I have a very interesting blog today—if I say so myself—an interview with Australian writer, Pauline Toohey, in which she discusses her historical novel Pull of the Yew Tree.  While I have not yet been able to read it due to my recent struggles with the pneumonia dragon, it is high on my TBR list, for it is set in fifteen century Ireland and focuses upon one of the most powerful Irish clans, the Fitzgeralds; I am happy, too, to report that they were Yorkists and a young Richard, Duke of Gloucester, makes an appearance at one point in the novel.  I know this is enough to send my Ricardian readers hurrying over to Amazon!    There seems to be a genuine curiosity about how we writers do our thing, and Pauline’s interview lifts the veil a bit, giving us a glimpse of a writer at work.   Like me, Pauline is a dog lover and goes for long walks with Moby, her border collie rescue, as she searches for inspiration and plots chapters in her head.  Although her road is to be found Down Under and mine in the Jersey Pinelands, this is something I’ve often done, too, my dogs pacing patiently at my side as my thoughts slide back into the twelfth century.   Pauline shares my admiration for Bernard Cornwell, too, so clearly we are kindred spirits.
Pauline and I thought it would be a good idea to do a book giveaway as part of the interview, so anyone who posts a comment to this blog will be eligible to receive a free, signed copy of Pull of the Yew Tree, with Pauline’s compliments.   Here is the link to it on the Amazon mother ship. It is also available for my British, Canadian, and Australian readers on their own Amazon websites, and let’s not forget Book Depository, with its marvelous free shipping policy.     Now, I am happy to introduce you to Pauline Toohey, author of Pull of the Yew Tree and an upcoming contemporary crime novel in which she draws upon her two decades-plus experience as a police officer with the Victoria Police.
Q1. Tell us of your debut novel.
A1. Pull Of The Yew Tree is set in 15th century Ireland and follows the powerful Fitzgerald family of County Kildare. The O’Byrne clan from County Wicklow is their eternal angst, being one of the strongest clans from the east. My story is Part One of the Crom Abu series - Crom Abu being the Fitzgerald war cry.
Gaels and Irish Noblemen rarely saw eye to eye, so life was full of warring, double-dealing and unwise pacts, and in this, my characters dive disastrously into strife and heartache … not unlike the Plantagenet crew, I suppose. The tale deals more so with the outcomes of using family members to buy loyalty, and an emotive love story carries the plot. We experience life at that time through the young eyes of Jarlath Fitzgerald and Ainnir O’Byrne. I’m reliably assured tissues are required, but there are occasions for giggles, too.
To this point, there is little conveyed in fiction novel format of the Fitzgeralds and this era in Ireland. I’ve received a warm welcome as a new author from many of your fans, Sharon, with some 5-star and 4-star reviews on major sites. Very chuffed. Very chuffed indeed … and humbled. It’s quite nerve-racking putting your ‘art’ out there for critiquing.
Just a little something to entice your fans; the Fitzgeralds were loyal Yorkists. Richard of Gloucester makes a cameo appearance crossing paths with my characters in the foggy morning that saw the Battle of Barnet.
I certainly hope I’ve delivered characters to love, characters to question, and a beautiful medieval Ireland. I can say, as with all my writing, there’s also a dog to love. Gotta have a dog in a story. Gotta have a dog!

Q2. As the story follows the life of a chronicled family, do you find yourself pinned to a set path? Do you map your story before plunging in?
A2. I read your interview with Bernard Cornwell, and grinned at his admission, “I don’t even know where the chapter I’m writing now will end.”
Yes, I have historical incidents to adhere to, but how I connect them, and how I deal with the ‘between’ remains a pure mystery until completion. I never know where the chapter will take me. What comes, comes, and then I lead on again from there.
I’m given a licence to wander with the fictional characters in my work, but all the same, I certainly have some necessary ‘stops on the road’ when dealing with the real.
At times I envy writers who plot and are able to stick the ‘script’. I’m sure it would make for easier going. Yet on the other hand, I wouldn’t experience the joys of ploughing through unknown territory, and the surprises that a relatively-fluid piece entices.
Q3. Do you use a particular process to develop your characters?
A3. No. Not in the strict sense. Again, and similar to the plot process, things grow (or shrivel as the case may be) almost instinctively. The characters tend to ‘make’ themselves, and no doubt, a finicky editing process is necessary to ensure all is polished. But it’s alleged by some of my readers, that all my female characters in Pull Of The Yew Tree are very strong. It wasn’t intentional by any means. And on churning over the tidbit of feedback, I looked at my family and my friendships. All the women in my life are extremely strong, capable and forthright. I obviously possesses an inherent need to encourage a defined strength in all females.
I will admit to consciously writing a weak female into the sequel. It was an interesting experience, reining in my gut-deep need. But I will not reveal whether I succumbed to inserting a redemptive quality … or perhaps I just did.

Q4. Your thoughts on what makes a piece of writing enjoyable?
A4. If my reader reacts with strong emotion to the losses or wins my characters experience, if my reader laughs and cries, then I’d say ‘mission accomplished’. I think of myself as an ‘entertainer’, not a teacher, not an instructor, nor a historian for that matter. Entertainment and a pull of strong emotion is what I, as a reader, hope for when investing time in a book. I must also add that I am a prose lover. For me, a well-strung sentence can be like music.

Q5. And your experience as a writer?
A5. I discovered the love of writing at a comparatively late age – early 40s. When I declare this information, I like to add the fact that Australian author, Bryce Courtenay (recently deceased) began his penning at a similar age. Big shoes to fill, I know, but you gotta aim high.
My want for writing and scribing stories was always there, I suppose, sitting patiently on my ‘bucket list’, but life and its responsibilities, along with other benchmarks in sight, simply got in the way.
A number of personal tragedies redirected my course, and forced me to find some peace and solace, and there it was, waiting in the therapeutic act of writing. So, here I am. I write every day, and I count my blessings knowing how fortunate I am to have this opportunity.
Q6. Are you influenced by any particular writers?
A6. Inspired and influenced, certainly. I admire many, but want to ‘go my own way’. Having said that, I believe improving one’s writing requires reading ‘great’ pieces. Not good pieces, great pieces.
There are a number of authors I keenly return to, and before I list them, let me assure your readers you and I are not in cahoots with this question. So in no particular order, allow me to answer:
Bernard Cornwell with his simplicity and well-timed infrequent humour, not to mention his fabulous battle scenes;
Sharon Penman (you may have heard of her) and her character development, and meticulous research;
Aussie authors, Tim Winton and Colleen McCullough
The Bronte sisters and Austen.
William Shakespeare’s pure beauty of language;
And my mum for her deeply-personal messages on every birthday card.

There are two particular lines in Pull Of The Yew Tree that herald from my mum’s eloquent ‘parenting’: ‘lower your expectations and you won’t be disappointed’ and ‘that wonderful feeling of want’. Those two lines echo noisily in my memories, and both prove themselves to be fabulous advice over and again.

Q7. How do you stir creativity?
A7. To be honest, there are times it just won’t come. In those dry spells, rather than force myself, I accept the pauses and busy myself with other things. I paint, and I love to reinvigorate my garden. I’m a busy mum with a business to run, and I have a liking for fine-dining. My rescue border collie, Moby, loves long walks, and I play the piano and the guitar. And of course, like many of us, that TBR pile is always in need attention. But to encourage creativity to reappear, I run, pound the roads in my Asics, eyes to the ground. The steps go a long way to budge that blockage. I have a great chiropractor to keep the hips and back in ready-mode, and have also discovered the benefits of pilates.
Q8. What are you reading now?
A8. Two on the go. An oldie but a goodie. Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. It was my pick for my book club. I find the classics a ‘comfort read’ and often return to them. And the other, The Chemistry Of Tears by Peter Carey. But I also have my head in research material for the 3rd instalment for the Crom Abu series, and, another project a little closer to home.
Q9. My own research often uncovers some fascinating material. Tell us some of your more favourite discoveries.
A9. Hand-penned notes by people of interest, stir me greatly. You get a real feel for their temperament, their humour (or lack of) and their sense of purpose. I can often be found in the quiet rooms of our state library, engrossed in business correspondence and diary entries.
As for the research of medieval times, the following two are perhaps not unknown to your readers, but they certainly gave me fodder to play with. The merkin (pubic wig) often donned to conceal impurities and scarring, and the popular dish of frog blancmange accompanied by jumping frogs. Both make an appearance (not at the same time) in Pull Of The Yew Tree’s sequel. I couldn’t resist.
Q10. If my wish to visit Australia comes true, where do you suggest I visit?
A10. The Great Barrier Reef is a must; stunning place. So too, is central Australia: the red sands, the star-filled nights, the history and indigenous culture; truly amazing. And if I don’t mention a catch-up with members of the Sharon Kay Penman Australian Fan Club I’ll be in all sorts of trouble. Some of those girls know where I live.  But make it Melbourne please. Less travel for me.
Q11. And from here, what does Pauline Toohey have ahead of her?
A11. The sequel for Pull of the Yew Tree is complete. Melting of the Mettle is its title. It continues five years on from where the Yew Tree leaves off. Fingers crossed you’ll see it early 2015.
I also have a contemporary crime series (fiction), set to be released later this year.
Outside of writing, I’m exploring avenues to use literature, writing and reading to help the issues of Mental Health in Youth, and Prevention of Youth Suicide. These are causes close to my heart.
Q12. Historical fiction and contemporary crime? An interesting mixture.
A12. I recently retired from a 25 year career as a police officer with Victoria Police. Tackling this second genre grew from a chance meeting with Aussie author, Kerry Greenwood (author of the Miss Fisher series which is now a popular TV series). Kerry was envious of the knowledge my 25 years of service provides me, and insisted it was sacrilege not to use it. I’ve worked at the Homicide Squad, Major Drug Division, City Crime Divisions, and the more ‘busy and colourful’ towns that Melbourne has to offer. So I come well-stocked with plot ideas as well as intricate knowledge of police procedures and processes.
And I took Kerry’s advice.
Anna Murdoch is my main character. She’s a very capable and strong-minded woman, (no surprise there), and she presents to my readers a light-hearted insight into what it is to be human in a job that demands you to be somewhat robotic and cold. In Anna’s telling, I attempt to mix a ‘who done it’ with ‘comedy’. The first of the series is called My Rickety Metronome: An Anna Murdoch Crime Story, and will be out in September.

Q13. Do you have a preference for writing either style?
A13. Each is so different. With historical fiction, the research, and the attention to tone for my liking of prose, is extremely time consuming. I liken it to creating a well-orchestrated song. It’s a joyous yet slow adventure. As for the contemporary crime, all I need to do is close my eyes and conjure memories. It can be quick. Very quick. So as to your question, my mood dictates in what genre I write. How lucky am I!

Thanks so much for your time, Sharon, and for the enjoyment your writing has brought to your readers.

PS … I don’t care what you say, I will never believe Ranulf Fitz Roy is fictional.

