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In the period before industrialization and urbanization, and long before the digital age, the majority of Europeans were poor and illiterate.

Most people worked on farms, tending crops or animals. A tiny minority formed a wealthy aristocracy that owned most of the land and wielded all of the political power.


Men would draw daggers from their belts and boots to carve portions of meat but later in the novel, Isolde reveals superior education by producing a fork which her father gave her from the courts of France.

At Lucretili Castle, Ishraq sits at the ladies table to the side of the raised dais and Isolde goes up the shallow stairs to the great table on the raised dais where she sits to the right hand side of Giorgio and her father.

They would be served the best dishes, flagons of red wine, sugared fruits and marchpane and would send what they didn’t eat down the hall to those men who had served them well during the day.

The River

In the novel, Isolde’s brother and the Lady Abbess conspire to gather gold from the Castle’s river using sheep fleeces.

"The beams from the rising sun poured into the loft through the opening and shone on glistening fleeces of gold, hanging up to dry, as the gold dust sifted through the wool to fall onto the linen sheets spread on the floor below. The room was like a treasure chamber, with gold dust underfoot and golden fleeces hanging like priceless washing on the bowed lines."

In Greek mythology, the Golden Fleece is the golden hair of a winged ram. It is the subject of a quest in the story of Jason and the voyage of the Argonauts. King Pelias charges Jason with finding the Golden Fleece in order to assume his position as King of Thessaly.

There are historical accounts in which a sheep’s fleece is used to collect tiny particles of gold from running streams, these accounts date back as early as the 5th century BCE. One account from Georgia describes how the fleeces were submerged in water and then hung up to dry and the gold combed out. This method is still used today in some parts of Georgia.