I love stories that weave history, intrigue, and magic together. That’s why I jumped at the chance to support this super cool blog tour with author Tracy Falbe. So what’s the Werewolves in the Renaissance Blog Tour about? Let me give you the rundown, book description (and cool discount codes!) below, and we’ll also hear from Tracy Falbe who guest posts here today about Gypsies.
Book Title & Author
Werelord Thal: A Renaissance Werewolf Tale by Tracy Falbe
Thal is wanted for Devil worship and shape shifting but still boldly walks the streets of 16th century Prague. Jesuits hunt him. Mercenaries fear him. Musicians sing his praise, and women are captivated by his alpha swagger.
Born of a witch and a sorcerer, he is summoned when his desperate mother casts the werewolf spell before facing torture and execution. Burdened with her magical call for vengeance Thal seeks the men that killed her. His hunt is complicated when the Magistrate’s stepdaughter Altea Kardas crosses his path. Horrified that her community is burning women to death, she can confide her doubt and fear only to Thal.
He desires her greatly but knows he will bring ruin upon her. Across Bohemia and beyond people who are different are labeled heretics in a restless world hobbled by tyrannical ignorance. The Renaissance has thrown the Holy Roman Empire into turmoil. Printed books are spreading radical ideas. Firearms are triggering a new age of warfare. And the human spirit is shaking off obedience.
Thal embodies the ancient magic of the pagan past. He challenges a world conquered by a spiritual system that denies the flesh and forgets the Earth. And he awakens within Altea recognition of these truths. She believes any risk is worth loving him until she becomes the bait in a trap set by Thal’s enemies.
$3.99 (kindle, epub, or pdf) Available Worldwide
Save 25% – enter discount code WLT25 at checkout (expires 3/31)
$12.99 (6×9 trade paperback 356 pages)
Save 20% – enter discount code CU9KJ3E3 at checkout
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Guest Post: Gypsies in Renaissance Europe
By Tracy Falbe
Gypsies were one of the first historic groups that came to mind when I decided to write Werelord Thal: A Renaissance Werewolf Tale. Set in 16th century Bohemia, the novel opens with the hero Thal emerging from the forest with only a wolf fur. Magic has transformed him from wolf to man, and he’s still quite muddled when he reaches a Gypsy camp.
I chose the Gypsies for his first human encounter because I imagined them living at the fringes of society. They also seemed likely to take in a wandering naked man.
While preparing to write the Gypsy scenes, my research revealed that they were beginning to enter Central and Northern Europe at the time of the Renaissance from their longstanding territories in Eastern Europe. My main source of information is the book “The Gypsies” by Angus Fraser.
The term Gypsy comes from the erroneous concept that they were from Egypt. They circulated the story that they had been condemned to wonder because their ancestors had denied the Christ shelter from persecution. Apparently, this curse created some tolerance for their wandering ways among Christians.
More accurately it is believed that Gypsy origins were in the Hindu kingdoms and they came into Europe via Persia. One story said that the Hindus sent the Persians many musicians and performers and they became the Gypsies.
Initially in the 15th century when the Gypsies spread farther into Europe they were shown some tolerance in the Holy Roman Empire. When a Gypsy group approached a town and set up camp, the town officials might agree to give them alms, often with the admonishment that they should move on soon. Sometimes they left. Sometimes they did not. To reflect this practice in the novel I explain that the Gypsies had overwintered near a monastery that had provided them charity. The local baron however is anxious to kick them out now that it is spring.
Tolerance and charity for Gypsies were always spotty, and local sentiments toward them were overwhelmingly negative. The Bavarian Chronicle from 1439 written by Johann Thurmaier provides his scathing opinion of Gypsies.
“At this time, that thievish race of men, the dregs and bilge-water of various peoples, who live on the borders of the Turkish empire and of Hungary (we call them Zigeni) began to wander through our provinces under their king Zindelo, and by dint of theft, robbery and fortune-telling they seek their sustenance with impunity.”
In addition to begging and stealing Fraser’s book said that Gypsies were often accused of espionage, which makes sense because their traveling would give them access to information about neighboring areas and enemies. As the 16th century wore on toleration eroded within the Holy Roman Empire. Making Gypsies go away proved difficult. Even when towns outlawed their presence they would come back eventually.
My presentation of the 16th century Gypsies shows both sides. I create some sympathy for their homeless existence and reviled status, but I do not shun the negative stereotypes either. My Gypsy characters are thieves, prostitutes, poachers, and fortune tellers. This is life at the margins where the rules of society get bent and battered.
During his time with the Gypsies Thal experiences humanity as a member of an outcast group. Considering he is a man with werewolf powers, the perspective suits him because he can never truly fit into mainstream society.