Thursday, February 16, 2012

Lady Accuracy's Lessons in 12th Century English History: II

Click here for installment number I.

Here it is at last! Today I'll be posting more random things (less Robin Hood-specific) I've learned through researching for Forest of Lies.

I actually discovered this from my medieval dress pattern. My original draft of Forest of Lies had Marian as quite the average tom-boy runaway princess type (except for the princess part). As such, she cut off her hair. I have since edited her majorly, but the lopped hair is still in there. I discovered, however, that it wouldn’t just be shameful to have one’s hair cut (if you’re a girl, that is) but it would be considered dishonorable. I’m now at the point where I’m trying to decide if I should have her leave it alone, or just make a bigger deal out of it when it happens. I’m thinking of the latter, because of the marvelous tensions it causes. (Muwaha.)

From very near the beginning, I have made my Robin a former slave of the Sheriff’s. I have since repeatedly learned that slavery had all but died out in this time period, and have subsequently wondered what to do. I’m thinking of promoting him to a serf currently, which isn’t really that much better off, especially considering the way the Sheriff seriously abuses his mastery. Plus, I get to satisfy Lady Accuracy side of me. However, I could get away with the slave status if I want to.

(Boil ‘em, mash ‘em, stick ‘em in a stew...)
I discovered this via my study of American history, but the fact is this: potatoes are native to North America, and shouldn’t by any stretch of the imagination (except perhaps TARDIS) be common fare in 12th century England. I still have at least two scenes that mention them, though my biggest one (which involved Marian accidentally cutting her fingers several I the only one that finds that funny?) has been cut for other reasons.

“Ah, I see you favor the gangly youth...”
(1973 Robin Hood for the win.)
I have also discovered that in England around this time, the stereotype of really young girls married to really old guys wasn’t actually that accurate. Of course, I already knew that in the peasantry marriages of people around the same age were far more common. My sources tell me, however, that even among the noble families (again, in this specific time period and in this specific country) they weren’t likely to be very far apart, though girls generally still married younger than guys. Let’s just say that this development caused my Sheriff to look into the time vortex and age backwards about 10 years.

Last but not least, a return to girls and things they wear on their heads. Not only would it be dishonorable to cut your hair, you were generally expected to wear something on said hair. The rules were looser for unmarried girls, but married women were basically required to wear a wimple, and young girls generally wore something along these lines:

This too has brought adjustment to Marian’s wardrobe, akin to when I discovered these ridiculous sleeves.

And that is all from Lady Accuracy: until next time!

Note on sources:
I have been working on becoming proficient in this time period for so long that I rarely remember where I pick up things. However, the first claim or re-assertion to these revelations most likely go to the following:
1215 by Danny Danziger & John Gillingham
The High Middle Ages, Professor Daileader
The Medieval World, Dorsey Armstrong

All are recommended for the historical enthusiast or Lady Accuracy in you.


Grace said...

Hahahahaha...DW references! I thought the scene where she cut her fingers was hysterical. XD

Haniya said...

Potatoes. Yes.
I discovered that last year, and went: "O_O My story. Changes. Must. Edit. Now." I really liked the potatoes scene, but oh well. ::)

Anonymous said...

Haha, love these facts! I'm one of those people who finds history fascinating, so this post was a lot of fun to read. :) I didn't realize that cutting your hair would be dishonorable for a girl...however, I definitely think that you could make said tensions work for your story! ;)

I hadn't realized that potatoes were native to North America, either! So then, did the early explorers bring them back home to Europe? (Love the LOTR reference there, by the way. And congrats, you won three bonus points over at my blog! You were the only one to answer my questions. xD)

Love this post, Nairam, such fun to read! Thanks for sharing!

Nairam said...

@Grace: Yay! At least one. :P Marian herself was not amused.

@Haniya: Haha, that's funny. I think the potato scene you're remembering is the one that was kicked out already for plot purposes, so you can't blame Lady Accuracy for THAT one, at least.

@Taylor: Apparently at some point they did! Woot, bonus points. 8)

Godsgirl said...

I really enjoyed your Lady Accuracy posts, Nai :) And though I have yet to read Forest of Lies (Grrr!!!!) I think Marian cutting her fingers sounds very funny.
Potatoes are a non-exsistant food for poor deprived Robin Hood!?!? How could anyone live without potatoes? I cannot imagine life without them. Does that go for sweet taters as well? *shakes head* Poor people.

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