Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Woman's World

My latest release from the Wild Rose Press, Champion of Sherwood, is part of my The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy and takes place in Sherwood Forest directly after Robin Hood’s demise.  This means I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in Norman England, embroiled in the conflict between Saxon and Norman.  Linnet, my heroine in this book, is a young Saxon woman struggling to make her way in her world.  So I wondered, what was the role of Saxon women actually like in the England of 1226?

 Both archeological and historical evidence argues that for early Saxon women in England, life was not as unequal as we may think.   They came of strong Norse stock with many vital role models behind them.  The Vikings were predominantly farmers who supplemented their lifestyles by going off raiding for long periods of time.  Perforce, when they went, they left their wives in charge of running the farm, keeping the livestock, raising the children and – with the help of a good dog – meeting any challenges that arose.  These were not weak women by any stretch of the imagination.

 When the Saxons came to England from Denmark and later from what are now Norway and Sweden, they brought their laws and ways of life with them.  In that society, women were allowed to own property and land, and even write a will.  If judgment was laid for a crime against a woman, she and not her husband received personal compensation.  In large part, women made their own choices and had a say in public affairs.

 Much of this changed, however, after the Norman conquest of 1066.  Like many invaders before them – the Romans and the Catholic Church to cite two examples – the Normans knew they must curtail the power of women in order to keep the upper hand.  Thus, women were rendered unimportant – just as were their men, who were labeled serfs – with very few rights at all.

 So how did Linnet, granddaughter of both Robin Hood and Little John, claim her life and win a say in her future?  Come walk with her in Sherwood a while and find out.  I’ll give you one hint … it has to do with the one power the Norman’s couldn’t repress -- love.


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