Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – #PotLuck – Hardwick Hall: another ‘jolly’ from 2016 – Part One – Bess of Hardwick, a force to be reckoned with, by Jane Risdon


Welcome to the new series of Posts from Your Archives, where bloggers put their trust in me. In this series, I dive into a blogger’s archives and select four posts to share here to my audience.

If you would like to know how it works here is the original post: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2019/04/28/smorgasbord-posts-from-your-archives-newseries-pot-luck-and-do-you-trust-me/

This is the first post of four from author Jane Risdon… Jane loves to go on a ‘jolly’ for those of you who are unfamiliar with the expression… It is taking a road trip and having fun.. basically. In Jane’s case it usually involves visiting a place with history, and finding out more about the people who lived there.. The first post from her archives of 2016 is an example of that.

For those of you who would like to read part two of Hardwick Hall as well… here is the link: Hardwick Hall Part Two.

Hardwick Hall: another ‘jolly’ from 2016 – Part One – Bess of Hardwick, a force to be reckoned with, by Jane Risdon

My ‘jollies’ have taken me to many fascinating places (I think) and I enjoy sharing my experiences with you.

I have had to divide the posting of my ‘Jolly’ to Hardwick Hall into more than one due to the sheer volume of items to see and, as usual, I went crazy taking photos. Sadly I don’t have information for every item but I hope just seeing everything will be enjoyable and might even tempt you in to visiting yourself.

Hardwick Hall Ruins Oct 2016 (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Hardwick Hall is a great Elizabethan House, built to create and proclaim the impression – and fact – of great wealth and status of a great woman, Bess of Hardwick who – four times married – became the most remarkable Elizabethan woman in England, next to the Queen herself.

Fine tapestries and decoration throughout (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Bess was born at Hardwick Hall, then a small manor house in the mid-1520s, her father was John Hardwick, a country squire who died when she was under a year old, leaving his family of five young children in reduced financial circumstances.

Hardwick Hall Gatehouse with elaborate finials and decoration (c) Jane Risdon 2016

He left money but due to the cash strapped Henry VIII reviving tax rules, the estate was seized by the Crown and at least half sold into ‘Wardship,’ meaning the family lost control of their land until an heir, Bess’s little brother James, came of age.

Unfortunately the family was squeezed so hard, by the appointed ‘Wards,’ for revenue from the farms, that there was nothing left for the family. The lands and Hardwick Hall were valued at £20 remained with the Crown, although the family remained there, it is possible they were paying rent for the privilege.

The Penelope Tapestries (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Bess’s mother, also Elizabeth, to keep her family together, re-married. Her husband was Ralph Leche, the younger son of a Chatsworth family. He owned very little but had a small annual annuity of just under £7 per year and an income from some scattered leases.

Fine tapestries throughout (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Learning from her childhood adversity Bess’s lessons stood her in good stead. For the rest of her life she fought for what was rightfully hers, dealing skillfully with financial and legal matters.

Hardwick Hall is magnificent, inside and outside.

This amazing woman knew that her hill-top mansion, with tall turrets, stone carved initials and fabulous display of costly glass glittering as visitors arrived (even today) would be marvelled at and discussed at every level of society. People came to stare at the mansion as it stood golden on the hill-top.

Bess had so many windows which need to be glazed that it proved expensive to pay the glaziers to do the whole house, so she went into business making and fitting window glass, and was soon supplying vast numbers of customers. Such was her entrepreneurial skills and ambitions.

The architecture, the grand chambers and furnishings of precious tapestries and rare needlework hangings are awesome now and I can only imagine the impact they made back in her day.

In the State Rooms the fabulous wall hangings are topped by rural scenes of forests and we were told by one of the guides that the trees on the decoration were in fact real trees, which Bess had placed along the top of the walls creating a 3D effect.

There is so much to see inside, that you really need more than a day to do it justice, but I had only an afternoon.

I took dozens of photos as usual, and this is going to have to be spread over several different postings.

The State Rooms (c) Jane Risdon 2016

Just a word – it was taken over by the National Trust fifty years ago and the volunteers who occupy each room as you move around this wonderful house, go out of their way to inform, answer questions, and generally make the tour so very interesting. One elderly gentleman also filled us in on his own family history as he followed us from room to room, which was riveting, but a little time-consuming.

