In its true colours – Mysteries of the Bayeux Tapestry

This enthralling BBC Four documentary describes the story of the artwork that is actually a seventy metre embroidery on a woollen surface. It was mostly filmed at the Bayeux Museum, where the artwork is displayed in temperature and humidity controlled conditions. The presenters pointed out that the “Tapestry”, obviously dedicated to Odo Bishop of Bayeux,… Continue reading In its true colours – Mysteries of the Bayeux Tapestry

Rebellion in the Middle Ages

This is the latest of Matthew Lewis’ books and covers a longer period than any of the others, from Hereward the Wake’s emergence after Hastings to the beginning of the Wars of the Roses, almost as long a period as this book. Lewis is already an expert on “The Anarchy” (chapter 2) and the Roses… Continue reading Rebellion in the Middle Ages

Medieval Jewish Settlements in Oxford

Originally posted on Giaconda's Blog:
The Crypt at Oxford Castle – built on Anglo-Saxon foundations The first Jewish settlers arrived in Oxford not long after the Norman Conquest, around 1075AD residing in the commercial heart of the city at St Aldates which became known as Great Jewry Street, close to the original C8th oxen…

William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke

William Herbert, otherwise ‘Black William’ was born in 1423, the son of Sir William ap Thomas ‘the Blue Knight of Gwent’ and Gwladys ferch Dafydd Gam the ‘Star of Abergavenny’. His main claim to fame is that he was the first Welshman to become an earl in the peerage of England, except for Henry VI’s… Continue reading William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke

Baby William, Baby William and, er, Baby William….

  What’s a long-suffering author to do when her book presents her with three babies from three families, actual people, all called William? Oh joy…. How I wish medieval folk had been more free-spirited and went for unusual names. But no, they called their boys William, Edward, John, Thomas or Henry. It’s very tiresome indeed,… Continue reading Baby William, Baby William and, er, Baby William….

The Conqueror’s corpse blew up at his funeral….!

It seems that William the Conqueror’s corpse “exploded” at his funeral. The thought of an exploding corpse is bad enough without actually seeing it as well. And smelling it, presumably. I can imagine all the mourners scattering in great alarm and haste. And superstitious dread as well, perhaps? Ew. The things one comes across while… Continue reading The Conqueror’s corpse blew up at his funeral….!


Many people still hold to the idea that all medieval women were quiet, timid, and downtrodden, unable to defend themselves and at the mercy of others. Clearly they have never heard of Mabel de Belleme! Mabel was a Norman noblewoman, born sometime in the 1030’s to William Talvas de Belleme and his first wife, Haburga.… Continue reading MAD, MURDEROUS MABEL

1066 Remembered

Nearly 1,000 years have passed… In October 2016 I began a series of posts in memory of 1066, arguably the most important year in the history of England. Interestingly enough, while I enjoyed history, this era was not always my favored, as it once seemed so complicated and intimidating; my memories of studying it in school were… Continue reading 1066 Remembered

The Iron Man, Bishop Odo of Bayeux….

If Bishop Odo of Bayeux is anything by which to judge, bishops were certainly something else back in the Norman period, and later, of course. As a friend has commented: “….As late as the 14th Century there was Bishop Henry Despenser. He was knighted before he became a clergyman and was literally made Bishop of… Continue reading The Iron Man, Bishop Odo of Bayeux….

The history of castles….

We all love early castles. Well, we can love those from later ages, but they don’t have quite the same cachet as those wonderful old fortresses that always make us gasp when we see them. But how did they evolve? And why did they become obsolete except as tourist attractions and scenic splendours? This article… Continue reading The history of castles….