Gaye Mack’s Blog

WELCOME TO THE ENGLISH HISTORICAL FICTION AUTHORS’ ‘MAIN CHARACTER’ BLOG HOP!

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Ancient Legends of Great Britain, Gaye's England, Scotland & Wales, Writer's Work Leave a comment

This post is a departure from what you might be expecting, as I’ve been I have been tagged by fellow English Historical Fiction author, Mark Patton, to take part in a “Main Characters” blog hop.  The concept of ‘blog hops’ between authors is to introduce aspects of our works to readers and of course to support our writing colleagues across the ethers. For this ‘hop’ the  idea is to introduce a protagonist from a published or anticipated to be published novel. I’m currently working on the third novel of my historical fiction series which takes place across 12th, 13th and 21st century lines, mainly in Great Britain…although the current work in progress is built upon the esoteric story of the Cathars, the Gnostic sect persecuted by the Inquisition in 13th c southern France.  If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll have seen earlier posts on this gentle group of Christians labeled as heretics by Rome who met a fiery end at Montsegur on March 16, 1244.  

 

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Possible layout of fortress at Montsegur 1244

Photography©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.

 

 Each of my books is grounded in actual historical places, people and events around which I then build fictional characters and story. The participating authors in the blog hop are asked to address seven questions about their chosen protagonist.  My second book which is featured in this ‘hop’  is written in ‘alternating narrative’ which means that similar to the works of Diana Gabaldron and MJ Rose, the main protagonist is subject to images and influences from a past life–this said I’m going to introduce both of my female protagonists to you!

1. What is the name of your character, and is he or she a fictional or a historical person? 

In the 12th c portions of this bookEdana Morggon is the main protagonist who then re-appears as Dr. Dana Morgan in the 21st century.  Both women are completely fictional although, the characters they meet in both time frames are very much historical.

2. When and where is the story set? 

The primary historical setting is Glastonbury Abbey in England’s west country, just before the Great Fire of 1184 as well as ruins that remain in the 21st century. For those who have never been to Glastonbury, it’s one of those places that abounds in extraordinarily deep history, legend and myth.  King Arthur, Joseph of Armithea, Edward I, Henry II and The Goddess, each figure heavily into Glastonbury’s magic.  However, in 1184 and 2010, my protagonists are faced with events that involve the fire(and its suspicious origins), political ambition, greed and psychological dysfunction… all having to do with mystical secrets believed to have been embedded within symbols placed in the floor of the abbey’s ‘Holy of Holies’.

Scan0008Partial Ruins of Glastonbury Abbey

Photography©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.

3. What should we know about the character? 

12th c Lady Edana Morggon is a wealthy widow who accompanied her father and greedy, abusive husband to the Holy Land. Following the deaths of both men on crusade, Edana was imprisoned but surprisingly rescued by an unusual Sufi named Ghali.  Ghali for reasons only known to himself and Edana, enlists desert mystics to educate her in sacred arts and medicine before they both return to her estate in England.  Edana is a woman unusual for her time as she’s fierce in personality, smart, gifted and fairly self-sufficient…but she also harbors secrets.

21st c Dr. Dana Morgan is  a wealthy, University of Chicago historical archaeologist with expertise in ancient scripts, but who also possesses an inherited, although unacknowledged, gift of psychic sensitivities.  As the 21st c opens, her archaeologist husband of five years has suddenly died. Overtaken by grief, Dana retreats to the safe haven of her favorite aunt, Lady Fredi Morgan at her Oxfordshire estate.  When Dana is introduced to two historical archaeologists from Oxford University, she unwittingly becomes embroiled in 900 year old Glastonbury mysteries that have resurfaced and threaten her life.  Equally distressing, Dana comes face to face with  a past life through Edana Morggon. However predictably, as a scientist, she resists acknowledging such a possibility exists.

GLASTONBURY FLOORPhotography courtesy of Karen Pfiefer

 

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up your character’s life? 

