The Order of the White Boar follows the adventures of Matthew Wansford, 12-year-old page to Duke Richard of Gloucester, at Middleham Castle and in Westminster, from the summer of 1482. The King’s Man picks up the story in the spring of 1483, as the Year of the Three Kings unfolds . . .
And don’t forget, if you and/or your young people enjoy the book, please leave a review on Amazon, GoodReads or elsewhere – thank you!
It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks for me. Not only will I be back at my ‘second home’, Middleham Castle, this coming weekend (24-25th July), offering readings and books signings against the marvellous backdrop of both the castle and the activities of living history company Amicorum, but the following Saturday, I’ll once again be taking part in an online author ‘fayre’.
The Indie Author Virtual Summer Fayre will be taking place over the weekend of 31 July-1 August, from 12 noon to 10pm (BST) each day. And guess who’s kicking everything off at noon on Saturday? Yep – me.
The full line-up of independent authors taking part is as follows:
Why not come along and discover some new favourite authors? There will be lots of discussion, competitions, giveaways, announcements, cover reveals, extracts from books – and that’s just in my slot! (Well, to be honest, I can’t promise you all of those, but I’ll do my best…)
Full details can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/summerbookfayre/. It’s a private group, owing to issues with previous Facebook events, but it’s very easy to join. If I haven’t already sent you an invitation to join us, just locate the big orange button saying ‘Join Group’ and hopefully you won’t have to wait long to be admitted!
And all this while I forge on with the edits for King in Waiting…
Hope to see you at one or other (or both) of the events
On this day in 1483 Richard Plantagenet, Duke of Gloucester, accepted the throne of England and became King Richard III.
And it’s just 7 days until Ricardians gather in Middleham to celebrate King Richard’s accession on the weekend closest to the date of his coronation.
I’m delighted that, although the Richard III Festival can’t go ahead this year, Joanne Larner, Susan Kokomo Lamb and myself will be holding a mini-author event at Richard’s Castle there all weekend, 3rd to 4th July.
We will be reading from our books about Richard and of course signing and selling them, and those of several other Ricardian authors – including Annette Carson, member of the Looking for Richard team, who has recently produced the new, more accurate translation of Dominic Mancini’s ‘De Occupatione‘, the fullest contemporary account of those fateful days in the summer of 1483.
Entry to the Castle isn’t required as our stalls (and many readings) will be outside the main gateway. But should you wish to visit, it’s now possible to buy tickets on the door (so long as covid-related capacity allows).
I’m delighted to say that, after a little delay, Time out of Time is now available as both ebook and paperback.
It can be ordered from Amazon at mybook.to/TimeoutofTime – or of course from myself if you prefer. Please just use the contact form or DM me via social media.
All being well, I’ll also be selling copies at Middleham Castle, throughout both days of the festival weekend – Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th July – see my earlier blog post for details. It will be lovely to see you there if you can make it!
I’m happy to say that, although entry to the Castle isn’t required to access our stalls and readings, it’s now possible to turn up and pay for entry on the day – so long as there is capacity (numbers of people in the Castle are of course limited owing to covid restrictions).
Sadly, owing to personal reasons, Maryann Benbow will no longer be able to join us – but I’m pleased to say we will have copies of her books for sale, along with those of several other Ricardian authors.
My excitement is growing as I near publication day for Time out of Time (tomorrow in case you’re asking!)
Thank you to everyone who has already pre-ordered the ebook – you’ve made it one of Amazon’s ‘hot new releases’ and catapulted it to no 26 in the ‘children’s time travel fiction’ category!
Apologies for the slight delay with the paperback. I’ve been promised the proof today and, with a bit of luck and hard graft, I may be able to make it available tomorrow too. For anyone waiting for it, here’s the full cover…
I can’t wait to share this book with you! It’s 19 years since the first spark of inspiration for it, and 15 since I first put pen to paper. And while it’s somewhat different from my ‘White Boar’ books, I hope you’ll enjoy it too. And perhaps – just perhaps – spot a few references to King Richard within its pages… 🐗📚🖊
Do let me know if you do – spot those references and enjoy it!
I hope it will entice you into the world of Time out of Time, which is now available for preorder, with the publication date of 19th June inching closer. As with my White Boarbooks, Time out of Time is suitable for all ages, from around 10+. Also seen as something of a ‘cross-over’ book, Allie’s adventures have been enjoyed as much by adults as by children.
To whet your appetite further, here’s a reminder of the blurb…
Welcome to the golden summer of 1976. Year of the Heatwave, year of the Drought.
