Fun things to research

Fun things to research

Now that I am in a more stable situation (still no income, but at least I have a place to myself), I’m leisurely pursuing ideas of places I want to research. I had started a novel about 5 to 10 years ago, that I want to get back to… researching it, at least. Yes I WILL get to writing it eventually, but I may need to start back at the beginning. The novel itself started in the beginning days of St. Augustine, Florida… and then I took it to the Outer Banks of North Carolina a century and a half later. Martin and Catalina(Katherine) are in St. St. Augustine, their great-great-granddaughter Harriet is in the Outer Banks. Catalina started out as a ward of Mary Tudor (best known in history as Bloody Mary), who is married to Martin (gladly) by order of Queen Mary in Mary’s last days. They leave England when Elizabeth becomes Queen, but not because Martin dislikes the new Queen. He was a secret Protestant, and chooses to spy out the Spanish Colonies for Elizabeth. Catalina herself has reasons to want to live in obscurity. She has Tourettes Syndrome: a condition not diagnosed or named until the 19th century, but known by its symptoms much earlier.  It makes life uncomfortable, to say the least.   I’m still working on their story. Also working on how their descendant Harriet’s part of the family will end up in the Outer Banks: it’s do-able, the contact was not frequent, but it did exist.

I adore the Outer Banks. I also love St. Augustine (hate Florida, but love St. Augustine), so any excuse to research and visit in either region is worth it:-). I have sort of missed Catalina and young Harriet, so it’s time to get back to both of them. By the way: Harriet has inherited Catalina’s Tourette’s Syndrome. It is an inherited condition. Why did I inflict them with Tourette’s? Because I have it, and I wanted to explore how it would affect women in previous centuries. I have incredibly ignorant people shun or mock me even in this the 21st century because of my condition, even when there is much more knowledge about this neurological condition. I have always wondered about the lives of people who had the condition in past centuries. Eighty to Ninety percent of the people with my condition are males who pass it down through the female; no, not my family. We got it passed down to the female… and it’s some question as to which side passed it to me.

Well, if I have to have the condition, at least I can make it work to my advantage… it gives me an excuse to use my imagination. If I ever get this novel written and published, maybe some poor girl will take courage from it. In the meantime, I plan to soak up all the time in the Outer Banks that I can. I was able to spend ten years exploring St. Augustine, while living there. Not planning to move to the Outer Banks, but I certainly intend to visit it as often as I can!

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Hessians in Bucks County: a.k.a. will I FINALLY finish a romance??

Hessians in Bucks County: a.k.a. will I FINALLY finish a romance??

I’m back to that stage of wanting to write, but scared I won’t finish.  Actually, I haven’t even started it. I’m just working on the preliminaries right now. I could bog down on any number of preliminary steps.  I’m just getting the basic story line in my mind. I’m starting the historical research on the area I want to write about, and the time period I want to feature.  I picked the area that I grew up in: mostly because it’s an area I loved, and is rich in the period of history I’m concentrating on… I also thought that would make the research easy: ummmmm, “NO”, it doesn’t! 

My story is set in the Revolutionary war, and is based in Bucks County. Buildings that I thought existed back during the Revolutionary war? I’m finding quite a few weren’t there until 1790 or 1800. DANG!!  Next question: how many Germans lived in the region of Newtown (a town established at the exact same time as Philadelphia)?  Now: I was *pretty* sure I knew my area’s history; well, I do…. but not *quite* as well as I thought I did <rueful smile>.  In the process of this exploration, I discovered that Newtown was the county seat of Bucks County during the period of the Revolution; the county seat didn’t get moved to Doylestown until well after the Revolutionary war. Surprise, Surprise!! All the years I lived there (or just over the Delaware in central N.J.), I never realized that. One never stops learning… luckily.  And I still haven’t found out how many Germans lived in the Newtown/Churchville/Richboro area.

Next I’ll need to come up with a heroine and hero whose background stories are plausible.   They’re both going to be German… There were an amazing number of Germans in Pennsylvania during the 18th century.  I discovered, when I moved to Winston-Salem, that many of the Germans who had come to Pennsylvania in the early 1700s moved down to the Winston-Salem region in the 1750s — because (get this) they thought it was getting too crowded in Pennsylvania.  What did they consider crowded?!?!?.

