If you are jonesing to lose yourself in a book that will help you travel back in time to somewhere a bit further afield than Regency-era or medieval Europe. If America’s Southern Belles and carpet baggers hold no charm for you, then this month you’ll love the three new releases that take you to locales that are off the beaten path. Today these authors who are venturing into little explored territory this month are reporting back from the front with the three most unusual (and totally true) facts that they discovered about the time period!
The Where And When: Norway, 1000s
You are unlikely to find too many novels set in 11th century Norway. But we couldn’t imagine any other backdrop to the sweeping drama of Lord of Fire and Ice, the co-written novel from Connie Mason and Mia Marlowe. As we were intrigued by the world that forged the sexy hero Brandr Ulfson we asked Mia Marlowe to tell us about some elements of his world that she couldn’t believe were true.
- The Vikings had their own sense of fashion, but it wasn’t all horned helmets. There is archeological evidence for one silly season when lace hats were the “done thing.” For the guys! Whether it was filing their teeth to sharp points or staining them blue, they were very particular about their appearance. In fact, one chronicler complained that those Norse invaders were trying to “overcome the chastity of our English women through their foreign wiles.” What were those wily Vikings up to? Combing their hair and wearing clean underclothes. I’m a sucker for a guy in clean drawers, aren’t you?
- The Vikings were far from the mindless barbarians their victims made them out to be. They were the first to develop a keel for their longships, making them lightyears ahead of the seafaring technology of other peoples of their time. They used that advantage to push the boundaries of the known world, sailing down the wild rivers of Europe to the Black Sea. They set up trading empires that extended as far as Constantinople and even Baghdad! Can you imagine Sven the Terrible on a camel? Then the Northmen turned westward and discovered the remote islands dotting the north Atlantic. They founded a settlement on Greenland that flourished for 500 years and set foot on the North American continent centuries before Columbus arrived. And all without a modern compass.
- Long ocean voyages can be mind-numbing if the wind and the waves aren’t trying to kill you. The Vikings needed some entertainment. Along with a lively tradition of storytelling, they had a board game called Hnefatafl that rivaled chess for strategy. But sometimes, they needed action. So on long voyages, while the crew held the oars extended outward, a couple of warriors would race around the bobbing longship, leaping from oar to oar. Then just to make it interesting, they’d juggle knives while doing it! These people seriously needed cable.
- Mia Marlowe
The Where And When: Greece 1147
Take a trip with the well-traveled heroine of The Queen’s Guard: Violet, a book by Traci E. Hall, as political intrigue lands her in Greece and in the arms of the sexy Raol Laskaris. Although we wouldn’t mind basking in the Mediterranean sun in any time period, we checked in with Traci to garner some unknown facts about Greece in the 1100s.
- Specifically Constantinople in 1147, we celebrate Eleanor and Louis' introduction to the fork — in the western hemisphere it was unknown
- Tamed leopards hunted with the nobles
- The eclipse on October 26th 1147 was to some a portent of evil, but I found this documentation to support how the Byzatine court viewed the eclipse:
Choniatae Lines 195–228: "An eclipse marked the eclipse of the kings; New Rome, invigorated by Manuel, is superior to Old Rome; Manuel has been aided by the Virgin."
Lines 229–284: "Manuel shines brilliantly, surpassing his father and grandfather.
Similar events are narrated by Kinnamos and Choniates."
- Traci E. Hall
The Were And When: Colonial America
If a new frontier is what you’re craving, then Colonial America awaits in Defiant, the most recent addition to Pamela Clare’s MacKinnon’s Rangers series. When Connor MacKinnon, a sensuous Scot, sets out to rescue a lass in distress from a Shawnee chief, our interest in the time period - among other things - was sparked. Luckily for us, Pamela Clare is on hand to give us the goods on life in the Colonies:
Here are three crazy-but-true aspects of Colonial life:
- People knew that smallpox was a contagion, i.e., that it could spread from person to person or even from an “infected” object, like a blanket, to a person. So they created smallpox hospitals to isolate people with smallpox from other people. But... They let friends and relatives VISIT their loved ones in the smallpox hospital. I guess the concept of quarantine was not quite developed. And, yes, people would get sick and spread the disease from doing this.
- Wardrobe malfunctions would not have fazed them. We think of past ages as being more prudish, but public nudity was not as uncommon as one might think. A woman found guilty of fornication or bastardy might be put in a cart and pulled through the streets while being flogged on her bare breasts. Also we know that a camp follower at Fort Edward was given several dozen lashes on her “bare rump” in front of anyone who cared to watch. (The issue of bizarre and cruel punishments such as branding or having ears notched or cut off or noses cut off is another topic, but also to our modern sensibilities crazy.)
- Different kinds of dung — goose dung, swallow gung, cow dung, for example — were believed to have curative properties, so someone with bad burns might receive a poultice that included, yes, dung. Imagine your doctor prescribing a poultice or even a curative beverage of dried cow dung or even “hound’s turd.” (I am not making this up.)
- And one bonus — I just got myself a 1757 model Brown Bess musket, which is my own personal connection to that time. I love it! We used it in my sexy live-action book trailer for Defiant. We made it with a male model and had so much fun! My son was the editor/filmmaker. Enjoy!
- Pamela Clare
We’ve enjoyed learning more about these three unusual time periods, and we’d love to learn more. Do you have a fun historical fact that you’d like to share? If so, post them in the comments below and be sure to check out the Everything Romance Page!