The Rose Rent

The Rose Rent

Infobox Book |
name = The Rose Rent

image_caption = Cover of the Grand Central Publishing paperback edition
author = Ellis Peters
illustrator =
cover_artist =
series = Brother Cadfael
genre = Mystery
publisher = William Morrow and Company
pub_date = 1986
english_pub_date =
media_type = Print (hardcover, paperback) & audio book
pages = 190 pp (hardcover edition), 240 pp (paperback edition)
isbn = ISBN 0333426827 (hardcover edition) , ISBN 0446405337 (paperback edition)
preceded_by = The Raven in the Foregate
followed_by = The Hermit of Eyton Forest

"The Rose Rent" is a medieval mystery novel set in the summer of 1142 by Ellis Peters, first published in 1986. This is the thirteenth novel in the Brother Cadfael series. It was adapted for television in 1997 by Central for ITV.

Explanation of the novel's title

A widow enters into a charter with the Shrewsbury Abbey in which they take rights to the property where she lived with her recently deceased husband and daughter, the rent to be paid for the property is a single white rose from the bush on the north wall on the property which must be delivered to her each year on the feast day of Saint Winifred.

Plot summary

In the spring of 1142 the friars of Shrewsbury Abbey are thinking of the approaching feast day of Saint Winifred. On that day the abbey must pay the rent on a piece of property given to it by the widow Judith Perle. Her husband and child died within twenty days of each other four years ago. She made a charter with the abbey where they would be given her house and gardens where she had lived, in exchange for a single white rose from the garden, to be delivered to her on the the feast day of Saint Winifred. Brother Eluric, who had delivered the rose for the past three years asks Abbot Radulfus to be released from this duty, as he is tormented by his desire for the widow Perle. Abbot Radulfus releases him and with the help of Cadfael he decides to have Niall the bronzesmith, who rents the property from the abbey, to deliver the rose. Judith Perle has several suitors but is not interested in marrying again. She discusses with Sister Magdalen the option of taking the veil and living with the sisters at Godric's Ford. Sister Magdalen convinces her to wait but says that her door is always open if she is in need of a place to rest and think.

Niall keeps his daughter with relatives in nearby Pulley. He returns from an overnight visit and finds that the white rose bush has been hacked up and at its base is Brother Eluric, dead with a knife by his side. While investigating the scene, Brother Cadfael finds a distinctive footprint and makes a wax impression. Cadfael tells Judith of Brother Eluric's desire for her. Upon going to bed that night, Judith tells her servent Branwen that, in the morning she is going to the abbey to draw up a new charter and make the gift of the property unconditional. The next day, Judith fails to arrive at the abbey and eventually is presumed missing. Hugh, Cadfael and Abbot Radulfus believe that Judith may have been kidnapped, perhaps to be forced into a marriage. If the rose is not delivered into her hands the charter would be broken and the property would be in control of the husband. The search begins and Cadfael finds the bronze tag from Judith's girdle that Niall had just repaired for her. It was found under a bridge where a boat had been hauled up in hiding. Cadfael's search of the river with Maddog finds a stolen boat discarded downstream on the River Severn. Bertred had seen something on the night that Judith Perle had announced that she would be going to the abbey to remake the charter. One of Hynde's men left suddenly after the announcement. It had come to him that Hynde was behind the disappearance of Judith Perle. He believed he knew where she was being held. In the middle of the night, he made his way to the old counting-house that had been securely shuttered and barred earlier that day. Bertred could hear Judith Perle inside with her gaoler, Vivian Hynde. He had been holding onto the sill and eventually it gave way and made a sound which alerted those within and the watchman. Bertred runs toward the river to escape. The watchman and his dog follow and the watchman gives him a glancing blow in the head but Bertred dives into the water, hits some rocks and is knocked senseless. He is not followed by either the watchman or the dog as they believe he is across the river.

