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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Lindsay Townsend: Medieval curses and more

Medieval people believed in magic, both good and bad. Spells and charms cast with evil intent were called curses and several have survived from that time. The Anglo-Saxons believed in both charms and curses, including a curse chanted against a wen or boil. The little wen is told to go away, to become smaller and vanish into nothing (Her ne scealt thu timbrien, it says - “Here not build your timbered house.”)

The Vikings also believed in the power of words and words for magic and curses. In one saga a witch called Busla issues a curse against King Hring, who has captured and threatened to kill Busla’s foster son. The curse is chanted at night (a good time for such dark matters) and Busla’s magical threats are made manifest.  In lines of poetry, the witch claims that her curse will cause Hring to go deaf, make his eyes to the leave their sockets,  make his bed like burning straw and make him impotent. In addition, any horse he rode would take him to trolls– and more.
“Shall trolls and elves and tricking witches,
shall dwarfs and etins (giants) burn down thy mead-hall…”
 The king is still reluctant and  Busla chants the strongest part of her curse, magic so dark that she does not utter it at night but which will cause Hring to be torn into pieces and flung into hell.  Faced with these gruesome outcomes, the king swears an oath to release his captives. The witch then stops the curse.

Curses could be used both as items to propel malice and as a curious form of protection. Curses were often attached to medieval and Anglo-Saxon wills, mostly to ensure the last wishes were observed, or for more day to day purposes.  The will of Siflaed (composed between 1066-68, soon after  the Norman conquest of England, which may explain the strength of the curse)  states “Whoever alters this, may God turn his face away from him on the day of judgment.”   The Will of Wulfgyth, dated 1046, promises that anyone who detracts from his will shall be denied all human comfort and joy and be delivered into hell “and there suffer with God’s adversaries without end and never trouble my heirs.”  

This form of invoking God by means of a curse to protect others remained popular throughout the Middle Ages.  In 1407, the Will of Thomas of Tyldeslegh gives a hundred shillings of silver to a John Boys to make him an apprentice in a trade and “If anyone hinder this, may God’s curse be upon him.”
                                                 
Curses could be used by medieval people everywhere and in all circumstances. When a monk  in 1420 discovered that the monastery cat had peed  on the manuscript he had been copying, the monk cursed the cat and recorded his curse—with a small drawing, showing pointing hands toward the cat pee—

Hic non defectus est, sed cattus minxit desuper nocte quadam. Confundatur pessimus cattus qui minxit super librum istum in nocte Daventrie, et consimiliter omnes alii propter illum. Et cavendum valde ne permittantur libri aperti per noctem ubi cattie venire possunt.

Which translates as:

Here is nothing missing, but a cat urinated on this during a certain night. Cursed be the pesty cat that urinated over this book during the night in Deventer and because of it many others [other cats] too. And beware well not to leave open books at night where cats can come.


Curses as medieval swear words can be found in this article here:

The ultimate curse could be considered to be excommunication, where a person and a person’s soul is cut off from God and the comforts and body of the church. This was feared as a terrible punishment but was not seen as being permanent, since a person could make amends and have the excommunication lifted.  Bishops and popes used excommunication as a political weapon and means of control.

 Objects could also be used in a malicious way. An amulet containing such vile materials as human waste, a splinter of wood from a gibbet or menstrual blood might be hidden under a bed to cause anything from impotence to sickness. Corpses of dead animals, such as black mice, were sometimes wrapped in cloth and buried under a threshold to create trouble for the inhabitants. Sympathetic magic, where a witch would ‘milk’ a knife stuck in the wall of her cottage, would enable her to steal milk from a cow. In Lucerne in 1486 2 women were accused of making hail by pouring well water over their heads. In Coventry in the 14th century a sorcerer created a wax figure of his neighbor, then drove a spike into the figure’s head and then heart. The neighbor died. In the 1130s the Jews of Trier were accused of making a wax figure of the archbishop and melting it in a fire to cause his death.

