QAB Book Review: “Cecily Neville, Mother of Kings” by Amy Licence

April 21, 2015 in QAB Book Reviews by ADMIN: Royal Squire

By Marisa Levy


Cecily Neville and Richard Plantagenet

Cecily Neville and Richard Plantagenet


Thou shalt, where thou livest, year by year

The most part of thy time spend

In making of a glorious legend

Of good women, maidens and wives

That were true in loving and all their lives.

— Chaucer, The Legend of Good Women —

Used in Amy Licence’s biography: Cecily Neville




Now that Richard III has been laid to rest, I thought this would be the perfect time to review the only biography about the mother of Edward IV and Richard III, Amy Licence’s biography Cecily Neville, Mother of Kings.  I recently started to study the War of Roses, which I found to be a fascinating, yet complicated era in English History. So many Nevilles, Buckinghams, Percys, and Yorks. Amy Licence’s genealogical tables helped make sense of these dynastic families. I became intrigued by Cecily Neville during my studies. Cecily, a woman known as the Rose of Raby and Proud Cis, her claim to be “queen by right'” was born in 1415 and died in 1495. She died during the reign of Henry VII, the king who killed her son and married her granddaughter. During her long life span, she witnessed victories and suffered great personal losses. It has taken Amy Licence to let this fascinating women’s story be told.

Cecily Neville, Duchess of York

Cecily Neville, Duchess of York

In Amy Licence’s introduction, she explains the difficulty of researching Cecily Neville:

” Writing a biography on Cecily Neville has been rather like striking a series of matches in the dark. There are moments when she steps forward and claims the historical limelight, when rumors question the paternity of her son Edward, or the moment she hears of his victory following the battle of Towton. But her voice is muted. A couple of letters survive and her household ordinances outline her routine in old age; more faintly still, she can be glimpsed inside the Great Hall at Raby Castle, or among ruins at Fortheringhay or Berkhamsted. Most often she is omitted altogether from records, even at times she must have been suffering or celebrating the most. A large proportion of her life lies amid the darkness of lost records and burned letters.”

Amy Licence’s research is excellent. Since only a few letters survive, a lot of conjectures and speculation must be made. Cecily seemed to have a successful and loving relationship with her husband Richard, Duke of York. She traveled with him as often as possible and ran his estates diligently when he was away. From the 13 children born to them, their marriage was intimate until her husband’s death. The rumors of Cecily having an affair with a common archer, who fathered Edward IV, contradicts the way she led her life. I also find it impossible for a man as proud as Richard Plantagenet to allow Edward to be his heir if their was any hint of impropriety. Richard, Duke of York, does not strike me like a man to be cuckolded.

King Edward IV

King Edward IV

I found this book to be very informative about the War of Roses, as well as giving us a glimpse into Cecily’s life. I believe a novice or expert alike would find this book to be an excellent read. My favorite chapters were the ones about Cecily’s relationship with her sons. How could she unite Edward and George again? The pain she must have endured with George’s execution and Edward’s death is stunning. Amy License makes us think about the humanity of this proud and noble woman. Did she feel that Richard would provide more stability for England instead of  her grandsons? Did her heart go out to Edward’s children? How did she feel about her granddaughter marrying the man who killed her youngest son in battle? While we can not judge through the eyes of the twenty-first century, we can’t help but wonder how this woman dealt with and endured so much tragedy. As a mother, I can only sympathize with her anguish of the loss of her children. Cecily called herself “queen by rite”, but she was the mother of two kings, the grandmother of a queen, and the great grandmother of King Henry VIII.


Amy Licence

Amy Licence


Amy Licence is an English historian of medieval women, powerful and common, Queens consorts and monarchs, rich and poor — particularly women living in the late 15th and 16th centuries. Topics of special interest include gender relations, Queenship and identity, rites of passage, pilgrimage, female orthodoxy and rebellion, superstition, magic, fertility and childbirth. Amy also has an enviable expertise and interest in the Wars of the Roses. Besides Amy’s non-fiction historical books, she also is a prolific journalist, regularly contributing the New Statesman and The Huffington Post. For more information on Amy’s varied interests, check out her pinboard on Pininterest at


To Purchase Cecily Neville, Mother of Kings


Cecily Neville, Mother of Kings


The Dawning of the Tudor Sunne ~ by Wendy J. Dunn

March 1, 2015 in 2015 King Richard III Tribute, Guest Writers, News, Wars of the Roses by Beth von Staats

By Wendy J. Dunn

King Richard II

King Richard II

A very brief description of the War of the Roses

Beginning after the captivity and death of Richard II, The War of Roses was essentially sporadic, bloody faction fighting between the noble families of York and Lancaster, both of them believing they possessed the better right than the other to the ultimate prize: the English crown. Bosworth Field was the last battle between these two families.

In 1485, on an English summer’s day, two young men, backed by their respective armies, gazed across at each other on a place known to history as Bosworth Field – so named because it was situated near the town of Market Bosworth. One man, thirty-two-year-old, was an experienced leader. From his teenage years he had successfully campaigned in forays against his family’s or country’s enemies; sometimes, this was one and the same. For the last two years he had been England’s King, the third to bear the name of Richard; the army he commanded here was the stronger one.

Henry Tudor, the leader of the other army, was twenty-eight. He had a tenuous claim to the English crown at the best. A descendent of John Beaufort, a bastard son (later legitimatized by an act of parliament) of Katherine Swynford and John of Gaunt, fourth son of Edward III, Henry Tudor was also the grandson of a French princess who became the wife of Henry V and mother of Henry VI, a King doomed to meet a violent death in The Tower.

Catherine de Valois (19th century portrait, artist unknown)

Catherine de Valois
(19th century portrait, artist unknown)

Catherine de Valois, daughter of the mad Louis of France, had been married only a short time to Henry V when his early death left her widowed. Still a very young woman, she fell in love with Owen Tudor, a handsome Welsh squire in her household, with duties in her wardrobe. He was soon given other duties. In a relationship spanning likely a decade, Catherine bore Owen Tudor five children. It is still debated whether or not they were truly married. However, this was a Catholic and pious age – even if sometimes just for show. As a Dowager Queen, Catherine would have had her own household priest, so I believe a marriage ceremony did take place.

My belief is strengthened by what history recounts about Catherine. Catherine de Valois grew up in a family steeped with scandal; her father suffered periods of ‘madness’; her mother wasn’t too certain if her husband or his brother fathered some of her children. With a background like that, it is easy to imagine that she would have sought to avoid mirroring her mother’s shame and would have married the father of her children. Catherine’s grandson Henry was the posthumous son of the first of these children, Edmund Tudor who married Margaret Beaufort, a twelve-year bride who became a thirteen-year old mother.

Margaret Beaufort (later copy by Rowland Lockey) Cambridge University

Margaret Beaufort
(later copy by Rowland Lockey)
Cambridge University

Henry Tudor, Margaret’s one and only baby, grew up in extremely uncertain times, in the midst of the bloodiest conflicts of The War of Roses. These conflicts forced him to spend most of his first twenty-eight years in exile to ensure his own survival. Despite these uncertain times, there appeared at least one thing Henry was very certain about. After the deaths of Henry VI and his son Edward, Henry Tudor believed himself the scion of the Lancastrian family who was meant for Kingship.

Henry Tudor and Richard III – two entirely different men – battled it out on the twenty-second day of August 1485, for life or death. At the beginning of this day, the many serving Richard, the last York King, likely believed the King would easily defeat Henry Tudor’s threat to his monarchy. Crowned and anointed King, a competent leader with a well-equipped and experienced army, he had all the pluses on his side. Except for one important thing.

Richard III at Bosworth Field was not the Richard of times past. Despite the fact he appeared determined to ‘do or die’ on this day, I see him here as already a defeated man. Starting with Edward IV’s death, a brother Richard had loved and served devotedly from his youngest years, Richard had suffered a series of personal tragedies over a brief twenty-four month period. Anne Neville, his beloved wife, had died a very hard death from consumption. Another tragic death had preceded hers. Edward, the eleven- year old son and heir of Richard and Anne, had also died, to the great grief of his parents. As well as all this heartache, there were also political disasters inflicting him at every turn. Richard, the youngest son of Richard, the Duke of York, had discovered kingship brought with it no peace, rather a poisoned cup.

King Henry VII (Artist: Musee Calvet)

King Henry VII
(Artist: Musee Calvet)

Richard has been probably the most maligned of all English Kings. Put against the context of the times, I have faith in Richard’s sincerity and attempts to live a good life. Yet – the Tudor propaganda machine paints Richard III as a man who slandered his mother (Edward IV born as a result of her unfaithfulness), murdering the saintly Henry VI in the Tower of London, just after he pitilessly killed his son Edward on the battlefield. It may be possible that he obeyed his brother’s orders to ‘put away’ Henry VI, but I really think it very unlikely Edward IV would employ his nineteen-year-old brother as a convenient henchman – even to the extent of having Richard arrange the drowning of their brother George in a barrel of his favourite wine.

In Richard’s brief time as King the accusations continued. Some of Richard’s supposed sins include desiring to wed and bed his own niece, the eighteen-year-old Elizabeth of York. Indeed, to achieve this end, Anne Neville’s death wasn’t because of consumption – rather her death was due to poison, a poison administered nightly by her husband. Yet, here is a man with a personal motto of ‘Loyalty binds me’, who served devotedly and dutifully his brother Edward IV for years and clearly loved his wife. Risking a healthy debate on my hands, I do not believe he murdered his two young nephews, the uncrowned Edward V and his brother Richard. It is more possible someone did the deed for him, thinking it would please him, just as Henry II’s knights thought to please their King by murdering Thomas Becket because they thought this was his desire. My own personal feeling is that the boys were killed through the machinations of another uncle, the Duke of Buckingham, a man who not only detested the Woodville family, the family of the young Princes’ mother, but a man executed as a self-serving traitor.

