Thursday, 1 November 2012

A Medieval Town - Troyes...

Troyes was the medieval capital of the county of Champagne, and as soon as it became clear  that Troyes lay at the heart of the Knights of Champagne novels, I longed to go there.  Trying to get to grips with the lie of the land is very inspiring.  New ideas start cropping up, even if, as is the case in Troyes, the time you are focussing on is hidden beneath several centuries of history.

Today, the streets of medieval Troyes are film-set beautiful.  The houses were built after the time of the Knights of Champagne, but they give an idea of the layout of the earlier town.   They show how the houses were crammed together.

At the tourist information office, there is a model of medieval Troyes.   (You really know you are in Champagne, the old town was shaped like a champagne cork!)
The plan probably isn't quite large enough for you to pick out all the detail, but Troyes was a walled city, with a dry moat that often as not was used as a rubbish tip by the citizens.   The town was criss-crossed with canals and waterways - these were used for transport, and to power watermills.
The area at the top left of this plan is where Troyes Castle used to stand.  (The castle was built on the site of the old Roman garrison.)  The Count of Champagne had a separate palace which he used as his residence, Troyes Castle was for his soldiers and retainers, for the Guardian knights who patrolled the town at the time of the trade fairs.  (The Winter Fair and the Summer Fair.)   In many ways, the castle was like an office, it was used for official county business.

In this enlargement, taken by my husband, the round building (top left) represents the castle.  The cathedral (towards the centre of this shot) has been given a blue roof.   And I am guessing that the building with the orange roof (just below the cathedral and next to the canal) is Count Henry's palace.  The Abbey is just across the canal from it (orange roof).

This waterway runs past the site of Troyes Castle...

One of the narrow streets as it is today.

The building below is gorgeous - sadly, it's later than the twelfth century, but we had a very nice lunch just staring at it!

The first Knights of Champagne novel will be out in July 2013.  It's entitled Lady Isobel's Champion.

More details about these novels will follow later...

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

A Medieval Palace - Twelfth Century Research

The Tower of London was built by William the Conqueror.  Work probably began on it in the 1070's and ever since then the Tower has been an important London landmark.  Here's the Tower today.
Below there's a model of it in about 1300.  The tower stands out in the centre with the outbuildings and curtain walls around it...
Today the Medieval Palace - the residential area - lies in the range of buildings on the bottom right of the model.  These rooms are wonderful for giving the feel of what life in a palace apartment might have been like in the twelfth century.
This is a recreation of a royal bedchamber.   Colours on the bed-hangings and tapestries are bright.  The walls have murals, and coats of arms have been painted over the fireplace.  There's a candle-stand in a corner, a cross-framed stool, and the shutters are painted with a royal device - the lions of England.

 There no desk or dressing table in the bedchamber, just a trestle table covered in a cloth.    I love the lion jug, or aquamanile.  Both the cross-framed stool and trestle table are a reminder of how Kings and Queens were always on the move.    It is easy to pack up furniture when it's easily portable!
The Royal Chapel is reached via an archway, leading directly from the bedchamber.  The Chapel might have been one of the few places to find some peace and quiet!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Gloriana & the Olympic Flame...

Gloriana has just rowed by Kew Pier with the Olympic flame on board! There were lots of us lining the riverbank. The first picture shows how quiet the river was beforehand.
And the next picture is Gloriana herself!

Monday, 2 July 2012

Goodreads Giveaway!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Betrothed to the Barbarian by Carol Townend

Betrothed to the Barbarian

by Carol Townend

Giveaway ends July 22, 2012.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Harlequin Historical Summer Calendar - Grand Prize Winner

The winner of the Grand Prize, the Kindle Fire for the Beach Bag Giveaway is Kathryn M! Congratulations, Kathryn!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Harlequin Historical Beach Bag Giveaway - Winners!

Congratulations to the 3 winners!
Rafflecopter picked them, they are:

Main Prize: Crystal Boyles, who wins 3 books from my backlist, a booklet The Etiquette of Dress and a purple key ring

Runners Up: Lisa J and Jeanne Sheats
Both runners up will receive 2 books from my back list.


