My work with historical writer
Elizabeth Chadwick

" Anyone can be trained to run faster than they do at the moment, but not
everyone is going to wind up in the final of the 100 metres at the Olympic
Games. Even with all the training and determination in the world, unless you
have the right kind of fast-twitch muscle, you're not going to get there.
My friend and colleague Alison King has that fast-twitch muscle, except
in her case it is an ability to tune into the past and see it as it was."

Elizabeth Chadwick

Alison King and Elizabeth Chadwick
Taking questions from the audience during a talk at Leicester University
Elizabeth Chadwick and I did for the RNA Conference in 2007

Elizabeth Chadwick is more than a work colleague; she has been a dear friend since long before she had her writing published and before I knew how to put my sensitivity to practical use.

From when our children were very small, we have been meeting up every week for a coffee and chat.

During one of these chats in 2004 I asked how her writing was going that week and she explained she was having difficulty finding out about the character of a woman who had actually lived and was the mistress of the protagonist's brother in her work in progress "The Greatest Knight." The lives of Medieval women tend not to be well documented, and this, being the mistress, she was obscure in conventional history.

Through my work as a therapist, I already knew I could make an energy connection to help clients to work through troubled relationships by tuning in to the other person and acting as an intermediary to improve communications between them. Clients often said that the idioms and speech patterns as well as the content which I brought through were exactly as that person usually spoke. They were surprised to find the same effect, even if the other person were no longer alive. To me, that made sense, for in the realms of metaphysical or unseen energy, there is no such thing as time, space or matter as we understand it in the material world. So, following the logic of this, I could just as easily tune in to someone who had been dead for nearly a thousand years as to someone who had lived relatively recently.

When Elizabeth accepted my offer to tune in to the character and then took the results seriously, it was an unexpected opportunity to make positive use of my abilities.

She gave me a name, date and place where I would be likely to make the right connection. Eventually my inner vision settled and I saw something that looked like a bag on a string being swung round and round above her head by a woman in medieval clothes and that she was standing on a grassy hillside with a castle behind her further up the hill. At first I thought this might be a medieval version of lettuce drying - where we might put the lettuce in a tea towel and, holding the edges of the tea towel, spin it round and round in order to expel water by centrifugal force. The fact that the pouch at the end looked brown and very round and the strap by which it swung was narrow and longer than I'd expect, I put down to medieval differences.

It wasn't until Elizabeth said,"could it be a lure for a bird of prey?" that the truth dawned on me. By asking further questions, we were able to see who she was with to find out about her feelings and her life in general

As Elizabeth was pleased with my work and was getting extra perspectives and information she could get nowhere else, we set up further sessions and have been doing this regularly up to the present time. To date, I have provided Akashic research for Elizabeth Chadwick's novels "The Greatest Knight", "The Scarlet Lion", "A Place Beyond Courage", "The Time of Singing", "To Defy a King" and "Lady of the English".

The result of these sessions is that we have amassed an enormous amount of material - hundreds of thousands of words - on all aspects of medieval life.

We have found the resulting information about each character to be remarkably consistent over time. We have been able to observe the human feelings and reasoning they went through which resulted in decisions and historical events that are well known. We have seen anguish and horror; we have seen brilliance and honour and we have seen all aspects of ordinary Medieval life and everyday objects.

I now also work with several other writers and aspiring authors. My work with clients is strictly confidential; however, Elizabeth Chadwick has kindly given her permission to allow me to quote from transcripts of our sessions together. So here are some excerpts I have found memorable. I hope you enjoy them.

The Greatest Knight By Elizabeth Chadwick

William Marshal

This was my first meeting on the Akashic Records with William Marshal (c1146-1219), fourth son of John Marshal, a royal official. William Marshal rose by his own abilities and character through tumultuous times to bestride Medieval England as a national hero, of a similar stature to Winston Churchill in the 20th century (who incidentally, was a descendant of William Marshal). I came upon him riding in a group including Eleanor of Aquitaine:

He has incredible courage. He's like a bouncy castle of a man; very buoyant. He's riding with a lot of highborn people. He's awed by them but not overawed. He feels as if he's in the right place. He has a good sense of his own worth. He's very flexible and alert, responds not just in a chit-chat way, but deeply and appropriately. He knows how to say the right thing at the right time and it comes easily to him. He's alert and all his senses are awakened. He has dark hair, long cheeks, a strong nose. His clothes are intricate. His eyes look dark but inside they feel light. I am seeing the youth and the older man mingled. It is difficult for others to gauge what he's thinking. He has very dark eyes, might be brown, might be blue.

There is a woman laughing and William is making her laugh by telling her jokes about the English being loutish and stupid. It's probably Poitiers they are going to. The woman is Eleanor of Aquitaine.

from research on 15.6.04 for "The Greatest Knight"
the first part of the life story of William Marshal

William Marshal's tomb in Temple Church, London
William Marshal's tomb in Temple Church, London

Isabelle Marshal

This is an excerpt from my first description of William's future bride, Isabelle De Clare. She was a valuable heiress and at some time after her father's death, was brought to the Tower of London "for protection" until a suitable husband could be found. Isabelle and William were a fomidable team and had a long and supportive marriage. They had 10 children.

She is in a room attended by unhelpful maids. She has heavy blond plaits and wears a crimson dress and silver and pearls. She has thick, light eyebrows and cornflower blue eyes with different flecks of blue in the iris; plump lips, narrow mouth, round face, but not flat. She's lovely. She's excited.

Isabelle is practical, intelligent, interested in new ideas, preserving health. She is pleased to be moving on with her life in marrying William and has heard good things about him. She's worried about childbirth but rides to widen her hips and trusts in God. She has a forward way of looking at life - there are always ways around problems it you study them. She's an optimist but not exuberant. She is contained and sensible. She can deal with things but doesn't suffer fools gladly. Some people find her unemotional.