King Richard III

King Richard III

Richard, in the short time he wore the crown of England, proved a very able monarch. He not only passed good laws protecting the common people but also encouraged the printing trade in England. But now, with the loss of his beloved wife and son, perhaps also knowing someone killed his nephews on his behalf, his heart just wasn’t in the coming battle. Even though he fought heroically, withstanding the betrayals of trusted men on the battlefield, Richard seemed to seek out his own death when he attempted to kill Henry Tudor by charging through the men who protected him.

After he died, with his sword in his hand, Richard’s body suffered the indignity of being stripped naked and abused, before being strung across a horse. Days would pass before he was even properly buried. I believe the best epitaph for Richard comes from not one person but many. Knowing their beloved King no more, the city of York risked angering England’s new monarch, proclaiming:

King Richard, late mercifully reigning upon us, was, through great treason of the Duke of Norfolk and many others that turned against him, with many other lords and nobility . . . was piteously slain and murdered, to the great heaviness of this city.

Thus, with the Battle of Bosworth unquestionably won, Henry Tudor’s army crowned him King on the battlefield, placing Richard’s gold circlet upon his head, and the Tudor era began.



Further reading:

Murph, Roxanne C. Richard III: The Making of a legend. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1977, reprinted 1984
Michalove, Sharon D. The Re-inventing of Richard III- paper presented at the conference ‘Reinventing the Middle ages and the Renaissance, 1995.

Richard III novels I have enjoyed:
The Rose of York: Love & War by Sandra Worth My review: The Rose of York

The Rose of York: Crown of Destiny, by Sandra Worth

The Rose of York: Crown of Destiny continues a story that speaks to the core of human existence. Depicted through magical and skillful prose and drawn with great passion and insight, Worth’s Richard III is the Richard no reader can ever forget.

The Rose of York: Fall from Grace, by San
We Speak No Treason I and 2 by Rosemary Hawley Jarman
The Sunne In Splendour: A Novel of Richard III by Sharon Kay Penman




HNSA is offering a 10% discount to QAB members and browsers (discount code below) for the inaugural HNSA 2015 conference to be held on 20-22 March 2015 at historic Balmain Town Hall, Sydney. This reduces a whole conference ticket from $250 to $225. The price includes morning and afternoon teas as well as a luncheon voucher. Apply the FBHNSA15 coupon code to a standard ticket. Book now to secure your place! HSNA REGISTRATION

With the support of Penguin Australia and Momentum, we are also offering some special giveaways. The first 50 fully paid ticket holders to the dinner will receive a copy of Sherryl Clark’s new book ‘Do You Dare – Jimmy’s War’ in celebration of her launch. All ticket holders to the opening night reception will receive a Momentum ebook bundle in celebration of Felicity Pulman’s launch of ‘Unholy Alliance’.
The conference will showcase forty speakers including Kate Forsyth, Felicity Pulman, Sulari Gentill, Colin Falconer, Toni Jordan, Sophie Masson, Juliet Marilllier, Isolde Martyn, Nicole Alexander, Jesse Blackadder and many more!
The program includes sessions on craft, research, inspiration, publishing pathways, social media, sub-genres and personal histories. There is an academic session, manuscript assessments and super sessions to teach authors to weave research into compelling fiction. Don’t miss out on our saucy ‘In Bed With History’ readings! Learn more about our program at HSNA 2015 PROGRAM

Authors attending the conference are able to sell their books at the venue. For those with digital editions, we will add a link to your book on the HNSA website. Email by 14 March 2015 to provide your details.

Advertising and sponsorship opportunities are available. For details, see HSNA 2015 SPONSORSHIPS

Let’s make a noise about historical fiction!


Wendy J. Dunn

Wendy J. Dunn

Wendy J. Dunn is an Australian writer who has been obsessed by Anne Boleyn and Tudor History since she was ten-years-old. She is the author of two Tudor novels: Dear Heart, How Like You This?, the winner of the 2003 Glyph Fiction Award and 2004 runner up in the Eric Hoffer Award for Commercial Fiction, and The Light in the Labyrinth, her first young adult novel.

While she continues to have a very close and spooky relationship with Sir Thomas Wyatt, the elder (Tom told the story of Anne Boleyn in Dear Heart, How Like You This?), serendipity of life now leaves her no longer wondering if she has been channeling Anne Boleyn and Sir Tom for years in her writing, but considering the possibility of ancestral memory. Her own family tree reveals the intriguing fact that her ancestors – possibly over three generations – had purchased land from both the Boleyn and Wyatt families to build up their own holdings. It seems very likely Wendy’s ancestors knew the Wyatts and Boleyns personally.

