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The Handfasted Wife (Daughters of Hastings, #1)
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Women in 1066

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message 1: by Carol (new) - added it

Carol McGrath (carolmcgrath) | 158 comments Mod
I would love you to ask me about the royal women of 1066 and what life was like then whether or not you read the novel. Open to questions !


Paula Lofting (paulalofting) | 40 comments What id your favourite bit of research regarding women in the 11TH C?


Kathleen Regarding the marriages of this time like Emma of Normandy's and Elditha's to Harold. Is there any evidence that Elditha's father or others felt these relationships would last or was it always a given that someday there would be a church or sanctioned marriage.

If so, were the properties Elditha owned an effort to give her stability if and when she was set aside?

Where a lot of women set aside in this fashion?

I am about 50% through the book..


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Carol McGrath (carolmcgrath) | 158 comments Mod
Paula wrote: "What id your favourite bit of research regarding women in the 11TH C?"

I loved reading about Edith Godwin . Frank Barlow wrote about her Vita Edwardii. Now she was behind it but she did not write it. Clearly scribes did. However there is a difference in tone between what was written during 1066 and after the Conquest. The early section praises her family especially Tostig and Harold and later it is more about Edward's saintliness and Tostig is in favour not Harold. It shows her pragmatism I think


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Carol McGrath (carolmcgrath) | 158 comments Mod
Kathleen wrote: "Regarding the marriages of this time like Emma of Normandy's and Elditha's to Harold. Is there any evidence that Elditha's father or others felt these relationships would last or was it always a gi..."

Thank you for reading The Handfasted Wife. Marriage more danico as the Handfasted marriages were, was the common form of marriage in the Danish influenced parts of England such as East Anglica. It is suggested by historians that Elditha's marriage this way was not so that later there would be a church marriage. Frank Barlow suggests that they were, in fact, related and therefore not eligible for a church marriage , in fact Elditha was the patron of St Benets Abbey in Suffolk. Harold improved greatly Waltham Abbey. They were married for nearly twenty years. Also when Harold married her he was no way likely to become king. He was a warrior, a rich young man and his elder brother Sweign was still alive . King Edward was married to his sister and might have children. As for Elditha she was an heiress it is suggested with her own lands. Her family are never mentioned. Harold as second son did ok but of course when he became king he needed the alliance with the northern earls to protect England so he may have made the arrangement referred to in the novel. It is possible that Edith Swan-Neck was orphaned and raised by relatives. Anglo-Saxon women in theory kept their own lands after marriage. After the Conquest this changed and the husband by law controlled the wife's property. It is very far past and of course women are shadowy Not much recorded in chronicles. But I like to think that the set aside of Edilta was a political act and that prior to kingship though he was not faithful to her he loved her. Their children all have references in history we know their fates! Frank Barlow wrote a book called The Godwins which really explains the rise of the family and explains the marriage. I think it was intended to last.


message 6: by Helen (new)

Helen Hollick (helenhollick) Which of the women involved in Harold's life is your favourite Carol?


message 7: by Carol (new) - added it

Carol McGrath (carolmcgrath) | 158 comments Mod
Oh Edith Swan-Neck of course but she is closely followed by Gytha , his mother. She seems formidable. I loved the way she gathered noblewomen around her in Exeter and resisted William's tax. It was well recorded in Oderic Vitalis and has a mention in The A S Chronicles. I would love to know more about Algyth though.


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Carol McGrath (carolmcgrath) | 158 comments Mod
I wonder if we could have a chat about early medieval costume, women and men. Hair and headgear, women and men. To kick off , uncovered heads and loose hair on women were considered undesirable. No surprises there. The headcloth concealed hair, neck and shoulders. There is variation in the way the headdress is depicted by Anglo-Saxon artists. How much freedom did women have with personal style? What do you think. Also as readers and maybe also writers do you really enjoy descriptions of clothes, hair fashions, and how do you like these to be integrated into the fabric of a story? Third, have you a memorable fashion or hair description from historical fiction?


