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Cordaella is a British feminine name, and the most frequently used woman's name in Sutcliff's work. It is presumably Sutcliff's 'Celtic' version of Cordelia, a name attributed to a queen of the Britons by Geoffrey of Monmouth and popularised by Shakespeare's King Lear.

Warrior Scarlet (900 BCE)Edit

Cordaella marries Drem's elder brother Drustic and joins their household after Drem is exiled.

  • "And Drustic the brother of Drem has asked Belu from above the ford for the third daughter at his hearth."

Drem looked round quickly. He remembered that third daughter: Cordaella he thought her name was. A plump, pink girl who smelled like new bread. So she would be coming to spin beside the fire in his old home. Suddenly, and rather oddly, since he had never troubled about it himself, he hoped that she would be kind to Blai. (11)

  • There was a third woman in the house-place, these days, for Drustic had brought home the plump, pink Cordaella to be his wife; but she took no part in tending Drem. It was not that she was unwilling, but the only time she tried to bring him his food bowl, Blai took it from her, showing her teeth like a young vixen; so that Drem, watching in bewilderment, thought that he had been wrong in hoping that Cordaella would be kind to Blai, he should rather have hoped that Blai would be kind to Cordaella. (14)
  • He found the Grandfather sitting defiantly on a pile of cut turfs, with a horn of heather beer on his knee, with Drem's mother and Cordaella hovering over him, and Drustic standing by at a safe distance. (15)

Flowering Dagger (Bronze Age)Edit

Cordaella is the elder Royal Daughter of the unnamed tribe inhabiting the Downs, the elder sister of Saba. She is lately and happily married to Maelgun Swift-Spear, who was chosen for her by her father and his counsellors. She quarrels frequently with her brother Garim. She appears in two scenes of the story, primarily the opening, and her relationships with her husband and brother serve as a foil to Saba's.

  • Cordaella her sister was scrubbing an old but still serviceable kilt of her man’s, and smiling at it as she scrubbed. Cordaella had been married all but a moon now, to Maelgun Swift-Spear, chosen for her by their father and the Priest Kind because he was strong among the young warriors, and of the right degree of kinship to mate with the Royal Daughter of the Tribe. Cordaella seemed to like him well enough; and these days she had the bloom on her, the warm secret look that Saba had seen before in girls who had been making the man-and-woman magic, and found it good.
  • Cordaella stood confronting him, the spoiled washing clutched to her breast, and about her an air of high tragedy. “With such heedless fools as you running loose, it is in my mind that we should indeed! It is not even your own cloak that you have fouled! – But you have always thought that because you are the High Chief’s son –”
        Garim, his hand still through the collar of the young bitch, stood leaning on his spear, and watched his raging sister with an air of detached interest. “I will tell you a thing, Royal Daughter,” he said, when she seemed to have finished. “There are times when you grow shrill as a shrew mouse.”
        “Oh! You – you –” Cordaella threw the washing at him.
  • The quarrel, it seemed, was over. The quarrels between Garim and Cordaella generally ended as quickly as they began.
  • "Leave me alone, Den. Bide in the doorway, and see that nobody comes near.” All day she sat on the side of the bed-place, her knees drawn up to her chin, staring before her. Once, she heard Cordaella’s voice outside, and Den’s. And then Cordaella went away again.
  • She hoped that Cordaella would take Den and be good to her, and checked an instant, looking down, and saw that the child was awake and watching her.

Death of a City (60 CE)Edit

The house-keeper and nurse in Londinium of the first Lucius Calpurnius. She explained the Icenian succession to him and remained in Londinium when Boudicca attacked.

  • I carried the matter to Cordaella our house-slave, who had brought me up since my mother died. She was British - I mean still British, not British by birth but Roman but adoption like most of my father's friends. She would know what they meant by 'The Old Ways'. ...And I could see by her face as soon as I asked her that she did know, and also that it was something she did not want to talk about.
  • I noticed that she did not bend her head in the accustomed way, but looked him full in the face as she did so, like a free woman. I think a lot of slaves had run away by then, but not Cordaella. I've wondered since, why not. I suppose she loved us, and it was as simple as that... I suppose she had been a slave so long that there was no one else... I kissed her goodbye, and she put her hands on either side of my face and kissed me back. I knew I'd not be seeing her again – or our house.