Born in Melbourne, Australia, Wendy is married and the mother of three sons and one daughter—named after a certain Tudor queen, surprisingly, not Anne.

After successfully completing her MA (Writing) at Swinburne University Wendy became a tutor for the same course. She gained her PhD (Human Society) in 2014. For more information, visit Wendy’s website at Wendy J. Dunn.


Dear Heart, How Like You This? 

The Light in the Labyrinth


QAB Book Review: THE WORLD OF RICHARD III, by Kristie Dean

February 9, 2015 in 2015 King Richard III Tribute, QAB Book Reviews by Beth von Staats


Kristie Dean book


For all English History lovers, especially loyal Ricardians, these are exciting and “controversial” times! With the discovery of King Richard III’s body buried under a Leicester parking lot in September 2012 and subsequent planned reinternment services in Leicester in March 2015, hearty debate over King Richard III’s legacy, as well as where he should be honored and buried and a host of other related topics kept English History lovers, historians, politicians, and Plantagenet descendants debating spiritedly for over two years now.

Whether viewed as a tragic and heroic king or child murderer, King Richard III is “big news”. And why not?  He was the last English monarch killed in battle and the last Plantagenet king, after all. That at least should trump King Henry VIII’s Chief Minister Thomas Cromwell — and come March 2015, Wolf Hall  mini-series or not, King Richard III certainly will. Bend a knee my lord Cromwell, Earl of Essex. His Grace has entered the cathedral. King Richard III rules now.

I confess. Shoot me. I am a Tudorphile and have been for years. My focus of interest has always been the men around the monarchs — Thomas Cranmer, Thomas Cromwell, Thomas Wolsey, Thomas More, Thomas Wyatt, Thomas Boleyn, Thomas Norfolk and Thomas Tallis. Let’s just say I have an unusual attraction to “all things Thomas”. So, when Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall released, I immediately digested the book whole. When she and the novel went viral and Thomas Cromwell’s legacy was reevaluated in a more positive light, I was in “nerd heaven”.

So yes, as hard as it is for me to accept, I get it. There are people out there that love the history of the Plantagenets and the Lancasters as much as I love the Tudors — and people who love the history of the Wars of the Roses as much as I love the history of the Henrican and Protestant Reformations. Now I do think these people are all a bit odd with their endless debating about who killed the Princes in the Tower and where King Richard III’s bones should rest, but it is what it is. They are obsessed. I am obsessed. We are kindred spirits.

Meet Kristie Dean, the obsessed historian. Forget the “car park story”. This woman has loved “all things Wars of the Roses” for as long as most people have loved their favorite sports team, their favorite beverage of choice, their own mothers. We all have a friend like Kristie — you know, the sports fanatic who travels all over the country to see his favorite team, the friend that collects every single piece of “royalty souvenir” she can find, and the friend with 500 dolls or 200 autographed soccer or rugby balls.

What is Kristie’s obsession? In her love for the history of King Richard III, she traveled extensively, following his life story through the places his lived, visited or battled upon. Now that sounds like a pretty expensive hobby to me, but the delightful result is this. Kristie is releasing a book through Amberley Publishing, a mixture of travel guide and historical accounting. Through her “nerd heaven”, we all will have an outstanding resource both for travelers and people like me, people who are interested in an introductory history of England’s last Plantagenet king. After all, I owe it to Thomas More. The Patron Saint of politicians and statesmen never finished his biography, so I was curious.

The World of Richard III is a fantastic book. Why? It is a great “all purpose” read that covers a ton of ground in introducing the life of King Richard III and his family in a highly interesting and engaging way. I must admit that Kristie Dean was downright “sneaky” about it though. By introducing the remarkable historical castles, homes, cathedrals, abbeys, monasteries, ruins and battlefields throughout Great Britain and Europe that King Richard III lived, visited, frequented or literally fought for the York cause or later his very throne, I learned a great deal about the man himself. I will never be able to see the remarkable prose of Saint Thomas More in the same light again — and that is a good thing for both the lawyer and the king he villainized.

In all seriousness, The World of Richard III is an outstanding resource, not only for history lovers, but also for travelers or those interested in castles, cathedrals, monasteries and medieval architecture. Kristie Dean sets out by bringing readers on extensive tour of King Richard III’s life, beginning with his place of birth, the ruins of Fotheringhay Castle all the way to his place of death, Bosworth Battlefield. At each stop along the way, Kristie provides a comprehensive history of the location as well as King Richard III’s relation it it, details related to the present use of the site if applicable, and even admissions prices if such applies. Beyond all this, Kristie seamlessly slips in other points of history unrelated to the Wars of the Roses when the opportunity presents itself.

If you are interested in English history or are just wondering what all the “King Richard III hullabaloo” is about, pick up your copy of The World of Richard III. This fine book releases on February 15, 2015 throughout the United Kingdom and on April 19, 2015 in the United States.


