"Ms. York’s historical research is amazing. The details woven into the story really bring it to life."
Behind the Story
Behind the Story with The Saxon Bride
To the victor go the spoils . . .
Book one of the Norman Conquest series, The Saxon Bride, sets up post-Conquest England and the Norman/Saxon conflict.
John of Normandy is the brave knight entrusted to keep peace, restore order, and enforce the king's edicts. Though a bastard of unknown parentage, the king gifts him with the Saxon's most treasured jewel—Rowena. Marriage to the sole remaining member of the Godwinson family comes with titles, land, and power. John prefers to fight.
A proud Saxon, Rowena is not happy with the marriage but deals with it in a dignified manner...until the guards torture her with sordid details of what they'll be allowed to do to her after she has wed their lord. In a panic, she has to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to the joining ceremony. Her crazed condition confirms John's belief that all Saxons are animals and leaves her untouched.
Rowena remains behind in her family "home" but no longer surrounded by a loving family but by barbaric Norman soldiers. The king refuses to acknowledge her and instead sets up a loyal Saxon, Arthur, to oversee John's property in his absence.
Despite Arthur's best attempts to woo Rowena, she stays true to her vows. Resentment builds. When John is called back to England five years later, he is entranced by a beautiful woman he finds bathing and sets about seducing her. Never wanting to be a rutting beast like his own father whose name he has never heard, John is besotted with this woman, unable to deny his need for her. However willing, Rowena calls a halt to his advances once she realizes her husband hasn't even recognized her as his wife. So sets up their battle of wills.
The powerful influence associated with the House of Godwine dates back several decades with impressive familial ties to much of the neighboring ruling powers. At the death of Edward the Confessor in January 1066, Harold Godwineson (one of five sons of Godwin, Earl of Wessex) was chosen as king by those around him, ie Anglo-Saxons. Immediately there was disgruntlement and his brother, Tostig Earl of Northumbria, joined up with Harold Hadraada King of Norway to overthrow the new king.
At the Battle of Stamford, Harold Godwineson won the day but after a grueling 185 mile trek north in just four days, his returning men were ill-prepared for the attacking forces of William Duke of Normandy, cousin to the late Edward. With approximately seven thousand armed men, knights and mercenaries alike, Harold may have foreseen his own death. When William won the battle, killing Harold Godwineson that fateful October day in 1066 at the Battle of Hastings, he was winning a country greatly divided between Angles, Saxons, Danes, and Normans.
Crowned King of England on Christmas Day in December 1066 at Westminster Abbey, William was confronted by Anglo-Saxons that continued to resist him. By confiscating the lands of any who dare rise against him, marrying his most trusted nobles into powerful Saxon families, and exchanging local clergy for his own loyal "French" speaking, Norman churchmen, William was able to keep a tight reign on power, eventually winning all of England and passing it onto his own sons.