Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Uncle Silas

Reasons I read 19th-century literature:

Truth is simply the most dangerous kind of defamation, and I really think I'm most cruelly persecuted.
--J. S. LeFanu, via the character Mr. Carysbroke

This Week

This week, someone I worked with in a past life has had to bid a farewell no parent should ever have to.  The fortitude and gratitude of love is breathtakingly beautiful.  And heartbreaking.

My career has put me in the path of people for whom I have the highest respect - not just professionally.  The fineness of truly good people is humbling, the most exquisite demonstration of our humanity.

Never miss out on the privilege of the best people you know.

Author's Notes

Laws and characters - today, supporting roles, fictional and non:

Salic Law, the sixth century codification of law first set down by Clovis I.  Alaric II of the Visigoths, much maligned in these pages, was known definitively to have compiled his own code of Roman laws, the Breviary of Alaric, or brevarium.  The sixty-five chapers of Clovis’ pactus legis salicae represent traditions and punishments far predating his own rule, but synthesized to bring Franks and Gallo Romans under one system (though not equally; they are not treated precisely alike).  There is little Christian influence or input in the codification, and it demonstrates the priorities of Frankish society—with family above all other concerns, and loss of freedom or financial stability being the worst possible punishments.  The clearest thrust of these statutes is to minimize feuding, outlining tariffs and penalties clearly reflecting the specific value of relationships, and each member of a community’s worth within it.

FICTIONAL.  Both a bridge to the generation mostly destroyed in my version of Clovis’ accession, and an example of the nature of Frankish society in Roman Gaul, Magneric allowed me to represent both the newness of Catholicism and the old-guard of those more insular nobles who came before Clovis’ rule.

Patrician of Rome whose ethnicity varies wildly across the sources, Odovakar deposed Romulus Augustulus and ruled during the ‘reign’ of Julius Nepos, the final Emperor in the West.  Already nearing fifty by the time Clovis came to his throne, he was nonetheless a staggering power in Italy and beyond.  His protracted standoff with Theodoric the Ostrogoth in northern Italy did end over a dining table, though some of the dramatic legends about this event are here omitted.  Variants:  Odoacer, Odovacer, Odoaker, possibly Adovacrius.

As always, Author's Notes excerpts are excerpted from the MS, which means they are written "in-universe."  These posts should not be taken as historical resources.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Author's Notes

Today we have two uncles and a sword.  Stay tuned tomorrow, when we'll go all lex salica up in here!

King of Burgundy 473-516, uncle of Clotilde.  Gregory of Tours condemns Gundobald for the murder and the usurpation of his three brothers’ inheritances in a bid for their father Gundioc’s kingdom.  Clotilde was said to have been exiled, but was able to escape into marriage with Clovis as Gundobald feared the Frankish ruler’s strength.  Gundobald maintained a state of war with his last brother, Godegesil, for years, and each of them prevailed upon Clovis not knowing that the other had, begging for assistance against one another.  In the end, having promised tribute to Clovis, Gundobald is said to have broken this promise, and besieged Godegesil at Vienne, finally defeating the latter with the help of a traitor within the city.  Late in his life, he converted to Catholicism, and was succeeded on the throne of Burgundy by his son Sigismund.

Uncle and guardian of Clotilde, Godegesil quartered his niece at his capital in Geneva, where she was educated in the Catholic church.  Godegesil engaged with his brother Gundobald in conflicts over their inheritance for many years.  Though relieved by the support of Clovis for some time, he was finally destroyed in 501 during Gundobald’s siege of Vienne, after Clovis’ withdrawal and the betrayal of an artisan who helped Gundobald past the defenses after Godegesil expelled commoners from the protection of the city.

Accurately or not, as a kid who grew up reading Arthurian stories, I confess to an affection for the idea of naming a king’s sword.  This name is made up of two authentic naming-elements:  hari/here, meaning army; and brand, meaning blade or sword.  Pattern-welded swords exist among the artifacts of the period, and represent an extremely prized symbol and treasure for any warrior or king.  In Clovis’ early career, Herebrand would have represented an almost unattainably precious treasure; even with his increased prosperity and power over the years, it would have been a symbol of great potency and value.