Thank you, Pauline, for agreeing to do this interview.   Actually, Ranulf is grateful that  he is a figment of my imagination, for that allowed me to give him a happy ending and a peaceful death with his beloved Rhiannon, something that rarely happened to his Angevin real relatives.
May 20, 2014


  1. Kara King Says:

    Sounds amazing! I can’t wait to read it out by the pool!

  2. Marsha Says:

    Wonderful interview, ladies. I enjoyed it very much. Best wishes on your new book, Pauline. It sounds like a fabulous read. I have added it to my miles long wish list. Thank you for a chance to win your book.

  3. Peggy Tabar Says:

    Wow! Can’t wait to read this book! A fascinating period in Irish history. Great interview, SKP! Thanks for steering us to her book. (I think Ranulf is real, he just hasn’t been discovered).

  4. Helen Says:

    sounds really interesting - it now resides on my Wish List on Amazon Canada :)

  5. Sarah Says:

    I don’t know much at all about medieval Ireland, but this book definitely sounds interesting. I hope I win! :)

  6. Deborah Bloch Says:

    What a wonderful interview! Thank you both. Looking forward to reading Pull of the Yew Tree.

  7. Julia Murphy Says:

    Fascinating! Can’t wait to read your book, Ms. Toohey. And I look forward to reading your crime novels as well.

    I must say that the frog blancmange does NOT sound appealing. I googled it and found many sites for it, and one recent person, Heston, was eating the frog legs. My big brother used to go frog-gigging when I was young in southwestern Ohio, and the next day the frog legs would be flapping away in the fridge in a kettle of salt water, sans the upper half of the body! So I am not fond of frog legs.

  8. Barbara Says:

    Thanks, ladies, for the wonderful interview!!! Pauline, I would like to be considered for your free book. Good luck to everyone!!!

  9. Sherri Rankin Says:

    Ms. Toohey your book sounds fascinating. It sounds exactly like something I can read and then share with my AP World History students.

  10. Tricia Hurst Says:

    Well now I am just plain curious. Yorkist supporters or not, knowing what my family’s Irish history is, I really want to read this now.

  11. Jann Merchant Says:

    I love your listing of favourite writers - which means I expect to really enjoy this book, with that title that intrigues :-). “The wonderful feeling of want” is what I am feeling! Thank you both for the opportunity to win, as well as the motivation to buy. But not for the image of frog blancmange..

  12. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Alf Wight a/k/a James Herriot, after decades as a practising veterinary surgeon in Yorkshire, was well into his 50s when he became an extraordinarily successful author.

  13. Wanda Paluch Says:

    Lovely interview, and one that gives me hope as you began your writing career later in your life. May all of us find that one source of peace and fulfillment!

  14. Gloria Darroch Says:

    I’m so glad I read this blog! Historical and mysteries (detective stories among them) are my two favorites and now I’ve found a new author to follow. I tend to want to read everything by an author who charms me and so am always anxiously Waiting the next new release. Finding a new favorite helps keep me going. To be entertained and to feel strong emotion for the characters is heaven! SKP-I often think in medieval dialect (can I call it that?)when I am devouring one of your books. I am transported and I cannot thank authors enough for their talents! Am definitely going to be getting both the Anna Murdoch and the Yew tree series.

  15. Lisa Adair Says:

    A great interview, I love discovering new authors! This book has now been added to my reading list.

  16. Lisa Adair Says:

    A great interview, I love discovering new authors! This book has now been added to my reading list.

  17. Lisa Adair Says:

    A great interview, I love discovering new authors! This book has now been added to my reading list.

  18. Kris Holtan Says:

    I love that Ms. Toohey writes both Historical Fiction and Crime Fiction. My first love is HF, but a very close second is Crime Fiction, especial Police Procedurals and the more Noir the better. I will most certainly sample her wares.

  19. Chris Evans Says:

    Oh i love the sound of your book it would be great to get my hands on a copy and devour it. Take care and thanks again to our dear Sharon for her endless work keeping us fans happy

  20. Teri Says:

    Wonderful interview. I will put this in my own TBR list.

  21. Libby Millard Says:

    This sounds like a great read and its great to be introduced to new authors I’d love to have an opportunity to win this book

    I have to say though that I’ll give the Frog Blancmange a miss if you don’t

  22. Carol Harvey Says:

    Thank you for a great interview, Sharon and Pauline. Sounds like an interesting read and I’m off to Aus Amazon to look for it. I agree with Pauline, Sharon, you should definitely visit Melbourne, we’ll give you a very warm welcome. After you’ve slayed the pneumonia dragon, of course. :-)

  23. johnell costa Says:

    I’ve been looking for something different to read, I can’t wait to lose myself in historical Ireland.
    Thank you for brining it to my attention.

  24. Jacqueline Baird Says:

    A dog and Richard, too! And an interview by my favorite author, Sharon. I’ll read your book. Please enter me in the contest. Thank you!

  25. Lady Heinz Says:

    Love it! 15th Century Ireland! Yes! I am really looking forward to reading this one. Thank you for highlighting another author’s work. You are a lady with a lot of class….not to mention an incredible author!

  26. Lisa Pratt Says:

    Sounds like a great read….added to my TBR list! Thank you Sharon!

  27. Tina Galli Says:

    You can bet I am reading this book! On my way to amazon now…..

  28. Angela Bliss Says:

    Sounds like a great read. Thanks for introducing us to a new author.

  29. Michelle Blakeley Says:

    I am currently rereading Edward Rutherford’s Dublin novels so I will definitely buy this novel after Ransom. I would have said it would be my next purchase until I saw the snippet about my favourite SKP character Ranulf! Will your novel be available in Kindle format?

  30. Judy Clarke Says:

    A very interesting interview. I will look out for this book as I know very little of Irish history and would certainly like to know more. I have read Edward Rutherford’s Dublin but felt bogged down with it so did not get the second part. Always good to find new authors.

  31. Jessica Says:

    That sounds great! I’m looking forward to a new read :-)

  32. Suebee Ransom Says:

    Thank you so much, Sharon, for introducing us to Pauline! :-D I am already on the hunt for Pull of the Yew Tree!

  33. MaryKate Says:

    What a great giveaway! I’m so interested in this novel now–thanks for letting us know about Pauline, Sharon :)

  34. Elisabeth Hallahan Says:

    Another book for my “to read” pile. Thanks for the interview!

  35. Dayle Jacob Says:

    Thank you, Sharon and Pauline! This was such an interesting interview! Pauline, I am in awe of your choice of medieval Ireland to write about from Upsidedownyland. I have read Rutherfurd’s Irish series and found a liking for that country. So glad you included your favorite authors, too. Best of luck, to me as well :)

  36. Cynthia Fuller Says:

    I will definitely add to my TBR list! Any recommendation of Sharon’s is worth reading.

  37. Veronica Meena Says:

    I will definitely be ordering this asap. Garret Mor, the 8th Earl of Kildare is an ancestor, so it’ll be really interesting to read more about him. He definitely was a Yorkist and spent 2 years in the Tower for having Lambert Simnel crowned King in Christ Church Cathedral.

  38. Holly Rylee Says:

    Beautiful medieval Ireland … strong woman …and a dog … (not to mention Richard) I am so looking forward to reading Pull of the Yew Tree!

  39. P Suzette Orr Says:

    Well I love discovering new historical novels - especially about Ireland so I will be looking into books by Pauline. Sharon’s recommendations are enough for me!

  40. Karri Newman Says:

    Oh I’m so excited to read this book!!! I’ve been looking for a book set in Ireland. Can’t wait thanks Sharon!

  41. Joan Says:

    What a great interview! Yes, we readers have an insatiable curiosity about how writers think, feel, & work. This novel sounds fascinating & will be ordered very soon. BTW, I pretend that Ranulf & his family were real figures. Thank you Sharon & Pauline.

  42. Carol Sinclair Says:

    Thanks so much Sharon and Pauline for the blog and interview. The new book sounds exciting!

  43. Susan Stuckey Says:

    Wonderful interview and I will testify that Pull of the Yew Tree is well written and a delightful read. [Please don't enter me for the free book as I have it already.] I can’t wait for the sequel to be released.

  44. skpenman Says:

    May 21st, 1172 was the date of the Compromise of Avranches, where Henry II made peace with the Church for that rather awkward assassination of the Archbishop of Canterbury by several of his knights
    Devil’s Brood, pages 24-25
    * * *
    When Henry finally emerged from the church, the spectators were disappointed anew, for he was not bareheaded and barefoot and clad only in his shirt A few men explained knowingly that he was spared the usual mortification because he’d not been excommunicated, but most of the bystanders took a more cynical view, that kings were always accorded special treatment, even by the Almighty Henry knelt upon the paving stones, only then removing his cap, and received public absolution by the Cardinals Albert and Theodwin. When he rose, the cardinals and the Bishop of Avranches led him back in to the cathedral, a symbolic act of reconciliation with the Church and the Almighty.
    The dissatisfied onlookers dispersed when they realized the show was over. Roger, Bishop of Worcester, stood alone for a moment before slowly reentering the church, for he had been close enough to Henry to hear him say softly after the absolution, “Check, Thomas, and mate.”
    * * *
    Henry would, of course, later make a genuine and much more spectacular act of atonement, submitting to a scourging and keeping an all-night vigil by the tomb of his martyred archbishop and one-time friend. And I am so glad he did, for that was such a powerful scene to write!
    May 21st, 1471 was also the date of death of the hapless Lancastrian king, Henry VI, who died in the Tower—of melancholy, grieving over the death of his son at the battle of Tewkesbury, according to Yorkist spokesmen There may have been a few people who actually believed that, doubtless the same trusting souls who were eager to buy medieval bridges and swampland, having been assured it was prime real estate.
    On a personal note, May 21st, 1912 was my dad’s birthday. He’d always wanted to live to reach one hundred; he did not make it but he did reach ninety-three. He liked to tell me that his generation saw changes more dramatic than any in the history of mankind and I think he was right, for he went from the horse and buggy to the age of space travel. As a boy, he and his grandfather took a horse and wagon from Atlantic City to Philadelphia; it was an all-day trip to cover those fifty miles He lived to make that same trip in an hour’s time He saw the birth of radio, talking movies, television, anti-biotics, men on the moon, and computers, although he never had any desire to master the latter Future generations will see dramatic changes, too, but they won’t be going from a semi-medieval life style to a world beyond imagining, as he did.

  45. Jacquie Scherr Says:

    sounds like a wonderful book. Would love to have a copy!

  46. Michelle Sires Says:

    What a wonderful interview! I know very little of medieval Ireland but you have certainly whetted my appetite; your book is definitely going on the wish list Pauline. Thanks for a chance to win it :)

  47. Vicki Burkhardt Says:

    This book sounds wonderful and I look forward to reading it soon!

