Guest Post: Eileen’s Arthurian Chronicles - Easter in Camelot by Eileen Enwright Hodgetts

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Eileen’s Arthurian Chronicles - Easter in Camelot

If we choose to believe in the Arthur of Malory and Tennyson, then we choose to believe that he was a Christian king who celebrated Easter. (We'll talk about Pagan celebrations another day). So what did the Easter season mean to a medieval monarch, or noble, or even a peasant?

An armored fish for a medieval king

FISH, FISH, AND MORE FISH, WITH A SIDE OF EELS, AND MORE FISH (and no sex). WHY?  Because before a Christian could enjoy Easter, he had to fast his way through Lent.  And fasting meant FISH and very little else.  One meal a day eaten at noon, and consisting mainly of salt herring.  Because so much fish was eaten during Lent, catching and salting the herring was a year-round occupation. The army even carried portable leather boats that they used for fishing expeditions so that they would be sure to have enough fish set aside.  

No sex please, it's Lent

The Lent fast also applied to Sex.  Co-habiting was forbidden on fast days, holy days, and Lent.  In fact it was forbidden on so many occasions that it's surprising any children were born at all.  So the King and his court would have been "enjoying" salted herring and their own company for forty days leading up to Holy Week.  And then things got serious.

Penitents on Maundy Thursday

On the Thursday of Holy Week, hooded penitents were allowed into the church to confess their sins, to extinguish all but one of the candles and to wait for the darkness of Good Friday.   This had nothing to do with chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs.  From now until Easter morning, Camelot would be a place of darkness...and fish!  Here is a recipe for cooking salted herring - enjoy. And remember no potatoes, they had not yet come from the New World. 

Procession Recounting the story of the crucifixion

On Good Friday the castle might have formed the stage for a performance of one of the mystery plays that tell the story of Jesus from Adam to the resurrection.  In medieval times prayers were prayed by the priests in Latin and the Bible was not read aloud to the congregation.  Guilds of Mystery players traveled throughout Europe performing their plays so that people would understand the story.  The plays were banned in England in the 16th Century but were reintroduced in the 1950's and now they reconnect us with the Medieval world. 

FINALLY EASTER SUNDAY!  No more fasting, and new clothes for everyone.  Well, not exactly.  The Lord and Lady of the castle would give new clothes to the senior servants, who would pass down their old clothes to the next in line, and so on. Some people didn't get anything brand new, but at least they got something different.

The ingredients of the Easter feast

The feasting of Easter Sunday made up for any weight that the people may have lost during Lent.  Medieval people knew how to eat, and they knew what they liked.  They liked spices, and sauces, and especially they liked cloves. They valued presentation, such as a roasted peacock with its feathers restored and breathing fire. They liked to see how many animals they could stuff inside other animals.  Forget about turducken, that's amateur stuff.  And they liked quantity.  At the marriage feast of Henry III's daughter in 1251 the guests ate 2300 deer, 7000 hens, 170 boars, 60,000 herrings (apparently they were still not tired of fish), and 68,500 loaves of bread.

Beltane fires to welcome May

And after Easter, it was on to Whitsun for the Christian King Arthur, but if our King Arthur was a pagan, it was on to May Day or Beltane, fertility, fire, no fish, and no abstinence.  

In Excalibur Rising, Arthur's kingdom is a land changing  between the old and the new. The  new Christianity is spreading.  The old magic grows weak but Excalibur still has power.

In Book Two of Excalibur Rising

When a peasant boy finds a hoard of alien coins, he begins a journey that will change the future of Camelot. Violet and Marcus are trapped in Albion while King Arthur faces defeat at the hands of Mordred. The peasant boy’s coins offer them the hope of returning home but they cannot leave while Camelot is besieged and Arthur needs their help to put the true heir on the throne.
Magic will fail, courage will be tested, love will blossom, and Excalibur will reveal the inspiring truth behind the legend.

In Book Three Ryan brings Excalibur back to his own world for safekeeping but is forced to leave Violet behind in Albion. When he steps through the portal in England he finds enemies on all sides. Pursued by Michael Mandretti’s mob friends and Bors the one eyed man, he must rely on a goodhearted London car thief and his dog to help him save King Arthur’s world. Aided by Gwyneth, a pretty, young, magical folk singer; Violet’s brother Todd, and Kevin who knows the secrets of crop circles, Ryan must risk his life to uncover the mystery behind the building of Stonehenge and the ancient monuments of England, before he can find a way to return to Violet. But the unexpected sleeps beneath the surface and when it awakes all history will be changed forever.

Excalibur Rising Books One Two and Three: An Arthurian Saga

Eileen Enwright Hodgetts

A newscaster. A psychic. A legend brought to life…

Marcus is losing his touch. The TV newscaster’s ratings are down and his job is on the line. So when he’s given the opportunity to leave Las Vegas and search for Excalibur, the missing artifact from one of the greatest legends ever written, he jumps at the chance. It doesn’t hurt that the mafia also gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Violet’s psychic abilities serve as a gift and a curse. When the mafia’s marching orders force her onto a plane to England with Marcus, her skills are put to the test. As they probe the legend of King Arthur and Camelot, the unlikely team watches the body count start to rise.

After their search takes them to the mist-shrouded Welsh countryside, Marcus and Violet begin putting the pieces together, but a dramatic encounter awaits. An encounter that could change their lives for good. If they survive to see it…

Excalibur Rising is an edge-of-your-seat fantasy suspense novel laced with wit and history. If you like funny characters, dramatic plot twists, and the myth of King Arthur, then you’ll love Eileen Enwright Hodgetts’s Excalibur Rising series.