With the funeral today of England’s Queen Elizabeth II, I thought it might be interesting to take a brief look at the history of Windsor Castle.

“Windsor Castle, seen from the north; (l to r) Upper Ward, Middle Ward, Round Tower, St George’s Chapel, Lower Ward and Curfew Tower”

Windsor Castle is one of the oldest castles of the Norman era. Built by William the Conqueror in the first years after the Conquest, it is one of a series of motte and bailey structures around London, built for defensives measures. This ring of castles formed something of a huge circle; they were erected about twenty miles apart.  Or, as one source said, about a day’s march from each other.

It was of extreme value to the defense because it was on the Thames River and along a main land route out of London. The first few years, it served mainly as a defensive structure until William’s son, Henry I, came along. As a reigning monarch, he began the tradition of using it as a royal residence. It is reported to be one of the “longest occupied palaces in Europe.”

Aerial view of Windsor Castle from the south: “from left to right, the Lower Ward, the Middle Ward and Round Tower, the Upper Ward and East Terrace garden, with the Long Walk in the lower right hand corner. The River Thames can be seen in the upper left of the picture.”

It was built on a fifty foot high motte made of chalk, taken from the rock the castle stands on. It has three wards or baileys. Like the original motte and bailey wooden castles, Windsor was ultimately replaced with stone. In the 1800s, some thirty feet in height was added to the original keep, or Round Tower—ostensibly to make it more visually impressive.

The castle and grounds have been added to and remodeled a great deal over the centuries and incorporate various architectural styles. The State Apartments are said to retain some medieval features.

The Upper Ward now contains the Quadrangle around which is located, among others, the State Apartments and Private Apartments.  

The Middle Ward contains the Round Tower, reportedly based on the original one built in the 12th Century.

St. George’s Chapel

The Lower Ward contains, among a variety of other buildings, St. George’s Chapel, constructed during the later 1400s and early 1500s in a style described as “Perpendicular Gothic.” St. George’s Chapel is also where several historical royals are buried. Among them: Charles I, Henry VIII and Jane Seymour, and Edward IV.

This Ward also contains many structures built by English monarchs over the centuries.

Of course, the castle has played a big part in English military history as well as serving as a main Royal residence. Perhaps one that most people will remember studying in school: It withstood attacks during the First Baron’s War in the early 13th Century. In fact, historians say, King John used Windsor Castle as a central location in his negotiations with the barons before he signed the Magna Carta. Runnymede, the location of the signing of the Magna Carta, is not far from Windsor.

“The Lower Ward, (l to r) St George’s Chapel, the Lady Chapel, the Round Tower, the lodgings of the Military Knights, and the residence of the Governor of the Military Knights

The story of Windsor Castle is long, varied, and fascinating. While several sources contain relevant facts, a good general overview can be found at Wikipedia. All photos used here are taken from that source.

And below is the plan of the castle, just for fun. Again, image and description taken from Wikipedia.

  • Plan of Windsor Castle. Key:
  • A: The Round Tower
  • B: The Upper Ward, The Quadrangle
  • C: The State Apartments
  • D: Private Apartments
  • E: South Wing
  • F: Lower Ward
  • G: St George’s Chapel
  • H: Horseshoe Cloister
  • K: King Henry VIII Gate
  • L: The Long Walk
  • M: Norman Gate
  • N: North Terrace
  • O: Edward III Tower
  • T: The Curfew Tower

NOTE: Be sure to visit my fellow Medieval Monday Roses (The Wild Rose Press) Mary Morgan and Anastasia Abboud . They always have something interesting planned. You can find them here:



MEDIEVAL MONDAY: celebrate release day for the wild rose and the sea raven

I am so excited to welcome everyone to a special Medieval Monday to celebrate with debut author Jennifer Ivy Walker the release of her first book, The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven. . My fellow Rose (The Wild Rose Press) has crafted an exiting tale of romance and action and magic in this medieval/paranormal tale, the first of a trilogy.

So now, let’s meet Ivy, learn a bit about the book, and hear what inspired her to bring this story to us. It’s all yours, Ivy!

