‘The Order of the White Boar’

Welcome! To all new members of the Order!

The group of friends who have sworn lifelong loyalty – to each other and to their good lord, King Richard III.

Read about their adventures in The Order of the White Boar and The King’s Man (out 26 May 2018). The paperback and ebook can be ordered from Amazon at myBook.to/WhiteBoar and mybook.to/TheKingsMan, from Blurb at http://www.blurb.co.uk/b/8167813-the-order-of-the-white-boar and http://www.blurb.co.uk/b/8770224-the-king-s-man or by contacting AlexMarchant84@gmail.com.

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 . . .

 

Order Of The White Boar_3d-book            The book on white background

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!

 

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Richard III Movie News

This is very reassuring news – that Philippa Langley is ‘closely involved’ with this film.
Given the filmmakers involved (and potentially involved) this could be, not only an interesting film, but also perhaps a really worthwhile project – for Richard himself and for contemporary Ricardians.

Matt's History Blog

I hope this will help to put some minds at ease.

Steve Coogan

There has been an explosion of interest in the announcement made by Steve Coogan last week that he is due to start filming a movie about Philippa Langley’s search for Richard III. I’ve seen a lot of slightly nervous noise on social media about the film. The main concerns seem to be that it will be a comedy, and that it will make fun of the dig, of those involved, and of Richard III.

We need Corporal Jones. Because there is absolutely no need to panic, Mr Mainwaring, or anyone else.

Philippa has confirmed that she’s closely involved with the film.

The second thing to note is that it will not be a comedy. Steve Coogan is co-writing the script with Jeff Pope, a pairing that first delivered the BAFTA award-winning and four-time Oscar nominated Philomena in…

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Guest post from Stuart Rudge: The History behind ‘Blood Feud’

I’m delighted to once more be hosting a guest post from fellow historical fiction author Stuart Rudge, as part of the blog tour for his latest release Blood Feud, the second novel in his ‘Legend of the Cid’ sequence, which began with Rise of a Champion.

Here he gives us a little of the background to the fascinating history portrayed in Blood Feud. Over to you, Stuart!

Background

When Fernando of Leon-Castile died at Christmas 1065, and divided his kingdom between his three sons, Sancho, Alfonso and Garcia, he must have envisioned a conflict would eventually flare between them. He himself had experienced the same throughout his reign; his father was Sancho el Mayor of Navarre, who ruled over Navarre, Aragon, Castile, and held a protectorate over the kingdom of Leon and the Catalan counties. Fernando had received Castile as his allotted prize, and after he had married Sancha of Leon, he deposed her brother Bermudo and became king of Leon-Castile. In the waning days of his reign he decided to follow a similar route in his succession; it was Sancho who was given his father’s legacy of Castile as his inheritance, whilst Alfonso received Leon, and Garcia was given Galicia.

To his two daughters, Urraca and Elvira, Fernando bequeathed the cities of Zamora and Toro respectively, along with the peerage of all the monasteries in the kingdom; as their small domains were located within the borders of Alfonso’s realm, it is not uncommon to see them as signatories on the charters issued by the Leonese monarch, though they do appear in the charters of their other brothers on occasion. But as a close confident to the new king, it was the kingdom of Castile that Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar would serve so devotedly in this period.

Northern Spain, c. AD 1067. Copyright Stuart Rudge

The War of the Sanchos

Sancho II of Castile’s first conflict as king was the War of the Sanchos in 1066–7, against his cousins and namesakes in Navarre and Aragon. Sancho of Navarre had put pressure on amir al-Muqtadir of Zaragoza to pay parias tribute to him instead of Castile, and when the notion was rejected, he began to raid the taifa; al-Muqtadir subsequently petitioned Castile to come to his aid. Yet Sancho of Navarre was quick to ally himself with Sancho Ramirez of Aragon, and the latter had ample reason to fight as it was Sancho of Castile who had defeated his father, Ramiro, at Graus only a few years previously. The chance to avenge his father’s death was all too tempting.

The sources are quite hazy on the war, but what followed was a hard fought conflict which lasted for more than a year, and only the intervention of Zaragoza drew Aragon away from the fight to balance the odds, and set up a decisive clash. The war culminated in a Castilian victory at Viana in 1067. According to the Chrónica Najerense, a duel between Rodrigo Diaz and a knight of Navarre named Jimeno Garces allegedly happened, and that was when Rodrigo first gained his title of campi doctor, or “master of battle”, which would later become el Campeador. But the documents are hazy on the details of when and where this duel took place.

Aljaferia Palace in Zaragoza. Copyright Inspirock

Castile and Zaragoza

Castile’s relations with Zaragoza are somewhat unclear in this period. Sancho’s father, Fernando, had reduced the taifa to a vassal state, and the amir paid parias tribute for the promise of peace. The Chrónica Najerense has claims of a Castilian siege against the city, and if we are to believe the Chrónica, it may well be that al-Muqtadir had been emboldened to abandon the Christian shackles after the death of Fernando, and perhaps the recent aggressive nature of the crusaders against Barbastro in 1064. However, it seems the payments resumed once more, though whether this is owing to a show of force by Sancho, or the fact the payments did not cease, is unclear. What is clear is that Sancho must have had some sort of favourable diplomatic relations with Zaragoza; it was Sancho who rode to Zaragoza’s aid at Graus in 1063, and the action was reciprocated in 1067, for it was al-Muqtadir’s decision to send the governor of Huesca with a raiding party into Aragon which turned the tide of the War of the Sanchos in Castile’s favour. 

El Cid. Copyright Wikipedia

Castile and Leon

The battle of Llantadilla (or Lantada) was the first recorded conflict between Leon and Castile in the period, said to have taken place on 19 July 1068. The sources are scant with regards to detail; the chronicle of Bishop Pelayo of Oviedo mentions the clash as no more than a skirmish. Another source goes on to claim it was a sort of judicial duel in which the loser forfeited their kingdom to the winner, yet this seems an absurd claim, as no monarch in his right mind would stake an entire kingdom on the outcome of a clash of champions. Indeed, given the documentary evidence regarding Alfonso at the time, it is highly probable that he was not present, for he was issuing charters in Sahagún a week or two before the date of the battle, and his alferez did the day after the battle. Before that, Alfonso had been intervening in the politics of the Moorish taifa of Badajoz, where he was successful in wresting control of the parias payments from his brother, Garcia.

