The Princess Nun — J. P. Reedman
Today I’m happy to welcome author Janet P. Reedman as she shares about her new release.
In the Middle Ages, most royal daughters were expected to make marriage alliances to strengthen the kingdom. If they weren’t to be married, they were sent to join the church as a nun. Mary of Woodstock, daughter of Edward I, was the latter, being chosen at the age of six to accompany her grandmother, Eleanor of Provence, into the convent of St Mary’s in Amesbury, Wiltshire. It was an unusually young age to go into the cloister, and Mary’s mother, Queen Eleanor of Castile had not approved, but she gave in to her husband and mother-in-law’s wishes.
Mary had no real vocation to be a nun and it showed. Along with her grandmother, she lived in brand-new private quarters away from the other nuns, with pets, sumptuous beds and other luxuries—including a substantial regular income supplied by her father.
As she grew older, she also acquired a passion for travelling; with permission from the prioress of St Mary’s, she would process about the country just like the princess she was…although she didn’t forget all her religious duties, and did go on a few pilgrimages (with her friends) or inspected a few other nunneries in her office of ‘visitatrix.’ She was at court often and attended the weddings of her numerous sisters; whilst there, she enjoyed dicing and other types of gambling, and frequently had to have her debts paid off by the King.
She was quite close to her brother, who became the unfortunate Edward II, and attended his Coronation and the feast afterwards, which was something of a disaster. The food was cold and inedible, served late, and all the lords of the land were itching to lay hands on Edward’s favourite, the Gascon knight, Piers Gaveston, who had marched around Westminster Abbey wearing royal purple and pearls as if it was his Coronation and not Edward’s.
As Edward’s unfortunate reign progressed, Mary gradually began to spend more time in her convent. A book on the Plantagenet, with emphasis on her father was written by a monk called Nicholas Trevet; it was dedicated to Mary, and she probably commissioned it to be written. It is one of our most important sources on Edward I’s reign.
Mary died in 1332 at the age of approximately fifty-three and was buried in Amesbury. Unfortunately, the priory was completely levelled during the Reformation, with not one stone remaining above ground, so her tomb is now lost, along with that of her grandmother, Queen Eleanor. It is not impossible that one day her grave might be found if the landowner decides to excavate; in which case she would likely be re-interred with a proper memorial in the local abbey church or perhaps Salisbury Cathedral.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
J.P. Reedman was born in Canada but has lived in the U.K. for nearly 27years. Interests include folklore & anthropology, prehistoric archaeology (Neolithic/bronze age Europe; ritual, burial & material culture), as well as The Wars of the Roses and other medieval eras.
Reedman is the author a speculative archaeological fiction epic using a proto-King Arthur in the era of Stonehenge called THE STONEHENGE SAGA, a very successful novel about Richard III, ‘I, RICHARD PLANTAGENET’ and a series called MEDIEVAL BABES: TALES OF LITTLE-KNOWN LADIES, which deals with the lesser-known Queen and noblewomen of medieval England.