Friday, April 30, 2010

So close to being May....

Our countdown to the May 6 release in the UK of To Defy a King continues, and this week we (as in Daphne, Misfit and myself) thought we would focus on the people and places that we will get to see through Mahelt Marshal’s eyes in To Defy a King.

Daphne was very lucky and got to visit the UK last year and visited two of the locations, Chepstow and Tintern Abbey. Misfit has posted about Framlingham. (Last week I was jealous because I didn’t have the book yet. This week it is from looking at the pictures on Daphne’s blog and that I still don’t have the book!).

For my post, I thought I would spend a little time talking about one of the characters in the novel – William Longespee, 3rd Earl of Salisbury.

Those of us who have read The Time of Singing might recognise that name. For many years there was no question about who William’s father was, as he was an acknowledged, albeit bastard, son of Henry II, but there wasn’t a lot of information about who his mother may have been. That all changed when a charter was found that said “Comitissa Ida, mater mea" which in English is Countess Ida, my mother.

That Ida was determined to be Ida de Rosnay who along with her husband Hugh Bigod were the main characters in Elizabeth’s Chadwick’s previous release, The Time of Singing. We also get to meet William in the course of that book, and in a way to see him growing up a little. Given that he spends most of his childhood in the court of Henry II along with his Plantagenet half brothers, it is no surprise to find that he is portrayed as being ultra confident, flamboyant and competitive! I expect to see at least some of those traits coming through in To Defy a King.

That wasn’t however my first introduction to William. When I first read about William, it was in Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman. William had been given several honours by his father, and then his older half-brother, Richard de Couer (the Lionheart) including marriage to a wealthy heiress, Ela, Countess of Salisbury . In Here Be Dragons, it was his role as the loyal brother to King John that caught my eye. William is portrayed as being loyal to John until very nearly the end of his reign, when it was obvious that to stay on John’s side any longer would have been foolish. Let’s face it, King John doesn’t exactly have a great reputation that has been passed down through the years. William held several important positions for John, including leading the fleet against France, and he assisted John’s young son, Henry III when he came to the throne after his father’s death.

William Longespee died when he was approximately 50 years old in 1226 (his birth date is not officially known). There is some suggestion that he was poisoned. According to Wikipedia, when his tomb was opened in 1791 there was a well preserved corpse of a rat found inside his skull. Even more bizarrely that rat is now on display in a museum in Salisbury. I would much rather visit the Cathedral in Salisbury again where the tomb of William Longespee is in the Cathedral than look at the rat!

As to the role William he plays in this book, I am really not sure. I can’t wait to find out what it is!

Is. It. May. Yet?

1 comment:

  1. William is a major secondary character in some of Robert Gellis' Roselynde Chronicles. As for the relationship between Hugh and Willim in IDAK? My my my. Just you wait.