It is the thirteenth-century Primera Crónica General that places Rodrigo Diaz at the site of the battle, though this may well be a complete fabrication given the widespread knowledge of El Cid’s fame and antics throughout Europe at the time, and it may have been an attempt to further his name. Nevertheless, with no definite account of the battle, we cannot completely discredit the possibility that Rodrigo, and even the kings of Leon and Castile, were present at the conflict.

Blood Feud

Blurb

Castile, AD 1067

The clouds of war gather over Hispania, and Antonio Perez continues on his path to knighthood, under the watchful eye of his lord, Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar. A peculiar invitation sees Antonio and Arias in the den of their nemesis, Azarola, where they discover the truth of his marriage to Beatriz, Arias’s sister, and the years of suffering he has inflicted upon her. Arias vows to deliver Beatriz from the clutches of Azarola and restore his family’s honour – even if it means betraying Rodrigo, defying his king and threatening the future of his country.

Fresh from his victory over Navarre and Aragon, King Sancho of Castile sends his revered champion Rodrigo to Saraqusta, to treat with amir al-Muqtadir. His mission is to secure an increase to the parias tribute from the Moors and hasten preparations for a war with Leon. But an unknown evil stirs in the shadows of the city which, if allowed to fester, not only threatens Saraqusta itself, but the entire political harmony of Northern Hispania. It is up to Rodrigo and Antonio to root out the conspiracy before it is too late.

Blood Feud is the stunning second instalment of ‘Legend of the Cid’.

Blood Feud can be bought from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08DRBSQLP

About the Author

Stuart Rudge was born and raised in Middlesbrough, where he still lives. His love of history came from his father and uncle, both avid readers of history. By day, he works down the local dock, playing with shipping containers and trains. Rise of a Champion was the first piece of work he has dared to share with the world. He hopes to establish himself as a household name in the mould of Bernard Cornwell, Giles Kristian, Ben Kane and Matthew Harffy, amongst a host of his favourite writers.

Social Media Links

Twitter: @stu_rudge

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/stuartrudgeauthor

Website: https://stuartrudge.wordpress.com/

Alex Marchant is author of two books telling the story of the real King Richard III for children aged 10+, The Order of the White Boar and The King’s Man, and editor of Grant Me the Carving of My Name and Right Trusty and Well Beloved…, two anthologies of short fiction inspired by the king, sold in support of Scoliosis Association UK (SAUK). 

Alex’s books can be found on Amazon at:

myBook.to/WhiteBoar

mybook.to/TheKingsMan

mybook.to/GrantMetheCarving

mybook.to/RightTrusty

My Facebook author page 

My Twitter handle  and Matthew Wansford’s

Instagram: AlexMarchantAuthor

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Middleham Castle – author visit confirmed! 29-30th August

After a long spring and summer of cancelled events and festivals, you can perhaps imagine how happy I am to announce that on August Bank Holiday weekend (Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th August) I will be at Middleham Castle in Wensleydale on an author visit.

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From 10 am on both days, I’ll be reading from my own and other authors’ stories around the castle, which of course was the primary home of King Richard III and where my The Order of the White Boar‘ is largely set.

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I’ll also of course be selling (and signing where appropriate) my books, myBook.to/WhiteBoar & mybook.to/TheKingsMan, the two Richard III-inspired charity anthologies, mybook.to/GrantMetheCarving & mybook.to/RightTrusty, and books by other Ricardian authors, including J.P. Reedman and Marla Skidmore.

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Alex with Marla and JP at Bosworth, 2018


Everything will be appropriately socially distanced and Covid-secure, of course.
So if you’re anywhere near Middleham that weekend, or fancy a visit to the area, do come along and say hello. It will be lovely to see you after all this time!

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NB. Entry to the castle must be booked in advance (even if you’re an English Heritage member), but I’ll be setting up outside the main entrance, and maybe doing a reading or two from the gateway or even the moat!

Loyaulte me lie! 🐗⚔️📖🖋😍

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Alex Marchant is author of two books telling the story of the real King Richard III for children aged 10+, The Order of the White Boar and The King’s Man, and editor of Grant Me the Carving of My Name and Right Trusty and Well Beloved…, two anthologies of short fiction inspired by the king, sold in support of Scoliosis Association UK (SAUK). 

Alex’s books can be found on Amazon at:

myBook.to/WhiteBoar

mybook.to/TheKingsMan

mybook.to/GrantMetheCarving

mybook.to/RightTrusty

My Facebook author page 

My Twitter handle  and Matthew Wansford’s

Instagram: AlexMarchantAuthor

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Author event at Middleham Castle…

Look what arrived today! From High Speed History

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So I’m (almost) all equipped for my first public event since lockdown…
Details still to be confirmed, but if you’re anywhere near to Middleham Castle over the August Bank Holiday weekend one or more days 29th-31st August), be sure to call in.
I’ll be reading from my and others’ stories around the castle and (in a socially distanced way) signing and selling books too – others’ as well as my own.
Hope to see you there! 🐗📖👑⚔️
https://highspeedhistory.com/richard-iii-of-england/

Alex Marchant is author of two books telling the story of the real King Richard III for children aged 10+, The Order of the White Boar and The King’s Man, and editor of Grant Me the Carving of My Name and Right Trusty and Well Beloved…, two anthologies of short fiction inspired by the king, sold in support of Scoliosis Association UK (SAUK). 

Alex’s books can be found on Amazon at:

myBook.to/WhiteBoar

mybook.to/TheKingsMan

mybook.to/GrantMetheCarving

mybook.to/RightTrusty

My Facebook author page 

My Twitter handle  and Matthew Wansford’s

Instagram: AlexMarchantAuthor

 

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The Coronation of King Richard III – author reading from ‘The King’s Man’

Tomorrow, of course, is the 537th anniversary of the coronation of King Richard III on 6 July 1483, and so, after a little gap, I decided to record another reading – this time, unsurprisingly perhaps, from The King’s Man, namely Chapter 8, ‘Men from the North’,  the coronation scene… 🐗👑📖

I hope you enjoy it 😊


And don’t forget, the other recordings are still available on my You Tube channel (see links below) – and just let me know if you have any requests for further readings – including from the anthologies Grant Me the Carvingand Right Trusty…

https://youtu.be/PhGxmltD6f0

https://youtu.be/y8LNpEZskls

Further readings, from ‘King in Waiting’, Book 3 of the series and my work-in-progress, are also now available at:


https://youtu.be/z295bVaGeaw

and

https://youtu.be/OlvZs-JQRwk

Alex Marchant is author of two books telling the story of the real King Richard III for children aged 10+, The Order of the White Boar and The King’s Man, and editor of Grant Me the Carving of My Name and Right Trusty and Well Beloved…, two anthologies of short fiction inspired by the king, sold in support of Scoliosis Association UK (SAUK). 

Alex’s books can be found on Amazon at:

myBook.to/WhiteBoar

mybook.to/TheKingsMan

mybook.to/GrantMetheCarving

mybook.to/RightTrusty

My Facebook author page 

My Twitter handle  and Matthew Wansford’s

Instagram: AlexMarchantAuthor

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‘Me and Richard III’ – a guest post from Kindred Spirits’ author Jennifer C. Wilson

Today I’m delighted to welcome on to my blog once again Jen Wilson, author of the fabulous ‘Kindred Spirits‘ series. And guess what? Jen has a new ‘Kindred Spirits’ book out – titled Kindred Spirits: Ephemera. As part of her blog tour for her new release, she’s going to tell us all about how she first came across her leading man….

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Me and Richard III…

By Jennifer C. Wilson

Last November, at a talk in York Library [to launch the anthology Right Trusty & Well Beloved], I joked that Richard III is my wooden mouse, referring to the wood-worker Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson (1896-1955), who always incorporated a small wooden mouse into his projects. So far, Richard III has featured, or been referred to, in almost everything I’ve written. I even rewrote my historical romance, The Raided Heart, to fit him in when the words weren’t flowing. The result? The words didn’t stop.

It’s no surprise then, that Richard appears in around half the stories in Kindred Spirits: Ephemera.

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I can’t put my finger on the exact point I became a Ricardian. I was obsessed with the Tudors, reading as much fact and fiction I could get my hands on, and became entirely immersed in the period. After a while, I felt I had ‘finished’ the Tudors (not really, of course, when is reading on an era ever done?), but had never really found history post-1600 as fascinating, so decided to go backwards instead. That’s when I met the Plantagenets.

I’d never seen or read Shakespeare’s ‘version’ of Richard’s life, but now I started to read everything, and found myself strangely drawn to this maligned monarch. I think for me, it was the Macbeth similarity – two historical characters, entirely (and unfairly) re-shaped by Shakespeare, into these murderous monsters. I realised I had to write about Richard III, but finding a ‘way in’ proved harder than I imagined.

The break-through came when I came across a competition for a poem about ghosts in Writing Magazine, and got hooked on the idea of what the spirits of Richard III and Anne Boleyn would have in common. The poem never went anywhere, the but the idea didn’t go away, and during NaNoWriMo 2013, became Kindred Spirits: Tower of London. This was my way in, and I grabbed it. Throw into the mix the incredible luck of winning a place in the public ballot to be a part of the reburial services for his body in 2015, and my pen just did not leave the paper.

 

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The tomb of Richard III, Leicester Cathedral

Suddenly, I had found my muse.

Richard III truly is a wonderful historical character for writers to get their teeth into, and I know I am one of a huge number of writers who have found him an inspiration over the years, either looking to help change the public opinion on him (a battle which I think is heading towards a pretty decisive victory, happily), or just delve into the world of the Wars of the Roses in general, with the messy, entangled and confusing family relationships. Richard himself married the widow of the former heir to the throne, the son of Henry VI, showing just how frequently sides could be changed over the course of events. And the period has, of course, given us one of the most notorious and debated mysteries in British history – the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower. My personal belief is that this was orchestrated by Margaret Beaufort, to help clear the path to the throne for her son, Henry Tudor, who subsequently became Henry VII after the Battle of Bosworth, but at the end of the day, I am also fairly confident that whoever was responsible, we are now highly unlikely to know the absolute truth. Too much time has passed, and if it was an intrigue then, it isn’t going to have become clearer now, so many centuries later. Perhaps that is part of the appeal; after all, if there’s one thing for sure, there’s nothing quite so interesting as a murder mystery…

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King Richard and  his son, Edward, as depicted in the stained glass of St Mary and St Alkelda, Middleham

I think what I love most about being a Ricardian writer is being part of the wonderfully friendly and supportive community at the heart of it. We may all write very differently, and have differing opinions on some aspects, but get us all in a room together, and there’s never any shortage of things to talk about! Oddly enough, Richard doesn’t (yet) feature in my current WIP, but I don’t stray from the world of Kindred Spirits for too long at a time, and I’m confident he’ll be back soon!

 

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Kindred Spirits: Ephemera

by Jennifer C. Wilson

 

The afterlife is alive with possibility…

In this collection of stories, we follow kings and queens as they make important (and history-defying) visits, watch a football game featuring the foulest of fouls, and meet a host of new spirits-in-residence across the British Isles and beyond. 

Be transported to ancient ruins, a world-famous cemetery, and a new cathedral, and catch up with old friends – and enemies. 

Because when the dead outnumber the living and start to travel, the adventures really do begin.

Kindred Spirits: Ephemera is a charming collection of stories about your favourite ghosts!

Included short- stories are

Kindred Spirits: St Paul’s Cathedral

Kindred Spirits: Jailbreak

Kindred Spirits: Carlisle Castle

Kindred Spirits: The Sisterhood of Hampton Court Palace

Kindred Spirits: Leicester – Return of the King

Kindred Spirits: The Jewel of the Wall

Kindred Spirits: Eurostar

Kindred Spirits: Père Lachaise

Kindred Spirits: York, Revisited

 

Kindred Spirits: Ephemera is available from:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon CA

 

Jennifer C. Wilson

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Jennifer C. Wilson stalks dead people (usually monarchs, mostly Mary Queen of Scots and Richard III). Inspired by childhood visits to as many castles and historical sites her parents could find, and losing herself in their stories (not to mention quote often the castles themselves!), at least now her daydreams make it onto the page.

After returning to the north-east of England for work, she joined a creative writing class, and has been filling notebooks ever since. Jennifer won North Tyneside Libraries’ Story Tyne short story competition in 2014, and in 2015, her debut novel, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London was published by Crooked Cat Books. The full series was re-released by Darkstroke in January 2020.

Jennifer is a founder and host of the award-winning North Tyneside Writers’ Circle, and has been running writing workshops in North Tyneside since 2015. She also publishes historical fiction novels with Ocelot Press. She lives in Whitley Bay, and is very proud of her two-inch view of the North Sea.

You can connect with Jennifer online: Blog • FacebookTwitterInstagramAmazon

 

Many thanks to Mary Anne Yarde of the Coffee Pot Book Club for arranging the blog tour.

 

Alex Marchant is author of two books telling the story of the real King Richard III for children aged 10+, The Order of the White Boar and The King’s Man, and editor of Grant Me the Carving of My Name and Right Trusty and Well Beloved…, two anthologies of short fiction inspired by the king, sold in support of Scoliosis Association UK (SAUK). 

Alex’s books can be found on Amazon at:

myBook.to/WhiteBoar

mybook.to/TheKingsMan

mybook.to/GrantMetheCarving

mybook.to/RightTrusty

My Facebook author page 

My Twitter handle  and Matthew Wansford’s

Instagram: AlexMarchantAuthor

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The Invasion of England, 4 June 1487

This summer the Historical Writers Forum is having another Blog Hop! This time it’s all about momentous events in history and we’ll all be sharing each other’s posts about these events – and hopefully whetting your appetite to discover more about them, and perhaps also more about the writers themselves and their work.

As my contribution, I’ve written about an event that took place on this very day – 533 years ago, and is currently very close to my heart…

The Invasion of England, 4 June 1487

England has experienced many invasions over the centuries – some successful, others repelled; some well known, others less so. In the latter category is the final act of what became known as the ‘Wars of the Roses’.

I’ve written about the Battle of Bosworth many times, in both fiction and factual posts. That was of course a successful invasion – by a quarter-Welsh, quarter-French pretender to the English throne, backed by the French crown in pursuit of its own agenda. It led to the English crown passing from the longest-lasting and most successful dynasty in England – the Plantagenets – to an almost unheard of (till then) family – the Tudors. (Which of course gives the lie to any suggestion that England hasn’t been successfully invaded since the Norman conquest in 1066…)

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Richard III of England, prior to his defeat at Bosworth

With the Tudor propaganda message that the battle led to the unification of the houses (and white and red roses) of York and Lancaster, Bosworth is often incorrectly viewed as the end of the ‘Wars of the Roses’. But a later battle, almost two years later, is a more accurate end point. And that battle came following another, this time unsuccessful invasion, on this very date 533 years ago.

On 4 June 1487 a small army landed on English soil to challenge the right of Henry Tudor (now King Henry VII) to the throne. It had sailed from Dublin, and was made up largely of disgruntled Yorkist followers, Irish soldiers and a party of German mercenaries supplied by Maximilian, king of the Romans, and his stepmother-in-law, the dowager Duchess of Burgundy. Otherwise known as Margaret of York, the Duchess had been sister to two kings, Edward IV and Richard III, aunt to a third, Edward V, and was now aunt to a queen – Tudor’s wife, Elizabeth of York (though he hadn’t yet got round to crowning her…)

Margaret of York - Wikipedia

Margaret of York, Duchess of Burgundy

Just who was the focus of the invasion is still open to debate. The army was led by John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln – nephew of those two kings, Edward and Richard, and cousin to both Edward V and Elizabeth of York. When his uncle Richard III was killed, John was the de facto heir, following the death of Richard’s little son Edward the year before; despite the subsequent death of his wife, Anne, in March 1485, Richard had not yet clinched a planned new marriage to either Joana, infanta of Portugal, or her counterpart in Spain, Isabel, let alone produced another heir of the body. Yet John of Lincoln was not the person on whose behalf the invasion was mounted – he was there to lead the army for someone else.

That person became known to later history as ‘Lambert Simnel’. But that name was part of a story that took several months to coalesce – into what became the ‘official story’ of the Tudor histories. That official story tells of a ten- (or eleven-?) year-old son of a joiner in Oxford called Simnel (or was he an organ-maker, or a baker, or a tailor? – the early histories contradict one another, and also there are no records of any such person by that name in the city at that time). The boy was supposedly plucked from his family home by a priest and taught all the manners and accomplishments of a prince of the realm so that he could impersonate Edward, earl of Warwick – another of Edward IV’s and Richard III’s nephews (who, conveniently, was already safely imprisoned in the Tower of London on Tudor’s orders). And then, having persuaded Margaret, Maximilian, the Yorkist nobles, the Deputy Lieutenant of Ireland, and even one of Tudor’s own heralds, that he was the said prince, the boy was crowned Edward, King of England and Ireland and Lord of France at Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin on 24 May, before being carried off to England by the Yorkist plotters as a figurehead for their invasion. And once the invasion had been thwarted, this innocent little boy was rewarded with a job in Tudor’s own kitchen – turning the spit…

Lambert Simnel - Wikipedia

The Dublin King, so-called Lambert Simnel, being carried from his coronation

That official story is full of contradictions and holes, and many increasingly doubt its likelihood for all sorts of reasons. The Dublin King by John Ashdown Hill and, particularly, The Survival of the Princes in the Tower by Matthew Lewis both outline the many inconsistencies in the story – and its development through 1486 and 1487. They also put forward the various candidates for the real person who was the pretender to the throne at the heart of the invasion. If you’ve read my novel The King’s Man you may have an idea of who I think he was – or may have been. And also you may have an idea who is at the centre of the novel I’m currently writing about the affair, provisionally titled ‘King in Waiting’.

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Piel Castle, Cumbria

But putting to one side all the speculation about who so-called ‘Lambert Simnel’ may have been, the facts that we do know about the invasion are still of interest. On Monday 4 June, the Yorkist army made landfall on what is now tiny Piel Island, off the southernmost tip of the Furness peninsula in Cumbria. They disembarked from their ships in the deep-water harbour sheltered by the great sandbar of Foulney, watched over by the red sandstone Piel Castle. The owner of the castle, the Abbot of nearby Furness Abbey, may have been there to greet his new-crowned king, and likely other local supporters, such as Sir Thomas Broughton, although he may already have joined the young king in Dublin – along with many other Yorkists unhappy at the rule of the new Tudor regime. Then the army set off across the saltmarsh towards the higher ground of the Cumbrian fells.

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The Sands

According to local tradition, they spent that first night camped on Swarthmoor, near Ulverston, and then the route taken beyond that is open to conjecture. Did they march north through the difficult terrain of the fells, or perhaps risk a crossing of the Sands of the Kent estuary and Morecambe Bay? While a dangerous undertaking, with local guides it was possible to cross the Sands safely even with herds of livestock and carriages: as late as the nineteenth century there was a regular stagecoach route across, so such a crossing by an army with all their equipment and beasts of burden was entirely feasible. From there, gathering more loyal supporters, the army travelled north, then, via Sedbergh, into the west-to-east crossing of the northern Pennines where Garsdale leads into the familiar lush landscape of Wensleydale… I say familiar because this was the heartland of support for the previous king, Richard III, who had spent some of his youth there, at Middleham Castle, when in the household of its previous owner, his cousin, Richard, Earl of Warwick ‘the Kingmaker’ – and later made it the primary home of his wife and son.

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Garsdale

It’s also where the first of my books telling the story of King Richard, The Order of the White Boar, is largely set. The fictional characters through whose eyes that story is told therefore know the dale well – and those who remain will likely feel a sense of relief to be back in such familiar surroundings after their travails since the fateful days following the Battle of Bosworth. Alongside them, also, on this march through northern England, is not only John, Earl of Lincoln – once the chief man in the Council of the North hereabouts under his uncle Richard – but also Francis, Viscount Lovell, once loyal friend and courtier of King Richard, and now a driving force behind this attempt to reclaim the throne for the House of York. Two previous attempts at rebellion by Lovell and his supporters had failed, but with a crowned king, a sizeable army, continental backing and more local supporters, such as the Scropes of Bolton Castle and Masham and Thomas Metcalfe of Nappa, flocking to them, he must have felt this invasion stood a chance.

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Middleham Castle

Incredibly, by Friday 8 June, the army had reached Masham in North Yorkshire, from where King Edward sent a letter to the mayor of York requesting support and entry to the city. The army had covered 70 miles of difficult terrain in just four days – a remarkable feat by any standards. Sadly the request to enter York was turned down and the Yorkist army turned southwards. Several skirmishes were won by the Yorkists over small forces loyal to Tudor, which led to the Earl of Northumberland – loyal now to Henry Tudor, despite being imprisoned after the Battle of Bosworth – retreating back north of the city. York then declared its belated support for the new king. But the change of heart came too late: the Yorkist army had by 15 June crossed the River Trent and camped close to the village of East Stoke, not far from Newark.

The following day came the battle that brought this invasion to an end. At least 4,000 men died on the Yorkist side – the Irish and most of the English were given no quarter, although any surviving German mercenaries were allowed to leave the country. The Germans’ captain, Martin Schwartz, died alongside John Earl of Lincoln and Thomas FitzGerald, brother to the Deputy Lieutenant of Ireland. What happened to Francis Lovell is unknown, though stories abound: was he seen escaping, wounded, over the river? Did he eventually retreat up to Scotland? Or did he limp back to his one-time estate at Minster Lovell and die there – where a skeleton was found, bricked up, centuries later? (As the estate no longer belonged to him, this is perhaps the least likely outcome…)

Minster Lovell Hall - Wikipedia

Minster Lovell (Wikipedia)

And the young ‘Dublin King’? An eleven-year-old boy later named as ‘Lambert Simnel’ was found alive on the battlefield and taken into Henry Tudor’s royal household as a kitchen boy. But the initial report by a herald stated that the boy’s name was John… and two years later Irish lords brought to Tudor’s court, failed to recognize him as the young man they had crowned king at Christchurch. Had the royal herald sent to Dublin in early 1487 to investigate been correct when he described the ‘adolescent’ he met as someone who might well have been a Yorkist prince? Perhaps we will never know just who the ‘Dublin King’ was. But had his invasion succeeded, he would no doubt have become the true King of England too.

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Watch out for the next stop on the Historical Writers Forum Blog Hop!

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Alex Marchant is author of two books telling the story of the real King Richard III for children aged 10+, The Order of the White Boar and The King’s Man, and editor of Grant Me the Carving of My Name and Right Trusty and Well Beloved…, two anthologies of short fiction inspired by the king, sold in support of Scoliosis Association UK (SAUK). 

Alex’s books can be found on Amazon at:

myBook.to/WhiteBoar

mybook.to/TheKingsMan

mybook.to/GrantMetheCarving

mybook.to/RightTrusty

My Facebook author page 

My Twitter handle  and Matthew Wansford’s

Instagram: AlexMarchantAuthor

 

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Setting the Stage for the First Crusade, 1096-1099 – guest post by Mary Ann Bernal

I’m delighted to welcome on to my blog today fellow historical fiction author Mary Ann Bernal.

Mary Ann is on her blog tour for her latest novel, Crusader’s Path, ‘a story of redemption set against the backdrop of the First Crusade’ – a fascinating period in history – and one that takes place across a wide sweep of what was then, to Europeans at least, the known world – from Normandy to Constantinople to the Holy Land.

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Here Mary Ann tells us a little about the circumstances and the unfolding of that crusade…

Setting the Stage for the First Crusade, 1096-1099

During the Eleventh Century, the Roman Catholic Church held considerable influence throughout Christendom, despite the East-West Schism of 1054 caused by political and theological differences between the Latin West and Greek Eastern Orthodox Church.

Violence, lawlessness, famine, and poverty existed across the European continent. Peasants were at the mercy of the warring nobles craving wealth and power. A significant disparity prevailed in a social hierarchy where landowners set the rules, giving little hope for commoners to rise above their station.

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Pope Urban II*

 

The authority of the Pope, also known as the Bishop of Rome, had waned over the years. Henry IV, the Holy Roman Emperor, clashed with Pope Gregory VII over papal authority. Pope Urban’s predecessor, Pope Gregory, excommunicated the errant Emperor. Military clashes ensued, and the victorious Henry installed the Antipope, Clement III, as the Bishop of Rome.

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Alexios I*

Alexios I, the Byzantine Emperor, needed help in thwarting the Seljuk Turks harassing his kingdom. Fearing the fall of his capital city, Constantinople, Alexios requested Pope Urban’s assistance in vanquishing the infidel.

The Call to Arms

Pope Urban saw the request from Alexios as a means to reunite the Latin West and Greek East. Additionally, by channelling the violent knights’ and mercenaries’ thirst for fighting towards a common enemy, the followers of Islam, he kept unchivalrous warriors from pillaging the European countryside. Besides, a successful campaign would strengthen the Papacy, enhancing political power and dominance over kingly rule. And freeing Jerusalem from Muslim control would secure his place in history.

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Urban II preaching*

Pope Urban II was a charismatic and intriguing man. In all probability, he was calculating and manipulative, necessary traits to retain control of the Papacy, defeating his enemies with skilful finesse.

The Council at Claremont had been called to address abuses within the Catholic Church. The assembly decided many canons, renewed earlier legislation, and settled lawsuits at its conclusion. However, Pope Urban piqued the curiosity of the religious elite and common people when mentioning a great speech on the day before the attendees’ departure.

In an open field, the eloquent preacher spoke of atrocities committed upon Christians by the Muslims. Pope Urban maligned the Saracens oppressing Christians, his speech cleverly fashioned to incite the crowd. He offered salvation, giving hope to the hopeless, calling upon rich and poor alike to embark on a righteous war. Pope Urban promised a full remission of sins if people died during the journey or on the battlefield. The chant Deus Vult, God wills it, echoed throughout the crowd.

Pope Urban’s successful oration created the armies of the First Crusade. Although religion was the driving force, the nobility and lowly knights sought land and wealth. They would give no quarter since the Church condoned killing.

 

The Armies

Peter of Amiens took Pope Urban at his word, leaving without paying heed to logistics – a coordinated campaign, led by princes and noblemen, acquiring manpower, provisions and money, a lot of money to pay the soldiers, and purchase supplies along the route.

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Peter of Amiens*

Known as Peter the Hermit, the lowly monk preached to the peasants from Claremont to Amiens before setting out to Cologne, following the Rivers Rhine and Danube, reaching Constantinople before Pope Urban’s officially sanctioned army. Known as the People’s Crusade or the Peasants’ Crusade, the ill-fated collection of pilgrims failed to reach the Holy Land, most perishing on the road to Nicaea.

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The First Crusade*

The peasants risked everything to reclaim the Holy Land for God, proudly wearing the Cross. They were ill-equipped, mostly farmers, men, women, and children. They left behind land they did not own, carrying meagre possessions with them, believing Pope Urban’s words about attaining salvation, their sins forgiven.

Peter could not control the unruly mob who ravished the land with such ferocity that it sent chills down the spines of the Turkish people when word reached their ears of the rabble’s murderous deeds.

The Princes’ Crusade consisted of four main armies, leaving Europe in August 1096, the planned departure date, and several months after Peter’s Army of Peasants. To the aristocracy, fighting for Christ was an honour, elevating their standing within the hierarchy, commanding respect and awe from the masses. While saving souls was the catalyst, attaining wealth in a land flowing with milk and honey, controlling centres of trade, satisfied their ambition.

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Crusaders arrive in Jerusalem*

Aftermath

The First Crusade was a holy war that had the blessing of God, according to Pope Urban. The Commandment, thou shall not kill, was ignored when fighting the infidel. In retaliation, the Muslims raged a Holy War against the Christians. The apoplectic war of the two faiths continues to this day.

The First Crusade saw the establishment of the Crusader States and the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller military orders. The role of the Roman Popes progressed in secular affairs. Alliances deteriorated between the Latin West and Greek East. Subsequent crusades failed to keep Jerusalem under Christian control.

***

I could not help but wonder if Pope Urban would have condoned a Holy War if he knew the ramifications of his deeds. Just as I wonder whether Catherine of Aragon would have given Henry VIII a divorce if she had known Henry would become the Church of England. Who in history has ever considered the consequences before acting? Just thoughts to ponder.

 

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Crusader’s Path 

by Mary Ann Bernal

From the sweeping hills of Argences to the port city of Cologne overlooking the River Rhine, Etienne and Avielle find themselves drawn by the need for redemption against the backdrop of the First Crusade.

Heeding the call of His Holiness, Urban II, to free the Holy Land from the infidel, Etienne follows Duke Robert of Normandy across the treacherous miles, braving sweltering heat and snow-covered mountain passes while en route to the Byzantine Empire.

Moved by Peter of Amiens’ charismatic rhetoric in the streets of the Holy Roman Empire, Avielle joins the humble army of pilgrims. Upon arrival in Mentz, the peasant Crusaders do the unthinkable, destroying the Jewish Community. Consumed with guilt, Avielle is determined to die fighting for Christ, assuring her place in Heaven.

Etienne and Avielle cross paths in Constantinople, where they commiserate over past misdeeds. A spark becomes a flame, but when Avielle contracts leprosy, Etienne makes a promise to God, offering to take the priest cowl in exchange for ridding Avielle of her affliction.

 

Crusader’s Path is available from:

Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Crusaders-Path-Mary-Ann-Bernal-ebook/dp/B084F3PGRQ

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Crusaders-Path-Mary-Ann-Bernal-ebook/dp/B084F3PGRQ

 

Mary Ann Bernal

mary anne bernalMary Ann Bernal attended Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, NY, where she received a degree in Business Administration. Her literary aspirations were ultimately realized when the first book of The Briton and the Dane novels was published in 2009. In addition to writing historical fiction, Mary Ann has also authored a collection of contemporary short stories in the Scribbler Tales series and a science fiction/fantasy novel entitled Planetary Wars Rise of an Empire. Her latest endeavour is Crusader’s Path, a story of redemption set against the backdrop of the First Crusade.

Connect with Mary Ann: Website • Blog • Whispering Legends Press •  TwitterFacebook.

 

Website: http://www.maryannbernal.com/

 

Blog: http://maryannbernal.blogspot.com/

 

Whispering Legends Press: https://www.whisperinglegendspress.com/

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheBritonandtheDane/

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BritonandDane

Thanks to Mary Anne Yarde of the Coffee Pot Book Club for arranging the blog tour

*Picture credits:

Pope Urban II

Alexios I 

Urban preaching

Peter of Amiens

Crusaders arrive in Jerusalem

Map of the First Crusade

 

 

 

Alex Marchant is author of two books telling the story of the real King Richard III for children aged 10+, The Order of the White Boar and The King’s Man, and editor of Grant Me the Carving of My Name and Right Trusty and Well Beloved…, two anthologies of short fiction inspired by the king, sold in support of Scoliosis Association UK (SAUK). 

Alex’s books can be found on Amazon at:

myBook.to/WhiteBoar

mybook.to/TheKingsMan

mybook.to/GrantMetheCarving

mybook.to/RightTrusty

My Facebook author page 

My Twitter handle  and Matthew Wansford’s

Instagram: AlexMarchantAuthor

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A busy week – including virtual launch for ‘Yorkist Stories’!

I have been rather quiet again of late, owing to work commitments, but there’s a busy few days coming up…
First up on Sunday 31st May I have another very special guest on my blog – this time the fabulous Mary Ann Bernal talking about her latest release, ‘Crusader’s Path’.
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Then on Sunday afternoon from 3 pm we have the online launch for ‘Yorkist Stories‘, the fantastic new charity anthology compiled by Michele Schindler to raise funds for Medecins Sans Frontieres. I’ll be hosting from 3.30 and as ever there will be lots of chat, competitions and freebies!
Come along and find out all about my fellow contributors!
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And later in the week, on Thursday 4th June, I’ll be taking part in the latest Historical Writers Forum Blog Hop – featuring momentous events in history. Can you think what it was that happened on 4th June that I’ll be writing about? 🤔✒️👑📚
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Hope to see you at all these events!
Loyaulte me lie

Alex Marchant is author of two books telling the story of the real King Richard III for children aged 10+, The Order of the White Boar and The King’s Man, and editor of Grant Me the Carving of My Name and Right Trusty and Well Beloved…, two anthologies of short fiction inspired by the king, sold in support of Scoliosis Association UK (SAUK). 

Alex’s books can be found on Amazon at:

myBook.to/WhiteBoar

mybook.to/TheKingsMan

mybook.to/GrantMetheCarving

mybook.to/RightTrusty

My Facebook author page 

My Twitter handle  and Matthew Wansford’s

Instagram: AlexMarchantAuthor

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A new charity anthology of ‘Yorkist Stories’: an interview with Michèle Schindler

A couple of weeks ago I was delighted to discover that a piece of flash fiction I’d submitted, ‘Confinement’, had been accepted into a new charity anthology compiled in double-quick time by fellow author Michèle Schindler to raise funds for Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors without Borders during the current global Covid-19 crisis. I’m pleased to welcome Michèle on to my blog today to talk about this collection of short stories about major players in the Wars of the Roses, a little about herself and her fellow contributors, and her fascination with a certain Viscount Lovell…

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Alex: Thank you for coming on my blog today, Michèle. You’ve just published a new anthology of short stories by authors inspired by major players in the Wars of the Roses – entitled Yorkist Stories. What gave you the idea?

Michèle: I just really wanted to do something to help in this situation we’re all in right now. Since I’m diabetic and therefore in a risk group, I couldn’t do anything physical to help – make purchases for others at risk, or even donate blood. So I tried to think of something else I could possibly do, and since the one thing I think I’m actually any good at is writing, I thought, why not use that for good? And why do it alone, when working together is more important than ever before? So this idea was born.

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Alex: I’m all for collaborative working – especially as you say in these difficult times. Tell us a little more about yourself. What sparked your interest in English medieval history?

Michèle: I’ve always been interested in history, but my specific interest in English medieval history began with a homework assignment when I was around seventeen or so. I was supposed to research the history of Canterbury, for my English class’s field trip there. When I did that, I came across Thomas Becket, and he just fascinated me, so I began researching. Through him, I started slowly getting to know the many, many fascinating people living in England in the Middle Ages. Until finally, I encountered a little-researched man who lived in the fifteenth century, who became my special favourite.

Alex: Your own story in the anthology turns the spotlight on that ‘little-researched man’, namely Francis Lovell. Many will know him as the loyal friend of King Richard III, who appears in my own books so far as a fairly peripheral character (although in my work-in-progress we get to see a little more of him…) He’s far from peripheral in your own work as you’ve recently published a full biography about him: Lovell our Dogge: The Life of Viscount Lovell, Closest Friend of Richard III and Failed Regicide. What is it about Francis that drew you to him?

Lovell our Dogge: The Life of Viscount Lovell, Closest Friend of Richard III and Failed Regicide by [Michele Schindler]

Michèle: I first came across him when reading a biography about Richard III. It was a fairly sympathetic one, I believe David Hipshon’s. He won me over to Richard’s cause in around 2010 or 2011, but more importantly, he briefly mentioned a close friend called Francis Lovell who died fighting for Richard’s cause even after Richard was dead. I was intrigued and tried to find more information about him, but there was hardly any. That didn’t seem right at all. In fact, it almost seemed as if I was called to be the one to remedy that, and so I set about the task. The more I found out about him, the more I loved him – and I still feel as if finding and sharing information about him is something I’m called to do. Most definitely, it is something I love to do.

Alex: King Richard appears in several of the stories, but unlike recent charity anthologies, Grant Me the Carving of My Name and Right Trusty and Well Beloved…, he’s not the main focus in Yorkist Stories. Apart from Francis Lovell, which other historical figures feature in starring roles?

