Thursday, July 30, 2009

Medieval Dance

Most of our information about medieval dance comes from fragmentary sources such as extant manuscripts and a few illuminations, leaving us to speculate on any form of dance steps that may have been used. From what little is known, the carole was most likely the form familiar in courts as well as at rural gatherings. This dance was probably a simple form of round dancing, where the dancers joined hands and sang, moving in a circle.
From Chretien de Troyes, the French poet, we know there were other forms of dance. In a wedding scene, written during the twelfth century, he says, “Maidens performed rounds and other dances, each trying to outdo the other in showing their joy.” What these other dances were remains a mystery, with the exception of references to the estampie.
A troubadour, Raimbaut de Vaqueiras, may have written a Provencal song to fit the tune of an estampie he heard played by two jongleurs, which would set the date of this dance in the twelfth century. However, the earliest examples of instrumental pieces called estampies date from the 13th and 14th centuries and consist of both monophonic and polyphonic structures.
With so little information as to early medieval dance, we are left to speculate on the actual dance steps used, but we can be sure the people of the early Middle Ages found a way to express joy in their lives. From this writer’s perspective, I’m also certain that even with an open ring of dancers, two lovers would find a way to come together, even if it was across a bit of dance floor with only a sly wink or the touch of a hand.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Facts about Sedan Chairs and Litters

Varying modes of transportation have been used over the centuries. In pagan times, gods and deities were transported through the streets of Egypt and the orient, and later, in ancient Rome, litters (lectica) were used to carry the elite, and the Vestal Virgins. Gradually, litters evolved to something more fancy, and in the 1600s sedan chairs, a box-like contraption for one person, became a common mode of public transportation, and a familiar sight in London.
Sedan chairs were carried by chairmen, and after dark, the chair was preceded by link-boys, torch bearers who lit the way through the darkened streets. Upon arrival at the passenger’s house, the torches were snuffed out in link extinguishers, an ornament that looked like a giant candle snuffer attached to the house or gatepost.
During the 17th and 18th centuries, chairs stood in the main hall of well-to-do families, so the lady could be taken in and out with her feet never touching the dirty street.
In Bath, sedan chairs had the right-of-way. Chairmen would call out to pedestrians, "By your leave", in order to clear the way. People backed against the wall to allow free passage. A trip inside the city cost approximately six pence, and to rent a chair for the day would cost the passenger four shillings.
Benjamin Franklin used a sedan chair until the late 1700s. When hackneys came into general use, sedan chairs gradually faded from history, but some richly appointed examples have been preserved in museums. The one that belonged to Queen Charlotte now resides in Buckingham Palace, a testimony to the grandeur of yesteryear.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Superior Scribbler's Award

Wow! I'vebeen tagged for the Superior Scribbler's Award, and I need to thank Donna Hatch for that honor! I've been buried in edits lately so haven't blogged as much as I like, but the edits just went back to my editor so now I can keep on top of things. Here's the award. Isn't she cute?

Now I'm passing the award on to some of my blogger friends whose blogs I like.
This is how the award works. It's easier than it sounds! If you should be so lucky as to be tapped for it, you need to post the rules on your blog, along with links to the 5 people you think deserve the award. That way we can see who else gets the award. Notify them by email so they know. You also need to link back to this blog, so you'll have 6 blog links listed. You're almost finished! Then post the logo on your website, link to Mr. Linky (I don't know how to do that yet, and have asked for guidance), and you're done.
Here is the list of the next winners:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


CONGRATULATIONS, Karen H. from North Carolina, for catching the BLOG BOUQUET!

Thanks also to all those who left a comment on my blog. This was such fun, and I hope all of you stop back. There's something new here all the time; guest authors, drawings like this, and announcements of my workshops and events. I'd love to meet all of you in person, so if you're going to attend any of my events, please drop me a line beforehand. In the meantime, happy writing and good reads to all of you.

Karen, again, CONGRATS! Please go to the Author page, scroll down, and drop me a line, including your email, so I can send you a digital download of Jeanne of Clairmonde.