Ever since childhood, I’ve wanted to be a writer. I’ve always been enthralled with stories of chivalrous knights and elegant ladies, fairy tales and fantasy, Arthurian myth, and Avalon. And when I began studying the language of love, I embarked on a lifelong passion for the beautiful French language and extraordinary culture.

While earning my MA in French literature, I fell in love with the medieval legend of “Tristan et Iseult” and the dark folklore from the enchanted Forest of Brocéliande, birthplace of Merlin, the Lady of the Lake Viviane, and Sir Lancelot, the intrepid First Knight of King Arthur Pendragon.  

I became a high school teacher and college professor of French, spending summers abroad, exploring castles in the Loire Valley, medieval sites of pilgrimage, such as le Mont-Saint-Michel, and troglodyte caves in Aquitaine. When I spent a summer in the quaint village of Lisieux– where the French princess Aliénor d’ Aquitaine married king Henri II Plantagênet in 1152—I learned a great deal about the Viking heritage of Normandy and the subsequent influence of Norman French on the history of England.

Each year, I taught my French IV students about the Middle Ages in France, and as part of that study, we always read the legend of “Tristan et Iseult”, in which I used puppets to illustrate the story, combining music, theater, and film in a multidisciplinary study of French language and culture.

My debut novel, “The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven”—book 1 of my trilogy—is a paranormal fantasy, medieval romance adaptation of the legend of “Tristan et Iseult”, interwoven with Arthurian myth, otherworldly elements such as Druids, forest fairies, diabolical dwarves and Avalonian Elves, enhanced with dark, mysterious fairy tales and my lifelong love of French.


In this dark fairy tale adaptation of a medieval French legend, Issylte must flee the wicked queen, finding shelter with a fairy witch who teaches her the verdant magic of the forest. Fate leads her to the otherworldly realm of the Lady of the Lake and the Elves of Avalon, where she must choose between her life as a healer or fight to save her ravaged kingdom.

Using puppets for illustration in the classroom

Tristan of Lyonesse is a Knight of the Round Table who must overcome the horrors of his past and defend his king or lose everything. When he becomes a warrior of the Tribe of Dana, a gift of Druidic magic might hold the key he seeks.

 Haunted and hunted. Entwined by fate. Can their passion and power prevail?


Taking another gulp of ale, Tristan turned to Lancelot and searched his knowing eyes. “I don’t know if she even exists, Lancelot, but I want a woman who makes me feel alive! I want her kisses to arouse my passion, her heart to sing to mine. I want a muse to inspire my song, a lady to whom I would pledge my sword—and my life.” Tristan shook his head and sighed. “Is such a love even possible?”

The First Knight of Camelot responded with a sad smile. “It is indeed possible, Tristan.” Lancelot turned his pensive gaze to the vast expanse of sea. “In French, we call such a love l’amour fou—a passion so intense… it can drive you mad.”

Lancelot glanced back at Tristan, a forlorn smile reaching his intense blue eyes. “When you find such a woman, Tristan, the love she gives you fills every empty hollow in your soul. She completes you; she invigorates you; she thrills you. And, when you consummate such a love, the exquisite blend of the spiritual and physical realm will satisfy you more than the finest wine or the greatest victory in battle. The love she gives you with her body will transport you to the stars, and you will never experience a greater joy.”

And, though he smiled, Tristan saw that the First Knight emanated loneliness, suffering, and sorrow. As Lancelot returned his gaze across the faraway sea, Tristan knew that the White Knight of Avalon longed for the beautiful blond queen of Camelot.

Buy link: The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven (Amazon)

The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven|eBook (B&N)

The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven by Jennifer Ivy Walker | eBook | Barnes & Noble® (


Enthralled with legends of medieval knights and ladies, dark fairy tales and fantasies about Druids, wizards and magic, Jennifer Ivy Walker always dreamed of becoming a writer. She fell in love with French in junior high school, continuing her study of the language throughout college, eventually becoming a high school teacher and college professor of French.

