Posts tagged “History

A Priestess’s Manumission

This is sort of a supplement to my book Exilium, so if you've never read it, you may be confused.

But then again, if you know anything about Roman slavery, or have read The Passion of Mary Magdalen, you may know what I'm talking about to some extent.

If you haven't read any of them, not a problem—you're about to get educated. (If you don’t mind spoilers, that is.)

[Caveat: this is a citation-free zone; I'm just going off what Elizabeth Cunningham wrote. If you want to do your own research, I suggest checking her notes section.]

In Roman marriage, ownership of the wife was notionally given to the husband through a document called the manus. (Slaves also had manus, so you can see how much the Romans cared about their women!) There were, however, cases where the manus was retained by the father, who could then manage and punish their daughters as they saw fit.

That's right! If Daddy caught you cheating, he could kick your little ass.

Or kill you, like he did with Paulina's sister in Passion.

(Pardon my spoiler, there.)

I don't know how it actually worked, but in Exilium, I presented an interesting notion about priestesses and their manus. Since I don't think I explained it very well—if at all—I thought I'd make a short post about it.


In Julia's world, a girl's manus was granted to the temple at the time of her initiation. This gave priestesses a wide-ranging set of freedoms, but could also make fathers very angry if, for example, the high priestess declared an orgy—the priestesses' fathers could not punish them for ruining the families’ reputation, because the paterfamilias was now the temple, as personified by the high priestess.

Serving the temple was also the fastest way to manumission, as if the priestess sought to marry a man of whom her high priestess approved, the manus would be burnt in the sacred fire and the priestess would be freed to do as she pleased.

Unfortunately, the temple's ownership could also trip a girl up, as Julia eventually learned.

[Original cover painting for Exilium, which I rendered in black and white.]

If you read the "Not-So-Historical Notes" at the end of Early One Morning, you know what happened to the other priestesses and their manus. But the nature of the kerfuffle over Julia's during Exilium was a little vague.

As high priestess, Julia officially owned her own manus; however, since it was on an institutional basis (as the temple personified, you may remember), she wasn't a freedwoman. In light of this, when Pontius kidnapped her, Livia was automatically promoted to high priestess and the control over everyone’s manus went to her.

Officially, only the Virgo Vestalis Maxima (and the emperor, of course) were superior to the High Priestess of Isis and only they could force Livia to sign over Julia's manus or that of any other priestess. In practice, however, the priestesses answered to the provincial prefect; so when Pontius threatened death or other bodily harm to the priestesses if Livia didn't sign over Julia's manus once he'd decided to keep her as his personal priestess, the high priestess hurried to respond.

Theoretically, once Julia betrayed Pontius and he exiled her, her manus should've been passed to whoever was receiving her in Ireland. However, it somehow got left behind in the rush to kick her out (he likely didn't have his own copy and would've had to go to the provincial record office), so that was the basis of the upset—Julia's manus being on file without a change of possession meant that Pontius still owned her and could do what he pleased. Without her manus, Lucius had no recourse against Pontius forcing Julia into marriage, which is why Lucius paid two hundred denarii and agreed to take as her his concubine. An executor was never appointed, of course, which is how Lucius was able to marry Julia without legal repercussions.

Though if you read the book, you know that Pontius got his way in the end.

The Patriot: Who’s Real?

I love this movie. I watch it once a year. I have no idea why I don’t own the DVD anymore. I have fanart, for Goddess’s sake, and my current novel is heavily inspired by it.

I’m not here to quibble about historical inaccuracies, though—if you know me, you know the Revolution isn’t my department. But I thought it might be fun to do a who’s who of the major characters and point out some facts I’ve picked up over the years about who (and what) is real and what’s not.

Benjamin Martin

Real Person, Different Name

RPDN happens with several characters in this movie…I’m guessing so that the writers could take as much creative license as they liked and no one would complain. (Which in one case was absolutely necessary, as you’ll soon see.)

I’m not going to talk about Ben. We all know him, the movie is about him and his struggles to be a good father while dealing with the incoming Revolution.

But what about Ben and the militia using the ruins of the old mission as a base? And Billings’s comment about a ghost that slaughtered twenty redcoats with a Cherokee tomahawk?

While Ben was referred to as the “swamp ghost” (if memory serves), his real life counterpart, Francis Marion was known as the “swamp fox“.

And yes, Francis was a right pain in the ass for the real Tavington, just like in the movie.

After chasing him for twenty-six miles through the swamp (yes, really!), the real version of Tavington declared, “As for this damned old fox, the Devil himself could not catch him!”

Having successfully harried the British with his guerilla tactics on multiple occasions, Francis was promoted to brigadier general by John Rutledge (the governor of South Carolina). Thanks to sharing his skills with others, Francis is considered the father of the Rangers and other special forces, such as the green berets.

As a sidebar, Francis really did have a male relative named Gabriel, but he was Francis’s cousin, not his son. It was his death that spurred Francis to fight in the Revolution, much like Thomas’s death pushing Ben.


William Tavington

Real Person, Different Name

I think it’s telling that not one Jason Isaacs fan I’ve met has ever argued that Tavington and Malfoy are equally nasty; but I don’t think Malfoy would’ve ever stooped to burning a church down.

