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A new children’s book about Lambert Simnel….

 

The Player King by Avi

This link is to an article about an author named Avi, whose latest children’s book, The Player King, is a novel about Lambert Simnel. Available at Amazon.

I have no idea whether it is pro or anti Richard,  but the fact that the blurb mentions “the deceitful Earl of Lincoln” doesn’t bode well. If Lincoln is deceitful, Heaven knows how Richard will be described.

 

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The Survival of the Princes in the Tower

The Survival of the Princes in the Tower has finally been released. There was a delay in some copies reaching readers in September, so by way of apology I blogged a little extract which can be found below. I also wrote a piece for On the Tudor Trail which was quite well received and can be found here.

I’m hoping this book will add a new dimension to an old debate and at least cause readers to think again about what they believe are the facts of a story seriously lacking in any hard, definitive facts.

It seems that a lot of the hardback copies of The Survival of the Princes in the Tower are not reaching people after the release on Thursday. I’m told there has been a delay getting copies to the warehouse, but that they are there now and should be shipped early next week. The Kindle version […]

via The Survival of the Princes in the Tower Extract — Matt’s History Blog

Robert S.P. Fripp’s “Power of a Woman”

Eleanor of Aquitaine was the daughter of a provincial Duke in France. Twice she married Kings and had many children, although she outlived most of them and several grandchildren, living into her ninth decade, suffering annulment and internal exile. Two of her sons became King of England and, through John “Sansterre”, she is the ancestress of every subsequent monarch.
In this book, Robert Fripp does for Eleanor what Graves did for Claudius, as she dictates her “memoirs” to a younger secretary. Most of us know much less about Eleanor than we would like and this is our opportunity to make amends.

 

TWO RARE RICARDIAN NOVELS

Almost every Ricardian knows about the famous novels ‘The Sunne in Splendour’ by Sharon Penman and ‘We Speak No Treason’ by Rosemary Hawley Jarman.  Most know  Majorie Bowen’s ‘Dickon’,  Carleton’s ‘Under The Hog,’ and ‘The White Boar’ by Marian Palmer. More recent readers who are discovering  the world of kindle  probably have seen Meredith Whitford’s ‘Treason’, J.P. Reedman’s ‘I Richard Plantagenet’, Joanne Larner’s ‘Richard Liveth Yet’ time travel series, and many more.

However, a lot more novels have been written about King Richard in the past, and I am tracking them down as I am something of a completist (Ok,ok, the word is ‘nerd.’) I have recently managed to obtain  two particularly usual Ricardian novels that almost  never get a mention, both of which I believe have some merit.

FIRE AND MORNING by Francis Leary was published by Ace Giants in 1957. I found this an excellent read, with beautiful language that  is often missing from modern novels. Quite unusually, it starts when Richard is already King, and does not cover earlier periods in his life, although it refers to them. It is well researched with the knowledge available at the time, and uses it well. It is not the most appealing portrayal of Richard ever written, but  it shows a human being who is conflicted and real.  Elizabeth of York being in love with Richard is used as a device but there is no secret tryst between them–he outright rejects her. Bosworth is well written, and though there is outdated information, such as Richard being  on Ambion Hill, the  battle and weaponry are well described and the action realistic. In the aftermath of the battle one passage goes: ‘This was what he had dicovered: the end of the quest. The dishonoured broken body passing, like the bloody shame of a perished England. Men would become harder, more cruel; there would be less truth, less love.’

(I noted in the author’s  acknowledgements that Leary mentioned ‘his friend’ Isolde Wigram and the Fellowship of the White Boar.)

KING’S RANSOM  was written by Glenn Pierce (the penname of an American history professor) and published in 1986. It was never well known, no doubt floundering in the  titanic shadow of Sunne in Splendour, which preceded it by several years. Ignore the cover, which is  truly awful–Richard is wearing his dad’s hat and is modelled on a photo of Emilio Estevez (yes, really; we even found the photo!), there is a big muscly executioner with an axe, and, gasp, the wrong date is written on the reverse side…it says 1486!

However, once one forgets this 80’s cheesiness, it turns into rather a decent novel after a slowish start. The beginning is also different from other Ricardian novels, taking place in the 1980’s at an archaeological dig…in a car park, no less! No, not Richard they were digging up, but a monk–a monk buried with a manuscript and a secret. Therein develops a sub plot set in modern times about who gets the manuscript, which tells the real story of Richard’s life, how it should beinterpreted, and what to do with it. Most of the book, however, takes place in Richard’s own lifetime. There are a few noticeable  gaffes in the chronology, perhaps made deliberately so the events would flow easily into each other (and the author has a weird habit of giving everyone moustaches!) , but despite that,  it is an extremely readable novel and the author has the knack of carrying you on from page to page without flagging. The  story is told mainly from the first person POV of the monk Godfrey, whose bones were found in the car park, as he follows Richard and by his writing unravels the later Tudor propaganda.

 

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Ricardian Story in ‘Scary’ Anthology!

I wrote a short story a couple of years ago, one of the first ‘Ricardian’ works I had ever written. So, when a best-selling Amazon author, Dan Alatorre (whose blog I follow), announced he wanted to make an anthology of stories from a variety of authors, all on a ‘scary’ theme, I remembered this story and thought it might fit the bill.  It was pretty rough, so I updated and edited it a bit, improving it a lot, having learned so much in the time since I first wrote it.  And, to my delight, Dan accepted it.

The anthology, called ‘The Box Under the Bed’, is a compilation of over twenty short stories from at least twenty authors from various countries and the stories are from various genres – a great pick ‘n’ mix with something for everyone!  It is to be released on October 1st (just in time for Richard’s birthday – and strangely Dan confirmed it would be included on the 22nd August, the anniversary of the Battle of Bosworth, where part of the story is set).

However, you can pre-order the Kindle version now and it’s only 99p (or $1.28 in the US). AND if you pre-order it, you will get a bonus story from Dan Alatorre himself! Only for those who pre-order! So, don’t delay, click on the link below and enjoy!

Cover of 'The Box Under the Bed' anthology

Click here to pre-order in the UK and here for the US.

The story of Richard and Francis as children….

I was there - Richard III

This fictional tale for younger readers, by Stuart Hill, relates the story of the young Richard III and his lifelong friend Francis Lovell when, as boys, they trained to be knights at the castle of the Earl of Warwick, now known as the “Kingmaker”.

I’m told it’s a charming story that introduces a new young audience to what life could be like back in the 15th century. If you have children of the right age, or little relatives and friends, it might be an excellent way to show them our history.

It’s one of a series of books called “I Was There”, so you can pick your period. But you WILL begin with Richard, right?

Available on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com etc.

 

 

 

Richard has a new champion….!

Richard smiling - my work At last, another serious writer who champions Richard.  Jason Goetz has produced a very even-handed account of how Richard’s dastardly reputation has come down through the ages…and he takes Richard’s side against the ten-times-more-dastardly Tudors.

Goetz has written a series called Essays on the Classics! (The Great Books Revival), in which one of the people he considers is Richard

Read more about Goetz and the series here.

A “Legendary Ten Seconds” review

It is unlikely you will ever read another book quite like this one. Ian Churchward describes it as ‘The story of how I wrote and recorded lots of Ricardian songs’ – the term ‘Ricardian’ denoting support for King Richard III. Ian sets the scene with amusing anecdotes about his early (pre-Ricardian) music adventures with different bands, one of them having a record played on the John Peel Show in 1987.

People come to King Richard III by many different roads. For Ian, it was when his wife called him away from his music to come and watch a TV documentary. He was happily strumming guitar in the basement and was not sure he wanted to – but as he is interested in history, he decided to watch for a few minutes. He ended up watching the whole programme which was, in his words, ‘the most amazing documentary I have ever seen’. It was about the finding of King Richard’s skeleton in a Leicester carpark and it gave Ian the idea of writing a song about Richard – it was called ‘The House of York’, lamenting the treachery and Tudor lies that caused the demise of the Plantagenet dynasty. Ian and band member, Lord Zarquon, collaborated on the arrangement: acoustic guitar, mellotron flute intro, church organ sounds and drums. The words of this song (and many others that followed) are reproduced in the book.

Ian explains how King Richard has been maligned and puts the record straight about his right to take the throne, when his nephews were declared illegitimate and thus unable to accede. The book takes us through the various Ricardian-themed albums that followed the first song, the lyrics interspersed with short explanatory historical narratives.

We learn how The Legendary Ten Seconds got their name – which is so unusual that people have no trouble finding their music on the internet! The songs are best described as mediaeval English folk rock: the mood varies from catchy and singalong (The Year of Three Kings), haunting (The Boar Lay Slain) to stirring and exhilarating (White Surrey).

I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in music and in King Richard III. Buy it and sing along at a Legendary Ten Seconds gig.

Give this Knight Errant a miss….!

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If you support Richard III and believe history has “done him wrong”, for heaven’s sake do not read The Last Knight Errant: Sir Edward Woodville and the Age of Chivalry by Christopher Wilkins.

I made the mistake, and it soon struck me that the author had learned by rote every single myth about Richard, and then served them up as fact. Although, to be fair, he does dispense with the “two years in the womb, long hair and full set of teeth at birth” yarn. We don’t have the withered arm either. I suppose even Wilkins sensed these things would be going too far. After all, he’s aiming at a modern audience, not the Tudors. I will assume that the murder of Edward of Lancaster at Tewkesbury was a crime of Richard’s that Wilkins somehow overlooked.

So, let me see. Here are some of Richard’s crimes:-

  • He murdered Henry VI.
  • He poisoned Anne in order to marry his niece.
  • Joanna of Portugal declined to marry Richard and preferred her nunnery.
  • Richard intended from the outset to be rid of his nephews.
  • His marriage was “between brother and sister-in-law” and therefore invalid. There was no dispensation applied for anyway. Thus Edward of Middleham was illegitimate.
  • Elizabeth Woodville wasn’t plotting against Richard, she was merely afraid of him.
  • Elizabeth Woodville had a nervous breakdown, which explains her agreement to let her daughters go into Richard’s care.
  • Richard bullied the old Duchess of Oxford into giving him her estates.
  • There is no evidence that Edward IV ever wanted Richard to be Protector.
  • Stillington only revealed the untrue yarn of the pre-contract because Richard promised him his bastard son could marry Elizabeth of York.
  • History has “demonstrated” Richard’s ruthlessness.

That’s enough! Too much even. A load of old tosh, I fear, and so untrue in these important areas that I doubt the author’s portrayal of that thieving traitor Sir Edward Woodville is much better, except that it will be the other swing of the pendulum, halo and all. Can’t be bothered to finish the book to find out.

By the way, the back cover blurb even refers to Richard as ‘that genius of propaganda’! Richard? Has Wilkins never noticed the suffocating blanket coverage by the Tudors? Bah! I don’t mind honest debate, and accept that not everyone believes Richard was a good man, but I do object to this tommyrot. Trotting out the Tudor fairy tales of Thomas More, Shakespeare and the like is not good scholarship!

Margaret Pole Countess of Salisbury 1473-1541 Loyalty Lineage and Leadership by Hazel Pierce.

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Those looking for an in-depth assessment of the life of Margaret Pole need look no further. Hazel Pierce has more than adequately supplied it in her biography of Margaret – Margaret Pole Countess of Salisbury 1473-1541 Loyalty Lineage and Leadership.  Covering Margaret’s life from early childhood – orphaned at five years old,  Margaret’s earlier needs were catered for by her uncle Edward who supplied her with the necessities – well –  it was the very least he could do under the circumstances – her marriage to Sir Richard Pole – Pierce opines this was a happy one – her widowhood  – the restoration to her  of her brother Edward’s Earldom of Salisbury  by Henry Vlll and finally, her violent death at the hands of an inept axeman aged 67.

 

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George Duke of Clarence – Margaret’s father ‘a myghty prince semley of person and ryght witty and wel visaged’.  At her birth in 1473 he stood third in line of succession to the crown of England.

I must confess that on reaching the end of the book my view of Margaret had changed slightly and not perhaps for the better.  I was left slightly  confused – was she merely obstinate, stubborn and hardheaded,  foolishly pressing Henry’s buttons to the limits – unwisely as it transpired – or was she driven by the rememberance of her noble lineage, indeed more noble than Henry’s,  the present occupier of the throne?   Did she feel honour bound , even duty bound,  after the judicial murder of her brother, Edward the Earl of Warwick, to fight Henry tooth and nail over property matters, a fight that raged for 10 years?  Did this lead to Henry nurturing a dislike for her which would later influence the decision to execute her?  Undoubtedly she infuriated Henry when she encouraged his daughter, the rebellious  Mary,  aiding and abbeting her in her refusal to return her jewels when her father needed them for his new wife, Anne Boleyn.  Margaret seems to have suffered from a nervous breakdown when she and Mary were forcibly parted but later regained her strength and resolve when standing up to the most strenuous of interrogations ,  her courage shining  through in the comments made by one of these interrogators,  Sir William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton, who according to Pierce was sympathetic to Margaret’s younger son Geoffrey, but disliked Margaret.  He later wrote ‘we have dealid with such a one as men have not dealid with to fore us,  Wee may call hyr rather a strong and custaunt man than   a woman

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William Fitzwilliam, Earl of Southampton by Hans Holbein.  The face of the man who interrogated Margaret over 2 days.

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Warblington Castle, Hampshire,   Margaret’s principal residence where she was interrogated by  Sir William Fitzwilliam and Thomas Goodrich Bishop of Ely.

Fortunately for Pierce – and for us – plentiful records have survived that cover Margaret and her sons’ lives ( had the human shredders from the reign of Henry Vll long since departed this mortal coil?)  that have enabled Pierce to write a cracking good book and her meticulous attention to detail must be applauded.  I found it difficult at times to put this well researched and balanced book down.

Margaret’s eldest son, Henry Montague seems the most sensible of the lot although prone to letting his mouth run dangerously away with him from time to time.

Geoffrey, the youngest,  is perhaps the one that took after his maternal grandfather, the mercurial George Duke of Clarence, a loose cannon, but at the same time likeable and charming , with friends  that tried to save him, but perhaps lacking the courage of George. He tried to suffocate himself with a cushion, which,  not surprisingly failed, and his wife was terrified that he might reveal too much if interrogated –  indeed he feared this very thing himself.

Reginald – ah Reginald! – he was the fly in the ointment, safely on the Continent, he managed to survive assassination attempts on his life and was complicit, via his writings, in the downfall of the Pole family.  Reginald survived to become a Cardinal and later Archbishop of Canterbury under Mary Tudor.  For me a further question arises over Reginald’s rather cavalier attitude to his family back in England.  Opposed to Henry’s religious changes in 1537 he sent a message warning that if his mother supported these opinions  ‘mother as she is myne, i wolde treade appon her with my feete”    Reginald seems not to have  give a flying fig over the survival and fates of his family.  If so why?  Perhaps a grudge of some sort, an axe to grind?  Pierce added that Reginald’s actions are so well known that they do not need including in her book.  So that is another story.

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Margaret’s son, Reginald Pole, consecrated as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1556.

And so around spun the fickle wheel of fortune, until they, with the exception of Reggie, were totally undone,  disaster and tragedy overtaking them all , with even Montgue’s young son, Henry Pole the Younger, disappearing from sight forever once he entered the Tower of London with his father and grandmother.  Poor little blighter.

Although this book does answer many question about Margaret and her family it does leave me with one – did the Poles contribute to their own demise, all in some way stretching Henry’s patience to the limit OR was it always inevitable that Henry would in the end,  annihilate the last of those who had the royal and noble Plantagenent blood coursing through their veins?

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The Salisbury Chantry, Christchurch Priory, Dorset.  Margaret’s intended resting place.  Margaret was in eventuality buried in the chapel of St Peter ad Vincula, at the Tower of London alongside Henry’s other victims.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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