The introductory talk by one such gentleman outside in the rain-soaked entrance porch was so entertaining, we didn’t realise how hard it had begun to rain.

As a young girl Bess explored the hillsides and pastures at Hardwick with her siblings and half-sisters. She enjoyed playing with wooden toys, games and chanting nursery rhymes so we were told.

She learnt her letters and arithmetic from her mother who was reading from a ‘hornbook‘ which I discovered is paper protected by a thin layer of translucent horn.

Bess could play a keyboard instrument, given lessons in deportment (I had those at school, the Nuns had us carrying books on our heads with a stick down the back of our clothes ensuring we walked straight, head held high) I imagine Bess had to do the same.

She was encouraged to express herself confidently. As she got older she helped her mother manage the household.

Early financial difficulties taught her that she should take her chances when she could and the world owed her nothing. A very modern woman.

Apparently she was a popular and personable woman, formed friendships easily (four husbands don’t forget) and she was very ambitious, determined that the hardships she endured in youth should never be inflicted upon her own children and step-children.

Her marriages brought her wealth and grand houses, she honed her architectural skills (which were plenty) on Chatsworth which was her first building project.

Her other family houses included Bolsover, Welbeck, Sheffield, Tutbury and Worksop.

She had dynastic ambitions and these were realised through her children with the dukedoms of Devonshire, Norfolk, Portland, Newcastle and Kingston. As a matriarchal figure Bess fought her way to the top of society in Elizabethan England. With each marriage she gained more power, more land and more security for her children.

I won’t turn this into a history lesson, I wanted to share the beauty of Hardwick Hall and some of Bess’s Achievements internally. If this has whetted your appetite to visit this wonderful house or to know more about Bess, do go online, there is so much information about her there.

I shall be posting part two soon – do keep an eye out – for more photos and information on this remarkable woman

Recommended reading:

Bess of Hardwick: Portrait of an Elizabethan Dynast – David N Durant (revised 2001 – Peter Owen)
Bess of Hardwick – Mary S Lovell (Abacus 2006)
Arbella: England’s Lost Queen – Sarah Gristwood (Murray 1991)
Hardwick Hall, Doe Lea, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, S44 5QI
+44 (0)1246 850430
National Trust: hardwick@nationaltrust.org.uk

All photos (c) Jane Risdon 2016 All Rights Reserved.

For those of you who would like to read part two of Hardwick Hall… here is the link: Hardwick Hall Part Two.

My thanks to Jane for opening up her archives for this series.. you will find many more ‘Jollies’ on her blog and next week I will be sharing another of her posts.

About Only One Woman

Two women, one love story.

June 1968. Renza falls head over heels for heartthrob guitarist Scott. But after a romantic summer together they are torn apart when Renza’s family moves away.

December 1968. On the night she believes to be her last, Stella meets Scott at a local dance. He’s the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen and if this one night is all they have, she’ll take it.

As the final colourful year of the sixties dawns, the question is: can there be only one woman for Scott?

One of the recent reviews for the book

Colm Herron 5.0 out of 5 stars Two stunning authors 5 February 2019

The Sixties are still a bit of a blur for me. That means I was there. And I have a lot of broken hearts to prove it – all mine. I was shot down so many times in those ten or so years that it’s a wonder I’m still here. All of which means I know something of the problems and the heartache that Only One Woman’s main protagonists Renza and Stella went through. But it wasn’t Scott I was after. Definitely not, believe me. It was Patricia and Hazel and Marie and Ann and Sybil and Melanie and …. I can’t go on.

The two girls in Only One Woman tell of their crush on Scott in a way that can only mean that the authors of this wonderfully nostalgic and loving look at the Sixties were rapt witnesses to those amazing years. The people, the songs, the music, the styles – and most of all the attitudes. In one sense it didn’t matter too much to me which of these two girls ended up with Scott because far more important than that was the way that these two authors got right into the hearts of the lovestruck Renza and Stella.

Ah, the authors. First, Christina Jones. Apart from a scintillating career in writing which began when she was a mere child, she has done so many odd-jobs – as well as odd jobs – that her life experience cannot be doubted. (Possibly the only work she didn’t do was captaining a North Sea oil rig, although I’m open to correction on that). And her co-author in this labour of love they have written is the incomparable Jane Risdon. Jane has been closely involved in so many fascinating experiences that she needs a separate wardrobe for all the T-shirts she has to vouch for it. Rock, Thrash Metal, Pop, R&B, Chinese Opera as well as movies, television and radio worldwide. And now writing, which amazingly she only got into five years ago. Stunning. Both stunning people.

 Read the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Only-One-Woman-Christina-Jones-ebook/dp/B075D88JBP

and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Only-One-Woman-Christina-Jones-ebook/dp/B075D88JBP

Read more reviews and follow Jane on Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5831801.Jane_Risdon

About Jane Risdon

Jane Risdon began writing five years ago having had a successful career in the International Music Industry which has taken her all over the world working with everything from Rock, Thrash Metal, and R&B/Pop to Chinese Opera. Her work has taken her to North America, Europe, and Singapore: even to Taiwan.

She’s been involved in Television, Radio, and the Movies around the world.

Travelling extensively and living overseas she draws upon her life experiences when writing Crime/Mystery novels, short stories in all genres – including humour, and she has dabbled in flash fiction.

Some of these experiences have found their way into her short stories about the Music Business, and she is presently working on a novel which will bring a lot of her more crazy ‘rock ‘n roll’ experiences into one tome.

Her main focus remains crime however, and she is working on a series of novels called ‘Ms Birdsong Investigates’ centered around a glamorous ex MI5 Officer forced into early retirement, who is trying to keep a low profile in a rural village in Oxfordshire. Her past experiences come to the fore when she finds herself investigating murder. Soon she finds herself back on old territory with Russian Mafia, Ukrainian People Traffickers and an old flame to deal with.

Connect to Jane Risdon

Blog:  https://janerisdon.wordpress.com/ 
Facebook: http://wp.me/2dg55 http://www.facebook.com/JaneRisdon2 
Accent Press: http://www.accentpress.co.uk/jane-risdon
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jane_Risdon

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed this step back in time with Jane to the Elizabethan era..thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Posts from My Archives – The Thirteenth Apostle (and his mum) by Paul Andruss


I thought over the weekend I would share a two part series from Paul Andruss posted originally in November 2017…

As with any legend, there is usually some variations on the origins and plenty of embellishments by later historians, that need to be resolved.

Paul takes on the task and unravels the stories to reveal the probable truth behind Constantine the Great, the first Christian Emperor.. and his mother Helena.

The Thirteenth Apostle (and his mum) by Paul Andruss

Statue of Constantine the Great at York (source: schoolworkhelper)

This is about an illegitimate boy, who grew up to inherit a shattered empire and changed the world; who overthrew pantheons of gods for the one his old mum worshipped.

Although he was not baptised until on his deathbed, he claimed to be Christ’s most favoured disciple. At one time he was believed to be a British king who became emperor of the Romans; and his mum, Helena, a British Princess who found the true cross of Jesus and became a saint, which ain’t too shabby for a barmaid.

Constantine the Great, the first Christian Emperor, was once considered British born and bred. The legend went something like this. His dad, Constantius, was a Roman senator who came to Britain to meet old King Cole in Colchester. Yes, that old King Cole, although he wasn’t such a merry old soul when he thought the Romans were coming to knock him off his throne. When Cole died, Constantius took the throne for himself and married Cole’s daughter, the beautiful Princess Helena. In due course their son Constantine became king and sometime later took his army off to the continent to thrash the perfidious Romans and ended up becoming Emperor.

Head of the Colossus of Constantine in the Courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori of the Musei Capitolini, (source: jacabook.it)

As with all legends, there are nuggets of truth mixed with fool’s gold. There probably was an Old King Cole (in legend called Coel Hen meaning Old Cole), but nothing is known of him except he wasn’t king of Colchester, which is named from the Roman words for ‘colony’ and ‘fort’. He probably was a warlord working for the Romans beyond Hadrian’s Wall, around 350 AD: a quarter of a century after Constantine died.

Part of Constantine’s legend is mixed up with another Roman General who left Britain to become Emperor almost a century later. Magnus Maximus, which modestly translates as Greatest of the Great, was married a British Princess called St Helena of Wales, and they had a son named Custennin (Welsh for Constantine).

