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Medieval Historical Backgrounds
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The Inspiration for Nesta's "Songs" in Stealing Heaven.
In Stealing Heaven, the heroine, Nesta, is notorious throughout England and called the King's Whore. Her reputation regarding her relationship with King Edward III was inspired by an historical episode full of ambiguities.
William Monatague was one of the knights who helped Edward III remove the usurper Mortimer from power (see my History Page for the background of By Design.) He was the oldest of the group. Afterward he became one of the King's closest friends and advisors, and was given the title of Earl of Salisbury. However, rather suddenly in 1341 he disappeared from the historical stage.
We now know that he died that year, probably in a fall from his horse. His grave has even been found in Salisbury. Until recently, however, a different explanation was considered accurate even by historians. That story said that the earl had left the realm after arranging to have his title and lands given over to his son.
Why would he take such a drastic step?
It had to do with a woman.
The Countess of Salisbury, William's wife, caught the eye of the King, William's good friend. According to the chronicles and poems, something happened between them that made the earl break with his liege and abandon the realm.
There are several 14th-century versions of what transpired. One poem describes a game of chess with much longing on Edward's part and virtuous distance on hers. Another tradition described a seduction. Yet a third called it a rape.
What really happened? Perhaps nothing, perhaps one of the above. Even in the late fourteenth century there were several accounts, just as in my novel there are several songs being song in the realm regarding what actually happened between Nesta and the King.
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