Michèle: There are stories about John Howard, who became Duke of Norfolk very early in Richard’s reign, and Richard’s niece Elizabeth of York, and his illegitimate daughter, Katherine Plantagenet. There is also one about Margaret of York, Richard’s sister, and even about a man most Ricardians rather dislike: William Stanley.

My hope was to see the Yorkist cause from as many points of view as possible, and I hope that everyone’s fabulous stories have made this possible.

Alex: I was delighted to be asked to contribute a story – in my case a piece of flash fiction inspired both by the current pandemic crisis and of course by King Richard himself. Can you tell us a little about your other fellow authors?

Michèle: The first person I asked was a close friend of mine, Robin Kaye – without his enthusiasm for the idea and agreement to write a story, the book wouldn’t have gone ahead. He’s a psychologist with a great interest in history.

After he agreed, many others I asked also did so. Fellow authors such as yourself, Marla Skidmore, Jennifer Wilson, Joanne Larner [all of whom contributed stories to Grant Me the Carving of My Name and/or Right Trusty and Well Beloved…; see previous blog posts], Joan Szechtman, Jessie Prichard Hunter and, as well as personal friends of mine who share my obsession with history and the Wars of the Roses, such as Elizabeth Celeone and Stephanie O’Neill. And of course, several amazing and talented people I met either online or in real life through conversations about the Wars of the Roses: Maria Grazia Lucrezia Leotta, Doris Schneider-Coutandin, Valery Alliez, Brian Wainwright, Kit Mareska, Terri Beckett and Wendy Johnson [the last four of whom also contributed stories to Right Trusty and Well Beloved…; see previous blog posts].

Alex: This is your first foray into self-publishing. How did you find it? Tell us how you compiled the anthology.

Michèle: The compilation was the easiest and most fun part of it. Thankfully, I was sent only really good stories, that did not require me to do much by way of editing/finding mistakes (and any typos and editing errors still found inside the book are naturally mine).

Getting it uploaded was much more difficult, and I have to thank Jennifer Wilson in particular for helping me with one problem that I couldn’t tackle – page breaks. Eventually, it all worked out more or less fine, but technology is not my strong suit, and wasn’t so while working on this project.

Alex: You’ve written both fiction and non-fiction about the period of the Wars of the Roses (with a new book on the way about King Richard’s brother-in-law the Duke of Suffolk and his nephew John, Earl of Lincoln, who also features in my own work-in-progress). Which type of writing do you find most satisfying and why? Do you have plans for more books – of either type?

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Tomb of 2nd Duke of Suffolk and his wife, Wingfield Church (image from Wikipedia)

Michèle: I love writing both fiction and non-fiction, so that is a hard question to answer. If I really have to choose, though, I would say writing non-fiction is more satisfying. There’s something incomparable about finding out some tidbit about a person or an event that was previously unknown and being the one to write it down and share it with the world.

Less melodramatically, I like evidence and as such, writing books based on research and good evidence appeals to me.

That said, my sister keeps trying to convince me to write a book about Francis’ wife, Anne Lovell, to make her better known and try to correct at least some of the many misconceptions that exist about her. Since, sadly, not enough is known about Anne to make such a book a non-fiction one, it would have to be a novel, and maybe this is a project I will tackle in the future. And I would definitely love to write more non-fiction books, for example one about Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, who I think is due a new study of his fascinating life. And another about William Stanley, a man who holds the dubious distinction of being disliked by both supporters of Richard III and those of Henry VII, but who was an interesting and, during his lifetime, very well-liked man. He deserves a balanced look at his life. And perhaps also a book about the FitzHugh family…

As you can see, I’m full of ideas.

Alex: What made you choose Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors without Borders to receive the proceeds from sales of the Yorkist Stories? Do you have any personal connection?

Michèle: It was clear to me from the first that, given that authors from several countries would be contributing to this anthology, the proceeds would have to go to an international organization.  Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors without Borders seemed to me the obvious choice. I have no personal connection, really, but I have admired them since I learned, as a diabetic child, how they try and treat children like me in even the poorest countries. I have never stopped admiring the courage of those working for this organization, and naturally I wholeheartedly support their mission.

In the current crisis, I can’t think of any organization that would be a more deserving recipient of whatever proceeds this anthology earns.

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Alex: One final question: given the strange times we’re living through, how is your day different to usual? Have you resorted to anything ‘quirky’ to help you stay sane, or get you (and your family) through the days?

Michèle: Germany is rapidly moving out of lockdown at the time of writing and my work as a language teacher has started again, so that currently, my days are not very different from usual. When this project was started, though, I spent nearly all my time writing feverishly, to the point of writing nearly 80,000 words in the first three weeks of lockdown. By hand.

It helped me a great deal to have something, anything, to do during those days, but I am afraid I didn’t really do anything quirky.

Alex: Many thanks for coming on my blog today, Michèle – and best of luck with with the anthology. I  hope that I will be announcing a virtual launch for it very soon, as I’m sure readers will be keen to find out more about the book and the authors who have contributed. Loyaulte me lie!

Yorkist Stories: A Collection of Short Stories about the Wars of the Roses can be bought via Amazon: https://t.co/NkXMka20L1

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Michèle’s biography of Viscount Lovell – Lovell our Dogge: The Life of Viscount Lovell, Closest Friend of Richard III and Failed Regicide – can be found at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lovell-our-Dogge-Viscount-Regicide-ebook/dp/B07VF9KGVN/

Michèle can be found on social media at:

https://www.facebook.com/MichiSophieSchindler/

on Twitter at:  @FLovellInfo

 

 

Alex Marchant is author of two books telling the story of the real King Richard III for children aged 10+, The Order of the White Boar and The King’s Man, and editor of Grant Me the Carving of My Name and Right Trusty and Well Beloved…, two anthologies of short fiction inspired by the king, sold in support of Scoliosis Association UK (SAUK). 

Alex’s books can be found on Amazon at:

myBook.to/WhiteBoar

mybook.to/TheKingsMan

mybook.to/GrantMetheCarving

mybook.to/RightTrusty

My Facebook author page 

My Twitter handle  and Matthew Wansford’s

Instagram: AlexMarchantAuthor

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