A Medieval Christmas - The Outlaw's Ransom - A guest blog by Jennifer Ash
Hello there! Many thanks to Lynne, for hosting this final day of my blog tour for my new medieval mystery, The Outlaw’s Ransom.
The Outlaw’s Ransom (Dec, 2016) is the first novel in an exciting new series of medieval murder mysteries by acclaimed author Jenny Kane writing as Jennifer Ash.When craftsman’s daughter Mathilda is kidnapped by the notorious Folville brothers, as punishment for her father’s debts, she fears for her life. Although of noble birth, the Folvilles are infamous throughout the county for disregarding the law – and for using any means necessary to deliver their brand of ‘justice’.Mathilda must prove her worth to the Folvilles in order to win her freedom. To do so she must go against her instincts and, disguised as the paramour of the enigmatic Robert de Folville, undertake a mission that will take her far from home and put her life in the hands of a dangerous brigand – and that’s just the start of things…
I’ve been a lover of all things medieval from the first time I clapped eyes on an episode of Robin of Sherwood back in the 1980’s. Since then, I’ve had a fascination with the era- especially the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries- that has never waned. It was this interest that led me to write The Outlaw’s Ransom.
Although The Outlaw’s Ransom has only just been published, I have already finished writing its sequel, The Winter Outlaw, which will be released this time next year. This second book in the is set at Christmas time, and it got me thinking about how many of the festive traditions we have today that hail from those medieval days.
For example, the practice of carol singers going from door to door was the result of carollers being banned from the churches! During the medieval period the word “carol” didn’t refer to just a song, but to singing and dancing in a circle. This was frowned upon by the churchmen of the age as it detracted from the seriousness of the occasion. Carol singers were ordered out onto the streets, and often sang in market places, or in front of rows of houses.
Another church related tradition that had its origins in medieval times is the Christmas crib or Nativity scene. In medieval Italy, in 1223, Saint Francis of Assisi used a crib as a teaching tool to explain the Christmas story to the local population. Historians believe that this was the first time animals, such as the sheep and the donkey, were added to the Christmas story, even though the Bible does not mention them.
But what about Christmas food? Well, Christmas puddings certainly date from medieval England, although they were rather different than those we eat today. Made from a spicy porridge known as frumenty, with currants and dried fruit stirred into it, along with egg yolks, cinnamon and nutmeg, it was a considerably runnier pudding than the one we’re used to. The majority of Christmas dinners in the UK this year will feature a roast turkey. However, turkeys didn’t reach Britain until the late fifteenth century. In medieval times the rich ate goose, while the poorer families would roast a woodcock if they good get one. Those lord’s who had royal permission to eat venison, would have that for their Christmas meal. Traditionally, the heart, liver, tongue, feet, ears and brains of the deer (a concoction known as the umbles), would be mixed together and made into a pie to give to the poor. This treat became known as humble pie.
And how about some entertainment? Whereas today we might go to see our children in a nativity play at Christmas, in the Middle Ages people could look forward to seeing the Mummers. These travelling actors performed plays and dances in villages, manors, and castles. During the winter, mystery plays were traditionally based on the story of Christ’s birth. The part of King Herod within these plays was the first role that can be seen as being the equivalent of a ‘baddie’ in a modern day pantomime, with the crowd often booing when he came on stage.
I hope these few Christmas blasts from the past have made you smile! If you’d like to read my first medieval mystery, then The Outlaw's Ransom is available for your Kindle here:
https://www.amazon.com/Outlaws-Ransom-Jennifer-Ash-ebook/dp/B01LZDKPQM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1475660990&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Outlaw%27s+Ransom+Jennifer+AshHappy reading everyone,Jennifer (aka Jenny!!) xx
A thrilling tale of medieval mystery and romance – and with a nod to the tales of Robin Hood – The Outlaw’s Ransom is perfect for fans of C.J. Sansom and Jean Plaidy.
Jennifer's second novel, The Winter Outlaw, with be published in 2017.
You can find detail’s of her stories at www.jenniferash.co.uk
Jennifer also writes as Jenny Kane
Jenny Kane is the author the contemporary romance Another Glass of Champagne, (Accent Press, 2016), Christmas at the Castle (Accent Press, 2015), the bestselling novel Abi’s House (Accent Press, 2015), the modern/medieval time slip novel Romancing Robin Hood (Accent Press, 2014), the bestselling novel Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013), and its novella length sequels Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), and Christmas in the Cotswolds (Accent, 2014).
Jenny’s fifth full length romance novel, Abi’s Neighbour, will be published in June 2017.
Jenny is also the author of quirky children’s picture books There’s a Cow in the Flat (Hushpuppy, 2014) and Ben’s Biscuit Tin (Hushpuppy, 2015)
Keep your eye on Jenny’s blog at www.jennykane.co.uk for more details.
Lynne writes: Many thanks, Jennifer, for telling us how the characters in The Outlaw's Ransom would have celebrated Christmas. I'm very much looking forward to reading this exciting new series.