Some people were believed to have the power in themselves of cursing others, particularly if members of their family had been accused of sorcery. In 1454 at Lucerne a woman called Dorothea  was widely believed to be an ill-wisher—her mother had been burned as a witch and Dorothea, being unpopular, was accused in her turn.

Certain things were considered to be inherently cursed or evil in the Middle Ages. The wood of the elder tree was believed to be unlucky (it was said Judas had hung himself from an elder tree)and it was also thought to be a witches’ tree. Elder wood can easily splinter, so strictures against its use were in some ways sensible.  Juniper was another plant with a mixed reputation. Although a sprig of juniper was believed to protect the wearer from curses, to dream of juniper was said to foretell bad luck or a death.

What could protect against curses? Rowan was said to be a strong protector. The rowan tree, taken from the Norse “runa” meaning charm, was often planted close to houses to protect the household  against evil. Around Easter time medieval people would make small crosses from rowan wood to give further safety to the house.

Illness, famine, flood, plague and all manner of misfortunes in the Middle Ages were believed to be either due to God’s anger (as with the Black Death) or the result of a curse. Given the state of knowledge about the natural world at that time, the idea of deliberate evil by a person (or in some cases an animal) makes a strange kind of sense. Moreover people were comforted when they could use prayers, amulets, witch bottles and, in extreme cases, the law to protect themselves against the occult forces.

Belief in magic was strong in the Middle Ages. I write about curses and have characters use, or fight against them, in Dark Maiden, The Snow Bride and A Summer Bewitchment . I touch on the idea of God's anger and the Black Death in To Touch the Knight and belief in magical creatures in The Virgin, the Knight and the Unicorn 


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sebastian the Alchemist and His Captive - OUT NOW! 10% off till 6th Jan!

Sebastian the Alchemist and His Captive

Medieval Captives 1

Lindsay Townsend

OUT NOW FROM HERE

AVAILABLE: Tuesday, December 30th


This title is offered at a 10% discount. Offer ends midnight CST, January 6th




He takes her for hate. Will he keep her for love?

Sebastian, lord of the tower in the northern high lands, is a proud, bitter man with a dark past. An alchemist and a warrior, he has had lovers but knows he is ugly—experience and betrayal have taught him that. When Melissa, the beautiful, neglected daughter of two old enemies, falls into his possessive hands he is determined to hold her. Why?


As one of the detested and defeated Felix family, Melissa must cling to her courage when she is claimed as a war-prize by the tall, grim Sebastian. Expecting torture and ravishment, she finds instead a peace and sanctuary that she has never known. Treated with kindness for the first time in her life, Melissa begins to blossom.


But there are secrets and old betrayals between them. Sebastian’s abiding jealousy is not easily quelled, especially when someone at the tower seeks to destroy his growing love with Melissa…


A BookStrand Mainstream Romance.


STORY EXCERPT:

Sebastian settled back in his chair. He still had many petitions to read and tomorrow he would fight a duel, with mace and daggers, but for the rest of the evening…Yes, he could grant himself the time, the indulgence. Ignoring the dull ache in his lower back, he stretched his long arms above his head.


“Robert.” He spoke quietly to the gangling chestnut-headed squire patrolling by the door. “Send the girl to me. Then get some rest before you fall over.” The youth had only lately recovered from a fever and even in the firelight looked as pale as the falling snow outside.


“I will sleep when you do, my lord.” Robert gave a brief, jerky bow and slipped from the stone chamber, his rapid footsteps fading in the vastness of the tower. Sebastian returned to his reading, making notes on the parchment, listening to the spit of the flames, and waiting. What will she be like? He had only caught a glimpse yesterday, when he had claimed her as his prize. The child of an old enemy and my first, unrequited love. What have her people told her about me?


The door swung open, slowly at first and then in a rush, as if whoever was entering was determined not to be cowed. Headstrong, just like her mother. Amused, Sebastian rested the tip of his writing quill on the tabletop to watch an energetic, vivid figure hasten into the chamber.


“Idonotcarewhatyoudotome, butdonothurtmypeople…”


Sebastian raised the quill and the spate of words instantly stopped. “Closer,” he commanded, when the creature remained still, glancing behind her at the closing door. “Look at me, girl.”


She took a step forward this time, halting exactly in the shadows cast between the torches and firelight so that her face and form remained hidden. Arrogant and stubborn, just like her father. A whip of irritation cracked down his spine.


“Artos, guard,” he ordered the black wolf he had saved as a cub from a hunter’s trap. Artos yawned, stretched himself up from the rug by the fire, and trotted to the threshold. With widening eyes the girl studied the wolf as it began a steady pacing back and forth before the entrance.


“He is not my familiar, if that is what you are thinking.”


“Your shadow, then.” The girl swung round to face him. Her voice was low, cracking a little from nerves or disuse. “He is handsome.”Unlike you. The unspoken words filled the chamber like the apple-wood smoke.


Sebastian pushed back his chair and strode toward his captive, circling his prize as she stood stiffly at attention, her head held perfectly straight, her hands clenched by her sides, half-hidden in her once gaudy, now tattered, green and gold robes. In the shifting alliances of these lush and rugged highlands her kindred had backed the wrong overlord and lost. In the scramble afterward between the northern princelings for booty and lands, Sebastian had been able to take the girl, claim her by right of revenge. Revenge. What a monster she must think me, this dainty youngster, to make her pay for ancient hurts her father wreaked on me, for the old betrayals of her mother. Does she even know that pitiful tale?


He circled her again, sensing her quiver as he loomed. She was a brunette, but there all similarity between them ended. Where he was tall and lean and intense, large-jointed and craggy, precise from years of deliberate, often hard-won control, this tiny girl shimmered like a flame. Where his hair was black, dull and fine as silk, hanging straight to his broad shoulders, hers was the color of brimstone and treacle, long, heavy ropes of shining curling waves, sunset brown shot through with chestnut. Her father’s coloring, and wasn’t Baldwin always aware of his good looks? As for her mother in her—Sebastian halted before the girl and, with a long finger, tipped up her chin, glimpsing a pair of bright brown eyes in a freckled, delicate face. The child shifted, lowering her head in a gesture of apparent submission. The shape of her eyes are the same as Rosemond’s, but not the color. Her mother had blue eyes and gold hair and smiled like a Madonna, all the better to beguile men.


“Like but not like,” Sebastian murmured, releasing his grip and continuing his prowl. The girl was easily a head shorter than himself, small and thin, where Rosemond had been tall and stately. “How old are you?”


“Eighteen.” The bright eyes fixed on his and a spark of heat tingled from his chest to his groin in response. He saw her blush and wondered if she had also sensed the spark. “Eighteen, Sir Sebastian.”


He scowled at her address, disliking the arrogant assumption behind it that only knights had value. Just like her father. “I am no knight, girl, remember that,” he barked. She trembled and he could not decide if that was due to fear or revulsion. Watching the pretty glow drop from her face like a fallen ribbon, he decided it was both.


Irritated and a little ashamed with his behavior, he closed his eyes, desperately trying to entomb his own past within himself. “Who would care for such a lanky thing as you?” His mother had first told him that. “Sallow, dark, possessive,” a previous lover or two had complained, before each one had parted with him due to his jealousy. “An ugly, crook-nosed brute...” Sebastian remembered that description only too clearly, the taunts “ugly” and “crook-nose” following him throughout his service as a page, then squire, before he had turned his back on the cruel, glittering world of chivalry. And who had first called him ugly and crook-nosed? Baldwin of course, this girl’s father, jibing and taunting, bullying and tormenting, setting on him with his friends and cronies, four, five, six against one. Sebastian had stomached that but then worse followed—he had heard Rosemond agreeing with Baldwin, the pair laughing together, laughing at him. After all I did for her and tried to do for her, after I helped her, after I told her I loved her.


Strange after all these years that it should still ache so much, as if an anvil had been hurled into his chest. Fighting the despair, Sebastian growled like Artos and shook his head to clear it. Here he was, aged three and thirty, still re-fighting old battles, old hurts. I am pathetic.