  48. skpenman Says:

    On May 22nd, 1149, sixteen year old Henry Fitz Empress was knighted by his uncle, David, the King of Scotland. Writing about Henry as a teenager was fun, for even then, he was showing signs that he would grow into a remarkable man. Who else would have dared at age fourteen to hire mercenaries to invade England and fight against Stephen and then, when his money ran out and the mercenaries deserted him, have the sheer gall to ask Stephen for the money to get back to Normandy? I love that story, and I love it, too, that Stephen gave it to him.
    On May 22, 1176, Saladin was almost assassinated by the Assassins, and if they’d succeeded, it is interesting to speculate about how his death would have changed the history of the Middle East.
    And on May 22, 1455, the first battle of St Albans was fought, with the victory going to the Yorkists, who captured poor hapless Henry VI, who was a walking, breathing argument against hereditary kingship. But if the Yorkists thought this victory was to end what would later be called The Wars of the Roses, they would be sadly disappointed.

  49. Joan Says:

    Sharon, I also agree with your father’s take on his generation. I used to get such a kick out of my father-in-law, who finally went into a nursing home at age 92 (a number of years back). On one visit as we entered the room, we noticed a computer set up, along with 3 or 4 huge books. “Bert”, I exclaimed, “are you really going to take on the computer?” He looked at me solemnly & answered, “Joan! we can’t stop learning!” This is the same man who quit smoking at 85 because “it isn’t good for you”.

  50. Joan Says:

    BTW, I love love that story of Henry too!

    You are so funny with your “walking, breathing argument against hereditary kingship”

    And I’ll never forget the concubine Ursula, “a walking mortal sin”.

  51. Kristen Elizabeth Says:

    Sounds like an awesome book! It has been added to my mega-TBR list. :)

  52. Jenny Maclaren Says:

    Soooo looking forward to this one. My clan are Irish descendants (of Lorne, , one of three brothers who established Dal Riada) and my studies of Scottish history naturally include the English, Irish and French. I have a pipe dream about writing the history of the MacLarens (formerly a ‘broken clan’) through a series of biographies, but have been unsure where to start. I need to invest more time and effort, and have nothing but admiration for those of you who have done it!

  53. skpenman Says:

    Your father-in-law sounds like a delightful man, Joan. And thank you for the kind words about my humor!

    The decision has been made. Richard III will be buried in Leicester, probably next spring. I would have been surprised, truthfully, if any other decision had been reached. Here is the link to the court case, with the decision appearing on page 40.

  54. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    I love the computer anecdote, Joan! Your father-in-law indeed sounds like a delightful man.

    I just want to mention that on 23 May 1183, together with his knights and mercenaries, Henry the Young King seized control of his brother Richard’s castle at Aixe, not a very satisfactory victory, I guess, since the Richard and his soldiers had already abandoned the keep. In the spring of 1183 Henry the was leading military campaign against his younger brother Richard and his father, Henry II, treading the path that was to be his last.

  55. skpenman Says:

    Kasia, I would wager you know more about the young king’s life than he did himself!

    Joan of Arc lost her spot in prime time this morning to Richard III and the news that he will be buried next year in Leicester. But I didn’t want to ignore the Maid entirely since she is one of the most remarkable and enigmatic figures of the Middle Ages.
    On May 23rd in 1430, Joan of Arc was wounded and captured by the Burgundians, who sold her to the English, who then turned her over to the Church, with dire consequences for Joan.
    And on May 23rd in 1533, Henry Bluebeard Tudor’s marriage to Katherine of Aragon was declared null and void by Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, thus paving the way for recognizing Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn. So all in all, May 23rd does not sound like a good day to commemorate, does it?
    So back to our time. This is a touching story about a man I would have liked to know and a kind gesture by a college to a grieving family. .

  56. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Sharon, thank you for posting the link to the burial decision: interesting reading and an appropriate verdict, to my way of thinking.

  57. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Thank you, Sharon, but there is still so much to find out. Some of the sources are out of my rich :-(

    Malcolm, how good to hear from you! I hope all is well with you and your family! I’m preparing a post about Henry and Geoffrey and their cooperation during the war of 1183. Roger of Howden is at his poetic best when it comes to describing Geoffrey :-) The criticism is harsh, but still I love the language itself.

  58. Joan Says:

    My goodness, what a story! Just look into the eyes of Cletus……he seems to have the wisdom of the ages.

  59. Cristina Says:

    Great interview! It sounds like Pauline has written what promises to be a thrilling read!

    I’m curious as to how someone living in Australia decides to write about medieval Ireland? Well I for one look forward to reading it!

  60. Jayne Says:

    Thankyou so much for pointing me in the direction of a new author, I just finished (last night!) the last of your de Quincy books and was wondering what to read next, and an Australian author at that. As an Australian I often wonder why I am so caught up in medieval England but I am obsessed!! I have really enjoyed your books and I must say I really really loved your Wales books. I was often in tears as I was with Elizabeth Chadwick’s Marshall books. I hope one day to travel to England and actually see some of these places I have read so much about. That is my bucket list!

  61. JoAnne Gibson Says:

    Can’t wait to read it. Love historical fiction and Ireland is so full of stories.

  62. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Hello back to you, Kasia. Since I do not own a copy of Howden (or anything else in the Rolls Series), I needed to consult my senior thesis (1967!) on Geoffrey to find Howden;s comments. “Filius perditionis” and “filius iniquitatis” are indeed picturesque descriptions. Speaking as Geoffrey on your blog, I stated my opinion that he allied himself with his oldest bother in expectation of Henry one day being king in fact. Then there was also his antipathy toward Richard. You may note that the description of Geoffrey by Giraldus Cambrensis must be read with caution, due to that Welshman’s obvious dislike of the entire Plantagenet clan.

  63. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Gerlad’s description of Geoffrey sounds as if he tried to stay impartial at first, but then somehow gave vent to all negative emotions and “spat” all the venom. I’ve been wondering why he was so harsh to Geoffrey of all the borthers. Was it something personal? An old grudge, perhaps? We should note that, in comparison to Henry II and his younger sons, he treated the Young Henry surprisingly “kindly”. Helen Steele wrote a very interesting article about it enttiled “Gerald of Wales and the Angevin Kings”. It can be read online.

  64. skpenman Says:

    I agree with Malcolm that Giraldus Cambrensus is not a totally trustworthy source, for he had a lot of malice in his makeup and could be downright vicious if he had a grudge against someone. What he did to Richard’s chancellor Longchamp qualifies as character assassination. Having said that, his books make fascinating reading as long as they are taken with huge doses of salt.

    I hope all my American friends and readers are having a wonderful Memorial Day, with special good wishes to vets and their families.
    After reading this article about Leicester’s plans for Richard III, several things struck me. Leicester is going all out to make Richard’s reburial a memorable event and I can’t help wondering if York would have shown as much enthusiasm. But it sounds as if all of the wrangling over Richard is going to cost British taxpayers a lot of money and that is a shame.
    I am very pleased, though, that after five centuries, Richard will be getting a proper funeral and a final resting place worthy of the last Plantagenet king. I am not superstitious, but it seems almost miraculous to me that his lost grave was found for there was such a narrow window of opportunity to prove that the bones were indeed his. If it had happened a decade or two earlier, DNA technology would not have advanced to the point that a positive identification could be made, and if it happened twenty years down the line, there may not have been any descendants to test for their DNA, as the two individuals whose lineage was traced back seventeen generations to Richard’s sister are no longer young and neither have children.
    Rest in peace, Richard, and even if you would have preferred York to Leicester had you been consulted, at least you are not buried near any of the Tudors or that Shakespeare chap.

  65. Joan Says:

    Very interesting observation, Sharon. The article on above site describing the event is very emotional. I hope you’ll be able to attend. There will be much weeping, as there should be. I, for one, liked the tomb design but will be interested to see the new one.

    Re the financial burden, what would have taken its toll on the lower classes back then, had Richard been given a magnificent burial, has simply been projected to the 21st C where the debt will be shared.

  66. Gabriele Says:

    Someone’s plotting to increase my TBR pile again. :)

    Henry’s knighting by King David reminds me I really should write the third part of my blog series about King David of Scots. Traveling to Bavaria got in the way (though that gave me material for a dozen more posts *sigh*), as did spring cleaning and work, and my brother’s 50-birthday party.

  67. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Well said, Sharon, as usual. Joan, based on legislation during his too-brief reign, Richard appears to have had an interest in reducing the burdens on the lower classes that is quite unusual for a medieval monarch. That attitude may have influenced those members of the aristocracy who deserted Richard in his time of need.

  68. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Forgive me, but trustworthy source or not, Gerald was kind to Henry the Young King, and that’s what really matters :-D At least as far as I’m concerned :-D

    I just want to mention that on on 26 May 1183 in Caen, the archbishop of Canterbury and the bishops of Bayeux, Evreux, Lisieux, Sees and Rochester, acting on Henry II’s orders, excommunicated all who “impeded the making of peace between the king and his sons”. All with the exception of the Young King. Henry could not have known that. He was in the town of Uzerche, suffering from- as it may seem- the first bout of illness which was to kill him seventeen days later. He quickly came to himself, though, and joined forces with Hugh of Burgundy and Raymond V of Tolouse, his much-awaited allies.

  69. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    I suggest a visit to Mediavelist.Net to find out which Game of Thrones woman you are. I’m… Brienne :-) A little bit surprised, honoured and flattered…

  70. skpenman Says:

    I love Medievalists. net, Kasia. I will be sure to do that. I really hope I am not Cersei!

    Happy Memorial Day. And here is a video sure to make my fellow animal lovers smile

  71. Joan Says:

    Thanks for the note, Malcolm. It’s a heartening thought that a medieval monarch would care for the lower classes, & not surprising that it would garner little support in some quarters.

    Kasia, I must be the only MA fan who hasn’t yet watched GOT, I’m embarrassed to admit. Reason being I missed the beginning & refused to just jump in on it. One day I’ll remedy that through Netflix or Acorn or some other way. I’ve done many of the quizzes, tons of fun. I would have been a tailor in the MA. My sister Linda, a jester!

  72. skpenman Says:

    On the medieval historical front, May 27, 1199 was the day when John finally got his wish and was crowned King of England, the first and last monarch to bear the name John, which may be seen in itself as a commentary on his reign. And on May 27, 1541, Henry VIII committed one of his most appalling judicial murders, executing Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury, on a trumped-up charge of treason. The accounts of the beheading of the frail, sixty-eight year old woman, his cousin, George of Clarence’s daughter, and one of the last surviving members of the Plantagenet dynasty, are already well known, so I’ll leave it at that, feeling that dwelling upon them would be a grim way to begin the day.
    And since we Game of Thrones addicts were denied our fix on Sunday, here is a fun quiz for my women readers. I approached it thinking, “ABC—anyone but Cersei!” But I turned out to be Margaery Tyrell, which is cool since the wonderful Natalie Dormer has breathed such life into her character for the HBO series. Neither Margaery nor Tywin had made much of an impression on me in the books, but Natalie and Charles Dance have been absolutely amazing on-screen.

  73. Gabriele Says:

    I got Ygritte. Which is fine. I’m a winter and snow type anyway, and I can use a sword. :)

    I was ‘anyone but Daenaerys’.

