The Marriage of Megotta Author:Edith Pargeter, Ellis Peters 'They fell in love as children - but their love was doomed...' — Set in England in the 13th century, among the nobles and aristocrats surrounding King Henry III, it tells the true story of the secret marriage of the Earl of Kent?s ten-year-old daughter, and the tragic consequences that follow in its wake. — This is the romantic story of child love... more »rs threatened and hedged in on every side by the conventions of the feudal marriage market. Threatened too by the risks attendant in the incessant struggles for power among the courtiers and barons of England in the thirteenth century; among whom 'arranged marriages', often at a very early age were merely one of the devices by which alliances were cemented and rivals discomforted.
The young lovers are Meggotta, daughter of Hubert de Burgh, and Richard de Clare, still much too young to come into his great inheritance of the Earldom of Gloucester. Hubert de Burgh, Earl of Kent, an ageing grandee who has acquired great possessions and holds high office of state as King Henry III's justiciar, is a leading character in the story.
The King has placed the fatherless Richard de Clare in Hubert's care - and thus the boy meets Meggotta, and becomes her inseperable companion. When Hubert falls from the King's grace and is threatened with ruin and possibly death, his wife, and the young members of his household, at once become victims of this capricious misfortune. As a device to protect the two very young lovers Hubert's wife, Margaret, arranges a secret marriage between them. It is the secret marriage - so cleverly planned and lovingly performed - that is to be the cause of the tragedies that later afflict all the main characters in the novel.
In the background, almost a shadow play of the love between Meggotta and Richard, is told the story of Simon de Montfort's love for Eleanor, the King's younger sister, Eleanor says: 'Marriages are about lands and alliances and status, not about boys and girls in green love..Lands and status, and getting heirs to continue both! Any two clods without a wit between them can be born to lands and titles, almost any two fools can get children. Neither the boys nor the girls are allowed to quibble over the partners chosen for them, however old and idiot, or callow and silly'.
It was the tragedy of Meggotta and Richard that they would not conform to these rules, and the secret marriage seemed to give them the power to fight against them.
Historical fiction by the author of the Cadfael mysteries (written as Ellis Peters), The Brothers of Gwynedd Quartet, and A Bloody Field by Shrewsbury.« less