As always, Author's Notes excerpts are excerpted from the MS, which means they are written "in-universe."  These posts should not be taken as historical resources.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Go-Nowhere Stories

I'm a well established darling-killer ...

Kipling had his Just-So stories, I have my go-nowheres.  Every now and then I get an idea and start writing something, but there is no ending, and I never even have any intention of finishing.  Short stories tend to crop up in my brain, I write for a a short while – long enough to feel limbered up – and am satisfied, with no conclusion.

I have, over time, shared two of these with my writing group looking for some way to wind up, and found nothing – and have tried to donate the ideas, actually.  They like the beginnings, and want to see endings, and at *least* one of my group’s members, I think would be really well suited to do these errant plot bunnies justice in a way I clearly don’t care enough to do.  Of course, it’s like shoes – once someone else has walked in them, it’s either kinda-gross or just uncomfortable to take them for a walk secondhand.  So these stories die on the vine, and I don’t particularly care.

It’s good writing, I’ll say that.  One in particular has some description in it – short passages, but highly effective ones – I have that consistent experience with, when it comes to my own writing; that I don’t feel ownership over the words, that I know “I did that” but I don’t feel possesive nor even proud, so much as pleased in much the same way I am pleased by ANYBODY’s good writing.  Reading good words is enjoyable, and credit for them is beside the point.  I don’t own whatever talent I have – it is simply the result of experience, of education, of my unique sensibility.  So I feel free to like it, and that’s fun.

Oddly, most of this stillbirth writing is sci-fi of one type or another, fairly “hard” (not fantasy, just extrapolations from possible science and so on).  The oldest one came many iterations of real technology ago, involving a magical cassette tape which could counteract sound waves in real time, in any given space, from the loudest to the most infinitessimally slight, and create for a listener the sensation of *absolute* silence.  If I ever even wrote any part of this (I’m sure I did), it was twenty years ago, and the remnants are lost.  Still, the idea remains – indeed, it is perhaps more viable than ever, with advances in digital sound – and that is all it does.  The idea was going to be that actual, perfect silence would in fact drive someone insane, or kill them, or something dire of that sort.  Silence doesn’t really exist – even in a quiet room, we can hear our blood in our ears, we can hear our own breath.  There is always some vibration in the world, whether we’re aware of it or not.

Anyway, freshman-philosopher 101 stuff, but it *could* be done well by the right hand.  Probably has.  Maybe fifty times.  Clearly, I don’t read enough to know.

Several years ago, I started a police procedural, set in the near future, in which breath-contact could be measured.  If, as Sherlock Holmes gave us to expect, ANY contact produces some manner of transfer – fingerprints onto a surface, fibers onto a person or vehicle – what if the DNA or some such signature could be measured from the humidity of our breath?  What if we could measure how long a person had been in an apartment – and where – by their breath-contact?  What if this could be simulated by “bagging” – by secretly stealing the breath-contact signature of a person from space they routinely occupied, or by stealing it surreptitiously in their presence, and planting that in a space they never had been, or by increasing their signature in a space they had been to, but only seldom?

This is the one that my writing pals have asked me most enthusiastically to do something with, but … “that’s all I got,” as the man says.  That’s all there is.  A police detective named Raheema following up on a fishy chick with a shaved head, a delicate portable scaffolding for a crime scene which keeps anyone from so much as treading on the floor, some forensic techs measuring signature from the walls and surfaces in a flop apartment, and “bagging” breath signature.  That’s it.

Without a verb (or even two), the thing’s dead in the water, and I won’t force it and I don’t care enough to save My Darling from oblivion.  I write enough I expect *will* get seen; for me, go-nowheres are little more than intriguing exercises.  Which is frankly bizarre, as I seem to suffer from a completist neurosis in every other way in my life, especially reading.  It is all but impossible for me to not-finish even cruddy writing, no matter its venue, if I start.  I’ve gotten easier going about that with age, but it remains a “thing” in my brain, that an article, a story, a poem, a book, must be finished, if started.

Not with writing.

The final piece I actually might like the most, might most care about someday completing – and, oddly enough, it was born of an assignment The Sarcastic Broads gave ourselves, and never saw through.  (Yes, it is true – writers occasionally set goals we don’t bother to meet.  Shocking.)  I don’t know how we started, but we decided that each of us was going to write a ghost story, and we’d relaunch the SBC blog with new material.  New blood, even, perhaps – given our chosen topic.  Heh.

This story, for me, is actually more personal than infantile philosophizing or prospecting for The Future, it’s all meaningful and junk, and I think it would be good to look back at the piece while I’m querying again.  To work on the novel in progress is probably more than my brain can take while dealing with the shilling process, and it might be interesting to see if I can get the thing to tick.

More on Fashion and/or Style

Until I was about forty, I was a strict one-purse-er, refusing to indulge in an array of bags for many occasions.  I did keep a tiny purse on hand for Saturday night use (a cheap and ugly thing, but it was never the focus of my ensembles), but for every day, I had one shoulder bag and one only, period.  Of course, over the years, one bag might be replaced after a time – but I was definitely, explicitly, and perhaps even indignantly a serial monobagist.

This silliness/practicality was born of a childhood spent wondering where the coupons were.  Indeed, a life.  My mom, possessed of one of the most remarkable minds I ever knew – who could remember everything about a person she’d met once twenty years ago – who could raise me and my brother, and more than hold her own personally, professionally, and socially – was a purse-changer.

I never saw the point of multi-purse behavior.  What I saw was the inevitable consequence of change:  loss and unavailability.  I saw the shopping trips with the “wrong” credit cards, or the missing checkbook (I lived in the Age of Checks, little ones … it was a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away …).  I saw receipts we “knew” we had, when going to return something, miraculously vanished.

I saw nightmares of which perhaps it is best I do not speak …

And so, I saw one single black purse as entirely sufficient unto any day.  In the 90s, this often consisted of those glorified wallets – bags with twenty little card and money slots, and a driver’s license clear-vinyl-windowed flappy-do in the flap closure, and a little space for lipstick, comb, and Blistex DCT.  With stuuuuuuuuuuuuuuupidly long straps, usually connected to the body by clamps to d-rings.  As they were.

By the 2000s, I shifted cards and cash and insurance and so on onto an actual wallet, ans so my purses changed in nature – but, in function, they still had to be workhorses.

It was shortly before I got my previous job that I found the I Santi.  It’s an Italian leather bag of the most magical proportions, look, and function.  Its strap drop (distance from the body of the purse to the top of the strap) is enough to make it a *shoulder* bag (I had a loathing, when giant hobo bags with tiny straps were coming to be the thing, of seeing women lose an arm to ridiculously large purses they could not carry exept crooked in the elbow).  Its body is structured, but not hard.  It’s slender, but long enough that it holds a great deal.

It’s a black Italian leather designer bag from a maker most of whose works sell for a MINIMUM of $300.  Of course, I paid no such thing (a case of an eBay seller with something they didn’t know the value of – perhaps a gift they didn’t like, nor care what they got for it) – and I got myself a quite nice little bag out of it.  Beautiful for everything from a job interview to a Sunday at the grocery.

And so, it is ironic that this is the bag that finally broke me.

This, and of coure, the burgeoning obsession with vintage accessories.

I came to feel that this bag was so good I wanted to be sure I did not knock it around as I had all those pleather confections of the eighties and nineties.  I wanted it to last – and I wanted to indulge in grown up purses.  I wanted something to go with *brown* shoes.  I wanted to dare that beast I’d submitted to all my life – the fear of pursine consequences.  I wanted to find out whether life was possible with multiple purses and without kerfuffle over credit cards and coupons.  I also saw a writer I knew at the JRW Conference with the most DARLING little red vintage bag, and from that day was lost to my one-purse fidelity.

