Brother Cadfael is a monk at the Abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul in Shrewsbury and the title character in the series of novels by Ellis Peters. By virtue of the fact that unlike most monks he was a crusader and a ship’s captain for forty years before joining the monastery, and, additionally, became…
Whole shiploads, we are told, were sent abroad to the book-binders, that vellum or parchment might be cut up in their trade.
Her Cadfael books will be recognised by genre historians as pioneering works. Perhaps she pulled her punches when it came to describing the real muck and blood and stench of the Middle Ages...and perhaps too, latterly, her emphasis on the goodness of her characters was overdone. Even so, she redefined the form by avoiding irony in her work...and concentrating on the alien quality of the past...while at the same time pointing up the essential continuity of the human condition. And she always wrote, whatever the genre, with absolute conviction.
'Fat smiles on the faces of the husbandmen,' said Hugh Beringar, fresh from his own harvest in the north of the shire, and burned nut-brown from his work in the fields, 'and chaos among the kings. If they had to grow their own corn, mill their own flour and bake their own bread they might have no time left for all the squabbling and killing.'