Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Sunday, October 12, 2008

#132 What if I lived in medieval Sweden?

This week’s prompt from Sunday Scribblings asks us to imagine what if we had to live at a different time in history. I’ve always been drawn to medieval Sweden because my grandmother’s people can trace their family back to the 1600s, but I’ve never seen myself as a lady in a castle. Even if time travel were possible, the odds are against it, and I’d most likely find myself living in the lower classes. So despite today’s writing, I’m really happy to be in the 21st century, with my laptop and internet, sewing machine for quilting, and library cards for as many books as I could ever wish for.

Our castle is very cold, despite its fireplaces belching smoke. Even the immense and colorful tapestries of spring on the wall don’t help stop the cold air bristling down the corridors and hallways while furious winds swirl outside. I’m working in the kitchen. My backside is warm, but my hands are cold and so are my bare feet. I know I’ll have to carry the trays upstairs again, and the house thralls will be pinching me if I don’t go fast enough. I don’t like the dark spaces. Too many spiders.

Marta saw a rat the other day, sitting on top of a bag of oatmeal like he owned it, daring her to smack him. At least they let us sleep in the kitchen, Marta and me, beside the fireplace, when all the pots have been scoured with sand and the flagstones swept.

Yesternight strangers came, and our housecarls put on their padded armour and carried their battle-axes into dinner. I didn’t like stepping over their war gear and slipping on the bits of meat they’d thrown to the dogs. Better they’d thrown meat to me, though I’d snuck a bite or two as I carried heavy trays through the wide door and entered into the great room, where our jarl and his lady sat on a dias above a long trestle table. The men shouted at each other and drank deep from silver horns tied at their waists after pledging honor to our jarl.

I nearly dropped the tray more than once, as they jabbed their knives into the roast venison on my tray, tearing it away, the smell of their sweat mingling with the smell of sweet venison. Two strangers tried to grab me, but I got away. Marta was not so lucky; I’ll sleep alone tonight. I suppose I hate the cold most. I’ve heard it’s warmer south of Jutland.


  1. Wow, you are an incredible writer. I wish I could continue reading and the story wouldn't end.

  2. Anonymous4:19 PM

    That was splendid, the delightfully meaty description! I gnawed every word to the bone. That I’ve an affinity for the Middle Ages and am half Swedish made your usual good writing come all the more alive :-)

  3. If I think of living during that time, I imagine living at the top of the food chain. :) You've written a wonderful piece here!

  4. Marvellously written piece. Enjoyed that.

  5. For all the thoughts of who we would like to have been in the past, it's worth remembering all those who just lived a 'normal' life.

  6. Cool. I'm from Norway, so it's fun reading how someone imagines our corner of the world to be.

  7. Very lovely! Could envision being there - the smells added in with the sights and sounds - nice touch!

  8. Living in Hawaii for the past 10 years I kind of lost touch with my own heritage. My grandparents all came from Sweden and Norway. I realized after trying to connect with the Hawaiian culture that it was not mine own. I can 'appreciate' it but not embrace it. Every culture has its own attributes. Ooof the COLD though and the DARK.. eek! Not sure I could live there.. smiles and alohas from a warmer land.