A marriage of convenience arranged more than 900 years ago with Royal consent to stabilise the feuding borderlands between England and Scotland is the focus of a new book by Morpeth author Bridget Gubbins.
Juliana and Ranulph, of Morpeth Castle, tells the story of an arranged marriage between the conquering Norman de Merlay family and the Gospatric exiled earls of Northumberland that took place around 1113.
At the centre of the arrangement, negotiated with the consent of King Henry I, were a young couple – Juliana, born in Scotland into a family that had fought and ultimately lost the battle against their Norman conquerors, and Ranulph, the son of William de Merlay the first baron of Morpeth. The young couple did not know one another and didn’t even speak the same language. So in her book Bridget answers the question – was this the Romeo and Juliet story of Morpeth?
“Although I would have liked to say so I had to admit it wasn’t possible,” Bridget said. “We simply don’t have any evidence of romance or tragedy. Instead we only have a few bare historical facts about either of them. I knew that Juliana would hold in her head the adventures of her grandfather who fought the Norman conquerors but ultimately lost the struggle and her father and mother who grew up in exile in Scotland.”
The book considers what life would have been like in Morpeth in the days after the Norman conquests and introduces some of the little known characters who played a central part in the early history of the town.
“They are exciting stories and little told,” said Bridget.
Bridget’s new book will be launched in Morpeth at a meeting tonight, see below.