Wednesday 8 February 2023



Another research trip to Chester University. Again The Hundred Years War, for my longer term work in progress. Very interesting stuff, if not entirely pleasant reading (the Medieval Prostitution in France). But from the book covers to the final author's notes, you know I have to do my best to get things right. 

 If I told you the MC (main character) was involved in the sieges of Orleans and Jargeau and was defeated by Joan of Arc can you guess who he is?



Jack de Laverton is in serious trouble and, not for the first time, a woman is the cause! (I haven't given you her name on purpose!)


For a moment Jack thought his heart had stopped beating. ‘What?’ he asked. His smile died. His mind turned his thoughts into somersaults. ‘Why would you want to go there?’ he cried. ‘Unless...unless –’ The truth slapped him: so she was Lancastrian!
She tightened her grip on his hands and as she closed her eyes, Jack saw tears begin to bead on her fluttering lashes. ‘I’m sorry,’ she murmured. ‘I had no choice, Jack.’
Sweet Jesu! What a fool he was! Jack snatched his hands from hers and stood up. She was Lancastrian and he’d brought her half way across England! Christ’s wounds, he was ten times a fool!
‘Look at me, Jack,’ she commanded. ‘Do I look like an enemy to you? Will I bring down castle walls or steal the crown of England from Edward’s head?’
Jack barely heard her. He ran his hands through his hair as he began to pace the space beneath the altar steps. God’s teeth, Will Kennerley would not believe this. And worse still – what would the Earl of Warwick think of him if he knew? This was a disaster! John Neville would hang him for certain if he knew he'd harboured a Lancastrian spy in their midst!
But she hadn’t finished. ‘Jack, answer me!’ she pleaded. ‘I am just like you. Like you I cannot change my birth!’
Jack looked at her again. Tears slid along her soft cheeks and her wide eyes glistened with more of them. He wanted to wipe them away; tell her not to cry, but how could he? By God's Holy blood, she could be the death of him!

Monday 3 October 2022


Super day at the AGM of the Richard III Society yesterday.
Great to hear our TBS pal Dr Tim Sutherland speaking about Richard's battlefield wounds and discussing the potential chronology of them. And the all important question, when and by whom was Richard's helmet removed?He also compared Richard's wounds to those of the victims of Towton and other conflicts. Lovely just before lunch!
Met lovely people and Warwick was discussed at length over lunch😁  I think he'd be pleased.

Archaeologist Dr Tim Sutherland, expert on Towton battlefield:

Wounds on victims from Towton 1461:

How to get your armoured man:

A bit of Talhofer:

Richard III Society Chair Matt Lewis:

And a mini book haul too!


Wednesday 20 July 2022



As my new WIP comes up to Bosworth Field, I may have found a new character we haven't met before: Sir Thomas Markenfield. Quite how he will fit with Thomas Conyers and Sir John de Laverton we will have to see, but it's certainly going to be interesting - you know what Jack is like!!!

Markenfield Hall is in North Yorkshire, near Ripon. The present house dates back to 1310 when "Licence to John Merkyngfeld, King's Clerk, to crenellate his dwelling house at Merkyngfeld Co. York 2 Feb 1310" was granted. The nearby lordships of Middleham and Sheriff Hutton were inherited by the 'junior' branch of the Neville family in 1453 and had been administerd by Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick until his death at Barnet in 1471. Edward IV knew how vital these lordships had been, both to Warwick's northern powerhouse, and to maintaining the border with Scotland and therefore granted these estates to his then 18 year old brother, Richard duke of Gloucester. 

Since the fourteenth century the manor of Markenfield had leaned towards the Nevilles, even though the Percy manors of Spofforth and Topcliffe are closer to Markenfield than Middleham. This was because most of the family's estates were in Richmondshire and the feudal infrastructure of the independant lordship of Richmond meant that military service remainded at the heart of the relationship with the lords of Richmond, which had been the Nevilles since Ralph Neville had been granted the lordship by Henry IV. The lordships of Middleham and Richmond were integrated into one administration, and it was this complex of Warwick's that Edward IV settled on Gloucester and with it the allegiance of the Markenfields. In 1431-2 John Markenfield had served under Richard Neville, earl of Salisbury (father of the earl of Warwick) in France. His tomb effigy in Ripon Cathedral wears a Neville livery collar as depicted in the Neville Hours showing Ralph Neville and his family at prayer.