She initially sees William through a window, as he rides into the castle and she likes what she sees; thinks she can make something of him. He is a fine, tall, straight man. So what if he's older than her? He'll know what to do, and if she doesn't like him, he probably won't live for too long.

She hears a commotion below. People are clapping William and welcoming him. Her guardian, a shadowy, hollow man, comes up the spiral stairs and into the room. He offers her his arm. No word is spoken and she goes first down the staircase, which is decorated with windings of crimson cloth and white flowers. When she reaches the bottom, she waits for him and the noise quietens as he escorts her across to William, where she curtseys. William kisses her hand and says, "My beloved, my partner in life, my truly beloved. For this I will promise to you, to be always true, and this I do want from you, to be true to me always and to hold no secrets from me and then all will be well between us and forever". She curtseys again and says, "I do, my lord".

There is an immediate understanding between them because they are both very straightforward people and William has put their relationship on a footing they both understand from the beginning [and on which it will always rest. To my surprise, they then leave the castle to be married elsewhere.] William rides in procession alongside the covered vehicle in which Isabelle travels.

They arrive in a street at a house which is painted blue. [Again, I am very surprised to see them going to an ordinary house, and that it is painted blue.] Inside it is very well appointed and the owners are kind and hospitable. Lots of preparations have been made.

Free of the Tower, Isabelle feels she can relax and be herself. William's bought her some new clothes - a pink silk dress, and she's crying. She has never been treated with such consideration before. There's a box full of rings, a comb, more jewellery, a silver and bristle hair brush. The serving women fuss over her, unlike the maids at the Tower, whom she didn't like. She thinks that if she does die in childbirth it'll be worth it because she is so happy now. There's a bowl of water with rose petals in it and the maids ply her with tasty small morsels of food. She is overcome with emotion and relieved there is someone at last to look after her. She is very happy indeed.

from research on 15.6.04 for "The Greatest Knight"
the first part of the life story of William Marshal

Isabelle portrayed on the front cover of The Scarlet Lion
Isabelle portrayed on the front cover
of "The Scarlet Lion"
A 19th century cast of William Marshal's effigy in Temple Church taken before war damage destroyed some of the original features
A 19th century cast of William Marshal's effigy
in Temple Church taken before war damage
destroyed some of the original features
Family and Politics

William Marshal's son and heir, William Junior, was taken hostage as a youth by King John as a guarantee of William Marshal's loyalty. From the Akashic Records we believe that William Junr rebelled against King John at the earliest opportunity because he was treated cruelly whilst held hostage. He could never understand why his father insisted in remaining loyal to such a tyrant. He also came to distrust most of his own family and believed they had some responsibility for the death of his young, pregnant wife.

At the time of this session we had no idea about his interest in Huntingdon. However, later historical research found written evidence that William Junr did receive Huntingdon after King John's death, at around the same time as he made peace with the royalist side. (Tamara Mazzei) And he also went on to lay seige to Winchester.

Elizabeth Chadwick's comments are in purple, mine are in blue.

In March 1217 there was a meeting between William Junr who is still excommunicated and a rebel and [his father,] William Marshal Senr, [a leading member of the royalist side]. King John is dead and there's negotiating to do. Father and son agreed to meet on the road to Shoreham by Sea.

William Junr is a very different character when he returns from his soul searching. Has changed a lot. Knows his own mind, has principles. He has come into the inheritance of his father's characteristics; he has become a true Marshal. The other stuff has washed away. He is a man who will look you straight in the face. He still has the peripheral vision that he had at his marriage; he's aware of nuances around him, but he's no longer looking behind trees and he's not scared any more. He meets his father head on without flinching. He's ready to die if he has to, but he won't attack or kill. He's not aggressive towards his father. If his father is aggressive towards him he would not reciprocate.

He sees himself as being realistic. He's not into hope or happiness. Peace is the nearest he can come to that and he feels the latter the most when he's connected to the land. He has a quality of solidness and will stick to his ground. He's not going to run away.

Their conversation is silly (Alison is wryly amused) "Hello father", "Hello son". They are at a loss for words; they don't know each other at all. William Senr is wary. He sees his son as dangerous because he is too close. William Jnr could take him off his guard. William Senr tries to protect himself from being too off his guard with his son, which doesn't leave the way open for an easy relationship.

"What have you got to offer?" asks William Senr
Junr says "Nothing. What do you expect me to offer? I thought I was here to hear what you had to offer." Senr. "What would you like?"

Junr is uncomfortable with this question as it raises deep emotional issues. Thinks "I want my castle back. And my young wife and my hopes and dreams - but I can't have that - so what have you got?" He has turned steely. It's the remnant of the part of him that once wanted vengeance.

"Lancaster if you want it." Junr doesn't. Then says "Winchester". Alison says she is getting Huntingdon strongly. Junr thinks this more interesting. William Senr thinks his son will have to go somewhere. He is trying to keep him safe by getting him out of the way. But William Jnr is not going for that. They don't talk about the religious issue. William Senr won't use it as a political weapon. That issue belongs to the church; nothing to do with him. It's a trivial detail for Junr because he believes more that religion is man-made and it means nothing to him. His connection with the spiritual side of things is more through nature. William Senr wants his son to be safe; to find him a safe place to go, (away from battle). Alison says she's not sure that it's just away from battle - might be away from other political machinations as well. He probably also means safe as in where he can keep an eye on him and make sure he's not going to kick over the traces. It's a hard balancing act because he doesn't know his son, or enough about him to trust him. Also he senses that William Jnr has skills that he doesn't. They renegotiate and hug. There's a spark between them - of respect and some regret. The best they can do in the situation as it is.

from research on 29 .4.05 for "The Scarlet Lion"
the second part of the life story of William Marshal

John Marshal

This is an excerpt from research we did for John Marshal, William Marshal's father. These scenes happened before the start of "A Place Beyond Courage", so didn't appear in the novel. However, they formed valuable background material in understanding his character and development.

