As readers of historical romance, we probably all have our favorite eras that we love to read about. For me, it is the late Victorian era up through the Edwardian era (1870 to 1910). I’m fascinated mostly because of the fashions, etiquette, and way of life of the upper class. Though I’ve written about the struggles of the poor and some of the unseemly points of existence during those years, I guess like most other readers I’d rather bask in the class of privilege.
However, one era that draws readers of historical romance is the Middle Ages, where we are surrounded by knights in shining armor. When I think of that time, I instantly think of Lancelot, that cute Frenchman that stole the heart of Guinevere. Visions of the Knights of the Roundtable, chivalry, amour, jousting, and the crusades fill my mind. This era spans from the 5th to the 15th centuries and leaves for authors a vast time period in which to weave historical novels of love.
Many years ago, I was swept up in curiosity regarding knighthood, and in particular the Knights Templar. I wanted to learn more about knights in general, how they came to be, what their code of honor entailed, how they fought, how they loved, etc. I stumbled across a book at Borders (let us have a moment of silence) entitled, The Knight in History
, by France Gies, published by Harper & Row back in 1984. It’s actually available in Kindle form now. Here is the LINK.
It’s a fantastic read, and if you’re an author or reader who loves this time period, you might pick it up.
One particularly good chapter is The Troubadours and the Literature of Knighthood, which talks about the love poems and songs written by knights. Below is a short quote from a work that has survived the test of time.
I am blind to others and their retort. I hear not. In her alone, I see, move, wonder…and jest not. And the words dilate not truth; but mouth speaks not the heart outright. I could not walk roads, flats, dales, hills, by chance, to find charm’s sum within one single frame, as God hath set her . . .
While in London, I actually saw quite a few suits of armor, including those worn by Henry VIII. Not only were the males adorned in shining metal, but their horses as well. Below is a picture of Henry’s armor, which was quite larger than other examples. For some reason, I was shocked at the size. No doubt I had Jonathan Rhys Meyers on my mind, rather than the hefty English king of reality. If you enlarge the picture by clicking on it, you note the prominent area of protection around his manhood.
Let us fast forward to the Pre-Raphaelite
painters during the mid-19th century who gave us inspiring works of knights in shining armor associated with beautiful women they loved, honored, or rescued. A few of these great artists (Harper, Millais, Waterhouse) have created beautiful scenes of knights and ladies that surely give rise to inspirational stories in all of us. Below is a small sample of some of those gorgeous works of art.
In any event, if you’re a lover of this era, our pages are open to authors who write stories about knights in shining armor. As for me, I’ll stick with the more gentile gentlemen of the Victorian era, rather than men of steel and brawn.
“Where are the simple joys of maidenhood? Where are all those adoring daring boys? Where’s the knight pining so for me he leaps to death in woe for me? Oh where are a maiden’s simple joys? Shan’t I have the normal life a maiden should? Shall I never be rescued in the wood? Shall two knights never tilt for me and let their blood be spilt for me? Oh where are the simple joys of maidenhood?” Camelot by Alan Jay Lerner (book and lyrics) and Frederick Loewe