A Black Medieval Female Exorcist - Dark Maiden
Yolande, the heroine of my latest medieval historical
romance novel, 'Dark Maiden' is an exorcist. Her father, who was born in
Ethiopia (a country with very ancient Christian roots) was an exorcist. Her mother
was born in York.
As is now being discovered, there were people of African
descent living and working in Britain, especially in cities and ports like
York. Archaeology discovered a Romano-British grave in York where a woman of
black African and mixed race heritage had been buried in a rich tomb with grave
goods. Archaeology also uncovered a tomb of a man of north African descent
buried at a medieval friary in Suffolk, England, close to the port of Ipswich.
According to bone specialists he had a bad back! The thirteenth century statue
of Saint Maurice in Magdeburg cathedral in Germany clearly shows him as
Half-African, half-English, Yolande is the dark maiden of
the title, a spiritual wanderer and warrior, helping those tormented by the
restless dead and assisting the restless dead themselves to find final peace.
She lives and works in England during the time of the Black Death.
I chose this time period quite carefully. Women during the
Middle Ages could not be priests but during the period of the Black Death, when
thousands died, including hundreds of priests, the church allowed women to take
confessions from dying people. In early 1349 the bishop of Bath and Wells wrote
to his priests to encourage all men to confess, before they were taken by the
pestilence. He added that if they had no priest they should follow the teaching
of the Apostles and confess to each other 'or, if no man is present, even to a
woman'. (From translation in Philip
Zeigler, The Black Death, page 125).
Medieval people also believed that in a crisis anyone,
priest or lay person, could perform an exorcism because every Christian has the
power to command demons and drive them away in the name of Christ. I took these ideas and developed them,
allowing my Yolande to become an exorcist.
In 'Dark Maiden' I have Yolande and Geraint (a travelling player who becomes her friend,
help-mate, lover and finally husband) face several encounters with both
restless spirits and also demons. My ideas have always been shaped by the real
beliefs of the time. So in 'Dark Maiden' there are evil spirits, restless
ghosts called revenants, an incubus and vampires - all paranormal creatures
with a medieval slant.
More details of 'Dark Maiden' here.
Read Chapter One here: