Tag Archives: MEDIEVAL

THE KINGMAKER’S REBELLIONS

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Allow me to give you a little history lesson regarding Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick and the Kingmaker. In the beginning, Warwick was a powerful supporter of Edward, Earl of March, since before Edward’s father died. It was thanks to Warwick’s efforts that Edward became king of England and overthrew Henry VI. In Edward’s early reign, Warwick served as the king’s right hand man and made sure that Edward’s hold on the throne was rock solid. In his heart, Warwick wanted to be Edward’s right hand man because it gave him a golden opportunity to be the true power behind the crown. However, what Warwick did not consider is whether or not his hold over Edward would last once Edward was crowned.

After successfully negotiating a political marriage for Edward with France, Warwick returns to England to find that Edward was already married to a minor noblewoman named Elizabeth Woodville. Like most of the senior nobles, Warwick found the Woodvilles’ sudden rise to power hard to swallow because he viewed them as opportunists muscling in on the established order. Warwick felt so betrayed that he did not bother attending some of Edward’s meetings with his privy council.

Some time later, Edward sends Warwick to negotiate a trade deal with France, but it was only a pretext to keep Warwick out of the way. While Warwick was away, Edward formed an alliance with the duchy of Burgundy, who were the Woodville’s favourites and the sworn enemies of the French at the time. When Warwick hears of this, he becomes increasingly paranoid that he was losing his control over Edward along with his power over the court.

In an attempt to outmaneuver the Woodvilles and reestablish some of his lost power, Warwick tried to negotiate marrying one of his daughters to Edward’s younger brother, George the Duke of Clarence. Until Elizabeth Woodville produced a son, Clarence was heir to the throne. However, Edward refused because he planned to marry George off for political gain, which was pretty rich considering Edward’s own choices. It was at this moment that Warwick fully realized that his power and influence over Edward was completely gone, which was an intolerable position for him to be in after all of his efforts. However, Warwick was not the kind of man who would go down without a fight and he started planning his revenge against his king and the Woodvilles.

A few years later, Warwick sent one of his servants to start an uprising in northern England by spreading rumors that the Woodvilles were stealing tax money for themselves. All of a sudden, Edward needed Warwick back in the game. Warwick did not reply and married his daughter to the Duke of Clarence in defiance of the king’s orders. Edward marched to the north to quell the uprising and summoned Warwick to explain himself after hearing Warwick disobeyed him. In response, Warwick and Clarence published an open letter that accused the entire Woodville family for enriching themselves at the kingdom’s expense and invited anyone who shared their opinion to join them in Canterbury. Warwick’s letter was an open invitation to rebellion and high treason.

Warwick eventually captured Edward and imprisoned him. Warwick’s original plan was to have Edward declared a bastard and replaced by his brother the Duke of Clarence, but that would never work as long as Edward was alive. For sentimental reasons, Warwick did not have either the spine, guts, or balls to kill the king and kept him alive in order to keep his own options open. Unable to bring himself to kill his king, Warwick instead unleashed his frustration and hatred in a killing spree that was meant to exterminate as many of the Woodvilles as possible. Ultimately, Warwick did not think his plan through because without a king to govern the kingdom, the chaos he orchestrated in the north spread south. Warwick tried to ask support from the other nobles, but they just laughed at him because he was the one who arrested the king and started all the trouble in the first place.

With no other options open to him, Warwick had no choice but to release Edward and hope that his life would be spared for his treason. At this point, Edward was too soft to do what needed to be done. Therefore, he forgave Warwick and Clarence, but the three of them would never be fully reconciled.

A few years later, another revolt broke out in Lincolnshire and Edward sent the troops to reestablish order. When the rebels were defeated, Edward’s men found letters that implicated both Warwick and Clarence in the rebellion. Knowing that they would not be forgiven a second time, Warwick and Clarence fled to France and brokered an alliance with Margaret of Anjou, wife of Henry VI. As part of the deal they made, Warwick and Margaret plotted to overthrow Edward and replace him with Henry VI.

Fortunately, Edward managed to escape to Flanders before Warwick and his men could capture him. Also, Edward’s wife and children sought refuge in a church and were protected by the laws of sanctuary. That meant that Warwick and his men could not attack them without suffering dire consequences from the Pope. With Edward and his heirs out of the way, Warwick quickly established Henry VI to the throne, but Henry proved to be as weak and simple minded as before.

Edward returned to England after raising an army across the channel. In an attempt to raise support for Henry VI, Warwick paraded the old king through London, but all the people saw was a feeble and senile man. When Edward came to London, he was seen as an ideal warrior king at the head of an army and many lords gathered to their cause. Henry VI was imprisoned again and Edward’s wife and children were safe. With those two things on the to do list done, Edward and his forces hunted Warwick down.

Warwick and Edward faced one another off one final time in Barnet with Warwick’s army numbering 15,000 and Edward’s numbering 12,000. Despite being outnumbered, fortune favored Edward as bad weather caused Warwick’s army to accidentally attack itself. With Warwick’s army in disarray, Edward’s host mowed them down. When Warwick saw the battle was lost, he attempted to run for his life, but he was hunted down and killed by Edward’s men.

With the threat of Warwick finally over, Edward had his body displayed outside of St. Paul’s Cathedral as a warning to anyone who would defy him. Shortly afterwards, Henry VI was clubbed to death in his prison cell, which removed the Lancastrian threat to Edward’s rule once and for all. Overall, Warwick was an interesting historical figure and a gold mine of inspiration to draw from.