Elizabeth Chadwick's comments are in purple, mine are in blue.

I asked Alison to take a look at John Marshal and his father Gilbert at court in Windsor 1126 when John was about 21.

Alison: I can see people dancing. There are flurries of people circling, making archways, going in and out and underneath. It's not only a dance but a way of meeting people. It's a mixture of entertainment and socialisation. John's watching all the interaction but he's also involved in the dancing. He's in the peripheral area of the dancing. He's very proud of his....I don't know you'd call them - stockings. They're blue and tight-fitting. (hose or chausses. These were indeed a fairly tight fitting garment - Medieval equivalent of trousers. Think drainpipe jeans made of wool!). He keeps looking down at them. They're a lightish blue, not pastel. He's wearing a silvery-grey tunic with blue trimmings. If he was a girl he'd be the belle of the ball! All the girls are looking at him and he's able to give them his very sweet smile and return their looks with that twinkle in his eye. He has the right timing with his glances - not to long, not too short but enough to keep them looking and keep all of his options open. He's getting more involved in the dancing. He's good at dancing and quite enjoying it. He can dance with quite a bit of precision.

His father (Gilbert Giffard) is drinking with some of the older men. They all have flagons and are sitting on benches in what looks like an alcove - bit like an inglenook with no fire. The feeling among them is warm and friendly. They're all in civvies so to speak, not on duty. They've got the day off and can relax. There's a lot of bonhomie. John's father is a wide man with thick, dark hair, greying at the edges and cut quite short. It's so thick it stands up a bit. His face - full cheekbones, strong jaw. (Giffard was a common nick-name in the Norman period meaning "Chubby cheeks")[I didn't know this.] He has thick fingers. William has similar hands to his grandfather, but not as thick. Gilbert is another thinker - a wily man whose strength is more in his thinking ability than other things. His strength to his employer is in his thinking skills. He's got his eye on his son. Even though he's busy with his own companions, Gilbert's still watching him. The reasons he's watching John is that he's assessing him, assessing his character and seeing what his motivation is like in a social setting. He wants to be in a position where he can let his son do things for himself and know he'll be doing it right.

I know John and his father fought a duel over the Marshalsea. Checking my notes, I see it was against William de Hastings and Robert de Venoiz. De Venoiz's father had once been a Marshal - Geoffrey the Marshal. Dare one think noses had been put out of joint?

Alison: Puffing and panting in panic or exertion. I'm with the father. It's a big thing for a man of his age to do. He's pleased his son is a healthy young man. All the lessons, all the training have been worthwhile. He's got a helmet on and he's looking around. There are rows of people watching and a fence in front of them. He's taking a mouthful of liquid - it's water - and just spitting it out. John is there. He's a lot cooler than his father about this. He knows he has to protect his dad and keep his dad behind him. The other people have got a different sort of armour on. It's burnished and bronzey while John's and his father's is that blackened silver colour. (burnished "goldy" coloured armour was known. Various Regia bods have been trying replicate it without success so far but it's an ongoing project!) I'm with John now. He's sizing up the field and his tactics. He thinks he'll go for the older man, head him off and finish him quickly because he's the better fighter, and then he can run round and get the younger man. If the younger man goes for his father, his father's bulk will be able to hold him off until John can get to him. John acts as if he's still nonchalantly taking a break, but then he suddenly turns round, runs at them with a roar and attacks. The other two are taken by surprise by the swiftness of John's assault. They think he's going for the younger man, but he crosses over to confront of the older one. He's using a morning star flail in one hand and a long dagger in the other - he's going all or nothing for this. If he's going to protect his father he's got to fight for two of them. He's using the morning star and he's wrapped the chain round the older man's neck. It's not a killing blow, but it's enough to bring him down, choking him and wounding his neck. (Alison makes choking sound) He might not be dead but he's out of the fight. The younger one has been stopped in his tracks by what John's done and the sight of the older, better fighter down. It's what John wanted. Now John gets out his full sized sword and challenges the younger man. The younger man is swallowing after what he's just seen. He's a bit reluctant to take on John. He wanted the easier job of John's dad. He has to face John....and he's not doing it. He's put his sword down - yes, he's put his sword down. John is saying "Come on then, you coward, come on. He pokes him with his own sword. The other won't rise to the challenge. The wounded man is being carried off the battlefield - it looks like a horse schooling field. The young man looks at all of this, seeing the odds. He leaves his sword down. The crowd are a bit disappointed. They're shouting "Go on!"

John is so contemptuous that he turns half a shoulder to the other man and then fully turns his back just to show utter contempt. Then he suddenly whips round and rattles the blade at the other man in threat. This makes the challenger look even more stupid and the crowd starts laughing. John goes up to his father, puts his arm round him and they walk off the field to cheers, their position in the Marshalsea confirmed in public.

from research on 15.8.06 for "A Place Beyond Courage"
the life story of John Marshal

A place Beyond Courage

Roger and Ida Bigod

We spent several sessions researching the early relationship of Roger Bigod and Ida de Tosney from different points of view. This is a transcript of a whole session. It is unusual in being only on one subject, but it gives an indication of the different types of information that come through from the Akashic Record. The scenes I saw, particularly in the orchard were so delicate and touching that I remembered them long after the session. This courtship is unusual, especially in Medieval times, in that the man was quite shy whereas the Ida had been the mistress of the King, albeit reluctantly.

