...in which I share some of my favorite medieval research resources and methods for the benefit of others interested in also writing about the Middle Ages

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

High table: the table on the dais in the castle hall where the most important people sit

Win a copy of Medieval Women, by Eileen Power! Click here!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book Drawing for "Medieval Women" by Eileen Power

I've just been cleaning out my closet, where I found a box loaded with medieval research books I apparently didn't have bookshelf space for and had "temporarily" stuffed into my closet....a "temporary" stuffing that lasted long enough for me to completely forget I owned this lovely stack of books.

The good news is, I am now (at this very moment, except for the time that it's taking me to type this post) making room to finally display these books on a well-earned shelf where they might actually be able to help me with my research now!

The bad news is, once again, I discovered that I bought a duplicate copy of a research book I already own. This one is called Medieval Women, written by Eileen Power, edited by M.M. Postan. But once again, my bad luck is your good luck because rather than give my extra copy away to the library, I've decided to hold a contest and give my extra copy away to one of the followers of Medieval Research with Joyce instead!

Here is a description of Medieval Women:

"Throughout her career as a medieval historian, Eileen Power was engaged on a book about women in the Middle Ages. She did not live to write the book but some of the material she collected found its way into her popular lectures on medieval women. These lectures are now brought together, edited by M.M. Postan, and reveal the world in which women lived, were educated, worked, and worshipped. Power gives a vivid account of the worlds of the lady, the peasant, the townswoman, and the nun. The result is a historical yet intimate picture of a period gone by yet with resonances for today. It offers an intimate portrait of the writer and social historian."

How can you win a copy of this lovely research book? By doing one of the following. If you do all three, you'll receive three entries in the drawing!

(1) Leave a comment on this blog telling me why you would like to win this book.

(2) Become a follower of Medieval Research with Joyce, then email me at jdipastena@yahoo.com to let me know you've become a follower. (If you're already a follower, email me to let me know that and you'll be automatically entered in the drawing.)

(3) Subscribe to Medieval Research with Joyce (this is different than becoming a "follower") via the Subscribe/posts feature just beneath the "About Me" box in the right hand sidebar of this blog. Then email me at jdipastena@yahoo.com to let me know you've subscribed, otherwise I won't know that you have! (Again, if you're already a subscriber, email me to let me know that, too, and you'll be automatically entered in the drawing.)

And remember, if you do all three, you'll have three chances to win, instead of just one!

The deadline to enter this drawing is midnight PST, October 18th. I will draw the winner's name on October 19, and once I announce the winner he/she will have one week to send me their email address so I can arrange to send them their prize. If you do not contact me within one week (7 days!), I will choose a new winner. So if you enter this contest, be sure to check back here on October 19 to see if I post your name as the winner!

Medieval Word of the Day

Dais: a raised platform in the castle hall

Monday, September 28, 2009

"Illuminations of the Heart" Book Blog Tour Winners!

Sorry to be posting this so late. Although the names were drawn, it took a little longer than expected to track down some of the winners to let them know about their prizes. My publisher is actually still trying to track down the winner of the BarnesandNoble.com gift certificate, but in the meantime, I'll list the winners names so far.

The winner of a copy of Illuminations of the Heart is: Jennifer B for leaving a comment on Heather Justesen's blog.

The winner of a $10 Amazon.com gift certificate towards the purchase of a copy of Illuminations of the Heart is: Park Avenue Princess for leaving a comment on Cami's Books.

The winner of a $10 DeseretBook.com gift certificate towards the purchase of a copy ofIlluminations of the Heart is: Elizabeth Morgan for leaving a comment on Taffy's Candy.

Congratulations to the winners, and thank you to all of you who took time to read the reviews and interviews and leave comments on my blog tour!

Medieval Word of the Day

The hall or great hall: the central living space of the castle inside the keep; the ceremonial and legal center

Friday, September 25, 2009

Review of "Illuminations of the Heart" at Bella Online!

I just found this wonderful new review of Illuminations of the Heart by C.S. Bezas on Bella Online! (And this one had nothing to do with my recently ended blog tour.) My favorite line: "I...was surprised how much this one pulled me into a medieval world and remained with me long after!"

Medieval Word of the Day


Drawbridge: a bridge that can be raised or lowered to permit access across a ditch or moat into the castle's bailey.



