Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Showing posts with label Queen Elizabeth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Queen Elizabeth. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Luck of the Irish or Just Sheer Irish Grit?

Daughter, wife, mother, businesswoman, landowner, seafarer, leader, chieftain, rebel, pirate, legend—all these terms would accurately describe the infamous Grace O’Malley.

Gráinne Ní Mháille (Grace O’Malley) was born in 1530. Her father, Owen “Black Oak” O’Malley, was the elected chieftain of the Ó Máille (O’Malley) clan. He was also a seafarer successful in trading cattle, tallow, and salt fish as far south as Portugal and Spain. The O’Malley were one of the few on the western coast to sail beyond Ireland’s shores. As a result, they controlled much of County Mayo and all who fished off their coasts were taxed. Upon her parents’ deaths, she inherited her father’s trading business and her mother’s lands. That with and the land holdings from subsequent marriages, she was a wealthy woman.

Rockfleet Castle
Even as a child, Grace was a spitfire. She scorned societal conventions placed on girls and women, favoring adventure over what was suitable for her gender. She wanted badly to go to sea on a trading expedition to Spain with her father. Her parents forbade it. Ah, but she was fiery and independent. She cut off her long red hair to disguise herself as a lad in hopes to trick her father into taking her.
A stunt such as this was surely a precursor to what was to come.

At 16, she married Dónal O’Flaherty, who was heir to the chieftain of the O’Flaherty clan which controlled Connacht.  This was a good political match for the clans. Plus, bonus, he owned castles. One of these castles—Bunowen—is where she operated her first shipping and trade business, in part out of necessity as Dónal’s gallivanting brought the clan near to poverty.  Over the course of their marriage, she had three children with Dónal—Owen, Murrough, and Margaret. Not only did the family grow, but so did her pursuits. She controlled their fleet and oversaw all the business dealings, legitimate and otherwise. No doubt plying skills she learned from her father. And when she was not allowed to trade in Galway, a key trading port, for sketchy practices, she simply laid in wait off the coast for merchant ships, negotiating fair fees that guaranteed their safe passage. If they refused, she relieved them of their cargo. If they further resisted, well, things got violent and deadly.

Like Grace, Dónal was an ambitious sort. But he preferred warfare. Not surprisingly, that didn’t end well for him. He had taken an island fortress from another clan over some sort of revenge, but in the siege was killed. Grace didn’t take the death of her husband too kindly. She sailed to the island to avenge his death and successfully defended the castle. In another attack on the castle by the English, she not only defended it, but she alerted her fleet, launched an attack, and soundly defeated them. As you might imagine, she had many, many loyal men who followed her anywhere she went.

Grace O'Malley and Queen Elizabeth
She married a second time in 1566 to Richard Bourke, purportedly for more holdings, and the couple had one child together. But Grace still wasn’t one to settle down and quickly divorced him, keeping his Rockfleet Castle for herself.

Grace is known for many exploits that have become legendary. One thing for certain, she was not one to be slighted or crossed. She purportedly defeated a Turkish pirate ship, killing the crew, just one day after giving birth to her fourth son. Can you imagine how cranky she might have been to be disturbed while nursing her newborn? Grace had once abducted an earl’s grandson after she was denied hospitality by the family because they were having dinner. She released the boy only after the promise that the castle’s gates were always open and a place set at the table for visitors—a promise still kept to this day. Don’t underestimate a woman in love. She sought deadly revenge on a clan for killing her lover Hugh de Lacy, snatching away the lives of those responsible and seizing their castle. The woman was mighty!

How far will he go to rise up against her?
Get Your Copy HERE!
Her piratical ways both on sea and land eventually caught up to her. English power had increased over Ireland and set to control the chieftains who had been self-governing. She was no fool. Like most chieftains, she submitted her fealty. Ah…appearances. With a troublemaker like Grace, England took notice, especially Governor Sir Richard Bingham who, in 1584 was tasked with overseeing and controlling chieftains and their clans. Bingham made it a personal mark to take Grace down. He stripped her clan of wealth by overtaxing them, ordered the murder of her oldest son, raided her home, took her livestock, imprisoned family members for treason, and impounded her fleet. Ouch. In 1593, Grace intended to restore her clan’s rights and free her family. How? By petitioning Elizabeth I, Queen of England, of course.

Elizabeth must have been intrigued by the intrepid Irish woman with such a colorful reputation for she granted Grace an audience…in private. Perhaps they were a lot alike. Perhaps there was a mutual respect. Whatever the case, it must have been quite a meeting that September day between the two powerhouses. The queen granted all of Grace’s requests, including monetary aid and the release of her impounded fleet. In the queen’s letter to Bingham, she also stated that Grace O’Malley had her permission to act as a privateer on England’s behalf. And so a-pirating Grace did go.

Grace finally retired in 1601. Two years later at the age of 73, she died, the same year as the queen.

About the Author 

Jennifer is the award-winning author of the Romancing the Pirate series. Visit her at www.jbrayweber.com or join her mailing list for sneak peeks, excerpts, and giveaways.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


The second book in my Tales From the Tudor Court series, PRISONER OF THE QUEEN has released!

I have served three queens in my life. 

One was my sister. One was my savior. And one my bitterest enemy. 

Knowing she was seen as a threat to the Queen she served, Lady Katherine Grey, legitimate heir to the throne, longs only for the comfort of a loving marriage and a quiet life far from the intrigue of the Tudor court. After seeing her sister become the pawn of their parents and others seeking royal power and then lose their lives for it, she is determined to avoid the vicious struggles over power and religion that dominate Queen Elizabeth’s court. Until she finds love—then Kat is willing to risk it all, even life in prison. 

Praise for Prisoner of the Queen... 

"An emotional story, full of jealous rivalry, scandal and heartache. These are women with the blood of Henry VIII running through their veins, how could it be anything but." ~ Margaret Cook, Just One More Chapter 

"Vibrant characters, mind-bending plot twists, and a fluid yet breakneck pace, are all trademarks of authoress Knight, that fans of her books have come to know as her signature hallmarks of excellence.” ~ Frishawn, WTF Are You Reading 

"Prisoner of the Queen is a refreshing look at the life of Katherine Grey. For the first time, she is portrayed as a strong, intelligent woman instead of as a foolish and naive girl." ~Denise Farmer, So Many Books So Little Time

"E. Knight is back with another tale from the Tudor Court. Think you've read everything about the Tudors? Ms. Knight shows that there is much more to love. Filled with court intrigue and passion, this book will have you wanting to read more about her heroine, Katherine Grey, sister of Queen Jane Grey!" ~Meg Wessell, A Bookish Affiar


Coming soon to print and audio...


Have you read MY LADY VIPER? Available now in print, ebook and audio.

May, 1536. The Queen is dead. Long live the Queen.

When Anne Boleyn falls to the executioner's ax on a cold spring morning, yet another Anne vows she will survive in the snake-pit court of Henry VIII. But at what cost?

Lady Anne Seymour knows her family hangs by a thread. If her sister-in-law Jane Seymour cannot give the King a son, she will be executed or set aside, and her family with her. Anne throws herself into the deadly and intoxicating intrigue of the Tudor court, determined at any price to see the new queen's marriage a success and the Seymour family elevated to supreme power. But Anne's machinations will earn her a reputation as a viper, and she must decide if her family's rise is worth the loss of her own soul . . .

Praise for MY LADY VIPER…

From Publisher's Weekly... "Knight delivers a suspenseful historical romance replete with political conspiracies and erotic encounters set in 16th-century England. Struggling to survive during the reign of King Henry VIII, Lady Anne Seymour manipulates political alliances in an effort to safeguard her family's lives when her sister-in-law, Jane Seymour, marries the King. Struggling between ambition and conscience, Anne must maintain the King's favor and preserve his marriage to Jane. But when her heart beats for dashing Sir Anthony Browne, she is torn between duty and lust. In this ably plotted first book in a new series, Knight skillfully captures the atmosphere of the Tudor Court. In Anne, the author creates a paradoxical but well drawn heroine full of self-destructive desire. Characters are drawn in broad, colorful strokes, merging grand historical pageantry with psychological depth. Fans of historical fiction will find themselves eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series from Knight."