Eagle's Egg (79-83 CE)Edit

A native of Lindum who moved to Eburacum in early 80 CE with her brother Vedrix. Their father was dead, and she was informally betrothed to a man in Lindum. In Eburacum they lived in the street behind the Temple of Sulis with an elderly female slave. In 80 she met Quintus, the standard-bearer of the Ninth Legion, and married him in 83 on his return from Caledonia. Her grandchildren were Roman and probably did not reside in Britain. She had thick red hair, blue eyes, a sense of humour, and a strong will.

  • (1) And then I rounded the corner of the temple garden; and there, at the well that bubbled up from under the wall, a few paces further up the street, a girl was drawing water. And I knew I’d been wrong about there being no colour left in the world, because her hair lit up that grey street like a dandelion growing on a stubble pile. — No, that's not right, either, it was redder and more sparkling; a colour you could warm your hands at. And the braids of it, hanging forward over her shoulders ‘thick as a swordsman’s wrist’ as the saying goes.
  • (1) She looked at me out of the bluest and brightest eyes I'd ever seen in any girl's head; not smiling back, but as though something amused her, all the same;
  • (1) 'Then – that is our house, yonder at the bend of the street,' she said,'The one with the workshop beside it and the big blue flower painted on the wall.'
  • (1) ‘I do have a cloak with a hood to it,‘ she said. And then, stopping her teasing. ‘But indeed I have not been long in Eburacum. My brother is making the picture-floor in the new Council Chamber, and he brought me up with him from Lindum, because he thinks that a growing town like this would be a good place for a craftsman to settle.’
  • (2) Aye well, in one way and another, we contrived to see quite a bit of each other as that Spring drew on. And after a while I kissed her, and she kissed me back as sweet as a hazel-nut. But it was after we had kissed each other, that we began to be unhappy. More and more unhappy. I daresay that sounds odd and the wrong way round, but we had our reasons, — seeing that the Legions don't allow any marrying ‘below the vine staff’; below the rank of Centurion, that is.
  • (2) ‘There are two words as to my brother’s plans,’ said Cordaella, with a sniff. But there could be no sniffing at the Legion’s rule about marrying below the vine staff.
  • (2) Somehow, almost without knowing it, I slipped into the British tongue, the Celtic tongue. I had grown used to speaking it, after a fashion, with Cordaella, for the Celtic is better than the Latin, for making love-talk to a British girl, and easier for explaining to her brother in, too.
      I said, ‘The love is upon me, for Cordaella.’
  • (2) ‘And did she tell you that I have already found for her a man of her own people before we left Lindum?’
  • (2) ‘Force Cordaella?’ he said. ‘In all the years since our father died, I have never found the way to make Cordaella do anything she was set against. If ever you do marry her, it may he that you will find the way, but I very much doubt it. Far more likely it will be the other way round.'
      ‘I’ll risk it,’ I said; and all at once it was as though the sun came out.
  • (3) Aye, I was the proud one, that day! For I’d seen Cordaella among the crowd that gathered to see us off, and she had seen me and waved to me. And I was through with garrison duty and going to join the fighting, and win my promotion and maybe make a name for myself and come back with the honours shining on my breast; and all for my girl Cordaella.
  • (3) But it was three years and more before we came marching back; and there were times when I came near to forgetting Cordaella for a while, though never quite.
  • (6) And there she was, her red hair lighting up the grey little street just as I remembered. She had filled the pail and set it on the well curb beside her. And she was just sitting there, half turned to gaze down into the water. She looked somehow as though she had been sitting there quite awhile.
  • (6) And then she suddenly turned grave, and held me off at arms’ length, and stood looking at me. ‘I do not believe that your great strong Roman Legions that march about in straight lines and build square forts would ever choose their Centurions just for making jokes at the right moment,’ she said. ‘But anyhow, I am thinking that people who make bad jokes at the right moment, are maybe much easier to be married to, than heroes.’

Outcast (c. 140 or 150 CE)Edit

A large, serene woman who keeps house for Justinius with her husband Servius. She notices Beric's resemblance to Justinius's long-dead wife and accidentally reveals it him while discussing it with Servius (15).