Elizabeth Chadwick's comments are in purple, mine are in blue.

Last session, Ida had been shown eyeing up Roger at court from her viewpoint. I asked to see Roger's viewpoint of Ida's interest.

Alison: I'm there and I've a sense of being well disposed and happy. I can see a green, fern-like feathery plant like on a tapestry. Set against this, or within it, is the figure of a woman. He's watching the woman and has a very settled, happy feeling. He has an internal and an external smile. He feels warm (as in warm emotion, he's not physically hot). The internal smile is a full one with cheeks pushed up. He's feeling contented and well pleased. He likes her as he looks at her. I ask if this is the figure on the tapestry or a real woman. Alison says she is not sure and doesn't want to force it in case the feeling and what she is seeing, disappear. She holds with Roger and awaits developments. He's calm, there's a nice feeling about him and in the space around him. Alison says that the reason for the confusion is, she thinks, because Roger is looking around at things as much as at people. He's looking at embellishments on the furniture, the way the light glows on it. The detail on the hems of garments. I suppose he's a little bit in a world of his own. He's eating now and enjoying the food. It's fruits with sugar on them. Red fruit, not sure if it's dyed. It's warm and soft, and served on skewers. It appears to be marinated in alcohol - red wine perhaps. It makes him feel warm inside. He and other courtiers are talking and eating, standing up. It's a bit like a buffet with finger food. They can pick up what they want. There's a bit of guffawing going on among the young men because the juices are dripping a bit from the skewers. Now it's turned to guffawing about the women. Roger is trying to keep himself studiously out of that. I feel as if he feels he doesn't want to be involved in such foolery. Either because he's not ready, not mature enough, or because he already has too much on his plate - or because he doesn't want to be a part of the making fun environment. Perhaps a mixture of all the above. However, he's not successful because the others have noticed his reticence and are trying to bring him in more - and make him more the brunt of their amusement. Roger's feeling nervous, very nervous. They start off by saying "we think you fancy such and such a girl because you're such a perfect pair - although she's a bit too tall for you and never mind the teeth" (the girl they're teasing him about has protruding teeth). It's a big joke to them. "We know you really like her!" Roger is getting very embarrassed. They continue "but then maybe you haven't seen the looks you've been getting from Ida" (Alison pauses as if listening then says "Oh dear" ) "but maybe you're not interested in the King's whore, lovely though she is. Maybe she's been tickled a little too fancy for you (Alison was certain this was what was said) and you prefer the austere good looks of sounds like Esmenée. Roger is thrown into a bit of an internal cyclone by all this teasing because none of this has been in his awareness and it's not true to his thoughts at the time. If anything, he's been eyeing up other girls that weren't mentioned. Eventually they drop the subject and he's left alone. He regains his calmer frame of mind, but there's an excited spark in his tummy now. He's wondering about Ida and if she really has been paying him attention. He's quite shy and embarrassed about it. So now moving fast forward to the event and amazingly he does find her looking straight in his eyes. Ida has the most beautiful brown eyes - like balls, very round, solid and alive. She has got lovely, milky, creamy skin, and a coy smile with dimples, but there's a real truth about her - a kind of integrity that she puts across, and when she smiles at him, she looks as if she is truly enjoying herself. There's something very winning about her. He meets her gaze for a little while and then, embarrassed, looks away. He is wondering if all women are like this. I get the feeling he thinks himself a novice in these matters and very shy. He's thinking "Oh no." (I presume in shyness, but mingled with a nice feeling that she's giving him the eye). I get the impression he is quite in awe of women. He misses his mother so much. She is something wonderful that he doesn't have. (Thinking in retrospect as I write this, Roger's experience with his own mother, yet to be met in the Akashic, will be an interesting comparison and juxtaposition with the situation of William , Ida's little boy by King Henry. Does Roger know what it's like? A question for another session).

I then asked Alison to go to the moment when Roger was offered Ida in marriage.

Alison: I'm there. He's sitting down in a comfy chair, legs outstretched, clad in hose. There's a big fire in front of him, although it's not particularly cold. There are dogs there - like lurchers, with long noses, long legs and tails. Alison stops as she says she saw a baby in a cradle, but no sign of any women. When she questioned what she saw, the "seeing" stopped. She has to resume and take it on trust that for whatever reason there's a baby in a cradle in the room. There's someone else in the room, wearing a cloak. Not sure if it's male or female. Ah, it's a young male. It's the relative of Ida who went to the King on her behalf. His name's something like Goscelin.

Goscelin says "The reason I really asked you here is to discover your intention as regards marriage and how you are considering disposing of yourself. Therefore it's of great interest to the king who has your greatest interests at heart."

Roger says I thank the king for his generous and kind interest and I say I will be guided by him in everything as always as a loyal and true subject.

So Goscelin says "You will be pleased to know he wishes to bestow on you a lady of great prowess and beauty and indeed lands to match her person. Indeed, you might look upon her as being one recently bereaved for would it not be felicitous to take upon yourself the honourable wife of a great magnate/crusader (Alison got both words) who is no longer available to her as through an act of war this would be the case. So if you can accord her as such, then this fine lady would be your wife." (seems a bit unclear here. I interpret it to mean that Goscelin is asking Roger to see Ida as he would a great man's widow, rather than a cast off concubine.) [Yes, that's right.]

Roger says "You say no name. Who is it that I am prevailed upon to accept in this way?"
Goscelin says "It is a fine lady as I say and kinswoman to myself and her name is Ida."
And then Roger's body kind of rings like a bell and everything comes into alignment. He blushes and smiles and looks down. He can't speak for a moment. Then he says "You speak truly?"
"Aye, else I would not have said a thing, and this comes with the will of the King."

There are lots of things going through Roger's mind at this moment. Things he could say, but doesn't, so the silence is big. I ask what things? "Oh my lord, no it can't be. He (King Henry) can't have known it. The will of the King! Truly, truly for me? Is the man speaking true? What am I to say? I don't know what to say. What can I say? Nothing. Say something." He thinks, "my dear, my dearest wish ..." but changes it as he speaks to "My dearest wish is to be true and loyal to the king. I look on this match favourably and I will see the marriage contract and I will know also all that needs to be known in this matter." And he thinks "For I will not be taken for a dupe." He says he wishes also to have a meeting with this lady in private conference. The other man feels pleased with the answer and says he'll see what can be done.

The meeting: I'm with Roger. I can see a horse's ears in front of him. I can see feet at the side of the horse as if someone is walking alongside. They're going into the castle. Roger's feeling centred but nervous. He's being welcomed as he dismounts and....hah, being given a gift for the horse - a head cover with braiding around the holes for the ears and face area. Roger's a bit taken aback by that. (In retrospect I wonder if Ida had made it? Would be interesting to know if it was in Roger's colours - we came to know her as an excellent textile worker.) The horse is taken to posh quarters and Roger is taken off to other posh quarters in the private chambers. There he is given...what we'd call a pampering session. Warm bath, scents, towels. It's lush, soft, very nice. He's having food brought to him. There's only him and the servants. A written message is brought saying all is well and on the morrow things will be afoot and he'll be able to speak fully with Ida. Alison uses the opportunity now to take a good look at Roger's features. He's got ordinary coloured hair - mousey-gold, with a fringe and wavy bits at the side. High cheekbones, straight, very nice eyebrows, tapering at the end. His nose has a slight bump in the middle and isn't thin. (Alison said several things about his nose, but didn't quite them. General impression was ordinary). His eyes are intelligent and sensitive - a musician's eyes, and the colour is grey-blue, but more to the grey side. His lips are wide, and fine at the ends like his brows, and they're well proportioned. He has a square chin. I feel as if those features have become finer and sharper since I saw him when he was younger.

Next Day: I can see a circular metal object with swirls either side. There's a hole in the middle like a keyhole. (A lock I suspect). A door's opening and there's darkness behind it, I can't see anything. He's going into a low tunnelly corridor. Now he's going up steps. It doesn't feel nice down here at all. Now he's coming out through a hole in the floor, a trap door. That's better. He emerges in a room with green glass in the windows and the sight of it really takes his breath away. It's a very big room - the ladies' chamber. I can see some children there playing, but they are taken out. I can sense Ida's male relative there, trying to organise things. Roger is feeling very tense. It's not what he had in mind at all for a private meeting. He didn't want it to be like this. It's private in a way he didn't want. It might be the ladies' area, but there are people all around. He's embarrassed - one of his weaknesses. He's hardening himself to try and meet the situation, but there are ladies standing to one side giggling and that makes him even more embarrassed. Oh God, he's mortified. He half-bows to Ida and looks at the other man and shakes his head. He can't do it. He's frozen. He can't do it and he's in a very difficult situation. He can't face it and he's turning away. Ida comes to him and puts her arm out to touch him on the shoulder. She says "Please stay."

He says "My lady this is neither the time nor the place. I will meet with you anon." And he goes out. The other man has to follow. For Roger it's such a relief to get out. By the time he reaches the end of the corridor he is angry. He says to Goscelin "Never do that to me again. If ever I go forward with this plan, you will inform me exactly what I am to do. This situation will never happen again." He goes back into his chamber, bangs the door. Then he tidies away the soft stuff. He doesn't throw things around in his anger, just tidies things vigorously into piles. There are two sides to his character. Tremendous fire when he's riled, but the shy, uncertain part too.

So when DO they eventually meet up for a talk? Ah, it's the apple orchard scene from the earlier session. There's a seat around one of the trees and it must be autumn, although it's still warm, because Roger has a ripe apple in his hand and is munching on it. I'm feeling that Ida is sitting to the left of him and her positioning means he doesn't actually have to look at her while speaking. This is a bonus because of his embarrassment. He's having difficulty finding things to say. "What think you of this match my lady?"
She says "It is pleasing to me if it is pleasing to you."
He says "That is no answer."
She says "What answer am I to give if I am not yet accepted?"
He says "I do not wish to accept another."
She says, "Well, that is good then, and I will say that I take pleasure in the prospect of our alliance, for I think you a very fine man, and I have no ulterior motive (Alison couldn't get right word, but "ulterior motive' conveys the meaning) in saying so, for I have a great man to measure men by, and I say you are a great man, and that is all I can say."

Roger is astonished. He's overwhelmed - what we'd call gobsmacked. Aaaah (Alison makes soft sound). He tries to cover it by eating his apple. He says "I think we shall do very well then."
She says "What think you of me my lord?"
Ah. Roger hasn't thought this one out... "You are a very fine woman, very beautiful and I admire you a great deal. I think you will be very becoming as my consort...and my consolation."
She says. "You jest my lord. You speak as if you are dying, yet you are neither old nor grey."
Now he gets all embarrassed again. He can't say anything. This time he is completely tongue-tied. I saw a symbolic sword go through his heart (Like cupid's arrow). [More like mortification or self-flagellation].
She sees she's not going to get another word out of him, so says "shall we walk a little through the trees." Another soft "aaah" from Alison. This is where they start to play. She first touches his head where a leaf has fallen in his hair - brushes it off. Then she puts her hand along his side. Why? Alison is puzzled here as to what she's doing, and then she laughs. Ida says "I thought it might be broken sire, for all the woodenness that seems to be there, and maybe in need of my physic - like to some of these trees that have been physicked." And that makes him laugh and say "You are comparing me to a tree, and a sick tree at that?"
And she puts her hand over the lower half of her face with her eyes flirting over the top and says "Oh, if I should do such a thing, do beat me." (which sounds shocking to us, but would have been a nothing in the medieval period where women were kept in their place with a smack like children used to be smacked. It was just the norm).
Roger's not keen on her saying this (presumably because he's witnessed over the top strong physical violence from his father towards Gundreda) and also because he's nervous. However he knows from the way she says it, it's a joke. "Nay", he says, "I would never do such a thing....but you may on occasion need tickling."
She says "How so?"
"Like this." He starts to tickle her from the back, under her arms and she laughs and runs away. He says "I was told you were a good tickle."
She says "Who said that?"
"Never mind. You'll find out soon enough."
She says "You'll have to catch me first."
They have a little chase round the trees but it's gentle, not very boisterous. He catches her hands and draws him to her, and she tries to run away again and that's when he picks her up and carries her back to the seat. He places her down with her feet on it and says "There, and such shall you be served in my household, to be kept above the ground and cared for." And she says "And such shall I be honoured indeed by so noble a lord." And they smile at each other and look each other directly in the eyes. It's a meeting of hearts, a true understanding. He offers her his hand and she takes it and they walk to another part of the garden, a cultivated part without trees. They walk and talk of mundane matters now. Hopes for the future, what they want to do. Children. They don't talk about her son by the king. I get the feeling that issue may have been dealt with at a separate business meeting.
I ask about Roger's reaction to the fact that Ida had been Henry's concubine, and about her son by the king.
Alison: He's eating again, and sitting before a fire, legs stretched out before him again. When asked about William, Ida's son, there's a slight pain inside him. He's avoiding the issue, cutting it off. It's been dealt with. What has been has to be. You cannot change what has been. We start again afresh and I will have her afresh, for she is a virtuous wife to me, and I will have it known as such. The king only has been before me and in his royal prerogative that is his right as he has power over all his subjects. I cannot disclaim any measures he may have taken for his own progeny, therefore I let it drop. He says again "She is a virtuous wife to me." (This came over with strong emphasis from Roger.)

from research on 16.1.07 for "The Time of Singing"
the story of Ida and Roger Bigod

The Time Singing


Ida had to come to terms at an early age with bearing a royal son out of wedlock, which went against her own moral upbringing and the Medieval religious and cultural rules, so she was relieved to be able to give birth safely to her first legitimate son, without attracting divine retribution. We have been to many birth scenes. I feel I've learned a surprising amount about the different types of birth. This is one of the less gory.

Elizabeth Chadwick's comments are in purple, mine are in blue.

I then asked to see the birth of Hugh, Ida and Roger's first child (later to marry Matilda Marshal)

Alison: I'm with Ida at the birth. It's a slow, painful process. (Alison exhales hard).

It feels like rising water, feels like cleansing. She's saying "wash me, wash me again." They're helping the baby out. The head and the shoulders are out. Seems to be taking ages. The midwife is saying "Caution, caution, not too fast." Ah, the cord's around the baby's neck. That's why it's taking a long time. They've managed to pull the cord over his head. The birth's a lot easier once they've done that. He's out, but he's blue. They're bathing him in what looks like warm milk, trying to bring him around. He has soft gold hair, wizened features. One eye opening now. He's starting to whimper. The women gently wrap him up. Back to Ida. She's glad that he's okay, but she's much more fixed on her own emotions and they are quite solid. They're not the extreme, exuberant emotions that often accompany childbirth. Her emotion is solid like rock, like a wedge. It comes from having to be strong. "Please God that it's all right. Thank God that it's all right. I've been vindicated, thank God. I've been welcomed back into the enclave of virtuous women. Thank God." She is so relieved. When she looks at little Hugh she gives a smile of satisfaction, but it's not a big emotion. It's softer than that, more centred.

I ask about her feelings re Hugh and her feelings re William, the child she bore to Henry. We fast forward to 6 months later.

Alison: Oh, she's very happy now. There are little dimples in her cheeks. I have a son. I have a son who I am allowed to own. Yes, she's trying to cut off her feelings for William, but she can't. She feels it deeply as if she has been cut in two. She tries to cope with it in her head by telling herself there's nothing she can do about it. It's just the way it is, but the emotions are not dealt with except by cutting them off, which doesn't work.

Does she ever see William? Yes, when they go visiting to court. Oh! She sees him with some other ladies who are playing with him. A beautiful child that she's never touched. She can't bear it. Absolute grief. It breaks her in two. She'd rather not see him to be honest. It makes her take even more special care of her young ones she's had with Roger and love them more to make up for it. She never wants them to bear this as she does. And she would love him so, but she must be brave and put on a face. And one day she will meet a fine young man who will happen to be her son, and she knows it will be for the best. She thinks him such a handsome and lovely child. Such fine manners.

I ask if she shares this with Roger? I cannot burden him with this! This is not his doing, this is woman's work. I must bear it on my own with the help of the Holy Father who takes my absolution. And I must bear with the results of fornication, albeit with a king and me too young and powerless to know better.

from research on 16.1.07 for "The Time of Singing"
the story of Ida and Roger Bigod


Hugh Bigod grew up to marry William Marshal's eldest daughter, Mahelt. Through the Akashic Records we found him to be a particularly sensitive person with an artistic imagination. He enjoyed a happy childhood and was close to both his parents. His reactions to his parents' deaths I found particularly moving.

Elizabeth Chadwick's comments are in purple

Go now to Hugh Bigod's reaction to the death of his mother.

