Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Welcome Lindsay Townsend!

Today's guest (Blogger willing - I've had terrible difficulty posting today, and it won't let me comment at all!) is talented historical novelist Lindsay Townsend. I'll let her introduce herself - welcome, Lindsay!

Medieval gold, treasure and 'A Knight's Enchantment'

 Hello and many thanks to Marie for the invitation to join her Romantic Theme Party. I'm Lindsay Townsend and I write medieval romances for Kensington Zebra and ancient world historical romances for Siren-Bookstrand. My latest Kensington Zebra historical romance, 'To Touch The Knight', is due out in July this year. Today I’m talking a bit about the release of my third ‘knight’ book, A Knight’s Enchantment, plus some lost medieval treasures that I would love to find.
Every girl and boy in England knows that King John was forced by his barons to sign the Magna Carta, limiting his powers, and that he lost the crown jewels in the Wash, the wide inlet of the North Sea to the north of East Anglia, while travelling north from Norfolk into Lincolnshire. Apparently John was ill and took a long route, while sending the baggage on a short cut across the estuary of one of the rivers emptying into the Wash. The baggage train, slow and lumbering, was overwhelmed by the tide, and in 2008 two geologists suggested that there might have been a local tsunami, possibly caused in turn by an underwater landslide.

There is a legend that a monk called Brother Simon made off with the jewels, selling them round Europe to add riches to the Templar order. There is also a claim that the wily King John arranged for the jewels to 'disappear'. If he did, he didn't live to benefit from it - a few nights after that unfortunate crossing, he died of his illness. He was buried at Worcester, without any crowns.

What would these missing jewels have looked like? Were they even crowns? We know that King John loved collecting jewels and that he owned silver and gold plate. He also had the regalia he'd inherited from the Empress Maud. This regalia is missing from an inventory used by John's son Henry at his coronation as Henry III in 1220, so it would seem they were lost. However Roger de Wendover’s Flores Historiarum (Flowers of History), written around 1230, says that the lost treasure was ‘precious vessels, and all the other things which he cherished with special care’. Ralph of Coggeshall’s Chronicon Anglicanum says it was ‘his chapel with its relics … and diverse household effects’. None of these items sound like crowns or regalia.

There are surviving crowns from later periods, especially from the time of King Richard II. In his reign he ordered that a treasure roll be drawn up, inventorying the crowns and jewels in his household. There are crowns (eleven of them), chaplets, brooches, circlets, small jewels, cups and ewers. The only surviving crown, sent to Bavaria for the marriage of Henry IV's daughter Blanche, is certainly very beautiful. Given the skill of goldsmiths throughout the ages, from Sutton Hoo, the Staffordshire Hoard and onwards, I imagine the jewels John lost were spectacular. If I could somehow dig down over twenty feet of silt (knowing first where to dig!), I would love to rediscover them.

People have always hidden and lost treasure. In A Knight's Enchantment - which takes place during the reign of the unfortunate King John - the heroine Joanna discovers a hoard of hidden gold hidden by a Viking adventurer. Here’s the excerpt. Joanna and Hugh have been forced to spend the night together, out of doors in a small cave. This action takes place the following morning:


Hugh tethered and tended Lucifer, roughed a little with Beowulf, cut reeds for bedding, collected firewood and kept a sharp eye on Joanna. She made no move to flee from the cave, which surprised him, and met him at the cave mouth with his armload of reeds, which astonished him.

"What is it?" he asked. Her eyes were wide and her color high, lighting up her tanned face, making her very pretty. This would be how she would look in love-making, he realized, and felt a mingled twist of desire and jealousy. "Well?" he demanded, now using a hated phrase of his father's, "Must I wait for doomsday before you speak?"

"I know what the runes say, and we must dig." She was clearly too excited to notice his rudeness. "There is treasure here! Viking gold! Look -"

She caught his hand in hers and fairly dragged him back with her, careless of whether he smacked his head on the low cave roof. Crook-backed, he let her guide him, enjoying the feel of her small fingers round his palm.

"Look!" She dropped to her knees beside the maze of marks he had found at the back of the cave years earlier. The setting sun blazed into the small dry space - had it always been this small? - turning rock and stone golden. The runes on one darker-hued stone close to the cave floor seemed faded to Hugh's eyes, but his eager companion read them easily.

"Orri's horde is here. A mighty gift." She pointed to an X shaped rune. "This rune, Gebo, means gift." She touched three straight lines with her foot. "Three, then dig, it goes on."

She stepped three paces from the cave wall and began to hack at the earth floor with her knife.

"Wait!" She was wilder than he was, in a fight, Hugh thought, astonished by this whirl of activity. "You will blunt your blade. I have something better."

He looked amongst his things and found the small hammer he used to drive in tent and baggage pegs and the metal file he used to sharpen his sword. He set to work, driving the file into the hard-packed soil where Joanna was laboring, and in a few moments struck something that rang out like a broken bell.

"Let me -" Joanna had her fingers probing and tearing at the loosened earth and now she sat back on her heels, a great smile of pleasure breaking on her face. "We have it!"

Down by her knees was a torn bag, gray-black and half-rotten, no more than wisps of cloth. But through the tangle of fraying threads he saw the unmistakable gleam of gold.

"Orri's hoard," Joanna said softly. "He must have left it here for safety and never come back."

She moved but Hugh was swifter, scooping the coins and rings out of the dirt and onto his cloak.


Fairness made him look at her and offer her a ring: a pretty one, he thought. "Thank you," he said. "That will be most useful."

Joanna stared at the ring without taking it. "You do not think we should share?"

He smiled at the question. "What use would you have for old coins? Your lord gives you all you need, but I must make my own way."

Her eyes narrowed. "You do not think I have expenses? Debts?"

"Take the ring, and this golden chain," he urged, shrugging off her questions, dismissing them as girlish folly. "Both would look well on you, I think. Were I your bishop, it would give me pleasure to see you wearing them."

'Thank you, my lord." She took them, almost a snatch, and retreated to the very back of the cave, leaving him to make up their rough reed mattresses, and a fire.

"Will you leave scrabbling for more messages and condescend to help me a little?" he demanded, some time later, as the fire began to smoke. "Feed this while I find food to feed us."

"I thought you preferred to do all things yourself," she retorted. "Besides, you do not have enough kindling."

"If you can do better, do so." Hugh left her sulking over the crackling flames and stamped off outside again. When he returned, Joanna was nowhere to be seen and the fire was a glowing, growing mass of orange. Even as he stared in amazement, the whole mass exploded into more flames and gushed a fog-bank of purple smoke.

I'm very happy to include a copy of A Knight's Enchantment in the prizes for this week. My question for the giveaway is this - what is Joanna's work? You can find out her job from reading the blurb on my blog.
Also I'm curious - what periods of historical romance do readers enjoy and why?

You can answer both questions on the comments section of the blog. Please remember to include your email.
Many thanks again to Marie for having me along today.
Best wishes, Lindsay.


  1. Hi Lindsay - what a great post. I love medieval, 16th century and regency period books. Joanne is an alchemist - and very interesting it sounds too!

  2. Ooo, she's an alchemist. That's awesome. Usually men get to be the scientists in book. Yay for smart women. I like to read all sorts of historicals. Right now I'm in a Regency mood but I am always looking for something new. Thanks for the giveaway.

  3. Good Morning Lindsay,

    She is an alchemist and I admit, I had to grab my dictionary and look that up and I'm still a bit confused. Base metals into gold? How?

    I don't have much experience with reading historicals, but have enjoyed what I read. I specifically remember a medieval and one that took place in Scotland, but I don't remember time period.

  4. i think she is an alchemist also. I love to try out new authors and Lindsey Townsend is a new one for me. I liked the excerpt, i like strong woman.
    Thanks for the giveaway and would love to win.

  5. Thanks for the comments, Rosemary, Jen B, Jenn and Chris! My Joanne is a strong woman in an unsual 'job' - which women did do during the middle ages.

    Good luck for the draw!

    Best wishes, Lindsay

  6. Hi,

    Great post. Marie sure knows how to throw a good party and invite interesting guests.

    Joanne is an alchemist and what an interesting job..hehe!!

    I've always enjoyed Elizabethan romances...I love this period and would love to see more of them.

    in Germany

  7. Waving to everyone! I've had a lot of bother getting on to Blogger today. Finally using my husband's computer!

    Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your post and your excerpt, Lindsay. And to ask you what you're working on just now :).


  8. Hello Lindsay!

    Joanne is an alchemist. I don't think I've ever read about a heroine with a job like that. Yours would be the first.

    I like historical romances set in medieval times as well as the Old West. I like stories set in rough and dangerous times.

    user1123 AT comcast DOT net

  9. She is an alchemist :-)
    I love to read about Victorian England and Medieval Scotland!


  10. With all my computer hassles yesterday, I wasn't able to post questions for Lindsay from avid reader Monica, aka Emma, who finds herself computerless for this week, but still wants to join the party. So Lindsay, just in case you pop in again, here are Monica's questions.

    1) How do you think you would cope with the social restrictions of the time.............being that women had preciously few rights at all, and almost certainly treated as chattel.

    2) Double standards seem very much the order of the day, men it seems could very literally get away with almost anything, where as a woman, once caught in an "unseemly situation" (real or otherwise) , was very much ruined......gossip it seems was a great way to ruin a woman's' reputation.............who in your books was caught in a situation like this?

  11. And Lindsay's winner is... STACIE!

    Congratulations, Stacie - I'm envious :). Could you please send me your postal address - Marie AT MarieTreanor DOT com - and I'll pass it on to Lindsay.

    Thanks for all the comments, and special thanks to Lindsay for being such an excellent guest of honour :)


  12. Big congrats Stacie!!!

    in Germany

  13. Thanks again, Marie for having me as a guest here on your superb blog!
    Congratulations to Stacie - your book will be in the post as soon as I have an address for you from Marie.
    Sorry to all those who didn't win and thanks for commenting.
    Marie, I've just finished and sent off a shorter historical romance of 15k to my agent called 'The Warrior's Innocent Mistress'. It's set in the Middle Ages again. I'm also doing a cover questionnaire for Bookstrand for my modern romantic suspense, 'Palace of the Fountains' which they recently accepted.

    Women's status in the Middle Ages varied with regions and times, Monica/Emma. Pre the 1066 Norman conquest in England, women could own property and had some rights. Their status declined after the conquest, but they didn't lose all rights. A widow was often independent, although she might have to continue her husband's job. If a woman was strong-willed, she could weather a good deal of scandal - think of Eleanor of Aquitaine or Katherine Swynford.
    Best wishes, Lindsay

  14. Joanne is an alchemist. Lindsey I do believe you are one of my favorite authors. Everything I've read of yours is especially well done. I do most of my reading in winter..I now have a list! Choosing a time period would be hard for me. I enjoy them all. Were I to have two before me...say a viking era romance and a regency. I'd go with the regency first. Best wishes!
    ~Rose Anderson

  15. Thanks for the update, Lindsay! Good luck with your new ventures!