Monday, March 6, 2017

A (Very Condensed) Bit of Historical Background for Walpurgis Night.

My novella in the Naughty Novellas anthology, "Walpurgis Night", is set in England in the 10th century. Of course they didn’t call it England back then. In fact, until the end of the century, England (from Angle-land, or land of the Angles) wasn’t really a nation as we know them today at all. The area was in a rather chaotic state, carved up into smaller kingdoms and being overrun by various factions. War was almost constant, though it moved into different places at different times.

The Angles and Saxons had driven out the Roman invaders and pushed back most of the Britons, Celts, and Picts (who probably weren’t the original indigenous peoples themselves) into Ireland, Wales, and Scotland. Incursions by various groups of Norsemen, or Vikings, had left settlements scattered over parts of the northern reaches by the late 9th century, particularly in the area that came to be known as the Danelaw. At the end of the century Alfred expanded his base in Wessex, defeated the other factions, including the Danes, and became the first “King of All England.”

Though there was a great deal of back and forth about who controlled which bits of territory during the entire century, most of that didn’t impinge on the everyday lives of the common people. Occasionally an army would come through and lay waste to the countryside or a local noble would call up groups of men to help him defend some area, but for the most part, day to day life was about the crops, the animals, the weather, keeping the houses standing, preparing for local celebrations, and personal interactions.

For a long time Angle, Saxon, and Norse settlements (and sometimes a few other peoples as well) coexisted side by side. Despite considerable differences in culture, including language, religion, methods of agriculture, etc., inevitably contact and some mingling began to occur. It wasn’t always friendly, of course, but sometimes it was rather more than friendly and produced children who might have a Saxon mother and Norse father, or vice versa.

Walpurgis Night takes place against that background. A group of Norse young men indulge their curiosity and sneak over to an Anglish celebration, resulting in one of them being chosen by a local healer, Fianna, to be her partner for a night of revelry. With Henrik, Fianna discovers a kinky sexual connection that surprises them both. But neither expects anything more to come of their night together, until Henrik’s brother is gravely wounded, and he turns to Fianna for help.

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