Today I open my blog to author Trisha Hughes. Her novel Vikings to Virgin – The Hazards of being a King is to be released on the 28th February and I’ll be reviewing just as soon as I can so I thought why not highlight the release by letting Trisha take control of my blog for a little bit.
I hope you enjoy the post 🙂
When we think of Britain’s monarchs, most of us would agree that early periods of time are clearly muddled. Many are hidden in the mists of time while some have almost completely disappeared. What we do know is that there were kings who ruled for only a few months and there are some who ruled for over fifty years. There are also some who should never have ruled at all.
If you know anything about the British, you’ll know that among the good and the well-meaning monarchs, some of them were ruthless, not to mention greedy, murderous and totally corrupt. Their story is better than a thriller about a serial killer on the loose because ‘Vikings to Virgin – The Hazards of being King’ is absolutely true. Don’t imagine a fairy story with handsome kings whisking off princesses on their white horses to the sound of trumpets and the cheers of their people. Imagine powerful individuals who were brutal and would stop at nothing to get what they wanted and who were more than happy to get rid of the odd family member or two who were standing in the way of their progress to the throne.
Monarchs of Britain all share one thing in common. In their lifetimes, they were the most powerful individuals in the land.
Their story spans 1500 years and is full of lust, betrayal, heroism, murder, cruelty and mysteries. It’s a journey through time when the Romans began their march through Britain and travels through Saxon times, the Vikings, the Normans, the Plantagents and finally the Tudors.
Their stories are full of savagery and cruelty but there is no story more brutal than the War of the Roses during the Plantagenet dynasty. It was a dangerous period full of unfathomable brutality, shifting alliances, murders, betrayals, plots and savage elimination and it only ended when Henry Tudor usurped the throne. His reign began in a bloodbath and he continued on with gusto.
If you asked people which monarch they find the most interesting, the answer is often either Henry VIII or Richard III. Sometimes King John. And the reason for this is because they were the bad boys of history. Henry VIII’s reign will forever be remembered for the treatment of his six wives who were divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived, in that order. John is remembered for generally annoying his brother Richard Lionheart, and Richard III, well, didn’t he kill his nephews? But when you look at all three individually, did they really deserve their terrible reputations? Were there extenuating circumstances for each of them?
This question has been asked many times in history. All three kings had certainly done some terrible things during their reigns and none of them were shy when it came to getting rid of someone who stood in their way, including their wives. But standing back and putting things into perspective, were all the grizzly stories told about them actually true?
The character of King John is well known. His brother Richard I has been likened to a lion, hence the name Richard Lionheart, and most would agree that there was no animal in nature that combines the conflicting qualities of John. He was a hardened warrior with the subtlety and cunning of a Machiavellian and from time to time during his furious rages, his cruelties were executed with cold, inhumane intelligence. He lied, he cheated, he manipulated and he more than likely had his nephew Arthur murdered, if he didn’t do it himself, because Arthur was next in line in the queue to the throne after his uncle Richard. John wasn’t the first to do this and he certainly wouldn’t be the last. It almost seems like a predisposition for most rulers in history.
But when you think about it, most of the books transcribed in the Middle Ages were written by monks and we know that John quarrelled endlessly with the Church, was even excommunicated, so most monks hated him. And sure, he lost Normandy to King Philip II of France and he ripped up the Magna Carta after promising, with his hand over his heart, to uphold it.
But of late, some historians are thinking outside the box. He was a hard-working king who improved the law courts and made the barons, who had free reign due to Richard’s absence, obey the law.
Without condoning anything that John did, perhaps in his own way, he was doing the best he could in a very difficult situation while trying to stop the English economy from going belly up. He may have gone about it rather badly by throwing tantrums and taxing everyone to the max and he certainly had an escalating cruel streak, but maybe this escalation began for a very good reason. He had an unreliable brother who was taking every bit of spare cash he could lay his hands on out of England leaving John frustrated and scrambling around trying to make ends meet.
At the time, Richard had gone on his merry way to the Crusades with every bit of available cash he could find to fund his crusades. In my humble opinion, the minute Richard set foot in England he regarded the country as a cash cow that he fully intended to milk leaving John struggling during his absence.
To me, it seems to have been the catalyst that started John on his downward spiral into absolute cunning, cruelty and deviousness. But then again, he was a Plantagenet.
And then we have Richard III, evil incarnate if we are to believe some historians. His two nephews certainly would have thought that as they sat captive in the Tower of London waiting to be released. But we know they never left the Tower and were never seen again after Richard kissed them both on the cheeks and virtually shoved them through the gate.
Richard’s story is a story not too different from many in history. It’s a story of ambition gone awry and the damage it leaves in its wake. That he loved the boys was never questioned but it’s difficult to place a date on when he had a change of heart regarding his nephews’ right to the throne.
That they died is understood. And presumably Richard had them murdered. But was it actually Richard as we have been led to believe or was it someone else who orchestrated their death?
There have been many suspects’ names drawn out of the hat and of course, Richard’s name always comes up first. He had the most to gain from their death and he’d already been implicated in his brother, Edward IV’s death.
But let’s not forget Margaret Beaufort, Henry VII’s mother. No other mother in history seems to have been as dedicated as she was to have her son sit on the throne. And then of course, there’s Henry himself. It was only after his coronation that rumours began to circulate that Richard had killed the boys. This could easily have been to cover up his own involvement in their murder. Let’s not forget that if Richard had merely stashed the boys away in the Tower for their own good, Henry would have had to get rid of them because their claim to the throne was by far better than his. In actual fact, Henry had barely any claim at all. The princes would have simply had to go if they were in fact alive in the Tower when he usurped the throne from Richard.
As for Henry VIII, we all know that his biggest concern was producing a male heir to pass on the throne and continue the Tudor dynasty. It controlled his life and it’s a terrible blot on his record that his reign should be remembered for his cruelness and executions. The sufferings of his wives and devout men and women stand in shocking contrast to the welcome he received as an energetic, lovable, charismatic 19-year-old when he took the throne. But by 55 years of age, he had become morbidly obese and ill, and as a consequence he was harsh, egotistical and cruel.
But a new theory proposes that Henry actually may have had McLeod syndrome, a recessively inherited genetic disorder that can affect the blood, brain, nerves, muscles and heart. Furthermore, by tracing the reproductive history of his great grandmother, Catherine of Valois, (whose brother was King Charles VI of France, otherwise known as ‘Crazy Charles’), there’s little doubt that he may have inherited a mental instability gene from her. It could explain Henry’s transformation from gentle prince to terrible tyrant.
‘Vikings to Virgin – The Hazards of being King’ is a rambling narrative beginning when the Britons first glimpsed a square sail and a dragon-headed prow on the horizon, churned by oars through the waves as blue water foamed around the hull of a mighty ship one cold, miserable January morning. No one heard the muffled sounds over the water. They were still rubbing sleep out of their eyes after a savage night of arctic air had cut its way through cracks in the walls.
It’s a story of kings who struggled to hold on to their throne, of horrendous bloody battles, of tiny boys becoming rulers, of ruthless usurpers and of queens who proved to be more powerful than anyone could have ever imagined. It’s a story of invading armies, of rival family members, of spies and conspiracies.
And I’ve loved every minute of writing it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Trisha Hughes started her writing career with her memoire ‘Daughters of Nazareth’ eighteen years ago. The debut novel was first published by Pan Macmillan Australia and became a bestseller in 1997 beating the current Stephen King book to the top 10 bestsellers at the time. Since then she has discovered a thirst for writing. She’s written crime novels but her latest book, the first in her ‘V 2 V’ trilogy, ‘Vikings to Virgin – The Hazards of being King’, is her passion and due for release on 28th February 2017. Click here to view the book on Amazon! She has a crime thriller due for release next year and she is currently working on the second in the series ‘Virgin to Victoria – The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen.’
You can connect with Trisha through:
Trisha’s Website: www.trishahughesauthor.com
Twitter – https://twitter.com/TrishaHughes_