Please give a warm welcome to historical fiction author, Matthew Lewis. Matthew is going to tell us about the inspiration behind his book….
In this sequel to Loyalty, Hans Holbein returns to London in search of royal patronage a secret from his past will define his future in a new, terrifying way.
The story that he knows did not end at Bosworth. In the aftermath, Henry Tudor must try to secure his dynasty against unending, unseen threats. From the ashes of all that they knew, those who cannot accept King Henry’s rule must find a place in the new world being forced upon them.
Francis, Lord Lovell has survived the battle. Now he must survive the peace. He must protect King Richard III’s greatest secret or doom England to more years of bitter conflict.
Who does the truth belong to?
Writing Richard III’s life in Loyalty was an obvious choice for me. It was a story that had fascinated me for years. I had always wanted to write him as I saw him – a real man; not an angel, but no devil either. Human character is rarely so stark and the colour is always between the black and white readings. The Tudor timeline involved was also a theory that I found compelling. When it came to writing a sequel, it was a slightly more obscure character who jumped to the fore and demanded to have his story told.
The Battle of Bosworth is, quite rightly, seen as a defining point in English and British history and is frequently used to demarcate the boundary between the medieval and early modern periods. To those who lived through it, things were never so clear cut. Those who had been loyal to Richard III were instantly made traitors and Francis, Viscount Lovell was left with a tough decision to make. William Catesby, another member of Richard III’s inner circle, asserted in his will that Lovell would be reconciled to the new Tudor regime, but he never was. Instead, he went into sanctuary at Colchester, a place that has links to other theories about the fate of the Princes on the Tower. He was courted by Henry VII and allowed to remain in sanctuary far longer than the permitted period. Catesby’s will is ideal inspiration as it is clear enough to be interesting whilst remaining vague enough to allow several interpretations. Was he trying to offer a friend a way out? Did he know that Lovell knew something of interest to Henry? Was he having one last jab at the Stanley family? Perhaps he was even just teasing.
Deciding to take exile rather than reconciliation, he tried to start a rebellion in the north, fleeing to Burgundy when it failed and becoming involved in the Lambert Simnell uprising. After the Battle of Stoke Field, Francis disappeared completely. Where he went and what happened to him next has long intrigued me.
Hans Holbein also returns in Honour to extend the timeline during Henry VIII’s rule. Holbein was such an incredible artist I couldn’t help embroiling him deeper in the web that he was caught up in during Loyalty and it allowed me to explore further facets of the complex court politics during the break with Rome.
One of the greatest inspirations for the books, and a place I return to frequently, is Ludlow. I’ve always loved the town and particularly the castle there. It was owned by the Mortimers, who are a fascinating family who had a huge impact on fourteenth and fifteenth century England. It passed to Richard, 3rd Duke of York via his Mortimer mother and at one point, in October 1459, we can place Richard, 3rd Duke of York, his wife Cecily, their sons Edward (the future Edward IV), Edmund, George (later Duke of Clarence), Richard (who would become Richard IIII and passed his ninth birthday during the stay), Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury and his son Richard, the famous Kingmaker Earl of Warwick all together within those walls. These are some of the people who have fascinated me for years and to be able to walk literally in their footsteps at a place where they were all together at the same time is inspiring to me.
When it came to writing Honour and telling Francis Lovell’s story, his own determination was a great inspiration. He was given time whilst in sanctuary at Colchester to make his peace with the new Tudor regime, one of the few so close to Richard to be given such a chance, yet he turned it down to remain loyal to the idea that the House of York had a right to the throne. He took the difficult road when presented with the easy one and whatever happened to him in the end, he surely met his fate with a conscience as clear as it could be.
Links to purchase
Loyalty ~ Amazon
Honour ~ Amazon
About the author
I live with my wife and children in beautiful Shropshire. I’m originally from Wolverhampton where I studied Law at university. History has fascinated me since I was at school and the period of the Wars of the Roses along with the story of Richard III have exerted a strong draw. I enjoy roaming around castles, churches and old building, reading and researching and I follow Wolverhampton Wanderers, though I’m not sure that is enjoyable!