I’m delighted to welcome on to my blog today fellow Ricardian author (among her many talents!), J. P. Reedman.
J.P. has just published the third book in her series I, Richard Plantagenet, telling the story of King Richard III through his own eyes and words. Unusually, the new book, The Road from Fotheringhay, is a prequel to the first two – responding to demand from readers, J.P. decided to tell of Richard’s tumultuous childhood.
Here J.P. shares with us one of the most traumatic turning-points of young Richard’s life – and an extract from The Road from Fotheringhay.
Young Richard in Burgundy
Just after Christmas, on 30 December 1460, Richard Duke of York left his castle of Sandal to confront a Lancastrian host. No one knows why; some thinks he was lured out by talk of a Christmas truce. The move was a disaster. Richard was killed in the ensuing fray and his 17-year-old son Edmund slain on the bridge into Wakefield, some say by ‘Butcher’ Clifford taking revenge for a father dead at St Albans.
The terrible news soon reached Richard’s wife, Duchess Cecily, in London. Hastily, she sent her two youngest sons, Richard and George, from her side to hide in the house of a woman called Alice Martyn. But soon more grave news arrived. The Queen, Margaret of Anjou, was marching on London with a large host. Cecily feared that her sons’ youth might not be enough to protect their lives.
So Cecily sent them away on a fast ship to Burgundy. Richard was eight, George eleven.
It was a gamble. Phillip, Duke of Burgundy, was trying to stay neutral in regards to the political manoeuvring in England. He did not want to seem to be favouring the Yorkist side—especially now that these children’s father was dead, his head spiked on Micklegate in York. There was no pomp and ceremony for the brothers’ arrival in Burgundy. They were taken by carriage to an abode of Philip’s illegitimate son, Bishop David, in Utrecht. This may have been his palace in the town, but since David was embroiled in a row with the townsfolk that was turning ugly, it is more likely they went to his castle just outside the town, Duurstede. This castle was undergoing renovation at the time and was a strong but possibly uninviting place at the time for the two little boys.
All of that was to change, however. When, a few months later, the boys’ eldest brother Edward defeated the Lancastrian forces at Mortimer’s Cross and Towton and seized the throne, there was a quick change of attitude from Duke Phillip. Richard and George were swiftly brought to his grand palace at Bruges for an opulent celebratory feast. This was doubtless of some splendour, the Burgundian court being known for its lavish displays. During the famous Feast of the Pheasant, there had been an elephant, twenty-four men hidden in a pie, and metal animatrons on the table. Whatever Phillip did for the sons of York, it must have been wondrous to the two boys who had left England as the children of a ‘traitor.’
Now they were ready to return to England—as princes.
EXCERPT: I, RICHARD PLANTAGENET, THE PREQUEL, Part 1:
THE ROAD FROM FOTHERINGHAY BY J.P. REEDMAN
…the Duke called us to him and we proceeded a little further along the gallery. Other maps swirled by—I saw the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and Adam and Eve naked and unashamed in the garden. There was a labyrinth with a half-man, half-bull raging at its heart, and the tall Pillars of Hercules at World’s End.
“Now,” said Duke Phillip, “something a bit different. My collection of orloges.”
George and I glanced at each other, confused once more.
“Clocks and other oddments,” said the Duke.
George and I crowded in to see. At home, we mostly still used hourglasses or the sound of ringing bells to mark the hours, although a few of the religious houses had mechanical clocks. Before us, were rows of astrolabes, a bronze cock that crowed noon and midnight with the use of a bellows, a sundial set in crystal, and—Phillip’s obvious pride—a gilded brass clock shaped like a cathedral with spires rising several feet into the air. On its face was a roundel with hands that went around by means of springs, ticking off the hours.
George and I bent over and stared and the Duke joined us in watching the hands of Time, as entranced as any child.
Then, suddenly, he stood back and clapped his hands. “Enough of viewing my little keepsakes. A banquet will be held in your honour, my little Lords. You will find amazement at what you will see, and I have no doubt you will then go to Edward, your kingly brother, to tell him how fine Burgundy is, and how perhaps, now, a new alliance can be forged.”
J.P. Reedman was born in Canada but has lived in the U.K. for nearly 25 years.
Interests include folklore & anthropology, prehistoric archaeology (neolithic/bronze age Europe, ritual, burial and material culture), as well as the Wars of the Roses and other medieval eras.
Reedman is the author a speculative archaeological fiction epic using a proto-King Arthur in the era of Stonehenge called THE STONEHENGE SAGA and four very successful novels about Richard III, I, RICHARD PLANTAGENET, PARTS 1 to 3 and Sacred King – the latter being a unique fantasy based on Richard’s death and return in 2012! A number of shorter works are also available on Kindle and in Print.
The Road to Fotheringhay and its sequels, I, Richard Plantagenet: Tante le Disiree and Loyaulte Me Lie, along with J.P.’s other books can be bought via Amazon:
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:
My Twitter handle and Matthew Wansford’s