Kristi Dean

Kristie Dean

Kristie Dean holds a Master’s Degree in History and now enjoys teaching the subject, following a successful career in public relations. She has been published on several online magazines and local newspapers and presented a paper at the International Congress on Medieval Studies. She lives in Tennessee, USA. To learn more about Kristi, visit her website at Kristie Dean.


Kristie Dean book





“Historia Richardi Tertii…” Saint Thomas More — 7 February, 1478 to 6 July 1535

July 6, 2014 in Beth von Staats (REVELATION), Tudor Y Writer's Group, Wars of the Roses by Beth von Staats


Richard III


Men use, if they have an evil turn, to write it in marble; and who so doth us a good turn, we write it in dust.

— Saint Thomas More, History of King Richard III 


Sir Thomas More

Here at Chelsea, I find my refuge. Now resigned from His Grace’s service, I find my peace. This evening I entertain my dear friend, Bishop John Fisher. I need to be near men of like mind, like conscience, and like values. The stench of court is overwhelming, the corruption raised to the very right and left of the King, the devilry all around him, like a thick, dense fog. I raise my goblet in toast and smile. “Fortune changes with character, dear friend. Fortune often changes with character.”

The Bishop nods back with a smile. I pause and reflect a moment. “So what do you think? I wrote that years ago, and yet only my dear Erasmus and now you have laid eyes upon it. My heart bleeds infinitely as although unfinished, it foretells our sorry state.”

Bishop John Fisher

Sir Thomas More, such a learned man, such a wise man, such a Godly man. I fear we will martyr together, along with my dearest Maid of Kent, yet I pray if God’s will, it be done to celebrate His glory, to celebrate our beloved Bishop of Rome, for in this realm Satan curses them both. Here at Chelsea, with this man’s gentle wisdom and his loving family, I feel our Virgin Mary close, so close my heart fills with love for her. I hold up the parchments along with my goblet of ale. “Thomas, Historia Richardi Tertii is magnificent, though damning… and aye, yes, much vision it provides. I trust the words on the parchment were written with divine intervention.”

Sir Thomas More:

I look to the fire, my mind full. Free finally to speak my conscience with a man I trust, I venture, “Your Grace, you are too kind.”

I decide to lighten the mood. God knows we both need it. “Did you hear Cardinal Pole’s latest missive?” The Bishop shakes his head no. “He declares Cromwell the ‘Emissary of Satan’. His Eminence speaks truth.”

We both laugh lightly, and I say in all seriousness as I point to the parchments, “Can you imagine what the King’s Secretary would do with that retelling of the sinfulness of the child killer, the monster King Richard the Third and the corrupt men around him? The man would crucify me, nail me straight to the cross. Cromwell is so full of himself, the man would think this all be an allegory of dear Harry, the sinful Archbishop and him.”

Bishop John Fisher

I snicker and nod in agreement. “Yes, I fear so. Best this be well hidden, good man. Your commentary on the failures of kingship, the corruption inherent in nobles and the clergy to gain advantage, your profession that the people need reign in truth by Parliament, is damning. Power corrupts, and absolute power especially so, I dare say.”

I point to the parchments. “You lay that bare here. ‘The lamb is given to the wolf’.”

I lay the parchments down on my lap and sigh deep. “I will never take the oaths, Thomas. A king supreme over God’s clergy as if God himself? Never. ‘Tis devilry personified.”

Sir Thomas More

I rise and stoke the fire, speaking as I do. “Me either, Your Grace, but it best we comment on our opinions not. Then by law we should be safe, but we will not I do fear. His Majesty and Cromwell make the laws or change the laws to suit their purpose. What be law today be treason tomorrow.”

I turn, look at Bishop Fisher, anxiety suddenly filling me whole. “Cromwell and the Archbishop, they are like King Richard’s secret second council, but spinning their evil web for all to see, His Majesty stuck within it, like an angry wasp. We will be stung, and stung deep, either by their attacks on the Holy Maid of Kent, God keep her — or their insistence all take an oath that the King is now God Himself.”

I take a deep breath, and rest back into my favorite chair, worn thin. “I am ready to martyr if need be, but my family suffers at the thought of it, my Alice wailing at every turn. Only my dear Margaret understands me, Lord God bless her. It is with she I will trust those parchments, no one else. If there ever be a day it is safe to promulgate, my Margaret knows to do so.”


King Edward V of England and Richard, Duke of York

King Edward V of England and Richard, Duke of York


Bishop John Fisher

“I will pray for you all, dear friend. I have no family I need so worry, just my conscience.  Though God’s will is clear, you suffer more. May the Virgin Mary protect you all through these days of misery.”

I draw a deep breath and drink some ale, my throat parched. “Thomas do listen. The Archbishop, he knows how close I am with the Holy Maid of Kent, how I revere her and the priests that so take charge of her care, but you have been more cautious in your dealings. I suggest you keep quiet. What Lord God knows, they need not know.”