  • A huge woman clad in a tunic of shrieking saffron, with long swinging pendants of silver filigree in her ears. (15)
  • ‘I am Cordaella. I keep house for the Commander,’ said the woman in a soft, throaty voice like a wood-pigeon’s. (15)
  • It was a kind face, broad and soft-eyed and gentle. (15)
  • ‘Neither his nor any man’s. I am a free woman, and the wife of a Roman citizen,’ she told him with quiet pride. ‘My man served under the Commander, years ago; and when the Commander came back to Britain to make grazing land from the Marsh yonder, he took my man back into his service.’ (15)
  • There was no appeal against her—one might as well appeal against a mountain—but Beric found that he did not want to appeal against her. He lay down obediently, and she tucked the rug round his shoulders as though he had been a small child; and taking up the bowl, departed with a surging, billowy motion that was reassuring in itself. (15)
  • Both Servius and Cordaella had accepted the coming among them of a fugitive galley slave as something perfectly natural, for whatever Justinius did was right in the eyes of his small badger-grey henchman, while to Cordaella, no sort of stray could ever come amiss. (15)
  • The door of the kitchen-place stood open, and beyond it he could hear Cordaella scouring pots and singing to herself softly and tunelessly the while. (15)
  • ‘I have always cold meat ready dressed for your coming, and there is ewe-milk cheese and a new batch of spice cakes,’ Cordaella said tranquilly. (15)
  • The Drainer of Marshes laughed, already slipping off his heavy cloak. ‘You are a wonderful woman, Cordaella. It has long been my belief that you possess the second sight.’ (15)
  • Cordaella’s wood-pigeon voice was soft and troubled with old regrets. ‘But I knew there would be no good come of it. There was a robin weeping in the birch tree by the gate as the mule-cart passed out.’ (15)
  • ‘Since when would that be?’ demanded Cordaella, ruffled out of her usual serenity by the anxious day she had spent. (16)
  • Cordaella looked in silence at the two before her, the haggard young man and the little half-starved mongrel in his arms, and evidently decided that it was no time for asking needless questions, no time for speaking of last night. ‘Aiee, the pair of you!’ she said, in her softest and most wood-pigeon tone. ‘Is she much hurt, then?’ (16)
  • There came a flicker of saffron yellow in the warm shadows beyond the open house-place door, and Cordaella surged calmly into view, the silver filigree pendants swinging in her ears. ‘Your breakfast is ready,’ she said, as though if there had been a storm she had not noticed it. ‘And I have baked new bread; come you and eat it while it is hot.’ (18)

A Circlet of Oak Leaves (c. 150s CE)Edit

The daughter of a leather-merchant with whom Aracos lodges in Isca Silurium. She receives the Dacian Medic who returns the Corona Civica.

  • (2) He came to the leather’s merchant’s door and went in. The daughter of the house came out from an inner room when she heard him; he had always liked her, but tonight he only wanted to be left alone. “You are early,” she said, “but supper will be ready soon.”
    He shook his head. “I am not hungry, Cordaella.”
  • (3) There was a murmur of voices. The latch rattled down, the door opened and closed again. 'I am sorry,' said a quiet voice. 'Don't blame the woman; she tried to stop me.'
  • (3) He folded the Corona Civica carefully in its bit of old cloth again, and getting up, opened the door and called down the ladder, “Cordaella! Is there any supper left?”

The Lantern Bearers (c. 456 CE)Edit

Cordaella is a resident of Dynas Ffaraon, the wife of Cenfirth, known to Aquila and Ness. She features in a domestic dispute because she is present to pour wine for Aquila when Ness is not (13).

  • A woman bent over him to refill the cup that stood empty by his hand. He looked up, vaguely expecting it to be Ness, for the women generally poured for their own men in Hall, but it was the wife of one of the other captains; and when he came to think of it, he had seen no sign of Ness in Hall this evening. The woman smiled at him, and passed on. (13)
  • “A woman brought me cold meat and bannock and kept my winecup filled,” Aquila said, coldly angry now, and not quite sure why. “And when I looked up, it was Cordaella, Cenfirth’s wife, and not you.”

“I wonder that you noticed the difference.”

Aquila leaned down toward her over his bent knee. “There is a simple reason for that,” he said, repaying her in her own coin. “Cordaella smiled at me, so I knew that she could not be you.” (13)

Sword at Sunset (c. 480s CE)Edit

Cordaella is the name of a possibly hypothetical prostitute in Lindum (7).

  • We went back to the Sacculum, and Cei, still yawning his way out of his interrupted sleep, kicked the door shut behind us. “Well?” he grumbled. “What’s the word? I was just going down into the town.” Cei generally woke from sleep in a grumbling mood.

  “I’ll not keep you long,” I said. “There’ll still be plenty of the night left. And while you’re with her you can bid good-bye to Cordaella or Lalage or whoever it is this time.” (7)

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