Constantius Chlorus (Source: Alchetron)

Our Constantine’s dad was Constantius Chlorus, meaning pale or literally green. He may have been suffering from chlorosis: a pernicious anaemia, or even leukaemia. He was a member of the emperor’s bodyguard who worked his way up to Caesar. At this time the Empire was divided between four rulers: the Eastern and Western senior emperors called Augusti and their juniors named Caesars. Constantius came to stop the Scottish Picts raiding the Roman province of Britain.

Constantine’s mum was not a princess. She was an inn keeper’s daughter from the Black Sea and probably his common-law wife as the army did not approve of soldiers marrying.

By the time Constantius became Caesar he had dumped her for a political marriage to his Augustus’ daughter.

Constantius recognised Constantine as his son and heir meaning the lad grew up as a hostage to his father’s loyalty in the Emperor Diocletian’s court, where he became a favourite due to his military prowess. When Diocletian abdicated in May 305, rather than take his chances in the bloodbath that invariably accompanied a new Emperor’s reign, Constantine fled to his dad in Britain.

When his father died at York six months later, the soldiers elected the 32 year old Constantine to the rank of Caesar. While this was by no means unusual, you still had to fight for it. Constantine spent the next 20 years killing off his rivals to emerge as sole emperor.

His first major battle, and miracle, was at Milvian Bridge outside Rome, in 313 AD, against his rival Western Emperor. Details are sketchy. The story goes he had a dream before the battle advising him to make his soldiers paint their shields with the Chi Rho (two Greek letters X=CH & P=R) used as an acrostic for Christ. Later, this became a vision of a cross in the sun with the words ‘by this conquer’ witnessed by Constantine and his army. That story first appears in his biography written by Bishop Eusebius long after Constantine’s death.

The Chi- Ro Source: (clker .com)

The story is a good example of the propaganda obscuring Constantine’s reign. As the first Christian Emperor instead of history we have hagiography (holy-writing), usually reserved for the miraculous lives of saints. In part, this might be due to Constantine’s own influence.

Eusebius also states a year later Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, recognising Christianity as a legal religion. This is another gloss. The edict did not promote Christianity but merely affirmed the previous Edict of Toleration ending Diocletian’s Christian Persecution. It had been rescinded by the Eastern Augustus, enemy of Constantine and his Augustus Licinius. Although Constantine may have been responsible, the edict was issued in Licinius’ name. Yet when Eusebius wrote Constantine’s biography, Licinius’ was demonised.

After their victory, Licinius made Constantine the Western Augustus; taking for himself the more prosperous East. Constantine carried on the civil war. In 323, at the age of 50 he emerged as sole ruler after his sister had persuaded her husband Licinius to surrender in return for his life. Two months later Constantine had him murdered: no one knows why.

During his struggle for ultimate power, Constantine was careful to avoid any mention of Christ. Instead he used Sol Invictus – the Unconquered Sun (whose holy day was Sunday) – as the symbol of the supreme god. Yet while he was careful not to upset the Senate or citizens of largely pagan Rome, he refused to attend a victory sacrifice to Jupiter and spent a lot of his own money restoring Rome’s damaged churches.

Once Constantine was sole emperor he issued a proclamation, in the name of Christ, saying all citizens regardless of religious belief, should be able to enjoy a life of peace and concord. Despite this he had no compunction consulting pagan oracles or displaying himself as Sol Invictus when it suited.

It is often said Christianity’s appeal for Constantine was its unity and organisation. Different peoples united in belief are easier to control than those divided by a plethora of gods. Christians were obedient to the elders and priests, who were in turn subject to an Overseer (the original meaning of Bishop). Christians also willingly paid church taxes.

Paganism was certainly nowhere near as organised, as evidenced some 50 years later when the emperor Julian the Apostate was ridiculed and possibly assassinated for trying to reintroduce the old gods. Yet the words vicar and diocese originally came from pagan Roman politics. (Pagan is a Christian word meaning a sort of country bumpkin.)

After almost a century of civil war Constantine’s main priority was an empire united by one church and one god, under one emperor. Yet he found Christianity riven by schism. The latest dispute concerned whether Christ had the same or a similar nature to God.

