From the Author's Foreword:
Although Tyndal Priory and its inhabitants never existed, the Order of Fontevraud most certainly did. It was a very powerful religious institution from its founding at the turn of the twelfth century by Robert dArbrissel until shortly after the French Revolution. Like the Order of the Paraclete (once headed by Heloise, whose correspondence with her husband, Peter Abelard, is one of the treasures of medieval literature), Fontevraud was one of the rare Orders of double houses where a woman was in charge of both male and female monastics......
.......Regarding the status of women in my fictional Eleanors period, many of us have been told that they were considered "the weaker vessel," accorded little respect and fewer rights compared to women today. (An interesting conclusion from our society that still questions whether women are quite up to the job of leading the country.) Although there is much truth in the teaching, some of the most independent, highly educated and powerful women in history lived during the medieval time......
....Finally, many may not know that the position of crowner evolved into that of our county coroner. Sheriffs in 1270, especially in the larger counties, were often administrative officials (shire reeves) who had as little as possible to do with the daily drudgery of evidence gathering and the hunting up of malefactors. Such mundane activities did not, after all, bring one riches and advancement in a world not that politically different from our own government and corporations. Someone had to do all that dull stuff, however, and it was not uncommon for sheriffs to choose poorer or younger relatives, like Ralf, as their crowners.
This article is from the March 2, 2005 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.
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