Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Roman Name Game

Ahhhhh, What's in a name? 
At least for gets complicated.

We always laughed at Grandma when she read fella's name that ended with I, II, or IV. She would have said it John One-eye. John Two-eye, or John Eye-Vee. She didn't bother with Latin. But now that I've played with the Romans, I think understand why she did it. And  where this 'One-eye' thing comes from. 

I'm going to start with the hero of my Red Fury series. Gnaeus Julius Agricola.  His full legal name is  

 Gnaeus Julius Luci filius Aniensis Agricola Foror Julii. 
Gnaeus is his forename/praenomen. 
 His family name/cognomen is Julius.
 Luci was his father's forename/ Lucius.  
His nickname/cognomen was Agricola meaning 'farmer.'
His voting tribe was Aniensis.   
He was born in the Forum Julii.

But we'll call him 
Gnaeus Julius Agricola
 since that was his formal name.

When meeting and introducing, Romans used the full proper name. Gnaeus Julius Agricola or they simplified it to Julius Agricola  during casual discussions.
He was only called by Gnaeus by his family and his wife...and only after being married. Not before.
If you did use his personal name and were not married to him or related, you were considered rude and disrespectful. And proper Romans honored respect.

Now here comes the issue as a writer and gets really complicated.
Both of his sons were named
Gnaeus Julius Agricola. 
Both of them or, no matter if it were all six of sons, all of the sons took their father's name.
(But, Julius only had two)

Now, think how this works out if you are writing a scene with both father and sons are talking. How do you keep them apart? Yeah. that is the question. 

Julius had a daughter. 
 She married Cornelius Tacitus who didn't bother to mention her in his histories, so we can presume her name was
Daughters kept their father's name however in the feminine form of an 'a' usually.
Julius/Julia. Valerius/Valeria. , Lucius/Lucia. Aelius/Aelia
And if there were more than one daughter...
 there was 'Julia Prima', "Julia Secunda" and so on. 
And she didn't change her name to her husband's, but kept her father's name
Gnaea Julia Agricola

Now, add her voice to her brother and father's conversation and, if I stayed 'proper,"  I would have the poor reader going bonkers. Trust me I really tried to keep it simple.
I used 'Younger' and 'Elder' some as in 'Pliny the Younger,' adopted nephew of 'Pliny the Elder'.  This is fine with one son on board. In Vows of Revenge I have the elder Cassius Julius Gullus and the younger Cassius Julius Gullus. Gullus meaning 'rooster. 'But two sons? Yikes! Fortunately, there was only one son to deal with and that was enough.

So I have to break rules  and allot nicknames as I did with 'Nonia Rosa' who is referred to in Threatened Loyalties as' Rosa.' Unless she's in trouble. And she did have an older sister named 'Nonia Prima' but she wasn't in the book much.  Rosa's brother was 'Marcus Nonius Balbus' but I called him improperly as 'Marcus.' Her father Marcus Nonius Balbus was called 'Balbus' because that was what the research books called him. However, if I did have to introduce the father it was 'Marcus Nonius Balbus'. Balbus meaning 'stutterer'. But he doesn't stutter. Well Marcus pretends to stutter...Marcus the son does, I mean...the younger Nonius. You know the Younger Marcus Nonius Balbus....

Nuts isn't it? I still don't think I've  mastered this Roman name game, but I'm appreciating Grandma's idea of 'One eye' and Eye-Vee.
Available Amazon...September 2012  At last!!!!!

Judy Ridgley
My website:
http://www.jfridgley.comRPride website

My blog- Writer's Riding Right: http://
www.jridgley.wordpress.comMy Roman blog- http://www.juliagaleriacasca.wordpress.comDreamin' blog-

Choosing The Right Name by Vivienne Westlake

One of the first things I do when creating a story is to give a character their name. Usually, it's the first name, though in my Regencies and Victorian books, I often do think of the last name and title of my hero. I can't get into the book if I don't have a sense of the names and faces of my primary characters.

Occasionally, I make up a last name, but most of the time I like to look up a surname or title and see if it exists at House of Names. You can find many British, Irish, and French surnames listed here as well as their histories. I find it interesting to see the family crests, mottos, and origins of surnames. Sometimes reading these can spark an idea or give me confirmation about a sense of character. Most of the time, I use it to confirm that the name existed during the period I'm using it.

When looking up first names, I often consult several baby books. I prefer books that list the history of a name (some books will tell you famous people over the centuries who bore that name or tell you if the name originated from a book or play). But, there are two websites I do like to consult to look at the history of a name:

Behind the Name gives the etymology of first names and allows you to search by name or by the country of origin. It also includes names from the Bible and Ancient Mythology. This is useful for me when I want to find a name that a name fits a particular location or time period.

