Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Lords of the White Castle

I finished this book by Elizabeth Chadwick yesterday, and it was pretty good. She also wrote one of my earlier posts as well. Her books are wonderful because they bring back to life another time. This book began in 1184 in the reign of Eleanor of Aquitaine's husband King Henry, then his son Phillip, then John. It follows the lives of Fulke FitzWarin and Maude. Fulke was sent to Court to serve Prince John, and hoping to gain favor, so the family could win back its lands of Whittington Castle. They had been fighting to keep it back for 50 years; it was inhabited by the Mitzroys. When playing chess with Prince John, Fulke wins and they have a big fight. It marks the beginning of a tug of war for many years to come.

Once King Henry dies, Phillip reigns for a time and is very popular. Just when they are about to have their lands signed over to them, he dies. Prince John is now King, and he definitely won't give the lands back to Fulke, whom he hates. When King John refuses to give him Whittington, Fulke takes back his fealty, and is declared an outlaw with his brothers. His father dies while still battling for the lands back, and his mother follows soon afterward. During this time, he meets a beautiful woman named Maude. She was married to his old charge, Sir Theobald the royal tutor. Living as an outlaw, they wreak havoc so the King will decide it's worth it to give back their lands in exchange for their fealty. He declares fealty to the Welsh king Llewlyn, since Whittington is close by. When Theobald passes away, Fulke sneaks into the monastery and secretly weds Maude. They escape unnoticed by King John, but are on the run for some time.

They have 5 children; three girls and two boys, and then an adopted daughter. During the Magna Carta, Fulke joins the side that pushes King John to sign it. He is granted his lands back in exchange for his fealty. Of course the King won't keep his promise for long as they still hate each other. One of Fulke's brothers is imprisoned for hunting some of the King's deer, and they disguise themselves to save him. There are political machinations at work, intrigue, love and outlawness. Maude is often left alone to care for the children. When King John dies, they finally feel free again. But the Welsh turn on them, and burn down Whittington. Maude dies not long after from a tree falling on her.

Fulke is a real historical character, and the author weaved a story out of what we knew about him. It was a pretty long book, but good. I liked seeing another viewpoint of the common folks, than from the inner royal court. Ratings: PG13 for love scenes, some swearing and battles.

No comments:

Post a Comment