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Monday, January 11, 2010

Married Monks with Carrie Lofty

Hello! The lovely Hussies invited me here today to talk about...well, about whatever was on my mind! And as I celebrate the release of my latest medieval romance, SCOUNDREL'S KISS, I have only one thing on my mind: hot Spanish monks.

Monks? Really?

Yes, despite the Fabio-like tresses sported by the stud on the cover, the hero of SCOUNDREL'S KISS, Gavriel de Marqueda, is a monk--cropped hair and all. (Just don't mention that to the art department, who did such an amazing job on the cover!)

In particular, Gavriel is a Jacobean, which referred to members of the Order of Santiago. Jacobeans were not Templars, where warfare occasionally took precedent over faith; they were actual men of God.

So how does Gavriel get to, ahem, do what romance heroes do?

Turns out that the Jacobeans were a very particular type of monk, one that only could've arisen within a very specific political and religious climate. The Kingdom of Castile, along with other Christian kingdoms that make up modern-day Spain, were at war--both militarily and culturally--against Moorish tribes to the south, known as the Almohads. The Order of Santiago was founded in 1171 with a very specific mission in mind: succeed over Islam.

To continue the 500-year battle handed down to them by previous generations of Christian kings and churchmen, special dispensation was awarded to the Order of Santiago by Pope Alexander III. These provisions, it was hoped, would attract new followers who had been put off by the more rigorous standards set by Benedictine orders. First off, Jacobeans were given the right to maintain personal property--singular among monasteries, where property became part of the communal brotherhood. Second, they could live either in the monastery or in private homes of their own.

But the biggest concession, which was not afforded to other military orders until the end of the Middle Ages, was the right to marry.

Married monks!

Sure, they had to maintain conjugal chastity, but that was a provision of marriage itself: simply do not engage in intercourse with someone other than the spouse. The only other restriction was that married monks had to refrain from sexual relations during Lent and on certain religious holidays, when the men spent their nights within the cloistered bounds of the monastery.

They probably went to pray and give thanks for how lucky they were to wind up Jacobeans.

The leniency of their rule not only aided in the recapture of Almohad territories on behalf of the Christian kings, but swelled the Jacobeans' ranks and increased their holdings to include property in Portugal, Sicily, Palestine, Italy, Hungary, France, and even England!

If you'd like to read more about my take on Jacobeans and medieval Spanish culture, leave a comment or a question for the chance to win a signed copy of SCOUNDREL'S KISS! I'll choose a winner at random on Wednesday morning. Good luck! And thanks to the Hussies for inviting me here today.

Carrie Lofty is the author of sexy, adventurous historical romances, including her Robin Hood-themed debut, WHAT A SCOUNDREL WANTS. Her latest, SCOUNDREL'S KISS, in which a warrior monk must resist the troubled woman he's sworn to protect, hits the shelves this month.

This June, Carrie's Austrian-set tale of two lovelorn musicians will launch Harlequin's Carina Press. And coming soon from Penguin are three hot-n-dirty apocalyptic romances, co-written with Ann Aguirre under the name Ellen Connor.


Rebekah E. said...

Your book sounds great. I really like the idea of married monks. I think they should have that right.

Donna Hatch said...

How fun! Married monks, whodathunk? I had not heard of this order. Thanks for the info. (Your cover is great, BTW) Your book sounds wonderful.

Maureen said...

Your hero and heroine and setting are really unusual and so interesting.

Barbara E. said...

The more I hear about your new book, the more intrigued I am to read it. I'm really enjoying the interesting information about the historical period the book is set in.

Spav said...

It sounds like an interesting book. I would really like to see how you describe Spain in the book, since I'm from there.

iokijo said...

This is one of the reasons I like historicals, you get to learn some very neat information along with a toasty story. I hadn't heard of this specific order before, but I know there were other times that the majority of priest were allowed to marry. This sounds like it would have a great story line.
I have to admit I'm glad cover boy doesn't have a shorn head or the wonderful bowl cut that seemed so popular.. lol
Congrats on the new release, and all the upcoming ones.. man you have been busy..
Thanks for the chance to win a copy. Good luck everyone.

Karen said...

Hi Carrie, I can't wait to read Scoundrel's Kiss. I've been looking forward to Ada's story since WASW. I hope you don't mind me asking an unrelated question, but do you plan to continue the series after SK?

Carrie Lofty said...

First up, thanks to the Historical Hussies for letting me stop by and chat about SCOUNDREL'S KISS. I'm so tickled!

@ Donna: I love the cover too! It took me a few days to stop petting it.

@ Spav: Eep! Now I'm curious if I "got Spain right," so to speak.

@ iokijo: Busy? Me? ;)

@ Karen: Thanks for asking. Let's put it this way...I started writing Jacob's story this week. No details I can announce now, but drat it all--that boy needs a happy ending!

To everyone else, thanks so much for your enthusiasm and kind comments. I really appreciate it. Best of luck on the drawing! I'll be around while the book contest is running, so let me know if you have questions.

All the best,

Carrie Lofty said...

I've picked my winner. Details here:

Thanks everyone!