(Can you find the little drawbridge? You've all seen this in the movies, right?)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day



Girdle: a belt worn around the waist

See the belt with its dangling tassels around this woman's waist? This was called a "girdle". Men also wore them with long robes like this.












Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

Keep: the central tower and main residence area of the castle

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

Bailey: the courtyard of a castle

Monday, September 21, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

Yes, Medieval Word of the Day continues...at least until I run out of words from my glossary to Illuminations of the Heart. Speaking of which, check back later today to find out who the winners of my book blog tour are!

Medieval Word of the Day

Liege lord: the king or lord to whom a man of lower rank owed fealty.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

Fealty: the loyalty sworn by oath by a knight to his lord

This is the last day of Illuminations of the Heart's blog tour. Read the final round-up, and once last interview with me, on my publisher's blog, Walnut Springs Press. And it's not too late to leave comments on any or all of the stops on my tour to be entered to win a gift certificate or autographed copy of Illuminations of the Heart!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

Solar: a small, well-lit room, usually the domain of the lady of the castle

Check out today's blog review of Illuminations of the Heart at Blog the Day Away. Leave a comment to win one of four prizes, including an autographed copy of Illuminations

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

Okay, now that you know what mail is, take a look at this knight. See the armor that covers the upper part of his body? That's called the hauberk: a long tunic made of chain mail.

Underneath that hauberk he would wear a gambeson: a quilted jacket worn beneath a knight's armor to cushion the blows of battle. I couldn't find a free clip art picture of a gambeson to show you, but you can see what one looks like by clicking here. (Scroll down to the picture beneath the "jack".)

That chain mail covering the knight's legs is called chausses: that portion of the chain mail that covered the feet, legs, and body below the waist.

Now toss on a helmet, strap on a sword, grab your shield, and you're all ready for battle!

Check out today's blog review of Illuminations of the Heart at Romance, Old School. Leave a comment to win one of four prizes, including an autographed copy of Illuminations

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day


Okay, so it's not so easy to truly show you what mail looks like via an illustration, but let's give it a try. See the knight to our left? See the armor covering his arms and legs, neck and head? Now picture those little lines and squiggles and boxes as "a flexible armor made of small, overlapping metal rings". He's got mail! (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

The knight on the right is wearing plate armor.

See the difference?

(Plate armor began evolving towards the end of the 13th Century. Mail armor was used in the 12th Century, the time setting of my novels.)

Check out today's blog review of Illuminations of the Heart at Karlene Reviews Everything! Leave a comment to win one of four prizes, including an autographed copy of Illuminations

Monday, September 14, 2009

Book Blog Tour for "Illuminations of the Heart": Final Reminder!

Here's a final reminder that we're coming up fast on the end of my book blog tour for Illuminations of the Heart. The blog tour dates, with corresponding links, are posted in my right sidebar. For EACH comment you leave on the reviews posted, you will be entered for a chance to win one of four prizes: 3 $10 gift certificates (one each for Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and DeseretBook.com) to be applied towards purchasing a copy of Illuminations of the Heart, or an autographed copy of Illuminations of the Heart itself. The more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win!

The deadline for final entries is SEPTEMBER 20, MIDNIGHT MST, so get busy reading and commenting! The winners will be announced on Monday, September 21 on my publisher's blog, Walnut Springs Press.

Good luck to all!

Medieval Word of the Day

Wall-walk: the walking space behind the fortifications (crenels and merlons) on the battlements; also known as the allure

Can you find the tiny soldiers standing on the wall-walk in this picture?



Check out today's blog review of Illuminations of the Heart at Why Not? Because I Said So! and LDS Women's Book Review. In addition to the contest being offered by my book blog tour...leave a comment on each book review on the tour and be entered to win one of three gift certificates for Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and DeseretBook.com, OR an autographed copy of Illuminations of the Heart itself at the tour's end...both of the above blogs are holding their own giveaway contest for a copy of Illuminations of the Heart. Visit the links above for details!


Saturday, September 12, 2009

Marguerite Makes a Book

Did I say I was through discussing research books on illuminated manuscripts? Then I lied…but only because I forgot about this JEWEL of a book that my sister gave me several Christmases ago!


The books I cited previously that I used in drawing together information for my medieval novel, Illuminations of the Heart, told me much about the art of medieval illumination. But this beautiful little children’s picture book shows, as well as tells. That’s the wonderful thing about using children’s picture books, as we’ve discussed before. They’re all about showing, as well as telling, which for the visually minded writer, can be a priceless gift.


