The Christmas Season (whatever your belief or religion)
is the time for merry-making and parties…
So come and join some wonderful authors (and their characters)
for an Online Virtual Party!
Browse through a variety of Blogs (hopping forward to the next one on the list)
for a veritable feast of entertainment!
(And just as with any good party, you’ll find
a few giveaway prizes along the way!)
The following is a scene from my forthcoming book, Wimer the Chaplain, in which Henry ll dispenses his own brand of Christmas cheer…
Henry drained his mead cup, and leant back in his throne, belching gently. Ah – good stuff! He rubbed his full stomach. How pleasant it is not to be at loggerheads with either my sons, or the Church. I must be slipping. He looked round the crowded hall for those of his children present at this feast – a task made more difficult as many of the diners grew sated, and moved around to chat to old friends seated in different parts of the hall.
Easy to spot was his one legitimate son; John was still eating, hunched over his trencher, clad in a fine lambswool tunic. On closer inspection, there was a dark stain on his sleeve, which was shorter than it should be. Henry shook his head. The boy was going through a period of growth, making him even more morose than usual, and clumsy as a puppy. Please God it be over soon.
Also still seated, a few places further than John, was his acknowledged natural son, Geoffrey, whom Henry had recently elevated to Chancellor. He too had pushed back from the table, and, goblet in hand, was surveying the room. Of all my children, he is the one who can be most trusted, and the only one who consistently uses his intellect to my advantage. What a shame he can’t inherit! But he is a magnificent servant, and will continue to serve his brothers. Henry smiled proudly, and looked again for the least of his sons.
It’s a shame that none of the girls are here – it would have been good to have them, and their children, as playmates for young William. Henry spotted the boy in a corner, teasing a wolfhound pup with a bone. He’s taller than I remembered – he must be, what, five? Perhaps six? Definitely time to take him from his mother and get him some decent tutoring. He was very like Ida in colouring. She was rarely far from him – yes, there she is, leaning against the table, watching the boy. Looking a little careworn. This, too, is in my service – she has been at my side whenever I’ve beckoned for many years now. I should make some better provision for her…
The thought of losing one mistress brought his Rosamund to mind. He was going to make another gift to Godstow Nunnery when he distributed presents shortly. He urgently wanted to arrange the best possible provision for her, body and soul, and to minimise her time in Purgatory with prayers around the clock. There was the Abbess – hah! With young Roger Bigod sandwiched between her and the Abbot of Stratford Abbey, a Godly man indeed, but a crashing bore; and to be another recipient of Henry’s generosity later.
Bigod looked as though he was bearing up well to the double onslaught of piety. No, be fair – he was making himself useful whilst waiting on Henry’s pleasure for his inheritance, witnessing charter after charter. In fact, he could witness the charters to the two religious houses. He is at least easier to spend time around than his father had been, and possibly more honourable too. Not that he was going to get his Earldom back, nor indeed the bulk of his lands, until Henry was a lot surer of him. Perhaps he was owed something on account, though…
Henry slapped his slight but growing paunch, and leapt to his feet. He used the momentum to swing up onto the table and over to the other side. Not bad for a man past the best flush of youth, my lad! The noise level dropped gratifyingly fast, and soon even the servitors were still, having topped up everyone’s drinks.
“My friends! We come to the end of another Christmas, and another year. And what a year it has been! We are at peace; reconciled with our Scottish and Welsh neighbours, and with Philip the new King of France. My son Henry the Young King is even now supporting Philip, and though we miss him greatly, it is an honourable task. My sons Richard and Geoffrey are firmly in control of their realms; my daughters all contributing towards the succession of their husbands.
I am blessed with three sons here with me tonight, and am surrounded by my friends. I would like to share some of these blessings, and distribute some gifts, as is my custom.”
He beckoned over the servitor with his small chest, and put it on the table.
“I start with the Church, as is proper.”
He took two charters from the chest, opened one, and laid the other on the table.
“Would the Abbess of Godstow please come here?”
The elderly nun bumbled up, and curtsied twice in front of the King. Henry bowed low, and handed her the charter with a smile.
“The lands, as promised, good Abbess. “
“We will pray for her, Sire.” she whispered.
