Blogging from A-Z April 2018 Challenge

W is for Lady Mary Wroth

Lady Mary Wroth (18 October 1587 – approximately 1640) was the eldest daughter of Barbara Gamage, a Welsh heiress, and Robert Sidney, Earl of Leicester, the younger brother of Sir Philip Sidney and Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke. Lady Mary spent much of her childhood at the ancestral home of the Sidneys, Penshurst Place, one of the great country houses in the Elizabethan period. It was a center of literary activity and its gracious hospitality is praised in Ben Jonson’s famous poem To Penshurst. Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger included Lady Mary in a group portrait of Lady Sidney and her children in 1596, which is now on display at Penshurst.

During a time when few women were educated, Lady Mary had the privilege of a formal education, which was obtained from household tutors under the guidance of her mother. With her family connections, a career at court was all but inevitable. In 1604, Lady Mary married Sir Robert Wroth and became part of Queen Anne’s intimate circle of friends, actively participating in masques and entertainments. Her poetry was circulated in manuscript and garnered much praise. Ben Jonson dedicated The Alchemist to her and praised her as “a Sydney” who incorporated the virtues of all the goddesses.

Sir Robert Wroth appears to have been a gambler, philanderer, and drunkard. Ben Jonson adds more evidence of an unhappy union, by noting that ‘my Lady Wroth is unworthily married on a Jealous husband.’ Various letters from Lady Mary to Queen Anne also refer to the financial losses her husband had sustained during their time together. Sir Robert died in 1614, leaving Lady Mary with an infant son and a debt of £23,000. She endeavored to pay off the debt herself, and suffered financial difficulties for the rest of her life.  Never remarrying, Lady Mary bore two illegitimate children by her cousin, WIlliam Herbert, third Earl of Pembroke.

Lady Mary is best known for The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania (1621), an intricate prose romance patterned on Philip Sidney’s Arcadia. Lady Mary also appended 19 songs and 83 sonnets to the text, entitled Pamphilia to Amphilantus (the latter name translates to Lover-of-two) portraying Pamphilia constant in her love for the faithless Amphilanthus. Lady Mary’s poems are in the Elizabethan style of her father’s Rosis and Lysa, and her uncle’s Astrophil and Stella. The work caused a scandal, since it was rumored to satirize court intrigues. Lady Mary apologized and withdrew the book from sale. A second half of The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania remained in manuscript until it was published for the first time in 1999.

After the publication issues surrounding The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania, Wroth left King James’s court and was later abandoned by William Herbert. There is little known about Lady Mary’s later years but it is known that she continued to face major financial difficulties. Lady Mary is commemorated in Loughton by the naming of a footpath adjacent to Loughton Hall as Lady Mary’s Path.

Wroth, Mary, Lady, approximately 1586-approximately 1640. The first part of The Countess of Montgomery’s Urania. Edited by Josephine A. Roberts. Center for Medieval and Early Renaissance Studies, State University of New York at Binghamton,1995.

Wroth, Mary, Lady, approximately 1586-approximately 1640. The second part of the Countess of Montgomery’s Urania. Edited by Josephine A. Roberts ; completed by Suzanne Gossett and Janel Mueller. Renaissance English Text Society in conjunction with Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies,1999.

Wroth, Mary, Lady, approximately 1586-approximately 1640. The poems of Lady Mary Wroth. Edited, with introduction and notes, by Josephine A. Roberts. Louisiana State University Press, 1983.

Wroth, Mary, circa 1586-circa 1640. Pamphilia to Amphilanthus in manuscript and print. Edited by Ilona Bell ; texts by Steven W. May and Ilona Bell. Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2017.

Blogging from A-Z April 2018 Challenge

V is for Juan Luis Vives

Juan Luis Vives (Latin: Ioannes Lodovicus Vives; Catalan: Joan Lluís Vives i March; Dutch: Jan Ludovicus Vives; 6 March 1493 – 6 May 1540) was a Valencian scholar and humanist who spent most of his adult life in the Southern Netherlands.Vives was born in Valencia to a family which had converted from Judaism to Christianity. As a child, he saw his father, grandmother and great-grandfather, as well as members of their wider family, executed as Judaizers at the behest of the Spanish Inquisition; his mother was acquitted but died of the plague when he was 15 years old. Shortly thereafter, he left Spain never to return.

Vives studied at the University of Paris from 1509 to 1512, and in 1519 was appointed professor of humanities at the University of Leuven. At the insistence of his friend Erasmus, he prepared an elaborate commentary on Augustine’s De Civitate Dei, which was published in 1522 with a dedication to Henry VIII of England. Soon afterwards, Henry invited him to England as tutor to the Princess Mary, for whose use he wrote De Institutione Feminae Christianae, on the education of girls. He dedicated the latter book to Henry’s queen Catherine of Aragon, which is ironic considering that the Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, who were Catherine of Aragon’s parents, were also leaders of the Spanish Inquisition that executed Vives’ relatives.

In De Institutione Feminae Christianae, Vives details the necessary attributes of a married woman. She must be loyal, dedicated, and obedient to her spouse; she must dress appropriately, covering her face in public; she must not allow any man into her house without her husband’s permission. While a wife’s obedience and dedication to her spouse determined her honor, a husband’s honor stemmed from his ability to control his wife and ensure she remained virtuous.

While in England, he resided at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where his friend Erasmus had strong ties. Having declared himself against the annulment of the marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, Vives lost royal favour and was confined to his house for six weeks. On his release, he withdrew to Bruges, where he devoted the rest of his life to the composition of numerous works, chiefly directed against the scholastic philosophy and the preponderant unquestioning authority of Aristotle.

Vives, Juan Luis,1492-1540. The education of a Christian woman : a sixteenth-century manual. Edited and translated by Charles Fantazzi. University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Blogging from A-Z April 2018 Challenge

T is for Lucrezia Tornabuoni

Lucrezia Tornabuoni (22 June 1427 – 25 March 1482) was a writer and influential political adviser. Connected by birth to two of the most powerful families in 15th-century Italy she later married Piero di Cosimo de’ Medici, connecting herself to another of the most powerful families in Italy and extending her own power and influence. She had significant political influence during the rule of her husband and that of her son, Lorenzo. She worked to support the needs of the poor and religion in the region, supporting several institutions. She was a patron of the arts, and also wrote poems and plays herself.

Lucrezia and Piero had eight children, including Lorenzo de’ Medici (1449–1492). Piero presented Lucrezia with a desco da parto showing the Triumph of Fame by Giovanni di ser Giovanni Guidi, to celebrate the birth of their first son and heir. Piero and Lucrezia hired tutors, Gentile de’ Becchi and Cristoforo Landino among them, to educate their children in such subjects as philosophy, business, and politics, and to ensure that they acquired good taste in literary culture and the fine arts.

Lucrezia wrote religious stories, plays, and poetry. She read her poems to famous poets, comparing them with their compositions. Some of her poems were set to popular tunes and performed publicly, and published four years after she died.. She wrote stories about Esther, Susanna, Tobias, John the Baptist and Judith, in part to inspire and educate her grandchildren.

A significant patron of the arts, Lucrezia commissioned the Morgante by Luigi Pulci, who called her “a famous lady in our century.” She also supported the poet Angelo Poliziano, who was also a tutor for her grandchildren by Lorenzo. He would read Lucrezia’s poems to them. Lucrezia was a patron of Bernardo Bellincioni, with whom she would exchange humorous poems that they had written.

Lucrezia also supported several religious institutions. She was responsible for the addition of the Chapel of the Visitation in the church of San Lorenzo in Florence. When Lucrezia recovered from an illness in 1467, she believed it was due to the intercession of Saint Romuald, and supported the hermitage at Camaldoli which he had founded.

Around 1475, Lucrezia’s brother Giovanni Tornabuoni commissioned a portrait of her by Domenico Ghirlandaio, which is now in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. She may also be represented in three scenes in Ghirlandaio’s frescos in the Tornabuoni Chapel: The Visitation, The Birth of the Baptist, and The Nativity of Mary.

Tornabuoni, Lucrezia, 1425-1482. Sacred narratives. Edited and translated by Jane Tylus. University of Chicago Press, 2001.

WIPpet Wednesday

WIPpet Wednesday

After a week where my characters were on sabbatical, probably hiding somewhere from the stress cruising non-stop through my brain, I am back. It is a raw passage, taking us back about 20 years from the earlier snippets. I am having a hell of a time capturing the first moments of the long relationship between Christine and Eustace, but well, here is a beginning. 

I offer 17 sentences for 1+3+1+2+1 +8,  and adding 1 to finish out the thought.

“Please come in,  Eustace, “ Tomasso said.  “We can talk here.  My daughter is practicing her secretarial hand, but she is  discreet.  Christine, come meet monsieur Morel, who is the bailiff of Senlis, and a diplomatic messenger for the king.”

Christine curtseyed, “I am pleased to meet you, monsieur Morel. My father has given me your poems to copy.”

Eustace reached for Christine’s hand to raise her to her feet. She was young, with intelligence shining in her eyes, and a pleasant face. “And what did you think of them, demoiselle?”

“I like love poems better,” she said, blushing prettily, “mostly because Maman does not despair of me so much with those.”

Tomasso laughed.  “My wife is convinced that I treat Christine as a son, because I teach her unseemly things.”

Christine added,  “Maman thinks I should find my spinning as interesting as science, since science will not train me for marriage.”

“I write of marriage as well, demoiselle. Perhaps you’d like that piece more than my other poems.”

Christine looked at him without a trace of shyness. “Most men do not write to my taste on marriage, but I would be happy to read it,  monsieur.“

WIPpet is a weekly bloghop hosted by Emily Wrayburn. The only requirement  for joining in to post a snippet and that the snippet have something to do with the date. Feel free to head over to the WIPpet linky to  add your own, or visit other members, or both.

WIPpet Wednesday

WIPpet Wednesday

This week, I am doing a few things differently with my WIPpet. I am not combining it with any other posts, so that no one needs to navigate through a longer post. Also, I am putting this on a blog where I used to post snippets, but have neglected for too long. Here’s to change and regeneration.

WIPpet is a weekly bloghop hosted by Emily Wrayburn. The only requirement is that the snippet have something to do with the date. Feel free to head over to the WIPpet linky to  add your own, or visit other members, or both.

My selection follows immediately after last week’s, where Christine ended by calling Eustace a “ridiculous old man.” I offer 12 sentences for 1+1+7+2+1, dropping the 8 from the date.

That ridiculous old man was also sitting at a desk looking at a piece of parchment. Or actually looking through it, remembering.  Madame du Chastel, although then she was Tomasso’s daughter, Christine, was transcribing a student’s text.  She looked up and smiled in greeting. Briefly, Eustace could not move, could not greet her, could not even smile. A slight shiver traveled down his body then left, freeing him to smile in return.

“What are you copying today, demoiselle?”

“Nothing of yours, monsieur,”  she said, suppressed laughter gleaming in her eyes. “This is much nicer than your poems about the English.”

“You should be kinder to your elders,” he responded, taking the quill from her hand.

Shaking himself out of the reverie, he read the letter again. “Dear teacher and friend.”

Words from the Nerd Side

Fee and fees

Courtesy of Melinda Van Lone

Why is there a picture of a cow underneath the title “Fee and fees”? Because the word comes from the Old English word, fioh, féo, meaning cattle or property. Trace it back far enough, and one arrives at Latin pecū, which also means cattle.  The Latin word for money, pecūnia, also ties cattle and wealth.  In modern English, we get “fees” from the Germanic roots of our language, and “pecuniary” from the Latin roots, but they both lead us to money and cattle.

However, I don’t think I can take Bossie to the bursar at the University to pay my son’s fees for his summer classes.  It is an entertaining thought, though. To be fair, the use of fioh or féo to mean movable property has been around for some time. The Oxford English Dictionary gives the first use of féo as money as the Codex Aureus, circa 870; the earliest usage of féo as moveable property is in Ælfred’s translation of Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, circa 888.

I went to graduate school at Indiana University in Bloomington, getting (among other degrees) a certificate in medieval studies. The street running by several of the undergraduate dorms, ending near the Libraries, is Fee Lane. I always wondered why it was called Fee Lane.  It seemed an insensitive reminder to parents of the cost of higher education.  It was only when I team taught a class in Medieval Legal History that my esteemed and learned colleague told the class the history of “fee.” Now I share it with you, as the beginning of a dive into etymology and the intricacies of the English language.

Is there a word you want to investigate?  Leave it in the comments, and I’ll see what I can do.


Return from the Mist

Although most people quote the saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun,” I find time also flies when I am stressed, depressed, or busy with not-fun stuff. Last year about this same time, I posted plans for changes to this blog.  Then life slid into an ocean of fog and mist, and I realized with a frisson, that it had been a year, when Eli, of Coach Daddy, asked me to contribute to one of his six-word story posts.