And so, for fun, one day I was eBay browsing the granny purses … ahhh, and there the little devil was.  A sky blue patent barrel bag which looked like even grandma had only carried it one Sunday in the sixties – for Easter at church, or who knows what.  I nabbed it.

Since then, I have nabbed two navy purses, a matched pair of Lenox doctor bags (one cherry red, one brown), a vinyl-covered ivory jacquard, the tiny fuschia and the tiny black patent, a Japanese pearl-pink straw, an awesome bronze vinyl folio, a giant black doctor bag with lipstick-red leather lining, and two carpet bags I depend on at conferences (big enough for my Galaxy, hard-sided enough to use as desks).  Oh, and there are others.  There is the aqua velvet.  The little flowered dark-magenta I carried when I became a member of my church.  The tiny, adorable grey.

The beautiful brown lizard box purse my mom gave me, which had been hers back when she met my dad.

The little silver treasure chest, the century-old velvet drawstring with actual-metal thread embroidery.

The tiny patent box purse that holds the most amazing amount of stuff.

Today, with my sophisticated grey and blue ensemble, I have my amusingly cute and remarkably capacious little navy leather granny purse.

As a side note to all the little vintage babies I’ve taken on, about two years ago I bought a Basic Black Bag to take heat off the I Santi, because even with all this variety, there’s still the grocery store – and there is still the fact that I don’t change purses every single day.  (When I do, by the way – I have largely avoided my mom’s Dreaded Consequences by dint of always, always UPENDING MY BAG completely when I go to change from one to another, and individually handling each item which goes into the new bag, just to reassure myself all is accounted for).

The new basic black bag is a Beijo (begin your raspberries now, if you like all the Bs there), and I’ve been struck by one thing since having it – this purse, specifically intended and definitely used as an everyday knockabout, bought used, and never polished (it’s patent) nor treated with special solicitude, gets almost as many compliments as any one I own.  I use it more than the rest of course, so it gets seen the most – but, even in its ordinary condition (I have a higher-end Beijo of the same design I protect like the I Santi and the vintage cuties), a week does not go by that some woman doesn’t comment on what a great purse it is.  I think even men have complimented the thing.

It’s a good size, for one – similar to the I Santi, it is slender enough to fit under the shoulder, and the strap drop is long enough you can carry it there.  It’s also a noticeable shape.  The design is called “Over the Moon” (for my readers looking for a bag, it’s always to be found on eBay, new and used, at prices ranging from about ten bucks up to sixty – and in a pretty vast array of colors; mine happen to be black patent and a coppery-salmon pearl patent), and its upper curve does call to mind the crescent moon.  If you are looking for a purse, it's recommended - certainly it gets attention, and if you like that it's a go-er.

Author's Notes

Today - the people and their institutions.

The name of the Frankish empire, of France, of the French themselves, is thought to have come from the word francisca, most often translated as the name of the small throwing axe unique to the people who carried them, and who were themselves unique among the “barbarian” tribes of Late Antiquity.  These people valued their individual and their tribal independence to such a degree that freedom, itself, has at times been ascribed as the meaning of the term francisca, either in combination with, or actually instead of, its definition as an ax.

The term Frank was not clearly in use as early as in Clovis’ time, though some sources do appear to refer to francia as a place name.  I have used the name for the land (francia) and the name for the people sparingly if at all, due to some of these ambiguities, but also in keeping with the fact that nationalism of the sort recognized by a modern reader would have been outside the experience of the people represented here.

This concept of marriage (often called concubinage) may be the artifact of historical research, rather than an actual institution of the Franks and/or the period.  Most sources referring to it did so from the outside, and centuries after the fact.  However, the institution is enough accepted, particularly within the general audiences for historical fiction, that I preserved it as authentic and used it for the relationship with Evochilde.

Given Clovis’ apparent continence with women, and particularly given the prince’s status, it seemed appropriate to bestow on Theuderic’s mother a form of legitimacy and inheritance rights which is understandable to most readers.  For the record, the general definition is:

The term is thought to mean “love-marriage”, though this simplifies a more complex arrangement.  Its key defining quality is mutual consent – both man and woman voluntarily entered this relationship.  The friedelehe is thus defined as a concubine with acknowledged status—lacking the full rights of a wife, but holding a legally defined position both with the man to whom she voluntarily bound herself thus, and in his household.  Her children would have been legitimate, able to inherit, and would have been viable heirs.