But our competition goes it's Michelle Styles's day on the calendar...
Good luck!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Harlequin Historical Beach Bag Giveaway...

Today's my day on the Calendar!

To enter, you must aswer a simple question: what is the name of the Medieval Empire at the heart of the Palace Brides trilogy?

My part of this competition will be open for 2 days, the 25th & 26th June.
One entry only please!
Winners will be randomly selected from the correct answers.

Enter using the Rafflecopter box on the right...

My prizes will be:

*  One person will win their choice of three backlist books, a copy of the booklet 'The Etiquette of Dress' and a purple key ring.  (Purple was the colour worn by the Byzantine Imperial family to signify their high status.)
*  Two runners up will each win two books of their choice from my backlist.
(Provided I have enough backlist stocks!)

All correct entries will of course count towards the Grand Prize of  kindle/Kindle Fire, if my day is selected!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Harlequin Historical Summer Giveaway

It's vacation season and excitement mounts as that long-awaited time at the beach approaches. To add to your anticipation, some Harlequin Historical authors are offering a bevy of prizes to fill your beach bag with fun items (and BOOKS of course!) for that relaxation time.

Each participating author will have an activity planned on their website for their special day. You may be asked to comment on a blog, do a scavenger hunt, or visit a Facebook page. For each day you participate, your name will be entered into the Grand Prize drawing.

At the end of the month on June 29, one day from the calendar will be randomly selected. One of the entrants from that day will then be randomly selected to win the grand prize of a Kindle Fire (or whichever equivalent product is available in your region).

The more days you visit, the better your chances!

We look forward to seeing you.

Click here for official rules and eligibility.

Participating Authors

June 4 - Blythe Gifford

June 5 - Jeannie Lin

June 6 - Deb Marlowe

June 7 - Michelle Willingham

June 11 - Kate Welsh

June 12 - Barbara Monajem

June 13 - Terri Brisbin

June 14 - Amanda McCabe

June 18 - Annie Burrows

June 19 - Ann Lethbridge

June 20 - Julia Justiss

June 21 - Cheryl St. John

June 22 - Bronwyn Scott

June 25 - Carol Townend

June 26 - Margerite Kaye

June 27 - Michelle Styles

June 28 - Diane Gaston

June 29 - Grand Prize Drawing

blythe gifford jeannie lin deb marlowe michelle willingham kate welsh barbara monjem terri brisbin amanda mccabe annie burrows ann lethbridge julia justiss cheryl st. john bronwyn scott carol townend margerite kaye michelle styles diane gaston harlequin historical author blog

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Betrothed to the Barbarian

This book is the third novel in a Byzantine Trilogy set in eleventh century Constantinople. It was shortlisted for the RoNA Rose Award 2013!

Full details of the Award can be found here. 


Princess Theodora of Constantinople is to marry Duke Nikolaos, the general-in-chief of the army, a man chosen for her by the Emperor.  An imperial princess must always do her duty - be beautiful, obedient and pure.

But Theodora spent ten years in exile in a barbarian land.  There, once, she might have forgotten protocol.  Forgotten enough to have given birth to a baby in secret.   As her wedding night approaches, Theodora finds she wants to share her bed with the Duke, except she knows she's on the verge of revealing her biggest sin...

Palace Brides
Beauties of Byzantium - claimed by warriors!

Text copyright © 2012 by Carol Townend
Cover Art Copyright  © 2012 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A. Cover art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved.

To read a sample, click below:

And for a review, please click on the following link: Goodreads

And here is another on: Goodreads review 2


      Betrothed to the Barbarian

Tuesday, 1 May 2012


These knight were photgraphed at Hedingham Castle.    They are the Knights of Arkely.
Tournaments were war-games, designed to give knights practise for actual war.  Some tournaments were friendly, and knights jousted with blunted lances, etc.   Others were not so friendly, and men would be killed.   In the twelfth century King Henry II banned tournaments in England, but he did not ban them on his Continental domains.   King Louis of France also discouraged tournaments.    That did not prevent them from taking place. Each tournament followed a similar pattern.   At the beginning of a tournament, the knights would enter the lists.  Above, you can see the pavilion in which some of knights' equipment is kept.  The lance stands are to the right of the pavilion.
Above, the knights ride round the field at the review. Preliminary jousts were known as the 'vespers'.  In the vespers men who had been recently knighted were given a chance to practise (and test each other's mettle).  The picture below is blurry, but small targets were laid out on the ground.   This knight has successfully speared his target.

The Black Knight watches, discussing tactics with his squires.
There would be a chance for individual jousting between knights.  Action was astonishing fast, the field at Hedingham isn't large and the horses (and knights) were very agile.  The horses seemed to be able to leap straight into a gallop.  They could turn on a sixpence and come to a shuddering halt equally quickly.  The word 'tournament' comes from the word 'tourney' which relates to an old French word for 'turn quickly'.

After the individual jousting, competitors usually formed two teams and lined up for the charge.   The herald gave the signal and two opposing teams would thunder across the lists and begin to fight.   This rapidly turned into the most dangerous part of a tournament - the melee.    In essence, this was a running battle.   Sometimes the battles would spill out away from the lists.   Knights would capture each other, and ransoms would have to be paid by the captured knight.    There would be prizes.  And, no doubt, feasting!

Below is a view looking down over the lists at Carcassonne in France.  Military skills would be practised here...

Friday, 20 April 2012

Winners for the Goodreads Giveaway...

Five winners have been selected!    They are Natalie S, Aiysha D, Timelle T, Michelle D, and Melinda l B.  I will put the books in the post ASAP.  Please allow time for them to reach you, particularly if you don't live in the UK.    Congratulations!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Chained to the Barbarian...

Here's the widget for the second novel in the Palace Brides trilogy, set in medieval Byzantium. Please click on the button to read an excerpt.

Cover Blurb

Bound in chains, enslaved barbarian Sir William Bradfer stands proud in the Constantinople slave market. As a warrior, he’s trained in the art of survival.  Lady-in-waiting Anna of Heraklea is betrothed to be married—against her will. Catching sight of the magnificent William, she finds a rebellious half-plan forming in her mind. Anna can offer this captured knight freedom in return for his hand in marriage!

Palace Brides
Beauties of Byzantium—claimed by warriors!

Out in June 2012, in the UK and in the US.
Some background research notes may be found here.
And a review from a Goodreads reader may be found here.
And here.
And here.

Text copyright © 2012 by Carol Townend
Cover Art Copyright  © 2012 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited
Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A. Cover art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Goodreads Giveaway...

The Giveaway has ended and I have the names and addresses of the winners!  Congratulations to them.  (The winners are listed here on Goodreads).    I will be getting the books in the post, hopefully today.   Please allow a little time for them to arrive - they are being sent from the UK!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Goodreads Giveaway!

Five copies of Bound to the Barbarian are up for grabs on Goodreads.  You have until the 18th February to register your interest!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

A Tudor Cottage

In the summer we visited this gorgeous Tudor cottage, tucked away in the English countryside.  The main structure is Elizabethan.  When it was built most of it was probably wattle and daub, the brick infils would have come later as did the lean-to extension which was likely to have been added a couple of hundred years after the main cottage was built.
Here is a picture of an inglenook fireplace.   People would use them for cooking as well as for keeping warn, and it's likely a ham would have been hung up to smoke gently (near to, but not on the fire).   Smoking was a great way to preserve meat in the days before fridges!

And here is a picture of a bread oven.   This oven is on the right hand side of the inglenook.    I am sure that if it was fired up, it would also make wonderful pizza.

(This is a version of blog originally posted on the eHarlequin website.)

Australian Anthology...

I've just found the cover of the February 2012 Anthology, and am delighted to see it's Book of the Month: