“But I am a Writer!” The Pestilence of Praise

Hot Takes (noun)
Definition:
“A quickly produced, strongly worded, and often deliberately provocative or sensational opinion or reaction (as in response to current news)”
Merriam-Webster (1st use 2012)


Nurturing, supportive, positive, respectful, encouraging, non-judgmental…

Has anyone noticed how often these emollient adjectives pop up in the descriptions of writing courses, classes, critique groups, and workshops?

Writers do suffer from touchy and tender sensibilities, don’t they? And that’s before they get those rejections. It’s weird. Writers are expected to come up with stirring plots filled with characters who overcome daunting challenges and tackle vicious villains but need to be emotionally coddled to write them. That soothing vocabulary of the world of writerly advice got me thinking…

 

I

Of course, I’d like to be nurtured, supported and encouraged as much as the next five year old, but I am not. Five years old that is. I do have a nodding acquaintance with several languages, but I didn’t start learning English until I turned fifteen and can have a tin ear for its syntax, tenses, and articles. And I do write scenes that just need to go. Far away. Fortunately, I’ve found people who show me—and I mean show exactly—all the places where I laid eggs.

Over the years, I’ve also read and graded my share of crappy undergraduate essays. Those, too, taught me a lot. They were produced by young things who all got A’s in high school English but wouldn’t know a verb if it bit them on the ankle, couldn’t accept that their purported sentences at some point needed one, and their creative prose never came near the assigned topic. They wrote word salads.

“But I am a writer!” exclaimed The Writer once upon a time when a Mercy C landed on their document.
“Yes, and not a very good one,” the Merciless Professor replied.

Many arguments followed, to no avail.

Praise me Not

Lately, I sat quietly (almost) through a few writerly workshops, and occasionally had been asked to read and comment on other writers’ writing. Some of it has been workshopped, beta read, critique group groped, edited, and reportedly praised—and it’s bad.
Bad at an undergraduate essay-level, and bad when it came to what the writer aimed to describe or express. Why is that, I wondered, chagrined.

Then it came to me.

Could these Authors-in-Waiting have all received nothing but nurturing, supportive, positive, respectful, encouraging, non-judgmental clap trap about their writing?

Has it ever occurred to any of the writing gurus out there that what the Authors-in-Waiting really need is someone to be, well, actually honest with them? For once, I’d like to see this sort of a writing workshop or critique group advertised:

This workshop will slaughter on the spot your darlings. We will judge harshly your word salad, your clunkers, wrong words choices, non-sentences, scenes that go nowhere and everywhere, that repeat the obvious, are overstuffed or undernourished. We will skewer your plot that has holes to drive a truck through, and your characters with no hint of a character. Unless you write fantasy or sci-fi, your characters can’t walk through a steel door or do any of the things that the laws of physics, logic, and the spiffy attire you gave them prohibits. No, we don’t care if ‘that’s your style,’ or if ‘that’s the way you write,’ or because ‘writing is subjective.’ You write crap, my friends. This workshop will tell you and show you how not to.

But Hana, you wail, there are ways of crushing egos the diplomatic way.

Death by Diplomacy

Yes, of course there are ways of being diplomatic. After all, the definition of diplomacy is saying the nastiest things in the nicest way. However, that’s for diplomats. They understand the lingo. Many aspiring writers don’t grasp the lingo of writerly advice or are in de-Nile about it.

The result is that instead of telling—and showing—how not to keep re-writing the same crap, the actual advice comes swaddled in all that nurturing, supportive, positive, respectful, encouraging, non-judgmental stuff. And the Authors-in-Waiting keep taking classes and writing the same crap which is great for the gurus/faculty, workshops and writing classes.

But not their writing.

Yes, I do realize that kind of pellucid comments would conflict with the business model of writers’ workshops, based on the imperative of ‘student retention.’ People don’t pay to hear that their stuff is crap. They pay to hear that it has a potential.

You Too Got Potential

Speaking of which…. Consider the couched comments from a writing ‘academy’ offered by a famous literary agency. For a modest charge (depending your definition of modest) those with a work-in-progress who had already committed up to 30,000 words, it is “Offering an honest, no-nonsense assessment of whether your work in progress has potential.”

Well, ok. Shouldn’t it be ‘whether or not’? But I digress. Why the need to assure the Author-in-Waiting of ‘an honest’ appraisal? Here is a multiple choice:

a) They were going to offer a dishonest assessment otherwise

b) It’s a warning to fragile egos that honesty is coming their way

c) It’s a CYA in case the Author-in-Waiting suffers trauma from inadvertent or actual honesty

d) An assurance that we are really not just taking your money in exchange for telling you that you’ve got potential

e) All of the above

f) None of the above

Why add ‘no-nonsense’? Isn’t it the same thing as being honest? And about that WIP ‘potential.’ Potential for what? Anything has a potential. Consider that egg. One can lay one but no amount of sitting on it will make it hatch. Same goes for writing. Sometimes you’ve just got to scramble the whole thing.

Here is another thought. If the Authors-in-Waiting plucked out of their souls 30,000 words (that’s by my count 130-ish pages, double spaced, 12 Times New Roman) and still don’t know where they are going with them, chances are they have just laid a clutch of 30,000 eggs. Now what are the chances that their oeuvre will always show that ‘potential’?

For the Author-in-Waiting...

How about before writing 130 pages, one reads a lot of stuff? A lot.

Then get some basic ‘how to write stuff’ books’ They are out there, and some are better than others. You will know after you read a few. Take notes and study them like you would for a test. Because you are. If you don’t, you just haven’t done your high school homework and are paying for admission to an undergraduate class.

If you did ten years of research for your novel but haven’t bothered to do basic research on how a novel works, you will just continue to lay eggs. They could get nested in a hay stack of that nurturing, supportive, positive, respectful, encouraging, non-judgmental appraisal that may sound sort of like this:

I think you have the beginnings of an interesting idea here. There’s certainly a strong concept at the heart of the novel, and it’ll be interesting to see how you can develop this. It’s essential, though, that the worldbuilding is done properly, and that early issues with character and perspective are ironed out as you continue.

Well, yes, that is all interesting. Let’s dump the hay load.

  1.  The beginning of an interesting idea? Really? After 130 pages into it?
  2.  Does the reviewer think it is an interesting idea?
  3. Or is it in fact an interesting idea?.
  4. Isn’t it the same thing as ‘a strong concept at the heart of the novel?’
  5. Listen. Your worldbuilding (aka setting) doesn’t make logical sense. You’ve got issues with your characters straight out of the gate, and you head hop.

There, wasn’t that simple? Of course the Authors-in-Waiting won’t hear that. Instead, what are the chances they’ll get a pitch for an ‘advanced’ class?
So what to do, what to do…

Writing in Groups?

Here’s my take on writing classes/critique groups in general.

Writing classes serve principally as social occasions for us solitary scribblers. Which is fine. They do bestow a sense of validation that we ‘really mean to finish it this time.’ They do give us a reason to plant our butts in a chair since we’ve paid for it and/or have to produce something by the next meeting. Yes, group accountability is a great thing but doesn’t guarantee that the writing will get better, and better, and better.

That’s because the usual mode of a writing class seems to be the reading of each other’s pages, often out loud, and then commenting on them. Here is the problem as I see it.

  •  Most people sound dreadful when they read out loud.
  • You get comments from people who know as little or less than you do about writing.
  •  The comments are expected to be nurturing, supportive, positive, respectful, encouraging, non-judgmental. It’s the only prerequisite for the class. So next week, five more pages of the same crap.

On the flip side, a chorus of beginning writers who have ‘been told/read somewhere that’s the way you are supposed to write it,’ can suck out an aspiring writer’s unique voice, creativity and originality. Those first drafts aren’t always crap, but they can be turned into one by too many mediocre cooks.

But I am a Writer!

What about that “But I am a Writer”?

We’ve all heard of authors who enjoy the schadenfreude of telling a story of how someone once told them that they would never be a writer, almost crushing their writerly little souls? And lo and behold, they became one?

Here is a thought.

Is it at all possible that since then they had in fact chopped, chiseled, and honed their writing until it was good enough not to choke a gopher, most of the time? And maybe somewhere along the way that involved less of that nurturing, supportive, positive, respectful, encouraging, non-judgmental stuff and more of a hard scrambling of the eggs they laid along the way.

For all I know, that student could have become a best-selling author. I hope so.

 

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The One Thing Historical Fiction Writers Ought to Know

The Gender-Genre Wars

In a recent issue of Writer’s Digest, literary agent Irene Goodman offered her advice on “16 Things All Historical Fiction Writers Need to Know.” Among them was the caution (?) that

“This kind of fiction requires high quality writing. It’s not like genre writing and it’s not something you can just dash off. It requires education, thought, and skill.”

Oh, dear. What “genre writing” could one be referring to where education, thought, and skill are not required?

Ms. Goodman further tells us that “In the last several years, historical fiction has focused mainly on women. That is starting to change. You still need that hook, though.”

Picture1

The fact is that many writers and readers of historical fiction are women. And women have written fiction ‘focused mainly on women’ for a very looooong time. They wrote women back into history in the ‘genre writing’ we today call romance. And it is romances in the broadest sense that serve as the foundation on which rests our current concepts of historical fiction.

 

Georgette and Me

Georgette and Me @ Osher

Since I have just finished my own little tirade on the subject of “Lesser Lady Novelists,” (those scribbling women who write for women), the statements perfectly illustrated my points: the old gender-genre war is alive and well.

 

And that is not an accident.

There is already a complex relationship between history as a subject and as literature, and that relationship is further ‘complicated’ by historical fiction often written by women for a female audience focusing principally on female characters.

What continues to surprise—ok, irks me—is that the many writers and the ‘literary world’ which ought to know something about the development of historical fiction readily jump on the bandwagon of rejecting the description of a story set in the past as ‘historical fiction’ lest that oeuvre be confused with, perish the thought, ‘romance.’
Wallace

That type of literature is dismissed euphemistically as ‘genre,’ and more routinely as ‘Mills & Boon, escapist, tosh, trashy, encouraging dangerous fantasies, middle class and middlebrow, chick-lit-in-corsets, bodice rippers, or as one reviewer on Goodreads put it, ‘lady novels.’

 

The dreaded specter of being mistaken for a ‘historical romance’ leads both male and female writers to declare that they are not writing historical fiction, they are writing fiction. That of course does not prevent them from saying something silly about what the history in their story is, isn’t, or ought to be which is then reported as a profound insight by ‘literary’ reviewers.

 

No wonder that Evan S. Connell hastened to assure the reader of his novel Deus lo Volt , Chronicle of the Crusades—

I think of this as a book about the Crusades, not an ‘historical novel’—a term that suggests imaginary experiences and unlikely conversations. Monologues and dialogues in the book are paraphrased or condensed from those in medieval documents. Every meeting, every conversation, every triumph or defeat, no matter how small, was recorded centuries ago. Most—indeed, nearly all—have been forgotten, removed from our sight, as Princess Anna notes in the epigraph.

Well, we could check to see what Princess Anna really said, but never mind. Obviously, McConnell protests too much, as do others, keen to separate themselves from ‘those novels.’
SlammerkinWhen The Washington Post Book World reviewed Emma Donoghue’s Slammerkin, its praise came with a condemnation of the other ‘genre’ on the novel’s cover page.

What a great read this book is: Think Forever Amber skewed with an elegant noir twist and informed by a high literary intelligence. Slammerkin is pulpy at heart, but …Donoghue ….elevated her racy story …close to art. This absorbing, bawdy novel gives new meaning to the term costume drama.

The Reading Group Guide at the back asks, “Should novels like Slammerkin be put in the category of historical fiction, or does that make them sound formulaic?”

 

Pass the smelling salts, Miss Scarlett

SetonSimilarly, in 2004, Philippa Gregory wrote an introduction to the re-issue of Anya Seton’s Katherine, first published in 1954. Gregory writes that reading Seton is ‘an escapist experience, but not in a derogatory sense,” and distinguishes between ‘high quality historical fiction and one that draws “…on long frocks and big hats, horse drawn carriages, and high jeopardy….”

 

Salts, please!
Are there degrees of escapism one can embrace as oppose to deplore? Isn’t what one considers ‘high quality historical fiction’ ultimately in the eyes of the reader?

Given the social context of this women-centered genre, according to an informative article about Seton, it is not surprising that Seton herself has called her works “biographical novels” and distinguished them from what she called a “standard costume piece or historical romance”—because her novels involved research into facts, dates, and places.

Ironically, despite her efforts, her novels remain shelved “among heaving bosoms and lantern-jawed rogues,” and therefore they “rarely received literary respect” even while they have influenced a number of contemporary writers.

The quotes, questions, and statements reveal a lot about the persistent efforts to distinguish ‘historical fiction’ from the Forever Amber types (remembers that one?), the pulpy, racy, and bawdy costume dramas, and formulaic women’s fiction.

