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Lady Juliana Peverel was born in the summer of 1174 to William Peverel and Hawise, daughter of Robert de Ferrers, 1st Earl of Derby. Her grandfather, also named William, had been a favorite of the Conqueror, William of Normandy, and was richly rewarded by him. It is recorded in the Doomsday Book that Lady Juliana's grandfather held 162 lordships including Nottingham Castle known collectively as the Honour of Peverel. Yet it wouldn't be long before he lost everything and the family was almost eradicated from the history books.

For a family whose surname means anger and aggression it comes as no surprise to find that their tempers were legendary. They saw themselves equal to Princes rather than with ordinary nobles and resented many Norman families. In 1188, Lady Juliana's grandfather quarreled with Ranulph de Gernon, 2nd Earl of Chester, and in a moment of fury he poisoned not only the Earl but his retinue as well. Some say that this was an evil rumor, propagated by enemies of the Peverel's and intending to punish him for his support of King Stephen in his bid for the English throne decades ago.

While three men in the Earl's retinue died, the Earl did not. It is said that the Earl had not consumed as much of the poisoned wine as his comrades. The Earl informed the King and Henry immediately seized the Honour of Peverel and gave it to the Earl. Furious, Lady Juliana's grandfather left England in exile and died shortly thereafter in Normandy. The Earl of Chester died later that year, and the Honour of Peverel passed to the Crown. Lady Juliana's father petitioned King Henry to return the lands to the Peverel family but all of his requests were denied and the family continued to live in relative poverty. When Richard became King, William believed that he had a better chance to redeem himself in the new King's eyes. Soon a chance presented itself when Richard announced the Third Crusade. Both William and his only son, Henry, joined the King. William's wife, Hawise, had died of the sweating sickness when Juliana was ten years old, and the girl was left in the care of the Sheriff of Nottingham by the orders of Prince John.

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