I discovered in my medieval research that there was a surprising ingredient in several everyday items and tasks: URINE! When dying fabrics different colors, tailors would use stale urine from a man. In fact, throughout the 1300s London had buckets in street corners where men would “donate” their urine so that it would collected by dye workers. The reason the use urine to dye fabric is because the ammonia in the urine would make the dye change color. They also used urine while making soaps because the ammonia in the urine acts like a natural bleach. In Tudor kitchens, cooks would use child’s urine to change the color of gelatine molds. It may sound disgusting at first, but this was the norm of Tudor cooking because they valued the presentation and appearance of food rather than the taste and texture. Even if the food did not taste good, it had to look good as though it were part of an art gallery.
Today, I got to handle actual blades at a blade shop in my local mall in order to get more inspiration of how to handle such weapons. For example, I got to touch a Damascus steel knife with an antler handle. The handle was smooth yet had notable ridges while the Damascus steel itself also had a dense network of small ridges due to its multiple layers of steel, which was similar to snake skin. I also got to handle three hand-and-a-half longswords from fantasy films and shows: Jon Snow’s sword Longclaw, Aragorn’s sword Anduril Flame of the West, and Gandalf’s sword Glamdring the Foe Hammer. All of these swords could be held in one hand when one has the proper upper body strength, but you have much more control when they are held with two hands. Some of these swords had oval-shaped handles, which gave a secure grip while some were more rounded, which made it hard to index the edge of the blade. Then things got even better! I got to handle a Japanese katana, which made me feel like I was in an anime! The katana I held had a manta ray skin handle with a brass tsuba (crossguard) while its blade had a fuller running along its spine and a hamon line that ran down the length of the blade, which gave it a distinct yet beautiful design. Compared to the European longswords, the katana’s hilt had a much more secure grip and the overall weapon was much lighter. Also, the store owners were trained martial artists and swordsmen who gave me much needed insight on what kind of fighting styles and techniques were required to use these blades. Overall, this was a productive session that gave me more inspiration for future writing in my fantasy series.
Because I love my pit bulls more than life itself, I decided to include them in my fantasy series. When I updated Numen the Slayer, I made them minor supporting characters that pretty much always accompany the kennelmaster’s daughter Lucille (who I named after one of my deceased German Shepherds). While normally raised and trained as hunting dogs, these hounds also assist the main characters in combat situations. I thought it would be fitting to put my pit bulls in the story because dogs were commonly seen in medieval times. The type of medieval hunting dog that resembled my pit bulls the most was the mastiff, which makes sense since all three of my pit bulls have mastiff in them. Mastiffs were specifically bred to hunt wild boar and their purpose was to hold the pig by either the ears or the back of the neck and hold it down while the hunter finishes it off.
Like any sport, jousting does have the risk of injuring the players. Unlike most sports, jousting has no defense because you are going to get hit and there is nothing you can do to stop it. As a result of this, injuries were quite common back in the day. For example, Henry VIII had at least two known jousting accidents. In the first accident, he forgot to lower his visor and he was struck in the head, which gave him a concussion. In the second accident, his horse collapsed on top of his leg, which crushed it and left him in a constant state of debilitating pain for the rest of his life. Another example of a jousting accident was when King Henry II of France was killed in the very tournament he was hosting. In the epic tournament in my second fantasy book, I am thinking of keeping it authentic and include some jousting accidents.
After tinkering with the massive tournament in the second volume of my fantasy series, I believe I finally came up with the rules for each event. The rules of real-life medieval tournaments were a little complicated for my tastes so I am going to simplify it. For example, in the joust you would earn one point if you strike your opponent in the chest, two points if you strike them in the head, and three if you knock them off their horse. As an added bonus, if you knock your opponent off their horse, you get to hold their horse, armor, and weapons for ransom. If they can pay the ransom, then the match will continue until the final score can be met, but if they can’t then they are disqualified and you win the match by default. Overall, the winner of a joust would be the best out of ten points. In the melee, there would be one-on-one matches between contestants and you need to either strike your opponent five times or knock them unconscious to win. In the archery match, the winner is decided on the best of twenty shots. In the horse race, the winner would be decided on the best of twenty laps. Each event will have a first place, second place, and third place winner. The prizes will consist of ten thousand gold florins for first place, five thousand gold florins for second place, and one thousand gold florins for third. Overall, it is going to be an epic event!
One of the most common and most darkly brutal aspects of the Middle Ages was the usage of torture. It was often a form of punishment and interrogation. The methods that were employed were quite diverse and gruesomely imaginative. Several of them would be considered human rights violations in the modern world. For example, you could burn a person’s eyeballs out of their skull with a white-hot iron, you could flay them, you could stretch them on a rack until their bodies are torn limb from limb, or you could seal the victim in a coffin that has an interior laced with spikes. I am thinking of portraying torture in my third volume, but I will be adding my own personal twist to it with magic. For example, you could cut a person’s toe or finger off then use magic to grow it back. Here’s the twist, even though you would regenerate the injury quickly, you do have the option of regenerating it incorrectly, which would cause severe nerve damage that leaves the victim in a state of constant debilitating pain. With this method, you could keep the victim alive a lot longer and make them feel a lot more physical and psychological pain than you would with conventional methods of torture. There will be scenes in which an assassin is punished in this manner in the third volume of my fantasy series and it will show a dark side to a major character.
After researching the War of the Roses, I thought of including a few elements into the ending of the second volume of my fantasy series. For example, after Henry VII won the crown of England, he married Elizabeth of York, the firstborn daughter of Edward IV. By marrying Elizabeth, Henry united the bloodlines of Lancaster and York and reconciled a divided England after thirty years of bloody civil war. Two years after being crowned, Henry VII’s claim to the throne was challenged by a Yorkist noble called John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln. As a cousin to the late Richard III, John claimed that the late king made him his heir in case Richard died before producing a son. John de la Pole took a very dim view of Henry VII’s claim to the crown and started the first major rebellion of Henry VII’s reign. However, John de la Pole did not have the numbers, support, or resources to challenge Henry on his own. Therefore, he groomed a young man named Lambert Simnel to impersonate one of the Princes in the Tower, which would result in an increase to de la Pole’s army. In the Battle of Stoke Field, Henry VII faced off with John de la Pole, who was massacred along with his men by Henry’s battle-hardened army. Lambert Simnel was pardoned and given the position of scullion and later became a royal falconer. Later, another pretender to the throne named Perkin Warbeck challenged Henry VII before eventually being defeated and executed.
For the second volume of my fantasy series, I am thinking of there being a rebellion early in the reign of the new emperor. I will do this by combining elements of John de la Pole, Perkin Warbeck, and Lambert Simnel into a single character. The only difference will be that this character will not be a pretender. In addition, I am thinking of including a marriage that will reconcile a divided Empire after a violent civil war.