Read Brewer's Tale, The Online

Authors: Karen Brooks

Brewer's Tale, The

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

K
aren Brooks is the author of nine books. She is an associate professor and honorary senior research consultant at the University of Queensland, and an honorary senior fellow at the University of the Sunshine Coast. A newspaper columnist with Brisbane's
Courier Mail
, she's also a social commentator who has appeared regularly on national TV and radio (including a four-year stint on
The Einstein Factor
as part of the ‘Brains Trust'). Karen has a PhD in English/­Cultural Studies and has published internationally on all things popular culture, education and social psychology. An award-winning lecturer, she's taught throughout Australia and in the Netherlands, and keynoted at many education conferences around the country. Before turning to academia and
writing, she was an army officer for five years and prior to that dabbled in acting. For some reason, all her career choices started with ‘A': acting, army, academic and author! Nowadays she has slowed down somewhat and finds her greatest contentment in studying history and ­writing — both historical fiction and serious social commentary.

When not writing, she loves being with her family (husband ­Stephen and two adult children, Adam and Caragh) and her ‘fur kids' — the dogs, Tallow and Dante, and four crazy cats: Claude, (Thomas) Cromwell, Jack Cade and Baroque — and spending time with friends, cooking, travelling, reading and dreaming.

Karen currently lives in Hobart, Tasmania, in a beautiful Georgian house built in 1868, which has its own wonderful stories to tell.

ALSO BY KAREN BROOKS

Fiction

The Curse of the Bond Riders trilogy:

Tallow

Votive

Illumination

Young Adult Fantasy

It's Time, Cassandra Klein

The Gaze of the Gorgon

The Book of Night

The Kurs of Atlantis

Rifts Through Quentaris

Non-fiction

Consuming Innocence

The
BREWER'S TALE

KAREN BROOKS

www.harlequinbooks.com.au

This tale is for my wonderful agent and friend, Selwa Anthony, who is quite simply the best
.

It's also, like all my books, for Stephen, without whom my life would be a very different story
.

Twenty thousand years ago, it was a goddess who gave life and abundance and it was the goddess who, out of a mother's love and pity for her fallen children, gave the gift of brew to the women of mankind. The cup of bliss, the gourd of temporary forgetfulness was filled with beer …

In all the ancient societies, in the religious mythologies of all ancient cultures, beer was a gift to women from a goddess, never a male god, and women remained bonded in complex religious relationships with feminine deities who blessed the brew vessels …

Alan Eames, quoted in Stephen Harrod Buhner,
Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers: The Secrets of Ancient Fermentation

‘If a venture prospers, women fade from the scene.'

Joan Thirsk, quoted in Judith M. Bennett,
Ale, Beer, and Brewsters in England: Women's Work in a Changing World 1300–1600

CONTENTS

Glossary

Part One

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Seventeen

Eighteen

Nineteen

Twenty

Twenty-One

Twenty-Two

Twenty-Three

Twenty-Four

Twenty-Five

Twenty-Six

Twenty-Seven

Twenty-Eight

Twenty-Nine

Thirty

Thirty-One

Thirty-Two

Thirty-Three

Thirty-Four

Part Two

Thirty-Five

Thirty-Six

Thirty-Seven

Thirty-Eight

Thirty-Nine

Forty

Forty-One

Forty-Two

Forty-Three

Forty-Four

Forty-Five

Forty-Six

Forty-Seven

Forty-Eight

Forty-Nine

Fifty

Fifty-One

Fifty-Two

Fifty-Three

Fifty-Four

Fifty-Five

Fifty-Six

Fifty-Seven

Fifty-Eight

Fifty-Nine

Sixty

Sixty-One

Sixty-Two

Author's Note

Acknowledgements

GLOSSARY

M
y intention was to make most of the unfamiliar medieval terms clear by creating context throughout the novel, but sometimes this hasn't been possible, especially regarding the use of festivals and religious feasts to mark the passage of time as well as some of the dates used.

Below is a small glossary I have compiled.

Holidays and festivals

Michaelmas
: 30 September. This was the day upon which the last of the harvest was gathered. It was when rents were due and a time of feasting as folk prepared for winter.

