Monday, October 19, 2009

Did you know?

When I first discovered Jean Plaidy, apart from being overwhelmed at the number of books she published, I noticed many had strange titles. To name a few: The Vow on the Heron, The Passage to Pontefract, Health Unto His Majesty, The Rose Without a Thorn, Epitaph for Three Women; some are not so strange, but have a special meaning pertaining to the main character in the book and are sometimes from a poem or an unofficial title. I’ve enjoyed finding out the meanings behind the titles. Here are a few examples:

Revolt of the Eaglets – Henry II had a painting of himself as an eagle and his four sons as eaglets. Three of the eaglets are attacking the eagle while the fourth eaglet is waiting, watching. Historically, his three older sons spent their lives battling against him and John, the youngest, waited in the shadows and just before Henry’s death he found his ‘loyal’ son had gone over to the other side as well.

Uneasy Lies the Head – The story of Henry VII, though ‘uneasy lies the head that wears a crown’ is from Shakespeare’s play, Henry IV, it still fits the story well. Henry Tudor may have won the crown on the battlefield, but he is plagued with potential usurpers who may have a better claim than himself. He spends his reign rebuilding a broken country and firmly planting his house of Tudor as the rulers of England.

In the Shadow of the Pomegranate – Katherine of Aragon, Queen of England and first wife of Henry VIII, was perpetually pregnant, but had trouble producing a full-term, healthy male child. It was customary for the queen to have an official symbol, and unfortunately for Katherine, hers was a pomegranate fruit – the symbol of fertility. This inability was ultimately her downfall, for if she had a son Henry never would have divorced her.

St. Thomas’s Eve – This is the story of Sir Thomas More, writer, humanitarian and unwilling Chancellor of England. He was beheaded on orders from Henry VIII on the eve of St. Thomas (Catholic Saint Day).

The Lady in the Tower – Anne Boleyn signed her last letter to Henry VIII ‘The Lady in the Tower’.

Here Lies Our Sovereign Lord – An outrageous poem of Rochester, daringly nailed to King Charles II’s bedchamber door (who thought it was quite witty, though banished him for a while anyway):
Here lies our Sovereign Lord,
the King whose word no man relies on:
He never said a foolish thing
nor ever did a wise one


  1. Oooh Arleigh- this is soo good! There definitely is history behind those titles (Plaidy worked that out as well). I've always liked the play on words in titles and one that I always comes to mind is Princess of Celle; Celle being an actual place as well as 'cell' as in prison. Great got me thinking and rushing over to look at the titels I've got here on my bookshelf;)

  2. Great post! My favorite title of hers is The Hammer of the Scots about Edward I. He was the hammer for sure. It' such a masculine title.

  3. I really enjoyed this post. I noticed that she has some strange titles - it is so cool to know that there is meaning behind them.

  4. That's so interesting, I had never thought of the titles in that way.

  5. That's such a cool post. I especially liked the meaning behind The Revolt of the Eaglets. How clever! Her titles now make me want to read these books even more.