Clovis is frequently alluded to, in much-later historical analysis, as having fathered Theuderic with a mistress or concubine, but sources fail to record specifics on the matter one way or another.  These presumptions may be easy simplifications.  See “Evochilde” note for particulars relating to this work.

As always, Author's Notes excerpts are excerpted from the MS, which means they are written "in-universe."  These posts should not be taken as historical resources.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

People are Strange. And It's Beautiful.

The provision for a stranger, of images of his daughter, without the tubes and equipment that marked her tiny life, is affecting.

I was reading recently about mourning portaiture, specifically the photographic preservation of a person after death – a type of death mask.  To some this seems gruesome, but I’ve always found it intuitively, emotionally sensible.  We are creatures of artifact, and this is no less so with those we love than with our Things and our Stuff.  I have a refrigerator magnet – a lovely portrait of a lady – which nobody has ever remarked upon.  It’s a miniature reproduction of the death portrait of Virginia Clem Poe, the mother of Edgar Allen.

Virginia Clemm Poe
Image:  Wikimedia

I keep this not only because Poe is a native son and I grew up on his writing, but because it’s beautiful – and, yes, the fact of her death is a part of that.  For me, this isn’t a morbid thing – death is a part of life, and though my culture has lost sight of that (indeed, pushed the sight away, for a century or so), I find its denial bewildering and unnecessary.

It’s not an arch matter of art or self-image, either.  I don’t think about death with particular emphasis, and my memory of those I have loved who have died – or who face death – is not mystical nor romantic.

Yet when I see the story of a man in mourning, who asked people to provide an image of his child, unencumbered by the medical paraphenalia which marked her all-too-brief life, I see the resulting mourning images of her as the most immensely human impulse we have.  To reach out to one another in good faith, to share and to support.  It would be despicable to look at the images strangers produced, and rank them for skill or merit – to dismiss them as gross – or as revisionism – to make the story of this infant in any way “about myself” by presuming my opinions onto anything about them.  They are the shared emblem of the most deeply personal grief.

It is when we share the deeply personal that humanity allows itself to transform intensely intimate fear and sadness into the most essential form of community available to us – the manifestation that what we suffer is more important than what we *make* each other suffer, or *desire* each other to suffer … or even to enjoy.  It is when we take what is our own, and show it – share it – that loss becomes healing, that desolation gains meaning, and we become again part of something beyond ourselves, our experiences.  In loss, we can forget we are not alone (many of us seek isolation in sorrow).  And that is when individual loss convinces us we’re not human like everybody else.  And that is when, more than merely losing one we loved, we degrade the love they gave us in return, by denying it with anybody else.

Memorializing human bonds by perverting them, denying them, destroying them … is no way to repay the blessing of having ever had a bond at all.

The First Mourning
Image:  Wikimedia

Friday, July 18, 2014

Author's Notes - Latin, Lover

Today we have a couple of the Latin terms used in The Ax and the Vase most frequently ... and a look at Clovis' friedelehe, lover, first wife - the fictional mother of his first son, Theuderic.

Companion, comrade (plural:  comites).  The Germanic concept of comitatus, described in Latin by Tacitus, describes a wider relationship with the special connotation that comrades in this relationship would never desert one another on the field of battle.  A king’s comites were the most trusted companions, but as seen here this is not a hereditary/noble title.

This sense of the title illuminates the extent of betrayal and cowardice in Chararic’s failure to support Clovis on the field; as well, perhaps, as the extent of punishment it was for Clovis to renounce his kinsman and comes, Ragnachar, for all to see.  The term evolved into the modern title, comte’, or Count.  It shares a root with the words committee and constable.

“My lord.”  I wanted to use a title clearly illustrating subjection, in the sense of a kings’ subject, without evoking too-medieval a tone.  Here again, as I adopted the theory (oft questioned) that the Franks of Late Antiquity, and Clovis himself, were heavily Romanized, I borrowed from Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome series, and adopted this address.  It is intended to both evoke a certain tone, but also stand apart from terms used in much fiction of this genre and period.  It has been perhaps the greatest asset in my attempt to avoid too much “antique-speak” in the tone of the manuscript, while still contributing to the world-building of this alien time and place.

FICTIONAL.  Though it is known that Theuderic I is not the son of Clovis’ queen, Clotilde, not a breath of evidence testifies to the nature of Clovis’ relationship with Theuderic’s mother, nor who she might have been.  The name Evochildis does appear fleetingly in some sources, but even this is unreliable.

After the cautionary example of his voluptuous father, Clovis’ sexual behavior is notably unremarked by sources.  It seemed correct to simplify the king’s amatory adventures in the form of strongly bonded relationships and, to some extent, silence.  Theuderic’s birth is recorded as having occurred in 484, well before the advent of Clotilde.  I saw no reason to complicate matters with towering romance, nor to dismiss the emotional importance of a first love either.  A friedelehe who dies in childbirth fits the timeline.  It also explains Theuderic’s clearly estimable position with his father, explains the absence of any other documented concubine or lover alongside the queen, aligns with the position Clotilde herself eventually seems to have held with the king, and finally, simply, reflects the realities of the time.  For a man to love a woman might easily have meant, in this age and for many thousands of years before and since, to kill her.  As, “to be the queen, she agreed to be the widow”, so both parties in sex, for centuries before our time, always knew:  to be a lover might be a bargain with mortality.

As always, Author's Notes excerpts are excerpted from the MS, which means they are written "in-universe."  These posts should not be taken as historical resources.


 It’s an over-used headline, sure – but that’s because it’s fun.

Today is July 18.  It’s an anniversary of something I’m familiar with, so I’ll remember this day.  And this day … is the day the querying begins once again.  And THIS day, THIS round:  will be the last.  This is the selling round.  This, as Max Quordlepleen is wont to say, is the proverbial IT.

I finished my last polish ... the word is back from beta-reading ... the last look has been taken ... and it is time (at last).

And so – with thanks to my wonderful writing friends, and a little encouragement from one pearl-grey, silken-coated and green-eyed boy – tonight, my friends.  Tonight, we RIDE!  Release the Kraken!  Let slip the dogs of literature!

You know - or cats.

And so on.

Gossamer the Editor Cat is up rarin’ to go to NYC and points beyond with the MS

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Does Janet Reid have the recipe for The Secret Sauce of Acceptance in publishing?  Tune in to find out!  (Side note:  "the glacial embrace of rejection" is the best phrase any of us can expect to read today.  She's a good writer herself, this agent.)

Pour La Victoire has another wonderfully detailed (with photos!) post about her latest preservation effort.  This time, a pair of very shiny silver evening shoes from the 1920s.  This will bring me shortly to my next fashion/style post, on metallics.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


That last post was #2112 on this blog.  Suddenly, I feel the need to go listen to some Rush.

At a Funeral in September ...

“It was now the stormy equinoctial weather that sounds the wild dirge of autumn, and marches the winter in. I love, and always did, that grand undefinable music, threatening and bewailing, with its strange soul of liberty and desolation.”

I’ve been reading “Uncle Silas” online; it’s a gothic sensation novel by Sheridan LeFanu, who wrote “Carmilla” (often famed as the first lesbian vampire, and a precursor to Stoker).

This novel focuses rather bizarrely on Swedenborgians, peering at them as some sort of morbid deviants.  The heroine is, inevitably, a dainty little heiress to vast estates – who would be insufferable, if only we weren’t supposed to be invested in her, whose point of view orchestrates the action.  Her dislike of foreigners, and ugly and fat people, are all of course supposed to fill us with dread – but I keep playing alternate-fiction author and writing/seeing scenes from the perspective of everyone she describes, which is actually pretty fun.  She’s not a dumb bunny, this character – though ignorant, to be sure.  If it weren’t for her narration, we’d be treated without doubt to paens to her delicacy, her pale and trembling beauty, her immense and exquisite weakness in the face of every last breath of air (actually, we do get quite a bit of that last one, from the MC herself).

