The surprisingly true tale of how my picture almost wound up in a castle in Wales.
Yep. You heard that right. I’m famous.
Or almost was.
While I was in the hospital, I received quite an interesting email. Came all the way from Wales. Apparently, a certain picture I took a while back of one of my characters made quite the circuit of the web, until the man who contacted me stumbled upon it while scouting for images to represent a princess of Wales from the twelfth century, Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd.
So, he contacted me to verify that the image was mine and request my permission to use it in an introductory panel in a castle in Wales.
(The photo in question)
My first thought: The costume isn’t historically accurate! How could they use it?
My second thought: If they don’t care, I don’t!
Sadly, being woefully ignorant of Welsh history, I had never before heard of Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd. So I decided to do a little bit of research and was completely fascinated by what I discovered—hooray for Wikipedia!
Gwenllian lived from 1097-1136, during one of the many conflicts between the Welsh and the Normans. She married Gruffydd ap Rhys, a prince of Wales, and joined him in leading daring raids against the Normans. Matters came to a head while Gruffydd was away on an alliance forming mission, so Gwenllian mustered the army and marched into battle herself.
Only to be defeated near Kidwelly Castle and beheaded by her enemies. A tragic end to the tale. But her example was an inspiration to the Welsh in their struggle against the Normans, and her name became a common battle cry throughout the conflict.
Fascinating, isn’t it? Check out Wikipedia’s article on Gwenllian ferch Gruffydd to find out more!
Research completed, I weight the pros and cons. I was amazed at the similarities between Gwenllian and the character in my novel that I had been depicting. Not only that, but her name is practically the same as mine! And who could say no to having their picture in a castle in Wales?
Pros won. Cons lost. So I said yes.
And immediately began planning ways to scrimp and save so I could eventually take a trip to Wales to visit the castle and research Gwenllian and walk the battlefield where she fought and died.
Only to get another email a few days later that regretfully informed me that they had run the image past a historian who rejected the photograph on the basis that the costume wasn’t historically accurate.
Should have listened to my first thought.
So there you have it. The fascinating tale of how my picture almost wound up inside a castle in Wales … and the even more fascinating tale of a princess of Wales who fought alongside her husband for the defense of her people.
I still intend to find out more about Gwenllian. Amazing character inspiration right there!