I wanted to stress the integration of my ‘minor’ manorial lord. I decided that his grandfather came from Normandy, but he was not going to inherit much as one of five sons. Coming over with Urse d’Abitot in 1069, he was given Bradecote and a couple of smaller holdings as Urse’s vassal. He married the daughter of a local thane, and was succeeded by the one son who survived infancy, Richard of Bradecote. Writing ‘of’ all the time, just as saying it, becomes a chore, and so grandson Hugh is simply Hugh Bradecote. He is proud of his Norman lineage, not least because it defines his status in society, but the soil he would die to defend, ‘his lands’, are English, and he has never been further than Winchester, let alone across the Channel. He does not put a name to what he is, but perhaps the closest in his mind would be ‘a Norman Englishman’.
With regard to how Hugh Bradecote’s name is said, as long as the stress is on the first syllable and both the ‘a’ and ‘o’ are short vowels, you are not far wrong. It is not said Braid-coat. I call him Brad-(uh)- cot, but, since I say it quite a lot, that actually contracts to Brad-c’t.
When I created him in the very first draft of Servant of Death my mental image of Hugh Bradecote’s physicality was a little vague beyond dark haired, tall, and inclined to the lean. I then saw someone with those attributes who gave me a more defined image in my head, and I went back and gave him pretty much those features, and some of the mannerisms.