Attractive, wealthy and influential, Katherine Willoughby is one of the most unusual ladies of the Tudor court. A favourite of King Henry VIII, Katherine knows all his six wives, his daughters Mary and Elizabeth, and his son Edward, as well as being related by marriage to Lady Jane Grey.
She marries Tudor knight, Sir Charles Brandon, and becomes Duchess of Suffolk at the age of fourteen. Her Spanish mother, Maria de Salinas, is Queen Catherine of Aragon’s lady in waiting, so it is a challenging time for them all when King Henry marries the enigmatic Anne Boleyn.
Following Anne’s dramatic downfall, the short reign of young Catherine Howard, and the tragic death of Jane Seymour, Katherine’s young sons are tutored with the future king, Prince Edward, and become his friends.
Katherine and Charles Brandon are chosen to welcome Anna of Cleves as she arrives in England. When the royal marriage is annulled, Katherine’s good friend, Catherine Parr becomes the king’s sixth wife, and they work to promote religious reform.
When King Edward dies, his Catholic sister Mary is crowned queen and Katherine’s Protestant faith puts her family in great danger – from which there seems no escape.
Katherine’s remarkable true story continues the epic tale of the rise of the Tudors, which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy and concludes with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
Tony Riches is a full-time UK author of best-selling historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the history of the Wars of the Roses and the lives of the early Tudors. Tony’s other published historical fiction novels include: Owen – Book One Of The Tudor Trilogy, Jasper – Book Two Of The Tudor Trilogy, Henry – Book Three Of The Tudor Trilogy, Mary – Tudor Princess, Brandon – Tudor Knight and The Secret Diary Of Eleanor Cobham. For more information about Tony’s books please visit his website tonyriches.com and his blog, The Writing Desk and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches
Last year I read all three books in the trilogy by author Tony Riches about the Tudor dynasty. Book One was about a Owen Tudor, second husband of Catherine of Valois and stepfather to King Henry VI. Book Two was about Jasper Tudor, half-brother of King Henry VI and uncle of the future Henry VII. The final book, Book Three was about Henry Tudor and his struggle to become King of England. After finishing the trilogy on the Tudor dynasty Riches decided to try his hand at Mary Tudor, Queen of France and sister to King Henry VIII.
The love story of Mary and Charles Brandon has always intrigued me. A man whose family had been mostly servants and who was raised to Duke of Suffolk married the sister of the King in a secret ceremony in France. This unauthorized act would by a subject of Henry would usually end with the participants locked in the Tower of London, or worse yet, executed. Luckily for Mary and Charles they were both favorites of Henry and he merely fined them.
When the couple were finally allowed to return to England, Henry VIII insisted that they have a public ceremony at Greenwich Palace. He did not wish for his favorite sister’s future children to be declared illegitimate – they would be, after all, in the line of succession.
This story is wonderfully told by Riches as the life of an English princess who only wished to do what was right. Mary was loyal to those close to her, none more than to Katherine of Aragon during the King’s Great Matter. Mary despised her former maid of honor, Anne Boleyn and wanted nothing more than to see her good friend regain her position.
Unfortunately for Mary her life wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies. She lost a son after a freak accident and then she herself became extremely ill and would be unable to see her daughters Frances and ELeanor give her grandchildren.
If you love to read about the women of the Tudor dynasty I highly recommend you buy this book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and cannot wait for the author’s next book about Charles Brandon.
If you’d like to pick up a copy of the book it is available on Amazon.
King Henry VII – a miser, a usurper, a man with many enemies…but he was so much more than those things. Author Tony Riches delves deeper into a side of Henry VII that we usually don’t hear about. In this book we get a glimpse at the softer side of Henry VII, a side of him that held regret, a side of him that showed his fealty.
This was book three in the Tudor Trilogy and may have been my favorite which says a lot because I REALLY enjoyed the first book, “Owen”.
To me, Henry VII has always been one of the more boring Tudor monarchs. I had never found any endearing qualities in his character before.
