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Festive Tidbits from Karen Maitland

Posted on: 05/12/2017 with tags: boxing day, christmas, Holly, karen maitland, The Plague Charmer, tidbit, Yule Log, Christmas, Medieval, Middle Ages

Feast of Fools In the Middle Ages, on the eve of the Feast of Circumcision (31 December) when the Magnificat was read out in cathedrals and abbeys – He has put down the mighty – all the junior clergy would start chanting Deposuit! (Put down!). They’d drag senior clergy from their seats and take their places, appointing a fool precentor. For the next few days the ‘humble’ ruled. On 1 January, a donkey carrying a woman and baby was led into the church. At the end of the Mass, the priest brayed thr…

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‘Take the Skull of a Hanged Man …’ – Karen Maitland

Posted on: 27/09/2017 with tags: karen maitland, Medieval, Skulls, the raven's head, Medieval, Middle Ages

The Medieval period was an age of contradictions and none more so than the curious attitude towards the skulls of the dead. Skulls were thought to be where the human soul or spirit resided in life, and after death the skull retained the consciousness of the deceased. This belief is so ingrained in our imagination that, even to this day, if ancient skulls are discovered in houses and removed, some people fear misfortune will follow. The skull of Theophilus Brome was reported to have screamed in f…

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West Country Links to the Medieval Plagues by Karen Maitland

Posted on: 06/04/2017 with tags: Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, karen maitland, Somerset, the plague, The Plague Charmer, West Country, Medieval, Middle Ages

Karen Maitland explores medieval plague links in the West Country – the setting of her latest novel, The Plague Charmer.   DORSET Melcombe (now part of Weymouth) – Dorset Several medieval chroniclers claimed that this town is where the plague first entered Britain in 1348 via two ships from the Channel Islands or Calais. This town is said to be the first in England to be infected. (I wrote a scene of this event in Company of Liars). Others chroniclers claim it was a ship from Bristol which…

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Read an extract from Karen Maitland’s THE VANISHING WITCH

Posted on: 06/03/2017 with tags: extract, historical fiction, historical novel, karen maitland, Poppet, the vanishing witch, Witch, Medieval, Middle Ages

Using the rake to scrape back the soiled straw down to the beaten-earth floor below, Adam threw the sodden tunic into the hole, then heaped the straw back over it. He’d only just finished when Leonia slipped back inside and brought out a folded tunic from under her skirts. He held out his hands for it, but she shook her head. ‘Let me look at your back first.’ ‘No!’ ‘Don’t be silly, I know you’ve been whipped. Marks are all round your sides. I only want to see if they’ve stopped bleeding. If they…

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