Sir Thomas More

I smile awkwardly, my full truth known but to me, the Maid and God. “Aye, the Archbishop is a two headed serpent, good man. As he burned the heretic Frith for denying the presence, a sin even obvious to him, so Canterbury will burn our beloved Maid. Anyone who oversteps his arbitrary mark, heretic or God’s messenger, is doomed.”

Bishop John Fisher

I drink some ale and ponder his words of Canterbury. “As I read of Queen Elizabeth on these parchments, may she rest with the angels, I wondered why she did so allow the Cardinal with the care of her sons? Was she too trusting? Did she lack judgment? Was she blinded somehow, leading to a poor twist of fate? A quandary, yes, a quandary.”

I pause, and then continue. “And, was His Eminence King Richard’s unwitting dupe? Or as Archbishop Cranmer is for King Henry, his knowing accomplice?” I sigh. “You leave many questions unanswered, dear friend, but this much of our current plight is clear. The Archbishop’s treatment of our rightful Queen Catherine and the Princess Mary is of Satan. May his heresy be laid bare and burnt out from him.”

I cross myself, and dearest Thomas does likewise. “God make it so.”

Sir Thomas More

I nod and rub my the crucifix around my neck, so long there ’tis worn thin. “Yes, God make it so. Burn the heresy out, I do pray.”

I say pointedly, “The Archbishop, the Lord Chancellor, Wiltshire, and Cromwell — they are fools, more so than the bonny Will Somers. As I wrote to you, ‘If the lion knew his own strength, hard were it for any man to rule him.’ Your Grace, the lion now roars. So long as he keeps the love of the people, Harry will stomp his way across this blessed realm, killing all we know as dear. I blame the heretics for turning him, the pretend queen, the Archbishop and Cromwell most pointedly — a whorish concubine, a chaplain of Luther, and a low born rogue — all Satan’s clergy.”

Bishop John Fisher

“Your speak truth, dear man. Satan’s clergy indeed.”

I attempt to rise, my gout aching to my bones as I do. Thomas rushes to me, guiding me to my feet. I place my hand on his shoulder to steady myself and speak plain.”Thomas, I grow frail. Perhaps the Saints will intercede, God calling me home before the henchman, eh?”

He nods, and rests his head for a moment on my shoulder, as a son to his father. “I do need your help to find my courage. Pray for me, Thomas. I fear I will waver. I wish to die in my bed, truth be told.”

Sir Thomas More

I place my hands on the shoulders of this dear and holy man of God. “May we find the simple and innocent grace of children, the simple and innocent grace of the boy King and the blessed imp Duke — and with all humility, may we move forward, as God’s lesson in conscience, God’s lesson in His ultimate truth.”

—– Fade To Black —–



This video focusing on the life and martyrdom of Saint Thomas More is part of a video series from Father Robert Barron comments on subjects from modern day culture from a Roman Catholic perspective. For more information and videos visit


NOTE:  The History of King Richard III, though unfinished, is widely considered to highlight Saint Thomas More’s veiled views of the perils of excessive power and political corruption. More “historical fiction” than “accurate history”, this work greatly influenced the writing of William Shakespeare. To read “Historia Richardi Tertii” click here:


St_Thomas_More__card_ (600x488)

King of the North: Richard III and the City of York

January 12, 2014 in Studies in the Middle Ages, Wars of the Roses by ADMIN: Royal Squire

“welbyloued of my neyghbours, true to my frendes, obeysaunt & devoute in thynges religious…” from The Declamation of Noblesse

After Edward IV became king, he gave his brother Richard, Duke of Gloucester lands in the north of England to govern, including the borderlands of Scotland and some of the most prominent cities in the north of England.  Richard had been in control of the north since 1461 under his brother Edward IV.  His relationship with the north had already been growing.  Soon after he wed Anne Neville, he was granted more lands, and the forfeited lands of Warwick.  Richard was then dubbed, “Warden of the West Marches of Scotland.”  During the summer of 1482, Richard invaded Scotland at King Edward’s command to control unrest from the relations and political upheaval coming out of France.  Richard’s relationship with the north of England was not always one of championing for his brother the king, but one of good relations with its cities.  One such city, York, was not only was a city that he had close relations with, but it was also a city that greatly loved and supported him. By looking at this relationship between king and city; we can gather quite a different picture of what Richard was really like, definitely not one of tyrannical sorts. 

