To be a Princess
Have you heard the joke about the girl who wanted to be treated like a princess? So her father married her off to a stranger to cement his trade alliance.
That’s not the modern view of a princess, but it’s certainly the lived experience of real life princesses throughout history. From ancient Egypt and Babylonia through to more recent history in Britain and Europe, few princesses have been free to choose a life mate, and for those who did, the marriage was often their second and more likely to be a political choice than a romantic one.
Cleopatra, for example, was first married to her younger brother Ptolemy, as the custom was in Egypt at that time. The pharaoh, being a god, could have god children only with another god, which meant a sister or a cousin. The physical deformities associated with inbreeding were controlled by dedicating such children to Sobek, the Nile crocodile god.
The affair between the young Cleopatra and Julius Caesar, who was in his 50s, was almost certainly an astute decision to help her win a civil war. She required Roman support against her brother. The affair with Mark Antony might also have been political – he was now one of the most powerful men in the Roman Empire, but certainly the myth of their love affair has been enduring.
Catherine of Aragon was sent to England as a teenager to marry Arthur, heir to the throne. When he died shortly after their marriage, her brother-in-law had the marriage annulled so he could marry her himself. By all accounts, she loved her husband, Henry VIII, despite his roving eye. But when she failed to give him a living son, he set the marriage aside (even splitting with the Pope and setting up his own church when the obstinate man refused to un-annul Catherine’s first marriage so that Henry could marry his pregnant mistress).
Henry himself was descended from another royal mistress, later the wife of John of Gaunt, the third son of Edward III.
Amonute, known to history as Pocahontas, learnt a little English when she was a child and the leader of the English colonists was a prisoner of her people for a few months. John Smith was 27 and she was probably around 10. John Smith later told stories about her saving his life and defying her father to bring food to Jamestown. Not true.
She married a young warrior of her people and became pregnant, but when the English threatened violence against her village, she was forced to give up her baby and go with the troops. Oral history in her tribe tells that she was raped while a prisoner, and she gave birth to a child, Thomas, before being married to John Rolfe, who later took her to England where she died.
Being a princess isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Follow Your Star Home
Divided sweethearts seek love and forgiveness in this collection of eight seasonal novellas.
Forged for lovers, the Viking star ring is said to bring lovers together, no matter how far, no matter how hard.
In eight stories, covering more than half the world and a thousand years, our heroes and heroines put the legend to the test. Watch the star work its magic, as prodigals return home in the season of good will, uncertain of their welcome.
Follow Your Star Home
25% of proceeds benefit the Malala Fund.
Follow Your Star Home, the Bluestocking Belles’ latest holiday box set, features eight stories set across time. In my story, Paradise Regained, the heroine is a princess who has run away from the fate of princesses, as the excerpt below shows.
Buy links and more blurb at: https://bluestockingbelles.net/belles-joint-projects/follow-your-star-home/
In discovering the mysteries of the East, James has built a new life. Will unveiling the secrets in his wife’s heart destroy it?
James Winderfield yearns to end a long journey in the arms of his loving family. But his father’s agents offer the exiled prodigal forgiveness and a place in Society — if he abandons his foreign-born wife and children to return to England.
With her husband away, Mahzad faces revolt, invasion and betrayal in the mountain kingdom they built together. A queen without her king, she will not allow their dream and their family to be destroyed.
But the greatest threats to their marriage and their lives together is the widening distance between them. To win Paradise, they must face the truths in their hearts.
Paradise Regained is a novella in Follow Your Star Home. For information about the other novellas and buy links, see the Bluestocking Belles’ website. https://bluestockingbelles.net/belles-joint-projects/follow-your-star-home/
“You will be destined for the Emperor’s own women’s quarters, Mahzad,” Mamani said. “As a wife, no less. Just imagine! Your son could be Emperor.”
