The Power of Medieval Queens by Jennifer Ash
Thank you for inviting me to visit, Laura, as part of my blog tour for my brand new medieval murder mystery, Edward’s Outlaw.
This, the third book in my The Folville Chronicles series, features Mathilda, a potter’s daughter from the village of Twyford in fourteenth century Leicestershire. She, through unusual circumstances (outlined in Book One- The Outlaw’s Ransom) has found herself thrust into the criminal world of the noble, Folville, family. A family of seven brothers – took crime as their trade – but with a level of honour that many of those in authority could only aspire to.
The 1320’s and early 1330’s was a particularly turbulent time in English history. As a result, it wasn’t unusual for families of substance to use crime as just another tool in their armoury or advancement or survival. This wasn’t something that was confined to the lower nobility, such as the Folville of Ashby Folville in Leicestershire, but reached every section of the community; including royal circles.
With the overthrow of King Edward II by his wife, Queen Isabella, and her lover, Roger Mortimer, England was in turmoil. It had already been in a state of crisis due to Edward II’s rather unfortunate choices when it came to advisors – but now the country was managed with a level of convenient corruption. It was a strange time, when the legal system often operated at a more dubious level than much of the criminal fraternity did. This makes it, not just a fascinating period in history, but a fiction writers dream!
January 1330: England is awash with corruption. King Edward III has finally claimed the crown from his scheming mother, Queen Isabella, and is determined to clean up his kingdom.
Encouraged by his new wife, Philippa of Hainault, and her special advisor ‑ a man who knows the noble felons of England very well ‑ King Edward sends word to Roger Wennesley of Leicestershire, with orders to arrest the notorious Folville brothers… including the newly married Robert de Folville.
Robert takes his wife, Mathilda, to Rockingham Castle for her own safety, but no sooner has he left than a maid is found murdered. The dead girl looks a lot like Mathilda. Was the maid really the target ‑ or is Mathilda’s life in danger?
Asked to investigate by the county sheriff in exchange for him slowing the hunt for her husband, Mathilda soon uncovers far more than murder… including a web of deception which trails from London, to Derbyshire, and beyond…
The third thrilling instalment in Jennifer Ash’s The Folville Chronicles series.
Edward’s Outlaw is set against the backdrop of the young Edward III reclaiming the throne from his scheming mother. Queen Isabella’s influence still ran deep however- an influence that the new king’s wife, Philippa of Hainault was keen to use to her advantage. Both women had a huge influence on the history of England at the time. I have used this influence to undercut the plotline of Edward’s Outlaw.
The queens of England had more power than their king’s would ever have admitted to…
In the following extract, the sheriff has just arrived at Ashby Folville manor three days after Mathilda and Robert de Folville have married. He wishes to speak to all of the Folville brothers about a warrant that has just been issued for their arrest…
…Robert Ingram, newly reinstated Sheriff of Leicestershire and Derbyshire and Mayor of Nottingham, sat by the roaring fire. His booted feet were stretched out before him, resting on a stool. His slim calloused hands cupped a tankard of Sarah’s ale. His face was calm and unruffled. The activities of the Folvilles neither surprised nor disturbed him as he waited for his audience to fully assemble.
‘Lord and Lady Folville, it is a pleasure to see you so soon after your most entertaining nuptials.’
Mathilda curtseyed; thinking that ‘entertaining’ was an interesting choice of word for a wedding which had ended in a terrifying hostage situation. Had that really only been three days ago?
‘My Lord, you have news?’ Robert sat opposite the sheriff, with Eustace and Walter to his right and Mathilda to his left. The household staff stood mutely behind him.
Eustace de Folville, second in line to the family title after the absent Lord John, addressed the sheriff in turn. ‘This news has been confirmed, Ingram? We are not the subject of ill-founded rumour or malicious hearsay?’
‘You are not.’ The sheriff steepled his hands together as he spoke. ‘A messenger came to me early yesterday. There is no doubting the seriousness of the situation.’
Eustace gave a humourless smile. ‘I think we’re all grateful that you’re the one holding the reins of the county again. Can you imagine the delight in which De Cressy would have received this news!’
‘I hope that feeling remains through what follows, my Lord.’ Ingram held Eustace’s gaze, something few men were brave enough to do. ‘We have little time. As you know, King Edward has shaken off the influence of his mother and taken full control of the throne. This can only be good for England, however…’ He paused, as if unsure how to proceed. ‘However, in order to stamp his mark upon the Crown, Edward is making a great show of clearing up the lawlessness that swept the country under the rule of his mother and her rebel lover, Mortimer.’
Robert grunted with annoyance. ‘Let me guess. King Edward is making sure he’s seen to be taking a stand against all felons, without any regard for the fact that many of us did what was necessary to rule justly while England was in chaos.’
Eustace gave his brother a sharp stare. ‘Trust you to make this sound like a line from a Robyn Hode story.’…
To reveal the full extent of the new queen’s influence in this tale would be to give you a massive spoiler, so I’ll leave it at that for now!
Thanks again for inviting me to visit today.
With a background in history and archaeology, Jennifer Ash should really be sat in a dusty university library translating Medieval Latin criminal records, and writing research documents that hardly anyone would want to read. Instead, tucked away in the South West of England, Jennifer writes stories of medieval crime, steeped in mystery, with a side order of romance.
Influenced by a lifelong love of Robin Hood and medieval ballad literature, Jennifer has written The Outlaw’s Ransom (Book One of The Folville Chronicles) – a short novel, which first saw the light of day within the novel Romancing Robin Hood (written under the name Jenny Kane; Pub. Littwitz Press, 2018).
Book Two of The Folville Chronicles – The Winter Outlaw – was released in April 2018. (pub. LittwitzPress)
Book Three of The Folville Chronicles – Edward’s Outlaw– was released in December 2018.
Jennifer also writes as Jenny Kane. Her work includes the contemporary women’s fiction and romance novels, Romancing Robin Hood (2nd edition, Littwitz Press, 2018), Abi’s Neighbour (Accent Press, 2017), Another Glass of Champagne (Accent Press, 2016), and the bestsellers, Abi’s House (Accent Press, June 2015), and Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013).
All of Jennifer and Jenny Kane’s news can be found at www.jennykane.co.uk
Jennifer Ash https://www.facebook.com/jenniferashhistorical/