Even so, it’s intriguing reading – and, as Victorian Gothics sometimes can be, REALLY funny in some stretches, between all the portent and melodrama over minutiae.

The Swedenborgian angle brings to mind the Bostonian church where some people I knew got married many years ago.  And there is the fact that, in yesterday’s reading, I ran across “Great Woburn Street” (hee), clearly being used as an evocative name (the address follows the equally pointed name of a law firm – Gaunt, Hogg, and Hatchett, Solicitors).  Woburn rather begs the idea of woebegotten, all circumstances in the scene given, so it gave me a little grin - yet I have been to Woburn, the town outside (again) of Boston.  That place is pronounced "WOO-ben", not, as many American eyes might read it, as "WOE-burn."

The quote at the top of the post captures one of those things I love about this sort of literature, something I’ll never write (nor want to), but is kind of wonderful.  Its Englishness, its precision and syncopation – it’s kind fo wonderful stuff.  Particularly when read … with storms gamboling about!


This post at Two Nerdy History Girls shows us, with a bit of help from Colonial Williamsburg, that not all historical costume sewing and research involves swooning over embroidery and lace.  The early straitjacket, for instance.

The HB brings us a site saved by looting by being stumbled upon.  Nice work.

Author's Notes - MC Edition!

Yes, we are here at last - and, as luck would have it, the king and queen are right next to each other in The Ax and the Vase's Author's Note.  Enjoy!

475-544/545.  “Illustrious battle”, from hludo (fame, illustrious—the root also gives us the descendant “loud”) and tild (battle).  Much of the legend of St. Clotilde relates to the Burgundian wars, romanticized for centuries in songs of betrayal and blood.  A significant portion of these appear to be only that—legend—but the saint would have almost certainly have been a woman of some will, and records of Frankish royal womanhood are vivid; the tale of “choose your blade” is taken from real sources, though not attached to Clotilde.

Clotilde’s greatest accomplishment according to history was the conversion of her husband; certainly a significant event.  I felt the relationship here had to be contentious (the tale of the arguments surrounding baptism of the children, before Clovis’ own conversion, is taken from sources), but definitely loving.  I worked from the background of Clovis’ apparently profligate father to build the portrait of a marriage both befitting her sanctified repute and suitable to partner a monarch and a man as overwhelming as Clovis.  (Variants:  Clotilda, Clotildis, Clothilde, Chrodchild, Chrodegilde, Chlothilde von Burgund)

466-511.  The name derives from the roots hludo (fame, illustrious—the root also gives us the cognate descendant “loud”) and wig/viga (war, warrior, battle).  Clovis’ exploits may have rested on a greater legacy from his own father than is sometimes assumed, and many of his timelines, motivations, actions, and legends are disputed.  Regardless of his real history, he makes for an irresistible story, and quite a subject in himself.  I was blessed to bump into him via the etymology of my own middle name, and overjoyed to encounter him at a time when productivity as a writer had become more than something to put off for later.  His legend has remained either wonderfully (for me as a writer) or sadly (for the millions who’ve never heard of him) untrodden in English, and has been an exciting tale to relate.

The sarcophagus of Clovis, interred at his church of St. Peter and Paul—later rededicated to St. GeneviĆ©ve—is said to have remained intact until the French Revolution, when revolutionaries broke into the church and desecrated his remains.  An interesting end for the king who was a kind of French beginning.  (Variants:  Chlodovech, Chlodovechus, Chlodovacar, Chlovis, Chlodwig, Hludowig, Hlodowig.  Gave rise to Hludowicus, Hludovicus, Ludovicus, Louis, Ludwig, Lewis, and, of course … Louise.)

As always, Author's Notes excerpts are excerpted from the MS, which means they are written "in-universe."  These posts should not be taken as historical resources.