Friday, May 10, 2013

Characters: Doña Lambra and Doña Sancha

I used these illustrations of ninth-century noble ladies as the inspiration for what Doña Lambra and Doña Sancha, the two main female characters, are wearing the first time they meet each other in Burgos before the wedding. 

I colored the edges of Lambra's chain mail girdle and sleeves to appear as if they were pieces of jade in a brass setting. Her dress should probably be a richer color, as it's her best dress, inherited from her mother. I think the most inspiring element of this sketch is the haughty look in the tilt of her head and pursing of her lips.

I imagined Sancha's underdress or chainse to be made of a delicate, expensive fabric, and the tunic or bliaud to be richly colored, but with a more Hispanic type of embroidery. The mantle seems mainly practical to me, but perhaps it was once dyed a very dark color that has faded to grey with washing. I imagine her shorter than Lambra, even though she's much older, and the pleasant expression in the sketch is appropriate to the character I describe in the novel.

These come from Tom Tierney's Medieval Fashions Coloring Book. Sometimes, writing gets to be too much and you just have to color.

Cultural note: The title doña is the female equivalent of don, which is used in the same manner as English "sir." It may be used with the first name or the complete name, but not with the last name only. Derived from Latin dominus and domina, they translate more or less to "Lord" and "Lady."


  1. Jessica, I love the subject and the illustrations alike. Is the novel available on Kindle?

  2. Hi Marta, thanks for stopping by! The novel isn't available yet. I'm getting ready to submit to agents. Email me if you'd like to read the current version!