My own family has roots going back to the Lancaster area (at the time, still part of Chester County), as early as 1710.  By the way: not all Germans who moved to Lancaster were (or are) Amish). One part of that branch of my family was Swiss Mennonite, but the rest were Lutheran, or some might have been Reformed. Another part of the family came the year that the U.S. Constitution was signed. This was on my father’s mother’s side of the family. My father’s father’s side didn’t come until 1892. 

One part of my mother’s family came in the mid-late 19th century from what was then the Grand Duchy of Hesse; another part came from Swabia (part of Bavaria). I just learned, while doing research for this story, that my father’s paternal Grandmother came from the same region as my mother’s father’s family.  I had learned a few years ago, from looking at the map of Germany, that my paternal grandfather’s half-brother (my great-granduncle on my dad’s side) lived in a town that was just a few miles north of the town where my mother’s grandfather came from.  Family trees can be VERY interesting! I seems I have Hessians (or Rhineland Palatinates) on both sides of my family.

Another piece of information that I discovered over the past few months, that actually started the seeds of this story, was that some Hessian mercenaries fighting with the British deserted to the colonists’ side. George Washington actually made an offer that any Hessian soldiers who came over to the colonists’ side would receive 50 acres of land.  The Germans knew a good deal when they saw one, and some decided that good farming land was worth the chance of getting shot for desertion (by the way: some British soldiers did the same).

Sometimes the Hessians who were captured and hired out as “prison labor” to the local farmers and tradesmen decided that they liked the freedom and peace that the Germans already living there enjoyed; therefore, they decided to stay in what became the United States.  My story is going to be based on one of these Hessian soldiers… not an actual historical person, but one who could have realistically made this choice. He’ll fall for a young woman whom he meets as he is switching his allegiances.  This is all the further I have gotten.  I have a name for the hero, but not yet for the heroine. I’m still working on the possible scenerios, depending upon what I uncover in my historical research.

By the way: don’t expect this to be “steamy”; even my very proper mother thought I was a prude when it came to reading romantic stories:-)! Just warning you now!

It won’t be overtly Christian, but since I’m a Christian, it will certainly find it’s way bubbling out through the story….  Of that I am sure!

Well, I just learned that I won’t need to find out how many Germans lived in the Churchville area in the 18th century. There was NO Churchville in the 18th century. Checking on the National Historic Register website for Churchville in Northampton Township, I find that Churchville did not exist as such. In the 18th century, it was a tiny village on the crossroads called Smoketown.  More details to follow, as I learn them myself. Oh, and Richboro was Richborough…

Just don’t hold your breath for me to finish this; I don’t want anyone to pass out waiting for me to actually finish a romantic story <rueful smile>…  or if I do, I never seem to find a way to get it published….

 

 

