Read Shields of Pride Online

Authors: Elizabeth Chadwick

Tags: #Fiction, #General

Shields of Pride

Table of Contents


Title Page

Copyright Page


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Chapter 35

Chapter 36

Chapter 37

Chapter 38



Elizabeth Chadwick
lives in Nottingham with her husband and two sons. Much of her research is carried out as a member of Regia Anglorum, an early medieval re-enactment society with the emphasis on accurately recreating the past. She also tutors in the skill of writing historical and romantic fiction. She won a Betty Trask Award for
The Wild Hunt
, her first novel, and was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Award in 1998 for
The Champion
, in 2001 for Lords of the
White Castle
, in 2002 for The
Winter Mantle
and in 2003 for
The Falcons of Montabard
. Her sixteenth novel,
The Scarlet Lion
, was nominated by Richard Lee, founder of the Historical Novel Society, as one of the top ten historical novels of the last decade.


Visit the author’s website at


’Elizabeth Chadwick is a gifted novelist and dedicated researcher; she deserves to be mentioned with Anya Seton and Dorothy Dunnett’ - Sharon Kay Penman

Praise for Elizabeth Chadwick


‘Blends authentic period details with modern convention for emotional drama’


Elizabeth Buchan,
Mail on Sunday



‘One of Elizabeth Chadwick’s strengths is her stunning grasp of historical detail . . . her characters are beguiling, and the story intriguing and very enjoyable’


Barbara Erskine



‘Prepare to be dazzled’
Nottingham Evening Post



‘The best writer of mediaeval fiction currently around’


Historical Novel Review



‘Elizabeth Chadwick knows exactly how to write convincing and compelling historical fiction’


Marina Oliver


Also by Elizabeth Chadwick






Shields of Pride






Hachette Digital


Published by Hachette Digital 2009

Copyright © 1994, 2007 Elizabeth Chadwick


The moral right of the author has been asserted.


All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.


All characters and events in this publication, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.


A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.


eISBN : 978 0 7481 1308 8


This ebook produced by JOUVE, FRANCE


Hachette Digital
An imprint of
Little, Brown Book Group
100 Victoria Embankment
London EC4Y 0DY


An Hachette Livre UK Company

Author’s Note and Acknowledgement


Shields of Pride
was published in hardcover in the UK in 1994 but due to various complications, not least the demise of the Maxwell empire, it was never followed up in paperback and thus has had very limited availability until now. I am delighted that Little, Brown has republished this long-out-of-print novel. I am also delighted to have had the opportunity to re-edit it with a fresh eye and I hope readers will enjoy this twelfth-century tale of adventure and romance.

I would like to say thank you to my editor Barbara Daniel at Little, Brown for giving me the chance to refurbish this novel for a second debut to a wider audience and, as always, the advice, friendship and tireless endeavour of my agent, Carole Blake, has been a solid foundation-stone.

A very special thank you goes to the members of Regia Anglorum, the early-medieval re-enactment society, who have taught me so much more than I could ever glean from research books alone. Down the years, being a part of Regia has proved an invaluable part of my research and my novels would be very different without the expertise of its members past and present.

My protagonists are imaginary but their circumstances are taken from lives that were lived. Indeed, readers familiar with a later novel of mine,
Shadows and Strongholds
, will know that another Joscelin, a mercenary captain, actually lived in the mid-twelfth century and was given custody of Ludlow Castle together with the rich widow Sybilla FitzJohn and her two daughters.

Rushcliffe and Arnsby are imaginary castles but the former is the name of a constituency in South Nottinghamshire and while it has no castle to its name, it deserves one!

Nottingham itself is riddled with underground cave systems and I have been down several of them in the course of my research. There is an excellent one open to the public in the Broad Marsh shopping centre in the city centre, once the site of the foulsome tanneries mentioned in passing in
Shields of Pride



Summer 1173



Swearing through his teeth, Joscelin de Gael drew rein at the head of his mercenary troop and scowled at the covered baggage wain that was slewed across the Clerkenwell road, blocking the way. He had been in the saddle since dawn. It was late afternoon now, had been raining all day, and the comfort of his father’s London house was still five miles away on the other side of the obstruction.

