– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘The Queen’s Rival’ blogtour, organized by The Coffee Pot Book Club.
To promote this book I have a guest post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.
About the Author :
Sunday Times Bestselling author Anne O’Brien was born in West Yorkshire. After gaining a BA Honours degree in History at Manchester University and a Master’s in Education at Hull, she lived in East Yorkshire for many years as a teacher of history.
Today she has sold over 700,000 copies of her books medieval history novels in the UK and internationally. She lives with her husband in an eighteenth-century timber-framed cottage in the depths of the Welsh Marches in Herefordshire. The area provides endless inspiration for her novels which breathe life into the forgotten women of medieval history.
Book Title: The Queen’s Rival
Author: Anne O’Brien
Publication Date: 15th April 2021(paperback) September 2020 (Hardback and ebook)
Page Length: 531 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
One family united by blood. Torn apart by war…
The Wars of the Roses storm through the country, and Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, plots to topple the weak-minded King Henry VI from the throne.
But when the Yorkists are defeated at the battle of Ludford Bridge, Cecily’s family flee and abandon her to face a marauding Lancastrian army on her own.
Stripped of her lands and imprisoned in Tonbridge Castle, the Duchess begins to spin a web of deceit. One that will eventually lead to treason, to the fall of King Henry VI, and to her eldest son being crowned King Edward IV.
Guest Post :
Where to Start Writing in
The Wars of the Roses?
Dramatic Events in Ludlow: October 1459
The scope of the Wars of the Roses is vast; so is the life of Cecily Neville. Both inspired me through the wealth of detail, the charismatic characters, the unpredictable outcomes. The rumours and scandals and political manoeuvrings of a turbulent era in English History.
But where would I begin to write my story of Cecily Neville, Duchess of York? I chose the events in the town of Ludlow, the Yorkist fortress in the Welsh Marches, in October 1459. This is perhaps the most inspirational event of the whole of her life and I could not resist. I was also encouraged by the fact that I live only a handful of miles from Ludlow and can absorb the atmosphere of Cecily’s defiance as often as I wish.
Why chose this place and time? By now Cecily was forty four years old. She had been married to Richard, Duke of York, for thirty years, spending time travelling between England and France, living in Rouen and Dublin when Richard was on campaign. She had seen all twelve of her children born by 1459 and had watched five of them die premature deaths, the last one Ursula in 1454. She had already experienced the dangerous politics of the day, with a weak king allowing the battle for power between York and the Beauforts to rage. She knew prestige as wife of the Lord Protector, and also fear when he was ousted by the Beaufort Duke of Somerset.
Why, then, with so much going on in her earlier life, choose Ludlow in 1459 to begin her story?
Because this was the occasion when Cecily stepped out from the shadow of her family, both Nevilles and Plantagenets, and made an impact on history. It was not her choice to do so. Circumstances forced her into it. But what a dramatic event it was. And from that point Cecily remained one of the movers and shakers.
The circumstances are well known. The Yorkist army led by York, Salisbury and Warwick were camped on the fields by Ludford Bridge, just across the River Teme from Ludlow. The royal army approached and faced them. Stalemate. Until one of Warwick’s captains, Andrew Trollope, refused to raise arms against his King and defected, taking his soldiers and knowledge of the Yorkist earthworks with him. The result was that on that night, 12th October, York, Salisbury and Warwick left the camp and returned to the castle in Ludlow, abandoning their army with no intention of returning. Salisbury and Warwick, taking the young Earl of March with them, fled to Calais. York and his second son Rutland made haste to Ireland. This left a Yorkist army in disarray and Ludlow at the mercy of the Lancastrians.
What of Cecily? She too was abandoned, left in Ludlow Castle with her three younger children, Margaret, George and Richard. Her now absent family was attainted for treason by the parliament that met in Coventry, their estates, titles, and possessions all declared forfeit. If anyone remained to be taken prisoner and suitably punished for York’s treachery by the vengeful Queen Margaret, it was Cecily. If she ever had to grasp her courage and show bravery it was here.
After the battle that never happened at Ludford Bridge, the Lancastrian army was allowed to run amok and despoil the town of Ludlow. Cecily made a very personal decision. She could have cowered in the castle with her children, wagering on their safety behind the massive walls. Instead she sallied forth like a true combatant, deciding to stand witness to the attack on her home and against the people of Ludlow when the houses and taverns were sacked and women defiled. The streets, so the chroniclers tell us, ran with spilt ale and wine and vomit. Tradition says that Cecily left the castle and stood at the market cross with her three children beside her, the youngest Richard only eight years old, when all was laid waste around her. Was she afraid? The vulnerable little family was not harmed but it was surely a moment of sheer terror as Ludlow was ‘robbed to the bare walls’.
I can think of no better place to begin a novel about Cecily Neville than here. I can think of no better image of her personal courage and political determination. She is at the forefront of events. She is not over shadowed by her menfolk. She showed audacity and strength of character beyond any that could be expected of her. She did not hesitate to go out into the town to make a Yorkist presence when all around was chaos and violence. She was also, another difficult issue, forced to come to terms with being abandoned by her husband the Duke of York and her brother the Earl of Salisbury.
My choice was made. This was the inspiration that made me put pen to paper. This is where The Queen’s Rival begins.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds