Thank you, Anna, for having me as your guest today. I’d like to start out by saying that I’ve always been intrigued by anything medieval. Castles, swords, knights, you name it. It has always peaked my interest. And through my years of research, I came to realize that our lives are influenced by things that happened or were said way back then.
For instance, the phrase, “caught you red-handed,” means to us that someone was caught in the act of doing something wrong. Well, back in the 12th Century one of the punishments for a thief was to dye their hand in berries, (unless it was cut off instead), and the dye would last for several weeks, hence announcing to everyone that the man or woman was a thief.
One of my favorites is the origin of the word “bouncer.” We know a bouncer as usually being a burly man in a bar who will throw out anyone being rowdy. Well, it had a whole different meaning back in the 14th Century, as seen in my books, Sapphire – Book 2 of my Daughters of the Dagger Series as well as in Amber – Book 3.
Back then, a man stood at the door of a tavern and in order to enter – (nobles entered for free) – one would have to pay the man a fee. Usually it was pittance – just a copper or brass coin. This would be used as assurance that any damages by the rowdy patrons (fights broke out all the time) would be covered. So the man at the door would bounce the coin on a wet board to determine its authenticity. If the coin bounced, he knew it was real. If not, it was a counterfeit coin forged from lead.
Holiday traditions also have their origins back from the medieval times. For example, in Ian – Book 3 of my medieval Scottish MadMan MacKeefe Series, it starts off at a Samhain bonfire. Samhain was a pagan celebration that honored the dead. The church back then was very powerful, and incorporated their All Saints and All Souls Day at the same time. So to honor the dead who were holy or hallowed, it was called All Hallow’s Eve – and eventually as we know it – Halloween.
Children and the poor would go begging door to door for soul cakes – small cakes filled with fruits and spices and with a cross on the top. And for every soul cake that was eaten, a trapped soul would be released from Purgatory. (Modern day trick-or-treating.) Supposedly, on this night the dead could come back and visit the living since the veil between the two worlds was lifted at that time. So people would carry around hollowed-out gourds or turnips with scary faces carved into them. They were lit with a candle from within, and were used to scare away any evil entities. They were often left on the doorsteps overnight. (Modern day jack-o-lantern.)
In Lord of Illusion – Book 3 of my Legacy of the Blade Series, I incorporate the holiday of Easter and the medieval tradition of dying hard-boiled eggs in onion skins or wine to get a saffron or purple color. The eggs were then given to the mummers in pay for the skits and entertainment they provided. Some of the eggs were used for an egg dance or games, and others were hidden for the children to find.
In Lady Renegade – Book 2 of my Legacy of the Blade Series, my Scotsman, Storm MacKeefe talks about the traditions of Hogmanay– what we know as New Years. The old Scots’ tradition was that First Foot, or the first person to step over the threshold into the home on Hogmanay’s Eve had to be forgiven for anything they’d done in the past year and for any misunderstandings. (Kind of like letting the past go and making New Year’s resolutions.) A woman at the door was considered bad luck. First Foot should be a man with dark hair bringing the gift of black bun – a sweetbread filled with raisins, nuts and brandy.
In Lady of the Mist – Book 4 of my Legacy of the Blade Series, my heroine, Echo is a pirate being hunted down by my hero, Garrett who is a baron of the Cinque Ports. A pirate’s ship has a lookout up high on the main mast known to us as a crow’s nest. No one knows exactly when they started calling it that, but it originated from sending out a crow to find land, and then following its direction with the ship if it didn’t return. The crow’s cage was kept up high in the lookout and a sailor could see much farther from that advantage point. In medieval times, this lookout was no more than a basket to sit in, tied up high to the main mast.
I enjoyed blogging with you today, and for a limited time special, I am offering Lady of the Mist for only 99 cents. You can also get the Daughters of the Dagger Prequel and my Legacy of the Blade Prequel for free, to get you started with both the series.
Thanks again Anna for having me, and I hope everyone gets time to read this summer! – Elizabeth Rose
Elizabeth Rose is the author of over 30 books, most of her works being medieval. She also writes paranormal and contemporary. Her newest series is her Tarnished Saints Series which is a 12 book series about 12 brothers. The Taylor Twelve are sons of a preacher but far from saints. Matter of fact, they are nothing but trouble. Watch for Seducing Zeb – Book 4 of the series to be released at the end of June.
Elizabeth has a degree in art and creates all her own covers as well as her book trailer videos. You can read excerpts of any of her books or watch the videos by visiting her site at http://elizabethrosenovels.com. If you sign up for her mailing list you will receive posts of new releases as well as free book giveaways. She has new releases every few months.
Garrett made his way to the forecastle, and climbed the raised platform as they approached the other ship. Sure enough, black sails. This was the pirate ship he’d been searching for. What a discovery to finally find it.
The wind picked up from the approaching storm, filling the single square sail of the cog. The clinker-built hull had high sides, which served as good protection from marauders of the sea. However, this was a merchant ship, and the flat bottom was designed for loading and unloading cargo in shallow ports. It wasn’t designed for rough seas. It could very well capsize in a strong wind.
The ship held one hundred tuns in the hold, but now they were traveling light, at only half its capacity. This made him nervous. Garrett eyed the dark, roiling sky overhead. He knew what he had to do, but still the crew’s safety concerned him.
“Archers, prepare,” he cried. “Silas, take her in close. I am going to board off the forecastle. Get the grappling hooks and ropes ready,” he called over his shoulder as they came up alongside the ship.
“Aye, captain,” said Silas.
Garrett saw the crew of his target rushing around, looking very disorganized. He would be able to use this to his advantage. But the man in the lookout could have a weapon to throw or something to drop. He looked up and aimed his crossbow. He couldn’t allow himself to be a sitting target from the man up above. He pulled back the windlass and lined up his bolt for the shot.
Echo quickly replaced her cap, tucking her hair underneath. She would never be able to fight with her hair in her eyes now that the wind had picked up tremendously. Skye and the male osprey flew in circles just above the ship, and she knew they wanted to land in the nest to get out of the storm.
She looked down to the deck to see her father and the crew running around aimlessly, trying to prepare for the battle about to take place. She knew if they hadn’t been soused they would have already been boarding and attacking the Cinque Ports ship.
“Hard to starboard,” shouted her father, giving the sternsman the order to turn the ship. The Seahawk bounced and tilted in the high waves that the storm now brought upon them. A gale of wind hit Echo head on, nearly knocking her from the basket. “Go to half sail,” shouted her father, but Echo knew that was going to be impossible now that they had to concentrate on the attack. The cold, sharp rain sliced down upon her like arrows from an archer’s bow.
That’s when she spied the man aboard the Cinque Ports ship upon the forecastle and aiming his crossbow right at her!
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