Fantasy Mystery Comics Non-Fiction Fiction

The Summer of the Danes

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Summer of the Danes (1991) Ellis Peters

Set in England in 1144.

Cadfael and Brother Mark travel to Wales, to meet with (and support) two new bishops. But they end up caught up in an unexpected fight: Prince Owain Gwynedd and his brother Cadwaladr.

“Brothers have been the ruin of Welsh princedoms through all ages,” Cadfael observed ruefully. “Welsh princes should have only one son apiece. The father builds up a sound principality and a strong rule, and after his death his three or four or five sons, in and out of wedlock, all demand by right equal shares, and the law says they should have them. Then one picks off another, to enlarge his portion, and it would take more than law to stop the killing.

They also come across a young woman who is being married off so that her father can advance in the church.

I am a reminder of a marriage the bishop says was unlawful and sacrilegious. In his eyes I never should have been born! Even if my father remains celibate the rest of his life, I am still here, to call to mind what he wants forgotten.

In case you were unaware, for centuries married priests were the norm and celibacy was the exception.

For centuries now priests had lived as decent married men and raised families like their parishioners. Even in England, in the more remote country places, there were plenty of humble married priests, and certainly no one thought the worse of them.

Also, birthright was fluctuated throughout history.

It struck Cadfael as ironic that one so plainly signed with his father’s image should be regarded by the cleric who sat beside him as illegitimate, for he had been born before Owain’s marriage, and his mother, too, was an Irishwoman. To the Welsh a son acknowledged was as much a son as those born in marriage.

This is such a fascinating series, all the historical bits and religious bits and everything.

It is a blessed thing, on the whole, to live in slightly dull times, especially after disorder, siege and bitter contention.

It took me awhile to read this, but that’s mostly because I’ve been busy.

Published by MysteriousPress
Rating: 8.5/10

Categories: 8/10, British, Historical, Mystery     Comments (0)    

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