(I hesitate to say that Lucius is more merciful; but at least avada kedavra is instant!)

I’d like to say the real Tavington was better, but not by much. A British historian pointed out that he and Francis had many of the same traits in common: “…[they] tortured prisoners, hanged fence-sitters, abused parole and flags of truce, and shot their own men when they failed to live up to the harsh standards they set.”

You might find this a little hard to believe of Tavington, but in his youth, Banastre Tarelton (Tavington’s real life counterpart) was a big gambler and a womanizer. He inherited £5,000 upon the death of his father and lost almost all of it in less than a year. But he was somehow able to scrape up enough money to purchase a commission as a cornet (their version of a second lieutenant) in the First Dragoon Guards in 1775 and managed to work his way up to lieutenant colonel through his leadership skills and talents on horseback. His ascent was aided in the fact that he managed to be promoted to major the following year after capturing General Charles Lee in New Jersey in December.

There was one significant fact that the movie left out, and another that it changed to fit the narrative.

Unlike Tavington, Banastre survived the war. He went home and became a member of parliament for Liverpool, which he kept (save for the span of a year) until 1812. Despite never leading troops into battle after the Revolution, Banastre continued to be promoted and ended his parliamentary service as a full general. He also had fifteen year relationship with Mary “Perdita” Robinson (a former mistress of George IV who had been with him while he was still a prince), having started dating her on a bet.

“If he survived, does that mean there was no big battle between him and Francis?”

Based on his inability to catch the Swamp Fox, the odds are good. He was wounded in an ambush against one of the movie’s significant characters, however—that’s what changed.

In 1778, Banastre led an attack on a communications outpost in Easttown, Pennsylvania.

His Continental counterpart? The real life version of Colonel Burwell.

And the lighthouse goes out…

I wanted to post something cheerful for Susie's blog-hop, especially since I'm trying to attract people to my Samhuinn Kindle Countdown (28-31 October, Barefoot on the Couch only); but sometimes life decides that cheerfulness is overrated.

Like when your last (biological) grandparent passes on and you weren't really expecting it.

So I'm dedicating this to my grandparents—all my grandparents—and I'll just write what comes.

Arthur Joseph Martin ~ 18 February 1918 – 24 May 1998

What do you say about a gentleman you never really knew? Despite being precocious, I still feel like I didn't start having "real" conversations1 until eleven or twelve—at which point Pop-Pop was already in the throes of vascular dementia.

I know he read Dean Koontz (he always kept his book of the moment behind his spot on the couch in the trailer where my grandparents summered), and I know Dean is more thriller-ish than Stephen King, but I always tell people that I'm sure he would've loved discussing Stephen's books with me—or any books at all. Nevermind that I haven't read anything other than "Uncle Stevie's" tweets for a long time. Gasp!

That is, if I could've engaged him in conversation at all—Pop-Pop was a notoriously quiet person.


Art passed in Lakeland, Florida due to complications from a stroke. He was 80.


1Conversations of a substantial nature that an adult wouldn't mind listening to and/or participating in. I suppose having an idea of when I crossed that line tells you exactly how precocious I was!



Anita Theresa Rademacher ~ 23 February 1920 – 17 April 2004

Of course, just because you're eighteen doesn't mean you can have a conversation any easier.

For some reason, Grandma Martin and I never really warmed up to each other. Maybe she thought I was too much like my mom. I know I never felt she was very warm and fuzzy, which didn't help anything. But maybe she was just one of those people who likes little kids and doesn't want anything to do with them once they can think for themselves. (That would explain why she would dandle me on her knee and sing me a German song when I was a little, but seemed to grow cooler as I got older.)

I don't know why I was hoping she'd live long enough to see me graduate high school…wishing for one last shot at approval, maybe? Except when you're dying, you're probably not thinking of your youngest granddaughter finishing grade school, so I'm not sure it matters.

Despite not being very close, Grandma did personally hand me my inheritance before she went into hospice: a small pewter frog that I'd played with when I was little. (She loved gardening, wrens, hummingbirds, angels and frogs.) You bet your sweet syrup I still have it fourteen years later! It's my freaking frog and I don't plan on parting with it any time soon!


Anita passed from complications due to what was suspected to be pancreatic cancer.

Though far from the final visitor to her hospice room, I was the last one she spoke to.

She was 84.



Pat & Cleo's 50th Anniversary Hoedown, Summer 2004

From front right: Pat Prescott [71], Cleo Prescott [78], Mari Martin [49], Dayanara Ryelle [18], Mike Prescott [48]

Yes, my grandma was two months pregnant when she walked down the aisle!


Cleo Frederick Prescott ~ 20 November 1925 – 23 January 2011

Conversely, how do you mash 25-32 years of memories into one little blog space?

Maybe I should start with this one. I'm going to guess I was pretty young, given my size. Probably not asleep, but simply enjoying the Lake Michigan breeze as we sailed. Location? One of the decks of SS Badger, also known as the Lake Michigan Carferry. (Still running on coal as I write this, after getting an exemption from the EPA!)

