I’m off to the RWA national conference in Dallas tomorrow (if you’ll be there, say hi!) and in the usual last minute flurry, so I’m going to ask everyone to join in a cooperative blog. A treasure hunt, in fact. You see, a question here got the Wenches talking about whether there have been any peaceful times in history — times when one of our couples could look forward to a reasonably stable life in which to care for lands etc and raise children, and maybe, just maybe, die old and in their beds. If that’s what they wanted, of course.
One reason I moved on a generation in my medievals was this. Lord of My Heart, my first medieval, was set just after the Norman Conquest, and that was a pretty rough time, as invasion always is.
What’s more, I was so tired of the standard Norman night/Saxon maiden plot (and they weren’t Saxons, they were Anglo-Saxons, or more simply, English.) So I did a Norman maiden/Norman-English plot, with the hero’s main problem being his split allegiance. His mother is English, a daughter of Lady Godiva in fact, and his uncle is Hereward the Wake, leader of the English resistance. His father is a Norman lord and William of Normandy is his godfather.
I kind of sorted it all out for them, of course, but their next thirty years or so weren’t going to be easy. So I moved on smartly to the next generation, the Anglo-Normans, who had a simpler situation, largely because they’d rid themselves of most English of importance. Not that c 1100 it was a simple time, what with the Conqueror’s sons squabbling over the throne, but it was middling peaceful as history goes.
But looming ahead, of course, are the Stephen and Matilda wars, starting in 1135 when Henry I dies from an excess of lampreys*. Civil wars are always the worst, and this one carries on until 1153, which means my characters’ later years, and their children’s primes will be embroiled in this mess. Sigh.
*This lamprey business is a strange one. There’s some information here.
About lamprey pie.
There’s an ad to the right about losing 20lbs in 3 weeks. I’d think lampreys would do it. They sound, and look
“The sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus), which evolved some 250 million years ago, belongs to a near-extinct family of jawless fishes. A lamprey is a long scale-less river fish which looks very much like an eel. Its downward slanting mouth consists of a large, tooth-lined sucking disc. Once it has latched onto the side of another fish, the lamprey opens a hole in its host by wiping its raspy tongue across the skin. The parasite then secretes an anticoagulant that keeps this wound open so that the lamprey can feed on the prey’s blood and tissue.”
Perhaps one reason the Regency is popular is that it is fairly tranquil. Sure there was a war going on, but it wasn’t on home soil and it was of the heroic sort, fighting the “Corsican Monster” who had tried to invade. Coming up, the relatively stable and orderly Victorian period.
So, here are the rules of the hunt. Your characters can live in any time or location. Find a stretch of 60 years or so of reasonable political stability and peace at home for happy lovers to look forward to. The peace and stability need only be local, but let’s define that mostly as national. In other words, the fact that the country is waging war elsewhere, or stife exists beyond the borders might not count.
The three things that really count are: 1) dreadful and widespread disease, like plague or the Black Death, 2) invasion –up to you whether a peaceful one like William of Orange’s arrival in Britain counts, 3) civil war.
Have fun with this!
PS I always think this picture needs a caption. Something like one of the horses saying, “Can you believe this, Bill? We’re supposed to pretend to fight. Stupid humans.”