That is unfortunate.

In one of the and earliest studies of popular culture, John G. Cawelti argues that ‘formulaic’ is a descriptive term which is not to be understood in the usual ‘derogatory sense’ that classifies literature on a snobby scales of approbation.

Cooper &Short

Similarly, current scholarship in popular culture and women and gender studies revealed those ‘romances’ to be a lot more complex than mere escapism and formulaic costume dramas of “… long frocks and big hats, horse drawn carriages, and high jeopardy.”

Gregory

If that is so, does that mean that in ‘historical fiction’ everyone goes about the world naked, on foot, and faces absolutely no jeopardy whatsoever?

In 1992, Jayne Ann Krentz (aka Amanda Quick and Jayne Castle) in a preface to Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women puts it succinctly—

…society has always felt free to sit in judgment not only on the [romance] literature but on the reader herself….It labels the books as trash and the readers as unintelligent, uneducated, unsophisticated or neurotic. The fact that so many women persist in reading and enjoying romance novels in the face of generations of relentless hostility says something profound not only about women’s courage but about the appeal of the books.
These deal with moral and ethical issues surrounding women’s lives that remain very much at issue today; the sovereignty over one’s own body, legal and political personhood, economic and legal inequalities based on class structure and gender.

Isn’t that what historical fiction does? It remains a story of men and/or women shaped and surrounded by all those ‘facts, dates, and places’ we educated, skilled and thoughtful folks add to make our stories ‘authentic.’ And often, the clue to that is in the cover–or not.

Dunnett
So can we, at least as writers, be less snooty about our ‘genre’? After all, there are historians who consider what we write tosh and tripe for the middleblows—despite all those facts, dates, and places.

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Advice on How to Write Historical Fiction–Not

Writing is easy, writing well is less so.

Since I didn’t begin to learn English until I was 15 years old, it’s been an interesting and uphill struggle to put words on page. Every time I launch into prose, I hear Professor Henry Higgins berating me—

By right she should be taken out and hung,
For the cold-blooded murder of the English tongue.

Therefore I felt a particular tingle of pleasure  (yes, I am that shallow) to encounter this “Sample Historical Fiction Dialogue,” contained in on-line advice on ‘how to write historical fiction.’

Sample of historical fiction dialogue

 

The posting reassures one that the advice is actually ‘expert reviewed’ by an “MFA candidate in Creative Writing.”

By the way, did anyone notice that there has been much ‘how-to’ and ‘advice’ offered lately on writing historical fiction ? A perusal of the ‘literature’—and I confess to have done my share—finds that some is  more ‘creative’ than others. More on that perhaps later…

So…given the fact that the ‘advice’ was vetted by an ‘MFA candidate in Creative Writing,’ I thought to turn it into a bit of ‘creative editing’ of my own. And yes, I am that shallow…

The words Hello I Am An Expert written on a red nametag or sticker for a consultant or other business professional to wear and solicit new clients and business for his firm or practice


 

 [The Story of a Dead Dog, Five ‘as’-es, and Maybe a Dog-headed Man and some Snakes]

“What in tarnation…” [our hero is a polite one for reasons to be discovered below] said Jack to himself [this can be omitted completely]  as [#1] he hurriedly to [oh dear] put his pants on [split? but excusable; still, why wasn’t he wearing pants? Wait for it…]  and buckle [tense, tense !] his holster around his waist.

His dog, Ranger, [since the dog is also named below, can omit the name, or vice versa] must have sensed something too as [#2] it [is the dog an it or is it a he or a she?] started barking, pawing at the door [comma?] trying to get out.  [One presumes he was trying to get out rather than in, in which case pawing at the door should be enough].

“Ranger, [yes, we know his name is Ranger] down boy [we now know it’s a he not an it] ,” shot Jack firmly [did Jack just shoot his dog, and ‘firmly’ at that?] as [#3] he tied a leash to Ranger’s [yes, we know the dog’s name is Ranger.…] collar. [Does Jack plan to drag his dead dog by the leash?]

“If a fight’s what they want, a fight’s what they’ll get,,” [no commas, not even two, please] he said as [#4] he finished up [Finished up what? The above action of tying the leash was a completed action] and stroked his furry dog’s head [so, Jack in fact had a dog’s head—which was furry. Or the dead dog was furry? Or the dead dog’s head was furry, as opposed to what? Mangy? Bald? Shaved? Dogs usually have furry heads, even dead ones, no?]