  74. Suzanne Paley Says:

    Would love to put in for the drawing, if it’s not too late!

  75. skpenman Says:

    You’re still in time, Suzanne. We usually run the book drawings for at least two weeks.
    Gabriele, you’re the first Ygritte! Everyone else on my Facebook pages seems to be either Brienne or Daenerys, with one or two Maergarys like me.

    On May 28th, 1265, Edward, eldest son and heir of King Henry III, was able to escape from the comfortable custody of his cousin, Harry de Montfort; Edward and Henry had been held since Simon de Montfort’s victory at the battle of Lewes a year earlier. Edward’s ruse was a clever one; he lured Harry and his guards into a horse race and when their horses were tired, he then leaped onto a fresh mount and galloped off to freedom. He benefited greatly from Harry’s trusting nature; this was the second time that Harry had taken his word of honor as gospel, only to be double-crossed. History was dramatically changed by Edward’s escape. Had he remained under Simon’s control, there would have been no battle at Evesham two months later.
    Many of you may have already heard about this, but I only learned recently that Wolf Hall is being filmed as a six part BBC mini-series.

  76. skpenman Says:

    I feel as if a star has been extinguished, leaving a black hole where there was a shimmering light.

  77. Cecelia O"Brien Says:

    what an interesting interview. I will recommend this book to my local library - so I can read it too!

  78. skpenman Says:

    May 30th 1431 was the date upon which Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake. I’ve never known quite what to make of Joan, but I have always felt great sympathy for her as this has to be one of the very worst ways to die. She would later be canonized as a saint, but that would not have been much consolation to her on the day of her death.
    May 30th, 1445 was the day upon which Marguerite d’Anjou was crowned Queen of England. Given how unhappily her life turned out, this wasn’t a lucky day for her, either.
    And May 30th, 1536 was the day of the marriage of Henry VIII and victim—er, wife–Jane Seymour. Henry, always a class act, had waited all of ten days after the murder of wife #2 to wed Jane. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to know what she really felt about Henry and her marriage? Was she a willing partner in her ambitious family’s schemes to snare a king? Was she merely a pawn who obeyed because she felt she could do nothing else? Was she at all afraid to marry a man who’d treated his first two wives so badly? Or was she like Anne Boleyn, so eager for a crown that she had tunnel vision? We know that Anne of Cleaves and Katherine Parr were not willing wives, but we can only speculate about Jane.

  79. Joan Says:

    Joan of Arc is an enigma, for sure, & I find it all very haunting, esp since reading her trial. But even way back when I first learned about her.

  80. Theresa Says:

    May 29 1630. Charles II of England was born. Also thirty years on the 29th May 1660 he would make a triumphant entrance into London after enduring 11 years of exile. Apparently there were so many people overjoyed to see him that the King remarked that it was surely his own fault that he had stayed away for such a long time.

  81. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Charles is my favorite non-medieval king, Theresa. If a man can make me laugh, I’ll forgive a lot!

    Two women of great interest to students of the Wars of the Roses are associated with this last day of May.
    May 31st, 1495 was the date of death for Cecily Neville, Duchess of York and mother to the two Yorkist kings. Anne Easter Smith has written a novel about this austere, resolute woman, Queen by Right.
    And lastly, on May 31st in 1443, Margaret Beaufort was born, no cause for celebration for any Yorkists, of course. She is a character in Brian Wainwright’s wonderfully clever spoof, The Adventures of Alianore Audley

  82. Joan Says:

    Sharon & readers, is there a novel you would recommend with Charles II as a player? I’ve read & loved the charming Exit the Actress. Alternately, a non-ponderous history or study?

  83. Theresa Says:

    Jean Plaidy wrote a trilogy about Charles II. I read them when I was about 14.

    He is a fairly major character in Kathleen Winsor’s novel Forever Amber. I preferred him to the man Amber spends most of the book pining over.

    Exit the Actress is a wonderful book. I loved Charles II correspondence with his sister Minette.

  84. Sharon Kay Penman Says:

    Like Theresa, I’d recommend Forever Amber for Charles’s appearances, and I, too, much preferred him to the guy Amber was hung up on. And I loved Exit the Actress. I found it touching that Charles’s love affair with Nell Gwyn lasted till his death and on his deathbed, he is reported to have said, “Let not poor Nelly starve,” or words to that effect. Joan, I’ll ask on Facebook if anyone can recommend any more Charles-centric novels.

    By June 1st, 1191, Richard Coeur de Lion had complete control of Cyprus. His fury at the way Isaac Comnenus had maltreated his men and threatened his sister and betrothed was real enough, but as soon as he’d glanced at a map, he’d seen what a valuable supply base the island would be for the Kingdom of Jerusalem, just a day’s sail away from the Syrian coast. He gave the self-proclaimed emperor enough rope to hang himself, and Isaac obliged by sneaking away in the night after agreeing to the terms Richard had demanded of him. In this scene from Lionheart, Berengaria, now Richard’s wife, is puzzled by how calm he is after getting word that Isaac had disavowed their pact and he explains why Cyprus is of such strategic importance to Outremer.
    Pages 255-256
    “But…but why did you agree to make peace with Isaac, then?”
    “Because it seemed like I might get what I wanted without having to fight for it. He agreed to swear fealty to me and pledged his full support to recapture Jerusalem. If he honored the terms, we’d have gotten a thousand men, the promise of Cypriot harvests, and money I could put toward the cost of the campaign. Naturally, I trusted him about as much as I’d trust a viper, so I demanded his daughter as a hostage and the surrender of his castles. If he’d kept faith, I’d have been satisfied with that.”
    “Did you think he would keep faith?”
    He smiled without answering and went to the door to admit his squires. (Omission)
    His squires had assisted Richard with his hauberk and he was buckling his scabbard. Berengaria was still trying to come to terms with this new knowledge, that Richard had been two steps ahead of the Cypriot emperor from the very first. If Isaac were not such a monster, she might have felt a twinge of pity for him. But she did not doubt he deserved whatever Richard had in mind for him, and now that it had been explained to her, she could see that holding Cyprus would be very beneficial to the Holy Land. Yet how could Richard spare the time to defeat Isaac when they were awaiting him at the siege of Acre?
    “What of the men at Acre, Richard? Will they not be upset by this delay?”
    “It will not take that long.”
    “How long would it take to conquer an entire country?” She’d not realized she’d spoken the words aloud, not until Richard paused on his way to the door.
    “Well,” he said, “I wagered Andre that we could do it in a fortnight” And then he was gone, leaving her alone in their marriage bed, a bride of four days, staring at that closing door.
    * * *
    When it came to military matters, Richard was usually right, and that proved to be the case, too, in Cyprus. The Cypriots were delighted to be rid of Isaac and Richard agreed to issue a charter confirming the laws and rights as they’d been in the days before Isaac had usurped the throne, but of course he exacted a high price for this privilege, imposing a steep levy upon their goods to help finance the crusade; like most medieval kings, Richard was very good at squeezing money from people. He sold Cyprus to the Templars and later bestowed it upon Guy de Lusignan to get him out of Outremer and pave the way for Conrad of Montferrat’s kingship. Guy didn’t live long enough to enjoy his new possession, but his older brother Amaury made the most of it, getting Richard’s nemesis, Heinrich von Hohenstaufen, to recognize him as the Cypriot king. Amaury would use Cyprus as a stepping stone to a far more prestigious crown, that of Jerusalem itself, but the de Lusignan family continued to rule the island long after the kingdom of Jerusalem was only a memory. And if you think the Angevins had a colorful history, you should read what the de Lusignans got up to on Cyprus!
    Also on June 1st, this time in 1533, Anne Boleyn was crowned as England’s queen. I wonder if she felt that her race had been won as the crown was placed upon her head. Or did she perhaps have any forebodings for the future? Anyone who totally trusted Henry had to be one of God’s great fools, and Anne was not a fool. But she was insecure and arrogant, a dangerous combination for a woman wed to a man now convinced that his will and God’s Will were one and the same. My own feeling is that the only one of Henry’s six wives to be truly happy on her wedding day was Katherine of Aragon, for I think she loved her golden young prince and would never have believed it had she been told what a monster he would later become. I think the BBC production, The Six Wives of Henry VIII, has stood the test of time and remains the most compelling and convincing account of his sad and sordid marital history. It will be interesting to see what the BBC does with the upcoming series based on Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and Bringing up the Bodies.

  85. Joan Says:

    Thanks Sharon & Theresa. I’ll order Forever Amber now & see what FB brings.

  86. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    Fascinating post, Sharon! I have already learned a lot about Cyprus and its role and about the Kingdom of Jerusalem thanks to you, not easy knowledge to acquire. Your novels made it more “friendly” :-)
    I couldn’t post yesterday so I just want to mention that c. 1 June 1183 Henry the Young King and his routiers pillaged the shrine of St Amadour, carrying off the rich booty and Durendal, the holy sword of Roland.
    Also on 1 June 1191, Philip, Count of Flanders, died at the siege of Acre. Henry the Young King’s friend and one-time ally, he was also his “partner in crime”, for they both shared the passion for tournaments :-)

  87. skpenman Says:

    I forgot about Philip of Flanders’s death on June 1st, Kasia. So many crusaders shared his fate, dying of disease soon after their arrival in the Holy Land. Seems anti-climactic, doesn’t it?

    Nothing of medieval interest to me on this date–at least that I can remember. So here is my favorite reviewer’s recap of last night’s Game of Thrones. Warning: massive spoilers, so read it at your peril. That should have been the warning for the episode itself which had to shock its fans who’ve not read the books. I am so glad I knew what was to come–knowing how merciless Master Martin can be with characters we love, I couldn’t stand the suspense if I had to watch it utterly unprepared.

  88. skpenman Says:

    Here is the medieval roundup for June 3rd. In 1098, the city of Antioch was captured by the men of the First Crusade, who bribed a guard to let them in one of the gates. The usual massacre of civilians, both Christian and Muslim, then ensued. I could never write about the First Crusade; way too much bloodshed for me.
    On June 3rd, 1140 Abelard of Ablelard and Helloise fame was found guilty of heresy.
    On June 3rd, 1162, Thomas Becket was consecrated as Archbishop of Canterbury, to Henry’s gratification. If he only knew that his troubles were just beginning.
    And on June 3rd, 1369, the English parliament shamelessly freed Edward III from adhering to the provisions of the treaty he’d signed in 1360, in which he relinquished any claim to the French throne. With this bit of chicanery, the war resumed. I always thought Edward’s claim was a dubious one. Sadly this needless war of his lasted long after he’d breathed his last. We know it as the Hundred Years War.

  89. Joan Says:

    Today on the History Girls blog is a video of Maya Angelou reciting her wonderful & powerful poem, “Still I rise”.

  90. Joan Says:

    I, like many, can’t get the story of Jane Shore out of my mind & I just found this, by JE Muddock, in his preface to “Jane Shore: A Romance of History” 1905. Makes me think again of that mystery called romance. Are we hard-wired to always hope for that romantic ending? Here’s the excerpt….