An assortment of knights and men-at-arms surrounded the wain like witnesses clustering around a fresh corpse while a crouched man examined a damaged wheel. His cloak was trimmed with sable, his boots were of red leather and the horse his squire held was clean-limbed and glossy. A handful of women huddled together, anonymous in mantles and hoods, and watched the men from beneath the dubious shelter of an ash tree overhanging the road.

Dismounting, Joscelin tossed his reins to his own squire and approached the crippled wain. The soldiers stiffened, hands descending to sword-hilts and fingers tightening upon spear-shafts. The crouching man stood up and his gaze narrowed as he recognized Joscelin.

Joscelin eyed Giles de Montsorrel with similar disfavour. The baron was distantly related to the Earl of Leicester and thus considered himself a man of high standing. He viewed Joscelin, the bastard of a warrior who had carved his own nobility by the sword, as dung beneath his boots. They had encountered each other occasionally on the French tourney circuits but no amity had sprung from these meetings, Montsorrel not being the kind to forgive being bowled from the saddle on the end of a blunted jousting lance.

Forced by circumstance to be civil, Montsorrel gave Joscelin an icy nod which Joscelin returned in the same spirit before fixing his attention on the broken wheel. Not just broken, he could see now, but with a hopelessly shattered rim. ‘You haven’t a chance in hell of cobbling a repair here,’ he said. ‘You’ll have to hire another cart from the nearest village.’ He walked slowly around the stricken wain, examining it from all angles before halting in front of the three sturdy cobs still harnessed in line between the shafts. ‘How much weight do you carry?’

‘None of your business!’ Montsorrel snapped.

‘Oh, but it is,’ Joscelin said. ‘I cannot bring my own wain past while yours is obstructing the road. If it’s not too heavy, I’d be more than willing to help you drag it to one side.’

Montsorrel glared. ‘You think I’m going to stand aside for hired scum like you?’

Joscelin thumbed the side of his jaw. Suddenly he was very aware of the pressure of his sword-hilt against his hip. ‘Hired scum?’ he repeated softly.

One of the women murmured to her companions and, detaching herself from their group, stepped forward to place herself between the two men. She faced Joscelin, forcing him to divert his attention from Montsorrel. She had delicate features and unfathomable grey-blue eyes that held his for a moment before she turned to indicate the broken wain.

‘Messire, by the time we have found a wheelwright or hired another cart, the city gates will have closed for the night.’ She hesitated. ‘Forgive me, but I notice your own wain is larger than ours and but lightly laden. I am sure if you lent it to us of a kindness, my husband would compensate you for your inconvenience.’

Joscelin stared at her in surprise. He was accustomed to being propositioned by women but in different social circumstances and for different reasons, it had to be said, and never in front of their husbands. She looked down, a flush brightening her cheekbones. The rain continued to fall in a steady, cloth-soaking drizzle.

‘Linnet!’ Montsorrel’s anger diverted from Joscelin to his wife. ‘Do you dare to interfere?’

She flinched, but her voice was steady as she turned to him. ‘I was thinking of your son, my lord. He must not catch a chill.’

Montsorrel cast an irritated glare in the direction of the other women. Joscelin looked, too. One of the bundled figures under the tree was a small child. A little hand was held in the grasp of a nursemaid and Joscelin received the impression of wide, frightened eyes and a snub nose set in a small, wan face. Amid anger at finding himself trapped because he could not for shame refuse the woman, he felt a thread of pity for the infant.

Montsorrel said stiffly to Joscelin, ‘Very well, you’re a mercenary. I’ll pay you the rate to deliver the goods to my house.’

Joscelin bit back the urge to retort that he was not so much of a mercenary that he would allow the likes of Giles de Montsorrel to buy his obedience. ‘I’ll not serve you,’ he said derisively, ‘but your lady did speak of compensation. Perhaps we can reach an agreement.’

Montsorrel clenched his fists and looked as if he might burst.

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