St Martin's Day
or
Martinmas
: 11th November and traditionally the day for slaughtering livestock.

St Catherine's Day
: 25th November. St Catherine was the patron saint of lawyers, wheelwrights, rope makers, carpenters, lace makers and spinners. She was also the guardian of single women who, on this day, would often pray for a husband. Catherine wheels were lit, special cakes (cattern cakes) made and feasts planned. This day was more popular on the continent and slowly fell out of favour in England.

Feast of St Nicholas
: 6th December.

Conception of the Blessed Virgin
: 8th December.

Feast of St Thomas the Apostle
: 21st December.

Adam and Eve's Day
: 24th December — Christmas Eve.

St Stephen's Day
: 26th December.

Twelfth Night
or
Epiphany
: 6th January. Marks the end of the twelve days of Christmas celebrations and is said to be the day God revealed Jesus Christ was his son.

Feast of the Epiphany
: The last of the Christmas feasts.

Hocktide
: The second Monday or Tuesday after Easter. Rents were due on this day.

St John at Port Latin Day
: 6th May.

Dates

I use the terms ‘kalends', ‘nones' and ‘ides' to mark days of the month as was done in the medieval period.

Kalends
: fell on the first day of the month.

Nones
: fell on the 7th of months with 31 days — namely January, March, May, July, August, October and December— and on the 5th of other months.

Ides
: fell on the 15th day of months with 31 days — namely January, March, May, July, August, October and December — and the 13th of other months.

Time

The passage of time followed in the novel is that used by the church and translates loosely as follows:

Lauds
was at dawn or even earlier.

Prime
was around six o'clock in the morning.

Tierce
was approximately nine o'clock in the morning.

Sext
represented midday.

None
was around three o'clock in the afternoon.

Vespers
was at six o'clock in the evening or dinnertime.

Compline
was approximately nine o'clock at night or bedtime.

General terms

Escheator
: someone who dealt with ‘escheats' or property that's not entailed by a will and is ceded to the Crown. The role of the medieval escheator was varied, but he most often was someone who dealt with lands and acquisitions involving a royal licence (or those who attempted to evade one) and/or authority or with someone who committed a felony. In the case of felony or fraud, the property could be seized. The escheator was often assisted by a bailiff and clerks.

Cucked/cucking
: a popular punishment meted out to those who broke the law. It involved being dunked in or doused with water or, as in the novel, ale.

PART ONE
The Brewer of Elmham Lenn

SEPTEMBER 1405–JUNE 1406

A man that hath a sign at his door,

And keeps good Ale to sell,

A comely wife to please his guests,

May thrive exceedingly well …

From ‘Choice of Inventions', quoted in Judith M. Bennett,
Ale, Beer, and Brewsters in England: Women's Work in a Changing World 1300–1600

ONE

ELMHAM LENN

Dawn, the day after Michaelmas

The year of Our Lord 1405 in the sixth year of the reign of Henry IV

A
sharp wind slapped the sodden hem against my ankles. Clutching the cloak beneath my chin with one hand, I held the other over my brow as a shield from the stinging ocean spray and squinted to see past the curtain of angry grey mizzle drawn across the entry to the harbour. I tried to transport myself beyond the heads, imagine what lay out there; see with my mind's eye what my physical one could not.

Just as they had for the last three days, land and water conspired against me.

With a protracted sigh, I turned and walked back along the dock, my mantle damp and heavy across my shoulders. Brine made the wood slick and the receding tide had strewn seaweed and other flotsam across the worn planks. Barnacles and ancient gull droppings clung to the thick timbers, resisting the endless waves. I marvelled at their tenacity.

On one side of the pier, a number of boats protested against their moorings, rocking wildly from side to side, abandoned by their crews till the weather passed. Along the pebbled shores of the bay, smaller vessels were drawn high, overturned on the grassy dunes, their owners hunkered near the harbourmaster's office at the other end of the dock, drinking ale and complaining about the unnatural weather that stole their livelihood, pretending not to be worried about those who hadn't yet come home. I waved to them as I drew closer and a couple of the old salts raised their arms in return.

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