Teaching me how to ride a bike. Supervising me as I drove back and forth to my (unwilling) position with him and Grandma as an assistant in their ceramic shop. Building campfires for supper and general relaxing during each camping trip. Big Christmas breakfasts (and regular ones that were none too small!) in which he tried to make me a pancake man. Singing me folk songs like "I Went to the Animal Fair".

Like Pop-Pop, Grandpa suffered from vascular alzheimer's, so his personality died in 2009, even as his body held on for another two years. But that didn't make it any easier to bear, because I loved him so much.


I couldn't tell this story at his memorial service because I knew I'd be too wrecked. But my mom was able to hold herself together long enough to tell it—which I appreciated, as it was Grandpa's favorite. (He loved it so much that he kept repeating it even in the throes of dementia!)

Like many grandpas, mine went off to serve in World War II, ending up in Japan hauling water (for the Air Force, I believe). He happened to be taking a break one day when he heard an officer say, "Man, what I wouldn't give for a pot of potato soup!"

"I can make potato soup, Sir!" Grandpa said bravely. (think he was brave, anyway…I couldn't imagine getting up the courage to do that!)

Well, that must have been one badass pot of soup, because Cleo Prescott spent the rest of the war as a mess sergeant in the Army. He may have never seen the front lines; but if you ask me, feeding dozens of hungry troops is a battle all its own.


As is often the case with vascular alzheimer's, Cleo succumbed to multiple successive strokes on January 23, 2011. He was 85.



Patricia Ann Lynd ~ 24 February 1933 – 24 September 2018

My grandmother was none too gentle in my younger years, having retained some of the famous "redhead temper" into her fifties and partway into her sixties. Still, if asked to choose a favorite grandma back then, she would've won.

As we got older, we became better friends, and I learned that I could confide in her without the judgement and criticism I'd often received from my mother.1 She returned the favor, admitting that she'd been heartbroken and quite depressed for the first few years after my grandpa's death, but unwilling to tell my mother and uncle for fear they wouldn't sympathize and completely dismiss her grief.

Unfortunately, the last few months were rough. She'd finally agreed to go off steroids after seven years, but sacrificed much of the movement in her hands and other extremities in the process. Her doctors had also cut back on her Percocet (due to the opioid epidemic, she said), leaving her in a great deal of pain. Worse, a few weeks ago, they found fluid around her heart—a sure sign that she was already struggling with the end.

Grandma loved her ceramics and had more artistic certifications than I've ever seen in any field. She was a big fan of camping (and hiking while she was still able) and enjoyed going to Algonac to see the ships moving cargo up and down the Saint Clair River. Most of all, she loved lighthouses—collecting them, painting them and reading about them as much as she could.


Pat died Monday, presumably from complications of arterial fibrillation and general heart failure. She was 85.


1 I still wouldn't be talking to her if it wasn't for my grandmother's death, as conversation frequently drifted to claims that my grandmother "wasn't all there" and had "problems with the truth". I can't speak for the latter, but the former is bullshit—nobody who is losing their mind should be able to converse at length about playing basketball and clarinet as my grandmother did in the last six months! Eighty-five and she could still tell me who played what position and the names of the girls that were first and second chair to her third.



My beloved lighthouse has gone out…

Silver and Gold!

I’ve been messing around with genealogy and I’m pretty sure I’ve hit the motherload. (Seriously…all I was expecting were knights and some minor to moderate lords…NOT THIS!)

I was going to title this “Sneak Preview”, but let’s face it: this is the genealogical holy grail, right here. This is the sort of thing thousands of people dig for each year and never find. I should probably be crying, but it hasn’t hit yet.

Dayanara Ryelle

Mari Prescott (mother)

Patricia Lynd (grandmother)

Lester Lynd (great grandfather and son of)

Bessie Small (daughter of)

John (son of)

Frederick (son of)

Jacob (son of)

Elizabeth Earhart/Erhard (daughter of)

Sophia Spencer (daughter of)

Mary Gostwick (daughter of)

Lady Anne Wentworth (daughter of)

Lady Cecilia Unton (daughter of)

Lady Anne Seymour, who comes from…yes, THAT FAMILY!

Which makes Edward Seymour my THIRTEENTH GREAT GRANDFATHER!

Edward Seymour’s brother Thomas married Queen Catherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII. (Queen Catherine would be my 13th great aunt.)

Edward Seymour’s sister was Queen Jane Seymour, the third wife of Henry VIII. (Queen Jane is also my 13th great aunt.)

Edward Seymour’s nephew was King Edward VI, the only living son of Henry VIII. (King Edward is my first cousin, 13 times removed.)

King Henry VIII (Tudor), 13th great uncle = Queen Jane Seymour, 13th great aunt

Queen Elizabeth of York, 14th great aunt = King Henry VII (Tudor), 14th great uncle

Queen Elizabeth Woodville, 15th great aunt = King Edward IV, 15th great uncle

(Edward IV’s brother was Richard III and Edward’s son was the never-crowned Edward V, one of the Princes in the Tower.)

I think I’ll quit, now.

Anything else will be anticlimactic. O.o