I keep arguing that I write historical fiction based on the lives of real figures because the real ones lead much more interesting lives than fictional ones. That's also the reason I studied medieval history. Such drama! Such juicy gossip! For example, here's a story I borrowed from Sharon Kaye Penman this morning. It refers to an incident I mentioned in my last Arnulf post -- the death of King Stephen's son during the English Civil War. Sharon wrote in her blog:
"Something happened on August 17, 1153 that no novelist would dare to invent, for readers tend to be rather skeptical of coincidences in novels. On this day King Stephen’s eldest son and heir, Eustace, died suddenly at Ipswich, apparently choking after eating eels. Eustace had spent the summer raiding and pillaging Cambridgeshire and had been cursed by Abbot Ording of St Edmundsbury (today’s Bury St Edmunds) for attacking their abbey, so people were quite quick to conclude that Eustace’s death was divine retribution for such spectacular sins.
"This was a major blow to Stephen, both as a king and as a parent, and indeed it would soon lead to a negotiated peace with the other claimant for the English throne, the young Duke of Normandy, Henry Fitz Empress.
"And as if Eustace’s death were not proof enough to medievals that God was on Henry’s side, any doubts of that were erased when word spread that on the very day Eustace had breathed his last, Henry’s new wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, had given birth to a healthy son, William. In fifteen years of wedlock to the French king Louis, Eleanor had presented him with just two daughters, and now she’d given Henry his firstborn son and heir just fifteen months after they’d been wed at Poitiers. I don’t imagine that Louis sent them a christening gift."