He's weeping. He's saying "My dear gentle, kind Mama." I am getting the words "How shall I ever lose you? How can I lose you when you mean so much?" The feeling that I'm getting, the visual, is that if he had an array of troops all with their different specialisms and he lost a whole section of them - all the spearmen for example, then he'd have a big gap that none of the others could replace and he feels as if he's got that big gap in his emotional life now. Something has gone that nothing else can take the place of, and it was really needed; it was an absolute necessity. And that gap is like a wound, a hole with black water gushing through it, like blood, or a place in the river bank where the bank's been breached. This black water is rushing over him and that's his feeling of grief. He feels as if he wants to reach out and hold onto his mother's hand, but she's just pulled along by this water and pulled out of his reach. Any idea where he was when his mother died - roughly? I can see a shield and a long axe. There's a soldier behind it walking and there's a horse at the side of that. There's a whole troop of them. He's drilling them. He's watching the line and they are practising. So he's with the army somewhere then.

from research on 2.10.08 for "To Defy a King"
the story of Mahelt Marshal and Hugh Bigod

This is Hugh Bigod, two weeks after the death of his father, Roger Bigod Earl of Norfolk. As eldest son, Hugh inherited the title and responsibilities of the Earldom.

Elizabeth Chadwick's comments are in purple

1221 Hugh alone after Roger's death

His eyes are sore, down at the corners. Watery. He feels drained. He also feels more manly. He has the responsibility now; he's the man of the family. It's as if his front is like a castle. The armour is in the shape of all these turrets and buildings. He is the façade and he must do all the things his father has taught him. He hopes he can live up to all of his father's hopes and dreams and values. He misses his mother. He doesn't have that resource to draw on and he doesn't feel he can draw on that from Mahelt [his wife]. He must do it all alone. He has many responsibilities and must get on with them. He feels as if his life from now on will be full of duties and responsibilities and no one to share it with - as he used to share it with his father. What about his brothers? He feels that they are his responsibility as well. He has to negotiate between them to keep them all in balance. It's no good getting matey with one of them more than the others. He has to keep a distance. I can see him walking along a stone corridor and it is as if his feet make footprints in the stone and they are the only footprints in this long, stone corridor - and it's very lonely. His are the only footprints. He knows he has to be wary. The reason I got that feeling was the way he moved his eyes, looking all around. He's got to be careful.

from research on 18.9.08 for "To Defy a King"
the story of Mahelt Marshal and Hugh Bigod

To Defy a King

Close to the Crown

The death of King Henry I in 1135 sparked off a long and bloody civil war for supremacy between Stephen of Blois (one of Henry's younger nephews) and the Empress Matilda (Henry's daughter).

Here, we are researching Henry, Bishop of Winchester, the brother of Stephen. It was increasingly amazing to find this man of the cloth to be so duplicitous and worldly. It was also an interesting session because of the later corroboration of the facial hair and the antikythera device.

Elizabeth Chadwick's comments are in purple, mine are in blue.

I asked to go to 1135 to Henry of Blois Bishop of Winchester, King Stephen's brother, just before he received the news of Henry 1's death.

Alison. He's asleep. This is a lovely sleep. He feels as if he is sitting up as well. The energy rises up from his stomach and flows all the way up through is head. When his stomach expands there's an anxiety there. I suppose it's habitual because it shows it's there even when he's asleep. It's from the top of the abdomen and a bit to the left. It's like a slight fear rising up from the depths but sticking there and as the breath goes past it, he's relaxed. I think it's a fear he takes no notice of; it's a fear that's chronic. Ooof he's waking up, shaking himself. He has a look of Stephen of Blois (his brother) about him. Slightly longer face. He has the heavy brows and the dark eyes. It takes him a while to re-orientate himself. He's in a very cosy room. Cosy in the sense of being warm and comfortable but not cosy in the sense of surroundings because it's more like splendid. The fabrics are quite vivid with tasseling and edging that is golden. Very nice fire and furniture. The table in front of him is bare -very nice polished wood. I get the impression that he's had his meal there and the table has been cleared while he's asleep. People have crept in without disturbing him. He's looking round thinking "What next? What next?" There's nothing to disturb him so he's looking round the room, feeling peaceful.

He reminds himself that he's safe; he's comfortable. He relaxes and walks across the room and looks out of the window. He seems to be quite high up.

Did they have moustaches in those days, because he seems to be twirling at something? He was renowned for his facial hair. Really? He's going like this, twirling both sides of his mouth on his upper lip. Alison demonstrates. Later we see a picture of Henry of Blois and he seems to have moustaches twisted up and woven into his hairline. He's opening the door. There's someone who's sitting outside who suddenly sits to attention. He's sending him on an errand. He looks like a young boy, a squire I suppose. It seems as if he's been sent on an errand for a drink because Henry is imagining a nice, warm, spirit type of drink. Still there's nothing to do. The drink comes. The boy asks if there's anything else. No there isn't. The boy goes out and closes the door. Henry doesn't drink straight away, but when he does, he swallows it down in one go. Then he twiddles his face hair again and thinks "Down to work then." He takes some papers out of the cupboard - it's one of those little set in the wall cupboards. He gets down to perusing his paperwork. I think these are letters. It's all pretty boring stuff which is why he's taken so long to get down to it. It doesn't mean much to him. He's being asked for his ruling on things and because it doesn't have a direct effect on him it's not very important or interesting to him, so he just does it as a routine thing. One matter takes a little bit of thought, but he doesn't have to think that much. I can see a coin set in a little slot. It's turning. It's got cogs on it. It's clicking as it turns. He's consulting this clicking thing before he writes things. I wonder if it's a calendar. (perhaps like the antikythera device.) He's probably calculating when he'll be able to do something or when something should be done by. I think it's to do with the paperwork he's doing and the decisions he's handing down, so people will have a certain amount of time to do things in. That's it now. He's hanging up his cord and he's leaving the things on the table. The scribe's got to deal with that and send it all off. He's going out of the door and tussling the hair of the boy outside the door and saying "See to it they are dealt with". I think this is pretty much routine. The boy knows what to do and Henry knows pretty much what to expect. He's going down the stairs. Next he's on a horse. He's either got a banner or a lance. [I was surprised to see this as he is a Bishop.] I think it's a lance because he's pointing it downwards. It looks as if he's doing tiltyard practice and there are others around him. This is much more interesting to him than the paperwork. He feels much more himself now, much more a man, but again, he's not over-excited. He's finished doing that now. He's going into the church. Washing his hands. He's going in to do a service. It's hard to stay with him in this; he keeps floating up. [It might be interesting to see this other part of his character on another occasion.]

