Author’s Note, Resources and Historical Timelines
Where Fiction Finds it’s Imagination.
History is a breeding ground for the imagination because it is most often writ large, it’s telling missing the pathos of those who lived it. That, and history cannot all be known—the emotions, the insights, all the smaller failures and successes which motivated the great accomplishments and the terrible events from which our world has somehow come. It is from these interstitial spaces—the gaps and cracks of recorded history—where fiction can find its imagination. And its audience.
Books of hours are real, and were the bestsellers of the Late Middle Ages. Many of them were exceedingly ornate, and the miniature paintings within them (many of which rival the works of the great masters of the period) helped convey the Church’s message well beyond the fortunate few who were able to read. The particular book of hours discovered in these novels of mine, however, is entirely fictional, as are its medieval creators and contemporary restorers.
The tenth-century Monastery of San Sebastian at Leyre is real. Rebuilt, it lies in northern Spain, on the southern slope of the Pyrenees. With more than a thousand years of use and abandonment and restoration, it again serves as a place of quiet monastic life and prayer.
The Dominican Order was in fact created by the Catholic Church in large part to battle religious heresy. It continues today, now a respected center of theology and religious life. The historical popes and saints mentioned in these stories were living, breathing beings, and the Inquisition against the religious sect known as the Cathars was painfully real. The contemporary Church figures here-in, however—pope, cardinal, and monsignor—are made up of whole cloth.
For those wanting to learn more about the history and construction of illuminated manuscripts, the later artists that figure in these stories, or delve into the Inquisition, my research has included the following:
- Alexander, Jonathon J.G., Medieval Illuminators and Their Methods of Work. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992
- Ames, Christine Caldwell, Righteous Persecution. Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009
- Backhouse, Janet, Books of Hours. London: The British Library,1985
- Backhouse, Janet, Illumination from Books of Hours. London: The British Library, 2004
- Backhouse, Janet, The Lindisfarne Gospels. Oxford: Phaidon, 1981
- Bailey, Colin B., Gustav Klimt: Modernism in the Making, New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2001
- Burman, Edward, The Inquisition: Hammer of Heresy. New York: Dorset Press, 1984
- De Hamel, Christopher, A History of Illuminated Manuscripts. London: Phaedon, 1994
- De Hamel, Christopher, Medieval Craftsmen: Scribes and Illuminators. London: The British Museum, 2006
- Di Stafano, Eva, Gustav Klimt: Art Nouveau Visionary. New York: Sterling, 2008
- Drogan, Marc, Medieval Calligraphy: Its History and Technique. New York: Dover, 1980
- Goldstone, Lawrence and Nancy, Out of the Flames. New York: Broadway Books, 2002
- Kren, Thomas (ed.), A Masterpiece Reconstructed: The Hours of Louis XI Los Angeles: The J. Paul Getty Museum, 2005
- Le Goff, Jacques, The Medieval World: The History of European Society. London: Bracken Books, 1990
- Longnon, Jean and Meiss, Millard, et.al, The Tres Riches Heures of Jean, Duke of Berry. New York: George Braziller, 1969
- Mackworth-Praed, Ben, The Book of Kells. London: Time Life, 1993
- Martin, Sean, The Cathars: Their History and Myths Revealed. New York: Metro Books, 2013
- Meiss, Millard and Thomas, Marcel, The Rohan Master. New York: George Braziller, 1973
- Moffit, John F., The Arts in Spain. London: Thames & Hudson, 1999
- Murphy, Cullen, God’s Jury: The Inquisition and the Making of the Modern World. Boston: Mariner Books,2013
- Prudlo, Donald, The Martyred Inquisitor: The Life and Cult of Peter of Verona. Burlington: Ashgate, 2008
- Sullivan, Karen, The Inner Lives of Medieval Inquisitors. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2011
- Van Liere, Frans, An Introduction to the Medieval Bible. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014
- Walther, Ingo F. and Wolf, Norbert, Masterpieces of Illumination: The World’s Most Famous Illuminated Manuscripts, 400 to 1600. Koln: Taschen, 2005
I created the following time-tables at the outset of writing Book of Hours: The Beguilement of Brother Alphaios. While little of the information actually appears in the book, the process of creating them helped provide me an understanding of the the political, cultural and religious environment in which parts of the story take place.