Historically, Dana has categorized her feelings into intellectual exercises as a means of protection ever since the sudden death of her parents when she was fifteen. However, when she learns that her husband had a secret life which ended in suicide rather than murder, she struggles to come to terms with heart centered emotions she can’t control, her sense of failure in judgement and the recognition of her inherited psychic sensitivities.  As Glastonbury’s 12th century story resurfaces in 2010 through events that threaten her life, Dana is forced to deal with these unresolved aspects of herself.

5. What is the personal goal of your character? 

Dana has to learn to accept who she really is as well as putting trust in relationships, especially with men.  In addition, with the help of Edana Morggon, she begins to recognize that the veil between worlds is thin and can transmute to reveal universal truths.

6. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it? 

The book is entitled, A Conspiracy of Ravens’.  You can read more about it under the ‘Historical Fiction’ link on my full website: http://gayemack.com or under the link for ‘clients’ on http://globallionmanagement.com

7. When can we expect the book to be published?

 ‘A Conspiracy of Ravens’ and its predecessor, A Murder of Crows’ are currently represented by Peter Miller, CEO-Global Lion Intellectual Property Management, who is actively seeking a home for them.

 

 

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WHAT OR WHO WAS BEHIND GLASTONBURY ABBEY’S GREAT FIRE OF 1184?

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Ancient Legends of Great Britain, Gaye's England, Scotland & Wales, Writer's Work Leave a comment

The Great Fire of 1184, which all but destroyed Britain’s oldest site of Christianity,Glastonbury Abbey,  is legendary.  For 900 years, myth and speculation have flourished as to the cause of this catastrophic event.  The majority speculation put forth by historians is that unusual winds on the morning of May 25, 1184 were responsible, causing an entry curtain to the ‘Holy of Holies’ in the ‘Ecclesia Vestuta’ (old church) to catch fire from burning candles.  Regardless of the cause, the initial sparks of flame combined with the high winds took the famous abbey to the ground in a matter of hours; it’s precious documents destroyed along with its treasures melted by heat and countless graves of monks, abbots and saints.

 However, when I was researching this event for my historical mystery, ‘A Conspiracy of Ravens’, I discovered Adam of Damerham.  Adam was a 12th century monk who wrote a history of the abbey and where the Glastonbury fire is concerned, Adam had an entirely different theory as to its cause.   Following the death of the beloved Abbot Robert in 1178, King Henry II assigned the position of ‘Custodian’ to Peter D’Marcya Cluniac monk who had some kind of relationship to Henry.  Despite the desires of the Glastonbury monks for Henry to name a proper abbot, the king stalled.  With no abbot in place it gave the wily monarch direct access to Glastonbury’s wealthy treasury, a resource which Henry needed to finance his wars with the French. Thus, as a compromise, he named D’Marcy to oversee the Glastonbury community.

 Unfortunately Peter proved to be very unpopular for a variety of reasons.  He nearly drove the abbey into the ground financially, was relentlessly diabolical in his scheming to manipulate his way to the abbot’s chair, not to mention suspicions that Peter  ‘compressed’ (as in eliminated) certain monks who were obstacles to achieving this goal. As an interim solution and effort to appease the monks, Henry then appointed Hugh of Avalon(who would later become Hugh of Lincoln, the most revered saint after Becket) to ‘supervise’ D’Marcy.  Things did not go well with this arrangement either.

 By December of 1183, the hatred of D’Marcy was beyond rampant. Further to his other machinations, Peter lusted after the secret behind the zodiacal floor in the abbey’s ‘Holy of Holies, believed to contain Christianity’s deepest mystical mysteries.  In one final scheme to endear the monks to his cause of obtaining the ‘abbot’s chair’, D’Marcy, his mental state now suspect, planned a ‘faux mass’ on Christmas Eve in the ‘Ecclesia Vestuta.’  This blasphemous act was the last straw with the Glastonbury community and one can only imagine how the monks reacted.   Adam of Damerham speculates that in retaliation,  D’Marcy set fire to the abbey.  Interestingly, historians note that while he survived the fire, shortly afterwards D’Marcy died from ‘unknown causes.’