Battle of Barnet

Battle of Barnet


York was a great city that deeply honored and held Richard in highest esteem. They looked to him in economic hardship for help and in returned granted him the warmth and welcome befitting to a great king.  This is seen in by the many gifts of generosity to his family.  Because Richard had spent much of his youth in Northern England, Yorkshire and Middleham Castle, he was very close and had close patronage in the north. It was here he made generous donations and contributions to the church, held great parties displaying gifts to its citizens and gifts to him as well. In showing such support on the day of his coronation, the mayor and Alderman traveled to Middleham Castle to bring his son, Edward gifts of wine and food. (Source: History of York;

Besides growing up in the area at Middleham Castle, his visits to York seemingly few were actually of note of the times. We know that once he was king, he visited York a few times, one time for three weeks in 1483.  (One source noted that Richard was actually in York, when the famous princes in the Tower went missing or ill befell them.) Noted in the city chronicles, he was presented with gifts, and it was this trip that his son was crowned Prince of Wales, at the Minister in York. This was more than likely followed by great and elaborate festivities in the city.  Richard also had the bodies of his father, Richard of York and brother Edmund in 1476, moved to the church in Fotheringhay his birthplace, to the church for reburial. The reburial celebration not only did it bring jobs to the area by requiring masons to build of the additional tombs, but it brought great festivities honoring his father and brother.  The simple act of moving his dearly departed family back to rest in the north, not only shows closeness and ties to a land of his upbringing but it exhibits much love and admiration.

Being a very pious and openly religious man; he made many generous contributions to the church in the area, not just the placing of his family in Fotheringhay church.  It is speculated that he had planned to be buried at York Minister. A debate that has been quite a hot topic of late, adding that he had planned to have a large chapel built in his honor as well, to pray for his soul, once he passed on.  Whether his intentions were written down, this I am unsure of, his generosity and work to place various colleges in the area, and gifts could have been a result of his last intentions.  One of the biggest and surviving contributions Richard made to the north was the college he had in stalled in Middleham in 1478.


The relationship Richard had with his tidings in the north and the city of York, were quite evident and on good terms through out his reign. The city archives note with great sadness, emotion, and heartbreak with the outcome of the battle of Bosworth where their beloved Richard had fallen:

“Were assembled in the counsail chambre where and when it was shewed by diverse persons and especially by John Sponer send unto the feld of Redemore to bring tidinges frome the same to the citie, that King Richard late mercifully reigning upon us was thrugh grete treason of the ducof Northfolk and many othere that turned ayenst hyme, with many othre lordes and nobilles of this north parties, was pitiously siane and murdred to the grete hevynesse of this citie, the names of whome foloweth hereafter.”

 23rd August 1485
York City Archives. House Book B2—4f. 169v.

The city of York was set to send 80 men to aid Richard in his battle but they came to late.  Blame over time has been placed on Henry Percy.  Owner of a manor, Percy as battle commander at Bosworth in 1485, failed to join the battle at command of the king aiding the betrayal of Stanley and defeat of Richard. It is even noted that Henry VII was fearful of his visit to York after Richard’s death, as the city was still quite loyal to their slain king and he feared for his life.  Under Henry VII rule, word was supposed to be dispatched by Percy and delivered to York that the king was raising taxes to fund a war in France. The kings response to his plea of the citizens complaint was to have the taxes stay, resulting in his return to town, a ransacked manor house, and his murder.  Obviously, a man who had been known to betray their beloved Richard, York’s “King of the North,” met his demise eventually.

King Richard III, was a man who was seen as a “perfect prince” to the city of York and the north. For the relationship he had with the city of York, was one of great loyalty brought together with justice from the laws he created, the harmony of his relationship with the city, and the church in the area.  His outgoing and well known display of public morality and loyalty had a huge impact on his reputation. It painted a perfect image of what and how a prince should be, one that was admired in the north. It’s this relationship that York to this day still holds dear.  

loyalté me lie” ~motto of King Richard III


More articles on Richard III can be read at:

~by A. C. McMillin 1/11/2014

QAB Interview With Matthew Lewis, Author of “Loyalty: Father, Husband, Brother, King”

August 22, 2013 in Historical Fiction, QAB Guest Interviews and Chats, Wars of the Roses by Beth von Staats