Kathleen In one scene from Carol's book ( finished and just loved it) Gytha is "peering" out from around her headdress and veil.. what part did the veil cover? Being Catholic I know how wimples etc. look on nuns( or did)..was Gytha's headdress more than that?
What and how were the veils used?


message 10: by Carol (new) - added it

Carol McGrath (carolmcgrath) | 158 comments Mod
Pins found in graves were fasteners for veils. Single pins were found near the jaws, at the foreheads and under the skulls. They might have fastened veils or hoods worn as in every day life. Head dresses may have had ornaments too. Long white and even colourful headdresses were attached to fillets and sometimes they had artificially curled hair at the forehead peeping out. These were bands to hold a veil in place. A veil which is squarish rather than long is held by and angel over the head of Queen Alfgifu in the Stowe manuscript miniature. There is a suggestion that queens wore distinctive headgear, maybe a veil of this kind held by an elaborate fillet or even a crown. A veil could be decorated at the front and hanging down at the back leaving the neck exposed. The veil came to stand for religious life . We speak of taking the veil today. Then the religious veil was called a rift. The cuffie was secular. Often the best fillet might be bequeathed as a special possession. Women in Anglo-Saxon England later are depicted sometimes with their hair in a plait over the crown. We see this in pictures of the Virgin from this time. The headdresses of late Anglo-Saxon England were loose. The veil, wimple or hood would then be pinned to the coil of hair.

Thank you for reading and enjoying the novel Kathleen. Hope this answers the question. The information comes from Gale R Owen- Crocker, Dress in Anglo-Saxon England.


Paula Lofting (paulalofting) | 40 comments Carol wrote: "Kathleen wrote: "Regarding the marriages of this time like Emma of Normandy's and Elditha's to Harold. Is there any evidence that Elditha's father or others felt these relationships would last or w..."

But what evidence is there to say that Harold was ever unfaithful to Edith? And there isn't any way of knowing that they were related. I know that Edith was likely to have been a great wealthy heiress but Harold was the son of an Earl, he would one day become an Earl himself and might need to pursue a political union just as he actually did later in life. I like to think that he married her for love and that love endured for 20 years probably right up to his death.


message 12: by Paula (last edited Jun 21, 2013 03:38PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Paula Lofting (paulalofting) | 40 comments http://www.historyofyork.org.uk/theme...

Click on the link into your browser to view just one of the finds that my fellow re-enactors have used to provenance our head gear. This little silk cap may have had ribbons attached at the corners with which to tie and secure on the head before placing a full wimple over the top to which we then use our pins to attach it to keep it in place


message 13: by Carol (new) - added it

Carol McGrath (carolmcgrath) | 158 comments Mod
It really is a great picture, Paula. To think it was silk!


Paula Lofting (paulalofting) | 40 comments Carol wrote: "It really is a great picture, Paula. To think it was silk!"

I know! And it survived! They say that so much stuff survived from the Viking period because the ground was so moist! Have you been to the Jorvik centre Carol?


message 15: by Carol (new) - added it

Carol McGrath (carolmcgrath) | 158 comments Mod
I love the Jorvik centre and also there is one in Dublin which I visited prior to writing about Dublinia in The Handfasted Wife. The museum in Dublin is good on Viking Dublinia as well.


Paula Lofting (paulalofting) | 40 comments Excellent! I'd like to go there one day! Plus its always a good excuse to visit a city and country I've never mean to before


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Carol McGrath (carolmcgrath) | 158 comments Mod
I have been asked if there are records by English survivors after 1066. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles would have been updated after the event and they are one source that tells us that Gytha , Harold's mother left Exeter for Flatholm after the siege . In the next century it speaks of the suffering during the Civil War between Stephen and Matilda. Oderic Vitalis speaks of the suffering of the English during the Northern Rebellion of 1070. He wrote in early 12 thC and he speaks of the Normans marrying English heiresses . He was half English. Edmer's Chronicle also talks of how women were married off to Normans. He is known as Edmer of Canterbury and wrote in the early 12th C. Does anyone know about any other source on writings by survivors of the Norman Conquest? If you do tell us please.


Paula Lofting (paulalofting) | 40 comments English survivors? I only know of Eadmer, who told the story that the Bayeux Tapestry appears to have been based on. That Harold went to Normandy to secure the release of his brother and nephew who were hostages at the Duke's court and that he apparently went agaisnt the advice of his King who had warned him not to go


Paula Lofting (paulalofting) | 40 comments What about the Crowland chronicles? Weren't they telling Hereward's story? I'm not sure cos I haven't looked into that properly yet


message 20: by Carol (new) - added it

Carol McGrath (carolmcgrath) | 158 comments Mod
That might be worth looking at. Shall try the Bodleian in July.


Paula Lofting (paulalofting) | 40 comments I might come with you ;)


message 22: by Carol (new) - added it

Carol McGrath (carolmcgrath) | 158 comments Mod
Have you a reader's card? They are ruthlessly strict. Investigate how to get one . Mine was a phd perk. But also I did something else there too long time ago. Do try. Otherwise shall make notes and share them.


Paula Lofting (paulalofting) | 40 comments oh thanks Carol. No i dont have a card :( I wil at some point investigate how to get one!


Martin Lake (goodreadscommartin_lake) | 14 comments The astonishing thing is how so few Normans managed to rule the huge population of English who survived but who definitely became dispossessed in their own land. I think that ten English land holdings went to make up one Norman's. One of the great survivors was William's rival, Edgar Aetheling. He outlasted William and his son and appears to have died in his seventies.

An interesting fact which I'm researching is that many of the English were freed from captivity by William Rufus and went to Constantinople. It may be that the Emperor sent some of them to win back lands close to the Crimea and they set up a form of English colony there. Don't quote me on this, though, I'm still researching!


message 25: by Carol (new) - added it

Carol McGrath (carolmcgrath) | 158 comments Mod
Robert Cothose also freed hostages after the death of his father. It is recorded that he freed and knighted Ulf the youngest son of Harold and Edith Swan-Neck taken hostage after 1066.


Martin Lake (goodreadscommartin_lake) | 14 comments And Harold's brother spent much of his life as a captive. I wonder what imprisonment was like for these high status people. Probably not a cell but would they have had any freedom of movement?


Kathleen Some of the books indicate Harold's brother mostly lived in the court.


Martin Lake (goodreadscommartin_lake) | 14 comments Thanks Kathleen.


message 29: by Carol (new) - added it

Carol McGrath (carolmcgrath) | 158 comments Mod
Yes they were all nobles together. They were kept well I suspect but without freedom. It is a great topic. Just to think little Ulf was more Norman in the end too!


Paula Lofting (paulalofting) | 40 comments Sadly for Wulfnoth, Harold's brother who had been taken to the Duke's Norman court in 1051/2, he was released on william's death but then imprisoned almost straight after by Rufus as he took over the crown. Nothing much else has been said about that, but i do wonder why it was thought he was a threat, when Ulf wasn't?


message 31: by Carol (new) - added it

Carol McGrath (carolmcgrath) | 158 comments Mod
I think Ulf when knighted was more Norman than English. I also think he did not return to England but stayed in Normandy with Duke Robert. It is possible he joined the first crusade. I did find out something and it is on an early blog, maybe the one on Edith Swan-Neck October 2011. I think I found it in Emma Mason's book about the Godwin family. I'll look when I am back in England.


message 32: by Carol (new) - added it

Carol McGrath (carolmcgrath) | 158 comments Mod
Would anyone here like a free apple download of The Handfasted Wife? I still have a couple of promotion codes ( full book for I player) and would love to offer a few as we reach the last week of this discussion which has truly been fabulous.


message 33: by Kathleen (last edited Jun 30, 2013 08:02AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kathleen Gosh I wish it was not the last week. I am sure it is time consuming and you need to be writing. I have enjoyed this a lot and learned a great deal.

I have my copy of the book but don't forget me for the next one. I promise to love it and blog. I just followed your website also.


message 34: by Carol (new) - added it

Carol McGrath (carolmcgrath) | 158 comments Mod
Thank you but we still have another week of fun here and in a bit I shall run another. I have almost finished A swarming of Bees which is a lovely book and which I got from you. We must keep in touch. I am @carolmcgrath on Twitter and over the next few weeks will set up a face book page for my stories and other good ones.


Kathleen all that is wonderful.. I am also on Twitter @kathlingram45 and Facebook ( Kathleen Carrow Ingram)..

I am a little befuddled now about GoogleFriendConnect ending and what that means.. I did add the BlogLovin widget to my Blogs..will I lose all my followers d'you know? My Book Blog does not really "belong" to anything like my genealogy blogs do.. Geneabloggers had gotten a workaround..


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