    “….But why? What is this story’s appeal, given its marginal relevance to “world historical events? ”Why, in the words of novelist Muddock, does “romance [appeal] irresistibly to the human mind,” and what do we mean by “romance?” Why “this woman” and not Edward’s legitimate wife, married in the teeth of opposition, and a powerful political player in her own right? These are the questions that arise in the face of four centuries’ worth of texts of all sorts in which Jane Shore is presented and re-presented……..”

  91. skpenman Says:

    Maybe because what little we know of Jane indicated she had a good heart, Joan. Nell Gwyn is another king’s mistress whose fame has survived long after her death and the death of her royal lover, Charles II.

    Here is today’s Facebook note.

    On the medieval news front, Edward I’s much more likable brother, Edmund, died on June 5th, 1296, at age 51. As anyone who read Falls the Shadow and The Reckoning knows, I became rather fond of Edmund and his glamorous wife
    I know that many of us are Shakespeare fans, notwithstanding that one play we wish he’d not written. I am sorry to report that the Michigan Shakespeare Festival is in financial difficulty. I was happy to make a donation; I’d have made it in Richard III’s name, but I wasn’t given that option! For any of my readers who would also like to help them out, here is the link. Or you can make a donation via PayPal. And here is the link to their website so you can see for yourself why they are worth supporting.
    Now I have good news for my readers who like mysteries. My e-book publisher, Head of Zeus, has just brought out the first ever Brother Cadfael e-books in the UK! I am happy to report that several of them are already on’s Kindle historical mystery bestseller list. Here is the link to the first Brother Cadfael novel that I read, the one that remains my favorite, The Virgin in the Ice. I bought it in Shrewsbury years ago on my way into Wales, and once I read it, I actually drove all the way back to Shrewsbury to buy all the others that the bookstore had.
    And if I can brag a bit about my Justin de Quincy, all four of his mysteries remain ensconced on that same bestseller list, so we are both great fans of Head of Zeus. My American readers will be able to buy the Brother Cadfael mysteries in the e-book format, too, only just not yet. Mysterious Press is bringing them out, using Head of Zeus’s covers, but we don’t have a publication date for them yet. When we do, I’ll post it here.
    Lastly, I wanted to remind my British readers that Head of Zeus brought out Colleen MCullough’s splendid Master of Rome series as e-books earlier this year. I was astonished that they were not available earlier, but thankfully for those of us who love well-written and well-researched historical fiction, Head of Zeus stepped into the breach. Also, I wanted to remind everyone that there is still time to post a comment on my current blog and thus become eligible for a free signed copy of Pauline Toohey’s The Pull of the Yew Tree, which is set in fifteenth century Ireland and even has a brief appearance by the young Richard, Duke of Gloucester

  92. Monica Krausse Says:

    That last FB post sent me here, and I’m so glad. I’m looking forward to reading Toohey’s “Yew Tree.” (Hey, that’s almost a Spoonerism.)

  93. Karen Woodall Says:

    This sounds like a wonderful novel to acquaint me with Irish history. I will add this to my list to read.

  94. Gloria Bumanglag Says:

    Pull of the Yew Tree is now on my TBR list too!

  95. Margaret Skea Says:

    Unfair, Sharon when I really shouldn’t have any time to read at present, being so far behind with my own WIP that you should entice me with this. How can I resist Ireland and Richard??? If I’m fortunate to win it I shall just have to stretch my day…

  96. Kristen Says:

    Enjoyed the interview and look forward to enjoying the book!! Thanks!

  97. Jan Salsbery Says:

    This sounds like a wonderful book and I would love a chance to win a copy!

  98. skpenman Says:

    Nothing medieval to report, but June 6th, 1944 is, of course, the 70th anniversary of D-Day, an anniversary definitely worth remembering. Anyone who has seen those Normandy beaches or listened to a father or a grandfather relate memories of that day or watched Saving Private Ryan understands what courage and dedication it took to leap from those boats and wade ashore under unrelenting enemy fire.
    And here is a video that really resonated with me, for my own father suffered from the cruelest of diseases, Alzheimer’s. This story ends with such beautiful words. “The heart remembers”
    And most of the Game of Thrones fans are still recovering from the last episode in which yet another fan favorite met a gruesome and lamented end. Sadly, if we tallied up the Good Guys vs the Bad Guys, the former seem to die like the proverbial flies in GRRM’s universe while the latter flourish like the green bay tree. Okay, the unspeakable Joffrey finally got what he deserved, but the scale is still unbalanced, folks. Interestingly, Game of Thrones is now HBO’s most popular series ever, beating out The Sopranos. At least there are characters to root for in Game of Thrones, whereas they were few and far in-between in The Sopranos.

  99. skpenman Says:

    June 7th was the date of death in 1329 of the celebrated Scots king, Robert the Bruce. There is some controversy about the cause of his death, several chroniclers claiming he died of leprosy. Modern historians tend to be skeptical of that, though, for it was not so unusual for other diseases to be diagnosed as leprosy. I’m inclined to be dubious about the leprosy claim, too.

    And on June 7th, 1394, Anne of Bohemia, beloved queen of Richard II, died of the plague at age 28, after thirteen years of marriage. The English had disapproved of the match initially as she brought no dowry, but she seems to have been a very kind, generous person and she won people over by her willingness to intercede on behalf of her husband’s subjects. Sadly, the marriage was childless. Richard adored her and was devastated by her death. She seems to have had a stabilizing influence upon him, for his behavior became increasingly impulsive and erratic after her death, and it is another intriguing What If of history to wonder if his reign might have ended differently had she survived. One oft-repeated legend is that Anne was the one to introduce the style of riding side-saddle to England, but this is not so. We know that the side-saddle was in use as far back as the 12th century.

    I am embarrassed to admit I forgot that June 7th was also the date of death of a Welsh princess, Gwenllian ferch Llywelyn, only child of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd and Ellen de Montfort. She died in 1337 after spending her life as a nun; Edward I sent her as a baby to the remote nunnery of Sempringham, dispatching her female cousins, the daughters of Davydd ap Gruffydd, to other Lincolnshire convents. Davydd’s sons suffered a worse fate, being imprisoned as small boys and held till their deaths. Davydd himself was brutally executed by being drawn and quartered. We know almost nothing of Gwenllian’s involuntary life as a nun, can only hope she was content in the only life she knew. Thanks to Rhys Jones for his post that reminded us of this sad day in Welsh history.

  100. Joan Says:

    The International D Day event held the most haunting & moving artistic recreation of the historic events, the artists performing on the beach, with film footage shown on monument-like forms as a backdrop.

  101. skpenman Says:

    Sandi posted this on my Fan Club page and I wanted to share it with my fellow Thrones zealots. I am a bit embarrassed to admit I was revealed to be a Lannister.

  102. skpenman Says:

    On June 8th, 1191, Richard the Lionheart finally arrived at the siege of Acre, making one of his usual understated, modest entrances. I had fun writing this scene because I did it through the eyes of two men who were not Richard’s fans, Philippe, the French king, and Conrad de Montferrat.
    Lionheart, page 291
    As they emerged from Philippe’s pavilion, they paused in surprise, for the entire camp seemed to be in motion. Men were hurrying toward the beach, jostling one another in their haste to secure a good vantage point There were a number of noncombatants at the siege—wives of soldiers and their children, the prostitutes drawn to an army encampment like bears to honey, servants, pilgrims, local vendors and peddlers. They were all running, too, eager to witness the English king’s arrival.
    Watching in bemusement as this throng surged toward the sea, Conrad said scornfully, “Will you look at those fools? You’d think they hope to witness the Second Coming of the Lord Christ! What is there to see, for God’s sake? Just some ships dropping anchor offshore.”
    Philippe gave the older man a tight, mirthless smile, thinking that Conrad was about to get his first lesson in Ricardian drama. (omission)
    * * *
    He asks Conrad if they have troupes of traveling players in Montferrat, to the other man’s puzzlement, and describes the entry of a troupe into a town, seeking to attract as much attention as possible with tumblers and jugglers, trumpets, drums, trained dogs and monkeys, sometimes even a dancing bear. Conrad looks at him as if his wits are wondering.
    * * *
    Page 292
    By the time they reached the beach, it looked as if every man, woman, and child in camp had gathered at the shoreline. To the west, the sun was settling in a blaze of fiery color, the sky and sea taking on vivid shades of gold and red, drifting purple clouds haloed in shimmering lilac light. The ships entering the bay were backlit by this spectacular sunset and Philippe wondered if Richard had timed his landing for maximum impact. The sleek war galleys were slicing through the waves like the deadly weapons they were, the royal banners of England and Outremer catching each gust of wind, the oarsmen rowing in time to the thudding drumbeats, the air vibrating with the cacophony of trumpets, pipes, and horns. And just as he’d done at Messina, Richard was standing on a raised platform in the prow of his galley, a magnet for all eyes. When the crowds erupted in wild cheering, he acknowledged their tribute by raising a lance over his head and the noise level reached painful proportions, loud enough to reach the Saracen soldiers lining the walls of the city as they, too, watched, spellbound, the arrival of the legendary Lionheart.
    Conrad was staring at the spectacle in disbelief, eyes wide and mouth open. When he finally tore his gaze away from the scene playing out in the harbor, he saw that the French king was watching him with a mordant, cynical smile, one that he now understood. “All that is lacking,” Philippe said, “is the dancing bear.”
    * * *
    Richard’s grasp of tactics obviously extended beyond the battlefield, for he was shrewd enough to make his reputation a weapon of intimidation in and of itself. But it is easy to understand why his talent for PR and self-promotion so annoyed his enemies and critics.
    Also on this date, the Black Prince, eldest son of Edward III, died in 1376, at age 46. He is the only Prince of Wales who never became king, dying before his father. He is famed for his military successes, taking part in the battle of Crecy when he was just 16. He was not called the Black Prince in his lifetime; that did not occur for several centuries after his death, and the generally accepted explanation is that the reference was to the black armor he wore. He occasionally appears in Bernard Cornwell’s Grail series, which covers both the battles of Crecy and Poitiers. Because of his untimely death, the crown would eventually pass to his young son, Richard, with unhappy consequences for all. So here’s another What If speculation. What if the Black Prince had not died when he did and he lived to take the throne? One likely consequence—no Wars of the Roses since his son’s eventual reign would surely have been changed if he’d not inherited the throne as a child king. Of course no Wars of the Roses means I’d not have been able to write Sunne in Splendour and might have been trapped for all my born days practicing law. (insert shudder here)
    Lastly, on June 8th, 1476, George Neville, Archbishop of York, died. He was overshadowed by his brothers and I find him the least sympathetic of the Nevilles. I think John Neville was a tragic figure and Warwick an interesting one; he was often misguided, too arrogant for his own good, and not the best judge of character, as he proved with his cousin Edward. But he was no villain and had his own code of honor. Whereas George Neville comes across as smarmy and self-centered, not overly burdened with scruples. Somewhat like King Stephen’s brother, the Bishop of Winchester, but without the latter’s ruthlessness or knife-blade intelligence.

