Lady du Beaumont loved the balcony of her quarters at the Vale’s Manor Keep, but she did not relish her precarious position in the family, or in society. It had been a few months since her daughter’s death, and although the Baronet had invited her to remain a part of the household, she knew she did not want to stay any longer than necessary. In the meantime, she relished her luxurious summer baths on the balcony. Birdsong in the air, and feeling the sun’s warmth on her bare skin were welcome pleasures. She had to admit she was drawn to the Vale’s beautiful mystery, although her assumptions that it was wild and devoid of culture had also turned out to be true. Soon, though, summer would end and cold would press in. The Manor Keep was a dreadfully damp, ancient fortress, without comforts or luxuries. Lady du Beaumont did not plan to wait for the cold to trap her indoors.
The Baronet, her son-in-law, had recently made advances towards her, and they had become lovers. Although she found herself attracted to him, she knew there was nothing for her in such a liaison, but treachery. He may want her now, but as soon as he married again, she would be anathema. She would most likely be sent away to a nunnery in disgrace, or at best, treated with disdain and distrust by his future wife, should she find out her new husband’s romantic history with his mother-in-law.
Lady du Beaumont had been left penniless when Elise’s father, the late Viscount du Beaumont, had passed and his family had refused to give her dower lands into her keeping. They claimed that she, a commoner, though gentry, had no right to marry nobility in the first place. That is how she had been stripped of her title, the Dowager Viscountess du Beaumont, and come to live with her daughter, to help her during child-bearing and the running of a household.
But she was not without means. She was clever, and a well-known, accomplished beauty who had been much sought after for her wit and enjoyable companionship. One of the Lords who had courted her, before she married the Viscount, was Lord Alban Stiwuard, now of Ayre. And so, while her son-in-law was away touring the lands newly assigned to him to administer, Lady du Beaumont invited her old friend, Stirwuard, to dine.
Her grandson, Master Piers, noticed his Lady Grandmother and his Lordship were speaking as if they had been friends for many years, as they had, indeed. His elders were discussing Lady Eithne’s desire to marry, and yet lack of a suitable match. Piers soon lost interest in playing in the Hall and went to find his new hunting dog, Bruno. He was training Bruno in recall, so he would be a fit and reliable companion for hunting.
Lord Stirwuard stayed throughout the day, and rode out to see what remained of Saint-Lorien. Saint-Lorien was a village north of the Manor Keep, east of the King’s Forest and the river Ayr. He planned to rebuild the convent and the monastery there as soon as the treasury allowed. The younger sister of the Baronet often looked out over the wheat fields and longed to enter cloistered orders at the convent at Saint-Lorien, but she feared she would be made to marry before the convent was in use again.
The Stirwuard returned for dinner, and afterward, he and Lady du Beaumont had the hall to themselves as Lady du Bois, the children’s other grandmother, had taken them to their quarters, and the family’s lone servant had returned home.
Lord Stirwuard was as taken with Lady du Beaumont as he had been, many years ago, in their youth.
He made this plain to her as soon as the family had vacated the hall. When he moved his hand below her waist, pleased as she was to see that he wanted her, Lady du Beaumont knew she needed more than stolen kisses and clandestine coupling.
She took a gamble that the Lord Stirwuard would feel inspired to protect her from her son-in-law’s power, and perhaps, even remedy the matter of her dower. Letting him know that she longed for him, but reminding him that she was in a precarious position, she prayed he would use his formidable power and wealth for her benefit. She was happy to enter a formal liaison, if he suggested it, in exchange for a position and place of her own.
Much to her pleasure, Lord Stirwuard was sympathetic to her situation and expressed that he would see about her dower lands, or something of similar value, being returned to her. That way, he could freely visit her in her home. Later that evening, after he took her, he rode back to Ayre, leaving Lady du Beaumont flushed with passion.
Lady du Beaumont was not the only member of the household that seeked companionship. Sir Roland had grieved the loss of his wife, and mother of his children, and in his grief, had found himself appalled by his advances towards his late wife’s mother, a widow in his care. Although he had resolved to be chaste with his mother-in-law from this time on, he knew he needed a wife, and quickly.
There were not many eligible women to be found. There were no eligible women of his same class, the Gentry. Sir Roland considered that perhaps he could convince the Lord Stirwuard, a nobleman, to betroth his daughter, Eithne Stirwuard, to him.
The marriageable options for his younger sister were slim as well: The tournament champion, Sir Brice, was a knight. Or, Master Edwuard Stirwuard. Edwuard Stirwuard was the ward of the only other gentry family, Lady Jane Chevalier, but he was actually the nephew of Lord Stirwuard so his class was fluid between gentry and noble and he may disdain to be betrothed to a commoner.
Sir Roland was glad that his sister, Liselle, longed to join cloistered orders, since he did not want to think about her betrothal at this time, and, with assurances she was chaste and modest, and well supervised by his mother, he felt at ease. He had his sights set on the Lady Eithne, and if he married her, he would have to get a dispensation for his sister, Liselle, to marry his wife’s cousin, Edwuard. Sir Roland did not think his sister would be happy as a wife since she longed to take vows.
His own marriage seemed much more urgent anyway. In addition to his own needs, the running of a proper household and the education of the children was critical, and in this forsaken land devastated by war and plague, there were not many options for their learning. Sir Roland knew that Lady Eithne Stiwuard would make an excellent wife in all those pursuits. He just did not know if her father would agree to the betrothal, since he was of lower class than she.
In addition to marriage, Sir Roland required confession of his sins, and friends. And so, despite the fact that he could attend chapel on his own grounds, Sir Roland took his children, and his mother, and his mother-in-law to attend evensong in Ayre.
Lady Eithne was at the Squire’s Chapel, perhaps waiting for her father, or a friend. Before Sir Roland could decide whether to speak with her, or not, his own mother, Lady du Bois, approached her.
Sir Roland decided against talking to the Lady Eithne without a proper introduction.
On his way into the chapel for confession, he overheard his mother-in-law flirting with one of the men-at-arms.
He reproached her, saying that he expected a lady in his household to model chastity. Although she looked as if she would retort sharply, she did not.
At mid-summer, the Baronet invited the gentry and nobility of Ayre for dinner on the green lawn of the Manor Keep. In addition to the Chevalier family and the Stirwuards, the Captain of the Men at Arms and one of the knighted men, Sir Brice, attended. There was to be dancing, and fireworks for this first social event for the upper classes since the devastation of the war and plague. On a balmy evening, guests arrived to find exotic fruit, roasted pheasant and fish, and plenty of ale. Sir Roland had considered throwing a formal ball instead. However, as the guests arrived, tentatively looking around at the few other guests, many whome they did not yet know well, it became apparent it was better to have this informal event to break the ice.
Sir Roland’s son, Piers, and Master Edwuard, the ward of Lady Chevalier, ate together. They had met at the Chapel, but this was the first time they spent time together.
Lady Eithne and Miss Cateline, Sir Roland’s daughter, danced and chatted happily.
While Sir Roland talked with Lady Chevalier of his need for more serfs and peasants to work the land around the Manor Keep.
At one point before the fire works when Lady Eithne was alone near the chapel, she thought she saw the crying spirit of Lady du Bois, the Baronet’s first wife.
But when Sir Roland came to light the fireworks, the ghost disappeared.
Master Piers was afraid his lady grandmother would be sad to have missed the fireworks, and he went to find her. Find her, he did, in the scullery, with Sir Brice.
Which was fortunate timing, for Master Piers was soon followed by Sir Roland, who found Lady du Beaumont specifically to impugn her honor, and did so in full sight of Lady Joslyn and Sir Brice.
After the party, Lady du Bois was crying in the kitchen, over the impropriety of Lady du Beaumont, but more specifically, over memories of Lady du Beaumont in the arms of one a man she had admired.
When her daughter, Liselle, found Lady du Bois, she uncharacteristically clenched her fists and railed against Lady du Beaumont. When she calmed down, she encouraged Liselle to beseech Lady du Beaumont to repent of her unchaste behavior for the sake of her brother’s honor.
Liselle immediately found Lady du Beaumont, and nagged her to behave herself.
Again, Lady du Beamont showed great restraint as she listened to this girl, who knew nothing of the how the world worked, or of her own brother’s actions, instruct her on chastity and respect.
At the end of summer, Sir Roland was expecting dinner guests. He encouraged his son, Piers, to be outgoing and respectfully and warmly greet the Lady Eithne when she came to visit. As a peace offering, Lady du Beaumont had invited Lady Eithne and her father, the Lord Stirwuard, for dinner. In addition, Lady du Beaumont assured her son-in-law that Lord Stirwuard was open to betrothal negotiations due to his daughter’s heart being set on marriage, and lack of suitable noble matches.
As Master Piers entertained Lady Eithne, Sir Roland respectfully asked the Lord Stirwuard if he would consider entering betrothal negotiations for himself and Lady Eithne.
A starter of soup was served as Lord Stirwuard began to talk with Sir Roland and his daughter about his terms. In spite of his esteem and love for his daughter, he said, it was not proper for him to give a dowry at this time, since Sir Roland was only of the gentry. However, he promised to consider providing a noble title to Sir Roland, and thus, his daughter, in the future if his work in administering the Vale was done well. At that time, he would also dower his daughter accordingly.
The ladies of the Manor Keep arrived for dinner. Lady du Beaumont looked at Lord Stirwuard, wondering if he had followed through on his promise earlier in the summer, to restore her dower.
Lord Stirwuard raised his cup to Lady du Beaumont, and said to everyone, “Hear, hear. Lady du Beaumont is to be provided an estate in the Vale, in replacement of her cheated dower.”
Lady du Beaumont smiled, and raised her cup. But Lady du Bois did not join the toast. Her son, the Baronet, looked down, not sure if she would incur the wrath of Lord Stirwuard.
The Lord Stirwuard looked at her, but as everyone waited, she refused to speak.
As summer ended, Sir Roland and Lady Eithne said farewell under the Grain Moon. They were free to plan their nuptials, and decided they would marry in winter, to bring cheer to Ayre during the cold and dark season. Marrying after the autumn would give them time to procure the wine and food for the feast. They planned to marry at the Manor Keep in the Vale, unless the Church at Ayre were restored by then.