Sure, I have excuses, many of them viable–surgery in January, work craziness in the summer, but nothing is really persuasive. I stopped blogging because I felt I had nothing of interest to say. However, I now know that I write to think about things, and perhaps I am not the only person struggling with the same things.

I do not plan to be political, although I have no problem being contentious. I tend to be more concerned with life, the humanities, and a life well-lived, with strong opinions for which I feel no need to apologize. Feel free to come along for the ride.


life, Uncategorized

Gratitude III

In this post, I want to thank all my writer friends.  First, Jan, who was the first to encourage me to write something to post for a small group; an online friend in the UK, whom I had the good fortune to meet in real life during my visit to England last February.  I like to think that the two of us encouraged our mutual friend, Elaine, to start writing as well.  To them, and to the rest of my friends in that online community, thank you so very much for believing in me. You are counted among the best friends I have; I just wish we lived closer to one another.Last summer, I was looking for an online writing community, as living in the hinterlands of Florida meant the closest real-life group was forty miles away.  I stumbled across A Round of Words in 80 Days, which struck me with its reasonable goal-setting and ability to tweak them.  I lurked for a few weeks, then joined in when Round 3 started on July 4th. I was a sponsor for Round 3 and 4 of 2011; it was a great experience, and it helped me meet a lot of people.; I encourage you to try it, if you’re interested.I was blown away by the support and camaraderie of the group. Helpful links to blog posts outlining writing tips, suggestions for books to read, courses to take, all poured into my mailbox. As I grew more comfortable sharing my personal story, I received more support–virtual cheers when I succeeded at something, virtual hugs when I failed, but encouragement through it all.  I have met C. M. Cipriani in real life, as it turned out she lived only 45 minutes away from me.  She put ROW80 well, saying, “These are friends; I feel like I know them, even though I’ve never met them.” I know exactly what she means; I feel as though I know several of you. Thank you all for taking the time to come by to support, encourage, bolster and chide.

Finally, I would like to finish thanking the people who follow my blog.  This post will catch me up, so I can copy L. S. Engler from now on, thanking followers as they add themselves to my blog. I’ve included some information about their blogs, if they have one.

Cheryel Hutton working on her third novel, talks to dragons, and they talk back

Ramesh Nanda blogs mash-ups

Tiffany A. White  blogs TV reviews and things that make you go  “Ooo”

Thea Atkinson author of short stories and novels;  writes about the writing life

Catherine M. Johnson everything about writing for children

Talin Orfali blogs about life, posts recipes

Coral posts book reviews

Julia Indigo blogs about the writing life

Six Sentence Sunday

Six Sentence Monday

I know it’s not Sunday, but I posted non-fiction yesterday, so I’m plunging into the deep end with some fiction today.

He was lost before the music ended.  Her delicate, but not fragile, hand disappeared in his, starting the nerves tingling all the way up his arm. His other hand covered over half of the small of her back, the warmth of which raised his heart rate to a level he hadn’t felt recently save in combat. Even worse, the crush of the dance floor drew them closer together than was truly proper; although the joyousness of the celebration cancelled the affront, it didn’t relieve the chaos swirling through him as they were inexorably pushed chest-to-chest by the crush. For his own sanity, and to have any hope of talking to this vision, finding out her name before she disappeared back into the dreamland from whence she came, he leaned down to her ear, savoring the excuse to inhale the spicy-sweet fragrance of her, “Let’s go outside for some air.” She tipped up on her toes to answer, “Yes, please,” totally unaware of what her sweet, warm breath on his face was doing to him.
Six Sentence Sunday, travel

Six Sentence Sunday

The parking lot for the Alachua Sink looked unimpressive; cars parked on the dirt under the live oaks. Next to a bulletin board full of announcements and brochures, a sign stuck into the dirt pointed, warning that the observation deck was a half-mile away. The path meandered off into the woods, with few signs of human habitation. Soon I crossed the Hawthorne Trail, a popular bike path that replaced an unused railroad line; its pavement new and bright, a stark contrast to the sandy dirt path that crosses it. Around another couple of turns, I walked underneath a train trestle, rails gone, gravel sidings disappearing into the grass, which was left to grow tall and heavy with seeds. Trees have fallen and been left where they lie, obscured by Virginia creeper and hanging vines as thick as my wrist, looking like those in the early Tarzan movies.