Constantine wrote to the bishops concerned asking them to bury their trivial differences for the sake of the empire.

When he was ignored, he summoned all the bishops to a Synod at Nicene to thrash out their differences. Constantine flattered them, pandered to their arrogance and in the end threatened them into agreeing a common creed. Although he thought he succeeded, Christians have continued to be at each other’s throats ever since. A millennium later Roman and Greek Orthodoxy split. Soon afterwards Protestant dissidents split from Catholicism.

In 326 Constantine had his wife and eldest son executed amid rumours they had an affair. Constantine was jealous of his son’s popularity with the army and people, and may have feared for his life. Constantine’s wife, and mother of his 5 children, was killed a few weeks later in bathhouse sauna. It is unknown if she was stabbed or locked in to be suffocated by the steam and broiled alive.

One of Constantine’s first acts as Emperor was to send for his mother. He renamed her birthplace Helenopolis and awarded her the title of Augusta Imperatrix instead of his wife. It was no empty title. An Augusta could issue her own coinage, wear imperial regalia, and rule her own courts. No wonder his wife was furious; perhaps this is what prompted her, possibly real, and certainly alleged affair with his son. Finally he gave his mother unlimited access to the imperial treasury to locate holy relics.

At the age of 72 Helena enthusiastically set off to Jerusalem where, according to legend she discovered the crosses of Jesus and the two thieves and was able to distinguish the true cross when a dying woman recovered after touching it. Strangely, the normally sycophantic Bishop Eusebius fails to mention this.

Helena sent the true cross, along with some thorns from the crown of thorns, and nails from the crucifixion to aid her son; who allegedly placed one nail in his helmet and another in his horse’s bridle. She took full advantage of the imperial treasury by endowing churches at Bethlehem, in the Sinai Desert at the place of the burning bush, and the Holy Sepulchre after having the area levelled and cleared.

It is not certain what happened to Helena, some historians report she brought the treasures back in person. Others, by their silence, indicate she died in the Holy Land on pilgrimage. I rather hope it was the latter and she died enjoying thoroughly herself. Helena was declared a saint.

The Relics of St Helena were on loan in Athens from the Vatican in 2017 (Source : http://www.keeptalkinggreece.com)

Part Two Tomorrow.. same time.

©Paul Andruss 2017

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks

You can find all of Paul’s previous posts and gardening column in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/paul-andruss-myths-legends-fantasy-and-gardening/

Thank you for dropping in today and as always please leave your questions and comments for Paul… thanks Sally.

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Guest Writer – Baby farming in the late-Victorian Era Britain and Amelia Dyer by Robbie Cheadle


They were not really the good old days, especially for women and children, particularly the babies. Robbie Cheadle shares the truly terrible tale of Amelia Dyer……

Baby farming in the late-Victorian Era Britain and Amelia Dyer by Robbie Cheadle

What is baby farming?

Baby farming during late-Victorian Era Britain was the practice whereby individuals acted as adoption or fostering agents for children and infants in return for either an up-front payment or monthly payments from the mother.

Although baby farmers were supposed to provide care for the children they took into their custody, the name developed due to the fact this was rarely the case and improper treatment of the children frequently occurred.

A related business was the practice of taking in young expectant women and caring for them until they gave birth. Many of these women subsequently left their unwanted babies after the birth to be looked after as “nurse children”.

Unscrupulous baby farmers often starved the babies in their care, either to save money or to hasten their deaths. Alcohol and/or opiates, particularly Godfrey’s Cordial also known as Mother’s Friend, was administered to noisy and troublesome babies in order to sedate them. Such babies usually died of starvation and severe malnutrition as the opium made them disinclined for food.

Why did the practice of baby farming come about?

In 1834 the poor Law Amendment Act was introduced in Britain which removed any financial obligation from the fathers of illegitimate children. This left unmarried mothers in a dire financial position as single parenthood and illegitimacy were stigmatized by the society of the time.

Amelia Dyer

Amelia Dyer is credited with being one of the most prolific murderers in British history. Dyer was hanged in 1896 for the murder of a baby girl but there was little doubt at the time that she was responsible for many more infant and child deaths.

