Review: St. Bartholomew's Man by Mary Delorme, editor Jon Delorme
Genre: Historical Fiction, Medieval England.
Format: pdf and read on my Kindle.
Rating: 4 Stars for Very Good.
Source: Free copy from Jon Delorme in exchange for a review. All reviews expressed are from my own opinion.
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Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem: Rahere "The Wish House".
To read more information on Rahere: Rahere, the Founder of St. Bartholomew's Hospital.
Rahere, other known spellings are Raher or Raherius. Lived during the age of King Henry I of England. Rahere's birth is unknown, his death was in 1144. He is buried in St. Bartholomew's Priory which he established along with the hospital in 1123. He had been a minstrel in Henry's court. A minstrel is defined as an entertainer. Minstrels were common in royal court from 11th through 17th centuries. There are few (solid) resources in which to find biography information on Rahere. One in particular has been destroyed. I came across a poem by Rudyard Kipling which is noted above.
Rahere an orphan, was raised in a monastery. He sang in the boy's choir. The monks lovingly cared for him, and his years there were spent in comfort and peace. At an early age Rahere shows compassion and a servant's heart. He later leaves the monastery and begins training as a minstrel in King William Rufus's court. William Rufus (1056-1100) was the son of William I, the Conqueror. Rahere was imprisoned and abused for a period of time, and later released. He had wanted to build great things to help people. St. Bartholomew's Man, focuses on Rahere's vision, plan, and act, of building St. Bartholomew's Priory and Hospital, the first hospital in London.
I loved this story. Rahere's loving heart is depicted throughout the story. His character qualities are shown as: gentle, kind, sensitive, and merciful. When other people wronged Rahere, he is not vengeful, but perseveres in a higher calling. He is a character which exudes Christ-like love.
The rulers of William Rufus, Henry I, Stephen, and Matilda the daughter of Henry I, are all depicted.
Matilda's quest and struggle to rule is weaved in to the story. This period of English rule was one of insecurity. However, Stephen's rule was relatively peaceful, but he spent money lavishly.
I loved reading about life in a monastery. Their haven was a city of its own. They had a garden and a kitchen. They helped the poor and sick. Holiday celebrations were warm and joyous.
St. Bartholomew's Man has given me another interpretation of life during the 11th century. I've read several books on kings, queens, and royal court officials, but this is a first in reading about a minstrel, and builder of a hospital.