Henry nodded formal acknowledgement, then returned to his task, a little subdued.
“The Abbot of Stratford!” The Abbot accepted his charter gratefully.
“And now, my beloved son John.”
John stood, a trifle unsteadily. Henry realised that he’d taken a little too much wine, and moved down the table towards him, rather than embarrass the boy. He turned back to the room.
“I thought long and hard about a gift for John. I rejected clothes; because he’s growing so fast that he’d need a new set next week.”
There was a ripple of amusement, and John blushed.
“I’d give him money; but he’d only ask for more. I’ve raised sons his age before.”
This time there was some outright laughter.
“Instead, I wanted to give him something to connect him to his heritage.”
He stripped off a ring from the middle finger on his right hand, and held it up to the crowd. The large emerald caught the light nicely.
“This ring belonged to my father, and to his father before him. I think John has grown into it now.”
He turned to his son, and slipped it on his finger.
“Wear it in good health!”
John bowed, looking a little underawed. Henry shook his head slightly, and went back to the chest.
“For my beloved Chancellor; a Book of Hours! Having just missed out on the Bishopric of Lincoln, he will need to sharpen his praying skills for his next attempt at the cloth…”
He lifted out a gorgeous book, wrapped in purple silk. Geoffrey took it reverently in both hands, and unwrapped it to reveal a gold and jewelled frontispiece.
“Sire! This is magnificent! My profound thanks!”
“And for my youngest son, William…”
William needed beckoning forward, this being the first time that Henry had singled him out in public. He watched with pride as the boy strode forward, carefully put out a foot, and bowed low.
“How old are you now, boy?”
“I am six, Sire.”
“High time you had one of these, then.”
Henry handed him a short dagger, snug in its own tooled leather sheath and belt. The boy crowed in delight, and strapped it on instantly. He looked round to show his mother. Henry followed his gaze, and bent to whisper to the boy,
“Go and fetch her.”
He ran across, and pulled her over; she arrived in front of Henry laughing and protesting, then dropped into a deep curtsey. He put a finger under her chin, and lifted her up.
“Not forgetting William’s mother, the Lady Ida; a length of that very expensive silk she loves so much.”
She blushed prettily, and curtsied again. Henry looked around for Roger.
“Stay here, my dear; Roger Bigod, step up, please.”
He waited until Roger had bowed and taken a place beside Ida.
“I am not yet ready to pass judgement on your stepbrothers’ claim to your father’s lands and title; but in recognition of your services these last few years, I am returning to you the manors of Acle, Halvergate and South Walsham.”
Roger bowed again, looking suitably grateful.
“And one other gift, greater than you know. The hand of the Lady Ida de Tosny, Royal ward, in marriage.”
There. A neat discharge of my obligations.
“Raise your cups, my friends! To Christmas cheer!”
Thank you for joining our party
now follow on to the next enjoyable entertainment…
- Helen Hollick : “You are Cordially Invited to aBall”(plus a giveaway prize) – http://tinyurl.com/nsodv78
- Alison Morton :“Saturnalia surprise – a winter party tale” (plus a giveaway prize) – http://tinyurl.com/op8fz57
- Andrea Zuvich : No Christmas For You! The Holiday Under Cromwell – http://tinyurl.com/pb9fh3m
- Ann Swinfen : Christmas 1586 – Burbage’s Company of Players Celebrates – http://tinyurl.com/mwaukkx
- Anna Belfrage : All I want for Christmas (plus a giveaway prize) – http://tinyurl.com/okycz3o
- Carol Cooper : How To Be A Party Animal – http://wp.me/p3uiuG-Mn
- Clare Flynn : A German American Christmas – http://tinyurl.com/mmbxh3r
- Debbie Young : Good Christmas Housekeeping (plus a giveaway prize) – http://tinyurl.com/mbnlmy2
- Derek Birks : The Lord of Misrule – A Medieval Christmas Recipe for Trouble – http://wp.me/p3hedh-3f
- Edward James : An Accidental Virginand An Uninvited Guest – http://tinyurl.com/o3vowum and – http://tinyurl.com/lwvrxnx
- Fenella J. Miller : Christmas on the Home front(plus a giveaway prize) – http://fenellamiller.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/christmas-on-home-front-and-giveaway.html
- J. L. Oakley : Christmas Time in the Mountains 1907(plus a giveaway prize) – http://bit.ly/1v3uRYy
- Jude Knight : Christmas at Avery Hall in the Year of Our Lord 1804 – http://wp.me/p58yDd-az
- Julian Stockwin: Join the Party – http://tinyurl.com/n8xk946
- Juliet Greenwood : Christmas 1914 on the Home Front(plus a giveaway) – http://julietgreenwoodauthor.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/christmas-1914-on-the-home-front/
- Lauren Johnson : Farewell Advent, Christmas is come” – Early Tudor Festive Feasts – http://wp.me/p1aZWT-ei
- Lindsay Downs : O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree – http://lindsaydowns-romanceauthor.weebly.com/
- Lucienne Boyce : A Victory Celebration – http://tinyurl.com/ovl4sus
- Nancy Bilyeau : Christmas After the Priory(plus a giveaway prize) – http://tinyurl.com/p52q7gl
- Nicola Moxey : The Feast of the Epiphany, 1182 – http://tinyurl.com/pewcu6f
- Peter St John : Dummy’s Birthday – http://tinyurl.com/nsqedvv
- Regina Jeffers : Celebrating a Regency Christmas (plus a giveaway prize) – http://tinyurl.com/pt2yvzs
- Richard Abbott : The Hunt – Feasting at Ugarit – http://bit.ly/1wSK2b5
- Saralee Etter : Christmas Pudding — Part of the Christmas Feast – http://tinyurl.com/lyd4d7b
- Stephen Oram : Living in your dystopia: you need a festival of enhancement…(plus a giveaway prize) – http://wp.me/p4lRC7-aG
- Suzanne Adair :The British Legion Parties Down for Yule 1780 (plus a giveaway prize) – http://bit.ly/1r9qnUZ
Thank you for joining us
24 responses to “The Feast of the Epiphany, 1182”
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Henry II – always the game-player! I enjoyed this slice of Plantagenet life, thanks Nicky.
Thanks, Lauren! I enjoyed your Tudor amuse bouche too 🙂
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Thank you, Nicola, for allowing me the pleasure of participating in this distribution of royal gifts. May I then, in my turn, wish you a right royal, merry party-time this Christmastide.
Thank YOU, Peter! And the same to you and yours.
Interesting the game playing of Henry II.
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Loved this scene which neatly captures the caprice of kings and the uncertainty of those who live in their train. And I’d love to know how things work out for Lady Ida…
Thanks, Lucienne 🙂 She had a fascinating life – her marriage to Roger Bigod turned out very well; lots of children, and I think it became a love match. However, things are much more complicated before this scene…
Lovely – thanks for sharing this and happy Christmas 🙂
Thanks, Jo – you too!
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Pingback: Celebrating a Regency Era Christmas on the Christmas Party Blog Hop + a Giveaway of “Christmas at Pemberley” | ReginaJeffers's Blog
Nick -you have won my book – can you contact me on f/b or e-mail so I can get your address. Thanks.
Loved this little peek into the ever manipulative mind of one of my favourite kings. I wonder just what Ida felt…
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He’s a fascinating man, isn’t he? And you capture his character very well. Indeed the whole family is fascinating! So Lady Ida was a real person, was she? I’ve always found Rosamund interesting, being very familiar with the part of the world where she grew up. When I was a student, we often went for a drink or a meal at the Trout, the ancient inn near Oxford, which looks across the river at the ruins of Godstow Priory.
Thanks, Ann! Appreciated.
Oh, the Lady Ida’s real, all right. There’s a charter of William Longspee’s – the little boy in the story – talking about the Countess Ida, his mother; Roger Bigod eventually gets his full earldom back from Richard, hence her title. Their children start another fascinating dynasty, marrying into William Marshall’s family. I adore this chunk of history!
I enjoyed this a lot, Nicky, especially as my prior knowledge of the court of Henry II was next to nothing! Thanks for posting
Thanks, Richard 🙂 Much appreciated.
And I thought modern families were complicated!! Really evocative and interesting post, thank you for sharing.
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