Normally sun-starved and grey, England is plagued by endless blue skies – no rain for months, the country scorched and parched, standpipes in the street.
But 12-year-old Allie has other worries. When her family moves to ancient, ramshackle Priory Farm – far away from her friends and everything she has ever known…
Then she discovers a doorway into history – and her adventures begin. What secrets will Priory Farm reveal?
An exciting timeslip adventure by the author of The Order of the White Boar.
Will you soon (re)visit the golden summer of 1976 in the company of Allie and Colin?
I’m delighted to confirm that our author event will take place as planned on the weekend of 3rd and 4th July – the date customarily reserved for the town’s Richard III Festival (sadly cancelled again this year owing to covid restrictions).
Four authors will be gathering to read from and talk about their work in and around the Castle. So why not come along and join us?
Entry to the Castle is by pre-booked timed slots, but we’ll be based outside the main gateway, so anyone can come and chat, listen to talks/readings, and peruse the many and varied books on offer.
And as a special treat, the weekend will also include the launch of the brand new Wars of the Roses alternative history anthology, ‘The Road Not Travelled‘, featuring short stories by 20 talented authors exploring many facets of the period.
The editor, Joanne Larner, will be one of the authors at the event. Many of you will know her from her previous books, ‘Richard Liveth Yet’ Books 1 to 3 and ‘Distant Echoes’, as well as her collaboration with Susan Kokomo Lamb on ‘Dickon’s Diaries‘, Books 1 and 2. I’m pleased to say Sue will also be joining us – and Jo and Sue promise (as ever) some riotous readings from the fabulous ‘Diaries’, set of course in Middleham – sorry, Muddleham, itself.
Also joining us for the weekend is Maryann Benbow, author of ‘A Meeting of Souls’ and the ‘Soldier’ series (with Book 2 ‘Meeting the Past’ just recently hitting the shelves). Both ‘Meeting of Souls’ and ‘Meeting the Past’ have major parts set in Middleham.
This week I’m taking part in the Historical Writers Forum Historical Scandals Blog Hop and really, there could only be one such scandal for me to write about, couldn’t there? And to accompany it, my three White Boar books will all be on discount for four days (see below for details…)
This week, the first in May, sees the possible anniversary of the very start of the scandal I’m concerned with…
In 1464, the young King of England, Edward IV – who had won his crown just three years before at the age of 18 at the bloody Battle of Towton – was being lined up for a strategic marriage. His cousin, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick (known to history as ‘Warwick the Kingmaker’ for his role in propelling Edward to the throne and in later twists and turns of the monarchy in the so-called Wars of the Roses), had been negotiating for some time to arrange a marriage with a continental princess. The lucky woman was most likely to be Bona of Savoy, sister-in-law of French King Louis XI, with whom Warwick was keen to forge an alliance.
It was, of course, seen as vital to the young King’s future for him to make such a marriage, to secure strong allies abroad, both for himself (especially perhaps after the upheavals of the recent civil war between the Yorkist and Lancastrian scions of the royal House of Plantagenet) and for the well-being and wealth of England. It’s a situation memorably parodied in the Blackadder episode ‘The Queen of Spain’s Beard‘, but one that could (and did) have major repercussions.
But Edward, for reasons that have been debated by historians for centuries, turned the court, and ultimately his relationship with Warwick, upside-down with the sudden announcement in the autumn of 1464 that such an arranged marriage would not – indeed could not – happen. For, rather than waiting for a marriage treaty to be negotiated with one of the most powerful royal houses in Europe, he had in fact already made his own choice of bride. And not only had he made his choice, he’d gone ahead with the marriage already, in secret, maybe several months before. (The date traditionally given is 1st May, with the story being that Edward was captivated by the sight of the beautiful widow standing in the greenwood with her two young children waiting to petition the King for help in a financial dispute – 1st May of course being a traditional date for amorous antics by young people celebrating the return of springtime, often among fresh new greenery…)
The court (and likely the rest of the country and Europe) were scandalized – for a number of reasons. Not only had Edward made his own choice, without recourse to his Royal Council and leading adviser, Warwick, but the woman in question, usually known as Elizabeth Woodville, was also a commoner without fortune (albeit descended through her mother from the royal house of Luxembourg). Not only that, but she was five or six years older than 22-year-old Edward, and also the widow (not the expected virgin) of Sir John Grey, a knight who had fought against the Yorkists and died at the Battle of St Albans in 1461.
Could Edward have made a worse choice of bride? What were his reasons? Was it love (or lust) as commonly portrayed? Was it witchcraft practised by Elizabeth’s mother, Jacquetta of Luxembourg, to ensnare and control the young King, as suggested in some near-contemporary texts, and often depicted in historical fiction? Was it Edward seeking to show Warwick he was an independent man and master of his own destiny, rather than a pawn to be moved where and when his cousin dictated?
Whatever the reasons, the marriage was to have enormous consequences, not only in the years immediately following (as Warwick and Edward’s younger brother, George, Duke of Clarence, reacted to the increasing power and influence of the large Woodville family), but almost twenty years later – when the legality of this marriage, contracted in secret as it had been, was called into question in the summer of 1483, the Year of the Three Kings. Without it we also wouldn’t have one of the most controversial episodes in English history – the rise to the throne of King Richard III and the mystery of what happened to his nephews, Edward and Elizabeth’s two sons, latterly popularly known as the ‘Princes in the Tower’.
For in the spring of 1483, when Edward IV died and normally his eldest son, also Edward, aged just 12, would have been expected to become King, the legality of his marriage to Elizabeth Grey (nee Woodville) became disputed in what can be seen as a second scandal. Preparations were underway for the coronation of the new King Edward V, when evidence was presented to the Royal Council that purported to show that Edward IV had been married before his scandalous marriage to Elizabeth – and that his first wife was still living at the time.
The evidence and fact of that previous marriage is often disputed, with some seeing it as a fabrication by Richard III (Edward’s youngest brother, then Duke of Gloucester, Protector of the realm and head of the Royal Council) to allow him to seize the throne with a veneer of legality. Others present strong arguments for the validity of the case for Edward’s bigamy and therefore the two boys’ illegitimacy. Certainly it appears that not only the Royal Council was convinced by the evidence brought by Bishop Stillington of Bath and Wells (who said he had officiated at the secret wedding of the young Edward IV to Eleanor Butler, nee Talbot, prior to the Woodville wedding), but also the three estates in Parliament, which elected to put aside the claim to the throne of young Edward V and offer the crown instead to the next heir, Richard.
Unfortunately, a scarcity of records surviving from Richard’s reign and the brief period of interest just before it (through deliberate destruction under the later Tudor regime, it’s often posited) means that the evidence presented to the Council and Parliament doesn’t survive, but it seems likely that an investigation was conducted to examine the veracity of Bishop Stillington’s claim before it was put before Parliament. That Henry Tudor attempted to destroy every copy of the Act of Parliament that solidified the outcome in law (known as Titulus Regius, it was signed into law in January 1484) – and that without having it read before Parliament as was customary when repealing an Act – does suggest that the records of the evidence and subsequent investigation may well have been deliberately destroyed. It can be surmised that they would likely have cast doubt on the legitimacy of Tudor’s own bride, sister to the princes, Elizabeth of York – by marriage to whom Tudor sought to shore up his own, otherwise tenuous, claim to the throne.
Whatever the truth or otherwise of the prior marriage (also known as a ‘precontract’ – see here for more details of that), it does show remarkable similarities to the scandalous marriage that Edward contracted with Elizabeth Woodville on that day in 1464: in both cases it was conducted in secret, with no independent witnesses, between the young King and an older woman, who was the widow of a Lancastrian knight.
How would the scandal have been seen by those alive at the time? That was something I explored for my second novel telling of the life and times of King Richard III for younger readers – The King’s Man. In this brief excerpt, Matthew, Richard’s erstwhile page, and the Queen’s ward Alys Langdown have just heard the news that young Edward V has been put aside in favour of his Uncle Richard:
Alys was standing staring out of a window, but swung round as we entered.
‘Well, is it true?’
I was taken aback by her abruptness.
‘Is what true?’
‘What they are saying. What everyone apart from us in his own household knows about. That Parliament will ask the Duke to be King.’
I sat down, even though she hadn’t invited me to.
‘That’s what I’ve heard. Master Lyndsey, my master’s steward, he says all this is why Parliament wasn’t postponed when the coronation was.’ He had been speaking of it to Master Hardyng, the secretary, in the dining hall. Not that I’d been eavesdropping… ‘He says the Bishop of Bath and Wells told the Duke and the Council that the old King had been married before he met the Queen. That he had himself performed the ceremony in secret. So when King Edward married the Queen, he was already married – to someone who was still alive.’