Only, Mahzad wanted to say, if they could successfully avoid trouble in the broken lands that had once been the Uzbek empire. Only if she had sons. Only if one of those sons survived the machinations of the zenana and then of the divan, the government bureaucracy, to become ruler. She had no intention of putting all her faith in a child as yet not even conceived, but she could clearly expect no support from her grandmother, so she said nothing.
She was not the only high-ranking trophy bride in the caravan. They would negotiate their way East, giving gifts to the rulers of kingdoms and cities along the way, and most of the other girls felt as she did.
“But what can we do?” asked Fatimah, daughter of a satrap and his Uzbekistan concubine and therefore probably the first to be traded for the safety of the caravan. “That Englishman of your grandmother’s has us closely watched.”
Fatimah was another favored daughter, allowed freedoms and training beyond the feminine arts, petted and praised by her father, and then sent to be used with as little compunction as if she were a pawn of ivory or jet, rather than flesh and blood.
“How much do you wish to escape?” Mahzad asked.
In the end, nine of them made the attempt, including Mahzad’s maid. The other three promised to cover for them and helped them gather the men’s clothes they would wear to avoid the risks of women travelling without a male escort.
Their chance came after a bandit attack in the mountains. The would-be robbers were killed or driven off, and the triumphant guard relaxed around their fires, celebrating their success, while Mahzad and her friends followed the English serveries’ instructions to stay in their tent. “Drunk men may forget themselves, princess,” he told her. “And I would not wish to have to cut off a man’s hand because one of you failed to hide when I told you to.”
After midnight, as the noise around the men’s fires died down, the runaway brides kissed their friends goodbye. They had long since sent their maids off to bed, and now, they helped one another into their new clothes, shushing one another’s giggles as they struck male poses.
They were nine slim lads, gliding through the shadows to the horse pickets, where the guards, praise be to all the saints, nodded over a jug of wine.
Each woman saddled and bridled her own horse, and Mahzad breathed another prayer of thanks. Some of them had never waited on themselves in their whole pampered lives. The travel and the English serkerde’s insistence that they each learn to do some of the daily tasks, such as looking after their own horses, had hardened them and readied them for this adventure.
Mahzad was about to give the order to mount when one of the guards lifted his head and spoke.
“Going somewhere, princess?”
Startled, she could do nothing but stare into the face of the Englishman who commanded the caravan. Jakob. James, as his own people said it. In that frozen moment, the other three guards moved, standing and raising their weapons.
The other brides looked to Mahzad. For orders or for inspiration? She raised her chin. She was descended from royal houses in China, Persia, Turkmenistan, and England, and would not give up.
“You are four, and we are nine,” she pointed out. “We are leaving, James Beg.”
“I am impressed,” he replied, and his eyes gleamed. “I would not have thought of men’s clothes.”
“We are leaving,” she repeated, clutching at her mare’s reins until the horse sidled.
“Princess, I made a promise to your grandmother that I would defend you against all dangers. How can I do that if I let you leave?”
“You are four, and we are nine,” she repeated, but even she was unconvinced. Nine pampered ladies who had never used their weapons in earnest against four hardened warriors?
“Forgive me. I have not made myself clear. If I let you leave without me, I should have said. But I have no more desire than you ladies,” he bowed to include them all, “to continue with this mission now it has brought us within reach of our freedom. Will you consent to take us as partners in your escape?”
Meet Jude Knight
Jude Knight wants to transport you to another time, another place, to enjoy adventure and romance, thrill to trials and challenges, uncover secrets and solve mysteries, and delight in a happy ending.
She writes everything from Hallmark to Regency Noir, in different eras and diverse places, short, medium and extra-long. Expect decent men with wounded hearts, women who are stronger than they think, and villains you’ll want to smack or worse. and all with a leavening of humour.
Learn more about Jude at:
Late 18th century, Georgian, #Englishexplorer, #ducalson, #Persianprincess, #mountainbandits, #explorersinIran, #Englishadventurers, #historicalromance, #friendstolovers, #secondchanceromance #ParadiseRegained #FollowYourStarHome @BellesInBlue @judeknightbooks
Other Books by Jude Knight: