Wednesday, September 12, 2018

It's Who You Know

Cardinal Reginald Pole
While researching Reginald Pole in order to write his story in Prince of York, I was astonished by the number of famous friends he had. Lacking the ambition so prominent in most men of the sixteenth century, Reginald did not take advantage of the fact that he was well-known and respected by cardinals, kings (well, not THAT one of course), and men of all stations.

He had the perfect opportunity to do so when Pope Paul III died in 1549. Pole was expected to become the next pope. Vestments were tailor made for him and those who gambled found the odds heavily favored him. However, Reginald Pole refused to press his advantage. As others bribed, schemed, and negotiated, Reginald prayed that God would guide the outcome of the conclave. He fell short by one vote.

The throne of England was another possibility for Reginald Pole. His mother, Margaret Countess of Salisbury, was a friend and confidant of Queen Katherine of Aragon. Both women liked the idea of their children wed to one another. Later, after both women were dead, the idea was considered again by those who looked to the Tudor succession and found only women available. Reginald could be the perfect spouse for Mary, uniting York and Tudor blood and giving Mary an acceptable husband to rule the kingdom.

As far as we know, Reginald never seriously considered this possibility. He considered himself a man of God above all else, and never would marry. Instead, he returned to England when Mary became queen and was invested as her Archbishop of Canterbury.

Cardinal Pietro Bembo
Throughout his life, Reginald built fortuitous relationships but did not use them for his own advancement. Besides his royal Tudor cousins and fellow churchmen who wished to raise him to the highest earthly office, Reginald was a close enough companion to the artist Michelangelo that he had at least one portrait from him that he made a gift to the Bishop of Fano.

Reginald also had a close relationship with Vittoria Colonna who is not as famous as she should be. A devout Catholic who, like Pole, was not afraid to consider the worth of the tenets of faith brought forward by reformers, Vittoria was also a published poet. A feat in itself for her time, she was talented enough to be admired and consulted by the likes of Cardinal Pietro Bembo.

The fact that Pole spent his life surrounded by amazing historical figures is one of the many aspects of his character that made him a joy to write about. In the following excerpt, he shares a quiet evening with a man who was a scholar, Templar knight, poet, and cardinal: Pietro Bembo.

Excerpt from Prince of York

June 1543 - Rome

He realized the extent of the stress his brother’s presence placed upon him when he finally had the opportunity to relax for an evening with Cardinal Bembo. It was a beautiful summer evening, so they were seated on a rooftop veranda with a decanter of wine between them.

Reginald released a sigh as tension left his shoulders and the sun cast a riot of color into the sky.

“You have not been reading your Cicero,” Pietro observed.

Reginald had closed his eyes to soak up the peaceful feeling, but he opened them to peer at his friend. “How can you tell?”

“Ha! It is easy to see that you are far too filled with anxiety to have been studying the ancients. You are stuck firmly in the present with all its worries,” Bembo waved his hands as though this was all as clear to see as if Michelangelo had painted it on the wall.

With a grin, Reginald admitted, “As usual, you are correct, Pietro.” He took a deep draught from his glass and refilled it before speaking again. “It is my brother.”

Bembo nodded solemnly. “It can be a heavy burden to be our brothers’ keeper as is commanded by our Lord. Geoffrey has many demons.”

“He does,” Reginald agreed. “I must have greater patience with him.”

“Ah, Reynaldo,” Bembo said affectionately, leaning over to pat Reginald’s knee. “You would take on the world believing it was your duty.” Shaking his head, he continued, “The Bishop of Liege is in need of a man to see to duties of which I believe your brother would be capable.”

“Send him to Flanders?” Reginald asked, sitting upright, his muscles tightening with the discussion of his brother.

Before he could disagree, Bembo cut him off. “Yes, Flanders would be ideal. You may send him an allowance if it eases your conscience, but you are not obligated to keep him at your own table.”

“What if he….” Reginald realized he did not know what he was afraid of Geoffrey doing. Saying the wrong thing? Ending up in prison?

“Reynaldo, your brother is his own man, not your child. You will arrange this agreeable position for him and consider your obligation fulfilled.”

He nodded and lifted his glass to his lips, the matter closed.

Prince of York is available on Kindle for only 99c. It is also available in paperback as part of a combined Plantagenet Embers Novellas volume.


Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Another Missing Son of York

Tower of London
The infamy of the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower gives the impression that these two are the only noble children to be lost upon entering the Tower complex. Sadly, this is not the case. In fact, a few decades later, another young boy, a cousin (1st cousin, twice removed) to Edward V & his brother, Richard, was also lost to history within the Tower walls.

Henry Pole, Baron Montegue, was the son of Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury. When they, along with several others were arrested as part of the supposed Exeter Conspiracy in 1538, young Henry Pole, son of Lord Montegue, was taken to the Tower as well. His birthdate is unknown (believed to be between 1520-1527), but he was not more than teenaged when imprisoned. Another young person with connections to the royal family was also arrested at this time. Edward Courtenay was imprisoned along with his parents, who had allegedly conspired with the Poles.

Modern memorial to those executed at the Tower of London
Little proof of any treasonous plot was ever discovered. However, executions of Henry, Baron Montegue, Henry Courtenay, Marquess of Exeter, and Sir Edward Neville were quickly carried out. Others, including Gertrude Courtenay and Geoffrey Pole, were released for giving testimony against the others. Margaret Pole's execution did not take place until May, 1541, but the young sons of Pole and Courtenay remained imprisoned.

The fate of Edward Courtenay is well documented. He remained in prison until the accession of Queen Mary I in 1553. She released him from the Tower, and some hoped that she would chose to marry him, uniting Tudor blood with that of the noble York remnant. Edward, who had spent half of his life in the Tower, was not a desirable husband to the Queen or her sister, Princess Elizabeth. He was sent to Europe, where it was believed that he could cause less trouble for the royal family. He died in Padua in 1556 under somewhat suspicious circumstances.

Tower of London
Henry Pole the younger has a less certain story. All that remains are snippets of evidence that imply a tragedy similar to that suffered by his earlier cousins. In April 1540, King Henry VIII issued a general pardon that specifically excluded Margaret Pole and her grandson, Henry. In July 1540, a message by French ambassador Charles de Marillac mentions 'the little nephew of Cardinal Pole, who is poorly and strictly kept and not desired to know anything.' We may infer that Henry had not yet reached his teens based on the ambassador's term 'little nephew,' but this is not certain. Eustace Chapuys, Imperial ambassador, remarked upon Margaret's death that Henry was 'placed in close confinement, and it is supposed that he will soon follow his father and grandmother.' Henry is only thereafter mentioned in the payments for his food, which ends in 1542. He is not mentioned at the accession of Edward VI in 1547. Surely, had he been alive in 1553, Queen Mary would have released the nephew of her closest advisor, Cardinal Reginald Pole.

As with his cousins sixty years earlier, it is most likely that young Henry Pole met his demise within the Tower for no reason besides the royal blood running through his veins.

Additional reading: Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury 1473-1541 by Hazel Pierce
Photo Credit: Samantha Wilcoxson

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Henry Tudor and the King Arthur Claim

Legend blends seamlessly with history in Mary Anne Yarde's Du Lac Chronicles. To celebrate her most recent book release, I have invited Mary Anne here to discuss an interesting intersection between King Arthur and another king frequently discussed on this blog, Henry Tudor. You may remember her from her post on digging up the historical King Arthur back in December 2016. Welcome back, Mary Anne, and congratulations on the publication of The Du Lac Prophesy!

~ Samantha

Guest Post by Mary Anne Yarde

Britain has always been a land of myths and legends. From St George and the Dragon to Robin Hood. Dick Whittington and his Cat to the Loch Ness Monster. But nothing has captured the imagination of the populous quite like King Arthur and his Knights.

Let’s take a trip back in time…

Henry Tudor is handed the
crown of the defeated king.
For thirty years, England had suffered a terrible civil war. It was the ultimate family argument. And that argument was all about legitimacy. The House of York argued that the Lancastrian King, Henry VI, had no right to the throne. The House of Lancaster disagreed.

In the year of our Lord, 1485, Henry Tudor marched from Wales, under the battle standard of King Arthur — the famous red dragon — and met King Richard III at Bosworth Field. This battle changed the course of history and while the last of the Plantagenets screamed:

“Traitor! Traitor! Traitor!”
Henry VII

Henry Tudor seized the throne of England for himself.

But, being victorious does not make one King. For Henry to be crowned King he had to provide a legitimate claim.

Henry Tudor was a Lancastrian, but he had a problem. It was argued, that Henry had not an ounce of English Blood. Henry’s Father, Edmund Tudor, was the son of the French Queen Dowager Katherine of Valois. Edmund’s father, Owen Tudor, was a Welsh groom. Their marriage was a scandal that had rocked the nation. Henry’s mother, Margaret Beaufort, was a direct descendant of Edward III, but the Beaufort’s had been barred from the throne, so her blood did not count.

Stained glass commemorating
Battle of Bosworth
St James Church, Sutton Cheney
Henry had to prove his claim and to do that he employed genealogists who traced his family back to Cadwaladr, a Welsh King, who in turn was a direct descendant of King Arthur. You couldn’t get more English than King Arthur. Henry presented his pedigree to the court.

With King Arthur as an ancestor, the nobles could not argue Henry’s claim to the throne.

Long Live King Henry…

Elizabeth of York
Henry then married Elizabeth of York, the daughter of Edward IV of England — thus uniting the House of York and Lancaster and bringing an end to the Cousins War. But, like Edward III before him, Henry had fallen for the romance of King Arthur.

It is worth mentioning that Bosworth was not the only noteworthy event to happen in the year 1485. Sir Thomas Malory, who was at the time languishing in prison, penned his great work, Le Morte d’Arthur. Arthur fever once more took hold of the nation, and now they had a king who claimed to be a direct descendant of Arthur. The future looked promising.

Arthur Prince of Wales
Henry’s firstborn child was born at Winchester — which, at the time, was widely believed to be the place where Camelot had once stood tall and proud. His firstborn child was a son, and he named that son Arthur.

But Henry’s dream of an Arthurian future took a fatal blow when his son, Arthur, became ill and died at the age of 16. It was said that Henry and Elizabeth were devastated by his death. Elizabeth died the following year.

In the subsequent reigns of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, Arthurian legend and Arthurian prophecy continued to play its part in the monarchy’s dynamics. But from this day forward there has never been another King Arthur. We are still waiting for the Once and Future King to reclaim his throne…

(Blog images in the public domain through Wikipedia.)

New Release!

The Du Lac Prophecy
(Book 4 of The Du Lac Chronicles)
By Mary Anne Yarde

Two Prophesies. Two Noble Households. One Throne.

Distrust and greed threaten to destroy the House of du Lac. Mordred Pendragon strengthens his hold on Brittany and the surrounding kingdoms while Alan, Mordred’s cousin, embarks on a desperate quest to find Arthur’s lost knights. Without the knights and the relics they hold in trust, they cannot defeat Arthur’s only son – but finding the knights is only half of the battle. Convincing them to fight on the side of the Du Lac’s, their sworn enemy, will not be easy.

If Alden, King of Cerniw, cannot bring unity there will be no need for Arthur’s knights. With Budic threatening to invade Alden’s Kingdom, Merton putting love before duty, and Garren disappearing to goodness knows where, what hope does Alden have? If Alden cannot get his House in order, Mordred will destroy them all.

An Excerpt!

They won’t help you,” Bastian stated and Philippe turned to look at him. “The dead. They won’t help you.”

“I thought I was alone,” Philippe said as he looked back at Tristan’s tombstone.

“In Benwick Castle?” Bastian scoffed. “There is always someone watching. You know that as well as I do. Why are you here?”

“I came looking for answers.”

“Did you find any?” Bastian asked with cynicism.


“I didn’t think so.”

“Lancelot was a brave man, wasn’t he?” Philippe mumbled the question more to himself than anything else.

“As was Tristan,” Bastian agreed.

“Did you know him? Tristan, I mean.”

“A little. He kept himself to himself for the most part. He was wounded you see, during the battle of Benwick. He lost the use of his legs. He couldn’t walk. But he…” Bastian smiled as he remembered. “He was very wise. And he was happy to share that wisdom. I liked him. Although not everyone did. After Tristan died, there was talk. Some said he was a liar.”

“What did Lancelot say?” Philippe asked.

“I cannot imagine Lancelot being friends with someone who lied to him. But he neither condemned nor defended Tristan. He kept his own counsel. What are you going to do, Philippe?”

Philippe looked up at the sky. The lavender hue had changed to a blue one. He never appreciated how beautiful the sky was, until now. The day promised to be a warm one, but Philippe felt chilled.

“What would you do?” Philippe asked, as he rose to his feet and looked at his general.

“You have two choices. You can abdicate. Hand him the throne. Or...”

“Or...” Philippe encouraged.

“You could kill him,” Bastian said with a shrug.

Keep Reading!

Connect with the Author

Mary Anne Yarde is the multi award-winning author of the International Bestselling series — The Du Lac Chronicles.

Yarde grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury — the fabled Isle of Avalon — was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were a part of her childhood.

Connect with Mary Anne through her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or her Amazon author page.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Defying Henry VIII: Elizabeth Barton

Elizabeth Norton became a nun at St Sepulchre at approximately age 19. What did a holy servant of the Catholic Church do to defy the Tudor king? She shared the visions sent to her by God.

Elizabeth Barton prophesying
19th century woodcut
by Edward Bocking
An average country girl working as a servant, Elizabeth would have likely lived and died in obscurity had it not been for an illness that occurred during Lent 1526. After surviving this fateful illness, Barton began falling into trances and seeing visions that she and others were convinced were direct communications from God Himself. Her first prophecy predicted the death of the ill child sharing her sickroom. Was she an epileptic or a fraud? We have no way of knowing, but her contemporaries began calling her the Holy Maid of Kent. (Even if she did suffer from epilepsy, it was believed at this time that such disabilities could help one have heavenly visions. The stories of medieval prophetesses Margery Kempe and Juilian of Norwich both also begin with illness.)

For years, Sister Elizabeth prophesied and shared her visions without incident. She lived an exemplary life and, with the help of her visions, rebuked those who had failed to repent of their sin and change their ways. She became well-known and popular. The chapel where she had made one of her first prophesies, the Chapel of Our Lady in the Kent village of Court-at-Street, became a pilgrimage site. A printed compilation of her miracles and prophesies was published in 1527 as A Marueilous Woorke. She even had the opportunity to share her visions with Cardinal Wolsey, Thomas More, and King Henry VIII.

Then (you probably already guessed it), Henry decided to set aside his pious Catholic queen, Katherine of Aragon.

Chapel of Our Lady, Court-at-Street
courtesy of
Barton unhesitatingly wrote letters to Wolsey and Pope Clement VII informing them that they risked divine retribution if he continued to support Henry in his plan to divorce Katherine. She also cautioned Henry, in person, that his soul and his realm were at risk if he stayed the course. Sister Elizabeth believed that Wolsey's fall and death were the consequences of ignoring her warnings. She claimed to have been given visions of Wolsey in purgatory and the place saved in hell for Henry.

As you can imagine, this did not set well with the King. And Sister Elizabeth did not stop there.

Henry was in Calais in 1532 for peace talks with King Francis. Barton claimed that she was spiritually present as the two kings took communion at the Church of Our Lady. She went on to insist that an angel had held back the sacrament from Henry and given it to Sister Elizabeth instead. In a singularly correct prophesy, Barton stated that Princess Mary would not be denied her birthright. In another, more provocative but less accurate, she insisted that Henry's reign would end within a month should he insist on marrying Anne Boleyn.

For the crime of predicting the death of the king, charges of treason were brought up against Elizabeth Barton. Traditionally, female traitors were burned at the stake, but in an effort to further humiliate and discredit Barton, she was ordered hanged. Sister Elizabeth Barton was executed on April 20, 1534. That same day, Henry's Oath of Succession was required of every London citizen.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

New Release! Plantagenet Embers Novellas Paperback

Some of you have been very patiently waiting, but now it is here! Novellas featuring Margaret Beaufort, Elizabeth Woodville, and Reginald Pole had previously only been released on Kindle. Now, you can get all three in one paperback volume!

I really enjoyed having the chance to explore the stories and emotions of these characters from the Plantagenet Embers full length novels. I hope you enjoy them too. Happy reading!

This paperback volume includes the following ebook novellas: