Hearts Through History Romance Writers

The Renaissance and Women

It has long been held that the Renaissance began in Florence, Italy in the 14th century mostly because of the social and civic uniqueness of the city at that time.  The Renaissance was a cultural movement that saw the rise of literature, science, art, religion, and politics. It was an intellectual transformation that bridged the Middle Ages and Modern era.

Women in the Renaissance were primarily the domestic caretakers of the children and the household. They were subordinate inferiors of men. Only a few wealthy women escaped the tasks of making clothes from scratch, the overall maintenance of the home, and production of food. In the Middle Ages master craftsmen worked out of the family home. The women of the house not only did their womanly chores but also took on responsibilities in the family business. In the 13th century, the family business was removed from the home to larger shops in a different location.  It’s during this time period that crafts became individual male trades thus removing the women in the household from participating while she kept house. However, fathers and husbands who stood to profit from the careers of their daughters and wives were not likely to oppose their participation. However, this was not a very common situation. Historians believe women filled a greater variety of professional roles, had more responsibilities, and had more economic contribution during the Middle Ages rather than the Renaissance.

Like the Middle Ages, women of the Renaissance were denied all political rights and considered legally subject to their husbands. A woman was controlled by her parents throughout her childhood, and then handed directly into the hands of a husband, whom she most likely had not chosen herself, and who would exercise control over her until her death or his. Unmarried women were not emancipated but lived under the subjugation of a male relative or in a convent where she could become a nun, the only profession allowed to women.

The heroine in my book, Knight or Runes, is a 21st century renowned Renaissance scholar. She is an independent take control person. She has a black belt in martial arts and is a survival and rescue expert. When she’s tossed back into 17th century England she’s challenged by the repressive attitudes about women. You’ll have to read the book to see how she fares but how would you cope and survive? What would be your biggest challenge?

Lottie Deno: A Gambling Southern Belle

A lady gambler who was also one of the founding members of her Episcopal church, the woman who went by the name Lottie Deno was an unexpected sight at the Post-Civil War Texas gaming tables of San Antonio, Fort Worth, and, perhaps the most notorious town of its day, Fort Griffin Flat.  Where did this gorgeous, red-haired, southern belle come from and, perhaps more importantly, how did she end up winning money from the likes of  Doc Holiday, earning the respect of her patrons for her skill, and keeping her reputation as a lady in tact? 

 Lottie Deno was born Carlotta J. Thompson in 1844 to a devout Episcopalian family who owned a farm in Warsaw, Kentucky. Her father, an inveterate gambler who frequented the gaming tables of New Orleans when he was there on business, believed his daughter should have some skills in this world and, having no sons, taught her the games of chance that he enjoyed. Carlotta was an excellent pupil and accompanied her father to New Orleans on several occasions. (more…)

Women and the Fourth of July

Tomorrow, Americans celebrate Independence Day. It’s a time for waving flags, marching in parades, and eating grilled hot dogs and hamburgers. We speak about our Founding Fathers and the sacrifices they made. We don’t hear very much about the women.

How it started: Spurred by what the colonists considered unjustly levied taxes on imported tea, the British commanders in the colonies and the colonists came to an impasse. The colonists rebelled and dumped the tea that was waiting to be off loaded into Boston Harbor (the Boston Tea Party). The British Prime Minister, Lord North, passed a series of laws in retaliation, the Intolerable Acts, which resulted in the American Revolution.

Loyalists and Rebels: Some people sides with the British and others with the colonists. Women of the day did not, for the most part, hold jobs but were responsible for the household. But the feelings and activities of the revolution permeated political, civil, and domestic life. Some women stayed loyal to the Crown. Other women rebelled by boycotting British goods, spying on the British, following and working with the army, and some even fighting,

Organizers: Women organized various associations to help the war effort. Esther Deberdt Reed (wife of the Pennsylvania Governor), Sarah Franklin Bache (daughter of Benjamin Franklin), in Philadelphia, collected funds which Martha Washington took to her husband, General George Washington. Women in other states followed their example and raised over $340,000 for the American war effort.

Baggage: Other women, whose men went off to war, were left the hardship of holding onto their homes and protecting their families with little help. Many of these women were easy prey for marauding soldiers. Some women refused to stay behind and followed the army. The commanding officers called these women “necessary nuisances” and “baggage.” But these women played an important role, too. They served the soldiers and officers as wash women, cooks, nurses, seamstresses, supply scavengers, sexual partners and even prostitutes.

Fighters: There were women who did not follow the army but joined the army, some disguised as men. Some, like Anna Maria Land and Margaret Corbin, did it to be near their man and others, like Anne Bailey (under the name of Samuel Gay) and Anne Smith, joined for the enlistment bounty, money for enlisting. Several women, Deborah Samson and Hannah Snell, were able to hide their gender and were given honorable discharges from the service.

Spies: There were women who acted as couriers and rode through enemy lines carrying documents and letters under their petticoats. Deborah Champion, Sara Decker, and Harriet Prudence Patterson Hall all managed to sneak documents past the British.

Not Quite Equal: The ideals of liberty, equality, and independence the Founding Fathers professed didn’t impact women. Women continued to be associated with home and hearth and they were not welcome in politics. They confined their political views to their personal writings. Only a few, like Abigail Adams and Mercy Otis Warren became public figures. But the woman’s role held importance none the less. It was the woman’s role to pass on the ideals of independence to their children so it would prosper, grow, and become part of the very fabric of the colonist’s lives.

The Power of the Female Pen: One woman would be looked upon by President Lincoln as “…the little woman who made this great war.” He was speaking of the American Civil War and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Her story, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, ignited a spark in the North while she indicted slavery in the south. Her story sold over 300,000 copies in America and Britain which may represent only 1/10 of the audience it really reached. She definitely demonstrates the power of the pen.  There is a great review by Andrew Delbanco, director of American studies at Columbia, of David S. Reynold’s book, Mightier Than the Sword, in a Sunday New York Times Sunday Book review printed last year.

Tomorrow, Americans celebrate Independence Day. It’s a time for waving flags, marching in parades, and eating grilled hot dogs and hamburgers. It’s also a great day to relax and read a book. Who knows, it could change the world.

Locusta, The Poisoner

by Anna Kathryn Lanier


Tired of waiting for rich Uncle Tom to kick the bucket?  Ready to take over the throne, but daddy just won’t die?  Upset with your wife for cheating? Then you need to call Locusta, Profession Poisoner.

From the Roman province of Gaul (France), Locusta moved to Rome, where assassinations were a dime a dozen.  Retained by royals, she managed to never be charged with murder or spend much time in jail.  Her death sentences were often commuted or dismissed outright.


Catherine the Great

Good fortune is not as blind as it is generally thought to be. It is often nothing more than the result of sound, consistent actions that go unnoticed by the crowd, but which nevertheless make a particular event possible. Still more often it is the result of an individual’s characteristics, nature, and behavior.

~These are the words with which Catherine II began her memoirs.