You knew it was coming, didn't you? I love English history. The Saxons and the Romans. William the Conquerer and Harold. (side note, my first love of English history came from French class, learning about the Bayeux Tapestry (la tapisserie de Bayeux). Old Harold with the arrow through his eye at the battle of Hastings. Great stuff.) The Anarchy of Matilda (or Maud) and Stephen. King John. Richard II.
Recently, I've been out touring centuries of English history. My writing at the moment is all about the Tudors, but I love to get out and explore the rest of the history, too. I visited a Roman villa, its mosaic floor almost entirely intact in some rooms. I wandered the air museum at Tangmere and learned about the Battle of Britain. In the same day.
I went for a two-hour walk through fields and along a canal and ended up at an ancient, crumbling octagonal tower in the middle of almost nowhere. Odiham Castle, from which King John rode in a snit to set his stamp to the Magna Carta.
But the best part of my journey this trip was to visit Bosworth battlefield. This is where Richard III lost his crown - the last English king to die in battle - and Henry Tudor picked it up. The beginning of the Tudor dynasty. And the end of one of the most maligned figures in history. The history here is palpable. The striations on the canon shot discovered in the field. The belt buckles and clips found after centuries. And a white boar badge, silver and gilded, worn by one of Richard's loyal followers and lost to the earth that August day in 1485. I'm not ashamed to say that tears came to my eyes seeing that little piece of ancient metal.
I love being able to visualize the history. To strain to hear the sounds of canon fire or smell the smoke in a close castle room. To look out a window and sweep away the tarmacked streets and cars and see only the rolling hills beyond. This is why I love to write history, because I can indulge my imagination.
Please join me tomorrow on another little historical trip -- Nicole About Town is kicking off the Tudor Tuesdays blog tour with a post about Catherine of Aragon and an excerpt from GILT. Please drop by!