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Today - Anna Belfrage talks about her story:
One of the benefits about writing about events that happened a looooong time ago, is that you can go with your own interpretation of these events, people and emotions. While we may have a factual time line stating that on this day X was born, on this day X died, usually the in between is pretty sparse on details. After all, even if the peeps of the distant 14th century indulged in writing diaries (which likely they did not), such documents would not survive the teeth of time.
The above also allows me as a writer to choose sides. In The King’s Greatest Enemy, my four-book series about the events that marked the final years of Edward II’s reign, I have sided with Mortimer. Well, OK: my main character, Adam de Guirande, is Mortimer’s sworn man, and so his perception of who is bad and who is good obviously colours the entire narrative. Now it would be difficult to address the story of Roger Mortimer without darkening the contours as time goes by. Where Mortimer may have started out as a disgruntled baron with valid complaints about his king and his glaring preference for his favourite, Hugh Despenser—a preference that meant Edward turned a blind eye when Hugh robbed orphans and widows, accumulating wealth like a squirrel collects acorns—over time, he becomes increasingly self-serving. Mortimer stands as an example of how power corrupts, because as the all-powerful regent of Edward III, Mortimer effectively controls all of England, and has no compunction ensuring this is to his benefit.
|Mortimer and Queen Isabella|
Not everyone was thrilled to bits at having the power-duo Roger Mortimer and Queen Isabella (Edward III’s mother) in charge of the kingdom. Many other peers demanded a voice in how England was managed, and some became increasingly more vocal in their criticism. In some cases, their frustration arose out of a sense of entitlement: men like Henry, Earl of Lancaster, and Edmund, Earl of Kent, were close relatives to Edward III and considered Mortimer something of an upstart. After all, Lancaster was Edward II’s cousin, and Edmund was his much younger half-brother, thereby making both these gents excellent leadership material—at least in their own eyes.
There were others who were also disturbed by Mortimer’s high-handedness. My character, Adam, is obliged to re-evaluate his opinion of his former lord. He loves Mortimer, has him to thank for everything he is and has, but as the years go by, Adam is far more concerned about protecting Edward III and his right to rule, worried that Mortimer has somehow lost his way and has become eerily similar to the hated Despenser.
In early 1330, Mortimer (and Isabella. I am of the firm opinion these two did everything together. Not everyone agrees, but I believe they were a couple in every sense of the word) decided Edmund of Kent was becoming a serious problem. Why? Because Edmund had been heard expressing that it would be far better to replace the young Edward III with his father, Edward II, than suffer under Mortimer’s tyranny. Hang on, some of you will say, wasn’t Edward II dead? Ah, therein lies the question, doesn’t it? Opinions among modern historians are somewhat divided on this issue, and among Edward II’s contemporaries there seem to have been a number of peers and bishops who were quite convinced Edward was very much alive in 1330, several years after his purported death in September of 1327.
|Edward II's effigy|
Whether dead or not, the fact that Kent seemed to believe his half-brother was still around gave Mortimer an opportunity to permanently disarm this handsome, strutting critic. A couple of rumours whispered here and there, a man bearing an uncanny resemblance to the dead king being hustled in plain sight through a castle gate, and Edmund was tricked into believing he had proof Edward was alive. I also suspect he was afflicted by guilt for his role in his brother’s deposition and saw an opportunity to make amends by helping his poor incarcerated brother regain his throne.
That, obviously, never happened. Instead, the trap Mortimer had so cleverly baited snapped shut round Edmund. The end result was that Edmund ended up very dead, but for Mortimer this came at a very high price: Edward III would never trust him again and took action to permanently rid himself of his regents. Not yet nine months after Edmund’s execution, Mortimer would stand on his own gallows and feel the noose tighten round his neck.
It is the story of Edmund’s orchestrated betrayal that has inspired my contribution to the anthology “Historical stories of Betrayal”. Yes, Edmund betrayed his king—but wasn’t he also betrayed by the puppet master extraordinaire, Roger Mortimer?
For Adam, my fictional protagonist in the King’s Greatest Enemy, Mortimer emerges from the Edmund matter with a tarnished soul and his honour in tatters. And yet, Adam still loves the man who saved him from an abusive father and shaped him into a man of integrity and values. That’s the thing with love, isn’t it? No matter how much we may dislike the actions of someone we love, no matter how much we know we should hate them for it, love is resilient. Trampled and scuffed, like a tenacious weed it somehow survives, lifting its crushed leaves towards the light. But for those interested in finding out just how Adam’s and Mortimer’s story ends (and starts), I suggest you dig into my series, staring with the first book, In the Shadow of the Storm!
About Anna: Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with two absorbing interests: history and writing. Anna has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy which is set in 14th century England.
More recently, Anna has published The Wanderer, a fast-paced contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal and time-slip ingredients. While she loved stepping out of her comfort zone (and will likely do so again ) she is delighted to be back in medieval times in her September 2020 release, His Castilian Hawk. Set against the complications of Edward I’s invasion of Wales, His Castilian Hawk is a story of loyalty, integrity—and love.
Her latest release, His Castilian Hawk is available on Amazon
In the Shadow of the Storm and all the other books in The King’s Greatest Enemy are also available on Amazon