Born and raised in St. Louis MO, Mercedes Rochelle graduated with a BA in Literature from University of Missouri. She learned about living history as a re-enactor and has been enamored with historical fiction ever since. A move to New York to do research and two careers ensued, but writing fiction remains her primary vocation. Her first four books are historical novels about 11th century Britain and events surrounding the Norman Conquest. Mercedes now lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.

2017-10-09
The Lords Appellant Part 2: Radcot Bridge
Battle of Radcot Bridge (saved from BerkshireHistory.com) In Part 1 , we saw the first year of the Appellants’ attempt to control the kingdom by a ruling council. Richard spent most of that year traveling around the kingdom, trying to secure support (mostly from York, Chester and north Wales). He...

2017-09-13
The Lords Appellant Part 1
Arundel, Gloucester, Nottingham, Derby, and Warwick, Before the King Source: Wikimedia Although the word appellant in modern terms refers to a petitioner appealing to a higher court, when it comes to the fourteenth century the whole concept takes a left turn. First of all, you always see the words Lords...

2017-09-01
Book Review: THE SONS OF GODWINE by Frank Watson
As if writing a trilogy of historical novels about one of the most important epochs of the western world wasn’t a large enough task, Mercedes Rochelle in Sons of Godwine adds an additional challenge: Various members of the Godwine family each tell the story in their own voices. Godwine was...

2017-07-17
What was Livery and Maintenance (or Retaining)?
Medieval court scene from BL MS Harley 4375 f.141. Source: Wikipedia Livery and Maintenance went hand-in-hand with chivalry, and created problems throughout the high middle ages. Once I realized that “retaining” was the verb for “retainer” I started to get the idea. The noble or king had his retainers, who...

2017-06-12
The Poll Tax, Part 2: The Peasants’ Revolt is sparked
The Death of Wat Tyler: Library Royal MS 18.E.i-ii f. 175 By the Parliament of 1380, the Commons were up against the wall. The government under the new Chancellor Sudbury was desperate for money. In France, the earl of Buckingham had squandered the money raised from the last Poll Tax;...

2017-05-23
The Poll Tax, Part One: The Cupboard is Bare
National Archives (catalogue reference: E 179/155/94) Although the poll tax was said to have been used all the back to ancient times, it’s most widely remembered in relation to the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. According to Wikipedia: “ The word ‘poll’ is an archaic term for ‘head’ or ‘top of...

2017-04-21
My Review: The Fears of Henry IV: The Life of England’s Self-made King
Henry IV is one of those kings best remembered because of Shakespeare, and even there he was overshadowed by more colorful characters. But in reality, he played a pivotal role in English history; without Henry of Lancaster, the Wars of the Roses would probably never have taken place. Ian Mortimer...

2017-04-09
Great Seal, Privy Seal, and Signet: What’s the difference?
Great Seal of Richard II, After F. Sandford, A Genealogical history of the kings and queens of England … (London, 1707) We know the Great Seal was an indispensable tool for keeping the government running. Historians pay close attention to the use of the Seal; not only does this help...

2017-03-22
Non-native Species in Britain (for research)
source: Photobucket.com When writing historical fiction, one little slip like giving King Alfred a tomato can wreak havoc with an author’s credibility. The other day I was called to task for using a rabbit in Canute’s Britain, because the reviewer said that rabbits were introduced by the Normans. Yikes! I...

2017-03-05
Review for FATAL RIVALRY by Helen Skinner, She Reads Novels
This is the third and final novel in Mercedes Rochelle’s Last Great Saxon Earls trilogy, completing the story begun in Godwine Kingmaker and The Sons of Godwine . Set in 11th century England, just before the Norman Conquest, Godwine Kingmaker told the story of Godwine, the powerful Earl of Wessex,...

2017-02-26
The English Manor Part 3: The Burden of the Serf
Source: British Library MS Royal 2.VII The difference between the free and unfree peasant on the English Manor was dramatic. While all had to pay rent, for the most part the responsibilities ended there for the freeman, with the exception of a few boon days required by everyone during harvest...