Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bed of Roses

"Bed of Roses" was published in SWORD AND SORCERESS 18 in 2001. The idea came to me from some historical research I was doing for a book about Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (1043-1099), better known as "El Cid," that Marion Zimmer Bradley planned to write. Because some of the books were in Spanish, and my undergraduate major was Romance Languages, I got the job of doing preliminary research.

Among the many reasons that the Moors conquered nearly all of Spain in only seven years, while it took the Christian kings almost 700 years to get it back was the way the kings handled inheritance. A king would unite (by conquest, marriage, and the deaths of his wife's relatives who had a better claim to a throne than she did) several kingdoms into one. He would be powerful; they'd call him "the Great"--and then he would die....

Fernando I, who was crowned "Emperor of Spain" in 1056, died in 1065. He left five children: Sancho, who inherited Castille; Alfonso, who inherited Leon; Garcia, who inherited Galicia; Elvira; and Urraca, who was given the city of Zamora, which was located in the middle of Leon. Even if Urraca hadn't already had a close relationship with her brother Alfonso, their interests certainly coincided now. And naturally, the fighting began; Garcia's kingdom fell to his brothers, and Sancho and Alfonso turned on each other in a war for control of the rest of their father's lands. By 1072 Sancho controlled all of them--except for Zamora. While he had surrounded and besieged the city, Urraca still held it against him. As the story goes, she persuaded Vellido Dolfos, one of her nobles, to go to Sancho, pretending to a deserter who would show him a way into the city, in order to assassinate him. His reward was to be a night in her bed. History records that Vellido killed Sancho and escaped back into Zamora. The stories say that Urraca kept her word--after a fashion. Vellido spent a night in her bed, in chains, and was executed the next day for his assassination of King Sancho, her brother. This left the kingdom to Alfonso--at least until he died. He was succeeded by his daughter, who was also named Urraca.

So that's where the idea of a night in the bed of an unmarried girl as a reward came from, along with how to cope with this demand if she didn't want him in her bed.

"Bed of Roses" is available for Kindle and Nook.