Wednesday, May 17, 2017

What if Mary Hadn't Burned Heretics?

Queen Mary I is most remembered for the burning of heretics that took place during her reign, and she has been given the cruel sobriquet of 'Bloody Mary'. But what would have happened if Mary had not allowed the burning of heretics?

We assume because religious persecution is unacceptable today that it must have been the same during Mary's lifetime, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Monarchs were expected to lead their subjects in matters of faith, but that became much trickier with the advent of the Reformation. Suddenly, people were divided in ways they had never been before, and rulers had to determine how best to proceed in this new world.

According to historian Eamon Duffy, 'No sixteenth-century European state willingly accepted or could easily imagine the peaceful coexistence of differing religious confessions, and such a coexistence does not seem a particularly realistic aspiration for Mary's England.' In his book, Fires of Faith: Catholic England under Mary Tudor, he points out that we only believe that the counter-reformation was doomed to fail because we have the advantage of knowing that it did. To Mary and those who advised her, they were doing the only thing they logically could do in seeing to the salvation of Englishmen.

The idea that burnings were repugnant to Mary's contemporaries and further drove people from Catholicism is a false idea based on our modern mindset that people must have felt that way. Mary's subjects, from the moment they supported her rule over that of Lady Jane Grey, expected the return of the old faith and the stomping out of the new that would go along with it. Throughout Europe, rulers continued to attempt to regulate the faith of the people long after Mary's reign ended in 1558, and the forms of punishment were no less brutal with Elizabeth ordering the hanging, drawing, and quartering of Catholics during her reign.

Had Mary not attempted to see England united in faith, she would have been viewed as a weak and ineffective monarch - a concern already at the forefront as she ruled as England's first queen regnant. Her supporters expected her to punish heretics and would have been disappointed in her had she sat back and done nothing. In contrast, there was very little outcry regarding the punishments when they took place. The discontent that Mary did have to cope with was the public disapproval of her marriage to Philip of Spain. For those unused to being ruled by a woman, the fear of becoming one more piece of the Holy Roman Empire was very real.

Just as her brother, Edward VI, had been encouraged to lead the nation in faith and punish those who did not follow, Mary had an obligation to uphold holy laws. Protestants and Catholics did not disagree on a monarchs role, but on who were the heretics that should be punished. Mary is often accused of seeking revenge for the many wrongs that she had suffered before she became queen, but in reality she was doing her duty of putting the country's church affairs in order with the advice of an extensive and learned council.

Mary also did not immediately resort to the burning of heretics. For more than than the first year of her reign, her focus was on ensuring that the true faith was preached so that those who had grown up during her brother's reign had the opportunity to hear and learn. Beginning in 1555, those who continued to lead people away from Catholicism were given harsh punishments for their role in what many believed was the spreading of heresy which doomed people to eternal damnation. Those who refused to correct the error of their ways, served as examples for those they led astray.

When people were burned, it was believed that they were given a foretaste of hell that would be their last chance to repent and receive eternal life in heaven. In its way, this punishment was intended as a final effort to convert those believed lost to heresy. Had Mary simply allowed her subjects to live and die condemned for eternity, she would have been accused by her contemporaries of failing to do her duty, but we might not remember her today as 'Bloody Mary'.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A Private Moment Between Henry and Elizabeth

Tony Riches is the author of the bestselling Tudor trilogy, covering the lives of Owen, Jasper, and Henry Tudor and the birth of the Tudor dynasty. He has been kind enough to offer my readers an excerpt from the most recent installment in the series, giving us a peek into the private lives of Henry and his wife, Elizabeth of York.

~ Samantha

Guest Post by Tony Riches

The final book in the best-selling historical fiction Tudor Trilogy, this is the story, based on actual events, of Henry Tudor, who changes the history of England forever.

Bosworth 1485: After victory against King Richard III, Henry Tudor becomes King of England. Rebels and pretenders plot to seize his throne. The barons resent his plans to curb their power and he wonders who he can trust. He hopes to unite Lancaster and York through marriage to the beautiful Elizabeth of York.

With help from his mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, he learns to keep a fragile peace. He chooses a Spanish Princess, Catherine of Aragon, as a wife for his son Prince Arthur. His daughters will marry the King of Scotland and the son of the Emperor of Rome. It seems his prayers are answered, then disaster strikes and Henry must ensure the future of the Tudors.

April 1489
Reaching out with slender fingers, the latest gift from the King of Spain munched at the succulent grape as if it were an apple. Less than a foot high, with a long, thick tail, the monkey had brown fur except for a cap of black. It fixed Henry with a pleading stare and held out a hand for more.
He offered another grape, which it took and began to suck at the sweet juice. ‘Do you think it has too-knowing eyes?’ Henry smiled. ‘I feel it can read our thoughts.’
Elizabeth spoke in a hushed tone, as if frightened of alarming it. ‘Does it have a name?’
‘I thought to call him Rodrigo,’ Henry laughed at her surprised expression, ‘after our esteemed ambassador. I wonder if this little monkey has also been sent to spy on us?’
‘Will the ambassador not be... offended?’
‘He should take it as a compliment that I consider his name worthy for my new pet.’ Henry gave her a grin. ‘Others have given us presents of lions, yet I received a monkey as a gift from his master.’
‘You plan to keep it in our private apartments?’ Elizabeth frowned with concern as she watched Henry feed the creature another ripe grape.
‘It amuses me.’ He grinned at her discomfort.
Elizabeth studied the thin gold chain which ran from a leather collar around the monkey’s tiny neck to prevent it escaping. ‘It has sharp little teeth...’
‘I think Rodrigo is clever enough not to bite the hand that feeds him.’
‘The ambassador...’ Elizabeth lowered her voice so the ever-present servants could not overhear. ‘Has he made progress with his negotiations?’
Henry nodded. ‘It seems we’ve found a suitable princess for our son. I expect a considerable dowry—and if de Puebla’s word is to be relied on, Princess Catalina is a pretty girl and bright for her age.’
‘It must be difficult to be certain.’ Elizabeth looked doubtful. ‘I understand the princess is only four years old...’
‘Arthur is only two years old, yet you agree he’s as handsome as his father—and as quick-witted as his mother?’
Elizabeth smiled at the thought. ‘Of course, but then as you often remind me, he is a Tudor.’
‘Half Tudor, half prince of the House of York.’
‘And soon there might be another...’
Henry embraced her. ‘Elizabeth!’ He stared into her amber eyes. ‘You are with child again?’
‘God willing.’ She failed to prevent a giggle at his enthusiasm for the news.
‘I prayed for God’s blessing upon us yet it seemed to be tempting fate to ask for another child.’ His face became serious. ‘I haven’t forgotten the toll Arthur’s birth took on you.’
‘It is a small enough price to pay.’ A fleeting shadow drifted over her face, the fear of all parents, then the moment passed.
‘I will pray for your good health and that this time it goes easier for you. Now we must celebrate our growing family!’

About the Author

Tony Riches is a full time author of best-selling historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the fifteenth century, with a particular interest in the Wars of the Roses and the lives of the early Tudors. For more information about Tony’s other books please visit his website and his popular blog, The Writing Desk and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Not My White Princess

The popularity of the Starz series The White Princess has raised some questions about the historical Elizabeth of York. Based upon a book by Philippa Gregory, this show would have people believe that "Lizzie" was a fiery character who plots against her own husband.

I have no idea where any of this comes from.

Elizabeth of York is, of course, near and dear to my heart. One of the reasons that I wrote about her was that she seemed to be a forgotten, yet vital, part of history. I wanted to shed some light upon her life and character, but I have to admit that this wasn't exactly the type of attention I was hoping she would get. The real white princess would not recognize herself in this production.

The real Elizabeth was pious, generous, and devoted to her husband. History remains silent on what Elizabeth's feelings were toward Henry Tudor before their marriage, but she would have seen it as her duty to build a good relationship with him. Their daily habits indicate that they were devoted to each other, often travelling together and spending more time together than many royal couples.

For an idea of what a day in the life of Elizabeth looked like, see this article that I wrote for Tudor Times.

Elizabeth had grown up during turbulent times. She went into sanctuary with her mother and sisters once when her father, Edward IV, was forced into exile by the forces of his cousin and one time ally, the Earl of Warwick, and again when her father died. She had watched the power struggle between her father and Henry VI, Warwick, and Margaret of Anjou. She had been there when her uncle became Richard III and her brothers disappeared. The last thing Elizabeth wanted to do was start it all up again. She and Henry strove for peace with their union and for the most part achieved it.

Did Henry and Elizabeth have marital ups and downs? Certainly. Who doesn't? They had the added stress of minor rebellions and pretenders claiming to be Elizabeth's brothers, so I think they kept their relationship together rather well. They are both noted for their faithfulness during a time when monogamy was not expected of men, and certainly not of kings. Frankly, to suggest anything else is disrespectful of their relationship.

If you are watching The White Princess for light entertainment, enjoy. Just remember that behind the Hollywood story there is a real historical couple whose truth is just as interesting as fiction.

Monday, May 1, 2017

From the Scriptorium: May 2017

May 2017 Edition

Bookish News

April sure was a busy month. Queen of Martyrs has found its way to many shelves and the top of Amazon's Hot New Releases list for Biographical Fiction! The blog tour introducing my Mary was wonderful. Thank you to the many blog hosts, reviewers, and readers who have made this book release a success. For more on QoM & all the blog tour stops, click here.

In other writing news, I have started writing a few items for All About History magazine. If you are a subscriber, watch for my fun alternate history article coming up that has Queen Mary selecting someone else to be her king. Bye-bye, Philip! (Wouldn't that have saved her a lot of heartache??)

Also, production is in process to bring my Margaret to audiobook! I am so happy to be able to bring the story of this amazing woman to more readers of historical fiction. It is also great to again be working with narrator extraordinairre, Rachael Baresford. More on this soon.

Featured Reviews

Queen of Martyrs - Besides the amazing book reviews that were part of the blog tour, QoM has received several 5-star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. It was difficult to choose which one to feature here, but I selected this one because this GR reader seems to really 'get' what I was attempting to accomplish with my version of Mary's story.

Cindy's review of Queen of Martyrs on Goodreads

Faithful Traitor - FT was named a Discovered Diamond last month! Reviewing and selecting the best of independently published historical fiction is the objective of the hardworking Discovering Diamond's team, and I am thrilled to have my Margaret recognized!

Discovering Diamonds Review of Faithful Traitor

Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen - The introduction to the Plantagenet Embers trilogy continues to draw people into the private life of Elizabeth of York. One reader got so carried away, she wrote this extensive review of my story and how it fits into the greater Wars of the Roses history.

Plantagenet Princess Tudor Queen on Themis-Athena's Garden of Books

Did you miss it?

Besides tons of great articles on Queen Mary as part of the QoM blog tour, I was also invited to Tudor Times last month. If you are watching The White Princess, you might be interested in what the life of Elizabeth of York actually looked like.

A Day in the Life of Elizabeth of York

People are clearly looking for the real history behind the Hollywood story, because this article from the archives has been viewed many times recently as well.

The Quiet Strength of Elizabeth of York

I was also honored to welcome guest Edoardo Albert to my blog once again. He was kind enough to share some amazing historic places he has visited as part of his writing research.

The Persistence of the Past

Thanks to all my readers!

Thank you to everyone who has read one of my books, and a special thanks to everyone who has written a review!

Keep up with all the latest bookish news by subscribing to my blog or following me on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads.

Enjoying the Historic Places Blog Series? See more historic places by following me on Instagram!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Queen of Martyrs Blog Tour

Have you missed any of the great articles, interviews, and excerpts that have been a part of the Queen of Martyrs blog tour? Get caught up right here!

We begin with a spot at The Writing Desk of fellow author Tony Riches, where I address reader expectations of 'Bloody Mary'.

"Why 'Bloody Mary'?" at The Writing Desk

Next, some surprising similarities between the much loved Katherine of Aragon and her daughter at EHFA.

"Mary I: Her Mother's Daughter" at English Historical Fiction Authors

This one includes an excerpt! And a look at the complicated relationship between Mary and her cousin, Lady Jane Grey

"Mary and Jane: Reluctant Rivals" at Lady Jane Grey Reference Guide

Ever wondered about the person behind the books? Suzy Henderson interviewed me for her blog.

"Interview with Author Samantha Wilcoxson" at  Blog of Suzy Henderson

Just for fun! What if Mary had chosen someone else to be her husband?

"Mary and Reginald: What Could Have Been?" at Tudors Dynasty

Another fun stop - I got to 'interview' one of my favorite secondary characters from Queen of Martyrs: Frances Waldegrave.

"An Interview with Frances Waldegrave" at History Imagined

Readers might be surprised by this look at the relationship and similarities of character between Mary and her more favored sister, Elizabeth.

"What Elizabeth Learned from Mary" at Blog of Judith Arnopp

Finally, I was a guest of book blogger Poppy Coburn with a post regarding what Queen of Martyrs is truly about - exposing the real Queen Mary behind the myths and misconceptions.

"Exposing the Real 'Bloody Mary'" at Blog of Poppy Coburn

Now for the BOOK REVIEWS! 

Two blogs have also featured beautiful reviews of Queen of Martyrs:

Troy Rodgers at Knight of Angels
He's the one who convinced me to write it! Talk about pressure!

Sharon Connolly at History- The Interesting Bits
Sharon has her own book coming out soon: Heroines of the Medieval World - I can't wait to get my hands on it and find more wonderful women to write about!

You can also find several brilliant reviews for my Mary at Goodreads, Amazon, & Amazon UK.

Have you written a review? Please link it in the comments below!!

Don't want to miss anything? Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or Instagram.

One more thing....if you ever want to find articles I have written for other websites/blogs, you can find them here.

Whew! It's been a busy month! Thank you for your support!