One of the fundamental rules of the Navy SEALS is “Assume Nothing.” According to Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements, the Third Agreement, is “Assume Nothing.” So, some of the things I learned not to assume as I was writing my first published novel, Blood Bonds: The Caravan, were:
Did any of the following exist anywhere on earth in the tenth century?: stirrups (yes), shaking hands in greeting (yes), gunpowder (yes), coffee (well, sort of, but I finagled it for the first campfire scene), paper (parchment and vellum), pens and ink (yes), books (just getting there), any kind of portable timepiece (not really).
When did Italian, French, Spanish, German, English, and so forth, become separate languages? They were around, but weren’t written down. In fact, the vernacular was only used by uneducated locals. Scholars used Latin (Can’t you just hear the snobbery in their voices?).
When did swordfighting rules get set up? Well after the tenth century.
When did castles first come about? Um…
When I went to research the tenth century, specifically, I got some real eye-openers. More about them, next time.