Back in the counting-house, Judith convinces Vivian to take her to Sister Magdalen where she will say she has been in retreat during the past days and she promises not to reveal the truth about Vivian. She just wants this episode behind her. Someone came upon Bertred in the shallows and checked to see if he was alive and kicked him out into the current of the river. Cadfael, on a walk along the river the next morning, finds the dead body of Bertred. After examining Bertred's body, Cadfael noticed that Bertred's boots are a match for the wax impression of the boot found near the rose bush when Brother Eluric was killed. They have apparently found the murderer of Brother Eluric. Hugh and Cadfael talk to the watchman and discover that Bertred had been at the Vivian Hynde's storehouse the night before, where they find the broken window sill. They ask to search within but find nothing, even in the locked room where Judith had been held. Naill goes to Pulley to visit his daughter. He begins to think about bringing his daughter home for good, but she needs a mother. On his return, in the middle of the night he hears sounds and takes cover believing he can hear bandits. He sees a man leading a woman on a horse and recognizes that it is Judith Perle. He follows them for an hour until he hears Judith tell the man that he must leave her here as she knows the way. After the man leaves, he approaches closer when suddenly he hears her scream as someone is attacking her with a knife. He struggles with Judith and her attacker and eventually knocks the knife away after getting a gash on his left arm. He and Judith continue to the Benedictine nuns at Godrick's Ford. Judith tells Sister Magdalene their story and she agrees to go along with Judith's deception about being with the Sisters for three days. Sister Magdalene accompanies them back to Shrewsbury.

After her reunion at her home, Judith tells her tale of being attacked to Hugh. She tells him the truth about her abduction, that after mastering her captor she just wants the affair to end and will not bear witness against him. She tells how the man was with her when they heard Bertred fall and run off and be chased by the night watchman, so he could not have killed Bertred. Cadfael asks one of Judith Perle's servants to obtain two left shoes for him from her household. The servant returns and Cadfael examines the first that belonged to Bertred. It does not match the mold of the print from Brother Eluric's murder. The other shoe does match. Thinking there might be trouble with the rose bush, Cadfael investigates and finds that the Bush is on fire. Someone has covered it with oil and dropped a burning torch on it. Hugh visits Judith Perle and her cousin Miles and asks Miles when he gave his boots to Bertred. Miles' mother revealas that it was the day they had found Brother Eluric dead. Miles had killed Brother Eluric and later given his boots to Bertred. Hugh then confronts him as the murderer of Brother Eluric, Bertred and the attempt to kill Judith Perle. Miles admits to killing Brother Eluric but says it was not murder. Brother Eluric came at him like a madman and he was just trying to get away. Later, after Miles had been taken away, Niall arrives at Judith's house with a white rose. He had picked it the night before the fire, he delivers the rose rent and begins to leave, but Judith asks him to stay.

Characters in "The Rose Rent"

*Brother Cadfael is a Benedictine monk and herbalist at Shrewsbury Abbey in Shrewsbury.
*Hugh Beringar — Sheriff of Shrewsbury
*Abbot Radulfus — Head of Shrewsbury Abbey
*Judith Perle — Widow and sole mistress of the Vertiers' clothier business
*Brother Eluric — a brother at Shrewsbury Abbey
*Sister Magdalen — A sister at the Benedictine cell at Godric's Ford
*Niall — a bronzesmith who had a shop and workshop on the property give to the abbey by Judith Perle
*Miles Coliar — Judith Perle's cousin, he manages the family business for Judith.
*Vivian Hynde — Suitor of Judith Perle, owned the biggest sheep flock in the cental western uplands of the shire
*Branwen — Servant girl in the house of Judith Perle.
*Godfrey Fuller — Suitor of Judith Perle, a local merchant
*Bertred — Judith Perle's foreman weaver.
*Madog of the Dead-Boat — An expert in locating people who have drowned in the river Severn.

Literary significance and reception

The Library Journal review in 1987 said that "twelfth century England blossoms again as Cadfael in his understated way moves through the now familiar environs of Shrewsbury piecing together a devious plan that went awry."cite journal|date=1987-06-01|title=The Rose Rent: the thirteenth chronicle of Brother Cadfael|journal=Library Journal; , Vol. 112 Issue 10, p131|volume=Vol. 112|issue=Issue 10|pages=p131|issn=03630277]

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

"The Rose Rent" was adapted into a television program as part of the Brother Cadfael series by Central for ITV. It filmed on location in Hungary and starred Sir Derek Jacobi.cite book|last=Pratt|first=Doug|title=Doug Pratt's DVD: Movies, Television, Music, Art, Adult, And More!|publisher=UNET 2 Corporation|page=p211-212|date=2004|isbn=1932916008|url=,M1] cite web|url=|title= The Cadfael Collection DVD|accessdate=2008-08-07]


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