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Timeline: the White Lady and the Hanged Man

What's the connection?

When I give a talk about Alina, The White Lady of Oystermouth, I do it without notes because I know the story so well. It makes for a more lively presentation too. But I don’t remember the dates, and I realised at my last talk that without a timeline it deprives the story of historical context. Most people don’t know the kings and queens of England well enough to use Edward II to orient them in history.

de Braose family tree part 2

I decided to get out the de Braose family tree (see above for the relevant part) and look over it again to familiarise myself with the timeline and relationships of the characters. I had a surprise when I checked where my new history book, Swansea Miracle, fits into the family tree. You see, the story happens in November 1290 and the Lord of Gower, William de Braose, who ordered the hanging, died only a few weeks later in January 1291. Alina was born in 1291.

As I wrote the story I knew it was about Alina’s grandfather (William V above) and father (William VI) but I thought it was long before she was born (should have checked the timeline). Because her grandfather and father were both called William I have called her grandfather Lord William and her father William junior. But this set an image in my mind of William junior as a young man, and will probably do the same for my readers. This conjunction of dates changes it all. Alina was born the year after the miracle and she was ‘junior’s’ third child! I know they married early in those days but that’s ridiculous.

de Braose family tree cropped

Checking the family tree and the timeline, Lord William was born in 1220 and William junior in 1261. So at the time of the miracle Lord William was seventy and William junior was thirty. I don’t have birth dates for Alina’s brother William and sister Joan but they were definitely older than her. Brother William died in 1320 and Joan died in 1323, which is why Alina was the heir to the Lordship of Gower. Clearly I need to make some changes to Swansea Miracle.

Head shot Ann Marie ThomasAnn Marie Thomas is the author of four medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Intruders, Alien Secrets, and Crisis of Conscience are out now. Follow her at