The Dark Side of Medieval History


A very special Tuesday Treat for you all. Today I am thrilled today to welcome Elise Cyr to the blog.

Welcome Elise.

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As both a reader and writer of historical romance, I am not immune to the call of the past.

I love being swept up into such stories—not only do I invariably learn something, but I also find the historical details help reinforce the idea that though times have changed, humanity has not. The same impulses that guide our behavior today can be found in the people who lived decades, even centuries ago, tying us all together across the ages. While I read and write primarily for escapism, I am also trying to recreate that connection to times long past.

The middle ages have been my focus for a number of years. For me, that time period comes closest to evoking the fantasy world of fairy tales, which I eagerly consumed as a young girl. But even though it’s easy to be drawn into the adventure and romance of medievals, it is important to remember that many less than palatable aspects of the age have been blunted by the passage of time.

Medieval times is also known as the Dark Ages. Following the decline of the Roman Empire, historians often point to the cultural and economic deterioration that occurred throughout Western Europe. The term also refers to the “dark” coloration that predominates the art of the age, as well as the fact that so few historical records survive, historians are “in the dark” about a lot of aspects of the time period.

Most people could only afford to focus on their survival. The line between life and death was often a slim one in medieval times. Crops failed, superstition and herb lore was the only answer to disease, and there was always someone higher up on the food chain who could cause you harm. People did what they had to do for shelter, food and safety. This means the love and romance we see in medievals was often a luxury only nobles could afford to act on, since their more basic needs were already met.

Who wrote historical accounts is almost as important as what they say. The scarcity of medieval accounts is further compounded by the fact that the victors often rewrite history to their liking. Case in point, William of Normandy’s conquering of England, which is central to my medieval romance Siege of the Heart. When researching the book, I had to be careful to scrutinize my sources to ensure I was taking both the Norman and the conquered Anglo-Saxon perspectives into account.

And yet… Despite all these difficulties with writing about medieval times, it is still my favorite time period. Where else can you find castles, knights, adventures, and a love that’s worth fighting for? You’ll find those very things in Siege of the Heart, and I hope you fall in love with the time period just as I have.

Thank you, Daisy, for hosting me!


About Siege of the Heart

He fought for king and country, but that battle was nothing compared to the one he’ll wage for a woman’s heart.
Still reeling from the news of her father’s death during the Norman Conquest, Isabel Dumont is unprepared when trouble arrives at the castle gates. Alexandre d’Évreux, a Norman knight with close ties to England’s new king, has arrived to secure the land and the loyalties of the Dumont family. Desperate to protect her people, Isabel strives to keep the confounding knight at arm’s length and hide the truth about her father’s death.
For Alexandre, the spoils of war come with more than just a generous gift of land. They come with Isabel Dumont. Vowing to marry only for love, Alexandre finds himself in a difficult situation as a conqueror granted dominion over the land and its people. Isabel is the one person capable of helping him win the regard of those living in the war-torn country…if he chooses to accept her.
Just when Alexandre finds a spark of hope that he and Isabel have a chance at love, she vanishes. His quest to find her plunges him deeper into the conquest’s fallout. Was she taken? Or did she leave?
CONTENT WARNING: Entering into this novel may cause extreme affection toward knights of old, admiration for strong-willed women, and the overwhelming belief that love really can conquer all.

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About Elise Cyr

I’ve always loved adventure, romance, and happy endings. I write primarily in the medieval period. Because there’s still so much we don’t know about that time in history, the writer’s imagination is essential for fleshing out the research and making it come to life on the page. Plus swords and castles are just plain fun.

I live in New Mexico with my husband and the sweetest dog ever. When I’m not writing, I hike, bike, cook, and (of course) read. Siege of the Heart is my debut medieval romance. You can follow me on Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, or check out my blog.

Image courtesy of Clarita of Morgue File.


13 thoughts on “The Dark Side of Medieval History

  1. Hi Elise,
    My love of the period was really cemented at Kenilworth Castle in England. The castle is predominantly a ruin now but I got the real sense by touching those walls of the life that had passed around them

  2. I’ve always had a soft sot for medieval times, despite the darkness that was present. I guess, because as you say, they seem most closely related to fairy tales with castles and knights. Great post, Elise, and I love the content warning.

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