Saturday, 25 July 2009

The White Lady of Oystermouth

Alina de Breos (also spelled de Braose) was born about 1291 and her father William de Breos was Lord of Gower. The administrative centre for Gower was at Swansea Castle, but they preferred to live at Oystermouth Castle. Alina was married to John de Mowbray when she was only seven, and led an eventful life. She is regarded as being responsible for the building of the chapel at Oystermouth Castle, and is said to haunt it, being known as the White Lady of Oystermouth.

I first discovered Alina when researching Swansea Castle for a fantasy story idea about travelling back in time to the castle in its heyday. Its heyday turned out to be the late 13th and early 14th century. All that remains of the castle is one corner at the top of a steep bank above The Strand, which used to run along the River Tawe. Apart from being a major port, I always assumed that Swansea was an insignificant town, but as I researched I found that it was part of a rebellion which toppled a king.

The fantasy story receded further into the background as I got more and more interested in this period in history. In this blog I aim to share my research and my thoughts as I plan to write a historical novel about Alina. In a novel, certain things have to be made up - the details of daily life, conversations etc. - but the historical facts must be accurate. I need to find out as much as I can, and make decisions about how to portray the rest. I hope you'll join me for the journey, and maybe learn a few things along the way.

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