All posts tagged: History

10 Castles to see before you die!

picture from Etonnantes-pyrenees.com Montsegur, Southern France.  Unless you know your European history well, you might be unaware that there was another branch of Christianity once.  They were called the Cathars and were based mainly in Southern France in the 12th and 13th century.  Alas, they fell out with the Catholic Church, who declared them heretics and with the co-operation of the French King pursued a religious crusade to wipe them out.  The Cathar’s last stand was held in this tiny castle in the Pyrenees.  A year long siege was ended by a daring raid of French knights who climbed up the cliffs to take the castle in the night.  The Catholic Church then burnt the 225 Cathar priests alive at the foot of the mountain (they apologised in 1979). picture from en.wikipedia.org Alnwick Castle, Northumberland UK.  I had to have this one on the list because it used to be my favourite as a child.  My grandmother had dinner mats of different English castles in her cottage in Northumberland.  I used to always insist I had …

A final walk along the Wall and then home…

Just a short post today, as I’ll be driving back from Northumberland today as it’s the end of my holiday.  It’s been a fantastic trip, staying in my old cottage, surrounded by history and the beautiful countryside of the area.  I even made it back to Hadrian’s Wall on Friday, after my first trip needed to be aborted due a heavy downpour of rain.  This time the weather was much kinder I had a fantastic walk between Steel Rigg and Housesteads. This section of the Wall shows the remains of a few of the mile-castles that were evenly spaced along the Wall, and each housed around thirty men.  I know it doesn’t appear that that much is left of the mile-castle in the picture, but when the Wall was in active use it would have stood at fifteen feet high, with battlements and a walkway all along the Wall, with three turrets or watchtowers interspersed between each mile-castle.  As you can see from the rocky and craggy countryside, that was no small building achievement along …

Ancient Roman sites to inspire you…

Whilst writing my novel Roman Mask, I was inspired by many of the great ancient sites that can be found all around Europe and the Mediterranean basin.  This is by no means a complete list of all the wonderful sites that are in existence, but here are a few that inspired me… Rome, Italy.  How could I start anywhere else?  The ancient city that was at the heart of her Empire has to be on everyone’s list of places to visit if they are interested in Ancient Rome.  So much still remains and is easily accessible in this fantastic city.  The Colosseum was incredible, but as it was built later than my novel was set I couldn’t use it for research, but it still gives an amazing perspective on the sheer power and dominance that Rome held over the world at the time.  The Augustan palace on the top of the Palatine Hill nearby was very useful for me, and stretches all the way to the ancient forum at the centre of Ancient Rome.  But …

OUT TODAY!! Roman Mask by Thomas M D Brooke

What do we expect of our heroes? Self-sacrifice? Bravery? Strength of character? Maybe a hint of self-deprecation? Well, Cassius doesn’t have any of those traits. Cynicism – certainly. Cowardice – possibly. Prepared to live a lie in order to further his own ends – absolutely! Rome AD 9 Augustus Caesar rules Imperial Rome at the height of its power, as the Roman Empire stretches across the known world. Cassius, son of one of her most powerful families, is the personification of Rome’s imperial strength: wealthy, popular, a war hero with a decorated military career – none of Rome’s fashionable parties are complete without him – except, he hides a secret. After his nerve is broken in Germany, the thought of genuine armed combat is enough to send him into a cold sweat of fear and shame. But this doesn’t dissuade him from living off a false reputation so he can continue a life of casual affairs, wine, and parties, as he is seduced by the many vices of Rome. However his scandalous life is soon …

A fun packed read, starting at the beginning – Gates of Rome, Conn Iggulden #historical #fiction #gladiators

When a famous character of the past is depicted in a novel, where do you start?  Normally the proscribed path would be to research the history books, find out where he or she first comes to the attention of the historians and start your story there.  However, with some historical figures that means that you don’t pick up their story until they are approaching middle age, and you learn nothing of what shaped their character or motivated them through their youth.  That’s certainly the case with Julius Caesar; by the time he started conquering Gaul he was already in his forties and often bemoaned the fact that Alexander the Great managed to achieve so much – he conquered all the lands from Greece to India – by the age of thirty. So rather than wait until Julius Caesar has become a successful Senator and skillful politician, Conn Iggulden, in his novel ‘Gates of Rome’ has gone right back to the beginning and starts his story when Julius – or Gaius as he goes by then …

Great periods of History to write about – stage 2 (Tudors to WW2) #Historical #Fiction

Ok, last time I discussed five era’s from Ancient Greece until the Medieval age, this time I’ll be bringing things up until the modern age. Featured novel: Philippa Gregory, The White Queen The End of the medieval period and the coming of the Tudors 1455 – 1603 – War of the Roses, a large King with some unfortunate wives, an iconic Queen. PRO’s:  Where to start with this one!  There are so many stories in this period, be it the Princes in the Tower, the battle of Bosworth Field, Henry VIII and his never ending quest for love  – tearing England apart in the process – and that’s before you even get to Elizabeth 1st and the defeat of the Spanish Armada.  This period more than any other personifies English History in most people’s imagination. CON’s:  Despite the War of the Roses ending in 1485, it seems that some people have yet to realise it.  There are still many in the UK and around the world that are either die-hard Plantagenets or Tudors, and are liable to …

Great periods of history to write about – STAGE 1 (Ancient to Medieval)

Okay, so you want to write a historical novel, but what period of history do you choose?  The list is endless, but here are a few options…. Featured novel: The King Must Die by Mary Renault Ancient Greece 1200BC – 300BC:  Greek gods, myths, large scale battles of Hoplites… PRO’s:  The birthplace of democracy, the Olympics, philosophy, and other ideas that shaped the modern world, give you lots of subject matter to base your novel around; whilst the mythology of Ancient Greece allows your novel to be full of gods, goddesses, and all the mysticism that goes with it.  If you prefer a little more action, don’t worry – you have the warlike Spartans, their rivalry with the Athenians, or Alexander the Great’s invasion of Persia.  Disclaimer: I couldn’t resist the last on that list, so I tried my hand at that myself in the first novel I wrote. CONS:  It can be more difficult than you think to research a historical period so far in the past.  Although there are a host of non-fictional books …