INTERVIEW WITH BERNARD CORNWELL FOR SWORD OF KINGS

Author Bernard Cornwell

Author Bernard Cornwell

SKP:  I am so pleased to have this opportunity to interview one of my favorite authors, Bernard Cornwell—and to thank him for making my annual Christmas shopping so easy.  As soon as I get word that he has a new book out in his superb Saxon series, I know exactly what family and friends are getting, for they love his novels as much as I do.

SKP: Bernard, thank you so much for agreeing to discuss Sword of Kings, your twelfth novel about Uhtred of Bebbanburg, who is surely one of historical fiction’s most memorable characters. I’d like to begin with your Australian interview in which you confided that there is probably only one more book in the Saxon series. This really is your game plan? I do understand your reasoning; time is the one foe that even Uhtred cannot defeat. But if I may speak for your legions of fans, we are not ready to let Uhtred go. Have you given any thought to writing flashbacks of his earlier life, as you did with Sharpe’s adventures in India? Between your imagination and Uhtred’s penchant for finding trouble wherever he goes, I am sure you’d not lack for ideas or plot lines!

BC: At the moment one more book is the game plan! It’s possible that the ‘one more book’ could turn into two - I’m about a third of the way through it - but I really don’t expect that to happen. I always planned to end the series with the Battle of Brunanburh which was fought in 937 AD and was really the foundation event of England, and curiously the site of that battle has been a source of contention for years. No one has been certain where it was fought, but over 40 locations have been suggested from Scotland southwards. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle said of Brunanburh ‘Never was more slaughter on this island! Never as many warriors killed’, which makes it odd that the location was eventually forgotten until earlier this year when archaeologists found hundreds and hundreds of battle-artefacts in the Wirral, a peninsula between Liverpool and North Wales. All those spear-heads, broken swords and arrow-heads strongly suggest that the battle was fought there - a location long favoured by many historians. Somehow that discovery, and walking the Wirral’s fields, made me want to tell the tale though, to be honest, I should probably have written one intervening novel. The answer of course is to write a book like yours - 800 pages! - that works so well for you, but the longest I ever managed was a mere 436. So, yes, I’ll compress some history and it probably is the last full-length novel about Uhtred (who is getting old!), but there might be some short stories later.

SKP: Sword of Kings is one of those books that brings real life to a screeching halt until the last page is reached. I always marvel at your ability to infuse so much suspense into your novels. Surprises literally lurk around every corner. Writers know that it can be challenging to keep a series fresh, to prevent it from becoming stale or repetitive. Even very talented writers can struggle with this. But you have not only met the challenge, you’ve transcended it. Do you find it helps to take breaks now and then? For example, you put Uhtred’s story on hold while you wrote Fools and Mortals—a book I loved—in which you transported readers to Elizabethan London and the tangled relationship of two brothers, one of whom happened to be William Shakespeare. Did that hiatus from Uhtred’s world help you to maintain enthusiasm for the Saxon series? Or do you think the secret lies in the changes—often dramatic– that each new book reveals about Uhtred’s life?

Sword of Kings

Sword of Kings

BC: I always regarded Fools and Mortals as very self-indulgent - a book I really wanted to write even if it irritated some readers who would miss Uhtred for a year. The truth, I think, is that it’s much easier to keep writing the series and not take a year’s break - in that year a host of details slipped my memory, so it was more than self-indulgent it was idiotic! And I do enjoy writing Uhtred; well, I enjoyed writing Fools and Mortals too! There’s not a lot of point in writing if you don’t enjoy it! I like Uhtred’s company, so it’s always a pleasure to let him loose again and I’ll miss him when his tale is done. And keeping it fresh? You know as a writer that your characters always surprise you and those surprises are what drive us through your stories, so I just leave that to Uhtred! He rarely disappoints.

SKP: I remember a joke circulating on the Internet as Game of Thrones became a global phenomenon: “Guns don’t kill people; George R.R. Martin kills people.” So, it is significant that he believes no writer does better battle scenes than you do. I so agree with him, for I understand how difficult it can be to make each battle fresh and original. I know that sometimes you have historical accounts to draw upon, but the devil is in the details and they are usually left to the writer’s imagination. This is where you excel. I often stop reading to marvel at Uhtred’s tactics. Who else would think to use sails in his assault upon an enemy fort? Or beehives? Or use horses as a temporary dam to enable his soldiers to ford a river? He is a War Lord and glories in that. But he is also a superior battle commander, with a fine military mind. I realize this is a rather lengthy lead-up to my question, but you cannot reasonably expect brevity from a woman who writes eight hundred-page books. What I find most remarkable about your ability to spill blood is that you are so versatile; your wars span centuries. The tactics and weaponry change, but not the immediacy of these battles, our sense that we are there in Uhtred’s shield wall, with the archer, Thomas of Hookton, at Crecy and Poitiers, joining Richard Sharpe and his Chosen Men in the assault upon Badajoz. So, this is what I wonder. Do you enjoy fighting some battles more than others? If you could have traveled back in time, which century and which wars would you choose?

BC: Oh, good Lord! If I could travel back in time, I’d avoid the battles like the plague! They’re extremely dangerous! I’d elect to have supper with Nell Gwynne, who is one of my heroines, and who would be marvellous company with a vast amount of salacious gossip! I can’t say I enjoy one battle more than another - the challenge is to make them different and always to try and give the reader the gut-wrenching experience of being there. I was strongly influenced by the late Sir John Keegan’s brilliant book, The Face of Battle, where he tried (and succeeded) in describing the humble soldier’s experience rather than the commander’s tactics. In almost all battles the combatants don’t have a clue what is happening more than a few paces away, the immediate experience is so overwhelming, but my job is to give the reader an impression of what it was like to face a Viking shield wall or a Napoleonic cavalry charge, but also provide the bird’s eye view denied to Sharpe or Uhtred. I described the battle of Mount Badon in one of the Arthurian books - I forget which one - and like Brunanburh the location has long been lost. So not only do we not know where it was fought, we are equally clueless about what happened, so I merrily adopted Napoleon’s tactics at Austerlitz and imposed them on the Somerset countryside and, to my pleasure, they worked just as well for Arthur as for the Emperor!

SKP: I cannot discuss your Saxon series without mentioning how well you write of women. You’d not think that still needed to be commented upon, but some publishers continue to harbor this odd bias—the belief that male authors cannot write convincingly about women and vice versa. While I have never encountered this bias myself, I have writer friends who’ve not been as fortunate. For anyone who still clings to this outdated notion, I would simply say: Read one of Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon novels and meet the women who matter to Uhtred. Gisela, beguiling and bold, the love of his life. Stiorra, his daughter, who proves that blood will tell. The courageous Abbess Hild, who loves Uhtred, but who loves God more. The sorrowful Welsh shadow-queen, Iseult. His sultry bedmate, Skade, whose capacity for cruelty is horrifying. Brida, his childhood friend and lover, who turns into a monster. Aethelflaed, whose youthful joy is leached from her soul by the burdens of queenship and a wretched marriage. And now Benedetta, whom the readers and Uhtred meet in Sword of Kings, whose spirit still burns with a white-hot flame despite having been sold into slavery at the age of twelve. I have two questions revolving around these remarkable women. In the course of your writing career, did you ever encounter doubts about your ability to breathe life into female characters? And do you have a favorite among them? Was there one who resonated most strongly with you?

BC: If I was being modest, I’d say I approach every female character with extreme trepidation, but that really isn’t true. The clue, I think, is that my heroes, to a man, like women! And they treat women well. I don’t mean they like them as bedmates (though they do), they like their company, their conversation and their wisdom. I always said of Sharpe that few things made him fearful, but a woman could reduce him to a nervous wreck, but only because he craved their company so much. One of the things that annoys the hell out of me is the convention, very prevalent in movies and TV, that when a couple are running away, hotly pursued by some dreadful villain or slavering beast, it’s always the girl who trips over and needs to be rescued. Why? Men trip over as often as women! So my women don’t trip over, and I like them strong. I was very fond of Silvia in Fools and Mortals, to my mind she was all-female (whatever that means), but she was also a stronger character than Richard. The other two of whom I’m particularly fond are Lady Grace in the Sharpe series and Ceinwyn in the Arthurian books. The earliest legends of Arthur name Ceinwyn as a prospective bride, to be cast aside by the appearance of Guinevere, but for me Ceinwyn glowed with grace and kindness. I’m enjoying Benedetta too - a fierce lady, but what a lady!

SKP: This next question does not relate to Uhtred or Sword of Kings. I read recently that you have a Cavalier King Charles spaniel and that you’d been won over despite your initial wish to have “a proper dog,” by which I assume you meant one larger than most cats. I had to laugh at that, for I understand perfectly. I’ve had five German shepherds over the years, but now I have a cocker spaniel. My shepherds regarded the world with a jaundiced eye; Holly would happily welcome Jack the Ripper into my house. Like you, though, I have succumbed to the spaniel charm; they are hard to resist, aren’t they? Mine is named Holly since I adopted her near Christmas; would you feel comfortable telling us the name of your spaniel? I am curious whether you turned to one of your books for inspiration; I do that from time to time. If you’d rather pass on this one, just move on to my final question.

BC: The dog would never forgive me if I passed on that question. He was born nine years ago on Hallowe’en so he should have been called Trick or maybe Treat, but instead we plumped for Whiskey because he’s whiskey coloured and I’m extremely fond of whiskey (Irish, please), so Whiskey he is. He’s an extraordinarily good and affectionate animal, quite unlike his sister, who lives with friends of ours and is an annoyingly yappy Spaniel. Whiskey doesn’t bark unless he wants a ball thrown, but as a guard-dog he’s entirely useless and, like your Holly, would welcome Jack-the-Ripper with licks and a wagging tail. I keep telling him to man up, but he doesn’t. Interestingly I’ve discovered that the fastest way to unsettle readers is to kill a dog in a novel. We can slaughter people by the drove, murder infants horribly, but kill a dog and the complaints pour in!

SKP: This is a question I actually posed to you several years ago, when I interviewed you for The Pagan Lord. It is a subject that my readers and I have frequently discussed on Facebook, for it is one of the potential pitfalls of writing historical fiction. We often have to risk alienating or shocking our readers in honest depictions of life in bygone ages. While I do not think human nature has changed over the centuries, beliefs and superstitions and society’s expectations obviously have. Some writers try to soften the harsh edges of historical reality to make their books more palatable to their readers. It can be subtle; I think we all do that to some extent. Or it can be blatant: a novel set in the Ante-bellum South in which the major characters are all secret abolitionists, or having a female character in a medieval setting be a dedicated feminist or determined to marry for love. One of the things I love about your novels is that I never get the sense that you are coddling your audience. Their gritty reality is one of the sources of their power, even if that means some scenes are very painful for us to read. So, this is my final question. Have you ever been tempted to pull back a bit, to take the sensibilities of today’s readers into consideration? At the time I asked this question, I admitted I’d never seen any evidence of that; your characters in Uhtred’s world always seem firmly rooted in the tenth century. But since I have this opportunity, I wanted to ask it again for the benefit of new readers and because it can be a problem for writers of historical fiction. Was there ever a time when you chose to ease back on the throttle? And if so, what concerned you the most? The depiction of violence? Or the challenge of making modern readers understand beliefs that would be utterly alien to them?

BC: I pull back all the time! Occasionally I write a sentence and think it’s just too ghastly, however true it might be, so out it goes. And having spent far too many years writing historical novels I am increasingly convinced that it’s almost impossible to convey the real feel of the past; the stench of it, the chaos of it, but above all the mindset. I suppose the simplest example is superstition. In Uhtred’s time there really were no satisfactory explanations for the disasters of life - why did my child die, why did the harvest fail, why did the river flood - and they found their answers in a grovelling submission to God or the gods. We’ve lost that extraordinarily strong connection to the ineffable. I know some people still have it, and some people prefer a supernatural explanation over perfectly good and proven science, but as Schiller said ‘against stupidity even the Gods struggle in vain.’ For most of us the link between humanity and the supernatural has been severed. I suspect my biggest failure is that despite my best efforts, I really don’t restore that link and without it the past is seen through 21st Century perceptions. You’re much better at it than I am, but I won’t be discouraged, I’ll keep trying!

SKP: Bernard, thank you so much for sharing some of your thoughts about Uhtred and history and writing. My readers tell me it is always fascinating when a writer pulls the curtain aside and gives the audience a glimpse of how the creative process works. As usual, your interview contained some laugh-out-loud moments, not surprising since you are Uhtred’s sire, so to speak. I have to admit I love the image of you “merrily adopting” Napoleon’s tactics at Austerlitz; that definitely proves the wisdom of the old adage that when you steal, steal from the best. And I totally agree with your observation that killing a dog in a novel is the surest way to bring the wrath of readers down upon our heads; I did this, too—once. So…now that the interview is over, I would suggest that those readers who have not yet read Sword of Kings hurry to get their copies of another mesmerizing Uhtred adventure. Even though we know there is an end in sight for Uhtred, we need not despair; there will be thirteen books in the series and we can always re-read them!

December 12, 2019

16 Responses to “INTERVIEW WITH BERNARD CORNWELL FOR SWORD OF KINGS”

  1. Stephanie Says:

    Fantastic interview, Sharon and Bernard! I love the behind-the-scenes look at my favorite books and series. Looking forward to the next adventures with Uhtred!

  2. Cristina Says:

    Fabulous! Such a wonderful conversation to sit in on. But devastating to hear there is only one more Uhtred novel!

  3. skpenman Says:

    I am taking a quick break from my website rewrites to share a remarkable video with you all. I would not have believed it had they not captured it on video. I know many people feel that we should not interfere in Nature. But I was very glad that they saved the eagle. Yes, I know that octopi need to eat, too. They are not our national symbol, though.
    After watching this incredible life-or-death duel, you can read my Today in History posts, though they will not be nearly as dramatic.
    https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/12/americas/bald-eagle-octopus-trnd/index.html
    On December 14, 1553, my favorite French king, Henri of Navarre, was born. If only I’d had nine lives like a cat, I’d have loved to write about him.
    On December 14, 1287, one of the worst floods in history occurred. It was known as the St Lucia’s flood because it happened the day after St Lucy’s Day. A dike broke during a savage storm and it is estimated that 50,000 people were drowned in the Netherlands and northern Germany. Hundreds also died in England. The flood changed the history of the Netherlands by creating direct sea access for the village of Amsterdam, which allowed it to become a major port city.
    On December 14, 1476 (maybe) Vlad the Impaler died. Prince of Wallachia, he earned a reputation in his lifetime for great cruelty, as his name indicates. But his real notoriety came in the 19th century when the novelist Bram Stoker chose Vlad’s family name—Dracul—for his infamous vampire, Dracula. I am sure Stoker never dreamed that vampires would become sex symbols in our time!
    And on December 14th, 1542, King James V of Scotland died. He was the son of Margaret Tudor and the father of the little girl who would become known to history as Mary, Queen of Scots.

  4. skpenman Says:

    Cris and I became friends decades ago when I first moved to York to research Sunne. We’ve remained good friend, and I recently came upon a stunning photo she’d once sent me of the Monk Bar medieval gatehouse in York decked out for Christmas. I just shared it with all of my Facebook friends and readers. Unfortunately, I cannot do that here, but you can see it on all five of my Facebook pages.
    It really is spectacular.
    Most of you are probably more familiar with Micklegate Bar, for after the Duke of York and his teenage son Edmund had been slain at the battle of Wakefield, their heads were mounted on Micklegate Bar, grisly trophies of a Lancastrian victory that would prove very fleeting and very costly. That shocks modern sensibilities, but medievals became inured to such sights. I remember reading a chronicle in which it was reported that the citizens of Coventry were complaining about the heads of rebels mounted above the city’s main gate. But they were not repulsed; they were annoyed because one of the heads had not been properly attached and it kept plummeting down, sometimes hitting carts and passersby.

  5. Teka Lynn Says:

    The falling severed head sounds like something straight out of a Monty Python sketch! Truth really is stranger than we can imagine.

    I feel guilty about sitting here, giggling over the image of a plummeting decapitated head falling off a city gate, but here I am.

  6. skpenman Says:

    Well, it is sort of funny, Teka, in a gallows-humor sort of way. And you are right; it would have made an excellent Monty Python sketch.

    I am sorry I cannot post an image here, but at least I can “tell” you the joke. It shows Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn in a scene from The Lion in Winter, and the caption is: And they think Die-hard is an edgy, Christmas movie. I realize there are probably lots of people out there who would not understand the joke here. But that is so not true for us! I plan to add this to my renovated website; I will have an Angevin page and we’re going to include a few other Lion in Winter items there. I realize the film does require a suspension of belief at times—John was not the village idiot and Richard and Philippe were not lovers and I never believed Henry bedded Alys—but the wonderful performances by Peter O’Toole and Katharine Hepburn and the devastating dialogue carry the day as far as I am concerned; it remains one of my all-time favorites.

  7. skpenman Says:

    I have my Christmas tree up and there is eggnog in the refrigerator and at night, I light candles in the windows. But I also have a Christmas tradition here, too—a discussion of holiday music, sharing our opinions about the songs we really like and those we really don’t. So I’ll get us started today.
    One of my favorites is What Child is This, because it is set to the music of Greensleeves, one of my best-loved songs, followed by Christmas Eve—Sarajevo by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I enjoy listening to The Little Drummer Boy, in large measure because my dad loved it and I think of him whenever I hear it. Along the same lines, I was never a fan of The Twelve Days of Christmas, but I have learned to like it simply because it was my mom’s favorite Christmas song. I stop whatever I am doing to listen to I’ll be Home for Christmas, even though I think it is one of the saddest songs of the season; I interpret it to be a lament for bygone days and loved ones now dead. Who does not like Silent Night? I am not normally a fan of novelty Christmas songs, though I do like Rudolph; after all, he prevails over the bullies in the end! I like Silver Bells and Mele Kalikimaka. I once lived in Hawaii and am still proud that greeting can roll trippingly over my tongue; Hawaiian is a beautiful language. I also have fond memories of decorating a corn plant with big red bows for our Christmas tree and going to the beach on Waikiki on Christmas Day.
    There are more, of course, that I really like. And then there are the clunkers, the ones I’d ban from the airwaves forever if I ever become Dictator of the World. The version of Santa, Baby by Madonna sets my teeth on edge. I don’t like the song that turns “Christmasing” into a verb—ugh. And I absolutely loathe I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, surely the most obnoxious Christmas song of all time. It always sounds smarmy to me, but I’ve even heard versions where the bratty kid plans to blackmail Mom, making her pay for his silence. As you can tell, I am not a fan of novelty songs, although I confess to being amused by Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.
    Okay…..your turn, guys. What Christmas songs do you love to hear and which ones affect your nerves like chalk on a blackboard?

  8. skpenman Says:

    All good wishes for a very merry Christmas and a happy Hanukkah to my readers and Facebook friends. For those of you who will be traveling over the holidays, I hope it goes smoothly, sparing you gridlock, winter storms, or the aching bones that come from being shoehorned into plane seats better suited to doll houses than 747s. Here is a link to a Christmas story sure to make you all smile, about a police department discovering that the theft of donated toys from their station was an inside job. https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/20/us/police-dog-stealing-toys-trnd/index.html

  9. Mac Craig Says:

    Nice story. I have driven through Franklin many times. One of my cousins was married there in the early ’70s. Allys and I attended the wedding, but we had to leave the reception early to return to our jobs in a restaurant on Cape Cod. Merry Christmas to you, Sharon.

  10. Sharon K Penman Says:

    Sorry I am still not able to stop by on a regular basis; as frustrating as it is, I remain optimistic that things will change for the better in 2020, at least for my Facebook connections. I hope you all were able to welcome the new year in without too much stress. That was not possible, of course, for our friends in Australia. As I am sure most of you know, they are suffering the worst bush fires in their history; also facing record heat, this beautiful country now resembles Hell on earth.
    The extent of these fires is staggering, They are using the unit hectare (one acre equals 2.47 hectares) The Amazon fires in 2019 consumed 900,000 hectares and the California fires in 2018 consumed 1,800,000 hectares. So far, the Australian fires have consumed five million hectares. The last that I heard, 24 people had died and many more were unaccounted for; hundreds of homes have been lost and it was estimated tonight that half a billion animals have been adversely affected by the fires. Unfortunately, the US media has not been covering this catastrophic story as thoroughly as it deserves; the BBC website and Australian media are better sources. Here is a link to a story about the fires and the devastating impact they have had on people and animals alike. I will also post a link to the Australian Red Cross for those who’d like to donate. In the past, Australia has often sent its firefighters to combat US fires in our western states. I am happy to report that firefighters from New Zealand, Canada, and the US have rushed to help; most of the brave Australian firefighters are volunteers, many of whom have lost their own homes.
    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/gallery/2019/dec/21/state-of-emergency-bushfires-continue-to-burn-across-australia-in-pictures

  11. skpenman Says:

    Here is a touching story about people worldwide trying to help the Australian wildlife. They are estimating that over a billion animals have died because of these fires, almost impossible to comprehend. And to make donations to the Australian Red Cross, I am adding a link for that, too.
    https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/07/australia/australia-volunteers-sew-kangaroos-koalas-fires-trnd/index.html
    https://australian-red-cross.giveeasy.org/australian-red-cross-disaster-relief-and-recovery

  12. skpenman Says:

    This is a sad story, but with a good chance for a happy ending. Click the link to find out about CVS Cat, who followed his owners around their Passyunk neighborhood like a dog; he especially liked accompanying them to the CVS store. A few months ago, though, he started showing up alone at the CVS. He was well known to customers for his friendly nature and they found out that his owners had moved away and left him on his own. Understandably traumatized, he has been seeking out comfort at the only other place that felt like home to him, the CVS store. Customers have been feeding him, and during the day he is allowed to wander the store, greet people, and nap on their newspaper stand. But when the store closes at night, he is evicted to fend for himself. His newfound friends are concerned, especially now that it is so cold, and they have been trying to find him a home. I think this story, which ran today in the Philadelphia Inquirer, should be a huge help. There are probably many families who’d be delighted to take this sweet boy in; it is just a question of making his plight known to the public. So I am asking my fellow animal lovers, especially those who live in the Tri-State area, to share this story on their Facebook pages. Thanks!
    https://www.inquirer.com/news/cvs-cat-south-philly-passyunk-needs-home-animal-philadelphia-20200109.html

  13. skpenman Says:

    I am delighted to let you all know that A King’s Ransom is currently available at a bargain price. You can buy the e-book edition for only $1.99, either as a Kindle or a Nook, and I believe the reduced price is good until January 26th. Unfortunately, only my American readers can benefit from this promotional bargain. Here is a link to my publisher’s Facebook page, although it can also be bought on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. https://www.facebook.com/PutnamBooks/posts/10156708663122227?__tn__=-R
    Now, on to my Today in History post, a day late. On January 13th in 1151, one of the more significant figures of the twelfth century died, Abbot Suger of St Denis. He was a highly influential and respected counselor to two French kings, Louis le Gros and his son, Louis VII, first husband of our Eleanor. He was also a historian, author, and artistic patron; at one time he was even considered the originator of gothic architecture, although historians today don’t give him quite as much credit for that. We have him to thank for the survival of the elegant crystal vase that Eleanor presented to Louis at the time of their wedding, which resides today in the Louvre. Some historians have speculated that if Suger had not died when he did, Louis and Eleanor might not have gotten divorced, for Suger was adamantly opposed to the dissolution of their marriage. From all I’ve read of Abbot Suger, he was a benevolent influence, clever and generous, his only “flaw” a taste for luxurious living. But since my livelihood depends upon the accession of the Plantagenets to the English throne, I suppose I have to be glad that Abbot Suger did not get more time on earth than his biblical three score years and ten.

  14. Teka Lynn Says:

    I first “met” Abbot Suger in the pages of E. L. Konigsburg’s A Fine Taste for Scarlet and Miniver.

  15. skpenman Says:

    I read it, too, Teka. Surprising how many have since it was published so long ago.

    I have good news about The Land Beyond the Sea; we got another favorable review, this one from Publisher’s Weekly, which I will post as soon as it appears in their magazine next week. If I have already shared this news, sorry about that—my memory seems to have gone into hibernation for the winter. Apologies again for another long absence. I’ve been suffering from severe headaches for sometime now, and we think we may have finally been able to get a diagnosis; apparently, I have an acute sinus infection. So I hope to be able to post more regularly once the antibiotics start to do their magic. Meanwhile, I am enclosing a link to a fascinating story and video about one of my favorite places on earth, Mont Saint Michel; the story is in French, but Google offers the option of translating it into English. And here is a catch-up Today in History post.
    On January 15th, 1478, a rather sad marriage took place, between the second son of Edward IV, Richard, and Anne Mowbray, daughter of the Duke of Norfolk. He was not yet five years old; she was around the same age. The idea of marriage between such young children is something hard for us to fathom today, and their wedding seems even more pathetic because we know that they both died so young, Anne three years later in 1481 and Richard most likely in 1183. Sad.
    Those pushy Tudors crashed the party, too, for on January 15th in 1535, Henry VIII declared himself the head of the English Church and on that date in 1559, his brilliant daughter Elizabeth was crowned as Queen of England. Elizabeth has been well-served by writers in our time, for she has not one but two splendid novels about her life and reign. Legacy by Susan Kay covers her entire life and Margaret George’s Elizabeth I focuses on her twilight years after the Spanish Armada; I couldn’t convince Margaret that they should have called it The Lioness in Winter.

  16. skpenman Says:

    For some reason, I have been unable to post the link to the story and video about Mont Saint Michel. I’ll try again later. Otherwise, you will have to read it on my Goodreads or Facebook page. :-)

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