Hearts Through History Romance Writers
A Walk Back in Time

A Walk Back in Time

On one of my jaunts to explore local Texas history I stopped at the Heritage Village Museum in Woodville, Texas. From the outside I could see some old historic buildings. However, the inside of the museum and the exhibits which walked me through life in east Texas during the nineteenth and early twentieth century surprised me. From the 1920’s homemade still to the 1830’s copper bathtub in the back of the barbershop, the exhibits took the visitor through a walk back in time. Curators deftly created a rather complete town that distilled overlap of the time and technologies throughout the century and half history of the region.

Various building such as the candle makers lodge, the spinning and weaving building, and the large pole barn are used for demonstrations, special events, and weekend activities celebrated in Woodville. But the other buildings were provided the visitor with a close-up acquaintance with the realities of early town life. Just a smattering of the thirty-eight buildings include a turn-of-the century newspaper office with the complete press set-up, nineteenth century doctor and dentist offices, a seamstress shop which operated from 1875 to 1885, the obligatory one room school house, an 1866 family cabin, a railroad depot from 1890, a real post office taken from Pluck, Texas, and a chair factory which produced furniture until 1964.

Two of the most interesting parts of the exhibit were the buggy barn and the tool shed. Standing next to each of the twenty-two vehicles housed in the barn made me very glad I didn’t have to shinny up into the seats to ride into town on the dirt and rutted roads.  The tool shed housed a great deal of hand tools used for woodworking and construction of buildings and furniture. The adjacent industrial area housed a fascinating human-powered leather sewing used to make or repair harnesses, bridles, and work on the upholstery for carriages and wagons.


I recommend to anyone interested in the nineteenth century history and artifacts take a trip to the Heritage Village Museum in Woodville, Texas and spend a day.  www.heritage-village.org  (409) 283-2272

Morgan le Fey through the Ages

As I was researching King Arthur, I read a very interesting book about Morgan le Fey and the changing interpretations her through out the Arthurian tales.  Carolyne Larrington in King Arthur’s Enchantress contends the differing images of Morgan le Fey represent changing views of gender in society from her first appearance in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae (1138) to modern day movies and dramas.


According to Ms. Larrington, Morgan le Fey is used by the various authors of the Arthurian texts as a commentary on a host of social issues embedded in and surrounding the chivalric code. Although Morgan is introduced as a benevolent healer who takes Arthur to her magical island after the last battle in Geoffrey’s work, the question of magic and its role in society quickly becomes the vehicle with which the authors of the Arthurian texts can expose and interpret the changes in their society. As the centuries progressed the underlying tension between gender roles and power are seen in the changing perceptions of Morgan.


From the benevolent healer who to took Arthur away from the earthly burdens of ruling and court politics, she evolves into an evil, self-serving half-sister and enchantress-the antithesis of the ideal woman. In courtly society women were expected to sacrificed their own desires for their husbands’ honor. Morgan comes to represent the embodiment of women who want more from life. These women challenge the traditional courtly values. They are feared for their hold over men, their devious sexual desires, and their underhanded bid for power. The assumption by the Arthurian literature is that woman’s bid for power in her own right undermines the fabric of society. The transformation of Morgan’s image from benevolent to evil allows authors throughout different centuries to delve into underlying social issues threatening their world. Among the most important issues addressed are the idea of romance, the meaning of the marriage bond, the place of the lover, the role of family loyalty, the issue of sibling rivalry, and the lure of home versus the requirement of fighting for the king on a distant battlefield.


Over the years Morgan and her enchantress sisters have become compelling and interesting incarnations of the first Arthurian enchantress reshaped in every century to reflect the social pressures of that age. These women access power independent of men, use power in ways that challenge societal ideals, and pay a price for their ambitions and efforts. They represent a dynamic ever-changing view of society and women’s roles within it. Their presence in the Arthurian legend requires the audience of any age to critically examine chivalry, gender issues, and the way the society uses the past.    

Heidelberg Castle: Evolution to a Palace

Like most medieval castles, Heidelberg Castle was built in stages reflecting its owner’s needs and status. Originally constructed by the bishops of Worms, the castle passed into Karl Hohenstaufer’s possession with his inheritance of the Rhine-Frankish territories in 1155.

As Konrad consolidated his holdings, the town of Heidelberg became the territories’ center and his family seat. He enhanced the castle’s ramparts and stone walls to protect the growing town. Inside the stone perimeter, he ruled his lands from his wooden residences and administrative center.

By the thirteenth century, the Hohenstaufer dynasty was emerging as a political power power in the old German Empire. A succession of Counts Palatine undertook to renovate and expand the castle to reflect the family’s rise in status.

Rupriecht III, after acquiring the title of king in 1400, added an almost square courtyard and three stone buildings used for residences and administration purposes. His successor, Ludwig V, finished the stone buildings, and expanded the castle’s fortifications.

Heidelberg Castle now boasted a mighty defense tower, a broad deep moat, and a new entrance. The entrance had a gate tower and a drawbridge. The stone buildings’ elaborately carved exteriors displayed the wealth of the Hohenstaufer family. Striking among the carvings were sixteen gilded figures representing various mythological heroes and noteworthy Counts Palatine. Ludwig V’s likeness claimed a central position among the figures. As an emphasis of his high rank in the German Empire, his coat of arms sported the imperial apple.

Elector Friedrich (1548-1556) changed Heidelberg Castle from a fortress to a Renaissance Palace with the addition of the Hall-Of-Mirrors Building and the Hortus Palatinus garden complex. The Hall-Of-Mirrors Building was a modern sovereign apartment and an ornate chapel.

Friedrich V, married to James I’s daughter Elisebeth Stuart in 1603, used his construction to emphasize his close ties with the English monarchy. His English Building was built in the Gothic style, so popular in England at the time. The completion of this building marked the high point of Heidelberg Castle as a palace. Friedrich V’s successor, Karl Ludwig, contented himself with repairing the buildings and collecting artwork and furnishings to decorate the interior.

With territorial wars and the decline of the Counts Palatine in the late 1600’s, Heidelberg Castle suffered two devastating occupations by the French. In 1688-89, the French dynamited the Thick Tower and parts of the outer wall. Although the castle was hastily repaired, it was recaptured again in 1693. This time the destruction by the occupying French army was so great the successive Counts Palatine removed their family residence to Dusseldorf rather than rebuild the castle.

Margaret Breashears

Sightings of Anne Boleyn’s Ghost

Ghosts and the places they haunt are interesting but not usually included in historical biographies. One exception is The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn by, Alison Weir. Weir discusses some of the sightings of Anne Boleyn noting that sightings of Anne Boleyn occur on the anniversary of her beheading May 19, on Christmas Eve.

Second wife of Henry VIII, Anne failed to produce a live male heir to secure the Tudor dynasty. After Catherine of Aragon’s death, and Anne’s miscarriage of a son, Henry used allegations of Anne’s adultery to behead Anne for treason in 1536. The most probable reason for Henry’s dubious charges against Anne was the need to secure the succession of the English throne with a male heir. For that task, Henry needed another wife, and he had already selected Anne’s successor, Jane Seymour, before Anne’s treason trial.


Biography – The Seeds of A Story

When I was reading about the War of the Roses, I became fascinated with Thomas Stanley.Born in 1435 to Thomas Stanley, Knight Lord of Lathom and Joan Goushill, he was a direct descendant of Edward I King of England.In 1457 Stanley married Elizabeth Neville the sister of the Earl of Warwick, a powerful English noble commonly referred to as the kingmaker.In 1459 when his father died, Thomas Stanley inherited the title the King of Mann.

Stanley’s lineage, title, and marriage placed him in the middle of the English War of the Roses, the battle for the English crown between two branches of the royal family.Crafty and ambitious, he successfully played the Lancastrian faction against the Yorkist against during the reigns of Edward IV, Henry VI, and Richard III.

In 1482, he married Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and the mother of Henry Tudor.While his wife actively conspired to place her son, heir of the Lancastrian line, on the thrown and topple Richard III, Stanley managed to escape the label of traitor under Richard III.

Even though Stanley had promised to support Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field 1485, he delayed committing his army until Richard decided to charge Henry Tudor’s position.When Richard III’s horse bogged down in a marsh, Stanley committed his forces to Henry Tudor, his stepson. Richard III was killed, and Henry Tudor became King of England.

As a reward for Stanley’s actions at Bosworth Field, Henry VII created a new earldom of Derby and made Stanley the first Earl of Derby. Later on Henry VII’s coronation day, Stanley was appointed Lord High Steward of England.

It was in Stanley’s fortuitous marriages and his connection to the Kings of England at I found the seed for my story. Stanley’s history suggested the possibility of a romantic suspense filled with family strife. Of course, I played with historical fact a tad. In Wanted Ghostbusting Bride, Godfrey Markham, the first Earl of Ryne, is the ancestor of the hero. Godfrey’s actions and marriages have caused a ghostly war – one that plagues the hero five hundred years later.

Margaret Breashears

Setting as Inspiration

Setting as Inspiration

I love the Southwest and its history. When my delightful hubby wanted to visit New Mexico in August, I was pumped. Then he mentioned Roswell, graveyards, and alien space museums, not exactly my style. However, I saw my opportunity to visit a place I had waited patiently to see for thirty-seven years. After a tad bit of persuasion, refusing to visit Roswell unless we also visited Gila National Monument Cliff Dwellings, my drag-your-feet hubby reluctantly agreed. Not wanting me to be disappointed, he warned that the guidebooks considered the ancient Mogollon cliff dwellings at Gila less than spectacular.

In my humble opinion the guidebooks lie. Gila National Monument sits in a remote part of the Gila National Forest. The forty-four mile, narrow, winding, and sometimes one lane rode from Silver City offered very spectacular mountain and valley vistas. Deer, a wild turkey hen and her chicks, a herd of wild boar, and ground squirrels ventured within inches of the car during the drive. What a treat.

By the time we reached the monument, my downright impressed hubby was hooked and merrily snapped picture after picture with his fancy camera. The dwellings themselves were every bit as interesting and intricate as those found in Mesa Verde. But, wouldn’t you know, after a mile hike to the five cliff dwelling caves high in the cliff face, his snazzy camera ran out of batteries at the first cave.

All was not lost, however. The guide who led us through the ruins told a fascinating tale. Wild herds of cattle used the old Mogollon site as winter cover. In the 1880s, a rancher searching for his strays discovered the site, and the earliest national park restorers at Gila dug out two feet of cow dung that covered the artifacts in the first cave. Park officials still run wild cattle out of the caves after severe storms. Those wild cows must be part mountain goat. Even though I didn’t get the pictures I wanted, that wonderful little tidbit of information is sure to come in handy in my New Mexican rancher’s romantic tale.

For more information on Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument (U.S. National Park Service) at http://www.nps.gov.gicl/. Check out the view.

Margaret Breashears