Elizabeth Chadwick Interview

March 1, 2010

HistoricalNovels.info interviews
the author of The Scarlet Lion

author Elizabeth ChadwickIt was great to have Elizabeth Chadwick visit the blog on March 1, 2010, to talk about her novel The Scarlet Lion. The novel is about William Marshal and his wife Isabelle de Clare during the reign of King John of England.

William and Isabelle make a wrenching decision when King John demands one of their sons as a hostage. As a mother, if you were in Isabelle's place, would you defy the king or send your son to court?

As a modern mother I'd probably defy the king, but as a medieval mother, I don't honestly know. It would depend on my conditioning and the fact that I'd been raised to accept my husband's word as law. However strong a woman was back then, a man still had the final say. Refusal could bring down all sorts of repercussions on the individual and the family too.

Around the time that Isabelle's sons were taken hostage, Maude de Braose received a similar demand from King John. She refused to hand over her son and went on the run. Eventually, both she and the young man were captured, flung in prison and starved to death. Maude's husband fled to France and the family lost everything. I believe Isabelle's maternal instinct would have been to fight for her sons tooth and nail, but I also believe she was held back both by William's point of view and knowing that if she did refuse, she would only increase the heat for the rest of the family.

Times change, but mothers-in-law seem to be eternal. What inspired your portrayal of Isabelle's mother, Aoife, and her behavior toward William?

As I've sometimes mentioned, I use psychic research and this was how Aoife came over when I used that resource I simply wrote her as I found her.

Here's an abbreviated paragraph taken from that research, covering the time when William and Isabelle visited her in Ireland: "She's a whingy, peevy sort of person who wants to feel important. She wants to see her daughter because it's years since she's seen her and she wants things doing. She uses her husband (deceased) like a chip on her shoulder. 'If my husband was alive I'd have this and I'd have that and my daughter would still be here.' She's constantly stirring the pot. She's an interfering mother-in-law and tries to drive a wedge between William and Isabelle. William is above all this, but it's still damaging. She's trying to get a sphere of power in the family."

How on earth did medieval aristocrats keep cloth-of-silver from tarnishing?

I have wondered that myself and I am afraid I don't know the answer - or if they did anything at all. If anyone out there does know, please tell me!

Review of The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick

See listing for The Scarlet Lion at Powell's Books

See listing for The Scarlet Lion at Amazon.com

Interview with author Elizabeth Chadwick about The Greatest Knight

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