  103. Joan Says:

    That glorious scene with Richard’s arrival at Acre still gives shivers.

  104. skpenman Says:

    Thanks, Joan. It was nice to write a scene in which no one died!

    Nothing medieval of great interest to me on this date, but Nero, yet another of those murderously deranged emperors the Roman Empire turned out so alarmingly often, committed suicide at age 31. Margaret George is working on a novel about Nero and Boudica and I am so looking forward to that one.
    Now, leaving the appalling bloodshed of Ancient Rome for the appalling bloodshed of our favorite fantasyland. Here is the review for last night’s episode of Game of Thrones; as always, Spoilers abound. The reviewer is still bemoaning last week’s beyond-brutal murder of a favorite character, and I am guessing that most of us are in utter agreement with him. See the link I posted last week which offers an alternative version of that fight in which the good guy actually wins for once. As if—this is GRRM’s universe, folks. My favorite comment about last week’s fight came from a Goodreads friend of mine, who confessed she was shouting at the screen, “Stick him with the pointy end!”
    Anyway, here is the link to the review. Only one more episode to go; winter is coming.

  105. Malcolm Craig Says:

    Sharon, I loved Eleanor’s succinct evaluation of Celestine: “a Pope so spineless it is a wonder he can walk upright.” I also enjoyed Justin’s cameo appearance. You can tell I am still in early 1193.

  106. skpenman Says:

    I am so glad you are enjoying Ransom, Mack. I always tried to give Eleanor some of the best lines :-)

    The Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa, was a man who’d changed history during his lifetime and changed, it, too, by his unexpected demise. After taking the cross, Frederick had chosen to take the overland route to the Holy Land, and the decision proved to be a fatal one. On June 10th, 1190, he drowned while attempting to ride his horse across the River Saleph in Armenia. His loss doomed the German crusade; only a few thousand of his large army managed to reach the siege of Acre and his eldest son, Frederick, died of a fever soon after his arrival in the Holy Land. Frederick was a legendary leader, bold and charismatic, shrewd, charming, and ruthless when need be, and had earned considerable prestige in his long life; he was 68 at the time of his death. It is possible that he would have been able to keep the rivalry of the much younger monarchs, Richard and Philippe, from degenerating into the hatefest it became, and that would have impacted the crusade. His death and that of his son at Acre also had enormous consequences for Germany, for his next son, Heinrich, was then able to claim the imperial crown, which would have dire results for the Lionheart and for the Sicilians and for many of his Germany subjects. So I would include Frederick Barbarossa’s death in the What If game we like to play here.

  107. Joan Says:

    “Destiny is all”, says Uhtred.

  108. Sandy Says:

    Thank you ALL! My head is spinning!

  109. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    The saddest anniversary of all: on Saturday, 11 June 1183, being the feast day of St Barnabas the Apostle, Henry the Young King died at Martel. He was twenty-eight.

    I’m still working on a today’s post and I’m not sure whether I will be able to do Hal justice in it. I will also re-read his death scenes in both Devil’s Brood and the Greatest Knight.

  110. Nigel Says:

    Excellent interview..
    I don’t know much at all about ye olde medieval Ireland, but this book really sounds interesting- I’ll put it on my Father’s Day wish list - Fingers crossed that I win!

  111. skpenman Says:

    June 11, 1183 must surely have been one of the most tragic days of Henry II’s life, for it was on that date that his eldest son, known to history as the young king and as Hal in my books, died of dysentery at age 28, after yet another rebellion, one which he’d become little better than a bandit. On his deathbed, he’d pleaded for Henry to come to him, but after having been shot at twice by Hal’s men under a flag of safe conduct, Henry wisely refused. It is quite possible that he did not truly believe that Hal was dying, either. Once it was too late, though, he must have tormented himself with vain regrets, for the chroniclers relate his anguish in heartrending detail.
    Devil’s Brood, page 327
    * * *
    Hal had been sincere when he said he did not deserve forgiveness; there could be few epiphanies as dramatic as one brought about by the awareness of impending death. But no matter how often he told himself that his punishment was just and fitting, he was anguished by his father’s rejection. If the man he’d finally become in the last week of his life could try to accept Henry’s judgment, the boy he’d always been cried out for mercy, needing his father to bring light into the encroaching darkness of his world, to say he understood and the slate of his misdeeds was wiped clean—just as he’d done time and time again.
    * * *
    Still on Page 327, when the Bishop of Agen arrives with a message from Henry for his son.
    * * *
    “Have…have you really come from my father?”
    “Indeed, my liege.” Bishop Bertrand was so shaken by Hal’s shocking decline that he unfastened his own pater noster from his belt and placed it on the pillow next to Hal, then reached out and took the young king’s hot, dry hand in his. “King Henry bade me tell you that he freely and gladly grants you full forgiveness for your sins, and that he has never ceased to love you”
    Hal’s lashes swept down, shadowing his cheeks like fans as tears seeped from the corners of his eyes. “Thank you,” he whispered, although the bishop was not sure if it was meant for him, for Henry, or for the Almighty.
    “I bring more than words,” he said and, taking a small leather pouch from around his neck, he shook out a sapphire ring set in beaten gold. He started to tell Hal that this was Henry’s ring, but saw there was no need, for Hal could not have shown more reverence if he’d produced a holy relic.
    “He does forgive me, then!” he cried and gave the bishop such a dazzling smile that for a moment the ravages of his illness were forgotten and they could almost believe this was the young king of cherished memory, the golden boy more beautiful than a fallen angel, able to ensnare hearts with such dangerous ease. Then the illusion passed and they were looking at a man gaunt, hollow-eyed, suffering, and all too mortal
    * * *
    June 11th was also the birthday of another major character of mine, Anne Neville, who was born on this date in 1456. She died young, during a solar eclipse of the sun (which no novelist would have dared to invent) in March of 1485, only in her 29th year.
    Somehow those ubiquitous Tudors always manage to crash the party, for on June 11, 1509, Henry VIII wed his brother’s widow, Catherine of Aragon. We know it was a happy day for them both, although knowing what we do, many of us probably wish we could go back in time, take Catherine aside, and cry, “Girl, run for the hills!”

  112. Theresa Says:

    Perhaps Ferdinand should have arranged for Catherine to return to Spain asap after Arthur’s death. Although Henry VII was being difficult over her unpaid dowry and though he could keep all the money if she married his other son.
    I heard an amusing story that Sir Francis Bacon told about Henry VII. Apparently he had a monkey which he doted on (rather strange I know). However this attachment was tested upon one occasion when Henry discovered his pet had torn up his diary and other books relating to people who owed the king money.

  113. skpenman Says:

    That is a funny story, Theresa. Exotic pets were popular in the MA and beyond, so a pet monkey wouldn’t have been beyond the pale.

    Another slow medieval news day, so I’ll fall back on our favorite fantasy medieval world. Here is a link to an interesting interview with George RR Martin, and a link to an equally interesting interview with his editor, who seems to be saying they’d love it if there were an eighth book in the Ice and Fire series Right now, I’d settle for Book Six, but sadly, she still has no idea when it will be published. Lucky we Game of Throners are such a patient lot, right? After all, no one marched on Master Martin’s house with torches and pitchforks when there was a six year gap between books four and five. GRRM does have a great idea about the HBO series, wishing they had thirteen episodes a season instead of only ten, but as he acknowledged, that is not likely to happen because of the high cost of filming the series. They must have saved some money, though, on the CGI dragons; think how expensive it would have been to rent some dragons.

  114. skpenman Says:

    I was sorry to learn that a wonderful actress, Ruby Dee, died today, at age 91. And I would like to wish a Happy Birthday to George Bush, Sr on his 90th birthday, which he celebrated with great panache by making a parachute jump. I wonder how he got Barbara to agree to that, but what a marvelously mad way to defy Father Time.
    This morning I said that it was a slow medieval news day, and this is not really medieval. But I feel we should acknowledge the death on June 12, 918 of King Alfred’s daughter, Aethelfled, known to history as the Lady of the Mercians and to we legions of Bernard Cornwell fans as the love of Uhtred’s life.
    June 12th was also the birthday in 1929 of a remarkable young Dutch girl. On this date in 1942, Anne Frank was given a diary for her thirteenth birthday. One month later, she and her family had to go into hiding from the Nazis and she began to write, leaving behind a memorable and heartrending testament to the human spirit.

  115. skpenman Says:

    Again, no medieval anniversaries that I want to commemorate. So I am ranging further afield. There was an awful story on the news this week about a sociopath who injected two horses with gasoline; one of them died as a result, and the other one became very ill, but is expected to recover. So I decided my fellow animal lovers needed an antidote to that sort of sick, toxic cruelty. Here is a link to a story about a jogger who saw a cat carrier deliberately tossed into a creek, weighted down, with the cat still inside. This dear man did not even hesitate, at once plunged into the water and rescued the drowning cat. His heroics really resonated with me because I’d had Justin de Quincy do something similar in my first mystery, The Queen’s Man, where he was able to rescue a dog that had been thrown into the River Fleet.
    And here is a very interesting interview from last year with George RR Martin about how and why he wrote his infamous Red Wedding scene, which contains some revealing insights about how he approaches his craft. He mentions an actual massacre in Scotland as one of his sources of inspiration, but a similar incident occurred in 12th century Wales, too, orchestrated by the notorious William de Braose, John’s boon companion until they had their fatal falling-out, and the grandfather of Joanna’s lover in Here Be Dragons.

  116. Kasia (Kate) Says:

    On this day 844 years ago, prince Henry, the eldest son of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, was crowned king at Westminster Abbey by Roger of Pont-l’Eveque, the Archbishop of York. Henry, since then called the Young King, was to be the only English monarch crowned in his father’s lifetime. As a king he was to give his lord father many a sleepless night, or perhaps we should rather say that Henry II could only blame himself :-) Anyway, without the aforesaid coronation there would be nothing to write about and how could I live without Sharon’s Devil’s Brood? Thank you, Sharon, for your Hal!

  117. Sharon K penman Says:

    Thank you, Kasia. The young king is so lucky to have you as his champion.

    Yesterday Henry II made one of his rare blunders, crowning his fifteen year old son on June 14, 1170. It surprised me that Louis later did the same dumb, damned thing and had Philippe crowned in his lifetime, too. You’d think he’d have learned by the grief that it gave Henry. Future English kings took note, though; not a one of them ever crowned his heir like Henry did.
    And today on June 15, 1215, John very reluctantly signed the Magna Carta, and then repudiated it as soon as he could, a policy followed by his son, Henry III, and grandson, Edward I. Medieval kings weren’t ones for sharing power.
    Also on June 15, 1330, the eldest son and namesake of Edward III was born, Edward of Woodstock, who would later be known to history as the Black Prince. His premature death is definitely one of history’s What ifs, for had he survived to become king, English and French history would have been changed very much—for better or worse, we cannot say, of course. But I think it is at least likely that there would not have been a Wars of the Roses, and maybe that would mean no Tudors on the throne either, and no television circus shows like The Tudors. (Or no Sunne, either, shudder.)
    Lastly, for those of us addicted to Game of Thrones, tonight is the long-awaited finale of season four, which will contain major surprises even by GRRM’s standards. So get the popcorn out, keep the tissues close, and try not to think about the ten months in limbo that will lie ahead of us after tonight. Winter is coming.