Queen Anne Boleyn Historical Writers caught up with Matthew Lewis, author of the self-published novel Loyalty: Father, Husband, Brother, King.  Here Matt answers some questions about his increasing popular novel and provides advice from his experience in self-publishing.
1. Loyalty is narrated by Saint Thomas More, and although the story is of King Richard III, the timeline is set within the reign of King Henry VIII. What gave you the idea for this very unique approach?
The story of King Richard’s life is told by Thomas More to artist Hans Holbein for a very specific reason. No spoilers, but the theory has been around for a while yet is not well known outside Ricardian circles. Nevertheless it is one that has fascinated me for a long time. Having King Richard’s life narrated allows us to dive in and out of key events relevant to More’s story, but also begs questions about More. Not least, is he telling the truth? He wrote his History of King Richard III but never completed it and it was published by his nephew after his death. Why was this? Did he feel guilty for conspiring in state-sponsored lies? Did he find out something unexpected? Or did he just get bored writing something that was becoming old hat? It is being able to ask all of these questions that gave me the idea of having the two separate but inextricably linked timelines.
2. There is a common perception among historians and history enthusiasts of King Richard III being a villainous historical figure. How much do you believe Tudor monarchs and Tudor era figures such as Saint Thomas More and William Shakespeare fed into these perceptions? And to follow-up on that, how accurate do you find them?
 Richard III’s bad reputation accumulated throughout the Tudor era, reaching its apex with Shakespeare’s brilliant portrayal of evil personified, of ruthless ambition unrestrained by morality. How the stories became fact is interesting, not least because I suspect much of it was accident. Clearly the Tudors had a vested interest in creating a monster out of Richard III. Edward IV’s blood was married to Henry VII and flowed in the veins of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth. As a result, it was beyond reproach. Richard III sat alone between Edward IV and Henry VII with none left to defend him – at least not if they wanted to keep their heads! He was an easy target and Henry VII was keen to paint a picture of a kingdom that needed to be saved from a tyrant. He was that saviour by virtue of his victory at Bosworth, so he needed Richard to become the tyrant. The passage of the story is intriguing. Thomas More spent time in the household of John Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury during Henry VII’s rule. Morton was an arch enemy of Richard’s, credited with turning Buckingham against him. So the story moved from Morton to More and then was drawn on by Shakespeare. It is interesting that if you look at what More writes about Richard it is all couched in rumour and he is careful to point out that he is only reporting what he has heard. Shakespeare could hardly write his play based on rumour, so Richard had to definitively become the villain then. That is the image that has stuck, even though I don’t think Shakespeare expected his audience to see Richard III in his play, but that is another story! One interesting aspect following the discovery of his skeleton is the stories of his physical appearance. Ricardians (myself included) have long written off the tales of a weak man with uneven shoulders, Shakespeare’s hunchback with a withered arm extending the myth – how could he have been the mighty warrior he was reported to be? Doubtless Shakespeare exaggerated his depiction, not least to point to his real meaning, but there appears to have been a grain of truth in all of this, with his gracile bones and scoliosis. It goes to show that even the most hostile, biased sources are not necessarily entirely wrong and so adds to our understanding of the source material available and its reliability.
3. When and how did you develop such a strong interest in the Lancaster and Plantaganet Eras of English history?
I first studied the Wars of the Roses at school and was gripped by it immediately. People think Game of Thrones is brutal, ruthless and complex. Try the Wars of the Roses. And that’s all real! Richard’s story also grabbed me because the smallest amount of study reveals so much. Just start picking at the corners of the facade the Tudor’s created for him and the whole thing comes crumbling down. I find that the more I read about this period the less I think I know. There is always another family that crops up or a feud I didn’t know about that adds another dimension to the era and its people, and it is the people who fascinate me. We are quick to forget in all of the killing and loss that these were living breathing people, just like you and I.
4. You are a self-published author. Given the extreme difficulty writers face in successfully having their first works traditionally published, what advice can you provide to people considering self-publishing as an option?
Self-publishing has been a bit of a trial, some of it self-inflicted! My first piece of advice to anyone seeking to be taken seriously is to invest some money in having your manuscript proof read first. I published Loyalty with a shrug assuming nothing would come of it and when I sold some the first batch of reviews commented on the typos and errors that detracted from the story. Having resolved these I have seen a vast improvement in sales and reviews, though obviously that early flaw has left a bitter taste (and some reviews that aren’t as good as I would have hoped!). So, although it costs money up front, I would say that having your manuscript proof read is a must if you want to cultivate some credibility. My second piece of advice would be to do it! I’ve really enjoyed myself and it has turned from a dream into something more serious and I am loving every moment. If I had never taken the leap, I wouldn’t have the pleasure of talking to you about it now! The third thing that I would say is be prepared to do some work. However averse you may be to social media, join Twitter, Facebook, start a blog. These things are all free and are a way of getting yourself out there. Famous authors have agents, publishers and advertising houses to deal with this stuff. You have you. Your pc and smartphone are about to become your best friends and greatest marketing tools. Finally, develop a thick skin. Accept before you start that you cannot please everyone. I have had two 1 star reviews for Loyalty from people who simply hated it. Out of 50 odd reviews, that’s okay but each one of them hurt, as did each one below 5 stars with any kind of criticism of the story or writing style. You will be more protective of your writing than you imagine and you will be hurt by every criticism but you must learn to live with them, take them in the context of (hopefully) more good than bad reviews and accept from the start that there will be those who just won’t like it and that’s fine (it’s not fine!).
5. QAB understands you are writing a sequel to Loyalty? Is there anything you want to share with members and browsers?
The sequel to Loyalty is not too far off now. It will move forward both story lines from Loyalty and will reveal a secret that I don’t think anyone else has yet stumbled upon. I’ve never heard this theory and I’m excited by it!
Loyalty Cover Kindle
Matthew Lewis is the author of a brief biography of Richard III, A Glimpse of King Richard III along with a brief overview of A Glimpse of the Wars of the Roses and the novel of King Richard III’s life Loyalty. Matt can also be found on Twitter @mattlewisauthor.
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