He reached for his shotgun [Who? Ranger did? Depends on whose furry head we are talking about, doesn’t it? ] and his wide-brimmed hat [to cover up his furry head?] before giving the cabin one last look-around [action sequence—first put on the hat, then look around]

Then, with a deep breath, he opened the cabin door and stepped outside [yes, one presumes he stepped outside. He wouldn’t have stepped inside, would he? In fact, we don’t need the ‘stepped’ at all]

The harsh midday sun shone bright [as opposed to shining darkly?] but Jack Preacher [head hop?] did not look away. [Was he staring at the sun?]

Ranger [yes, still Ranger even though he was shot previously and was presumably dragged out the door] barked at the riders [we gather then that Jack Preacher was looking at the sun since he had not noticed the riders until Ranger did, despite being shot], who seemed oblivious to the canine [as opposed to a feline? Since they were oblivious, were they deaf?]

The leash tugged at Preacher’s grip, [that is one magic leash] his fist all tensed up just like his jaw. [do you ‘tense’ a fist or do you ‘clench’ it? Can you ‘tense’ a jaw?]

“Gentlemen,” said Preacher, nodding his head to the mounted strangers [wasn’t he staring at the sun? Anyway, we know they were mounted because they were called ‘riders’]

“Jack Preacher,” said the rider on the right [whose right?] with a low grumbling [he just got there. Why is he grumbling about it? Was he saddle sore?] voice [did he say it ‘in’ a ‘rumbling’ or ‘grumbling’ voice?]. “I see that you are still above snakes.” [were there serpents about  the place and was Jack Preacher given to hovering above them?]

The other riders all snickered menacingly [how did they manage to do that?] except the one on the left [whose left?], who seemed to be eyeing [was he or wasn’t he?] Jack’s rifle [shotgun?] with caution. The rider with the low rumbling [aha!] voice started again. [started again what? His horse? A car?]

“The auger sent us here, in case you were wonderin’,” [was it a Roman soothsayer or a drill bit that sent them?  If I were Jack, I’d be wondering myself] said the rider [is that the aforementioned rider? Then why mention him…again] as [#5] he spat on the ground.[‘as’ in talking and spitting at the same time?]  Jack noticed everyone else except him dismounting. [good for Jack to notice that everyone was dismounting except who? Who’s him? Was Jack dismounting? Was he dismounting from the snakes above which he continued to hover?]

“So,” answered Jack Preacher. [was there a question? I don’t remember a question; and isn’t that ‘so’ a bit too—now?]

All eyes were on him. [Are those the dismounted eyes?]

“Let’s dance.” [aha! The purpose of the visit is revealed at last!]

The End

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The Lusignans of Poitou

LofP

The recent developments in the Middle East revived academic and public interest in the West’s previous encounters with that part of the world. These events created something of a cottage industry of  histories and novels recounting the crusades, particularly the events surrounding the Third Crusade.

In that episode, everyone has their favorite heroes and villains. It also puts a twist on the adage that victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan…

Soft cover edition

…with different title

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Henry II of England, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard the Lionheart and “bad” King John are familiar figures to historians and fans of historical fiction, but their vassals, the Lords of Lusignan, are often forgotten—or more often portrayed as the villains in a medieval morality play.

Hardly surprising since the Lusignans, allegedly descendants from the half-serpent Mélusine, more than contributed to the turbulent and pivotal events in 12th and 13th century France, England, and the Holy Land. Not only did they repeatedly challenge royal authority, they managed to acquire crowns of their own through marriages to the heiress-queens of Jerusalem, founded the royal dynasty on Cyprus, ruled the Kingdom of Armenia, and became half-brothers and sisters of the King of England.

 Handsome, violent, treacherous, yet brave fighters and pious crusaders—and unfashionably faithful to their wives—the Lusignan lords of Poitou draw the writer and the reader into the triumphs and tragedies of medieval Europe and the beleaguered Byzantine Empire.

Who are these Guy(s)?

small faceAt Easter 1180, ‘against custom,’ Princess Sybilla of Jerusalem, the sister of the Leper King, “hurriedly” married Guy de Lusignan—because they had already shared bed and her brother had threatened to kill him.