Amelia Dyer turned to baby farming following the death of her husband, George Thomas. George was thirty-five years older than Amelia and the couple had a daughter together before he died, leaving Amelia a single mother to a newborn baby.

Amelia started advertising in local newspapers, claiming to be a respectable married woman who would provide a safe and loving home for a child. Initially, Amelia allowed the babies to die of neglect and starvation, which involved the use of Mother’s Friend, but eventually she tired of waiting for the children to die and started murdering them soon after she received them. She strangled them with a length of white edging tape. She is later quoted as saying about the white tape “[that] was how you could tell it was one of mine.”

It is estimated that Amelia Dyer murdered over 400 babies and children, making her Britain’s most prolific female serial killer. She was also known by the name of “angel maker” and the “Ogress of Reading.”

What does this have to do with my writing?

My main character, Margaret, in my new horror/supernatural young adult book due to be published in early September makes a visit to Hell. While there she comes across several famous historical mass murderers as well as perpetrators of other crimes. I wanted the lady who looked after Margaret during her time in Hell to be sufficiently well know that most readers would recognize her. A Google search of famous British female serial killers led me immediately to Amelia Dyer.

I did now about the practice of baby farming in Victorian England due to my numerous readings of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. In this book, Oliver spends his early years in a baby farm before being removed to the workhouse by Mr Bumble.

Amelia caught my fancy and so I decided she would be Margaret’s housekeeper in Through the Nethergate. She does suffer some rather horrible punishments for her sins in my version of Hell. In order to understand her character, I wrote an entire story about her fascinating history and this became my story Justice is Never Served which is one of three short stories I submitted for the anthology, Death Among Us.

Writing Amelia’s story required extensive research as she is a real character so the underlying facts must be correct. I read up on Amelia Dyer on about fifteen different historical websites and I also read some historical and recent newspaper articles about her life and case. It took me about four days to check and cross-check all the information and then I set about turning it into a story with a supernatural twist.

Who knew death could be so eclectic? Relish this mesmerizing murder mystery mash-up of short stories.

The stories include the 2019 SIA Award-Winning Murder Mystery Short Story ‘The Rose Slayer.’

Murder and mystery have been the staple of literature and films for years. This anthology of short stories will thrill and entertain you. Some will also make you laugh out loud. Others will stop and make you think.

Think of this murder mystery short story anthology as a book version of appetizers or starters, hors d’oeuvre, meze, or antipasti. It can be read as fillers between books or, as is the case in some countries, as a bookish meze – in its own right.

These stories come from an international cast of authors; some with bestselling books, others are emerging or new talents. Their roots, cultures, and life experiences are as diverse as their writing styles.

But one thing binds them together: they know how to tell a story.

There’s murder mystery styles and locations to suit all tastes: detective fiction, serial killers, scifi, histfic, Paris, LA, England, the Caribbean, The Great Lakes, and more in an exquisite exposition of the art of short story telling.

The eleven authors who have contributed to the anthology are:

• Stephen Bentley
• Greg Alldredge
• Kelly Artieri
• Brenda Mohammed
• L. Lee Kane
• Michael Spinelli
• Sansriti Johri
• Robbie Cheadle
• Kay Castaneda
• Justin Bauer
• Aly Locatelli

Each author introduces his or her stories and the theme that lies behind them.By the time you finish the book, you will agree the result is a mesmerizing murder mystery mash-up

Link to pre-order Death Among Us on Amazon 99c: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QK3GNNX

And on Amazon UK 99p: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Among-Us-Anthology-Mystery-ebook/dp/B07QK3GNNX/

About Robbie Cheadle

Robbie, short for Roberta, is an author with five published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with her son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about her mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with her mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of Robbie’s children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications. Robbie has recently branched into adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential her children’s books from her adult writing, these will be published under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. Robbie has two short stories in the horror/supernatural genre included in Dark Visions, a collection of 34 short stories by 27 different authors and edited by award winning author, Dan Alatorre. These short stories are published under Robbie Cheadle.

I have been drawn to the horror and supernatural genres of books all my life. At the age of ten years old I embarked on reading Stephen King’s books including The Shining and Salem’s Lot. These books scared me so much I had to put them aside by 6P.M. in the evening in order to get a good night’s sleep but they also fascinated me. I subsequently worked my way through all of Stephen King’s earlier books as well as those of Dean R. Koontz.

