Sunday, October 23

Medieval Medley: Guest Interview with Anna Belfrage

I'm sure it's glaringly obvious to those who read this blog that I'm just a bit interested in* (*trans: obsessed with)  all things medieval, so to host somebody who has also been bitten by the medieval bug is marvellous. 

I'm delighted to host fellow historical fiction author, Anna Belfrage. Anna has had great success with her acclaimed time-slip series The Graham Saga. That series has won multiple awards, including the HNS Indie Award 2015. But Anna has turned medieval for her new The King’s Greatest Enemy series. Set in the 1320s, it features Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures during Roger Mortimer’s rise to power. Book #2, Days of Sun & Glory, has been longlisted for the Historical Novel Society Indie Award 2017.

So I'm intrigued to hear Anna's medley of what's best in medieval for her. Here we go!

Medieval Mate- who’s your ideal medieval hero/heroine?

One mate only? This is when I realise I have a tendency towards promiscuity – at least when it comes to favourite medieval characters.

Medieval Lovers
(note: this is not the same as Medieval Lovers)
I’m not so sure my medieval heroes or heroines are all that ideal – I gravitate towards those who have flaws, who have a huge appetite for life. If I have to choose a lady, I’d go for Urraca of Castile and León, most reluctantly named his heir by her father who wanted a son but had to make do with three daughters. Her first marriage resulted in two surviving children, her second marriage was a sequence of brutal abuse, and once free of her bastard of a husband she went on to become queen in her own right, proclaiming herself Empress of Spain.

Urraca I de León
José María Rodríguez de Losada, 19th C
Now, if I were to choose a man…hmm…Renaud de Dammartin? Except that he was a turncoat, and I don’t like turncoats. Edward I (one of those flawed but brilliant peeps I am so entranced by) William Wallace? James Douglas? Edward III? Or why not the closest thing we have in Sweden to a truly flamboyant medieval duke, Duke Erik, who imprisoned his brother the king, reconciled with said brother (or so he thought) only to have his royal sibling throw him into a dungeon some years later, lock the door and leave him to starve? Decisions, decisions… *takes several gulps of tea & nibbles at a biscuit while pondering* Right: I’m going to tread on some toes here and choose Edward I.

King Edward I at the summit of a family tree
tracing his ancestors back to William I the Conqueror 

Medieval Manor- where would you live?

Ah. Well, I do have a thing about castles, and I’m thinking Wigmore Castle in its heyday must have been quite the impressive abode, balancing atop its narrow hill. Or Nottingham Castle, with those gorgeous views due south. On the other hand, castles were cold and draughty places, which has me leaning towards appropriating the medieval Bishop’s Palace in Lincoln. Gorgeous location, fabulous décor and a high level of comfort.

Des res: Edward I's bedchamber
as re-created in the Tower of London today.
© E.M. Powell

Medieval Métier- what would your job be?

King or queen would suit me fine. I think I have an aptitude for ruling – especially the medieval way, when decisiveness and a tendency to steamroll the opposition were considered strengths, not flaws. Somewhat more realistically, I’m guessing that had I been born back then, I’d have made a good merchant’s wife (I’m great at book keeping). Of course, my life would probably have been short – one baby or so every other year would have had me worn out by the time I was forty…

Queen Anna, anyone?

Medieval Meal- what’s on your table?

According to Swedish medieval historian Mikael Nordberg, it would mostly be porridge made with barley (which is actually quite nice). Add to this the standard staple of bread, and that would be about it, now and then enhanced by some smoked fish or some bacon. Unless, of course, I was a queen, in which case I’d be feasting on fish in various varieties on the stipulated fish days (including beaver, seeing as everyone knows beavers are fish…) and just as many varieties of game and meat the other days.

A medieval beaver fights back: no one ever had this trouble with a haddock.

No chocolate, though, seeing as it wasn’t around back then. Most unfortunate – and should I ever time travel, I’d be bringing along an adequate stash…

Medieval Madness- what behaviour could you never accept today?

Well, I do have a major problem with executions – especially the gory varieties including disembowelment and such. Or burning at the stake. I also have a major dislike of the medieval fashion of subjecting people to in-depth inquiries as to their faith, using methods involving a lot of pain. The Inquisition and its brutal approach to those it deemed heretic is best left in the past. Having said that, the Inquisition survived well into Early Modern times, and has never been officially abolished by the Catholic Church – just renamed (and, one hopes, cleansed of some of its more doubtful methods of interrogation).

The hanging of traitors? Not under Queen Anna's watch.

Medieval Military- what’s your weapon of choice?

The sword. I practise extensively with a large wooden stick, going at the various trees that stand sentinel around our house and barn.

Look out, trees: she's getting ready again!
Medieval Matters- why do you love it so much?

Why? What sort of an unnecessary question is that? *rolls her eyes* I guess it’s the fact that life was so much more in your face back then. Birth, death, the forging of various national states, war and battle – they happened all around you, and from a distance it all comes across as pretty exciting and colourful.
When you have a lion in your boat: definitely excitement & colour. 
I imagine it was anything but for the people living through it, instead life was short and uncertain – even quite frightening at times. Ultimately, of course, studying any historical period serves as a way to understand why we ended up where we are and why.

Perfectly summed up, Anna, and thank you for your wonderful medley!

Had Anna Belfrage been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does not exist, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing. Find out more by visiting her website

Anna's on Twitter @abelfrageauthor and her Facebook Page is Anna Belfrage Author.  She also blogs regularly on

All her books are available on Amazon.

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