Henry only married once and didn’t have any mistresses, unlike his son who had six wives and many mistresses, however, we are left wondering if he did have illegitimate children from his time before becoming King of England. Then there is Katheryn Gordon, the wife of Perkin Warbeck – this part was a pleasant surprise to me and I will not spoil it for those who have yet to read it.
When Henry described his unexpected love for his wife and his regret for not spending quality time with his family, made me actually like Henry as a character.
This book made him into a real person.
It essentially leaves off from where the story ended in “Jasper” and continues throughout his entire life – highlights his marriage, the birth of his children, his relationship with Jasper Tudor, his mother and Elizabeth Woodville. But there was a lot of tragedy in his life as well…he lost three children and then his wife. He struggled with bad health in his later years that left him unable to speak. With every page turn I was left wondering was interesting story I’d walk away with. I was not disappointed.
Tony Riches did a great job researching for this book and I found many events historically accurate which makes it much more interesting for me.
I would highly recommend purchasing this book and the entire trilogy.
About the Author
Tony Riches is a full-time author of best-selling fiction and non-fiction books. He lives by the sea in Pembrokeshire, West Wales with his wife and enjoys sea and river kayaking in his spare time. For more information about Tony’s other books please visit his popular blog, The Writing Desk and website www.tonyriches.com and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches. The Tudor Trilogy is available on Amazon UKAmazon USandAmazon AU
Today we welcome best-selling author, Tony Riches, whose newest book, “Henry” (from his Tudor Trilogy) has reached #1 on Amazon. Congratulations to Tony!
Researching the Tudor Trilogy – Tony Riches
The idea for the Tudor Trilogy came to me when I began looking into the life of Owen Tudor, the Welsh servant who married a queen, and was surprised to find there were no books offering a full picture of his amazing story. I soon found out why, as the known facts of Owen Tudor’s life are so sparse. There are no images of him and even his name is sometimes written as ‘Tidder’ or ‘Tetyr’ and was probably Owain ap Maredudd ap Tewdwror).
As my research progressed I began to collect fascinating details of the lives of Owen’s sons, Edmund and Jasper. I realised that if I planned it as a trilogy, Henry Tudor would be born in the first book, come of age in the second and become King of England in the final book.
The research for the first book, OWEN, consisted mostly of reading about the well documented life of his wife, Queen Catherine of Valois. Although there are plenty of references to their marriage I found no real evidence – so it seems to have happened in secret. I had to piece together the details of Owen’s life by cross-checking different sources, then try to ‘fill in the gaps’ from other records of the period. As an example of how tricky that was, here’s a contemporary account of how Owen met his end from The Chronicle of William Gregory:
Ande in that jornay was Owyn Tetyr i-take and brought unto Herforde este, an he was be heddyde at the market place, and hys hedde sette a-pone the hygheyste gryce of the market crosse, and a madde woman kembyd hys here and wysche a way the blode of hys face, and she gate candellys and sette a-boute hym brennynge, moo then a C. Thys Owyne Tytyr was fadyr unto the Erle of Penbroke, and hadde weddyd Quene Kateryn, Kyng Harry the VI. ys modyr, wenyng and trustyng all eway that he shulde not be hedyd tylle he sawe the axe and the blocke, and whenn that he was in hys dobelet he trustyd on pardon and grace tylle the coler of hys redde vellvet dobbelet was ryppyd of. Then he sayde, “That hede shalle ly on the stocke that was wonte to ly on Quene Kateryns lappe,” and put hys herte and mynde holy unto God, and fulle mekely toke hys dethe.
(Source: British History Online)
Owen’s first son Edmund died from wounds or a form of bubonic plague while in prison in November 1456, two months before Margaret Beaufort gave birth to Henry in Pembroke Castle. I visited the scene of Edmund’s death at Carmarthen Castle and found only the gatehouse remains, as the castle was largely demolished to build a Victorian Prison.
Fortunately, Edmund’s tomb was rescued from Carmarthen Priory during the dissolution, so I was able to visit it at St David’s Cathedral, although even there it wasn’t safe. Stripped of its finery by Oliver Cromwell’s army in the seventeenth century, the tomb was restored in 1873 with an engraved brass representing Edmund Tudor by Thomas Waller.
It was left to Edmund’s younger brother to continue the story of the Tudors in the second book of the trilogy, JASPER. Now my research became easier, as he was based at Pembroke Castle (in the town where I was born) and owned a house in Tenby, close to where I now live. I was also able to get a sense of the sort of man Jasper was from his letters which still survive, such as this one, written on the 25th of February 1461, three weeks after the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross:
To the right-trusty and well-beloved Roger à Puleston, and to John Eyton, and to either of them. Right-trusty and well-beloved Cousins and frinds, we grete you well. And suppose that yee have well in yor remembrance the great dishonor and rebuke that we and yee now late have by traytors Marche, Harbert, and Dunns, with their affinityes, as well in letting us of our Journey to the Kinge, as in putting my father yor Kinsman to the death, and their trayterously demeaning, we purpose with the might of our Lord, and assistance of you and other our kinsmen & frinds, within short time to avenge. Trusting verily that yee will be well-willed and put your hands unto the same, and of your disposicon, with your good advice therein we pray you to ascertayne us in all hast possible, as our especiall trust is in you. Written at our towne of Tenbye the xxvth of ffeu’r.
(Source Welsh Journals No. II April 1846)
Eventually the Yorkists forced Jasper and the young Henry Tudor to flee for their lives. The secret tunnel they used to reach the harbour still exists, so I was able to see it for myself and walk in their footsteps deep under the streets of Tenby.
I’ve sailed from Tenby harbour many times, including at night, so have a good understanding of how they might have felt as they slipped away to Brittany. Rather than follow their course around Land’s End I chose to sail on the car ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo in Brittany, where I began to retrace the Tudor’s time in exile.
I’ve read that little happened during those fourteen years but of course Brittany was where Henry would come of age and begin to plan his return. Starting at the impressive palace of Duke Francis of Brittany in Vannes, I followed the Tudors to the Château de Suscinio on the coast. I was amazed to find it has been restored to look much as it might have when Jasper and Henry were there, and the surrounding countryside and coastline is largely unchanged.
Duke Francis of Brittany, began to worry when Yorkist agents began plotting to capture the Tudors, so he moved them to different fortresses further inland. I stayed by the river within sight of the magnificent Château de Josselin, were Jasper was effectively held prisoner. Although the inside has been updated over the years, the tower where Jasper lived survives and I was even able to identify Tudor period houses in the medieval town which he would have seen from his window.
Henry’s château was harder to find but worth the effort. The Forteresse de Largoët is deep in the forest outside of the town of Elven. His custodian, Marshall of Brittany, Jean IV, Lord of Rieux and Rochefort, had two sons of similar age to Henry and it is thought they continued their education together. Proof I was at the right place was in the useful leaflet in English which confirmed that: ‘On the second floor of the Dungeon Tower and to the left is found a small vaulted room where the Count of Richemont was imprisoned for 18 months (1474-1475).’
Entering the Dungeon Tower through a dark corridor, I regretted not bringing a torch, as the high stairway is lit only by the small window openings. Interestingly, the lower level is octagonal, with the second hexagonal and the rest square. Cautiously feeling my way up the staircase I was walking in the footsteps of the young Henry Tudor, who would also have steadied himself by placing his hand against the cold stone walls, nearly five and a half centuries before. (Although it was called the ‘dungeon tower’, in subsequent research I discovered intriguing details at the National Library of Wales which suggest Henry Tudor enjoyed more freedom at this time than is generally imagined. The papers claim that, ‘by a Breton lady’, Henry Tudor fathered a son, Roland Velville, whom he knighted after coming to the throne.)
When I returned to Wales I made the journey to remote Mill Bay, where Henry and Jasper landed with their small invasion fleet. A bronze plaque records the event and it was easy to imagine how they might have felt as they began the long march to confront King Richard at Bosworth. On the anniversary of the battle I walked across Bosworth field and watched hundreds of re-enactors recreate the battle, complete with cavalry and cannon fire.
The challenge I faced for the final book of the trilogy, HENRY, was too much information. Henry left a wealth of detailed records, often initialing every line in his ledgers, which still survive. At the same time, I had to deal with the contradictions, myths and legends that cloud interpretation of the facts. I decided the only way was to immerse myself in Henry’s world and explore events as they might have appeared from his point of view. I stood in the small room in Pembroke Castle where Henry Tudor is thought to have been born, (within sight of where I was born) and began three years of intensive research about this enigmatic king.
I bought every book I could find about Henry and his times, and also studied the lives of those around him, including his mother, Margaret Beaufort, and his queen, Elizabeth of York. As I reached the end I decided to visit Henry’s Tomb in Westminster Abbey. There is something quite surreal about making your way through Westminster Abbey to the Lady Chapel at the far end. There are many amazing distractions, as you pass the tombs of earlier kings and Henry’s granddaughter Elizabeth I in a side chapel. Henry’s tomb dominates the centre of the Lady Chapel and is surrounded by a high bronze grille. His effigy is raised too high to see, so I climbed a convenient step and peered through the holes in the grille. There lay Henry with his wife, Elizabeth of York, their gilded hands clasped in prayer.
I am pleased to say that after all these years researching the lives of the early Tudors, all three books of the trilogy have become international best sellers. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the readers around the world who have been on this journey with me. Although this is the end of the Tudor trilogy, I am now researching the life of Henry’s daughter Mary and her adventurous husband Charles Brandon, so the story of the Tudors is far from over.
About the Author
Tony Riches is a full time author of best-selling fiction and non-fiction books. He lives by the sea in Pembrokeshire, West Wales with his wife and enjoys sea and river kayaking in his spare time. For more information about Tony’s other books please visit his popular blog, The Writing Desk and website www.tonyriches.com and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches. The Tudor Trilogy is available on Amazon UKAmazon USandAmazon AU
In recent years I’ve recognized that my favorite books are ones that are written in the first person. It allows me to imagine that I’m that character meandering through the story. This book does not disappoint.
Until reading “Owen” by Tony Riches I previously only read Tudor period historical fiction books written by women. The ones I enjoyed the most were all written in the first person style, including this one. Reading a book written by a man gave me a different insight into the story.
Owen Tudor is rarely written about – as far as I know this is the first book about him. The fact that it’s written by a fellow Welshman adds a sense of credibility to it. This book allowed my imagine to run wild with ideas of what it was like.
Owen Tudor worked his way into the household of dowager queen Catherine of Valois sometime after the death of her husband, Henry V. From the beginning Owen was enamored by the beauty and frailty of the queen – he was instantly attracted to her, but she didn’t really know he existed.
As I’m sure was quite common in a large household, Owen found ‘love’ with another servant, Juliette. Juliette made the first move and showed up at Owen’s door one night. They ended up sleeping together that night – Owen couldn’t resist her beauty.
While Owen and Juliette continued their secret affair, he secretly only had eyes for the queen. It wasn’t long before Juliette figured it out, however, she was willing to share Owen with his fantasy, assuming it wouldn’t become a reality.
As we all know already, Owen Tudor and Catherine of Valois married (some may dispute the marriage) and had children together. If you’re a fan of the Outlander books or TV series you’ll appreciate the nature of their romance and all the troubles along the way…all the people who tried to come between them and keep them apart. Owen always had Catherine in his heart. Until the very end. Just like Jamie and his Sassenauch.
While reading the book I kept wondering how Tony Riches was going to end the story of Owen. When I reached the last page of the book I was very pleased with the ending – he couldn’t have written a better ending to a story about a warrior, a husband, a father, a grandfather and a lover. Owen Tudor was a real person. This book brings him to life in a beautiful way.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it was an easy read. If you’re a fan of the Tudor dynasty you truly need to read about where it all began. Owen and Catherine.