Monday, October 27, 2014

Spare the Rod - Spoil the Wife

The Outrageous History of Wife Beating

Did you know that it wasn’t until recent history, the 20th century, that it became unlawful for husbands to beat their wives? Domestic violence has been a harsh reality for women for thousands of years. In my latest novel, The Novice, the underlying theme is domestic violence. I wanted to demonstrate the cycle of violence. If a woman in medieval times could free herself from the cycle of abuse, today’s women can choose to do the same. What follows is a historical timeline of domestic violence through the centuries.    

735 B.C.     

In Rome, the Law of Chastisement came into effect. Because a husband was liable for his wife’s actions, this law gave husbands the absolute rights to physically discipline their women provided that he beat her with a rod or switch no greater than the girth of the base of the man’s right thumb. This rule became a guideline for more than a thousand years.

300 A.D.     

The Church affirms a husband's authority to discipline a wife. Holy Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great, has his wife burned alive when she was no longer of use to him.

900 to 1300 A.D.   

In medieval Europe, the Church sanctions wife beatings. Priests advise abused wives to win their husbands' good will through increased devotion and obedience. Women are viewed as a lesser species, without the same feelings and capacity for suffering than men.  

1400 A.D.    

A Friar in Siena writes Rules of Marriage, religious laws that support wife-beating.

A woman named Christine de Pizan accuses men of cruelty and beating their wives. She begins the fight for women’s basic humanity, better education, and fair treatment in marriages.

1427 A.D.    

Saint Bernardino of Siena asks his male parishioners to restrain themselves when disciplining their wives and to show them the same mercy they would show their hens and pigs.

1500 A.D.    

In England, Lord Hale, a woman hater who regularly burned women at the stake as witches condones marital rape. Apparently, a husband cannot be guilty of rape because marriage was a contract and when a wife gave herself to a husband, she could not retract her consent.

Early settlers in America permit wife-beating for correctional purposes, however there is growing movement to declare wife-beating illegal.

In Russia, the Church sanctions the oppression of women by issuing an ordinance that made it legal for a man to beat or kill his wife for disciplinary purposes. But if a Russian woman killed her husband for injustices, the penalty was for her to be buried alive with only her head above the ground, and left to die.

In England, women and children are taught that it was their duty to obey the man of the house. Violence was encouraged.

1700 A.D.

In Germany, two lesbians were placed on trial for lesbianism and domestic violence. Both women were found guilty. One was sentenced to death. The other was sent to jail for 3 years and then banished, not because she was the victim of the violence, but because she was simple-minded.

1800 A.D.

England abolishes the right for men to chastise women.

Sweden gives men and women equal inheritance rights.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children are founded long before any organization to prevent cruelty to women.

A man in North Carolina was charged with striking his wife with a switch about the size of one of his fingers, but smaller than his thumb. The court upheld his acquittal on the grounds that no court should interfere with family government in trifling cases.

General Sherman, when he was negotiating the Treaty of 1868 with the Navajos insisted that the Navajos select male leaders only. The rule stripped Navajo women of their ability to participate in decision-making and taught Navajo men that it was okay to rob women of economic and political power, and to beat them.

Francis Power Cobbe published Wife Torture in England. In it, she documented 6,000 of the most brutal assaults on women over a 3 year period who had been maimed, blinded, trampled, burned and murdered. She believed that abuse by men continued because of the belief that a man's wife was his property. Her concerns resulted in a new law that allowed victims of violence to obtain a legal separation from the husband; entitled them custody of the children; and to retain earnings and property secured during the separation. But only if the husband was convicted of aggravated assault and the court determined she was in grave danger.

In England, the law was changed to permit a wife who had been habitually beaten by her husband to the point of life endangerment to separate from him, but not to divorce him

During the reign of Queen Victoria, new laws came into effect whereby wives could no longer be kept under lock and key, life-threatening beatings were considered grounds for divorce, and wives and daughters could no longer be sold into prostitution.

1900 A.D.

A French court rules that husbands have no right to beat their wives. Prior to this, the Napoleonic Code decreed that, “Women, like walnut trees, should be beaten every day.”

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Anita Delgado - The Spanish Dancer who became an Indian Princess

Anita Delgado

Who doesn’t love a real life fairy tale come true? Anita Delgado was a very beautiful dancer from Spain. Her father struggled to provide for his family, so Anita and her sister danced to help her family. It was while she was dancing that a Maharaja by the name of Jagatjit Singh Bhadur of Kapurthala was in the audience and became mesmerized by her performance.

Maharaja Jagatjit Singh Bhadur of Kapurthala 

He sent her notes and gifts pleading for her to meet with him, but the virtuous Anita refused them all. Even after he returned to his homeland, the letters continued, and soon, Anita was persuaded to answer them. He proposed to her, offering her family enough money to take care of them for life. At first, Anita hesitated because the Maharaja had other wives, but he assured her with promises they could be married in Europe and that she would have a home of her own in his homeland. These promises he made, create controversy for him. His government and family advise against the marriage, but he follows his heart. After they marry, Anita becomes pregnant and is brought to Kapurthala where she must face not only the animosity from his wives, but the government refuses to recognize her and she struggles to assimilate into a culture very foreign from her own.

What follows is a tale of great love, of immense wealth, but profound loneliness. With her gentle personality, kindness, and patience, she wins the heart of the people of Kapurthala who are fascinated with her, as well as the media of the time.

Their story is immortalized by author Javier Moro in a sumptuously exotic novel ripe with the visions and aromas of India!

A fascinating novel that transports us to the fabulous world of the maharajas—
abundant with harems, bacchanalian orgies, jewels, palaces, 
flamenco music, horses, Rolls-Royces, and tiger hunting.

On January 28, 1908, a young Spanish woman sitting astride a luxuriously bejeweled elephant enters a small city in northern India. The streets are packed with curious locals who are anxious to pay homage to their new princess, with skin as white as the snows of the Himalayas.

This is the beginning of the story, based on real events, of the wedding of Anita Delgado and the maharaja of Kapurthala, a grand story of love and betrayal that took place over almost two decades, in the heart of an India that was on the verge of disappearing.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Legend of Sheba by Tosca Lee

Her name is legend. Her story, the epic of nations. The Queen of Sheba. A powerful new novel of love, power, and the questions at the heart of existence by the author of the award-winning “brilliant” (Library Journal) and “masterful” (Publishers Weekly) Iscariot.

There is the story you know: A foreign queen, journeying north with a caravan of riches to pay tribute to a king favored by the One God. The tale of a queen conquered by a king and god both before returning to her own land laden with gifts.

That is the tale you were meant to believe.

Which means most of it is a lie.

The truth is far more than even the storytellers could conjure. The riches more priceless. The secrets more corrosive. The love and betrayal more passionate and devastating.

Across the Red Sea, the pillars of the great oval temple once bore my name: Bilqis, Daughter of the Moon. Here, to the west, the porticoes knew another: Makeda, Woman of Fire. To the Israelites, I was queen of the spice lands, which they called Sheba.

In the tenth century BC, the new Queen of Sheba has inherited her father’s throne and all its riches at great personal cost. Her realm stretches west across the Red Sea into land wealthy in gold, frankincense, and spices. But now new alliances to the North threaten the trade routes that are the lifeblood of her nation. Solomon, the brash new king of Israel famous for his wealth and wisdom, will not be denied the tribute of the world—or of Sheba’s queen. With tensions ready to erupt within her own borders and the future of her nation at stake, the one woman who can match wits with Solomon undertakes the journey of a lifetime in a daring bid to test and win the king. But neither ruler has anticipated the clash of agendas, gods, and passion that threatens to ignite—and ruin—them both. An explosive retelling of the legendary king and queen and the nations that shaped history.

The legend of the Queen of Sheba has captured the imaginations of people for many centuries. Now, in a newly written, lushly described novel, author Tosca Lee brings this fascinating, enigmatic woman to life. It is the 10th century B.C. and a young woman with three names, Bilqis, Sheba, Makeda, has inherited her father’s throne. Through a traveling merchant, she learns about King Solomon of Israel. Soon she exchanges letters with this distant king, who piques her interest and fills her with wonder. So in a bold move, against the wishes of her advisors, she compiles a vast hoard of riches and treasures and arranges for a caravan to make a near impossible and treacherous trek to visit him. What follows is a wonderful tale of passion and intrigue.  

This novel excelled at breathing life into the Biblical characters of Solomon and Sheba. Rich, quippy, intelligent dialogue are exchanged between these two monarchs, luxuriant with hidden meanings, and ripe with hidden love. An comfortable read, brilliant descriptions, and a story line with plenty of peril and intrigue makes this new novel definitely one to savor. I thoroughly enjoyed it and definitely recommend it! 

Most Viewed Posts