The Priestley Riots

Following a dinner to celebrate the storming of the Bastille two years earlier, the Priestley Riots broke out in Birmingham on the night of 14 July 1791 and engulfed the city for the next three days. Birmingham was a somewhat divided city in the 18th century, and rioting seemed to be something the citizens did fairly frequently. Clashes were most often between Dissenters (Protestants who … Continue reading The Priestley Riots

Cadfael: A Morbid Taste for Bones

hqdefaultFor those trivia lovers, A Morbid Taste for Bones is the very first Cadfael mystery, though it wasn’t the first one adapted for television.

Shrewsbury. The monks are having a medieval blood drive by the look of it. Actually, they’re just being bled because…I don’t know, it’s Tuesday and that’s what they do? One of the monks suddenly gets up and has some sort of fit. Cadfael is summoned and holds him down, shoving a stick in between his teeth and calming him with poppy juice. Jerome thinks the guy was in the grips of some sort of religious ecstasy, while Cadfael thinks he was just weakened and loopy from blood loss. I’m surprised nobody thinks witchcraft was at work, but then, maybe they though no spell could be effective in such a holy place.

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Cadfael: The Devil’s Novice

CadfaelA well-dressed man arrives on horseback at a modest estate—Ashby Manor—and wastes no time making it clear he’s a snob and a half. His name’s Peter Clemence, and he’s coolly greeted by Ashby’s proprietor, his cousin, Leoric. Leoric introduces his family: his ward, Isobel, younger son Meriet, and his clearly much favoured older son, Tristan. Tristan’s pretty fiancée, Rosana, strolls over and Peter kind of hits on her before he’s hustled away by Leoric.

At the abbey, Cadfael gets a visit from Hugh Beringar and Sergeant Warden. Beringar’s heading to Westminster to give an accounting of the shire. Cadfael rather unthinkingly asks who’ll be in charge of keeping the peace and Warden’s like, uh, I’m right here? Cadfael’s response is a definite, oh, yeah, well, I guess you’re better than nothing. Though barely. Nice, Cadfael.

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Catholic? Protestant? Who Knows?

After about 20 years of experimenting with Protestantism, the English Parliament once again declared Catholicism to be the country’s official religion on November 12, 1555. If it hadn’t been for Henry VIII’s crazed need to have a son, the country might very well be Catholic to this day. Henry, after all, was a devout Catholic, even writing a treatise on the religion that got him … Continue reading Catholic? Protestant? Who Knows?