  118. Kasia Says:

    Thank you, Sharon! I do my best to save him from obscurity :-)

    Happy Wedding Anniversary to Geoffrey and Matilda, Henry the Young King’s paternal grandparents, who were married on Whit Sunday, 17 June 1128, at Le Mans.

    On 17 June three great Polish kings died: Bolesław Chrobry, our first crowned king, in 1025; Jan Olbracht in 1501; Jan III Sobieski, our “Lion of Lechistan” and the victor of Vienna (and thus saviour of Christian Europe) in 1696.

  119. Sharon K penman Says:

    I forgot about Geoffrey and Maude, Kasia–thanks! Not that it is an anniversary they celebrated. :-)

    On June 17, 1291, the city of Acre fell to the Saracens, almost a hundred years to the day after it had been taken by the Lionheart in 1191; he bought the Kingdom of Jerusalem another hundred years of life, but this time the fall of Acre signified the end for the Christian realm of Outremer.

    And here is a heartwarming video of a baby elephant being saved by his mom and sister after almost being swept away during a river crossing. The most remarkable elephant rescue I ever saw occurred in a documentary a number of years ago. The film crew was filming an elephant herd and when they reached a watering hole, they discovered a baby elephant trapped in the mud. After failing to free him, his own herd had finally abandoned him to his grisly fate, and hyenas were already gathering, drawn by his panicked cries. The hyenas retreated to a safe distance when the second elephant herd arrived and began to drink. Elephants do not normally adopt babies from other herds and after drinking, they moved on and the hyenas moved in. Film crews usually refuse to “interfere” with nature—which I could never do—and they would not try to save the baby. Needless to say, I was horrified, especially since they continued to film him as the hyenas prepared to attack. And then suddenly, like the cavalry in an old western, the matriarch of the second herd came charging back, with her herd on her heels. She scattered the hyenas and then plunged into the water hole and somehow managed to free the baby. Another nursing female then adopted him and they all continued on their way. It was truly amazing. There ought to be a special place in Hell for those who shoot these magnificent animals.

  120. Sharon K penman Says:

    What will I do when there are no Game of Thrones diversions to fill in on those slow medieval history days? Fortunately, that end is not in sight; the series and books have actually become a cottage industry of their own. So I have some links to share, starting with a funny short video about how the HBO writers came to do Game of Thrones.
    I was wondering if I was the only one who actually found Cersei likeable, even admirable, in the scene in which she defies her father and wins? I am sure it will never happen again, knowing Cersei as I do, but I was cheering her on. Of course she then had to entrap her brother in her sexual web; I bet I’m not the only one who watched that thinking, “Run, Jamie, run!”
    And here is a link to another amusing recap of the finale.
    Now I know not all of you are fans of Game of Thrones, as hard as it is for us hard-core addicts to understand—and you’ve been very patient with our obsession. So for you here is a fun story about dads in the animal kingdom, a belated Father’s Day tribute to fathers everywhere; I was lucky enough to have a very special one myself and hope most of you were, too.

  121. Kasia Says:

    You’re absolutely right, Sharon! I don’t think Matilda and Geoffrey ever celebrated their wedding anniversary :-)

    On 19 June 1177 Henry the Young King’s son, William, was born at Paris, only to die a few days later. And on 19 June 1312 Piers Gaveston was put to death byt the hostile earls, without trial and official death sentence. I would love to recommend my friend, Anerje’s wonderful blog, she runs about Piers. I’ll post a link. Could you free it, Sharon? Thank you in advance.

  122. skpenman Says:

    Kasia, I was so caught up in the death on this date of Ellen de Montfort that I forgot about the birth of Hal and Marguerite’s son; thank you for jogging my memory. And I will definitely ransom your post!

    June 19, 1282 was the date of death of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd’s wife, Eleanor de Montfort, Ellen in my novels. She was 29, dying of the complications of a difficult childbirth after giving birth to a daughter, Gwenllian. Her death scene was one of the most challenging I’ve ever had to write, just as The Reckoning was the most tragic of the stories I’ve tried to tell. Here are a few, edited scenes from Ellen’s death chapter.
    The Reckoning, page 484-485
    From the moment he drew rein in the inner bailey at Aber, Davydd knew something was amiss. He’d always been sensitive to atmosphere, and here the very air seemed charged with tension. He’d just dismounted when his wife came running across the bailey, flung herself into his arms.
    “Davydd, thank God! Never have I needed you more!” Burying her face against his chest, she burst into gasping, convulsive sobs.
    Davydd had never seen her so distraught. “Elizabeth, what has happened? For Christ’s sake, tell me!”
    “Ellen…she is dying!”
    Davydd’s shock was genuine. Although he’d known, of course, how risky childbirth could be, he’d always lived his life as if he and his were somehow invulnerable to the everyday dangers that struck down others. He’d borne no liking for Ellen, but he’d still included her within his charmed circle, for she belonged to his brother. “How? What went wrong?”
    ‘Everything. She was in travail for nigh on two days, and when the babe was born, she bled heavily. All night she was senseless, and by yesterday morn, she was afire with fever….”
    “And the babe?”
    “A lass.”
    Davydd felt a shamed sense of relief. “Llywelyn must be….” He slowly shook his head, for he could not begin to imagine his brother’s grieving, nor did he even want to, in truth.
    Elizabeth had regained some of her composure by now. Clinging tightly to his arm, she said, “Come, I’ll take you to him.” They crossed the bailey in silence, but as they neared the door of Llywelyn’s chamber, Davydd’s steps began to lag. Elizabeth had been about to reach for the door latch. “Davydd?”
    He was staring at the door, and the expression on his face was one she was not familiar with. It was the first time she’d seen her husband flustered, utterly at a loss. “Llywelyn was besotted with that woman,” he said. “What do I say to him, Elizabeth? What can I say?”
    The chamber was deep in shadows. Llywelyn was alone with his wife, sitting very still in a chair by the bed. He did not look up as they entered, not until Elizabeth said his name. He showed no surprise at sight of Davydd, showed no emotion at all. Davydd stepped forward, still not knowing what he would say “Llywelyn…” He stopped, started again. “I’m sorry. Christ, but I’m so sorry…How does she?”
    Llywelyn was holding Ellen’s hand in his, staring down at the jeweled wedding band, the ring she’d called her talisman, her luck. Just when Davydd had decided he was not going to answer, he said tonelessly, “She is dead.”
    * * *
    The next scene is set at Aber following Ellen’s funeral at Llanfaes, where she was buried in the friary that Llywelyn Fawr had established in his wife Joanna’s memory.
    Page 486-487
    Llywelyn was standing before his bedchamber door. He’d not crossed that threshold since Ellen’s death, and he was still not sure if he could do it now. His fist tightened on the latch, and then he was shoving the door inward.
    The room was bright with sun, scrubbed clean and scented with fragrant incense. The smell of death was gone, lingered only in his memory. He’d been dreading to see Ellen’s perfume vials and hairbrush on the table, her bed slippers in the floor rushes, her gowns hanging neatly from wall poles, as if she’d just stepped out for a moment, would soon be back. But Caitlin and Elizabeth had obviously anticipated that, for the chamber had been cleared of his wife’s possessions. Clothes, books, even her favorite silver candlesticks—all had been whisked from sight, hidden away. It was as if Ellen had come into his life and gone and left no trace of her passing. And that was infinitely worse than finding a room awaiting her return
    As he moved toward the center of the chamber, not yet ready to approach the bed, he caught movement from the corner of his eye. Ellen’s little dog was crouched on the window-seat, watching him warily. “Hiraeth,” he said, “come, lass.” But it retreated as he advanced, scrambled down, and hid under the bed. “Contrary to the last,” he said ruefully, and then drew a breath sharp enough to hurt, for he’d recognized the crumpled cloth the dog had dragged up onto the window-seat. It was one of Ellen’s stockings.
    Elizabeth halted a few feet away. “I have never suffered a loss like yours,” she said, “but I think I can understand a little of your pain, for I’d go stark mad if evil ever befell Davydd or my sons. I know it is no comfort now, not yet, but Ellen left you more than memories. She left you part of herself, Llywelyn.”
    She crossed the chamber then, thrust the baby toward him. For a moment, she feared he would refuse, but although he hesitated, he did take the child from her. “As Gwenllian grows into girlhood, there will come a day when you’ll look at her and you’ll see Ellen. It might be the tilt of her head or her laugh or mayhap the color of her eyes, but you’ll know then that you’ve not lost Ellen, after all, that she lives on in your daughter.”
    He did not hear the door closing quietly behind Elizabeth, continued to gaze down at his daughter. “Gwenllian,” he said, and realized with a shock that this was the first time he’d said her name. Her face was blurring, for tears had begun to burn his eyes, too hot to hold back. “Ellen was cheated of so much,” he said softly. “But you’ve been cheated, too, lass, cheated of your mother.”
    * * *
    Within six months, Llywelyn, too, would be dead. But I think what befell Davydd and Elizabeth was even more tragic. Davydd would be accused of treason and put to death in the most horrific method that the English king could devise, hanged, drawn, and quartered. Nor did Edward show any mercy to his cousin Elizabeth, the young woman he’d compelled to wed Davydd. He took her two small sons and her infant daughter away, sending the girl to join Gwenllian to be raised as nuns. Davydd’s and Elizabeth’s sons were sent under guard to Bristol Castle. These are Davydd’s thoughts of his sons on the night before his execution.
    The Reckoning, page 568
    Edward would never let them go. They would grow to manhood behind the walls of Bristol Castle. They would not know the joys and dangers and temptations that life could offer a man. They would learn naught of friendship or the urgency and sweetness of bedding a woman. They’d never have sons of their own. They would never see Wales again, and as their memories faded, they’d forget the world they’d known before Bristol Castle. They would forget him, forget Elizabeth, and not even know why they were doomed to live out their days as prisoners of the English king.
    * * *
    There were a few other historical occurrences of significance on June 19th, but I can rely upon Rania to chronicle them.

  123. Joan Says:

    I’m now in tears, I needed a good cry anyway. Sometimes you just do. You have the wisdom of the ages, Sharon, the sensitivity of the poets, & the beauty of words to give us such writing as this, that pierces us to our core. Thank you so much.

  124. Leslie Hilmet Says:

    Sounds like a great read! Very interesting interview.

  125. Mary Capps Says:

    As SKP is my favourite writer of historical fiction, I’m delighted to get her recommendation for another good writer in this genre! I’ll be looking for Yew Tree in my local bookstore (yes, some cities still have brick and mortar)!