He opened his eyes, relaxing his grip on the quill before he shattered it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Regency comedy GOOSED! OR A FOWL CHRISTMAS is Here!



Goosed! or A Fowl Christmas, the first in my Regency The Feather Fables series, is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Kobo and Apple.

BLURB:

The Feather Fables--where birds twitter and chirp and bring romance.

Ah, Christmas, what a glorious season. Decorations, friends, good will to all, a time of magic and miracles.

But not for Miss Julia Shaw. She is new to the area, her farm desperately needs upkeep, and the pittance she earns from her artwork doesn’t pay the bills. And then her pet goose escapes. Making matters worse, when she first meets the devastatingly attractive Lord Tyndall, the abominable man insults her as he returns her goose. No peace and good will for her this Christmas.

Exhausted from a year of business travel, Robert, Baron Tyndall, returns to London only to fall prey to his mother’s matchmaking attempts. Escaping to his country estate, he finds solace with the birds in his aviary. Except that a plague of a goose that belongs to his new neighbor, Miss Shaw, has somehow entered his aviary and wreaked havoc. That disagreeable lady had better keep her misbegotten bird to herself. Too bad she is so lovely. What a horrendous Christmas this season has become.

But even in the blackest depths, a spark of light can glimmer. For at this wondrous time of Christmas, miracles and magic can and do happen.

A sweet, traditional Regency romance with fantasy elements. 61,000 words.

EXCERPT:
What was that infernal din? Catching up her shawl, Julia dashed down the stairs and then out through the front door. Winding her shawl around her, she rounded the house and almost slammed into an unfamiliar gig.

The vehicle blocked her view of the goose pen, from which the honking emanated. But no one was there—her pet goose had run off. She ran around the conveyance and stopped dead.

Her pet had returned! Flapping, honking and biting, the flying goose—He could fly? She had never before seen him do so—attacked a large, stylishly dressed gentleman.

The man, his arms high to protect his head, flailed at the goose. His back was to her, his upended hat lay in the dirt and white feathers covered his black greatcoat. He swore. Loudly.

Julia’s ears burned. “Do not hurt my goose, sir!”

The man batted at the goose again and turned toward her.

Julia gasped. He was the man on the road a few days ago. His dark eyes blazed, his brown hair was mussed, and his sharp cheekbones had flushed from the effort of warding off the goose.

Her pulse raced. He had looked handsome at a distance. Up close, he was magnificent. Tingles raced over her skin.

“This spawn of Satan is your property, madam?” He jerked his head back from the goose’s open bill as the bird dove in for a bite.

“He is, sir, and you will not harm him!” She jumped between the man and the goose.

The goose, breathing heavily, plopped to the ground. Eyes afire, he angled his head around her. He hissed at the man.

“Gracious, what is the matter?” She stroked the goose’s head.

The bird went limp, as if he had been pumped full of air and all the gas suddenly escaped.

She tipped her head back to glare up at the man. Good gracious, he was tall. “He has never acted this way before. What have you done to him?”

The man’s jaw dropped. “I? This feathered blackguard has tried to bite me ever since I saw him. And just now he attacked me.” He scowled at the goose. “If he is your property, you are welcome to him.”



Available at





Also available at the other Amazon stores

Barnes and Noble


Smashwords (note, all formats are available on Smashwords)


Kobo

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thank you all,
Linda
Linda Banche
Welcome to My world of Historical Hilarity!
http://www.lindabanche.com


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hot for Friday: First Kiss

savannakougar.blogspot.com/p/santa-baby-several-stars-away_388.html

Friday hotness kisses, everyone!

Here's the first kiss between my heroine, Kaily, and her hero, Dylan.

~~~

Santa Baby, Several Stars Away

To Kaily, it felt as though Dylan deliberately prolonged the moments before their lips touched because it increased his pleasure, and because it heightened her to a burning want.

His mouth alighted on hers, the sensation feathery. Then, he rested his lips on hers softly yet firmly.

The texture of his mouth, and the wintry coolness thrilled through Kaily, awakening her body, all of her senses—passionately blistering her insides.

Ding, ding, ding...we have a winner, she thought.

Gradually, beautifully, his kiss deepened, his mouth becoming a large dominant force on top of hers. So dominant, she could only succumb, and wish for more.

So much more. Please...oh, please.

