Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen - An Excerpt

With Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen hitting the shelves in three weeks, I thought I would reveal an excerpt to get you hooked! This scene takes place in 1497 when the royal family is gathered at Sheen for Christmas revelries.

“Wake up! There is a fire!”
This time, the lighter sleepers came fully awake as they realized the danger they were in.
“The children,” Elizabeth grabbed the woman closest to her. It was Jayne. “See to the children.” Suddenly, having her entire family gathered in one household seemed most ominous. Jayne rushed from the room, trusting that her queen could see to herself. Smoke billowed in and filled the room when she opened the door.
As soon as Jayne disappeared, the doorway was filled with men who had been sent to escort the women to safety. Elizabeth was able to breathe her first sigh of relief because their presence indicated that Henry was aware of the fire and would have made it outside himself. At least she would have sighed in relief if she could breathe. The air in the room had become opaque and she choked on the hot, thick smoke.
“My children,” she said to the man who took her arm. She recognized him as one of Henry’s household knights.
“They are outside,” he reassured her, carefully keeping his eyes straight ahead. His honor would not allow him to look upon his queen in her nightshift, even if she was one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen.
“Praise God!”
“He is good, but he expects us to do our part,” the knight said, propelling her forward. He seemed to have a sixth sense that allowed him to navigate the corridors in the darkness of night and confusion of smoke and fumes. “We must get you to the courtyard.”
They were almost there. Elizabeth could almost taste the cool, fresh night air on her tongue. The gallery was in flames that appeared impassable, and Elizabeth prayed nobody was trapped within it. Before she could complete the thought, she saw that someone was making their way through the hungry flames that licked at every surface. A figure, their identity hidden by the tapestry that was thrown over them as poor protection against the blaze, jogged along the gallery, dodging falling timbers and plaster. Elizabeth felt remorse for this man, who would likely die though he was making a valiant effort. Then the tapestry slipped for a moment from his head. It was Henry.
The ceiling of the gallery collapsed with a roaring crash.

Read more in Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen: The Story of Elizabeth of York, coming August 18, 2015.



The Dawn of the Tudor Dynasty: A Guest Post by Tony Riches

Tony Riches is a UK historical fiction author living in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Here he discusses his latest novel about Owen Tudor, the Welsh servant who married the Queen of England and founded the Tudor dynasty:

I was born near Pembroke Castle and often visit the small room where the thirteen-year-old Lady Margaret Beaufort gave birth to the future king, Henry Tudor. I also recently stood on the remote beach at Mill Bay near Milford Haven, imagining how Jasper Tudor would have felt as he approached with Henry and his mercenary army to ride to Bosworth - and change the history of Britain.

These experiences made me wonder about Owen Tudor. All I knew was that he was a Welsh servant who somehow married the beautiful young widow of King Henry V, Queen Catherine of Valois, and began this fascinating dynasty. I wanted to research his story in as much detail as possible and to sort out the many myths from the facts. There are, of course, huge gaps in the historical records, which only historical fiction can help to fill.

There are numerous references to Owen in other books – but I was surprised to discover no one had tackled a full account of his life. Most authors seemed to lose interest in what happens to Owen after the death of Queen Catherine. I felt Owen Tudor’s story deserved to be told, as he was thirty-seven when Catherine died and he lived to the age of sixty. It was fascinating to explore his later adventures as a Captain in Normandy and his part in the beginning of the civil war which became known as the Wars of the Roses. Amongst other things, I discovered he fathered another son, Dafydd Owen, at the age of fifty-nine, who became a knight and fought at the side of King Henry at the Battle of Bosworth.   

As I started the research, I realised the story of Owen’s son, Jasper Tudor, would need a whole book to do it justice.  I also decided that Owen’s grandson Henry and his marriage to the intriguing Elizabeth of York would be an ideal subject for a third book – and the idea of a ‘Tudor Trilogy’ was born. I hope this new Tudor trilogy will help people understand and take more interest in the life and times of Owen Tudor, his sons Edmund and Jasper - and his grandson King Henry VII.

Owen was buried in the chapel of the Greyfriars Church in Hereford, later pulled down after the Dissolution of the Monasteries. A plaque marks the spot of his execution in Hereford High Street, his only memorial. I would like to remember Owen, not as a victim of the Wars of the Roses, but as an adventurer, a risk-taker, a man who lived his life to the full and made his mark on the world through his descendants.

You can find out more on Tony’s blog ‘The Writing Desk’ at www.tonyriches.co.uk and find him on Twitter @tonyriches. Owen – Book One of the Tudor Trilogy is now available in eBook and paperback on Amazon and all formats on Smashwords. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Magical Moment of the Proof Copy

Yesterday I received the first paperback copy of my book, Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen. The result of hours of research, writing, and editing was placed into my hands in this perfect little bundle held between a gorgeous cover with my own name proudly stamped across the front.

It is a magical moment to look at that first proof copy and feel that an important milestone in life has been achieved. This fleeting moment is pure joy before I start to worry again whether people will like it and if I've corrected all of my grammatical errors. For just a few seconds, I can simply be in awe that I have created a 450 page story that other people can access.

Then I get scared again.

If people have access to my book, they can see into my head and criticize my reasoning. They can see inside my heart and judge whether or not they agree with what they find there. Suddenly, I feel guilty for every negative book review I have ever written, because I know that those authors, just like me, felt that they were creating their masterpiece, a story near and dear to their hearts.

Then I flip through the pages, smelling that fresh off the press fragrance and seeing my own turns of phrase popping out at me, and I know that it is all worth it.

Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen: The story of Elizabeth of York will be available in paperback and Kindle format on August 18, 2015.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Death of Prince Edmund Tudor

Before the death of Prince Arthur gave us a history that includes Henry VIII. Long before that Henry went through six wives in his quest for a quiver of sons. Elizabeth of York and Henry VII lost their third son (sixth child), Edmund, when he was just over one year old.

By the time Edmund died on June 19th, 1500, Henry and Elizabeth had already lost one child, the Princess Elizabeth in 1495. Little Elizabeth, who I refer to as Eliza in Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen, was named for her maternal grandmother. Elizabeth Woodville died while her daughter was in confinement for little Eliza, so her death would have been particularly poignant.

Edmund's death was no easier on the Tudor parents. They had traveled to Calais as London was plagued, once again, by the sweating sickness. Thinking that their children were safely tucked away with attentive nurses and servants in the English countryside, Henry and Elizabeth's greatest fear was likely for their eldest, Arthur, who may have already been showing signs of weakness caused by the tuberculosis that would kill him two years later.

In my book, the death of Edmund has a significant effect on Henry and Elizabeth's relationship, especially because it comes just months after Henry finally gave in to various pressures and ordered the executions of Edward of Warwick and Perkin Warbeck. Edward was Elizabeth's cousin and had been imprisoned for over half of his life.

Did his execution and Edmund's death drive a wedge between the previously happy Tudor couple? We can only guess, but you can read my take on events in Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Who Remained after the Battle of Stoke?


The Battle of Stoke is widely considered the end of the Wars of the Roses. Most who had battled for supremacy in England had died by the time this battle took place on June 16, 1487, and one that had the most potential for the future, John de la Pole, fell on the field at Stoke. Henry Tudor cemented his place on England's throne on this day by proving that Bosworth was no fluke. He was prepared to defend his right to call himself King of England.

John de la Pole, an organizer of rebels and leader of troops at Stoke had good reason to believe that he had a better claim to the crown than Henry VII. At one time named the heir of Richard III, de la Pole was son of Elizabeth, duchess of Suffolk and sister to Edward IV and Richard III. When he was killed, it was believed that the hope of the Plantagenets died with him.

However, a few remained.

At the time of John de la Pole's death, he had two younger brothers, Edmund and Richard. Both were forced into exile by Henry's wrath. Edmund would later be imprisoned and executed, but Henry's assassins failed to rid him of Richard.

Richard de la Pole
Sometimes referred to as the White Rose, Richard successfully raised troops and gained support in Europe. Circumstances were never quite in his favor though, and his army failed to reach English shores. Instead, Richard outlived many of his family members but never made a serious move for Henry's throne. He died in 1525 at the Battle of Pavia, where he led troops for Francis I of France.

When Richard de la Pole died, there still remained a Plantagenet remnant. The three de la Pole boys had not managed to leave behind a living male heir, but other families lived on with more than a drop of royal blood in their veins.

George of Clarence, the brother of Edward IV and Richard III who had been executed for treason in 1478, left behind two living children, Edward and Margaret. Edward was executed by Henry VII in 1499 for the crime of having a better claim to the throne than the king and to clear the way for Prince Arthur's marriage to the Spanish princess Catherine of Aragon. Margaret, however, had been married to a loyal follower of the Tudors, Richard Pole, with whom she had several sons. When the Battle of Stoke occurred in 1487, they were little more than children but they too would eventually be persecuted for their royal blood.

The eldest of Margaret's children was Henry Pole, Lord Montegu. As the greatest threat to Henry VIII's crown and a staunch Catholic, Henry was executed in 1539 along with Edward Neville and Henry Courtenay, two more men with potential power to give Henry VIII trouble. (Courtenay, as the son of Anne of York, was the last of the male offspring of Edward IV's children, besides Henry VIII.) Henry Pole's young son, another Henry, was also kept in the Tower until his death.

The youngest of Margaret's sons, Geoffrey, was not a threat to Henry VIII, but was his own worst enemy, giving evidence against his brother in order to save his own skin. Feelings of guilt plagued him and sent him to Reginald, begging for forgiveness. He would continue to ride on Reginald's coattails until his death in 1558.

Cardinal Reginald Pole
It was Margaret's son Reginald that gave Henry VIII the most grief. Reginald Pole was a Catholic cardinal and had fled to the continent to evade Henry's form of justice. It is widely believed that the persecution of the Pole family, including Margaret's execution in 1541 at age 67, was formulated to force Reginald to return to England and face Henry. This ploy was unsuccessful, and Reginald managed to outlive the violent king. Rumors abounded that Reginald would be married to Princess Mary, the two of them forming the perfect union to bring England back to the church. These plans never came to fruition, but Reginald remained close to his cousin Mary, returning to England upon her ascension to the throne and dying on the same day as her in 1558.

Did the Wars of the Roses end on a bloody battlefield near Stoke? Maybe, but there were a few Plantagenets remaining who would be the bane of the Tudor dynasty for years to come.

For more on the fate of the Plantagenet remnant within the Tudor era, read Desmond Seward's The Last White Rose.

Monday, July 6, 2015

On Writing, Researching, and Northumbrian Kings: A Guest Post from Edoardo Albert

I am thrilled to have Edoardo Albert on my blog today talking about the importance of factual content in historical fiction. His Northumbrian Thrones series follows kings Edwin, Oswald, and Oswiu through the 7th century. The impact of division between English kingdoms and coming of Christian missionaries enables him to create exciting narratives with multifacted characters. His latest release is Oswald: Return of the King. 

Guest Post by Edoardo Albert 

You know, it’s difficult not to feel jealous of Dan Brown. Apart from the extraordinary sales, the magnificent disregard for language and having Tom Hanks play his hero in not one, not two but, as of next year, three films, there’s the fact that he doesn’t have to waste any time doing research. Obviously, he claims to have spent years researching the Robert Langdon stories but this is just as clearly a clever piece of metafiction on Dan Brown’s part (a very intelligent man weaving a post-modern narrative of fame through the cultural and historical decay of western culture). Anyone conversant with Leonardo, Dante or albino monks will know that, as part of his metafiction, Brown introduces nonsense dressed up as researched fact in order to draw the reader into the story. Then, having done that, Mr Brown sits back, counts his money and prepares the next piece of metafiction.

I, on the other hand, as a humble and (much) poorer narrative craftsman, am constrained: I have imposed upon my story the straitjacket of actual history. Much as I’d like to, I can’t change events, or even tidy them up a bit to make a neater narrative package. Now, I know many fine historical fiction writers believe it is perfectly all right to telescope, edit or alter events to fit their narrative. For instance, Bernard Cornwell in The Last Kingdom alters the timeline of events and has his fictional hero, Uhtred, as the victor in the climactic Battle of Cynwit, and in his Sharpe novels Richard Sharpe becomes the man who first seizes a Napoleonic eagle and blows up the Fortress of Almeida. These are superb books, but it is not quite what I am trying to do in The Northumbrian Thrones series.

What attracted me in particular to this time and place is its liminal character. Northumbria itself was a borderland between the Anglo-Saxons and the Britons, it physically straddled the old Wall delimiting the Roman Empire, and, culturally, the time was immensely significant as the Anglo-Saxons stood poised upon the edge of settled, unified states and conversion in religion. Now, many novels set in pagan England seem to me not to look the facts squarely in the eye: the pagan Anglo-Saxons had roundly defeated the Christian Britons, driving them into the marginal lands of mountain and moor; they held mastery and were a martial, warrior people. Yet, despite this, during the seventh century they freely chose to abandon the religion of their fathers, the conquerors, and adopt the religion of the Britons, the vanquished. This is what actually happened.

