As a businessman I had always written a lot, reports, analyses, reams of statistics, and the like, but after I retired I decided to write down my life history – and that, as they say, was a different story.
I had lived all over the world, 26 years of military service before business saw to that, but my adventures, mishaps, near death experiences, triumphs and failures were of no interest to publishers so I began to look for someone to write about who might spark some kind of response. I did enjoy the freedom of expression inherent in writing outside of the constraints of business so I went a bit further.
Where had I been? What and who had been of interest?
Among other places, I had lived for two years in the Outer Hebrides and witnessed the ongoing effects of the Highland Clearances, the juxtaposition of a modern army, testing missiles alongside an ancient agrarian/fishing society had been interesting, so I decided to return there and do some research.
The most shocking thing about the Highland Clearances to me, was the fact that they were not events mired in the dark ages, but events of the nineteenth century, how could that be, how can such cruelty be allowed within the dawning of the industrial age? The answer came from a quotation in an Edinburgh newspaper, The Scotsman, when asked why he was doing this the Laird in question replied: “Because I can.”
I wondered how he could have that attitude and followed history back to the Norman conquest before I found the answer – which was: He could.
In Saxon times every man was entitled to enough land to feed his family, after William the Conqueror all the land belonged to the king and he appointed lords to govern it for him. Nice change in attitude, unless you were doing alright before King William arrived.
Characters uncovered so far
Robert – Duke of Normandy
In amongst the detritus of Norman history I came across the king’s little known eldest son, Robert, and thought him strangely under-reported, especially when I delved into his personal history and reali
sed that attempts had been made to erase his history. However they left enough for me to build a very different picture of, ‘Robert – Duke of Normandy,’ than his brother, Henry I, would have liked.
Which brings us to my first offering, Robert – The Wayward Prince, a trilogy which tells Robert’s life story the way that he would have liked it to be written.
Nicholaa of Lincoln and Matilda de Caux
Then the next trigger took place after a local radio station broadcast an article about the last Saxon Strip Farm left in England. It is in a place named, Laxton, in Nottinghamshire, and is still governed by a bailiff presiding over a manorial court.
It was once in the domain of a woman named Matilda de Caux, who was the Constable of the Castle, and the Keeper of the King’s forest in Sherwood and part of Derbyshire, a title which she inherited.
From the top of the castle motte, which still exists, can be seen the towers of Lincoln cathedral, only sixteen miles away across the Great North Road and the River Trent – a very strategic position.
That view led me to Lincoln where to my astonishment there had been another female in charge at the same time, Nicholaa de la Haye. Both women had inherited their positions of constables, (castellan) and keepers – except that Nicholaa had also been appointed as Sheriff of Lincoln. So the whole of King John’s forest between the North Sea and the hills of Derbyshire were in the control of two redoubtable women. I had to tell their story.
The book came out briefly last year to be withdrawn and made ready for re-issue later this year, in both paperback and ebook versions by Sapere.
Berengaria, Queen of England.
You must know her. Basque, Princess of Navarra (Navarre), Queen of England and Cyprus, Duchess of Normandy, Countess of Anjou, Maine, and Duchess in waiting of Aquitaine, first and only wife of Richard the Lionheart. No? Well you soon will, Berengaria is my next project and is well underway for release later in the year.
There must be more women of substance, under-recorded by history, or deleted because it did not suit the patrons of the monkish scribblers who recorded such things, well they’re out now, ready to take their proper place.
….mind, it might have been different if I had been an eighteen year old celebrity trying to get my life story published.