Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Celebrating St. Crispin's Day with Author Barbara Bettis!

Today is St. Crispin’s Day and here to explain all it means is historical romance author Barbara Bettis. 

In college, Barbara’s dream was to be a writer, but life took a different turn. After a stint as an insurance health claims adjuster, she finished her first degree, then took a job in newspapers. She worked mostly at a small daily so her two sons could attend a small town school. She enjoyed being a reporter and, later, an editor. Even after she became a teacher, her summers were spent at area newspapers or magazines. It wasn’t until after her husband died unexpectedly that she decided to try her hand at fiction. She gave up teaching journalism and English full time to work part time at a local community college as an English instructor, giving her time to write.
 
Be sure and comment to win your choice from two of her novels (pictured at the end of the post).

So, welcome Barbara to Historical Romance Review!


Hello Everyone. Thank you, Regan, for hosting me today. three days before the release of The Lady of the Forest, a novella that tells the story of how Henry and Katherine met. You’ll recognize them from my other stories. Henry talks about finding England’s traitor so he can be home by St. Crispin’s Day.

Lady of the Forest
So what is St. Crispin’s Day?

It is the feast day of Saints Crispin and Crispinian, who died in the year 285 or 286. Although the occasion isn’t celebrated as it once was, in medieval times it was important because it observed the martyrdom of two early Christians. The lives of this pair are bound in legend and a bit of myth, but at the base is fact.

According to some sources, the two men were brothers—twins perhaps. Born of noble Roman parents, they came to believe in the new religion that was making a name for itself—Christianity. They traveled with St. Quintinus to Gaul, settling in what we know as Soissons. There, the brothers spread the word of Christ and worked as shoemakers.


Eventually their work caught the attention of Maximian (named Augustus co-emperor by Diocletian, the ruler in Rome), who was traveling in the area. Maximian tried to get them to change their spiritual allegiance. When he failed, he ordered them killed. Some sources report they were taken before Rictiovarus, who had them tortured.

Eventually, millstones were tied around Crispin’s and Crispinian’s necks and the men were thrown into a river. Miraculously, they escaped the millstones and swam to the opposite shore. Rictiovarus then forced them to embark on trial of fires, hot coals, boiling oil. One report says Rictiovarus was so upset they were unharmed, he threw himself on the hot brazier and died. Other reports just say he committed suicide. (At least one source doubts the existence of Rictiovarus.)

After that, Maximian had them beheaded.

Crispin and Crispinian remain the patron saints of shoemakers, cobblers and leatherworkers. At one time, shoemakers closed their shops on this day.

So the sad story of the brothers (assuming they were brothers) seems to be fairly simple if we disregard the touches that have been added through 1700 years of retelling. But… Maybe not. A fascinating account found on a website that promoted “the study, practice, interpretation and preservation of historical shoemaking and allied trades” offers a different aspect of the legend.

According to that version, Crispin and Crispinian were sons of the queen of what is now Kent. (Britain was still occupied by Romans at that time so Diocletian’s persecution of Christians could very well have been felt that far.)

Escaping that persecution, the two fled into the countryside, at last stopping at the home of a shoemaker. The man took them in and trained them. And here the story even more drastically deviates from the other accounts. The English version says the craftsman under whom they worked was named shoemaker to Maximinus. When Crispin took some shoes to the emperor’s daughter, Ursula, Crispin and Ursula fell in love.

After overcoming many obstacles, the two finally wed secretly. Here’s the rest: “When Maximinus learned of Crispin's high birth, he became reconciled to their marriage and blessed their son saying: "A shoemaker's son is a prince born." The marriage was confirmed October the 25th and celebrated with feasting and drinking. That day has ever since been the shoemakers' holiday.”

I don’t know about you, fellow romance authors and readers, but I like this version much better. No cruel martyrdom. No one has to die. Love conquers all. Unfortunately, it probably didn’t happen exactly that way. If the name St. Crispin’s Day is familiar, perhaps it’s because many historically relevant events have taken place on this day. However, the most memorably reference to it comes from Shakespeare.

The St. Crispin’s speech from Shakespeare’s Henry V is one of the most inspirational speeches in literature. It’s known today even by those who don’t realize where the words originate. They come when King Henry is rallying troops before the Battle of Agincourt in France, Oct. 25, 1415, the Feast of St. Crispin and Crispinian. It’s a long speech—here are the last few famous lines:

“And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.” 



Happy St. Crispin’s Day!
                                                                         

Do leave a comment and your email as Barbara is giving away one of her ebooks... you choice of these two medieval romances, Silverhawk and Heart of the Phoenix.

Silverhawk
Heart of the Phoenix

Keep up with Barbara on her Website, Facebook & Twitter.
 
The Lady of the Forest releases on Oct.28. See it on Amazon.

24 comments:

  1. Happy St. Crispin's Day! I confess to not knowing anything about the occasion.

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    1. Well, Linda, if you read Barbara's post, you will know much!

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    2. Hi Linda. I found researching this quite fascinating. Especially the reference in Henry V's famous speech. Thanks for coming by!

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  2. Thanks for hosting me Regan. I loved doing this post! Happy Autumn--and St. Crispin day (both of them :))

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  3. I also admit I knew little about St Crispin's Day. A lovely post, Barbara.

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    1. Thank you Angelina. So much of these traditions involving early Christian martyrs is shrouded in mystery. But very interesting nonetheless.

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  4. Beautiful post, and I prefer the second version, too. Thanks so much for sharing. Happy St. Crispin's Day!

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    1. Forgot to mention...please don't include me in the giveaway. I already have your books, Barbara. :)

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    2. Thanks, Mary. Although we may prefer the second one, it doesn't give much martyr status to Crispin :)

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  5. Nice in depth post, I appreciate all the research. I too like version two the best. This might be a good day to buy shoes!

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    1. Good point, Gini. Too bad the shoe stores don't celebrate with a sale ;)

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  6. Thanks so much for sharing. I too enjoyed the second version the best. Happy St Crispin's Day!

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    1. Hi Tina. Perhaps you, Mary, and I can move to accept that second version :) Thanks for being here.

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  7. Thank you, Barbara and Regan. I knew the Battle of Agincourt was fought on this day in 1415, and I remember Henry V's speech in the Shakespeare play. But I didn't know the story of St. Crispin. Thanks for filling us in.

    Looking forward to reading "The Lady of the Forest". Good luck!

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    1. It's great you could stop by Mary Anne. I, too, learned much I did not know from Barb's post.

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    2. I had just glossed over that reference to St. Crispin when i studied the Shakespeare play. Just goes to show ;)

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  8. Oh yeah, and my email address is maryannelanders at centurytel dot net.

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  9. Many of the saints stories are interesting, but it's hard to separate fact from fiction. Great post!

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    1. Thanks, Ilona. I agree. It's so hard to know what's fact and what's myth! Glad you stopped by.

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  10. AND THE WINNER IS... Mary Anne Landers. Congratulations!

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    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    2. You are most welcome, Mary Anne!

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