Meanwhile, Lady du Beaumont tried to make peace with Lady du Bois, who was bitter that her unchaste behavior was being rewarded, and that the Stirwuard was providing her, rather than his daughter, with an estate.
“We must work together, for the sake of the family,” she beseeched Lady du Bois.
According to the MCC rules, a gentry family may roll each summer and autumn (d9 x $5000) for the yield from imaginary crops. For summer, this family rolled 1, or $5000. They paid $4100 to the treasury, $500 each in tax and tithe, $1000 in rent, and $100 for Elise’s burial. That puts the Treasury Balance at $34,115. If the Chevalier’s roll a good harvest, we may have enough by the end of the round to rebuild the monastery and the convent, $40,000 in the treasury! The MCC financial record is here.
In order to help me work through the ins and outs of medieval sexuality, I read Sexuality in Medieval Europe: Doing Unto Others. The main premise is that sex was thought of primarily as something one party (male) did to another (female), which is completely different than our modern perspective that people enter into sexual activity as consenting equals, unless it is actually an act of sexual harrassment or violence or abuse. The book also discussed possible attitudes towards women, and different sexual behaviors based on church and court records from 500 CE to 1500 CE. The author argues that sources lead her to believe that having sex with widows was much less of a problem from a moral point of view than defloration of a virgin or desecrating the vows of a nun, or adultery with a married woman.
I was wary about writing this update because although Ayre is medieval and a basic misogyny exists including the unjust double standard for men and women, I did not want to villainize or shame either Lady Adele du Beaumont, as a “slut,” or Lady du Bois, as a puritanical or submissive woman. I didn’t really want to set the two ladies up as rivals either, but since Lady du Bois became furious with Lady Adele at one point, I included that in the story. From a story point of view I would have preferred to have them work together if game play had allowed.
Lady Adele du Beaumont and Sir Roland had three bolts and ACR had them interacting from within game hours of his wife’s death. At first I put them on friend zone but then since Lady du Beaumont wanted 3 simultaneous loves after she woohoo’d with Lord Stirwuard, I took it off and let it go. However, from a medieval point of view I thought that she would not want to continue the relationship or live in the house under her son in law’s authority, if she had other options. So after they woohoo’d I put them back on Friend Zone, but Sir Roland still had jealousy towards her when he caught her flirting later with a man-at-arms. Also, in the Warwickshire, under “Be the Favorite of a Lord,” on the behaviors and outcomes table, a higher station male sim can give his mistress a “sumptuous estate,” and I decided she would advocate for that so that she would have autonomy in her life.
Lady Adele du Beaumont has a lifetime want of 20 simultaneous loves, and she was able to have three: Lord Stirwuard, Sir Roland, and Sir Brice. She flirted with Rob, the red head, who apparently Lady du Bois had also flirted with, because she became furious with Lady du Beaumont for flirting with him. I have a mod that keeps sims from slapping when they are cheated on, but still shows “Slap” as an interaction when they would do so. Sir Roland became furious with Lady Adele du Beaumont and “slapped” her when she flirted with Rob outside the Squire’s Chapel. He also autonomously left the fireworks to find her at the party to belch at her. (Which I’ve also never seen before!) I don’t think he saw her slow dancing with Sir Brice though.
I also didn’t want to excuse or under represent Sir Roland’s double standard towards his mother-in-law, but I also didn’t want Sir Roland, who is morally neutral, with a nice personality and popularity aspiration, to start out seen as completely characterized only for harrassing her. In other words, from a story perspective he did, in modern language, harrass Lady du Beaumont, but that is not necessarily typical behavior for him. From a simming game perspective, he did not sexually harrass her since they both engaged in ACR interactions freely.
Lady du Bois encouraged Liselle to be neat (I think), and the result was that she nagged Lady du Beaumont, which I’ve never seen before!
Finally, the matter of Eithne’s dowry: I think it is a little out of character for Lord Stirwuard to refuse to give it. However according the MCC rules, I am not supposed to have any nobility yet except the steward and I think it would be cheating to give a dowry from a non playable like the steward to a playable family. When it is time to add two noble families I may give this family a noble title and add a new Gentry family instead (and I may do the same thing with Lady Chevalier). It kind of makes more sense for a family with skills to be noble than a brand new family. But I haven’t decided.
I found a site, Nancy Mayer Regency Researcher, that I have used as a reference for proper titles and how characters would refer to each other. Although it is a regency site, it is better information than none for names and titles in the medieval period.
The Baronet (one station above Squire) is the head of Ayre’s newest gentry household. He has been asked to administer the Vale, which includes the King’s Forest, the Glen, and will include a crossroads village and farming community. The monastery and cloister will also be in the Vale near Saint-Lorien. Gentry did not own land or have the right to rents.
I rolled a household of six. I rolled for two children and a teen, so instead of making the teen, Lady Liselle, the Baronet’s daughter, she is his sister. She might go in the autumn to the Squire’s home in Ayre to learn to run a household. She would like to join monastic orders (want for a custom career) but there is not a cloister yet in Ayre.