Looking for the 12th Century

Medieval Phyllis has just returned from 47 days in France and Spain where I looked for remnants of the twelfth century.  Since 2009 I have been working on an adult historical novel about a medieval viscountess, Ermenagrde of Narbonne. This is my first adult novel, (previously I have written six historical novels for middle grade readers) and I returned to the US full of enthusiasm for all things related to 12th-century France and Spain.

I live in Williamsburg, Virginia a place full of history and  it has been the inspiration for my kids’ books.  However, as a Ph.D. historian (Columbia University) my fields of specialization are medieval and Renaissance history. And like E.A. Robinson’s Miniver Cheevy, I have long loved “the days of old when swords were bright and steeds were prancing.” And I’ve chosen as the title for this blog, a few words from Robinson’s poem. I’m not sure anyone who loves the medieval wirkd as much as I do will find it the blog. On the other hand, I have a tendency to take things a bit too seriously. So it is a good reminder for me to sip a little wine and enjoy sharing some of the things I saw and learned.

My medieval viscountess was quite a lady. And one of the highlights of my trip was seeing the bridge she built (or rather built with her financing and watchful eye) about 1150.

Ermengarde's Bridge near Portel, France

Chain mail may not be graceful, but this bridge certainly is!

Miniver Cheevy
by Edwin Arlington Robinson
Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn,
   Grew lean while he assailed the seasons;
He wept that he was ever born,
   And he had reasons.

Miniver loved the days of old
   When swords were bright and steeds were prancing;
The vision of a warrior bold
   Would set him dancing.

Miniver sighed for what was not,
   And dreamed, and rested from his labors;
He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot,
   And Priam's neighbors.

Miniver mourned the ripe renown
   That made so many a name so fragrant;
He mourned Romance, now on the town,
   And Art, a vagrant.

Miniver loved the Medici,
   Albeit he had never seen one;
He would have sinned incessantly
   Could he have been one.

Miniver cursed the commonplace
   And eyed a khaki suit with loathing;
He missed the mediæval grace
   Of iron clothing.

Miniver scorned the gold he sought
   But sore annoyed was he without it;
Miniver thought, and thought, and thought,
   And thought about it.

Miniver Cheevy, born too late,
   Scratched his head and kept on thinking;
Miniver coughed, and called it fate, 
   And kept on drinking.
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About medievalphyllis

I love history and I love writing. I've been working on an historical novel about a medieval viscountess, Ermengarde of Narbonne since 2009. It has been quite a journey and the journey isn't over. Previously I written 6 historical novels for kids, but this is a new challenge.
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One Response to Looking for the 12th Century

  1. What a beautiful bridge! Can’t wait to see more of Ermengarde’s world!

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