How historical do I need my historical fiction to be? or History Manners 101

How historical do I need my historical fiction to be? or History Manners 101

On a number of history sites that I belong to, I find a frequent (actually almost constant) reference to authors who write fiction which is meant to be historical. I’m stating right now that I need the fiction I read to be *very* historically accurate (assuming that it is a period which has historical sources to use and compare). I don’t mind imaginative recreation of events where there is nothing in the historical record (or in the case where the author expressly explains why the changes were made), but I detest the current habit of certain current and [overly] popular authors to defame reputations of historical characters without reason. A female author I’m thinking of, who is currently ruining the War of the Roses for me(one of her books is The White Queen), is the most notorious in my eyes. She has also taken to calling herself a historian, which she is not and which confuses people into thinking that whatever she writes is “true”.
In a way I’m torn, because I want people to get interested in history by any means available; and I like to encourage people to read anything. Some people do come to love history through fiction that isn’t always accurate. I grew up on Jean Plaidy’s (also known as Philippa Carr and Victoria Holt) historical fiction, and devoured her works. I have since learned that facts are frequently different than the scenerios she created for her historical characters, so I don’t read her as much as I used to…. but I did learn to read non-fiction about the historical periods that she and other fiction authors covered. I also learned to read *different historians*, so that I could get an even-handed picture of the historical events being depicted.
I was lucky; I was raised by parents and relatives who adored history, and were interested in finding out the truth about historical topics that interested them. Dad also taught me to think for myself, and to question what I read. He taught me to examine different authors to get different viewpoints (both fiction and non-fiction). One major example is his respect for Richard III when most people (even one of his sisters) assumed that Richard III was the monster portrayed in Shakespeare’s works. Dad loved Shakespeare, but I noticed he never bothered with the play Richard III:-)
I love history in general, but my specific area of historical interest is 16th century England and Europe with some fascination in those regions in the medieval period as well. My Richard III-oriented father never could figure out how he produced a child who could be so fascinated by the Tudor dynasty; he couldn’t stand the Tudors. By the way: when I say “the Tudors”, I DO NOT mean that ridiculous show that was aired a few years ago (with a short dark-haired male playing Henry VIII, a man known for being over 6 foot and red-headed!!! I have an even bigger problem with the blasted t.v. series based on the certain female author’s “fantasy” of what the War of the Roses was supposed to be like.
Getting an idea that I have some rather strong views on reading history: fiction or non-fiction?:-)? That I do; that I do! I must admit that. I confess that I am probably a history “snob” – I never mean to be, but the trait does show itself more than I’d like. I do try to make a point, though, of not putting someone down because they have a different opinion from me – or at least I never intend to put anyone down (I have to be careful though, since my sense of humor tends to be facetious or even acerbic, and is easily misunderstood). I am not always correct, and I have begun to forget things over the years. I also hate demeaning other people who are truly trying to learn about history. I don’t like being told that I’m an idiot or stupid because I disagree on a topic, so I won’t do it to others.
Having said that: I also need to say that I don’t believe that everyone or anyone who disagrees with me is insulting me; rarely do I feel personally attacked during history discussions. I welcome the chance to learn more; even on topics that I have read about for over 40 years. One can always learn new facts, and over the years historical sources come to light that weren’t known when I first started learning history, and reading historical fiction. When I am on history sites, I do my best to thank those who provide a different perspective than I have previously considered, because I truly appreciate their input and feedback.
This is where the History Manners 101 comes in: when discussing historical topics and authors on history sites. Some can be rather contentious, and I try to stay off of those. Most that I belong to go to great lengths to keep conversations polite and courteous, and I am truly grateful for those sites.
I have learned (over time, and after mistakes) that if I am particularly upset by a topic (or particular answer) or conversation, then it is best if I get off the internet, and *NOT EVEN THINK* of responding to the post or posts that have aggravated me. Each time I forget that rule and post, I *deeply* regret it.
I was taught throughout my childhood and life that one learns best when encouraged and praised. I do my best to do that, with the understanding that I will mess up as well. A gentle answer is always more helpful than slamming someone for disagreeing… and I need to remind myself of that when I am responding to the opinions of others; historical or not. I enjoy discussions about historical fiction and non-fiction; I enjoy them even more when those discussions maintain respectful boundaries and attitudes. I am always embarrassed and upset with myself when I learn that I may have (or definitely did) break the rules of civility.
This brings me back to my first point: I may disagree (strongly, sometimes) on the worth of the work of certain authors of historical fiction, but I do my best to respect the feelings of those who like those very same authors. My deepest apologies when I fail to follow through with that premise.
I love historical fiction and enjoy various authors. My idea of a “perfect” book of historical fiction is one where those characters who are based on real people are treated with respect, and with a sense of who they might have really been and why they may have acted as they did. I want to understand their quandaries and situations. I want to get a sense of what might have driven them. When fictional characters are introduced, I like to see them behave in ways that would have been realistic for the period in which they have been place. I seriously dislike anachronistic behavior (though an exception would be a male character who treats females better than most men of the historical period would treat women – always appreciate that!)…
Happy reading, and I hope more and more people find their way from historical novels to a love of history in general, while continuing to love historical fiction. As one person said: read, read, read. I would add read different authors and explore different views of the history covered by those authors.

Katherina von Bora finds herself a husband

Katherina von Bora finds herself a husband

16th Century Germany. Saxony. A marriage is celebrated on June 13th, 1525. Husband is 41, wife is 26. So what’s the big deal? Could fit any number of marriages of that time; what makes this one different? The bride is a nun who escaped from a convent because she had come to agree with the new Protestant theology that is spreading across not only Germany, but across Europe as well. The groom? The theologian who has been spreading that new theology across Germany and Europe; oh, and the groom is a former monk. Their names are Katherina von Bora, and Martin Luther.
Katherina had been a nun since she was a child. Her father took her to a convent when she was 5; by 9, she was a nun. She was approximately 23 or 24 when she and some fellow nuns decided to escape the convent. There was a law in place that threatened potential death if one was caught taking a nun from a convent. Martin Luther was told of these potential female converts, and made the decision to assist them in getting out of the convent despite the risks.
Over the course of the next two years or so, Dr, Luther found husbands (or other homes) for every nun except one. Katherina von Bora still didn’t have a spouse two years after she got out. Some of Luther’s male friends and colleagues weren’t particularly surprised; to them, Katherina von Bora was entirely too feisty, “bossy”, and a female who didn’t know her place. This isn’t to say that Katherina hadn’t had possible suitors, but for one reason or another they didn’t follow through with marriage. With one, the parent’s didn’t approve; with another, Katherina didn’t approve!
Luther was probably thinking of tearing his hair out at that point, but Katherina gave him a clue towards a possible solution: she informed the Herr Professor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther that she would consent to marry one or the other of two theologians she was acquainted with. One was a colleague of his; the other was him. The saying: “I wish I was a fly on the wall for that conversation”? – oh, yes! I would have really LOVED to have been that fly on that particular wall for that conversation!:-)
To his everlasting credit (in my eyes, anyway), it didn’t scare Martin Luther off. Some of his friends (such as Philip Melancthon) were horrified at the thought of “this female” becoming the wife of their dear friend and colleague… and felt free to let Martin know it. Martin himself, though, seemed to think it might be a good idea, and talked to his father about it. His father, who had never wanted his son to be a monk in the first place, was delighted with the idea…. and urged his son to take the potential bride at her word. So on a June day in 1525, Katherina and Martin were married in a very small ceremony, with his parents and a few friends present (by the way: Philip Melanchton was NOT one of the guests….).
Some have wondered if Martin and Katherina were actually in love with each other when they married; they may not have been, but they certainly fell in love with each other at some point in their marriage. Katherina, the feisty reddish-haired former nun ended up with the very man whose writings had prompted her to leave the convent in the first place. They did live happily ever after, until his death 22 years and 6 children (four surviving into adulthood)later. Oh they had frustrations and pain, but not between them: Martin and Katherina were very happily married, and shared a great deal of love and respect and trust between themselves.
Martin bragged on his wife’s efficiency in running their household (along with their own children, they took in orphaned family members and young religious scholars), to the despair of those male friends who couldn’t grasp the concept of a female being allowed to “boss” her husband. Martin didn’t seem to think it was bossing: he just acknowledged that Katherina was a heck of a lot better at finances and other practical matters than he was. She allowed him to have more time to work on his writings and teaching and preaching; he appreciated that.
Some over the centuries have condemned Katherina von Bora for being a bossy shrew; Martin certainly didn’t think so. Some over the centuries have hurled the accusation of male chauvinism at Martin because of some of his writings; that could be true, except that his actions in his marriage and affectionate regard for his wife showed quite the opposite. Sometimes a man’s actions reveal more depth than a man’s words.
The marriage may have been quiet and simple, but the reaction to it was anything but. There was a huge furor when the news leaked out. Many of the leading theologians and rulers in German lands, and all over Europe, were positively aghast that a former monk and nun would dare to marry. It was considered to be a scandal; certainly among Catholics, but among Protestants as well (including certain of Martin’s friends – who not only didn’t like the marriage, but didn’t like the bride either). On the other hand, it also gave hope to those who were opposed to the idea that clergy couldn’t marry. It established a historical precedent; some Lutheran male ministers have complained that the Catholics have enforced clergy celibacy, but Lutheran pastors have to deal with enforced clergy marriage — well not every one can be happy.
Luckily, for Katherina, the husband that she picked for herself was just the right man for her; a man who was very much her equal, and who showed that he considered her his true partner in marriage. Luckily for history, one of the very first marriages of a member of the clergy proved to be VERY successful and VERY happy.
Happy 489th Anniversary to Katherina and Martin Luther! It’s nice to be able to celebrate a happy marriage once in a while:-) This has always been one of my favorite marriages in history (other than my own parents, of course!); and I think it shows Martin Luther’s most appealing attributes. Katherina has a warm place in my heart: a woman in the 16th century not only picking her own spouse, but picking a man who truly appreciates and honors her for herself:-)

Reflections on history: Thomas Cromwell; Debating on a post…. procrastinating on a post… Writing a post

