I thought it might be in the spirit of Christmas to offer a free download of a prequel to Hildegard’s first appearance in Hangman Blind. Readers often ask: why did she become a nun? or: what did she do before she joined the Cistercians? Consequently I’ve spent the last week staring with ever straining eyes at my screen trying to get 14,000 words onto Kindle and offering it for nothing more than the ability to download it. Imagine my dismay after all this to discover that it can only be offered for 5 days for free and afterwards will have to have a price. I’m hoping this will be at the lowest allowed on Kindle, something like 99p. So if you want it free you can try downloading it from tomorrow, Saturday. I hope it will fill in a few blanks in Hildegard’s story. I should warn you it’s a bit of an experiment in style – with no publisher to please, I was able to write as I felt. I hope you like it.
Hildegard has never had her back story written down although I had a vague idea of what she did when I first discovered her and it has been great to trace her origins from the time of her marriage to the big and nasty Hugh de Ravenscar to her unexpected decision to become a nun. Knowing how much she likes men I’ve always felt it was a strange decision for her to make. But then, being the independent woman she is, I always knew she hated the idea of being a wife without personal power. To be a femme sole puts her more or less on equal legal footing with men of her class.
The prequel opens at the point where Hildegard is in London to establish her claim on her husband’s lands in the Welsh Marches. Seven years before the series opens a vitriolic and important parliament was called by King Edward III. The Commons decided that enough was enough. If they were to be taxed to kingdom come they wanted a say in things. It was really important in terms of opening up government to the people although at this time ordinary folk (like me and maybe you) still had no chance of getting a say in how we were governed.
All topical now with the same question still being asked: where does sovereignty reside, with the people, or with parliament? Or, as recently and as also in Plantagenet times, with a foreign power? In their case much power lay with the pope in Rome, in our case…? It took someone like Henry VIII to wrest power from Rome and with it the payment of taxes and an affirmation of national sovereignty. Let’s hope that this time around there is no unfortunate Anne Boleyn to pay the price.
Now that Hildegard is making a showing on twitter I’m also going to put up a few factoids @nunsleuth on some of the things that interest her. I hope you’ll follow her and ask a few questions to keep her on her toes.
All the best! Keep those messages rolling in. It’s lovely to find readers so keen on medieval matters and that Hildegard has so many friends around the world.