“Author E. Knight proves that though there are a plethora of Tudor novels out there a writer can still create a fresh and unique view of one of history's most treacherous courts, that of England's King Henry VIII. Schemes and scandalous trysts abound in 'My Lady Viper', making for a very captivating read. Racy and deliciously sensual, once started I was hard pressed to put the book down. I eagerly await the next installment in E. Knight's stand-out Tales of the Tudor Courts series!” ~ Amy Bruno, Passages to the Past

“E. Knight breathes new life and new scandal into the Tudors. This is an engrossing historical fiction tale that readers will love!” ~ Meg Wessel, A Bookish Affair

“A brilliant illustration of a capricious monarch and the nest of serpents that surrounded him, My Lady Viper is an absolute must. Intricately detailed, cleverly constructed and utterly irresistible.” ~ Erin, Flashlight Commentary

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Historical Fiction Review: Rival to the Queen by Carolly Erickson

As a long standing fan of Tudor fiction, I was extremely eager to read, Carolly Erickson's new release, Rival to the Queen, and I think historical fiction fans will find this tale intriguing!

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Wife of Henry VIII comes a novel about the bitter rivalry between Queen Elizabeth I and her fascinating cousin, Lettice Knollys, for the love of one extraordinary man.

Powerful and dramatic, this is the story of the only woman to ever stand up to the Virgin Queen—her own cousin, Lettice Knollys. Far more attractive than the queen, Lettice soon won the attention of the handsome and ambitious Robert Dudley, a man so enamored of the queen and determined to share her throne that it was rumored he had murdered his own wife in order to become her royal consort. The enigmatic Elizabeth allowed Dudley into her heart, and relied on his devoted service, but shied away from the personal and political risks of marriage.

When Elizabeth discovered that he had married her cousin Lettice in secret, Lettice would pay a terrible price, fighting to keep her husband’s love and ultimately losing her beloved son to the queen’s headsman.

This is the unforgettable story of two women related by blood, yet destined to clash over one of Tudor England’s most charismatic men.

St. Martin's Griffin, August 2011
ISBN: 978-0-312-61697-7, ISBN10: 0-312-61697-X
Available in print and ebook
I know I have often wondered about the relationship between Queen Elizabeth I and her rival cousin Lettice Knollys--after all, Lettice did the one thing Elizabeth had wanted to do most of her life, marry Robert Dudley.

This book gave quite a perspective I hadn't before seen--which is one reason I love historical fiction, there are so many different ways a person can view the events and tell a tale. I've heard of Elizabeth's tantrums and her jealousies towards others, even heard some horrid things she'd done to her ladies in waiting, but Ms. Erickson's novel brought it all to vivid light.

I felt a connection with Lettice, aka "Lettie", early on in the story, and I also found myself profoundly loathing her sister Cecilia. Goodness! It is the second book I read in August with a horrid sister! If I were Lettie, I think I would have tried to find a way to get back at Cecelia, or never spoken to her again. Her sister literally ruined her life at an early age.

Courtly life was alive and vivid with Elizabethan gowns, glamor, politics, etc... well explained and beautifully written. True to real-life historical figures, which I love to revisit again and again, were well captured on the page and in the plot of the story.

I did have some trouble with Lettie's ability to forgive and let gloss over Robert's infidelity. Although, that is a modern woman speaking. In that era, his infidelities would have been the norm, and it wouldn't have phased her, and in truth, Ms. Erickson captured it perfectly. I just had a hard time with the motivation for her forgiveness. I would have liked to see more how their romance developed that would make her defy the Queen in such a way. Why would she risk it all?

Despite Robert's infidelity, Lettie won. She triumphed over Douglas Howard, she triumphed over the Queen, something not very many women were able to do. And in fact, she must have held some considerable space in the Queen's mind because she held her close, and even found Lettice's son by her first husband one of her favorites--Robert Devereux.

I should also mention, this tale briefly touches on the mysterious death of Amy Robsart, Robert Dudley's first wife, a story that has often fascinated me. It was an interesting twist.

It is a tragic tale with courtly drama, love and treachery. I did enjoy reading it, and I would recommend it to other fans of Tudor fiction.