  126. Lori Says:

    Would love to read the book…anything you recommend is worth a shot!

  127. Erika Altensee Says:

    This does sound like a good read! Another one for summer reading!

  128. skpenman Says:

    I just wanted to remind everyone that time is running out to enter the book drawing on my blog and win a free signed copy of Pauline Toohey’s Pull of the Yew Tree, which is set in 15th century Ireland; it revolves around the powerful Fitzgerald clan and even includes an appearance by the young Richard of Gloucester. You need only enter a comment and you’re in the drawing. But do it today or tomorrow. For convenience’s sake, here is the link
    Sympathies, too, to my British friends and readers for their loss in the World Cup.

  129. Yvonne Says:

    Ouch! I thought I had already signed in and now see I didn’t. Enjoyed the interview and look forward to reading Yew Tree. Have also been enjoying all the correspondence on this blog!

  130. Deidra Messenger Says:

    I will be heading to the actual bookstore to add yet another to my TBR stack.

  131. Deidra Messenger Says:

    I will be heading to the actual bookstore to add yet another to my TBR stack.

  132. Maura Says:

    Sounds like another great book that will keep me up at night! Thank goodness it’s summer and I have some extra reading time.

  133. Julie Larson Says:

    Almost finished with Ransom…ready for another good read!

  134. Aimee Says:

    This looks wonderful!

  135. Aileen Says:

    Wonderful interview. Sounds like a great story.

  136. Amanda McGovern Says:

    Looks like a fabulous read!

  137. Debbie Irvin Says:


  138. Debbie Irvin Says:


  139. Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher Says:

    What a great interview - I love to hear how other authors are inspired …and I agree about Ranulf!

  140. Mikki Says:

    Recently learned from researching family history that I am part Irish and part Scots besides the English, Welsh, German, French and Dutch of my ancestors - Ireland has such a wonderful and yet turbulent history and I have enjoyed reading about Isabel and Richard “Strongbow” de Clare that makes my Irish roots even more exciting.

  141. Sherry Bullard Says:

    I can hardly wait. I love to read new authors. Would love to have a copy of your book!

  142. Kerry Flynn Says:

    This sounds wonderful!

  143. Susan Brummett Says:

    Wonderful interview. I am looking forward to reading this book. I like it when my favorite author introduces her fans to another potential favorite author. It shows confidence and class, no petty rivalry there. Thanks again.

  144. Denise Blake Says:

    The interview was wonderful and the book sounds very interesting. I’ve never read anything on Ireland in the 15th century, looking forward to it.

  145. Anne Ryan Says:

    Thank you Sharon for an interesting interview with Pauline. Her book sounds very interesting indeed.

  146. Marilyn McReynolds Says:

    I’m anxious to read more about Ireland as I’m digging further into my Irish roots. Also excited for a book recommendation from SKP!!!

  147. Anke Dosedal Says:

    Oooo, another wonderful book to add to the mega TBR pile!

  148. Susan Mason-Milks Says:

    Oh, my! Another book I simply must add to my TBR list. Thanks for the intro to more wonderful historical fiction.

  149. Gloria Bumanglag Says:

    I love reading books about strong women. I can’t wait to get my hands on the book!

  150. Mary Miller Says:

    I’ve long wondered about the Irish side of the story and the Fitzgerald involvement with the Yorkists. I’m looking for ward to reading this.

  151. Jill Swab Says:

    Sounds very interesting, hope I win!

  152. Emma Thomas Says:

    This definitely sounds like a book I’d like to add to my collection! :)

  153. Barbara Foy Says:

    Sounds interesting I would enjoy reading it.

  154. Ernestina Says:

    I’m looking forward to reading this book and going back to the 15th century.

  155. Wayne Kaufman Says:

    Sounds like an interesting book. I look forward to reading it!

  156. Debra Northart Says:

    One of the things I love most about your blog, Sharon, is learning of authors that may appeal to readers of your work. I am thrilled to be able to add another! Interview was great, as always!
    Thank you for sharing these discoveries!

  157. Sue Says:

    Pull of the Yes Tree sounds like a great book to read since I found out I’m 25% Irish!

  158. Judith Says:

    I enjoy your blogs Sharon because they give background and color to a time period I didn’t know much about. Now, when I read a historical novel I have more understanding of the forces at work behind the scenes. I’m adding this book to my goodreads ‘to read’ list, it sounds interesting.

  159. Teresa O'Rourke Says:

    Hi Sharon, big Irish fan here, can’t wait to read Pull of the Yew tree. Looking forward to reading the connection with Richard of Gloucester.

  160. skpenman Says:

    My Facebook friend, Tina, posted this on another Facebook page and I wanted to share it here, for it is a great bargain ($4.95) for those who do not have Game of Thrones on their Kindles. Sadly, only American readers can take advantage of it.

  161. Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher Says:

    Hi again! Here’s my question, well questions, regarding writing historical fiction - did you do a lot of general reading and research about that time period before you even put pen to paper? Did you at times feel “geeze - I didn’t live at that time and I don’t even live there now - I can I accomplish this?” I actually have about 50 more questions - but those are some of the top ones… as I’ve begun my own research for a historical novel - I’m psyched most of the times - then I feel daunted with the task of plot + background knowledge + figuring out if I’m committing the writer’s felony of “anachronisms” ….


  162. Peggy Seery Says:

    I read and loved Pull of the Yew Tree months ago and I am very excited that there are sequels coming. Interestingly, I just finished The Pagan Lords last night. It’s amazing how many of us are literally on the same page. You, Sharon, are my first choice for historical fiction, and I am thrilled to think that I will be near to the Pinelands in July–two weeks in Sea Isle City where we found a handicap-accessible beachfron condo so my husband can get back to his beloved Jersey Shore. (He spent his high school years working for the beach service in Ocean City, but we now live in Florida and he has Post-Polio Syndrome and can no longer walk)

  163. Heather11 Says:

    Looking forward to reading this book :)

  164. RUmbleby Says:

    Sounds like a must read!

  165. RUmbleby Says:

    Sounds like a must read!

  166. LisaW Says:

    I am am running over to Amazon right after the winner is picked, if it isn’t me.

  167. Eleanor Says:

    I will certainly have to keep an eye out for Pull of the Yew Tree adn the rest of the series.

    I’m always fascinated by what writers read when they’re not pounding the keyboard. Shakespeare almost always makes an appearance on the list. But I rarely see Beowulf or Chaucer. I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised, as good translations of Beowulf haven’t always been easy to come by, and some of Chaucer’s themes open a window on the racism and sexism of the late medieval world.

  168. Carol Says:

    I’m looking forward to reading this series!

  169. Emily Says:

    I know relatively little about 15th century Ireland, it would be interesting to learn more about it.

  170. Kasey Klaus Says:

    Sounds like a wonderful book! Looking forward to reading it!

  171. Ril Werstler Says:

    Love the title…looking forward to it.

  172. Laura Meyer Says:

    The story sounds awesome. I just love that error of time. Looking forward to reading it.

  173. Laura Meyer Says:

    The story sounds awesome. I just love that error of time. Looking forward to reading it.

  174. skpenman Says:

    June 21st, 1377 was the death date of the Plantagenet king, Edward III. He was not yet 65, so I think we can consider his death in the What If game. Had he lived for another ten years, for example, his grandson Richard would have followed him to the throne as a man grown, not a child, and that would surely have changed British history, for better or for worse. Watching from the Hereafter, Henry II might have felt a twinge or two of envy for Edward’s parenting skills He had five sons and they gave him none of the troubles and grief that Henry’s four sons gave him. Edward is known for his devotion to his wife, Philippa, and then for his infatuation with his mistress, Alice Perrers. I have been trying to think if he has ever been the subject of a novel, but nothing came to mind. Readers?
    I also want to remind everyone that today is your last chance to post a comment on my current blog, if you have not already done so; by doing that, you will be eligible for the drawing of a free, signed copy of Pauline Toohey’s novel, Pull of the Yew Tree, set in 15th century Ireland. The Fitzgerald clan were Yorkists and Pauline says the young Richard of Gloucester even makes an appearance in the book.
    I hope you all have a good weekend. I plan to spend mine plotting an assassination in the sinful seaport city of Acre.

  175. Traci Says:

    This sounds like a very interesting book and a series I’d like to read.

  176. Margaret Skea Says:

    Ah, makes me a little homesick for my native isle… I’d love to win a copy of this book. Thanks for the opportunity,


  177. Liz Gregorius Says:

    Placing this one on my Amazon wish list right now. Being of Irish descent, which I just found out about, I have become even more interested in the history of the Emerald Isle.

  178. Kieran O'Connell Says:

    Its on my list to read sounds great

  179. B Stephan Says:

    Thank you Sharon for introducing us to another great author!
    I will put this on my to-be-read list.
    Hope I win a free copy!

  180. Marie Z. Johansen. Says:

    Excellent interview, and this sounds like a most excellent read!
    I feel as though US readers are always “gypped” of the best books (though I understand about publishing rights). I must have born in the wrong country! Thanks the heads up . I’ll be hoping to see it in available for purchas in the US soon!

  181. Anne Casagrande Says:

    I have to read this. Been looking for my next book. Thanks!

  182. Susan Tarnofsky Miller Says:

    Sharon- I have been intrigued by the Middle Ages and royalty since childhood, when I was given a copy of a Golden sticker book on that topic. Now, as an adult, you have been bringing that era to life for me in your novels. Pull of the Yew Tree seems like a must-read. I would love the free-copy prize, but if not, it’s on my must-read list anyway!

  183. Cindy Hockaday Says:

    This interview gives us a glimpse of Pauline’s personality and the things that make her tick. I love that she shares a passion for dogs and includes them in her books. She also seems to have a sense of humor, which sounds as if it comes through in her writing. And who didn’t fall head over heels for Ranulf Fitz Roy? He had me at hello! Looking forward to reading this book.

  184. Loretta Livingstone Says:

    Pauline’s book sounds most interesting. It’s always a delight to find another good historical fiction author to read.

  185. Melissa Murray Says:

    I’d love to read this book!

  186. skpenman Says:

    Thank you all for taking part in the book drawing. Once Pauline lets me know which lucky reader won, I will announce it when I put up a new blog in a day or two

    wish I could post a photo here, but this is a “translation” of the one I put on my Facebook pages.


  187. Judith Abbott Says:

    Thanks for introducing a new author (to me anyway). I crossed the pond 15 years ago to meet a gal I had met online and her gift to me was Here Be Dragons. I was hooked!!! We are still friends.

  188. Margaret Says:

    What next? I have voraciously read all your books and I need another one!!! I have even read THE SUNNE IN SPLENDOR twice since the discovery of the bones in the parking lot. I was wondering what your thoughts are on that discovery and subsequent grave stone placement. I would love to read a book entirely about Eleanor of Aquitaine. Such an amazing woman. I am truly on devoted fan. Currently reading THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF HENRY VIII upon your recommendation of author Margaret George.

    So, what IS next?? Just a hint please!!??