Seven years later, with Guy wearing the crown matrimonial of Jerusalem, disaster struck the Holy Land when Saladín all but wiped out the Christian army under Guy’s leadership at the Battle of Hatin. The Christians lost Jerusalem, the Holy Cross, much of the Holy Land, and in the judgment of posterity, their already sketchy reputation, all in one swoop.

Professor Sir Steven Runciman wrote in A History of the Crusades regarding the marriage of Sybilla and Guy, described to her as a youth of extraordinary good looks and charm,

 “The King, her brother, protested in vain; for Guy, as anyone could see, was a weak and foolish boy. The Palestinian barons were furious to realize that they might have as their future king this youngest son of a petty French noble whose only distinction was his descent from the water-fairy Melusine.”

More recently, Prof. Jonathan Riley-Smith offered a rather different view.

 “If the nobles of the kingdom of Jerusalem really did think this, they could not have been more wrong. Guy and Aimary came from a remarkable family. They were related by blood to the counts of Tripoli and the king of England, and by marriage to the king of Jerusalem, and they had distinguished crusading pedigrees.”

In the previous hundred years, their father, grandfather, great-grandfatheMills.picturers and a horde of relatives took part in the First and Second crusades, and fought in Spain against the Moors in. In  fact, their father had been captured  in Syria and died a prisoner of the Muslims in 1164 (the ‘missing’ Hugh VIII).

As Professor Riley-Smith describes them, “The Lusignans were typical in that they could be at the same time ferociously aggressive in pursuit of rights or territorial ambitions and genuinely pious.”

One of the numerous Lusignans called Hugh (Hugh VI) was in referred to as Hugh the Devil by the monks of the Abbey of Saint Maixent with whom he was in constant conflict and repeatedly threatened with excommunication by Pope Paschal II.  His son led a “savage little war” against the duke of Aquitaine.

Not surprisingly, they also became, along with the usual Poitevin contingent of baronial malcontents, a thorn in the side of the Angevin, Plantagenet kings, and Capetian kings.

The Age of Heiresses:

Considering the Lusignans’ meteoric rise to prominence, their motto could easily be cherchez la femme since one fictional and a number of actual women were instrumental in elevating the men of this family to the positions they had ultimately reached.

It was their actual ancestress, Almondis of La Marche who created a nexus of family connections, thanks to the husbands she had married, not exactly in canonical succession:

  • Hugh V of Lusignan with whom she had two sons (Hugh VI was the elder)
  • Pons of Toulouse (three sons and a daughter)
  • Raymond Berengar of Barcelona (two sons)

She was apparently repudiated by Hugh V on the grounds of consanguinity, but in Prof. Riley-Smith’s opinion, it was because of her ‘overbearing’ personality and states that she was referred to as a ‘bolter,’ going from husband to husband.

She was murdered, supposedly by her stepson, Oct. 16, 1071.

 “Unknowns from Nowhere” ?

As the result of Almondis’s ‘bolting,’ almost everybody in this tale of the rise of the Lusignans, whether they be their opponents or allies, were related, including Richard the Lionheart and Sybilla of Jerusalem.

Prof. Riley-Smith therefore concludes, “whatever else they may have been, the Lusignans were not unknowns from nowhere.”

So…who are these Guy(s)?

Several specific events/incidents created the Lusignans’ reputation and laid the foundation of their historical and fictional depictions:

  • …the latest?

    The killing of Patrick, the earl of Salisbury in a Lusignan ambush in 1168

  • Their role in the King John’s losing the duchy of Normandy to King Philip of France in 1204
  • Their ‘guilt’ in losing most of the Holy Land to the Muslims in 1187 at the Battle of Hattin, labeled as one of the great disasters in history.
  • Their association with the most famous 39 clause of the Magna Carta,
  • Their contribution to the folklore legend of Mélusine

 

 

The Lusignans offer the sort of rabbit hole into which a historical fiction novelist can slide and happily wallow in the fascinating contradiction, and just plain silliness, that had become attached to their very name.

Sources:

Steven Runchiman, A History of the Crusades, voll. II (1951).

“The Crusading Heritage of Guy and Aimary of Lusignan,” in Cyprus and the crusades. Papers given at the international conference ‘Cyprus and the crusades’, Nicosia, 6–9 September, 1994. by N. Coureas and J. Riley-Smith. (Nicosia: Cyprus Research Centre and the Society for the Study of the Crusades and the Latin East, 1995)

 

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