‘So poor Edward and the others are…’
She couldn’t bring herself to say the word, dropping into a chair next to mine with a mixture of emotions chasing across her face. I carried on to save her.
‘The King’s second marriage was bigamous, so it wasn’t legal, yes. So Edward can’t become King because he’s not the legal heir.’
Silence reigned for some minutes, before Alys spoke again.
‘So who was she? His first wife.’
‘Lady Eleanor? Master Lyndsey says she was the widow of a Lancastrian knight. Her first husband died some time before King Edward took the throne.’
‘A widow? Just like Queen Elizabeth was when she met the King. And her first husband was a Lancastrian too.’
‘Was he?’ I asked. As usual, the intricacies of the royal family were a mystery to me. ‘How odd. According to Master Lyndsey, both ladies were older than the King too – by five or six years.’
Alys’s green eyes narrowed in thought.
‘And both marriages happened in secret, didn’t they? When the King and Queen married, they didn’t tell anyone for months. Until the Earl of Warwick said he was arranging a marriage for the King with a foreign princess. Then it all came out. It was quite a scandal. The King should have asked the Lords for permission, of course. And the Earl was especially angry. All his plans went for nothing.’
Another silence. Were we all thinking about how similar the stories were?…
Matthew and Alys were not alone in trying to make sense of these latest scandals to rock late medieval England, and everyone’s interpretation may have been different. This will have been especially true more than five hundred years ago, when ordinary people had far less access to information than we do today – being reliant on what was officially communicated by the powers that be, and, of course, the myriad rumours that swirled everywhere. And these scandals and their repercussions continued to swirl for many years – a situation that provides valuable fodder for my upcoming novel King in Waiting… but, as they say, that’s another story…
In the meantime, to accompany the Blog Hop, my White Boarbooks are all on an Amazon ebook countdown discount for four days – from 6 May to Sunday 9th May at 10pm (both Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk).
Later this week, I’m taking part in the latest Historical Writers Forum Blog Hop – which this time is on the theme of ‘Historical Scandals’. I hope you’ll join me and my fellow historical fiction authors exploring a variety of scandalous events over the centuries.
The countdown deals will all last for four days, from 1 am on Thursday 6 May to 10pm on Sunday 9th May, with prices from 99p/99c at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. So why not take a chance to grab a bargain – or encourage friends or family to!
The eagle-eyed among you (or at least those of you who read my blog post ‘An Announcement is On its Way…‘ about my reasons for repackaging and relaunching The Order of the White Boar and The King’s Man!) will have spotted a reference to Time out of Time, a book I wrote some years ago and started, but didn’t finish, redrafting after completing The King’s Man. And also perhaps mention that I decided to relaunch The Order, Books 1 and 2 rather than return to redrafting it before moving on with King in Waiting.
Well, guess what? I discovered I had more time on my hands than I thought! And that the book needed less work than I anticipated.
So, it’s with much pleasure that I can announce that Time out of Time will be published on Saturday 19 June.
Rather different to my White Boar books, Time out of Time is a timeslip book that opens during that long, hot, golden summer of 1976. It follows the adventures of 12-year-old Allie Turner when her mum and dad drag her and the rest of their family to live in an old, neglected house in the countryside. A house that looks a little like the following picture – if rather more run-down when they arrive…
Full details of the launch of Time out of Time will of course be announced on Facebook and on my blog. For the moment, here’s the proposed blurb – to give you a taste for what may be to come …
Welcome to the golden summer of 1976.
The year of The Heatwave, the year of The Drought. You can hear the capital letters when people speak of it.
Dreary England is plagued by endless blue skies – no rain for months, the country scorched and parched, standpipes in the street.
But 12-year-old Allie has other worries. When her family moves to ancient, ramshackle Priory Farm – far away from her friends and everything she’s ever known…
Then she discovers a doorway into history – and her adventures begin. What secrets will Priory Farm reveal?
An exciting timeslip adventure by the author of The Order of the White Boar.
Do you have your own memories of that glorious summer? It’s so long ago now that a book set then can almost be categorized as historical fiction. But some of us are old enough to remember it first hand…
I hope you’ll join me (and Allie) on the adventure…
The Order of the White Boar and The King’s Man are available from Amazon worldwide: myBook.to/WhiteBoar and mybook.to/TheKingsMan, from Blurb: www.blurb.co.uk/b/8167813-the-order-of-the-white-boar and www.blurb.co.uk/b/8770224-the-king-s-man, or direct from the author: AlexMarchant84@gmail.com