ye 19 April 1280

From the writings of Katlin de Camborne, widowed the morning after her wedding when she was but fifteen:

This morning I lay in bed past noon, enjoying the unseasonable warm wind that made the curtains billow like sails. My lady mother had gone into the village, leaving my lord father to idle about the manor. We are none of us accustomed to his presence; my mother serves as his steward as well as the chatelaine here, and does not take orders from him easily. Likewise my father has been so often away to the Holy Land that he does not know how to be a lord any longer. I wonder how well he ever knew it, having been fostered in such a brutal place that he left it so young. What could he have learned but how to take a blow to the head? It is well for my father that a better family had a use for him, and was able to train him into a man.

I am indulged in many habits owing to my illness, and the privilege of hearing Mass alone in our small chapel is but one. My serving-woman dressed me in my white gown and a kirtle of green, and down we went to Father Timothy, who comes each day from the village church because my mother bids him. He has been a friend to this family since my mother came to this place, keeping our accounts until such time as my mother could do so, our last steward having been dishonest to the point of theft.

I took bread and cheese directly thereafter, and my mother and I rode out to a fair in the next village. In due course we were turned back by a sharp chill and the beginning of the rain promised by oncoming dark clouds. Two women stopped in our great hall to wait out the weather, bringing the news that a murderer had been caught and another killed in his flight. They were brothers, as I recall. Tomorrow I will pray for their families, and the families of the dead, that their grief may be eased.

My lord father rode to see the unmarried, dimwitted daughter of a yeoman on our lands. My lady mother will not admit her to our hall. She is full aware that my father once dallied with her, only to discover his misfortune in doing so. God’s bones, the girl is still a girl at the age of thirty. My father must be paying hers, that he allows her to carry on so, in plain sight of all. I may have an understanding with a seafaring man, but we are discreet, as much as a household such as ours allows. It is no secret that my father’s wits were muddled in the hot sun of Outremer; thus, when he speaks of the unspeakable, we may call it giddiness and be done. Who would dare challenge my lady mother when she asserts it is so?

Again I took bread and cheese, and a tincture of valerian in cider. The bathing tub was brought into my sleeping chamber and filled with warm water; my serving-woman washed my hair and left me to the rest, as I prefer. Soon enough I will sleep, in hope that tomorrow I will wake stronger than yesterday.


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