This has been Ricardian month on my blog, as I recently interviewed Anne Easter Smith to discuss her new novel about Cecily Neville and today I am visited by Joan Szechtman, author of two novels about Richard III, This Time and Loyalty Binds Me.   I haven’t had a chance yet to read Loyalty Binds Me, mainly because of the upcoming Eleanor tour, but I did read This Time and enjoyed it.  The premise is very imaginative–snatching Richard from Bosworth Field at the moment before his death and transporting him to our time–and Joan executed it quite well.  She dealt with issues that would be bound to come up for a medieval man suddenly finding himself in our time, both the serious (religious intolerance) and the more mundane (cars, computers, etc.)    I found her Richard to be believable and likable and I am looking forward to continuing his journey in the 21st century.  I am sure he will find voice mail and never-ending political campaigns every bit as annoying as the rest of us do, but he also faces a unique challenge–having to prove he did not murder his nephews!   

Interview with SKP


SKP: Before we start, I hope you don’t mind if I ask you how you pronounce your name.


JS: Joan? Just the way it’s spelled—just kidding. ;) Szechtman is easy if you pretend the “z” is an “h” and then pronounce it the way it’s spelled. All joking aside, I’m quite honored to be doing this interview. Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity.


SKP: I understand that Loyalty Binds Me is the second book in this series after This Time. Since this is your first interview with me, please tell us a little about both books.


JS: THIS TIME starts moments before Richard III loses to Henry Tudor on the field of Redemore near Leicester, England on August 22, 1485. In THIS TIME, a team of Ricardians substitutes an armor-clad corpse for the king and brings him into Portland, Oregon. Richard awakens August 21, 2004 to an alien world where even the English he speaks is different.


The story follows two parallel paths: the present where Richard must learn how to adjust to not only the technological advancements but also the more difficult cultural differences; and looking back at the past to solve some of the mysteries that have haunted and maligned his image for over 500 years.


The second book, LOYALTY BINDS ME, continues Richard III’s story. Richard has married a divorcee, adopted her two daughters, and with the help of his new wife, has been able to rescue his son Edward, who had predeceased him in the 15th-century. Richard has lived in the twenty-first century for two years, and his son has been with him for the past year. At the start of the novel, they have just arrived in London, when Richard is brought in by the Metropolitan Police for questioning about the alleged murder of Richard III’s nephews in 1483. Richard must now find a way to clear his name and protect his family while concealing his true identity.


The books are written to stand by themselves; there are no cliffhangers at the end of each novel and there’s enough information in the second book for a new reader to understand the story without boring those who have read the first book.


SKP: I usually don’t read fictional books about one of my characters, but I was so intrigued by your premise of bringing Richard III into the 21st century that I put aside my usual reservations. Why did you bring Richard III into the 21st-century?


JS: One of the things that really got to me about Richard III was that he was so young—only 32—when he died. I felt his story wasn’t finished and I wanted to examine his character in a modern light, without forcing our modern sensibilities onto his 15th-century actions. To do this, I had to let him speak for himself. Admittedly, I could have done something akin to Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book and send a protagonist back in time, but I thought that by bringing Richard into the present day, I could challenge him in ways that I couldn’t by writing a period piece. Additionally, I didn’t feel the need to tell Richard’s life story. You beat me to it. In fact, it was your book, Sunne in Splendour, which put me on the Ricardian path to the point where I felt compelled to write about Richard, but from a different perspective.


SKP: Many time-travel novels ignore language differences, but you didn’t. Yet, Richard was able to adjust rapidly to modern English.


JS: Richard was probably fluent in three or four languages, and although today’s English would have at first sounded foreign to him, I felt that there was enough similarities—based on my reading of The Paston Letters, for example—between Early Modern English and today’s English that he would have been able to understand a lot of what he heard fairly quickly. I also provided a linguist that was able to help him over the inevitable speed bumps.


SKP: Another rapid adjustment that Richard achieved was his ability to absorb and take advantage of today’s technology. It left me a bit breathless.