Reflections on history: Thomas Cromwell; Debating on a post…. procrastinating on a post… Writing a post

I’m sitting here debating what I want to write about – or rather debating on how I will present it. And so, I am procrastinating, as I always have over the years. On a status note on my facebook page, I noted that I have just enough ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) to have trouble concentrating, and just enough OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) to concentrate on the wrong things when I finally do concentrate on something. I don’t think I’m picking the wrong subject this time, but I had so many directions I wanted to go in…. and it hadn’t seemed at first that Thomas would win on this round. I mean after all: tomorrow is Easter, it should be a reflection on my faith or a reflection on hymns, or something really holy. I’ve decided, though, that I want to write about Thomas Cromwell; even though he can be [at the very least] partially blamed for destroying the Catholic way of life in 16th century England. To give Master Cromwell credit (as of April 19, 1540, the Earl of Essex… a peer, no longer just a commoner), he did have an evident intention to clean up the corruption that had built up over the centuries in England – as will happen with ANY religious organization that doesn’t cleanse itself periodically. He wanted the English people to be able to read the Bible in English – that was a major project and dream of his and Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. It is little short of a miracle that he managed that while having to deal with the monarch he worked for – Henry VIII. Henry’s only interest in “reform” was to get rid of his first wife in hopes that his second wife would give him a legitimate male heir, and get the money that the monasteries had in their pockets. Henry didn’t care why the monies had been in their pockets – he just wanted to make sure that they ended up in his. Here’s where I struggle with my fondness for Thomas Cromwell (well: beyond the fact that I have a bit of a crush on a man who lived more than 500 years ago… and I still don’t like his “dark side”): did he help Henry VIII send Anne Boleyn and 4 or 5 innocent men (and that doesn’t even count Thomas More, John Fisher, countless monks, etc.) to death, just to help make Henry happy, and just to get money into the English treasury? And if it was also intended to keep open the chances for Reform of the church, was it worth the almost casual slaughter of so many people? Yet, Thomas More, himself, as Chancellor (after Wolsey was removed from that position), had been a determined hunter of heretics, and seemed to have had no problem with the burning of those he considered heretics. Thomas Cromwell was often accused of helping “heretics” escape the fire. It was even brought up at his trial (but then so was the accusation that he was amassing men to make Lady/Princess Mary his wife and take over the country – one of the more laughable accusations, or would have been if it hadn’t been so pathetic a lie); but there is some hint of independent confirmation about his trying to protect those of protestant persuasion.
So why am I so fond of Thomas Cromwell? Because he’s an example of many who seek the light of Jesus, despite all the baggage one carries from one’s culture. John Foxe hailed him as a Protestant hero – but then John Foxe tended to get carried away when turning his subjects into role models. I doubt that Thomas Cromwell (“Crum” as Henry VIII called him as a nickname) would have recognized himself as the sanctified model that Foxe turned him into. Cromwell himself admitted that he had been a bit of a ruffian in his youth — and I doubt the ruffian ever completely left him:-) It’s one of the things I like about the man: he stayed relatively humble despite the exalted position he ended up attaining…. He didn’t seem to be afraid to acknowledge his own failings (unlike his monarch). I like that kind of person. Someone who seeks after something better, while being unafraid of who he is as a person. It’s up to God to judge Thomas Cromwell now, but if “Crum” was indeed seeking to obey Jesus above all, I consider him a believer and a fellow member of the “cloud of believers” who follows the Risen Christ.

Catherine Winkworth

Catherine Winkworth

Born 1827, died 1878. Translator of hymns. Born near London to a silk merchant’s family; one of 4 daughters. At some point, her family moved to Manchester, England, where she lived the rest of her life. … with one exception. She lived one year in Dresden, Germany. This year, apparently changed her life. She began to translate German hymns into English, so that her fellow English-speakers could get the benefit of the spiritual nourishment of some of the great German hymns. When she died, at age 51, in Geneva, Switzerland, she had translated over 103 hymns, and had compiled three different hymn books. Many of the hymns that she translated are well known, and still sung, today…. almost 200 years after she translated them. They range from Martin Luther’s From Heaven to Earth I come (Von Himmel Hoch, a Christmas carol) to Martin Rinkart’s Now Thank we all our God (Nun Danket alle Gott). She also translated a hymn well loved and used during Advent and Lent (especially Palm Sunday): Lift up Your heads, Ye Mighty Gates. Her purpose in all of this was to share the faith of those who came before her with those who would come after her in the Christian faith. I will be seeking to try to uncover more information about Ms. Winkworth, as I have most definitely benefited personally from her work as a translator of hymns.