FFW to when he gets the news of Henry's is death. He's asleep again! "What? What!" He's awoken unexpectedly. Someone is standing to the left of him and the page (standing to his right) has kicked the leg of the chair to wake him up. He obviously knows what to do in an emergency. Henry's shaken himself and opened his eyes. There's a man there all in riding gear. He's taking a paper out of his cloak. "Sire we have important news for you." Henry is trying to look official and important and at the same time trying to wake himself up. He slits the seal and unfolds the paper. He's very subtle. There are lots of things going on here. First of all there's "So it's done." That chronic anxiety that was there is flowing up now almost like nausea and he swallows it down. He hasn't said anything, he's just looking very serious, and he had that thought - "Ah, so it's done." He waves the man aside impatiently, saying "That will be all, that will be all." His mouth has really, really tightened and his chin is all dimpled with tension. What he's thinking now is "We must pick off anyone surrounding the King who his likely to oppose us." He's checking in his mind on all the people he can send to do this job and he is calling his page now to summon a scribe so he can do these letters. He's got a way of looking out of the right corner of his eye that's like a knife blade and that swishes around his field of vision, whether external or internal and slices people. I am seeing the scribe come and settle himself on a stool and the stool is like a potter's stool with a bar in front of it that you have to put your legs round. Henry is phrasing things in a very political way - such as "It has come to my notice that this sad demise of our dear lamented king" type of thing. "We are holding you responsible for maintaining the status quo and looking after the kingdom and asserting rightful continuance of the realm and to let me know if anything else happens." All this is Alison paraphrasing. "You have my authority to act in order to quell any rebellion."

He is sending out versions of these letters to all the people he has influence with, and he is also hinting at rewards for these people. He's even sending out jewels and certain things to some people. I am seeing an emerald jewel and a garnet. He's taking them out of a very ornate box with a hinged lid and he's got things in there for such occasions. He's been saving them up. So he's anticipated this happening? I would say the news was not unexpected. I feel this box has been there for a while and it's about getting his own way by paying people. He clunks it shut with satisfaction - like clunking his mouth shut and tasting meat juices inside. It's real satisfaction. He's very sharp with the scribe who is taking too long for him. He says "That will do, get out, get out. I have need of my time." He has a very strong desire to be on his own. He's looking out of the window again. He's waiting. Ah! He knows that when this happens, certain people will come to him and he is waiting for them to arrive. And they arrive not by the door with the page, but by another door, a door that's not used. And this is when the anxiety in his stomach turns to excitement. So I am imagining that they have been waiting for his business to be done so that they can come in. These are military people. Oh...I don't know why I feel like crying. I'm not sure if this is my response or his but I feel like crying. I don't understand it. Let me get to Henry and see if he feels like crying. He's in his element now. He's not bored. They are looking at maps. Talking, planning. They are working together very much so. Oh, here's where the emotion comes in. This is it. He wants to bring his brother forward to be king and this is the emotional bit. His own brother is to be king and he himself is going to be so close to kingship. He sees his brother as a stooge. It's pride. It's emotion at a job well done, and his fondest dreams being realised. In fact it will almost be like being a king because his brother is so stupid, he will do whatever he says, so he will have all of the power without any of the risk. It's perfect; it's a perfect plan. It makes him feel so emotional. He's got his dream and his dream job and he is now directing his generals on how to quell the country. Keep everyone calm, with a cosh if necessary. However, he feels that there's no great rush. He's sent out his first wave of letters and the sergeant level of his army have all been issued with their orders and can keep the underlings at bay, but these are commander level people. Their jobs are not so urgent. The other ones will keep things at bay until these arrive. So these he can treat more royally and they can take their ease as well as their orders. And when they take their orders, these orders go through that secret door, not through his ordinary door. The supplies for refreshments come through the secret door and from the military side, not the domestic side. The impression is "What would it seem like if I was entertaining military people?" They must be seen to be visiting him on their own terms and he just helplessly having to let them in. He wants it to seem that he's at their mercy. Gosh, he has a plan to scold his household for letting them in after they've gone.... No wonder he was bored with his ordinary work! I just had a glimpse of his beard. It's dark and it's straight and about an inch long. It's sticking out all round. It's like one of the 3 kings, the 3 Magi. It might be a bit long at the very end. His whole get up is kind of Eastern in flavour and very elaborate and richly done.

from research on 15.10.09 for "Lady of the English
the parallel stories of Empress Matilda and Queen Adeliza

"Working with Alison has been a fun and fascinating experience.
It's a huge challenge to research a novel about a historical figure who
has received only a handful of fleeting but powerfully intriguing mentions
in written documents of his own time. Perhaps most important, Alison's readings
have given me insight into the emotional life of this man and the people around him.
But she's also come up with concrete details that mesh with more conventional research
and will enrich the story, like the location of a lime quarry near his childhood home
and the marvelous variety of hats people wore in fifteenth-century Germany."

Margaret D, Oregon, USA