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NEW FANTASY VILLAINS

In the third volume of the Magnus Dynasty Saga, I have decided on who the villains would be. One of the villains would be the main character’s own sainted mother, who will be a combination between Isabella the She-Wolf of France and Margaret of Anjou. Isabella was the wife and queen of Edward II and she started a rebellion to overthrow her husband in favor of her son Edward III. Margaret of Anjou was the wife and queen of Henry VI and supported the Lancastrians in the War of the Roses until the deaths of her son and husband. The other villain will be a mix between Roger Mortimer and Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick and the Kingmaker. Roger Mortimer was the lover of Isabella the She-Wolf of France and helped her overthrow Edward II. Richard the Kingmaker made Edward IV king and served as his chief advisor until the Kingmaker betrayed Edward three times before being slain in his final rebellion. Overall, the villains of my new fantasy book will be the main character’s mother and one of his chief advisors. One of the chief themes in medieval times was family dysfunction and that dysfunction often gets bloody.

THE WANDERER POEM

I discovered a very deep Anglo-Saxon poem called The Wanderer. It talks about a warrior who lived a happy life before being exiled. J. R. R. Tolkein drew inspiration from this poem while writing the culture of Rohan. The poem goes as such:

‘Hwaer cwom mearg, hwaer cwom mago? Hwaer cwom maþþumgyfa? Hwaer cwom symbla gesetu? Hwaer sindon seledreamas? Eala beorht bune, eala byrnwiga, eala theodnes þrym! Hu seo þrag gewat, Genap under nihthelm, swa heo no waere!’

Translates as this into modern English, with a rough approximation:

‘Whither has gone the horse, whither the man? Where now is the giver of treasure? Where are the palaces of the feast, where are the pleasures of the hall? Alas for the glittering goblet! Alas for the girt warrior! Alas for the princes power! How those days have departed, Darkened under night’s shadow, as if they had never been!’

I am thinking of following Tolkein’s lead and draw inspiration from this poem in order to better describe the mindset of the hero in my spin-off fantasy series.

SWAMP BATTLE

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At the end of my first spin-off fantasy book, there will be a brutal battle that takes place in a swamp. It will pit 1,200 infantry and archers against 6,000 cavalry as they try to overpower one another in a bottleneck. Like the Scots and the Welsh in medieval times, one army will consist of guerrilla fighters who use the terrain to their advantage. At one point, the swamp will be on fire! It is going to be a bloody battle that will serve as a turning point in the war one way or another. I will be basing some of the tactics of this battle from the Battle of Loudon Hill and the Battle of Agincourt. Both of these battles involved a small army that was outnumbered five to one and found ways to negate their enemies’ numerical superiority and defy the odds.

VARIED WEAPONS

While researching medieval warfare, I came to discover a vast arsenal of various weapons. Some of those weapons most people don’t know of. I even included these weapons in my fantasy series to make the battles more authentic by medieval standards. Here are some examples of the weapons I discovered. In case you read my fantasy series and don’t know what a weapon is, you can find it here. In the first volume of my spin-off fantasy series, there will be a grueling pitched battle that involves the use of many of the weapons pictured above. Due to one misfortune after another, this small army won’t have access to standard issue polearms and shields. Instead, they will have access to a diverse collection of polearms and shields. Rather than just using spears as polearms, this small army will use halberds, poleaxes, glaives, pikes, bills, and bardiches. Instead of using one kind of shield for the whole army, they will use a mixture between round, heater, and kite shields. Imagine a shield wall with all those kinds of shields locked together, bristling with all those different kinds of polearms. Now imagine a row of archers behind the wall of shields and polearms. Even though it would be a mismatched battle formation, I can envision it as a formidable foe for any army to face.

WARWOLF

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During the War of Scottish Independence, King Edward I laid siege to Stirling Castle. At some point in the siege, Edward ordered the construction of one of the most feared siege engines in history. The engine came to be known as Warwolf and it was the largest and most powerful trebuchet ever constructed. It was so large that its parts needed to be transported with 30 wagons and took three months to build. While watching the Warwolf being built, the Scottish garrison in Stirling Castle trembled in fear and surrendered. However, Edward did not accept their surrender. After spending so much time, effort, resources, and gold to build the Warwolf, Edward unleashed Warwolf upon Stirling. The Warwolf collapsed Stirling’s curtain wall with one shot! That was what only one Warwolf was capable of. Imagine what would have happened to Stirling or any other castle if they were attacked by not one Warwolf but half a dozen! That would be a castle defender’s worst nightmare! In my spin-off fantasy series, I will be depicting a scenario in which a stronghold is attacked by half a dozen trebuchets that are each as big and powerful as the Warwolf.

A ROYAL TART DESSERT

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Henry VIII has always been famous for his insatiable appetite. In fact, there was one incident that highlighted this appetite the most. While being married to his second wife, Anne Boelyn, Henry came across a group of her handmaidens, who were enjoying a tart dessert. He asked them what the dessert was called. In response, the handmaidens shrugged their shoulders and called them maids of honor. Henry VIII liked the maid of honor tarts so much that he hunted down the cook who made them and imprisoned him on the palace grounds to make the tarts soley for Henry’s table. For the third part of my first fantasy trilogy, I am thinking of presenting a similar tart in the story and it will make you wish it was real. Just thinking about it is making me super hungry.