The Middle Ages, 500-1500 AD were a fascinating time, where the end of the Roman Empire led to a local reclaiming of power. Despite the early centuries of this era being coined the ‘Dark Ages’, travel and knowledge exchange lead to interesting encounters throughout Europe. Placing characters in these times leads to great storytelling, redolent with historical detail.
Lending some fact to your fiction… University of Cambridge criminologist Professor Manuel Eisner has loaded details from the original Corner’s rolls onto a digital map showing location and details of murders, 1300 to 1340AD. These illustrate personal vendettas and unfortunate results from tempers flaring in the streets. Whether a “game keeper fatally stabbed at dusk”, guild warfare or the dire consequences of littering with eel skins!
A twisted vengeance / Candace Robb.
“1399. York is preparing for civil war… with the city unsettled and rife with rumors, Eleanor Clifford’s abrupt return to York upon the mysterious death of her husband in Strasbourg is met with suspicion in the city. Her daughter Kate is determined to keep her distance, but it will not be easy–Eleanor has settled next door with the intention of establishing a house of beguines, or poor sisters. The brutal murder of one of Eleanor’s servants leads Kate to suspect that her mother’s troubles have followed her from Strasbourg. Is she secretly involved in the political upheaval?” (Syndetics summary)
Apothecary Melchior and the mystery of St Olaf’s Church / Indrek Hargla.
“The Apothecary Melchior series plunges the reader into 15th-century Tallinn when Estonia is at the edge of Christian lands and the last foothold before the East: a town of foreign merchants and engineers, dominated by the mighty castle of Toompea and the construction of St Olaf’s Church, soon to become the tallest building in the world. Apothecary Melchior is a divisive figure in the town: respected for his arcane knowledge and scientific curiosity but also slightly feared for his mystical witch-doctor aura. When a mysterious murder occurs in the castle, Melchior is called in to help find the killer and reveals a talent for detection.” (Syndetics summary)
Night of the lightbringer / Peter Tremayne.
“Ireland, AD 671. On the eve of the pagan feast of Samhain, Brother Edulf and the warrior, Aidan, discover a man murdered in an unlit pyre in the heart of Cashel. He has been dressed in the robes of a religieux and killed by the ritualistic ‘three deaths’. But in their search for the killer, Sister Fidelma and Eadulf will soon discover a darker shadow looming over the fortress. For their investigation is linked to a book stolen from the Papal Secret Archives which could destroy the New Faith in the Five Kingdoms… and Fidelma herself will come up against mortal danger before the case is unravelled.” (Syndetics summary)
The raven’s head / Karen Maitland.
“France, 1224. Vincent is an apprentice librarian who stumbles upon a secret powerful enough to destroy his master. With the foolish arrogance of youth, he attempts blackmail but the attempt fails and Vincent finds himself on the run and in possession of an intricately carved silver raven’s head. Any attempt to sell the head fails …until Vincent tries to palm it off on the intimidating Lord Sylvain – unbeknown to Vincent, a powerful Alchemist with an all-consuming quest. Once more Vincent’s life is in danger because Sylvain and his neighbours, the menacing White Canons, consider him a predestined sacrifice in their shocking experiment.” (Catalogue)
Templar’s Acre / Michael Jecks.
“The Holy Land, 1291.A war has been raging across these lands for decades. The forces of the Crusaders have been pushed back again and again by the Muslims and now just one city remains in Crusader control. That one city stands between the past and the future. One city which must be defended at all costs. That city is Acre. And into this battle where men will fight to the death to defend their city comes a young boy. Green and scared, he has never seen battle before. But he is on the run from a dark past and he has no choice but to stay. And to stay means to fight. That boy is Baldwin de Furnshill.” (Syndetics summary)
Land of shadows : a medieval mystery / Priscilla Royal.
“In March, 1279, Edward I takes a break from hammering the Welsh and bearing down on England’s Jews to vacation in Gloucestershire. The royal party breaks the journey at Woodstock Manor. And there one life begins as Queen Eleanor labors to birth a new daughter, and one draws to an end when apoplexy fells Baron Adam Wynethorpe. The royal manor is packed with troubling guests including a sinister priest, an elderly Jewish mother from nearby Oxford mourning a son hanged for the treason of coin-clipping, contentious and greedy courtiers, and a lusty wife engaged with more than one lover.” (Syndetics summary)
Veil of lies : a medieval noir / Jeri Westerson.
“In 1383, Guest is called to the compound of a merchant – a reclusive mercer who suspects that his wife is being unfaithful and wants Guest to look into the matter. Not wishing to sully himself in such disgraceful, dishonorable business but in dire need of money, Guest agrees and discovers that the wife is indeed up to something, presumably nothing good. But when he comes to inform his client, he is found dead, murdered in a sealed room, locked from the inside. Now Guest has come to the unwanted attention of the Lord Sheriff of London and most recent client was murdered while he was working for him. And everything seems to turn on a religious relic – a veil reported to have wiped the brow of Christ – that is now missing.” (Syndetics summary)
Devil’s wolf / Paul Doherty.
“1296: King Edward I has led his army to Scotland, determined to take the country under his crown. But the fierce Scots have no intention of submitting to their oppressor and violent and bloody war breaks out.
1311: Sir Hugh Corbett, Keeper of the Secret Seal, finds himself back in Scotland and is revisited by the horrors he witnessed there fifteen years ago.
An anonymous letter was delivered to the new king. It promised information about a fatal incident that could allow England to finally bow out of the war with the Scots. Tasked with finding out the truth about the murder, Corbett is forced to take risks he would rather avoid and put his faith in the words of strangers. But with an unknown traitor lurking in the shadows and danger around every corner, will Corbett be able to unravel the complex web of plots in time?” (Syndetics summary)
The Rufus spy / Alys Clare.The Rufus Spy
“October, 1093. Two young men have been brutally beaten to death; a third viciously attacked. All three men are of similar appearance. But could there be another connection? Lassair meanwhile has agreed to accompany her former lover Rollo on a perilous journey north in search of King William. On their trail is a skilled, relentless and ruthless assassin. Who is he ? and why has he targeted Rollo? If they are to survive, the hunted must become the hunters: Rollo and Lassair must lure their pursuer to the treacherous fenland terrain Lassair knows so well and turn the tables on their would-be killer.” (Syndetics summary)