Mortuary Swords

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Basic cut-and-thrust broadswords favoured by cavalry officers and used throughout the Civil Wars were made in England between 1625 and 1670.  They had a wooden or corded grip,  a metal basket-hilt to protect the hand and usually a two-edged blade between thirty-three and thirty-four inches long.  In 1645, two hundred of them were made for the New Model Army at a cost of five shillings each – hard to believe these days.

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The main point of interest in these swords lies in the basket-hilt.  These were frequently decorated in some form or other; a coat-of-arms, a man in armour, intricate patterns of leaves – presumably whatever the purchaser wanted and was willing to pay extra for.  (It is reasonable to assume that the five-shilling ones, being mass-produced, were plain.)
But following the execution of Charles l in January 1649, a new trend was born.  Basket-hilts started to be engraved with small portraits of long-haired men with pointed beards; faces bearing a striking resemblance to the late King.  And these blades – which were only made in England – soon became known as mortuary swords.

It’s impossible to know how many were made but authentic 17th century examples are now very rare. However, a few days ago I was lucky enough to acquire one – to be honest, something I’ve wanted for years but never expected to own – so hence my excitement and this post.

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When you hold a significant piece of history in your hand, it’s hard not to speculate about its own particular story.  I know that my sword would have been made around 1650 and that it almost certainly belonged to a cavalry officer.  I can guess that its first owner was probably a Cavalier because it seems unlikely that the Roundheads wanted Charles l memorabilia.  And because my sword has seen some action – though not a great deal – I can wonder if it was at Dunbar in 1650 or Worcester in 1651.
Its edge is still extremely sharp, its point thoroughly wicked … and it is still capable of doing a great deal of damage.  And the weight of it gives me a healthy respect for the strength and stamina of the men who wielded weapons like this whilst on horseback.

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CAROL AND WENDY’S FAVOURITE BOOKS FOR 2016

Rakes And Rascals

Wendy and I have discussed how we should go about producing our ‘best of’ list for 2016 and settled on ten but we have each bent the rules a little by including some series. Not all the books selected were actually published during 2016.


CAROL’S SELECTION (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)

Rockliffe series by Stella Riley

I was introduced to Stella Riley’s books by my friend and guest reviewer, Wendy Loveridge, and Stella has fast become one of my top favourite authors. I read the first three books in the Georgian set Rockliffe series (a fourth is a work in progress) during 2016 but it was impossible to choose just one book in the series for my list because I loved them all.

The Parfit Knight (Rockliffe, #1)
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This is a captivating romance between an honourable, kind-hearted rake, the Marquis of Amberley and a lovely, courageous, blind young woman, Rosalind

The…

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Farewell 2016 … Welcome 2017

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2016 may have been a lousy year on the world-wide stage but it’s been an exceptionally good one for me.
In May, I published the long-awaited fourth book in the Roundheads & Cavaliers series – Lords of Misrulewhich I’m delighted to say made it on to Caz’s Best of 2016 List at All About Romance as well as Wendy Loveridge’s list at Romantic Historical Reviews.

But the biggest adventure of my year was the transformation of four of my titles into audiobooks – something which, back in 2015, I’d never have dreamed was possible.  And along the way, I had the privilege and absolute pleasure of working with Alex Wyndham who, as anyone who has ever listened to him knows, is incredibly talented.  He’s also a thoroughly nice guy.

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The Rockliffe books … The Parfit Knight, The Mesalliance and The Playerwere recorded back-to-back in the spring and released by April.

Once again, I’m delighted to announce that – thanks to brilliant Alex – all three Rockliffe audios made it on to the Best of 2016 at AudioGals and also at Ladeetdareads.  I’d like to say a huge THANK  YOU!  to those reviewers whose ratings and kind remarks put them there.

And last but by no means least, A Splendid Defiance also made it into audio (by the skin of its teeth!) before the end of the year and therefore managed to join the Rockliffe series on the AudioGals Best of  2016 and find a place on Caz’s list at Romantic Historical Reviews.

So … an eventful year for me and a very successful one. I’m currently working on Rockliffe FourThe Wicked Cousin – which I hope to complete by the spring.
Meanwhile, I’d like to wish all my readers, reviewers and friends – and particularly those who are all three – a very Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2017 filled with everything you wish for yourselves.