Baby Name Wizard has a fun tool that shows you the popularity of a name over different decades. While it only goes as far back as the 1880s, I find it useful to see whether a name is a more modern invention or whether a name would have been common in the 19th century.

I tend to pour through books and websites just to find the right name. Sometimes, I get a name right away and it sticks, such as Delphine Sharpe, the heroine in The Captain's Wicked Caress (and the sister to Lady Rowena Northam, the heroine in my first book). Other times, it takes me a day or two to figure out the right name.

I find I am drawn to names beginning with certain letters (A and E are my favorites). For some reason, in my Regency series, I keep choosing names that start with the letter R and I've had to rename some characters to avoid confusion.

What is your favorite name for a hero or heroine? Do you find you respond better to a hero if he has a strong sounding name? Would you be put off if the hero had a boring name like Chuck or Stanley? What about an antiquated one like Delbert?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Book Review by Sheryl Hoyt, writing as Saralynn Hoyt

Lady Almina and the real Downton Abby, The lost Legacy of Highclere Castle, by the Countess of Carnarvon

I just finished this great book by the current Countess of Carnarvon, of Highclere Castle which is where the series Downton Abby was filmed and the story is loosely based upon. I say loosely because there are as many differences as similarities. For instance, in the show Downton Abby, the countess portrayed is a rich American heiress whose inheritance saves the estate. The real countess of that period Almina, was a bastard born to a married French woman and her lover Alfred de Rothschild who was one of the richest men in England as well as the first Jew admitted to the House of Lords. Also, in Downton Abby the Earl and Countess had no male heirs and were going to have to turn the estate and Earldom over to a relative, but in real life, the 5th Earl and Almina did have a male heir.
The real Earl and Countess were actually quite an interesting pair. They seemed to be very fond of each other, and maybe even in love, which was unusual for these sorts of marriages. Even though Almina was born outside of wedlock, her dowry was one of the largest in England due to her connection to Alfred de Rothschild. Although no one spoke of it, it was well known that she was his daughter and only child. He showered her with money and did everything in his power to bring Almina and her mother into society. After their grand wedding, Almina and the Earl traveled widely and entertained in high style, spending vast sums on making sure they had the very best of everything on hand when important visitors like the Prince of Wales showed up for a weekend party. The Earl’s enduring passion was Egypt and during his lifetime he spent vast amounts of money looking for ancient treasures.
 Almina’s passion was nursing which she threw herself and her fortune into during WWI. First she turned the castle into a hospital then, when it was apparent that the soldiers would benefit from being in London, closer to the best doctors, she purchased a large house and turned it into one of the best most modern hospitals in WWI London. She worked tirelessly until the end of the draining the Rothschild fortune as she nursed thousands of soldiers back to health.
The Earl had to wait until after the war to get back to Egypt, and his partner Howard Carter who convinced the Earl to invest one last time in a new dig that would be in the Valley of the Kings. After years of trying for the rights to dig there, this would be their last attempt to find something really big. Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon would go on to discover the tomb of King Tutankhamen, the most famous Egyptian treasure the world has ever known. They were the first to enter the tomb and see the treasures inside, untouched for thousands of years.
As they were removing the treasures and dealing with the press, the Earl became quite sick from mosquito bite. Almina rushed to his side to nurse him back to health, but was ultimately unsuccessful. The Earl died in Egypt and became the first victim of the curse of King Tut’s tomb. The 6th Earl succeeded his father as Lord Carnarvon.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Medieval Titanic by Anna Markland

The year 1120 saw one of the most significant shipwrecks in English history; a tragedy that cost the lives of the flower of English nobility and would eventually plunge the nation into two decades of chaos and misrule – a period that has become known as The Anarchy. The heir to the throne of England and hundreds of scions of noble families perished when the White Ship, one of the most advanced vessels of the time, was lost with all hands. Its wreck and the potentially priceless cargo (in terms of historical and material value) it carried have never been located.

Following the Norman Conquest of 1066, England was ruled by the dukes of Normandy. As overlords of two lands divided by the English Channel, it was routine for the Norman kings of England to shuttle back and forth between their dominions as they sought to preserve their territories on the Continent and in Britain. (The ongoing conflict between the two brothers who were the King of England and the Duke of Normandy features in my novel Passion in the Blood

Henry I, known as Beauclerc
In 1120, Henry I, third of the Norman kings of England and youngest son of William the Conqueror, had been forced to travel to Normandy to confront the King of France, Louis VI. Accompanying him was his heir and only legitimate son, 17-year old William Adelin. ‘Adelin’ is a latter-day rendering of ‘Atheling’ (the Saxon term for king) – he was named William the Atheling to show how the royal houses of the Saxons and Normans were unified in his person.

Henry had successfully resolved his dispute with Louis, gaining recognition for his son as the de facto Duke of Normandy, and was returning to England via the Norman port of Barfleur. The mood of the party was festive, especially since young William was habitually accompanied by a kind of ‘youth court’ – a youthful mirror version of his father’s court, which included many of the most important heirs and offspring of the noble houses of England and Normandy. With the party were his own half-brother and sister – Henry I was the most prolific father of illegitimate children in the history of the English monarchy. Despite this, William was his only legitimate son (one of only two legitimate children), and was therefore absolutely central to Henry’s dynastic ambitions.

On 25 November Henry was preparing to embark at Barfleur when he was approached by Thomas FitzStephen, master of the Blanche Nef, or White Ship, a fine new vessel of the highest specifications. FitzStephen’s father Airard had captained the Mora, the flagship of William the Conqueror’s invasion fleet (more about this in my novel Conquering Passion), and now he himself begged William’s son for the honour of bearing him across the Channel in his splendid ship. Henry declined, as his own travel arrangements were already well in hand, but suggested that FitzStephen could carry his son, William Adelin, and his company. Henry boarded his own ship and departed not long afterwards, safely making the passage back to England.

Meanwhile William and his companions were feasting and drinking prodigiously, and their own departure was delayed while all the available casks of wine in port were loaded onto the White Ship. Once aboard, the partying continued, with the captain and crew apparently joining in. The company grew so inebriated that when a party of clerics led by the Bishop of Coutance arrived they were driven off with howls of derision. At least one of the passengers disembarked at this time: Stephen of Blois – possibly as a result of an attack of diarrhoea, or possibly because of an attack of common sense given the carryings on. It was a decision that would have fateful consequences.

By the time the White Ship was ready to depart everyone aboard was roaring drunk and night had fallen. On board were around 300 people, including 140 noblemen and at least 18 noblewomen. In relative terms, the Channel crossing was not especially dangerous – Henry had done it many times, while his father had made the crossing 17 times as king. But in the 12th century naval technology was still crude, and any sea journey was dangerous, particularly with a drunken crew, captain and pilot. To make matters worse, young William was keen to catch up with his father and get home first, and insisted that FitzStephen take the quickest route home.

This was to prove fatal. The correct route to take out of Barfleur harbour was to the south, avoiding dangerous shoals, after which the vessel would swing north towards England. The ship’s drunken pilot tried to cut corners by heading directly north, but succeeded only in driving the ship onto a rock called the Quilleboeuf, about 2.4 kilometres (1.5 miles) out of the harbour.

The ship began to sink, but all was not lost for William. He was quickly hustled aboard the only ‘lifeboat’, but as he was rowed to safety he heard the piteous cries of his half-sister, Matilda, Countess of Peche, imploring him not to abandon her. William ordered the boat to turn back, but as it neared the sinking ship it was overwhelmed by the number of people who tried to climb aboard and it too was lost.

This at least was the tale told by a butcher of Rouen named Berthold, who had only gone aboard to chase up a debt. He clung to one of the masts that projected above the waves, and was rescued the next morning. He was the sole survivor: few people of that era could swim, and in the dark, amidst the waves and strong currents, a watery grave was inevitable. When the news reached England none of the barons or high officers of the court dared to tell the king; it was left to a child to tell him the terrible tidings. It is said that he fainted away, and that he never smiled again.

The lost generation
The impact on the world of power politics in north-western Europe must have been tremendous, not to mention the personal toll on bereaved parents. The feeling that might have been prevalent is well captured by Winston Churchill in his account of the disaster in A History of the English Speaking People:
Two men remained afloat, the ship’s butcher and a knight. ‘Where is the Prince?’ asked the knight above the waves. ‘All are drowned,’ replied the butcher. ‘Then,’ said the knight, ‘all is lost for England,’ and threw up his hands [thereby casting himself into the waves].

The disaster has been likened to the sinking of the Titanic, which carried many rich and important people and had a colossal impact on Edwardian Britain. 

For 12th-century England the sinking of the White Ship was to have grim consequences. Despite his extra-marital fecundity, Henry was unable to produce another legitimate male heir. Although he forced his barons to swear allegiance to his legitimate daughter, also called Matilda, the idea of a female ruler simply would not wash with the medieval mindset. When Henry died in 1135 most of the English barons promptly ignored their oaths and acclaimed Stephen of Blois, Matilda’s cousin and the same man who had so fortuitously stepped off the White Ship before it sailed to disaster, as king. Matilda was able to rally some support and attempted to reclaim the crown, plunging the country into nearly 20 years of civil war. It was a lawless and unstable time, when, in the memorable words of the contemporary Peterborough Chronicle, ‘Crist and alle his sayntes slept.’

The White Ship disaster is an important event in the plot of SWEET TASTE OF LOVE, a novella I have written about the period. Two of my most beloved characters perish in the catastrophe, and the story is about the impact of that tragedy on their children. It's an intimate romance with a monk as the hero! Hmmm!
Available here for .99 cents

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Highland Clearances: Backdrop for My Highland Love

Today I’m going to talk about the Highland Clearances, the political backdrop to my upcoming release with Silver Publishing.
The Highland Clearances (Scottish Gaelic: Fuadach nan GĂ idheal, the expulsion of the Gael) was the forced displacement of a significant number of people in the Scottish Highlands during the 18th and 19th century, as a result of an agricultural revolution (also known as enclosure) carried out by hereditary aristocratic landowners. The changes were seen to be supported by the government, who gave financial aid for roads and bridges to assist the new sheep-based agriculture and trade. The clearances were particularly notorious as a result of the late timing, the lack of legal protection for year-by-year tenants under Scots law, the abruptness of the change from the traditional clan system, and the brutality of many evictions.

 In 1807 Elizabeth Gordon, 19th Countess of Sutherland, touring her inheritance with her husband Lord Stafford (later made Duke of Sutherland), wrote that "he is seized as much as I am with the rage of improvements, and we both turn our attention with the greatest of energy to turnips". As well as turning land over to sheep farming, Stafford planned to invest in creating a coal-pit, salt pans, brick and tile works and herring fisheries. That year his agents began the evictions, and 90 families were forced to leave their crops in the ground and move their cattle, furniture, and timbers to the land they were offered 20 miles (32 km) away on the coast, living in the open until they had built themselves new houses. 

To landlords, "improvement" and "clearance" did not necessarily mean depopulation. At least until the 1820s, when there were steep falls in the price of kelp, landlords wanted to create pools of cheap or virtually free labor, supplied by families subsisting in new crofting townships. Kelp collection and processing was a very profitable way of using this labor, and landlords petitioned successfully for legislation designed to stop emigration. This took the form of the Passenger Vessels Act 1803. Attitudes changed during the 1820s and, for many landlords, the potato famine which began in 1846 became another reason for encouraging or forcing emigration and depopulation.

Donald McLeod, a Sutherland crofter, later wrote about the events he witnessed:

The consternation and confusion were extreme. Little or no time was given for the removal of persons or property; the people striving to remove the sick and the helpless before the fire should reach them; next, struggling to save the most valuable of their effects. The cries of the women and children, the roaring of the affrighted cattle, hunted at the same time by the yelling dogs of the shepherds amid the smoke and fire, altogether presented a scene that completely baffles description — it required to be seen to be believed.

A dense cloud of smoke enveloped the whole country by day, and even extended far out to sea. At night an awfully grand but terrific scene presented itself — all the houses in an extensive district in flames at once. I myself ascended a height about eleven o'clock in the evening, and counted two hundred and fifty blazing houses, many of the owners of which I personally knew, but whose present condition — whether in or out of the flames — I could not tell. The conflagration lasted six days, till the whole of the dwellings were reduced to ashes or smoking ruins. During one of these days a boat actually lost her way in the dense smoke as she approached the shore, but at night was enabled to reach a landing-place by the lurid light of the flames.

Here are a few facts I use in My Highland Love:

Elizabeth Leveson-Gower, Duchess of Sutherland, and her husband George Leveson-Gower, 1st Duke of Sutherland, conducted brutal clearances between 1811 and 1820. Evictions at the rate of 2,000 families in one day were not uncommon. Many starved and froze to death where their homes had once been. The Duchess of Sutherland, on seeing the starving tenants on her husband's estate, remarked in a letter to a friend in England, "Scotch people are of happier constitution and do not fatten like the larger breed of animals."

According to

Nobody pursued the clearance policy with more vigour and cruel thoroughness than Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland, and her name is still reviled in many homes with Highland connections across the world to this day. 

If we wrote something like this, no one would believe it was possible. Truth is so much stranger than fiction.

My Highland Love will be released from Silver Publishing September 23.

Elise Kingston is a wanted woman. But that won't stop her from returning home to America and exposing the man responsible for her daughter's death. Not even clan chief Marcus MacGregor, who moves her heart, body, and soul will stand in her way.

Until she must choose between his life and her revenge.