Hello everyone,

Research is a constant, ongoing process while writing historical fiction. Sometimes a fascinating tidbit surfaces that might be of particular interest beyond its use in a novel. As I continue to work in the historical fiction field, I will post those occasional points of interest here. Occasionally I muse on the writing process as well along with news to keep readers informed of what's going on with my books and other writings.

Please feel free to post comments--I'd love to hear from you.

The photo above is of Snowdonia in North Wales, which plays a large part in the setting of the Macsen's Treasure Series.


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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Knights by any other name

King Arthur, if he existed, would have lived in the latter part of the 5th century and the early part of the 6th century, with his height of power around the year AD 500. The word 'knight' is a Norman invention, brought to England with the invasion of William the Conquerer in 1066, more than 500 years after Arthur's time. That means Arthur's Knights of the Round Table would not have been called 'knights.' Then what were they?

Novelists who have set Arthur in the high middle ages of the 12th century use the term 'knight' to comply with the later setting. Others use the term regardless of historical inaccuracy. I've seen combrogi used--an adaptation of an old Welsh name akin to brotherhood--or equites, playing on the lingering Latin/Roman influence. And then there is the ever popular 'warrior' as well!

In my research I came across another possibility. Since the stories of Arthur emerged from old Welsh tales, what were they called in Welsh? Knights were supposedly mounted--they were horsemen as opposed to foot soldiers. So, looking in my Welsh dictionary I find the word marchog for horseman, the plural marchogion for horsemen. And when you look in the Welsh to English section, marchog means horseman and...a meaning that become attached the word...knight! For a warlord or king who rose to power in the time when Britain was mostly populated by a Celtic-based culture, marchogion seems to make a lot of sense. Celtic people revered horses (and still do!) very highly and associated them with royalty and kingship, an aspect of their culture descended from their nomadic continental ancestors.

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