It is not known when Thomas Markenfield married Sir John Conyers' (the steward of Middleham) daughter Elinor, but when he did so, he was joining the family business. Markenfield was formally retained by Gloucester on 11th December 1471. He was paid a fee of £10 per annum from Middleham, the fourth highest fee of the 27 knights and esquires retained by Gloucester up to September 1473. Pollard has suggested that a personal bond formed between Gloucester and Markenfield as, unlike most of the retainers, Markenfield was only some 5 years older than Gloucester. Markenfield's second son born c1476 was named Ninian. Ninian was a saint known to be favoured by Gloucester, and it is possible that Gloucester was a Godfather to the child, who may have been Christened on the saint's feast day of 16th September.

There is no record of Markenfield's service to Gloucester before 1483, but as the indentures from Middleham were most importantly militrary in aspect, as with Warwick, it is likely that Markenfield went with Gloucester to France in 1475 and perhaps shared with him the disappointment at Edward IV's settlement. He probably also campaigned in Scotland with Gloucester in 1481 and 1482. 


He was later made a knight of the body to Richard and pricked as sheriff of Yorkshire and by the end of 1484, Sir Thomas Markenfield was at the very heart of Richard III's regime. 

It is unclear whether Markenfield fought at the Battle of Bosworth. The 'Ballad of Bosworth Field' identifies him as one who came to the king on the eve of the battle, which would then mean as a knight of the body he would have fought alongside Richard and participated in the last charge. However, as sheriff of Yorkshire his duty was to raise troops for the king in the company of the earl of Northumberland who, for whatever reason, did not engage. Since Markenfield was not among those charged with treason by Henry VII (dating the start of his reign to the day before the battle!) it is unlikely that he fought, though he was one covered by a genreal pardon to the men of the north. He did take out a pardon, though specifically for his period of service as sheriff, as was usual practice. He was not one of the Ricardians placed under a hefty bond for future good behavior by Henry VII and attended upon him in York in May 1489. He came to terms with the new regime, much as his father-in-law, Sir John Conyers had done throughout the previous turbulence, and, as Henry Tudor was the true earl of Richmond it was perhaps the older fealty that held sway, especially as Markenfield had only been retained by Richard for the duration of Richard's lifetime. 

Sources: North-Eastern England During the Wars of the Roses: Lay Society, War and Politics, 1450-1500. A J Pollard (1990) 

Sir Thomas Markenfield and Richard III A J Pollard The Friends of Markenfield Hall 8 

 The Markenfields of Markenfield Hall Janet C Senior

Monday 27 June 2022



It has been a while since I've visited the favourite home of our hero, Richard Neville 16th Earl of Warwick. Warwick Castle came to him, aged 20, as earl of Warwick in right of his wife as part of her Beauchamp inheritance and it seems that Richard identified strongly with the Beauchamp legacy. Keeping possession of the inheritance was however not easy. As Anne de Beauchamp's late brother, duke Henry of Warwick had attained his majority and received livery of his estates, the whole should have passed to his only surviving sister, on the grounds of the exclusion of the half-blood (the half sisters by their father's first wife). 


There were three elements: the Beauchamp estates which the new Countess inherited from her brother; the lordship of Abergavenny in which she was also sole heir of her brother; and the Despenser estates, in which she was the joint heir of her mother. There were other elements that Richard Beauchamp had put in Trust. The half sisters did not hesitate to claim a quarter share each of the Beauchamp estates not in Trust, and John Talbot, earl of Shrewsbury, as husband of the eldest daughter Margaret, even had hopes of the title himself! The inquisitions post mortem when eventually held unanimously concluded in every county that Warwick's countess was the sole heir. The sisters continued to contest the decisions and the new earl spent much of his time fighting (at times literally) to keep hold of and even gain estates. The sisters had no claim to the Abergavenny or Despenser lands buyt the descent of these was complex due to the intermarriage of cousins.Warwick annexed all the Despenser lands, even though only half ewre his countess's by right. The earl's possession was endorsed by key Beauchamp councillors, administrators and retainers including Nicholas Rody, Thomas Hugford, and William Berkeswell, dean of St Mary's Warwick who had served Beauchamp since the1420's or earlier. Others also moved to Warwick's service and were key supporters of his countess as sole heir to the Despenser estates. 


Warwick spent much of his time residing at Warwick and visiting neighbouring lordships. He enthusiastically adopted the traditions of the earldom, in relation to the bear and ragged staff and the legend of Guy of Warwick  as founder of several monasteries, espcially Tewkesbury, as patron of Guy's Cliffe chantry and the collegiate college of St Mary's at Warwick where the famous Beauchamp chapel under the offices of these men, was being built - but that's another post!

Ref: Warwick the Kingmaker Prof A J Pollard Continuum 2007



Monday 1 June 2015

Character Blog Hop

I have been tagged in the Meet My Character Blog Hop by fellow indieBRAG honoree author and historical re-enactor Paula Lofting and if you click the link you will be able to read her excellent post about her amazing character, Wulfhere. 

These are the questions Paula asked me:

What is the name of your character? 

Jack de Laverton

Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Jack is a fictional character fast developing his own fan club! He was described by one reviewer as 'half knight in shining armour, half seductive rogue'. I regularly get asked when there will be another novel involving Jack.
Although Jack is fictional his experiences are typical of those caught up in the dark times of what we know as the Wars of the Roses, where blood wasn't always thicker than water!

When and where is the story set?

Jack’s character was prominent in ‘The Colour of Treason’, but the new book is set some 10 years earlier in the Wars of the Roses, at the Battle of Towton in 1461, where we learn the origin of Jack’s conflict with the hateful Master Higgins.  This book is the first in a planned series of Jack’s adventures.

What should we know about your main character?

Trouble has dogged Jack’s existence from his illegitimate birth to the baggage cart her finds himself in on the eve of the Battle of Towton; the battle which sees Edward of March gain the throne of England and become Edward IV. Edward's hold on power is tenuous as the Lancastrians flee into the English/Scottish border lands, later famous for the Border Reivers.

What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

Jack’s illegitimacy puts him in conflict with everyone as he sees the world quick to judge him harshly.

However a single act of courage brings Jack to the attention of the most powerful man in the country, the Earl of Warwick, and Jack enjoys rewards he could not have dreamed of. But things go badly wrong when Jack is betrayed and is forced to leave the earl’s company, unable to clear his name.

What is the personal goal of the character?

Jack encounters a brutal enemy – Sir Robert Hasard, a man with strong influence in the wild border lands, who is also in possession of the thing Jack desire’s the most, his father’s ancient black sword. Without the sword Jack cannot return home and cannot lay claim to the inheritance his father promised him. And Jack being Jack, of course there is a woman involved too!

Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

The book’s working title is ‘For King and Country’. There is a draft preview to read on my website:
When can we expect the book to be published?

If Jack behaves himself - late Autumn 2015!

Sunday 23 June 2013

When you watch The White Queen tonight...

Yesterday I had a wonderful 'research' day at Haddon Hall. As you know this is the fictional home of my character Sir John de Laverton or as we know him better...Jack, so I never need much of an excuse to visit.
And yesterday The Tudor Group were there presenting a Tudor wedding, complete with wedding breakfast, Tudor games and dancing. I was so impressed by the Tudor Group; their kit is amazing, their research thorough and their knowledge extensive and it was great to chat about the similarities and differences between 'our' periods.
We talked about the etiquette and ceremony of a Tudor (or medieval) feast - the luxury of choice, the reverence with which the servants treated their betters, even when encountered in the garden (reminded me of Kim Phillips' excellent paper on the Earl of Warwick at Middleham) and the pride with which the household liveried retainers wore their badges.

Servants bring the first dishes.
Double linen and the best majolica for the top table!
The 'Bride Cake'.
Children weren't allowed to sit until they showed enough maturity to do so!

And of course The White Queen was mentioned - why? Because you won't see any of this in the BBC dramatisation (we talked about actors' reluctance in wearing hats or in Max Irons' case not adopt the hairstyle either!). Such a shame that the actors and producers missed a wonderful opportunity to educate as well as entertain the public as the Tudor Group did so brilliantly.
Dancing in the garden.

Kim M. Philips Journal of Medieval History 31 (2005) 143 'The Invisible Man: Body and Ritual in a fifteenth-century noble household.