medieval history. 19 October marks the death anniversary of the two medieval figures I have taken a lively interest in, namely Henry the Young King's youngest brother, John, king of England (d. 1216) and, moving East, Queen Ryksa Elżbieta of Bohemia (d. 1335), the mother-in-law of Henryk I of Jawor to whom we owe the world's only surviving Lancelot of the Lake wall paintings. Let us find out how they may have prepared t…

"A Frisky, Gay Elena": Matilda, Duchess of Saxony and Bavaria (1156-1189)

Lady, because of you I am pensive night and day here in Normandy; I dream that you always smile at me in beauty and happiness (from Casutz sui de mal en pena)
Thus wrote the famed bellicose troubadour Bertran de Born after he spent some time in Argentan, Normandy in the fall of 1182, where Henry the Young King's father, Henry II held a great court. Bertran who accompanied his overlord, Henry's younger brother Richard [the future Lionheart] complained that he was nearly killed by the "boredom and vulgarity of Argentan", but "the noble, lovable body and sweet, mild face and good companionship and conversation of the Saxon lady" protected him. Who was "a frisky, gay Elena", the Saxon lady of "such a loving look" that saved Bertran's life?
Matilda, the younger sister of Henry the Young King was born as the eldest daughter of King Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine in June 1156, fifiteen months after her brother Henry (b. 28 Febru…