Marguerite Makes a Book is just such a gift. Written by Bruce Robertson, with illustrations by Kathryn Hewitt, this book was published by the J. Paul Getty Museum to give museum goers, children and adults alike, a greater appreciation of some of the treasures contained in that museum.


Marguerite Makes a Book is a story of a young girl, the daughter of a medieval illuminator named Jacques, who is commissioned to create an illuminated prayer book for a beautiful noblewoman. But Papa Jacques is growing old, his hands now shake, his eyes are growing dim, and furthermore, he is injured in an unexpected accident. His family needs the money this book will bring, but how will the prayer book ever be finished in time?


Enter his daughter, Marguerite, who has grown up learning much of her father’s craft. Determined to save both the family income and her father’s reputation, Marguerite sets out to gather the materials necessary to finish “illuminating” the prayer book. We follow her, in both word and picture, as she travels into town to buy some necessary parchment; gathers feathers from which to make pens; purchases herbs and minerals to make paints, and even some sheets of gold leaf. Armed with all these ingredients, she returns to her father’s workshop and finishes the paintings her father is unable to complete. And we get to watch her along every step, thanks to Ms Hewitt’s beautiful illustrations! There is even a page pull-out section where Marguerite demonstrates how she makes each of the four paint colors she needs for her task: red, yellow, green, and blue (the latter made from that precious lapis lazuli mentioned in my earlier posts and included as one of my Medieval Words of the Day).


The visuals in Marguerite Makes a Book are absolutely gorgeous. Many of the pages are bordered with designs similar to what one might find in an actual illuminated manuscript, with scrolling flowers, nesting birds, and little touches of shimmering gold paint (or an excellent imitation thereof) that gave the “illumination” to the “illuminated manuscript”.


This book should delight any child. But it should also delight any adult who would like to “see” as well as “read” about how books were illuminated in the Middle Ages.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

Postern: a hidden door in a castle's curtain wall.

Read an interview with Siri, the heroine of Illuminations of the Heart, by on The Writers Block. Leave a comment to win one of four prizes, including an autographed copy of Illuminations!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day


Bestiary: a collection of drawings or paintings of animals, real or imagined, accompanied by their physical and allegorical descriptions.





Above are two examples of scenes you might find in a medieval illuminated bestiary.

Check out today's blog review of Illuminations of the Heart at Taffy's Candy. Leave a comment to win one of four prizes, including an autographed copy of Illuminations! You can read an interview with me there, too.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

Profession: the act of taking special vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, signifying a man or woman's commitment to give up a secular life for one dedicated to God.

Check out today's blog review of Illuminations of the Heart at Lu Ann's Book Review. Leave a comment to win one of four prizes, including an autographed copy of Illuminations!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

Here are some geographical territorial terms for you from Illuminations of the Heart.


Angevin: one who hales from the Anjou region of France; the birthplace of King Henry II of England


Aquitaine: A region of southwest France that was ruled by Henry II of England in the Middle Ages

Poitou: a region of west-central France, ruled by Henry II of England in the Middle Ages

Poitevin: a resident of Poitou

Poitiers: the capitol city of Poitou

Can you find Anjou, Aquitaine and Poitou on this map? 



Check out today's blog review of Illuminations of the Heart at Vicissitudes. Leave a comment to win one of four prizes, including an autographed copy of Illuminations!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

Lapis lazuli: a stone mined in Persia and Afghanistan, from which a blue pigment was extracted and used in painting medieval illuminated manuscripts

Click here to see what lapis lazuli looks like

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

Chemise: a woman's loose undergarment

Check out today's blog review of Illuminations of the Heart , along with an interview by the author (that would be me :-) ) at TWO locations today: Random-Ish by Nichole and LDS Writers Blogck. Leave a comment on EACH blog and be entered TWICE for a chance to win one of four prizes, including an autographed copy of Illuminations!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

Vassal: a man who owes military service to one of higher rank, in return for land and protection.

Check out today's blog review of Illuminations of the Heart at Tangled Words and Dreams. Leave a comment to win one of four prizes, including an autographed copy of Illuminations!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Medieval Word of the Day

Portcullis: a grated gate usually ending in spikes that dropped vertically to seal off the entrance to a castle.

Can you find the portcullis?