It’s all Elizabeth I’s fault !

So what am I blaming poor Elizabeth for?  It’s because of a book that I read when I was 8 years old (remember: I’m 51 now) that I became fascinated with Elizabeth I, and then with her country, and then with her time period, etc., etc., etc.  I’m blaming her for my love of history: of English history, of European history, of Scottish history, of 16th century history, of 15th century history.  Starting to see a pattern here? Image

Once I read about one person in history, I get sucked up in the period in which that person lived. Then I get sucked up into the history of the countries surrounding the country of the person in whom I have gotten interested; and I then get fascinated with the ancestors and descendants (if any) of the person I am reading about.

My parents encouraged and indulged this love of history that I had, and still have  (they both loved history).  When it was a part of American history that I was interested in, they tried to get me to the historical sites which I was reading about. They would buy me books (fiction and non-fiction) about historical topics I was reading about and interested in (on my own; rarely did history class cover what I was studying).  Occasionally, though, I’d get more than a suspicion that Mom thought I took my love of history TOO far — that she thought that I lived too much in the past, so that I wouldn’t have to deal with the present…. (and she thought that to the end of her life).  She had a point, especially when I was younger, but she was not completely correct.

One of the reasons I loved history so much was because I learned about people who overcame phenomenal challenges,  and that encouraged me to believe that my disabilities were merely challenges that did NOT have to keep me from accomplishing good things in my life.  After all, unlike poor Princess Elizabeth, I didn’t have a half sister who had thrown me in the Tower of London and who seemed determined to find an excuse to execute me.  Unlike Queen Elizabeth, I didn’t have a Pope declaring that anyone who killed me was doing God a favor… so I should be able to deal with the (far less severe?) problems that I did have…

I still adore history; and I still get incredibly excited about learning about lives of people who lived long ago.  Two or three years ago, I decided it was finally time to check out what Facebook was about. It was neat to connect with people I hadn’t talked to for ages, and to correspond with relatives I and friends that I hadn’t seen in years. All of this was great (and still is!), but I discovered another use for Facebook:  finding groups of people who had and have the same fascination with history that I did and do.  Talking with people who know as much about my favorite periods as I do, or know even more, and encouraging the love of history in young folks who are just beginning to discover the fascination of history that I’ve been blessed with knowing for all of these years, is an incredible joy to me.

I adore the chance that I am getting to learn about the newest scholars in the fields of history that I’ve known and have loved for so long. I am also enjoying the chance to learn about areas that I have always wanted to know about, but didn’t seem to have access to before.  I love learning the histories of countries that I hadn’t explored before, or had even known about before. I love learning about periods of history that I hadn’t explored in the past.

I also love the opportunity of making friends with people who don’t think I’m nuts for being fascinated with the intricate relationships of those who lived 500+ years ago. It’s neat to talk to people who may be half way across the globe (or almost in my back yard – so to speak) who have this same passionate love for history. I love being able to discuss  historical figures who are almost as real to me as the people I meet on the street with people who have that same interest and fascination.  It fires my imagination, and keeps my intellect sharp.

So for those who have gotten to know me from the various history sites that I am on,  please know how much I appreciate the opportunity to interact with, and learn from, you!  I admit that there are times when I seem to almost trumpet if I find that I am correct in what I had written; I’m not trying to be a braggart (honest!) – I am truly excited to learn that my studies have paid off, and I am genuinely surprised and delighted to learn that I may actually know what I am talking about!  I truly don’t mind being informed that I am wrong either, because I learn that way.  I can’t learn new things if I’m stuck on my own opinion.  I have the friends I have met on these history sites (among others) to thank for giving me the courage and encouragement to start up this blog.

Right now, I’m still working on introductory pieces. I like to let people know where I am coming from. As I get more comfortable, I’ll move into the deeper and more intricate studies.

Oh, by the way: my favorite period of history is still the sixteenth century, and England is still my favorite country to study; for that I may THANK (as well as “blame”) Her Royal Majesty Elizabeth I!