How can we understand that? On the face of it, it seems the most unlikely outcome. All the smart gold in the seventh century would have been on the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms remaining pagan and the eventual extirpation of Christianity throughout the rest of Britain as the religion of the kingdoms that dominated, culturally and militarily, became the norm through the land. Yet, the opposite happened. The Britons, the vanquished, remained the losers in land and power, and yet the victors took on the mantle of their belief. In an age when belief in the gods was intimately linked with success in battle, why on earth should this have happened?


The history of the three successive kings of Northumbria, Edwin, Oswald and Oswiu, is intimately linked to this transition. During their reign, Northumbria became the pre-eminent kingdom in Britain and its king Bretwalda, overlord of the other kingdoms of the land. All three men were born pagan but became Christian and, as kingdoms followed kings, they took their people with them into the new religion. But it was no easy process, as I hope to show in my books; kingship was a fraught and dangerous business in those days, and few kings died anywhere but upon the battlefield. Thus, in the narrative of real history, I have an arc of triumph and disaster, return and fall, that might have been written by a master storyteller, and yet which actually happened. With such rich material, my challenge is to do it justice, and make these men and women, who created what was to become England, live and breathe upon the page and in the minds of the reader. By keeping strictly to what happened, I found it actually easier to tell the story and make it real – and I hope it will give the reader an insight into this crucial but all-but-forgotten period in history.

Learn more about Edoardo Albert

Edoardo Albert is a copywriter, editor and writer of short stories, features and books. His stories have appeared in Daily Science Fiction and Ancient Paths, and he has written features for Time Out, TGO and History Today. His first novel in the Northumbrian Thrones series, Edwin, was published by Lion Hudson in 2014; Northumbria: A Lost Kingdom was published by the History Press in 2013. He is also the editor of the new Time Out Cycle London Guide.

To connect with Edoardo, find him on Twitter or his website.

Northumbrian Thrones

Oswald: Return of the King has been recently released as the second book in Edoardo Albert's Northunbrian Thrones series. It is available on Amazon US and Amazon UK.

After the death of Edwin, who slew his father, the young prince Oswald seeks to regain the throne.

The exiled family of king Ethelfrith of Northumbria arrive, after much hardship, on the island of Iona, where the monastery founded by St Columba has become a centre of worship and learning. Young Oswald becomes friends with a novice, Aidan. When Aidan professes his final vows, Oswald and his little brother Oswy are received into the church.

As befits a young prince, Oswald learns to fight. However, Aidan’s example attracts him and he is on the point of deciding to become a monk when news reaches Iona that his half brother, Eanfrith, has been killed by Cadwallon, the king who defeated Edwin. Oswald sails back to Northumbria and meets Cadwallon in battle, defeating him and killing him.

Oswald, now undisputed king of Northumbria, gives Aidan the island of Lindisfarne as his base. But Penda, the last great pagan king in England, is raising troops against him…

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Announcing Edoardo Albert's 'Oswald: Return of the King'

Today I am excited to welcome Edoardo Albert to my blog. He is the author of the Northumbrian Thrones series, which started off with a bang with Edwin: High King of Britain. He is here today to talk about the release of the second book in this series featuring Oswald.

After the death of Edwin, who slew his father, the young prince Oswald seeks to regain the throne.
The exiled family of king Ethelfrith of Northumbria arrive, after much hardship, on the island of Iona, where the monastery founded by St Columba has become a centre of worship and learning. Young Oswald becomes friends with a novice, Aidan. When Aidan professes his final vows, Oswald and his little brother Oswy are received into the church.
As befits a young prince, Oswald learns to fight. However, Aidan’s example attracts him and he is on the point of deciding to become a monk when news reaches Iona that his half brother, Eanfrith, has been killed by Cadwallon, the king who defeated Edwin. Oswald sails back to Northumbria and meets Cadwallon in battle, defeating him and killing him. 
Oswald, now undisputed king of Northumbria, gives Aidan the island of Lindisfarne as his base. But Penda, the last great pagan king in England, is raising troops against him…
Oswald: Return of the King is currently available for preorder from Amazon US or is available at Amazon UK.

Meet the author:
Edoardo Albert is a copywriter, editor and writer of short stories, features and books. His stories have appeared in Daily Science Fiction and Ancient Paths, and he has written features for Time Out, TGO and History Today. His first novel in the Northumbrian Thrones series, Edwin, was published by Lion Hudson in 2014; Northumbria: A Lost Kingdom was published by the History Press in 2013. He is also the editor of the new Time Out Cycle London Guide.