JS: There have been modern instances of individuals from isolated primitive cultures being brought to technologically advanced cultures. Most of these individuals were able to use the technology quickly. The more difficult adjustment has to do with cultural differences. Such was the case for Richard. Because he was intentionally brought into the future, and not by accident, he had access to people who could help him learn how to use such things as phones, computers, cars, etc.


I also decided to advance his adjustment so that I wouldn’t put the reader to sleep having him learn every single detail that we take for granted. So I tried to show him learn some things and let the reader imagine him learning the rest.


SKP: I understand that not only do you think that Richard did not kill his nephews, but that they may well have survived him.


JS: Yes. Despite the rumors the princes had met an evil end and Tudor’s willingness to parley these rumors to his advantage, extant documentation and contemporary reports show only that the boys disappeared. Setting aside the lack of documentation, I also took into consideration the behaviors of both Richard III and Henry VII. Then, it was standard operating procedure to display bodies to “prove” that their reigns were without credible challenge. Despite the way Henry had Richard’s body mistreated immediately after the battle, he nevertheless had it put on display to show that he was now the undisputed king. I have to think that if Henry had killed the princes or knew where their bodies were, he would have displayed them and blamed Richard for their deaths. If Richard had had them killed, he could have easily first blamed Welles for their deaths during the botched attempt to “free” them from the tower, and then later, Buckingham, when Richard had him executed for treason.


Richard had far less reason to want the princes dead than did Henry. Through “Titulus Regius” parliament declared Richard the rightful king and bastardized all of Edward IV’s children. As bastards, the princes could not inherit any title. Henry VII had his parliament revoke “Titulus Regius” which enabled his marriage to Edward IV’s oldest daughter, Elizabeth Woodville. If the princes were alive, they now had more claim to the crown now that their impediment had been removed. In fact, based on how he handled the man he called Perkin Warbeck, I think he was more than a little afraid that Warbeck was really Richard of York, the younger of Edward IV’s two sons. Interestingly, Warbeck claimed to have been in Edward Brampton’s household in Portugal. Now Brampton was a Portuguese Jew who converted soon after Edward IV first became king and served both Edward and Richard. Among the many awards that Richard gave Brampton, he knighted him in 1484—the first monarch to knight a converted Jew. As much as Richard may have liked the guy, I think there had to have been an extraordinary reason for him to grant Brampton knighthood. I think the reason was that Richard had entrusted Richard of York’s care to Brampton.


SKP: Now that you’ve “saved” Richard and brought him into our time, do you have any more books planned for him?


JS: There is a third book in the works with its own set of surprises. The working title is STRANGE TIMES. This one is partially about Francis Lovel—someone most Ricardians think was close to Richard’s heart.


SKP:  Francis was very close to my heart,too, while writing Sunne, for he was the only Francis in a book packed with Edwards, Richards, and Elizabeths.    It sounds very intriguing.   Thank you so much, Joan, for a most interesting interview about one of my favorite medieval kings.


May 23, 2010


  1. Lisa Markovitz Says:

    I loved reading this. I commend Ms. Joan for her unique creativity in this story-telling, and any focus brought onto this subject, near to my heart, and research continuing to be done on it, and opinions of what happened being written out there, is wonderful by me! Thanks for sharing this intriguing info.

  2. Janet Elaine Smith Says:

    I have had the pleasure of reading a pre-published copy of Loyalty Binds Me. It is a delightfully ingenious read. I enjoyed the interview, too.

  3. Emilie Laforge Says:

    Sharon and Joan, thanks for a great interview.

    Joan, I will definitely add both your novels to my wish list. Richard III is such an interesting and tragic historical figure. I look forward to reading about the life you’ve imagined for him. Will “Loyalty Binds Me” be available from Amazon and if so when?

  4. Joan Szechtman Says:

    Thank you Lisa, Janet, and Emilie. Loyalty should be released to Amazon, B&N, etc. this week. I’m going with a small publisher, so it will be predominantly represented at the online stores. The only thing that will hold it back is if there is something wrong with the proof copy. Hopefully, we’ve dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s.

  5. Suzanne Says:

    I have not yet had a chance to read This Time, but it’s been on my mental to-read list ever since Sharon first recommended it. I definitely agree w/ you that his story seems so … unfinsished. It’s curious that you would have him go back and get his son, but not Anne. I know at least in Sunne, Anne was the love of his life — was it different for your Richard?

    I do find it hard to believe that Henry would repeal Titulus Regis w/o being damn sure that the princes were dead, esp. since he didn’t need to do it — IIRC he claimed the crown by conquest, not by birth.

    I look forward to reading both books!

  6. Michele Says:

    What a really interesting interview! I am definitely picking the books up!

  7. Joan Szechtman Says:

    Thank you Suzanne and Michele.

    The way I saw Richard was that Anne did become the love of his life, although I’m not sure that he necessarily felt that way when he was trying to get her away from George. I reckoned that he liked her and probably found her attractive. However, I’m not convinced that if she wasn’t entitled to half of the Neville estates, especially in the North where Richard had his base, that he would have been eager, shall we say, to marry her to begin with.

    In This Time, Richard did want to “rescue” Anne as well as Edward, but couldn’t because at the time of Anne’s death, she was too compromised to save, and any earlier would have changed history, especially considering that Anne died on a day marked by a solar eclipse.

    Henry had to repeal Titulus Regius given that he had planned and sworn to marry Elizabeth, Edward IV’s eldest. I think it would have been an impediment if she were a bastard, which she would have been if Titulus Regius were not revoked. Though Henry claimed the crown by conquest, he did rely on birth too, but his claim solely by birth was a good deal weaker than George’s son Edward, whose impediment he inherited from his father was much easier to reverse.

  8. skpenman Says:

    Here is a link to Passages to the Past, a great website, which lists CW Gortner’s virtual book tour for his novel about Catherine de Medici.

  9. Koby Says:

    Today, Lambert Simnel was crowned in Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin as Edward VI, and David I of Scotland, Empress Matilda’s uncle died today.
    That was a fascinating interview. I’ll have to look into getting those books, although it’ll probably take some time - after getting 18 books recently, I’ll have to take a break.

  10. skpenman Says:

    Koby, your TBR list is getting as bad as mine. I figured if I stacked them all up, they’d look like the Leaning Power of Pisa.

  11. Susanne Says:

    Wow, Sharon, it is so good to hear that I am among the “normal” with my TBR stack. The one I have in the family room has to be rearranged so that I can see over it!!

  12. Britta B. Says:

    I just picked up Gortner’s Medici novel, can’t wait for the plane ride to read it. Thanx for the above link. And thanx for another author’s interview.

  13. skpenman Says:

    I’ve read three of Christopher’s books so far, Britta–his novel The Last Queen, about Juana la Loca, sister to Katherine of Aragon, his novel about Catherine de Medici, and The Tudor Secret, a mystery involving the young Elizabeth, and I can recommend them all highly.
    Susanne, we have lots of company out there. Even if we live in danger of being buried by our books, I wouldn’t change places with those sad souls who’ve never learned what a joy reading can be.

  14. Joan Szechtman Says:

    Thank you Koby. Noticing how diligent you are about history, I know that you will get to my books eventually. As with everyone who does read my book, I look forward to your comments.

    Lambert Simnel is rather interesting. Why would Henry be so “magnanimous” with Simnel, a clear impostor, when he so badly treated Clarence’s son, Edward? And why would the Irish crown an impostor Edward VI? It just doesn’t add up for me. I have to delve into this a lot deeper, but one wonders if Simnel were Henry’s product, substituted at the last minute to discredit the rebels and to imply that Edward V was not alive. Or was it to hide that the real Edward V had been killed at Stoke?

  15. James Conroyd Martin Says:

    A very fine interview. Bravo!
    See you at the conference.

  16. Ruth Roberts Says:

    Hi! I thoroughly enjoyed the interview. Joan and I have been e-mailing for the Richard III Society and I am thrilled that with the interview!

  17. Ruth Roberts Says:

    Sorry about the typo. Please omit the “that.”

  18. Beth Says:

    Thanks for the interview, the both of you. The whole idea is such a unique spin, it’s really intriguing.

  19. Barbara Elsborg Says:

    I remembering critiquing one chapter of your first, Joan. An intriguing premise and you have so obviously researched this thoroughly. There are aways interesting questions to ask about historical figures, and Richard 111 and the princes is a story that will go on and on.

  20. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Good news for fans of Margaret Frazer. She has an excellent interview on Jeri Westerson’s website and has some original stories now on Kindle. She is also in the process of making her novels available on Kindle, which makes me very happy!

  21. Lorrie Unites-Struiff Says:

    Hi Ladies,
    I’ve had the pleasure of reading both books, as Joan knows. I found her research to be extrodinary and exact. She is a perfectionist with the historical events and went to great lengths to write such enjoyable novels.

    Richard, in our time period, is a fun read. The mystery, the characters so well drawn, I was pulled in from the first page.

    Her novels are a must read for historical novel fans and for others that I know will enjoy reading about Richard in our time period.

    Great going, Joan. I know you will garner many fans. Keep them coming.

  22. Marva Dasef Says:

    I had the pleasure of reading Loyalty Binds Me early on. It sure gave me a whole different view of Richard.

    I’ve still need to read the first book, which I will if I get unburied from so many splendid books on my Kindle taunting me to read my blood eyes out.

    Congratulations, Joan!

  23. Joan Szechtman Says:

    Thank you Barbara, Lorrie, and Marva. Thank you for all your help with my initial stumbling drafts, for suffering through my atrocious punctuation and suspect grammar to give me honest appraisals of my work. You are all in part responsible for the quality of my books, for better or for worse ;). Love you.

    For those folks reading this blog, who don’t have a clue as to what I’m talking about; we all participate on Critique Circle. It’s an online workshop for writers that I highly recommend to anyone who is thinking of writing and would like honest feedback.

  24. Christopher M. Cevasco Says:

    What an interesting premise! The books sound fascinating. Great interview!

  25. Joan Szechtman Says:

    Thank you, Christopher.

    Marva, I meant to mention that your reaction about how my book changed your image of Richard III is one of my goals for the books. I didn’t specifically start writing about Richard III for that end, but the more I dug into his life and formulated what kind of person he probably was, the more I wanted others to see him in a similar light.

  26. Koby Says:

    Today, Malcolm IV ‘the Maiden’ of Scotland died (he ruled during Henry II’s reign), as well as John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset, who was father to Lady Margaret Beaufort, thus being grandfather to Henry VII [VIII]. Also, Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, was executed today by order of Henry VIII [IX} - she was George of Clarence’s daughter. I remember seeing her burial place when I was at the Tower just last week.

  27. Beth Says:

    Question for Sharon - I’m interested in researching more about Welsh history during the period you wrote about in Here Be Dragons, Falls the Shadow and The Reckoning… were there any particular non-fiction academic works on the subject that you can recommend to me?

  28. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Beth, I am sorry, but I can’t be of help, for three reasons–I am getting ready to leave on the Eleanor tour next week, I am still dealing wtih back pain that limits my computer time, and I wrote Dragons over 25 years ago, so a lot of my research sources are now understandably a bit blurry. You have a huge advantage that was denied to me–the Internet–so I am sure you’ll have no trouble at all with your research, especially since you’re trained as a historian.

  29. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Here is today’s Facebook Note, with credit due to Koby, of course.

    Thanks to my friend Koby for reminding me that one of the most brutal of Henry VIII’s judicial murders occurred on this date in 1541, when the aged and frail Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, was hacked to death by an incompetant or nervous executioner. They dragged this ailing elderly woman to the block and forced her head down upon it when she refused, saying she was innocent. The first blow hit her shoulder; iit was said to have taken 11 blows in all. Her crime? She was the daughter of George of Clarence, so Plantagenet blood ran in her veins. I am guessing the Tudors didn’t dramatize this on their series. Here is a link to an account based on the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry.

  30. Joan Szechtman Says:

    Along with her brother, Edward, Earl of Warwick, I have found Margret Pole’s history especially poignant. Here’s a short biography about Margaret Pole.

  31. Ken Says:


    I would absolutely recommend ‘Llywelyn ap Gruffudd’ by J. Beverley Smith. A truly monumental work!

  32. Ken Says:

    Beth, I forgot, If you would like a copy of a superb piece of research into the lives of Welsh Noblewomen in that period, please let me have your email address and I’ll send it to you.

  33. Beth Says:

    Great. Oh, um, how shall I give you my email address? I don’t post my email publicly. Um, I think Sharon can probably see my email as the blog owner, because I have to input it whenever I post a comment.

  34. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Ken, it broke my heart that I could not use Dr Smith’s biography for The Reckoning; as you probably know, it was publlished first in Welsh and did not come out in English for some time. I even wrote to him, asking if if any of his grad students might be interested in translating it for me, for a fee, of course. But he never answered. As a writer, one of the most frustrating experiences is wanting to read a source that is in another language and having no way to crack the code. Today it would be easier to find translators via the Internet, but this was back in the dark days before the world wide web. Beth, why don’t you e-mail me and I can forward your e-mail to Ken?

  35. Beth Says:

    Great, I will do that, Sharon. It’s not that I don’t trust Ken but, recently I made the mistake of mentioning my email on a public blog, and I got a ton of spam after that, until I went back and asked the blog owner to edit/delete my comment!

  36. Ken Says:

    Beth and Sharon

    All done and paper on it’s way!

  37. Beth Says:

    Thank goodness, I’ve been trying to get onto the blog all day and this is the first time it’s worked!

    On this day in history, Eleanor and Henry’s granddaughter Princess Urraca of Castile was born, through Princess Eleanor (known as Leonora to the Castilians), naturally enough named after her mother. Apparently, and I don’t know if this is true or not, perhaps Sharon or someone can tell us, in later life Urraca was proposed as a possible bride for the king of France, but Eleanor of Aquitaine disapproved of the match on the basis of the fact that she didn’t like Urraca’s name and preferred the name of her sister Princess Blanca!

  38. Beth Says:

    And today in history, in 1453, Constantinople fell to the Turks, marking the end of the Byzantine Empire.

  39. Sharon K Penman Says:

    My friend Lesley reminded me that today is the anniversary of Charles II’s coronation in 1660; he was also born on May 29th in 1630. Not a bad birthday gift–a crown. I am definitely a charter member of Team Plantagenet, but I’d let Charles and Elizabeth I on the team, while permanently benching the rest of the Tudors, Stuarts, and Hanovers.

    Beth, it was so inconvenient in Lionheart, having to talk about the Empire of the Greeks instead of the Byzantine Empire. But I try to stay true to the usage of the times, which also meant that I could use the word “crusader” only in the narrative, never in dialogue, also inconvenient.

  40. Beth Says:

    I can imagine, Sharon! What does one do? Authenticity or clarity? I am so glad that you go for authenticity, Sharon. I have observed, in recent years, that certain historical fiction authors have over-simplified their work - for example, leaving out certain strands of history in order that events might not seem quite so “complex”, or indeed referring to names in the modern usage. However… I do not like it. I feel as if I am being patronised by such works, as if the author has assumed that their readers are too ignorant or unintelligent to be able to grasp the finer points. One of my most oft-repeated (and oft-ignored) pieces of advice of late has been to give one’s readers a little more credit, and have faith that they will be able to comprehend and understand difficult historical points and situations. I have never had a problem where I have read an historical novel and not been able to understand what is going on or what is meant - I think more authors need to be concerned with accuracy and invest a little more faith that their readers are smart people.

  41. Koby Says:

    Today Jeanne d’Arc, the Maiden of France, was executed by burning at the stake. Accordingly, this is also her feast day. As far as I know,s he is the patron saint for France, martyrs, captives, military personnel, people ridiculed for their piety, prisoners, soldiers, women who have served in Women Appointed for Voluntary Emergency Service and Women’s Army Corps.
    Beth - You forget the Battles of Legnano and the Battle of Tusculum (Monte Porzio). The latter is notable not only because of the enormous victory of 1,300-1,600 men against 10,000, but also because the leaders of the army were the archbishops of Mainz and Cologne, and they were fighting against an army sent by the Pope.

  42. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Here is today’s Facebook Note.

    I wanted to wish a peaceful Memorial Day to all celebrating it today; I know it was already observed in Canada, am not sure about England, Australia, and other countries? I hope we pause to remember all those who died in wars, just and unjust. As I said earlier, I will never forgot my sight of that American cemetery in Luxumberg, over 5,000 white crosses stretching out in rows for what seemed like infinity. A woman on the tour was visiting her brother’s grave for the first time, and she knelt in the grass and wept bitterly, for even after 30 years, the wound was still raw. And on this day in history, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in Rouen in 1431, not England’s finest hour. And Jane Seymour wed Henry VIII in 1536; she may have been his luckiest wife for she died before he could start to find fault with her.

  43. Joan Szechtman Says:

    Getting back to the accuracy vs. clarity discussion, I thought I’d relay a tiny bit about a passage in my first book that shows how being forced to be accurate and clear can be used to advantage. The scene takes place only a few hours after Richard has been brought into the 21st-century and he is alone with the linguist, Katarina. At this point in the book, I couldn’t use vocabulary that Richard wouldn’t have had coming from the late 15th-century. He notices an expression on Katarina’s face that we would call sympathy, but according to the “Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories”, sympathy didn’t come into use until the late sixteenth century. As a result, I came up with this:

    Katarina’s pupils grew large and her lips parted slightly. While Richard would not describe her expression as one of pity, the word that came to mind was in his Latin vocabulary-–misericors—caring heart.

  44. Joan Szechtman Says:

    Oops, should have written “authenticity”, not “accuracy.”

  45. Sharon K Penman Says:

    A friend sent me this video and I had to share it, especially on Memorial Day. It is a hauntingly beautiful trumpet solo by a young girl of Il Silenzio, which is an extension of the military Taps.

  46. Beth Says:

    Koby - You are incorrect. I did not forget those events. I merely happened to be engaging in a spot of highly intensive research over the past few weeks, and those events on those dates stumbled into my consciousness due to the fact that they were related to my research subjects. :p

    Sharon - No, we have no “Memorial Day” here in Britain. We do however hold a “Remembrance Day” which is on 11th November, the day the First World War ended, on which we commemorate all who lost their lives in war. But it’s 6 months away still. However, it does happen to be a bank holiday today in Britain. No particular reason, just a seasonal thing, we call it “Spring Bank Holiday” - I think it always falls on the last Monday of May, here.

    Joan - My goodness, that sounds even more convoluted for you than it is for Sharon! At least Sharon can use the term “crusaders” and other anachronisms in her narrative, though not dialogue, but you cannot use any modern words at all in your narrative? That must be unbelievably difficult to write.

  47. Susanne Says:

    Sharon, the little girl’s rendition of Taps was beautiful. We all need to be reminded of the people who have provided our freedom for us.
    I have a question regarding the Welsh language. I have been doing some research and would like to know what time period the welsh language dates back to. Do you know that or where I might find that information?

  48. Joan Szechtman Says:

    Beth, I can’t use any words that Richard wouldn’t use in the narrative when the scene is in his point of view (POV). I chose to write in third person limited instead of omniscient. So, my narrative must be consistent with the POV character. It also means that I can’t show what’s going on in other characters’ heads since my characters aren’t mind readers. This also means that upon occasion, I have to jump through fiery hoops. I believe that something like this can enhance character development, as I hope it did in the example that I related.

  49. Joan Szechtman Says:

    Amending my last response:

    As the book progresses, so does Richard’s understanding of the changes in language, the technology, and the culture. The trick was to speed up Richard’s grasp of modern times so that I didn’t bore the reader with fish-out-of-water experiences, but to show enough so the reader could imagine the rest, while keeping it believable.

  50. Beth Says:

    Susanne - though I can’t properly answer your question, I can say this much, I think it would be difficult to pin down a time period for you - I’ve done a very little work on languages and historicity, since languages are sometimes used to trace events and peoples, but language is a thing very much in constant flux and evolution. Very broadly speaking, the earliest Welsh is circa 5th or 6th century CE… but it evolved out of British before that, aka “Insular Celtic” or “P-Celtic”. Welsh itself is divided up into certain phases - just like English we have the Old English of the Anglo-Saxons, then the Middle English of Chaucer, the Early Modern English of Shakespeare, and the Late Modern English of current times.

  51. Emilie Laforge Says:

    I love this blog. There are always interesting bits of information being shared.

    I would love to read Ken’s recommended book about Llywelyn ap Gruffudd but unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be available in English from Amazon or other on-line stores. :( In a perfect world, I would be able to read Welsh, Gaelic, Italien, Spanish and German which would allow me to read all the books I want in their original language!

    Regarding today in history, I used to figure skate and in one of my favorite artistic solo, I portrayed Joan of Arc. I loved that solo as it combined my love for the sport, drama and history!

  52. Koby Says:

    Today, Isabelle of Angouleme, Queen of England, and Cecily Neville, Duchess of York died, while Lady Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII [VIII] was born. Also, while unconnected, the great Battle of the Kalka River took place today, where the Mongols gained a decisive victory over the Rus’.

  53. Beth Says:

    That’s weird, Emilie, I found the recommended book on Llewellyn ap Gruffudd just fine on Amazon. Albeit, it has a price slapped on it of £697.22 (the equivalent of US $1150.51).

  54. Joan Szechtman Says:

    Emilie, another good search engine for used and out of print books is AddAll. I found Smith’s book listed here at prices ranging from $700 to $1143 (USD). Whenever I need to get my hands on a reference that I’m not sure I want to own, or one like this that is so expensive, I first try to obtain it from my local library through the ILL (inter-library loan) program. I can’t say enough good things about ILL and librarians in general.

  55. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Wow, Koby. Here I was thinking that not much of medieval importance happened today, and then I logged on here and found you’d hit the trifecta. I cannot imagine three women more unlike than this trio, can you? Thank you so much for giving me material for another Facebook note!

  56. Koby Says:

    Indeed, Sharon. You know, it’s surprising, but I actually consider the Battle of the Kalka River to be of equal importance, if not more. It may have to do with my love of the Mongols, but historically, it was very significant. Not only did it lead to the conquest of Rus’, thus later creating Tatars and Cossacks, it opened the way to the invasion and conquest of Poland and Hungary in the Battles of Legnica and Mohi, and completely changed Russia, Hungary and Poland. I always wonder what would have happened if the Mongols had pushed on past Croatia after Ogedei’s death - would Germany and France as we know them exist?

  57. Sharon K Penman Says:

    You are right about its significance, Koby. I just “ignored” it because it was not strictly medieval. I can’t keep those pushy Tudors from infiltrating our ranks, but I do have to have some standards, right?

  58. Brenna Says:


    I’ve been curious to hear what you think of the “She-Wolves” book you mentioned you were reading. I didn’t know if you didn’t post for a reason or not. My mom thoroughly enjoyed it and is patiently waiting for me to hurry through my pre-Conquest time period to read it :-). Hope you enjoy each other’s company on the trip!!

  59. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Brenna, I had to put it aside for a while as life just got too hectic. I hope to resume reading once I get back from the tour. I did like what I’d read so far. I’m looking forward to meeting your mom, just wish you were coming, too.

  60. Koby Says:

    First of all, happy Jerusalem Day!
    Secondly, today Philip Augustus of France conquered Rouen, completing his conquest of Normandy. And if we’re mentioning pesky Tudors, Anne Boleyn was crowned Queen of England today.
    Lastly, of course you must have standards Sharon, but I still can’t help but wonder. Here was an army which had swept across Asia, creating the largest empire the world would see except Great Britain, with the greatest population any empire had in Medieval times, which had brought down what would seem to be the far superior forces (certainly numerically) of China, Korea, the Khwarezmid Empire, Rus’, Poland, and Hungary, and were int he process of invading Bohemia, Serbia, and Babenberg Austria. Yet, no one seemed to care. Vienna was threatened, the Great Horde was at the gates of the Holy Roman Empire was Subutai, their greatest general at their head, and with a week’s ride they could have been in Paris! The only thing which stopped them was Ogedei’s death and the following tensions, which made them decide to finish off China instead. Why was no one worried?

  61. Beth Says:

    Lol, Koby, if it helps, I would have been worried. I have a fascination with the Mongols too, an aside from my usual fare of the ancient world and then Medieval Europe, and as you say they came dangerously close. That said, I have a fascination with just about every single period and place in history!

  62. Ken Says:

    Emilie, I just checked Amazon as well and saw that ridiculous price! I bought my copy of J Beverley Smith’s master work (in English) in 2008 for £45!

  63. Emilie Laforge Says:

    Ken, £45 is definitely a more reasonable price. :)

    Thanks Joan, I think I will give ILL a try and keep my fingers crossed for the book to become available again at a decent price.

  64. Joan Szechtman Says:

    Here’s a case where it would be great if the book were available in a digital format. It would even pay for the ereader.

  65. Beth Says:

    Ken - yep, when you recommended it to me and I went and found it on Ammy I couldn’t believe it! I’ve put it on my Wish List, I’m going to wait until there’s a reasonably priced copy, and then get it.

  66. Ken Says:

    Koby, Have you read Conn Iggledun’s latest novel ‘Empire of Siver’ which follows the death of Ghengis and describes this movement Westwards of the Mongols. He states they stopped only 100 kms short of Vienna and only turned back because, as you said, of the death of Ogedai!

    I bought the ebook version for my Kindle. A good read!

  67. Koby Says:

    Thanks for the recommendation, Ken, I’ll try to get my hands on it.
    Actually, some researchers state that the Mongols never planned to continue beyond Hungary, but this seems doubtful. It’s true that after Ogedei, Guyuk Khan removed the most experienced commander, Subutai, and most of his forces to fight in China, and did not trust Batu, who ruled over the western portion of the Empire. But nevertheless, it seems obvious that the Mongols would have continued if they had had more stability. Guyuk himself sent a letter to Pope Innocent IV on his coronation, where he wrote: “From the rising of the sun to its setting, all the lands have been made subject to the Great Khan… You must say with a sincere heart: ‘We will be your subjects; we will give you our strength’. You must in person come with your kings, all together, without exception, to render us service and pay us homage. Only then will we acknowledge your submission. And if you do not follow the order of God, and go against our orders, we will know you as our enemy.”

  68. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Here is today’s Facebook Note.

    “Will none rid me of this turbulent priest?”

    Henry did not actually say that, of course, but what he did say in anger was enough to convince some of his listening knights that he would be pleased if his friend turned foe, Thomas Becket, was no longer among the living. He is reported to have cried out in rage, “What miserable drones and traitors I have nourished and promoted in my household, who let their lord be mocked so shamefully by a lowborn clerk!” As his cousin, the blunt speaking Bishop of Worcester, would later tell him in Time and Chance, he might not be guilty of Becket’s murder, but neither was he innocent, either.

    In Devil’s Brood, I have Eleanor comment dryly to her maid Amaria that she and Henry rarely made mistakes, but when they did, they tended to be spectacular. On this date in 1162, Henry made a monumental one, with the consecration of Becket as Archbishop of Canterbury, and he would pay dearly for it. Of course it did not turn out too well for Becket, either, although it might be argued that he did get what he seemed to be seeking in his final months, the crown of martyrdom.

    And on this date in 1140, Abelard of Heloise and Ablelard fame was found guilty of heresy. See Nan Hawthorne’s Today in Medieval History, one of my favorite websites, with her recommendaton of Marion Meade’s excellent Stealing Heaven.

    I was able to outwit Demon-Spawn for once, so have access to my e-mail again. But with my departure looming for the Eleanor Tour, I may not be able to get on-line much today. I will be posting about our trip on Facebook and will try to do a blog as well, even though my netbook continues to balk at letting me log onto my blog. I hope to be able to make use of my friend John’s iPad, though.

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