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Sunday, 16 February 2014

Tudor Wives and Daughters as property

When the Judas Pledge was finished and published, I started to wonder about Lord Summerville's beautiful mistress and what sort of life she had.  Why would a really beautiful woman like that end up as a mistress to an earl?  And I have to confess that I did not really want my hero to be unfaithful to the woman he loved, so Rachel had to have a unique story.
In an age when wives and daughters were considered property and had no rights whatsoever, it would be easy for a particularly beautiful child and woman to be exploited by wealthy men.  The wedding tradition of a father giving away the bride comes from a time when that daughter was his property and he not only gave her away, he paid someone a lot of money to take her by means of a dowry.  Ostensibly, a bride's dowry was to ensure her financial support should she be widowed and eventually support her children, but in reality it was more likely a husband would take charge of the dowry for his own.  Often, his only reason for marrying was to secure a generous dowry from a wealthy father if he found himself in financial difficulties.
Sometimes an impoverished titled gentleman would be happy to entitle his bride providing she was wealthy enough.
Sixteenth century fathers had little or no love for their daughters and thought of them only as a bargaining chip, to marry off for the right price.  This is clear in the attitude of King Henry VIII to his eldest daughter, Mary.  When he decided to annul his marriage to her mother, Queen Katherine of Aragon, therefore making Mary a bastard with no claim to the throne, he had no hesitation in banishing her and stripping her of her titles.  This was a royal princess whose life before that had been spent as such.  She would have had offers for her hand in marriage from European princes and she would have been treated as an important commodity.  Suddenly, she was nothing and nobody wanted her.
So, an unscrupulous and alcoholic father of a really beautiful little girl, might well decide to get himself out of a financial mess by hiring out his child to paedophiles.  Those sort of perverts were just as rife in the sixteenth century, just not so well known.
From these thoughts came The Flawed Mistress the beautiful woman well known as the favourite mistress of our hero, the sight of whom devastates his wife so much as to break her heart and add to the temptation to betray him.
This was the first book for which I bought a professionally designed cover and I have to admit the sight of the model on the cover leant inspiration to my story.  She is gorgeous! The designer was fast, reasonably priced and a pleasure to deal with.  I can highly recommend his services.
Rachel was the daughter of a drunken, impoverished earl whose life was ruined by his avarice.  Left with nothing but her beauty, she was forced to marry to avoid starvation until she met our hero, Richard Summerville, who rescued her and offered her friendship.  Having risked her life for him by impersonating his protestant wife at the catholic court of Mary I, she continues to play an important part in his life in future books in the series.
I had told the story of the beautiful mistress and I had revealed that my hero and his wife still loved each other, but I was not ready to say goodbye to them just yet. 
My next book in the series, Transgressions' Ghosts, concerns the attempts of the couple to put the bitter past behind them and build a future together.

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