As a high school teacher, she took her students every year to the annual French competition, where they performed a play she had written, “Yseult la Belle et Tristan la Bête”–an imaginative blend of the medieval French legend of “Tristan et Yseult” and the fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast”, enhanced with fantasy elements of a Celtic fairy and a wicked witch.

Her debut novel, “The Wild Rose and the Sea Raven”–the first of a trilogy– is a blend of her love for medieval legends, the romantic French language, and paranormal fantasy. It is a retelling of the medieval French romance of “Tristan et Yseult”, interwoven with Arthurian myth, dark fairy tales from the enchanted Forest of Brocéliande, and otherworldly elements such as Avalonian Elves, Druids, forest fairies and magic.

Explore her realm of Medieval French Fantasy. She hopes her novels will enchant you.





Amazon link:

Barnes and Noble:

NOTE: Be sure to visit my fellow Medieval Monday Roses (The Wild Rose Press) Mary Morgan and Anastasia Abboud . They always have something interesting planned. You can find them here:




Roark and Alyss

I’m not sure what calls to me so strongly from the Middle Ages, but whatever it is has done so my entire life. I think it may be rooted in the stories I devoured when I first started reading. Myths, folk stories from different cultures, tales of Knights of the Round Table– they all captured my imagination. It was a different, fascinating world where anything was possible—in theory. Throughout school, history was a favorite subject, and I loved to delve into the events—and lives of the people—of the past.

As I did so, I recognized that the knightly tales of derring-do from my childhood were set amidst times of turmoil, deprivation of the many and reward of the few. I usually root for the underdog, so when my studies introduced me to mercenaries and the bad reputation many of them enjoyed (and they probably did enjoy them), I immediately thought, “But they all must not have been bad. What of the ones who fought to better themselves and didn’t practice cruelty?”

Life was not easy for most people. In the eyes of society at that time, bettering oneself usually meant acquiring land. Few folks had the means or opportunity to do so. Later in the Medieval period, landed-society’s restrictions didn’t allow for commoners to aspire to knighthood, except for very limited exceptions. But in the earlier days, it wasn’t all that unusual for a commoner to rise by reason of bravery, strength, and audacity. All but one of my stories have featured such mercenaries who strive to better themselves by acquiring power and land.

Henry and Katherine

My attention was hooked on one mercenary leader in particular–Mercadier, who was a right-hand warrior for King Richard I (Richard the Lionheart), who rules in the era in which my stories have been set. I was much taken with Mercadier and my imagination had insisted he was a loyal servant, etc., etc. And in that imagination he grew to be an example of the mercenaries who rose from mediocracy to power….

AND THEN– came the disillusionment. In my research, I discovered he did something truly awful. Richard I died from infection caused by a lucky cross-bow shot while he was besieging a castle. The doctor who treated the wound (it turned out to be Mercadier’s own physician) bungled the job and Richard subsequently died. Before his death, though, he pardoned the crossbowman who fired the fatal shot.

However, Mercadier ignored Richard’s word and had the bowman flayed. Well, you can imagine how disappointed I was! MY mercenaries would never do anything that dishonorable. Even in anger. So my heroes, most of whom as I said are mercenaries, are all my exceptions to the rule of cruel and opportunistic barbarians.

Giles and Emeline

Well, I’ve strayed a bit from trying to explain why I love my medieval world–but as a former professor used to say, “It’s all to the point.”

I hope you love the tales of bygone eras–romanticized as they might be by some of us authors. Along those lines we like to see our heroes powerful, brave and understanding and with heroines to match.

All my stories feature strong women, not at all the norm of the period. Yet discoveries tell us there were more strong women than we realize, although most of them were wed or in the church. I imbue my heroines with strength of character given the times in which they lived.

I love creating the stories of strong heroines we women would like to be and of heroes we’d love to live for.

NOTE: Be sure to visit my fellow Medieval Monday Roses (The Wild Rose Press) Mary Morgan and Anastasia Abboud . They always have something interesting planned. You can find them here:



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