~~~~~~

For more of Hot for Friday ~bookboyfriendscafe.com~
~~~~~~

~~~ Kaily and Dylan invite you to read their love story ~~~ 

Kaily has been consumed by curiosity ever since Dylan suddenly appears in her small town. Surreptitiously, she watches the mystery man restore a rundown Victorian mansion, all while his charm and sincerity gain him the good will of most everyone. This is especially true when he volunteers to become the annual Santa Claus for the children at the town's park.

The problem for Kaily: No one really knows anything about Dylan's past or where he came from. With her attraction to him growing day by day, she becomes a driven woman. On a desperate whim, she gives herself to him as a Christmas present. Will Dylan be able to resist her waiting naked, but gift-wrapped beneath his tree?

~~~

Excerpt/Buy link: savannakougar.blogspot.com/p/santa-baby-several-stars-away_388.html

Available: SMASHWORDS PREMIUM CATALOGUE ~ KINDLE ~ AllRomanceEbooks

~~~~~~

Happy Hot Reading ~

Savanna

Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A DISTINCT FLAIR FOR WORDS, Book 3 of Love and the Library, Is Here!




A Distinct Flair for Words, the latest in my Regency Love and the Library series, is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.
 
Love and the Library - A celebration of the beginnings of love wherein four young Regency gentlemen meet their matches over a copy of “Pride and Prejudice” at the library. 

Book 3: Felicity and Frank

BLURB:
Every woman should have her own Mr. Darcy--unless she prefers Mr. Bingley.


Something strange goes on in that library.

Not one, but two of Mr. Frank Wynne’s friends found the ladies of their dreams at the library over a copy of “Pride and Prejudice”. Magic? Divine providence? Hardly. Coincidence or luck? Perhaps. And to prove or disprove the possibilities, he’ll go to the library and read “Pride and Prejudice”. Day after day after day. To his surprise, the book is funny, and he does like that Bingley chap. His lady doesn’t appear, though. Of course not. But still…

Miss Felicity White adores “Pride and Prejudice”. But while most ladies swoon over Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley is the man after her own heart. Happy, good-natured, cheerful, outgoing Mr. Bingley. She loves him so much, she even rewrote “Pride and Prejudice” from his perspective. Now, if she can only find a gentleman like him…

When Felicity and Frank run into each other, the enchantment of “Pride and Prejudice” and the library just might strike again.

A sweet, traditional Regency romance, but not a retelling of “Pride and Prejudice.” 45,000 words.


I write in the style of my favorite author, Barbara Metzger. If you like her Regency comedies, you may enjoy mine.

EXCERPT:


“I have the most wonderful news!” Felicity maneuvered herself and Frank to the only two seats together. Unfortunately, they were in the middle of the semicircle, with ladies on both sides
Frank sat on the edge of his seat. The chairs’ arrangement was unnervingly like a gigantic feminine claw, ready to snap shut on a tasty treat.
Him.
He stilled. Mayhap if he didn’t move, they would forget he was there. And pigs will fly.
Miss Barrett clapped and the murmuring ladies quieted. “Felicity, please tell us your news.”
Felicity popped up. “You know I have written Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Bingley’s viewpoint.” She gave a little bounce. “Mr. Blackmore of Blackmore Publishing has requested the manuscript!”
Feminine squeals reverberated around the room. Miss Barrett rose to shake Felicity’s hand. “Well done. Mayhap you will pave the way to the future, when others will want to read about the further adventures of the Pride and Prejudice characters.”
Miss Liddell, one of the ladies who had squinted when he entered, squinted anew. “I doubt anyone will want to read about Mr. Wickham’s experiences. Or Lydia’s.”
“Never say never.” Miss Nisbet, seated at Frank’s other side, sniffed. “Some people enjoy tales about villains. I daresay they like to see the blackguards receive their just deserts.” She leaned closer to Frank. “Have you read Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Wynne?”
Gazes on both sides of the pincer-like arrangement of chairs closed in on him. More perspiration broke out on his forehead. “Yes, I have.” Outnumbered. Perhaps he had better say as little as possible.
Miss Liddell squinted again. “You are unusual, sir. Most men do not read novels. Or at least, they claim not to.”
He flashed his most winning smile, the one that normally made the ladies melt. Almost-clergyman he might be, but that did not preclude him from appreciating the fairer sex. “I am not most men.”

AVAILABLE AT

Amazon US 

Also available in all the other Amazon stores.

Barnes and Noble

Smashwords (note, all formats are available on Smashwords):

Apple
 
Coming soon to Kobo.

Thank you all,
Linda
Linda Banche
Welcome to My World of Historical Hilarity!
http://www.lindabanche.com
 


Friday, July 4, 2014

Lindsay Townsend: Forever his - slaves in my fiction

Roman woman and her slave
(Photo Giovanni dall'Orto, Peiraius
Museum (Wkimedia Commons).
Writing about the ancient and medieval worlds as I do I often encounter slavery as a fact of life. I explore this dynamic in some of my stories, in a careful way. Slavery was often utterly cruel and the harsh realities of life on the latifundia farms of Ancient Rome could be terrible.

For some slaves life could be a little easier, especially in personal, one to one relationships. So we have the tombstones of former slaves such as Regina (Queenie) at the ancient Roman fort near South Shields. Regina was a former slave, freed by her master who had married her. I explore that kind of hopeful dynamic in my novel Flavia's Secret and my shorter stories, Escape to Love and Silk and Steel.

I show the grimmer side of slavery in my epic adventure romances, Bronze Lightning and Blue Gold. In Bronze Lighting the heroine, Sarmatia, is captured and enslaved for a time by her enemy Carvin, the brutal king of the lands around Avebury. In Blue Gold, several characters are enslaved and must fight to regain their freedom.

Sometimes I explore aspects of submission and dominance in my stories. In my historical romances, I find this works well, fitting into the beliefs of the time. This is especially true in my medieval romances The Snow Bride, its sequel A Summer Bewitchment, and my forthcoming novella, The Virgin, the Knight and the Unicorn. Now with 10% off at Bookstrand until July 8th

I also have one light BDSM novel, Asking Too Much, set in a future where men or women can sell themselves into a consensual 'slavery' for a time.

The dynamics of acceptance and trust inspire me to explore such themes in my work. Bullying does not appeal at all to me but a situation where a man and woman come together in love, trust and respect where the heroine allows the hero to take care of her in masterful ways - that works for me.

You can see my slave and other fiction on my Amazon Author Page here and here

You can also see my slave and other fiction at SirenBookstrand at my Bookstrand Author Page here. This page also links to excerpts and reviews.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sweet Romances, Just 99 Cents, until Feb 28th

I have several sweet romances and sweet-to-sensual romances, several with money off until Feb 28th.

Prince Orlando has found Sleeping Beauty – but can his love break the enchantment of her sleep? 

A Christmas Sleeping Beauty - Historical Fantasy Romance - now on reduced Winter Special offer at:
Sweet Romance.
Only 99 cents/0.77p Amazon  and Amazon UK 

What readers are saying:
"Lindsay Townsend used her own magic wand to create a vivid and colorful backdrop for this timeless love story!"

"You'll love this twist on the classic!"

"Townsend makes a nice twist on the familiar fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty."


My historical romance novel, 'Flavia's Secret,' just 99 cents 

(0.77p) from Bookstrand.

This novel is set in Roman Bath and has its climax during the Saturnalia, the ancient Roman version of Christmas. More details, including an excerpt here.

My historical romance novella, 'Mistress Angel,' just 99 cents (0.77p) from Amazon and Amazon Co UK


This novella is set in medieval London and is a kind of medieval Cinderella. More details, including the first chapter, here.






My collection of short stories, 'A Rose of Midsummer,' just 99 cents (0.77p) from many sellers, including Smashwords.