Thursday, March 24, 2016

Religion or no?

This blog post is about religion in Medieval times and it's contents are not the sole view of the author's and are primarily for discussion purposes.


I'll have less religion in my story, please...

Being a medieval writer, I (as well as many of my author friends), want to be as accurate as we can with character traits, settings, dress, politics, and especially with religion.

Imagine, it's the 13 or 1400's and almost everyone is pious. People from serfs all the way to the Lord of the land, and the clergy are all extremely pious. Even warriors and mercenaries stuck by regimented religious rituals.

It was a time when religion was a very serious matter. If a person didn't practice or follow the religion it could very well mean their heads. Although many people in Ireland, Britain, and Scotland continued to practice many old customs in conjunction with the newer Catholic religion rites. Those who followed the old religion had to do so in secret lest they be held for treason and likely executed.

In my opinion, I feel that many of the leaders of that time used religion to scare and keep those beneath them in line. It also helped to further their rule/leadership when certain laws were followed and those leaders had the benefit of being feared.

I suppose some of these religious philosophies are still be enacted today. Fear, using religion to invoke leaders and subjugate, etc. How sad it is that people cannot follow their hearts when it comes to beliefs. Today, religion, it seems is being segregated by age groups. For example, many of the youth follow no religion at all, while middle-aged people do practice, but with limitations. Older people still hold onto old beliefs and are much more pious than the younger people.

Time has changed, and religion is still there in the forefront of people's lives whether they believe or not.

When it comes to writing religion in Medieval times, I like to flavor my stories with just enough religion to set the tone of the time period, but not too much to detract the reader from the story. Let's be honest, if we wrote a person's daily life into our stories, we'd have five-thousand pages... And how boring would they be. Some people went to church every single day and many prayed up to five times a day. Let's just imagine for time-saving sake that you know this and writers can skip over that part of their lives.

This weekend, we celebrate Good Friday and Easter. Back in the 13/14th centuries people lit candles (these were used to denote light from dark through resurrection.) They also attended the service of lessons called "the prophecies", and performed the sacrament of baptism (this sacrament was only performed once a year, during Easter).

Decorating eggs goes back as far as the 13th century. We can assume the egg tradition likely came from a pagan festival. For Christians, it represents Jesus' resurrection. Eggs were a taboo food during lent, and people would decorate them and eat them when let was over.

The 13th century was a major stepping stone to accepting Christianity for many medieval folk. It had to be an exciting, yet inquisitive time for people as they explored their beliefs and gave much meaning to their lives. Either that, or they were too fearful and decided their lives meant more than following their pagan traditions. How sad for them.

Whatever your take or participation in religion, do you mind if it's mentioned in fiction (even if it's not the prominent part of the story)?

Do you wish authors would make their characters more religious and in line with the time period? Or would you rather it be omitted completely?

I really hope you comment even if it's anonymously. Your view means something and would never be ridiculed or refuted. Everyone has their own opinion, and that is a cherished thing.

Wishing (if you celebrate) a wonderful Easter filled with love of family, peace, and joy.

Everyone else, have a wonderful weekend!


Kara Griffin

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The mind of a writer #1

As we get more into 2016, I'm anxious to get back to writing a series I started last autumn. I had finished the Gunn Guardsmen series and was thinking ... what next? I took some time and let my brain rest. I happened to be flipping through the channels on TV and saw a commercial for the A-team, that long ago show that featured men from military that helped people, you remember.

I got to thinking, what if there were such men in the 13th century, and what if they were Scotsmen? My brain started to percolate with ideas. Finally I came up with a plot and I'm excited where the stories in this series will lead me. I couldn't put this series anywhere but during the Wars of Independence. It was such a turbulent time in Scotland.

In my research, I realized that Robert the Bruce would be a key figure in these stories. The series is titled The Legend of the King's Guard. So here's what I've come up with -- The men (4 of them - hence 4 stories in the series) are put in to service to protect the Bruce). They are sort of mercenaries and very loyal to their charge. When Bruce is exiled for killing Robert Comyn (TRUE), they flee Scotland for their lives (of course the king's guard goes with him).

When the Bruce decides to return to Scotland and end his exile, he demands that his loyal guard stay behind so they are not executed for their involvement in Comyn's death. The king's guard are not men to back down from any threat, and even though they promise the Bruce they will stay put, the decide to follow their king incognito and protect him.

Upon returning to Scotland the guard realize two things. 1. The king wasn't going to send word for them to ever return (still they have vowed to protect him and do!). 2. Many are having a tough time because of the turbulence of the county's state (which leads them to offer their services to help anyone in need).

There are some fun little plot events that will be scattered through all the books. Such as they are pursued by an awkward man who wants to be associated with them. This man lacks all the necessities to be a mercenary, but the men take the woe-is-me aficionado under their wings.

The guard also have ongoing banter betwixt them and there's a coin (brought back from the crusades) that go from one man to the next when said wagers are won. Oh the ideas of such wagers has me smiling. Hmmm, what shall these wagers be? We shall see.

There are so many plot twists and turns, and characters -- it's mapped out in this writer's mind. Now to get them on the screen. I cannot wait to delve into these stories and hope readers enjoy them.


Kara Griffin