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REMAINS OF THE GREAT ABBEY AT GLASTONBURY

Photograpy©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.

A Conspiracy of Ravens is the second book in my trilogy, ‘Flight Through Time’, represented by Peter Miller, Global Lion Literary Management. ‘A Flight of Doves’ is now in production 

  Additionally, for Information on Evolutionary Astrological Readings or Bach Flower Remedy Evaluations with meClick Here

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RELIC OF JESUS’ CRUCIFICTION CROSS FOUND OR MORE OF THE SAME?

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Ancient Legends of Great Britain, Gaye's England, Scotland & Wales, Worth the Read, Writer's Work Leave a comment

 

Admittedly, the time frame here is far earlier than the 12th or 13th centuries I’m used to exploring and writing about, but yesterday’s piece in Huffington  was just too good to pass up here for those of you who missed it on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and every other social media outlet on the planet.  This said, once again a flurry of active speculation amongst archaeological and religious academics pitted against the faithful is sure to escalate.  As I’ve commented earlier, it seems that we’ve entered an era of, to borrow Hilary Mantel’s latest book title, ‘Bringing Up the Bodies‘(and everything with them), non-stop

Recent memory zooms to the controversy over remains now concluded to be England’s diabolical(depending on your point of view) King Richard the III.  This excavation was closely followed by discovery of remains speculated to be those of England’s more venerated king, Alfred of Wessex (the jury’s still out on this one as far as I know.)  Nevertheless, the contemplation of ‘what if’ continues to intrigue us.  However, it’s important to keep in mind that discovery of and hawking of, ‘authentic relics’ which are nothing more than fakes is big business that’s older than Methuselah that continues to flourish around the globe.

Still, every time such events are splashed across the media, many of us yearn in hope beyond hope that the real deal has been discovered…it does happen. As for the current ‘discovery’ at hand, we’ll just have to wait…but who knows?  There are so many treasure ‘truths’ waiting to yet be discovered and questions answered…Excalibur, the Grail, the mystical portal protected by the Sphinx, Nazca, Atlantis, Avalon, the pyramids, Stonehenge

In the meantime we can muse on the latest news from Huffington, et al:

“Archaeologists working in Turkey believe they have found a piece of the cross that Jesus was crucified on.

While excavating the ancient Balatlar Church, a seventh-century building in Sinop, Turkey, on the shores of the Black Sea, they uncovered a stone chest that contained objects that may be directly connected with Jesus Christ.

Excavation head Professor Gülgün Köroğlu definitively stated:

We have found a holy thing in a chest. It is a piece of a cross, and we think it was [part of the cross on which Jesus was crucified]. This stone chest is very important to us. It has a history and is the most important artifact we have unearthed so far.

The stone chest has been taken to a laboratory for further testing. However, the appearance of the chest suggests that it was a repository for the relics of a holy person, according to the team, who showed reporters at the site a stone with crosses carved into it.

Many churches claim to possess relics of the so-called “true cross,” though the authenticity of the items is not fully accepted by scholars and scientists. Protestant theologian John Calvin noted that, “if all the pieces that could be found were collected together, they would make a big ship-load,” referring specifically to the cross. On the other hand, the 19th-century French archaeologist Charles Rohault de Fleury supposedly said that all of the cataloged relics would only make up less than a third of the mass of a roughly 12-foot-high cross.

But what originally happened to Jesus’ cross, and why has it turned up now? Legend says that Emperor Constantine’s mother, Helena, found the cross in Jerusalem and distributed pieces of the wood to religious leaders in Jerusalem, Rome, and Constantinople.

Balatlar Church, built in 660, has proved an especially rich dig site, as Köroğlu mentioned that in addition to the stone chest, her team has found the ruins of an ancient Roman bath and more than 1,000 human skeletons since they started working in 2009.”

 

tintagel castle

King Arthur’s domain?

Photography©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.

 

 

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IS ST. PATRICK BURIED AT GLASTONBURY ABBEY?

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Ancient Legends of Great Britain, Writer's Work 1 Comment

Was St. Patrick ever at Glastonbury Abbey in the early 5th Century?  Legend says he was but then, as is the case of many of ancient stories, we’ll never know for sure.  There is however, a document known as the Charter of St. Patrick believed to have been written by Glastonbury monks in the late 13th century.  The exact purpose isn’t clear, but it does purportedly narrate in his own words,  the account of Patrick’s arrival at Glastonbury in 430 A.D.  Clearly the gap in time makes the authenticity of the Charter’s narrative  suspect and begs the question, why would the  monks produce such a document 900 years after the fact?  One explanation could be that it was a PR stunt.

Leading up to the catastrophic fire of 1184 which took Britain’s wealthiest abbey to ground, Glastonbury was in a state of political chaos, the circumstances which I write about in my historical mystery, A Conspiracy of Ravens(represented by Peter Miller-unpublished).  However, despite King Henry II’s support in the abbey’s rebuilding immediately following the fire, down the road the monks needed to sustain pilgrim traffic in order to keep the coffers topped up.

Along with the Arthurian legends which include the re-internment of Arthur and Guinevere at the foot of a black marble high altar during the state visit of Edward I and Eleanor of Castile in 1278,  it didn’t hurt to add St. Patrick into the mix.  Nevertheless, whether legend, myth or fact, allegedly St. Patrick’s bones are believed to have been buried under the floor of the small chapel shrine that bears his name and stands among Glastonbury’s remains–a claim the Irish understandably, strongly contest.

The Charter of St. Patrick(excerpt)

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I Patrick, the humble servant of God, in the year of His Incarnation 430, was sent into Ireland by the most holy Pope Celestine, and by God’s grace converted the Irish to the way of truth; and, when I had established them in the Catholic faith, at length I returned to Britain, and, as I believe, by the guidance of God, who is the life and the way, I chanced upon the isle of Ynsgytrin, wherein I found a place holy and ancient, chosen and sanctified by God in honour of Mary the pure Virgin, the Mother of God: and there I found certain brethren imbued with the rudiments of the Catholic faith, and of pious conversation, who were successors of the disciples of St Phagan and St Deruvian, whose names for the merit of their lives I verily believe are written in heaven: and because the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance, since tenderly I loved those brethren, I have thought good to record their names in this my writing.

And they are these: Brumban, Hyregaan, Brenwal, Wencreth, Bamtonmeweng, Adelwalred, Lothor, Wellias, Breden, Swelwes, Hin Loernius, and another Hin. These men, being of noble birth and wishing to crown their nobleness with deeds of faith, had chosen to lead a bermit’s life ; and when I found them meek and gentle, I chose to be in low estate with them, rather than to dwell in kings’ palaces. And since we were all of one heart and one mind, we chose to dwell together, and eat and drink in common, and sleep in the same house.

And so they set me, though unwilling, at their head: for indeed I was not worthy to unloose the latchet of their shoes. And, when we were thus leading the monastic life according to the pattern of the approved fathers, the brothers showed me writings of St Phagan and St Deruvian, wherein it was contained that twelve disciples of St Philip and St James had built that Old Church in honour of our Patroness aforesaid, instructed thereto by the blessed archangel Gabriel.

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Remains of one of the giant piers of Glastonbury’s Majorum Ecclesia 

Photography©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.

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THE BRUTAL “EXECUTION” OF GLASTONBURY ABBEY’S LAST ABBOT, RICHARD WHITING UNDER “CROMWELL”

Posted on by Gaye Mack in Ancient Legends of Great Britain, Gaye's England, Scotland & Wales, Writer's Work 4 Comments

By the fall of 1539, Thomas Cromwell’s  methodical eradication of England’s  abbeys and monasteries  on behalf of King Henry VIII  had well been  underway for a few years.  Beginning with the smaller houses  in 1537, the campaign eventually  found it’s way to Glastonbury, one of the wealthiest abbeys in the country.  The zealous motivations behind this fierce onslaught were complex, no question.  Political posturing, Henry’s break with Rome, the need for a male heir and frankly his desperation to get his hands on cold, hard cash… all of these were at the root.

 Long before his marriage to Anne Boleyn and the brutal execution of Richard Whiting,  Henry’s ability to manage his money was out of control.  He was known to be a lavish spender so much so that by the time he married Anne he’d gone through all of the money left to him by his father, some £1,800,000!  Once he broke with Rome, Henry had all but alienated most of Europe, making his realm a target for wolves on his doorstep.  At the very least, he needed money to supply a military and to keep Anne in the manner to which she’d become accustomed.

 For its part,  the Church was rife with greed and a variety of non-spiritual improprieties that  ran rampant among the religious houses prior to the dissolution.  However, at the end of the day, Henry’s object was to get his hands on salable land and possessions. Since The Great Fire of 1184Glastonbury  had miraculously risen from its ashes like the mythical phoenix. Only the  shrines at Canterbury and Walsingham attracted more pilgrims.  This was a house that despite its own internal disorder between factions of monks, was rich in material goods and property.

 In September of 1539 Richard Layton along with two other of Cromwell’s commissioners made a ‘visit’ to Glastonbury for the purpose of interrogating its abbot, Richard Whiting.  Whiting was an old man by this time and by all accounts had so far gone to great lengths to stay out of trouble by not rocking the ecclesiastical boat regarding Henry’s petition to divorce Katherine of Aragon.   However, when Layton and his colleagues searched Whiting’s study, they discovered a book arguing against the divorce along with various papers considered to be traitorous.  Further interrogation of Whiting proved to be unfruitful as evidently the abbot was stubborn and uncooperative.  As a result he was removed to London’s Tower to await interrogation by Cromwell himself. 

Meanwhile back in Glastonbury, Layton, Thomas Moyle and Richard Pollard thoroughly discharged the abbey’s community and then proceeded with a systematic sweep that revealed hidden wealth in the form of plate, gold and ‘other articles.’  One can only imagine  details of the resulting inventory totaling (not including land and cattle holdings) 11,000 oz in plate plus gold, furniture and £1,100 in money.  Nevertheless, despite Layton and his associate’s discoveries, the myth remains alive to this day that ‘much of the Glastonbury treasure’ including the Holy Grail, escaped Cromwell’s commissioners. 

Whiting was arraigned on November 6th, 1539 resulting in the order,  ‘put to execution.’    At some point he was transferred back to Glastonbury according to Sir John Russell, who was  charged with the abbot’s ‘disposal.’  Details of Whiting’s gruesome execution are fairly well-known. Feeble and ill, the Abbot was dragged on a hurdle to Tor Hill where he was hung, (some resources claim from St. Michael’s tower) drawn, quartered and beheaded.  His four body parts were sent to Wells, Bath, Ilchester and Bridgewater for public display; his head was stuck on Glastonbury’s abbey gate. 

The question remains, was Whiting truly a traitor or was his execution simply vindictive retaliation for his obstinacy and Henry’s need to get his hands on the great abbey’s extensive wealth?  Unfortunately it’s doubtful we’ll ever know as the  records of Whiting’s trial along with Cromwell’s justification for execution have never been found.

 So, what do you think?  Was Whiting’s execution justified or simply an example of  bullying, power that ordered terminal  punishment for defiance?

 

St. Michael’s Tower-The Tor, Glastonbury

Photography©Gaye F. Mack, Inc.

Relevant books to explore:

  • The Tudors-G.J. Meyer
  • The Last Divine Office-Henry VIII and the Dissolution of the Monasteries-Geoffrey Moorhouse
  • Wolf Hall-Hilary Mantel
  • Bringing up the Bodies-Hilary Mantel

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