Getting to Setting in The Importance of Pawns 

Fireplace mantleat chateau de blois

Few settings cast a spell like the French court. The French Renaissance court, even for those who know little about it, exercises a charm that is hard to resist.

Writing about how I created it as a setting is the subject of my blog post Getting to Setting in The Importance of Pawns M.K. Tod’s excellent blog, A Writer of History. I invite you to go there to read it. I show you how I incorporated historical details to make the French court setting realistic while keeping my focus on the story itself.

The Remarkable Journal of Louise de Savoie ~ A guest post by Keira Morgan

Louise de Savoie at the tiller of state

The Journal of Louise de Savoie is a remarkable document. The most important woman in France of her time wrote it, yet it went unnoticed and unmentioned for well over a century. We would not know of its existence but for its appearance in the1660 Histoire généalogique de la maison de Savoie, in which he included it as an appendix 130 years after her death. How did that happen? My article explores what is known about the journal and speculates on its history. READ MORE

Princess Renée, Princess Renée, daughter of Anne of Brittany and Louis XII of France

Born on 25 October 1510 at the Château de Blois, Renée de France was the second daughter of Louis XII of France and Anne of Brittany. She was also their second and last living child. Unusually for the times, Louis stayed in the queen’s chambers during Renée’s birth. Even though a girl, she was a well-formed, healthy baby and they had lost many previously. They celebrated her birth lavishly with her baptism taking place the next day.

Men’s politics governed royal women’s lives. Renée as the daughter of Louis XII and Anne de Bretagne, was a fille de France. This made her valuable to the crown in advancing its agenda. Through their marriages, men used royal women to serve their expansive and defensive strategies. Their male guardians betrothed them from birth as best served their momentary interests. Both her father and brother-in-law offered and betrothed Renée many times before she married the Duke of Ferrara. READ MORE

Baroness Michelle de Soubise, Anne of Brittany’s Dame d’atour ~ A guest post by Keira Morgan

Coat of arms of Michele de Soubise's husband

The office of Dame d’atour was among the highest-ranked offices among the queen of France’s ladies-in-waiting. Only members of the nobility were appointed to the post. As early as 1505, Baroness Michelle de Soubise was known to be Queen Anne of France’s Dame d’atour. In her formal role as Dame d’atour, she was responsible for the queen’s wardrobe and jewelry, supervised the dressing of the queen and managed the staff of the queen’s chamber. READ MORE

Cover of The Importance of Sons novel

I titled my story The Importance of Sons. Yet my novel focuses on the rivalry between two women. King Charles’s two sisters also play important roles. In my novel, women are central. Still, sons are crucial because at the time men dominated political and legal power. 

Because I am writing a novel, not history, I do not explain the ins and outs of how and why men had created the situation that existed. Yet I found it fascinating, and it is the basis for why the events in my story happened as they did. I wrote this for those who like to know the background behind the story.  READ MORE.

Florry’s Perspective. . . .with Soda [A Short Story]

The Shit List: An anthology of short stories

In 2020, a short story of mine was published in an anthology in The ShitList. In this collection, 36 short stories tell the tale of the avenging librarian, Euphoria Rivers, who skipped town leaving a scathing list behind her of all those who had offended her.

Four Royal Women’s Entangled Lives

I did a series of three podcasts for the French History Podcast on Four Royal Women’s Entangled Lives in which I talked about the events that transformed relations between France and the Holy roman Empire between 1494 and 1529. In 1494 King Charles VIII rode off to war in Italy and became entranced by all things Italian. These Italian wars continued sporadically for the next sixty years. Because of them, large numbers of men from the highest nobility went away, leaving women in charge in France.

You may know that in France only males could inherit the throne because of what was called the Salic law. There were only three times in which women were allowed to rule for men: if the king was underage—under 14 by French law—if or when the king was out of the country; or if the king was incapable of ruling. In those cases, his mother could be appointed to rule as Regent, with a Regency Council to guide her. 

During the period between 1483 and 1529, four women, two of whom became Regents of France, played huge political roles in French affairs. The four women are: Princess Anne de France, also known as Madame la Grande, Archduchess Marguerite of Austria, Louise de Savoie and Duchess Anne de Bretagne.

After I wrote this piece, Rachel moved to Comala, Colima where I live and she became a close friend and my critique partner. She writes wonderful detective novels set on the Pacific coast and I reviewed the on this blog. Read them if you like sailing and clever whodunits.

Rachel McMillen is a familiar face in the Lakeside community. Many know her from the Introduction to Lakeside course she conducts; or perhaps her Creative Writing course. Or as managing editor of the Lake Chapala Society’s monthly newsletter, Conecciones. In her spare time, she is an active member of a biweekly writing group, a member of the Orchid Society, and of course the dog rescue group. And, just a minor thing, she’s a successful author of four mystery novels set on the Pacific coast of Canada with another novel in the works. But that’s all for, as she says, she is retired now.

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