Sep 3 2014 3:15pm

Holding Out for a Hero in the Medieval Era

Sweet Pea by Sarah HeggerToday we're joined by author Sarah Hegger, whose Sweet Bea is out this week. Sweet Bea is set during the medieval period, renowned for its knights and chivalric behavior. The realities of that time, however, are at odds with the fictional accounts, but Sarah thinks that shouldn't deter us from hoping to find our own knight. She's here to talk about why the knight myth might have started in the first place, and why we shouldn't ever stop hoping for a knight of our own. Thanks for joining us, Sarah!

One of the things that always draws me to the medieval period is the myth of the knight. The shining, conquering hero, who will vanquish all villains, cling to his code of honor and look totally yummy while doing it.

Okay, now I know that in reality they were mostly just thugs with big swords who ruled by fear and ran around thwacking things. Let’s just let history have a word here where in 1379, Sir John Arundel arrived at a convent and got them to agree to put him and his armed retinue up for a few nights. Sir John and his men reciprocated by looting the nunnery, storming the nearby church and stealing the newly married bride. They then raped her, kidnapped the nuns and took them out to sea and threw them overboard.

Which begs the question, how does the fantasy of the knight in shining armor keep going against this sort of evidence?

I am going to go out on a limb here and speculate for a bit. The time I set Sweet Bea in was the England of the infamous King John. Who married a girl, who might have been as young as twelve but most put at about fourteen, and had children with her. Thus, ignoring the expectation that one waited for a few years when the bride was that young and causing huge outrage amongst his barons. And lest we forget, his deliberate starving to death of the wife and children of William de Braose.

Put yourself in England at this time; lawless, corrupt, and rife torn. The barons were angry with the king and the kingdom had been left in dire financial straits by the former King Richard and his wars.

Coincidence that this is the time when the Robin Hood legend starts to put in an appearance? I think not!

Robin Hood Men in TightsFor every article I can find that suggests Robin Hood was nothing more than myth, I can find an equal number suggesting he is, at least partly, based on a real person. There is agreement however that he appears in ballads and stories as early as the thirteenth century as a yeoman vigilante and then grows with time into the legend of a dispossessed nobleman fighting injustice.

My point is this, we all hold out for a hero in some way or another. Medieval folk, when we put aside the swords and chausses, step away from the castles and all the other paraphernalia, were people just like us. They lived and loved, grieved and struggled, bickered and bitched and needed their heroes just like we do.

Life was tough and when it got its toughest, in came a rule breaking, death-defying champion of the poor and downtrodden. Hell yeah!

Of course we still love our knights. We look to stories of them to remind us of hope and give us faith in the goodness of men. When we look around us and see such an overwhelming deluge of grim reality, is it any wonder we open a book and allow it to transport us to that ‘once upon a time’ place.

It’s why I started reading medieval romance and, for sure, why I write it. I’m not saying that a contemporary hero has any less impact on the happily ever after front, but the knight has it all built in. He comes loaded with a power punch of nobility, strength, integrity, courage and out right Alphaness.

Although, in honesty, I have to point out that Garrett, the hero of Sweet Bea, is not an actual knight. But he is one at heart, the place where it counts the most.

Learn more about or order a copy of Sweet Bea by Sarah Hegger, available now:

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Born British and raised in South Africa, Sarah Hegger suffers from an incurable case of wanderlust. Her match? A hot Canadian engineer, whose marriage proposal she accepted six short weeks after they first met. Together they’ve made homes in seven different cities across three different continents (and back again once or twice). If only it made her multilingual, but the best she can manage is idiosyncratic English, fluent Afrikaans, conversant Russian, pigeon Portuguese, even worse Zulu and enough French to get herself into trouble.

Mimicking her globe trotting adventures, Sarah’s career path began as a gainfully employed actress, drifted into public relations, settled a moment in advertising, and eventually took root in the fertile soil of her first love, writing. She also moonlights as a wife and mother.

She currently lives in Salt Lake City with her teenage daughters, two Golden Retrievers and aforementioned husband. Part footloose buccaneer, part quixotic observer of life, Sarah’s restless heart is most content when reading or writing books.

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Rhenna Morgan
1. Rhenna Morgan
Give me the romantic version of medeival times any day! Especially my knight in shining armor. Yum.
Rhenna Morgan
2. Christy C
I think you're right that the reality isn't nearly as appealing as our romantic notions, and I'm just fine with that. :) What we really want are heroes who embody noble qualities, that they are knights at heart, like your hero. Those are the heroes I want to read about. Can't wait to read Sweet Bea!
Rhenna Morgan
3. Kim Handysides
Just finished reading Sweet Bea. It was so much fun! I loved the heroine and hated the hero (at first), now I can't get him out of my mind (lust/love Garrett)
Rhenna Morgan
4. Carrie Elks
This book is right up my street. And I'm all for a bit of romance vs reality!
Rhenna Morgan
5. Beth Carter
Great post! And I think Robin Hood is real, too. I'm amazed that you can write historicals as well as contemporary romance. Best of luck with your new novel.
Rhenna Morgan
6. Leslie Hachtel
Love me some knights. And Garrett turns out to be such a good guy. Gotta love it. Sweet Bea is a lovely adventure and a wonderful read!
Rhenna Morgan
7. Jami Denise
What a great article Sarah! You know I am in total agreement with you about the Medeival Heroes. I can't get enough of them!
Rhenna Morgan
8. Carolyn Spear
Everyone wants a knight in shining armor and some of us like the bad boy with a pure heart like Robin Hood.
Rhenna Morgan
9. Katie O'Connor
Already 2/3 of the way through this book. I'm loving it. Great characters, great story. I am rapidly becoming a huge Sarah Hegger fan! She is an awesome storyteller. (And I'm not even a huge medieval hero fan.)
Rhenna Morgan
10. Brenda Margriet
Robin Hood has always been one of my favourite stories. The outlaw with a heart of gold! I don't read many medieval romances, but this sounds like one I should pick up!
Rhenna Morgan
11. Susan Scott Shelley
Great article! I so loved this line "When we look around us and see such an overwhelming deluge of grim reality, is it any wonder we open a book and allow it to transport us to that ‘once upon a time’ place."
Rhenna Morgan
12. Rebekah R. Ganiere
Congrats on your new release Sarah! Looks like a great book! I'm gonna have to pick it up!
Rhenna Morgan
13. Mishka Jenkins
Am really looking forward to reading this!
Rhenna Morgan
14. Gemma Brocato
I'm all for a bit of fanstasy in the cold, hard light of history. Lovely post. Congratulations on the release. I can't wait to read this.
Rhenna Morgan
15. Lynnd
There were some good knights - Sir William Marshal who started out as a "poor knight" and eventually became the Earl of Pembroke and the Regent to Henry III. I first read about him in a romance novel (I believe by Mary Pershal (sp?), back in the late 80s, early 90s). I then read the biography of him written shortly after his death. Elizabeth Chadwick has written about him (and his wife Isabel) in The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion, which I highly recommend. This is where my idea of the heroic knight comes from.
Rhenna Morgan
16. Jo Richardson
Sarah's books are so well written - descriptive, fun and full of characters with depth. I enjoyed Sweet Bea so much and laughed out loud even, several times throughout their journey. Love!
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