Hello, dear readers! As you know, my upcoming novel features tragically failed spy Nathan Hale. My guest today shares another story of espionage!
The Duke of Milan and a Reason for Espionage
Guest Post by Toni Mount
When I was first thinking about The Colour of Rubies, the tenth Sebastian Foxley adventure – I have to write to suit the title because this is already agreed in my contract – I had just finished reading a biography of Christopher Marlowe, an Elizabethan playwright and a spy and this gave me the idea that my sleuth, Seb Foxley, should become involved in uncovering espionage at the court of Edward IV – apparently, every European monarch employed spies to check out what his fellow rulers and even his own noblemen were up to. I researched secret codes, couriers and go-betweens mostly from the Tudor era as this period is better documented, especially regarding Catholic spies but since religion wasn’t much of an issue in England in 1480, I needed the spies to have some other treasonous intent. Political expansion and war are always reasons for dastardly deeds so I searched medieval Europe for ideas.
In recent Seb Foxley novels, his brother Jude has introduced an Italian element to the stories by marrying a young Venetian girl. His intentions were mixed but he always likes to stress it was a noble deed in that he saved her from a hateful marriage to a vile old uncle by eloping with her and was then conned into making her his wife. Whether readers believe anything Jude says is up to them.
So, the groundwork was already done to introduce an Italian spy and – how lucky can an author be? – I discovered that the Dukes of Milan and the Kings of France both desired to extend their boundaries to include the alpine area of Piedmont, nominally part of the dukedom of Savoy but lying between their own territories. Duke Sforza of Milan wanted the French to be looking north and, while their attentions were elsewhere, he could grab Piedmont… if only the English would attack the French. Obviously, this required a dark deed to cause the English to invade northern France.
|Ludovico Sforza [Il Moro] by Giovanni Ambrogio de Predis|
|The Last Supper mural as it may have appeared when freshly painted by Leonardo c.1490|
|The Sforza badge of the Golden Lion|
The Colour of Rubies
Murder lurks at the heart of the royal court in the rabbit warren of the Palace of Westminster. The year is 1480. Treason is afoot amongst the squalid grandeur and opulent filth of this medieval world of contrasts. Even the Office of the King’s secretary hides a dangerous secret.