Monday, March 28, 2016

JASPER: Book Two of the Tudor Trilogy by Tony Riches

Have you been waiting for Book Two of Tony Riches' Tudor Trilogy? Your wait is over! JASPER was released last Friday and has already become a Kindle bestseller. 

Tony has also been kind enough to offer a FREE e-book copy of JASPER to the winner of a drawing right here on my blog. To enter, simply comment on this blog. Maybe share what you loved about the first book, OWEN. ~ Samantha

Book Release News:

Following the best-selling historical fiction novel OWEN – Book One of The Tudor Trilogy, this is the story, based on actual events, of Owen’s son Jasper Tudor, who changes the history of England forever.

England 1461: The young King Edward of York takes the country by force from King Henry VI of Lancaster. Sir Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, flees the massacre of his Welsh army at the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross and plans a rebellion to return his half-brother King Henry to the throne.

When King Henry is imprisoned by Edward in the Tower of London and murdered, Jasper escapes to Brittany with his young nephew, Henry Tudor. After the sudden death of King Edward and the mysterious disappearance of his sons, a new king, Edward’s brother Richard III takes the English Throne. With nothing but his wits and charm, Jasper sees his chance to make young Henry Tudor king with a daring and reckless invasion of England.

Set in the often brutal world of fifteenth century England, Wales, Scotland, France, Burgundy and Brittany, during the Wars of the Roses, this fast-paced story is one of courage and adventure, love and belief in the destiny of the Tudors.

Without the heroic Jasper Tudor there could have been no Tudor dynasty. 
  ~ Terry Breverton, author, historian and Television Presenter.

Jasper Tudor was the greatest survivor of the Wars of the Roses. Whilst almost all his contemporaries suffered often brutal and bloody deaths, Jasper persevered against all the odds. That's not to say it was easy, as you will discover...  
  ~ Nathen Amin, Author of Tudor Wales

New on Amazon UK  Amazon US and Amazon AU

About the Author

Tony Riches is a full time author of best-selling fiction and non-fiction books. He lives by the sea in Pembrokeshire, West Wales with his wife and enjoys sea and river kayaking in his spare time.

For more information about Tony’s other books please visit his popular blog, The Writing Desk and his Wordpress website and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Kindle Sale

For a limited time, you can purchase Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen on Kindle for only 1.99! This is a great opportunity to get Elizabeth's story before Margaret's comes out. Faithful Traitor is available for pre-order and is scheduled for release on June 14, 2016.

Thank you to everyone who has purchased, read, and reviewed by novels. I couldn't do it without you!

Tudor Eastertide

The Crucifixion of Jesus - Good Friday
 A look at Tudor era Easter worship and celebration reveals that elements that are not all that different than what we enjoy today. Egg decorating, for example, has been done for centuries. Since eggs were one of the many foods prohibited during Lent, Easter has long included this symbol of new life in colorful glory. Other Tudor traditions surrounding Holy Week may not seem as familiar.

For someone living in the 16th century, Easter was a more reverent and holy time than it is for many modern celebrants. Following the fasting and repentance of Lent, Easter celebrated new life. Not just the new life of spring but new life in Christ who rose from the dead to defeat death.

Holy week could include an ebb and flow of emotions as worshipers remembered the sacrifice made for them. Holy Thursday, also called Maundy Thursday, commemorates the Last Supper. In Tudor times this day was spent purifying the church, in confession, and taking communion. Some people may have also experienced the symbolic washing of the feet on this day, just as Jesus washed the feet of his disciples before giving them the bread and wine. Maundy Thursday began the service of the Triduum or Three Days that follows Jesus from the upper room, to Gethsemane, before Pilate, and to the cross. The altar was stripped of decor and swathed in black in preparation for Good Friday.

Queen Mary I Blessing Cramp Rings
Good Friday was and is the low point of Lent. A day of fasting was recognized in reverence for the death of the Savior. It was common to prostrate oneself before a crucifix in sorrow and repentance. In low light, the priest would read John's record of the passion of the Christ in place of a traditional liturgy. In the darkness of Good Friday, the light of Easter was on the horizon, and this was often represented by a single candle lit in the dark sanctuary. The candle was one symbol of hope pointing to Easter morning.

Another hopeful tradition that was included one this day until it was forsaken as a result of the Reformation was the blessing of rings. Catholic monarchs from Edward III to Mary I had held rings in their royal hands, blessing them and asking God to infuse them with healing power before giving them out to those in need. Known as cramp rings for their supposed ability to cure cramps and epilepsy, the rings were blessed by the king or queen and sprinkled with holy water before being distributed from the chapel at St. James Palace on Good Friday. This practice was abolished by Elizabeth I.

The Triduum ended with a joyous celebration of Easter Sunday. This capstone of the Christian calendar was met with great feasting and heartfelt worship during Tudor times, just as many continue to do today. The end of the Lenten fast would include foods that had been much missed during the previous 40 days and that were symbolic of the great resurrection.

The Resurrection - Easter Sunday
Lamb is a traditional dish on Easter Sunday that represents Jesus as the lamb of God. Eggs are a symbol of new life in heaven. Hot cross buns had been enjoyed long before Tudor times, but it was Elizabeth I who designated them as a special food for Easter with their simple cross to represent Christ. The Protestant queen may have abolished the superstitious cramp rings but she let the people keep their buns, if only on Easter and Christmas.

As I look at the Holy week traditions that some of my favorite historical figures would have celebrated, I am struck by just how similar it is to what I will experience. It is wonderful to feel so close to the people of the past and that great cloud of witnesses.

Monday, March 21, 2016

A Tale of Two Cousins

Plantagenet Arms

As the Tudor dynasty was born, the Plantagenet remnant had some difficult adjustments to make. Each individual was left to determine if they would serve the king who had defeated Richard III in battle or if they would bring a new challenge to him. While this may seem the concern of only men, the Plantagenet women also had to find their new place in the world.

Two cousins, Elizabeth of York and Margaret Pole, had spent much of their childhood together, but their lives under the Tudor regime turned out quite differently. Their fathers had been brothers. Elizabeth was the daughter of the charismatic Edward IV, who had cemented the York place upon the Plantagenet throne, or so he had believed. Margaret's father was George of Clarence, Edward IV's brother and heir apparent until the birth of Prince Edward in 1470.

The girls did not grow up together so much because their fathers were brothers, but because King Edward had his brother, George, executed for treason. Since Margaret's mother was already dead by the time the king's patience ran out with his impetuous and self-serving brother, Margaret became a royal ward.

Margaret's relationship with Elizabeth continued after Edward IV unexpectedly died in 1483. The two years of Richard III's reign must have been confusing and tumultuous for the girls who were at that time 10 and 17 years old. However, it was nothing compared to what was in store for them.

Elizabeth of York

With Henry Tudor victorious at Bosworth, Elizabeth had to make a difficult decision. She had been betrothed to Henry during her uncle Richard's reign, but had likely wondered if a marriage would ever take place whether she was in favor of it or not. Tudor had spent much of his life in exile but had gathered a larger number of the discontented to him after Edward IV's death. Elizabeth not only married Henry, she seems to have devoted herself to making a success of the marriage and Henry's rule.

Margaret served Elizabeth as lady-in-waiting until Henry VII gave her to a faithful follower to be wed. Having royal blood second only to the daughters of Edward IV, Margaret was a fine prize for Richard Pole. Their relationship is believed to have been happy, and the couple served Prince Arthur once he was established at Ludlow.

Margaret's vital decisions took place after the deaths of Elizabeth, Henry, and her husband, Richard. Richard's death had left her in relative poverty, and Elizabeth's without a advocate at court. Henry's death, however, opened up possibilities.

Margaret Pole

With Henry VIII on the throne, Margaret could hope for a turn of fortune's wheel that would improve her own position and that of her children. She was great friends with Catherine of Aragon, the women having nursed the dying Prince Arthur together. After Richard's death, it had been Catherine that Margaret run to for comfort. With Catherine as queen and Margaret's young cousin as king, the future looked bright.

And for a while it was.

Margaret served as governess to Princess Mary after waiting on poor Catherine through several less productive pregnancies. This was a high honor, as was the restoration of her family title, the earldom of Salisbury. Margaret's oldest son, another Henry, was given the Montague lands and title which could also be traced back through Margaret's family tree. As the premier peeress of the land, Margaret only had one way to move. Down.

When Henry gave up on fathering a male heir with Catherine and she started looking the five years older than her husband that she was, Margaret's star fell along with Catherine's. The break with Rome that made Henry's second marriage possible opened another chasm. As the dear friend of Henry's discarded wife and a staunch Catholic, Margaret was no longer looked upon by the king as a beloved cousin. It did not help that Margaret had four grown sons with an excess of royal blood.

The fortune of the Pole family ebbed and flowed through Henry's costly experiment in finding a suitable wife to replace Catherine. Failing to give Henry support as head of the church caused Margaret's favor to continue to fall, though her oldest son, Lord Montague did take the required oath in order to preserve his position at court. Another of Margaret's sons, Reginald, refused to break his ties with the Pope, was exiled, and became a Cardinal.

Tower of London

In 1521, Henry VIII made his first major move against the Pole family. He arrested Edward Stafford, duke of Buckingham and father-in-law to Margaret's daughter, Ursula. Soon after, he also sent Henry Pole to the Tower. While Henry was eventually released, Edward was not. This execution scarred Margaret and must have been reminiscent of the executions of her father and brother under previous kings.

It is difficult to imagine Margaret's difficulty in maintaining her loyalty to Catherine and Princess Mary without angering the king who wished to dispose of them. As if that weren't enough, she was forced to hide her Catholic faith when Henry cracked down on those who did not recognize his newly created position. How to stay faithful without being a traitor?

As Henry VIII became more tyrannical and the Pole's failed to fall in line, Margaret found herself in the position of so many noble men and women before her: opposed to the king.

Reginald Pole

Reginald had long distanced himself from Henry VIII by speaking against his remarriage. Their relationship had disintegrated completely. Where Henry had formerly sponsored Reginald in his schooling and offered him the archbishopric of York, he now sent assassins across the channel in an attempt to rid himself of the vociferous opponent.

Not able to grasp Reginald, the king took out his wrath on the remainder of the Poles. First Geoffrey, Margaret's youngest son, then Henry and his son were imprisoned along with several others. This supposed Exeter conspiracy proved the family's final downfall.

Knowing which target was weakest, the king had Geoffrey tortured and questioned for weeks before moving on the rest of the family. For his testimony, Geoffrey was released while his older brother, cousin, and others went to their deaths. Geoffrey attempted suicide at least twice, and Margaret was placed under house arrest.

Modern Day Tower Memorial

The rest of her days would be spent imprisoned, eventually within the Tower where so many had entered never to be seen again. In a final clearing of house, Henry had her executed without trial in 1541. Margaret was 67 years old.

Her grandson, Henry Pole, who had been arrested with his father, was never seen again.

These two cousins, Elizabeth and Margaret, had each done their best to make a way for the York remnant within the Tudor dynasty, and each faced tragedies with perseverance and strength. 

Read more about Elizabeth of York and Margaret Pole in the Plantagenet Embers series.

Elizabeth's story is told in Plantagenet Princess, Tudor Queen, and Margaret's in Faithful Traitor.

I have also written a novella featuring Reginald Pole. Prince of York begins with Reginald getting the news of his mother's execution.

Each book in the series is FREE with Kindle Unlimited!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Faithful Traitor: Now Available for Pre-Order!

Margaret Pole is no stranger to fortune's wheel. From her childhood as firstborn of the heir apparent of England, she was brought low as the daughter of a traitor. After years of turmoil as the Tudor dynasty made its roots, Margaret finds favor with her cousin, King Henry VIII. 

Will the remnant of the York dynasty thrive under this tempestuous king or will Margaret discover that there is a price to pay for having an excess of royal blood? 

Step into Tudor England . . . .

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Why Children Love the Titanic

As a voracious reader who has loved history for as long as I can remember, I could not resist the temptation to write a historical fiction book for children. The inspiration for Over the Deep is obviously the tragedy of the Titanic, but it is also more than that. I wanted to look at this ship and its only voyage from the point of view of a child, so that my young readers would feel as though they were on board.

From years of experience with my own children and volunteering in their school library, I knew that young readers are drawn to nonfiction much more than many parents give them credit for. While light reads such as Big Nate and Diary of a Wimpy Kid would sell like hotcakes at book fairs, children made different selections when they entered the library on their own. Sure, these fun graphic novels still flew off the shelves, but a stunning number of children choose books about animals, historic figures, and places they've never seen. One of the most popular topics: the Titanic.

The story of the Titanic has captivated several generations at this point, and the youngest is no exception. When I work with preschoolers, those 32 page easy readers on the Titanic get dog-eared and worn in no time. With poor immigrants, rich icons of the age, and the builders of the greatest ship of all time on board, the Titanic offers a story to captivate any reader, young or old. Of course, what the younger readers are looking for is not the romanticized story that we get in the major motion picture, so Over the Deep is something quite different.

Understanding children's love of fun facts, I have injected Over the Deep with tidbits about the historical figures on board, facts about the ship itself, and a timeline of actual events. These are told through the character of Edwin, a 10 year old Welsh boy who has a personal story to go along with his exploration of this great engineering marvel. This balanced blend of facts and fiction was created to appeal to kids, sparking their interest in reading and history. Through Edwin, readers are taken on a tour of the great ship and learn about the people, resources, and planning that went into it. And they see it all fall apart.

If you have a child who loves history, adventure, or survival stories, they will love Over the Deep. For a limited time, you can get it on Kindle for only 99c/99p!

Monday, March 7, 2016

The Quiet Strength of Elizabeth of York

Elizabeth of York is a name that is not widely known outside of the circles of history enthusiasts. Those of us that know and love her recognize the importance of the decisions that she made and the role that she played, even if that role was one that left her in the background. Elizabeth's personal decision to choose peace and the greater good of her kingdom over personal glory and ambition was vital to England's future and was a form of self sacrifice that few of her ancestors had been willing to make.

The Wars of the Roses began due to familial infighting between the descendants of Edward III, each certain that they would be more capable of leading the kingdom but also hungry for the riches and power that the monarchy would bring them. Two child kings, Richard II and Henry VI, proved themselves unable to successfully rule or to hold on to their power in the face of violent enemies. Once Henry IV demonstrated that the throne was up for grabs when he deposed his cousin Richard, he set a dangerous precedent that would eventually end the Plantagenet dynasty.
Battle of Towton (Graham Turner):
pivotal victory for Elizabeth's father, Edward IV

When this happened and the last Plantagenet king was killed on the battlefield near Bosworth, Elizabeth of York was left as the York heiress betrothed to the conquering Tudor king. While one might argue that Elizabeth had little choice over whether or not to marry Henry Tudor, the decisions that she did make demonstrated her support of him and his claim.

She did not press her own family's claim. This may seem like a minor point at a time when women were expected to stay home and bear heirs, but it was far from the world that Elizabeth had been raised in. From the times that her family had to enter sanctuary due to the vicious forces of Margaret of Anjou to the political scheming of her own mother, Elizabeth Woodville, Elizabeth of York had not been raised to believe that royal women had no power.

Tower of London
Even if she did not wish to rally troops to herself, Elizabeth had a number of options besides submitting to a Tudor husband and mothering a new dynasty. We have no way of knowing what she believed to be true of her brothers at this time. Some believed them to be dead at the hand of her uncle, Richard III, and she does not seem to believe that she was usurping their position. Therefore, we will assume that she believed them dead. That still left Edward of Warwick, Elizabeth's cousin and son of George of Clarence, as the male with the most royal blood coursing through his veins. Unfortunately, he was young and his father had been executed for treason. That would not have made it impossible for Elizabeth to be more insistent upon his rights, but she was not - even when Henry had young Edward imprisoned within the Tower.

The de la Pole brothers, the oldest of which had been Richard III's heir after the death of his son, were also strong possibilities. In fact, John de la Pole did later rebel against Henry VII, but not with Elizabeth's support. She chose peace over rallying behind her York cousins and was committed to creating a thriving new dynasty that would largely forget about her.
York Princesses

Despite Elizabeth's efforts, the Tudor dynasty would quickly die out. Her infamous son, Henry VIII, shocked the world with his reformation of the English church, many marriages, and failure to leave a robust son to carry on his name. Would his reign have been the bloody tragedy that it became if Elizabeth had survived longer to train him in a quieter and more peaceful method of rule? His daughter, Elizabeth I, named for her grandmother and much more famous, would prove the final blow to the Tudor dynasty by refusing to marry or even name a successor for her crown. She left the kingdom ripe for civil war that her grandmother had worked so tirelessly to end.

Perhaps this Plantagenet princess who became a Tudor queen deserves a bit more credit for her quiet strength that saved England from more bloody battles for supremacy.

Read more about Elizabeth of York in Plantagenet Princess Tudor Queen.