I have read a large number of classics, in particular, I enjoy Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Charles Dickens and the works of the Bronte sisters.

I am hugely interested in the history of the United Kingdom as well as the mythology and tales of the paranormal that are abundant on this intriguing European island.

A selection of books by Robbie Cheadle

One of the recent reviews for Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five Story and Cookbook

Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five story and cookbook (2019) is the next in the author’s delightful series of books that blend children’s stories with themed original recipes. This one is a clever story poem about the disappearance of zoo animals and how Sir Chocolate must figure out what happened.

“One day Sir Chocolate arrived, and not a sound could hear, he called long and loud, but no animals did appear. The animals had vanished, the zoo was empty and still,”

“The monkey is naughty, he likes to have fun, he plays tricks on the others, then away he does run.”

The story is written in the format of a poem and includes great photographs that help readers visualize the action. At the completion of the story, there is a cute poem to introduce an original collection of animal-themed recipes children can complete with their parents. Some of the recipes are:

* Sir Chocolate peppermint caramel pudding
* Cheetah Cheese scones
* Rino Soetkoekies

I have bought several of these books because I love the idea of blending a story with cooking and inspiring kids and parents to spend time together. I also love that Robbie writes these books with her son, Michael, each doing their part in writing, cooking, and photographing. Overall, this is another excellent book in a clever collection that not only entertains but brings parents and kids together.

Read all the reviews and buy the books:https://www.amazon.com/Robbie-Cheadle/e/B01N9J62GQ

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Robbie-Cheadle/e/B01N9J62GQ

Read more reviews and follow Robbie on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15584446.Robbie_Cheadle

Other places to connect to Robbie Cheadle

Website/Blog Roberta Writes: https://robertawrites235681907.wordpress.com/
Blog: https://robbiesinspiration.wordpress.com/
Website: https://bakeandwrite.co.za/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SirChocolateBooks/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/bakeandwrite

Thank you for visiting and reading this fascinating post by Robbie Cheadle… Quite an extraordinary story of evil at a time when women and babies were already so vulnerable.

 

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Buy a Book for Christmas #African Adventure, #Crime #History #Scifi with Lucinda E. Clarke, Sue Coletta, Jack Eason and David R. Grigg


Welcome to another Cafe and Bookstore Christmas promotion with a selection of books that would make great gifts for family and friends.. not to mention yourself.

The first author with books in a series that would make wonderful gifts is from Lucinda E. Clarke and I am featuring the first in her series Amie: African Adventure.

About the Book

Amie was just an average girl, living in her home town close to friends and family. She was happily married and she had her future all planned out. They would have two adorable children, while she made award winning programmes for television. Until the day her husband announced he was being sent to live and work in an African country she had never heard of. When she came to the notice of a Colonel in the Government, it made life very complicated, and from there things started to escalate from bad to worse. If Amie could have seen that one day she would be totally lost, fighting for her life, and enduring untold horrors, she would never have stepped foot on that plane

One of the recent reviews for the book

Having lived as an expat myself, I enjoyed the descriptions of the culture shock experienced by the main character in this story. To some it could sound a little far fetched, but it was more like a series of ‘Oh Yeah’ moments for me. When the main character finds herself transferred across the world with no real enthusiasm, and even less preparation, the culture shock is extreme. There is a saying among expats in my part of the world… “Dorothy, you aint in Kansas no more!!”

Just as she is starting to get a grip on her new life, the situation goes from culture shock to full on nightmare. She is forced to rely on her wits, her new understanding of the world, and no small amount of luck to survive. The question is whether the lessons she has learned and the confidence she has gained will be enough to get her through. The writing style is easy to read and the author appears to have good knowledge of the culture and environment she is writing about. You might want to read this book as a simple adventure story, or as an insight into culture shock and the need to understand other cultures, and how easily you can get caught out by them.

Read the reviews and buy the book : https://www.amazon.com/Amie-African-Adventure-Lucinda-Clarke/dp/1500546992

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amie-African-Adventure-Lucinda-Clarke-ebook/dp/B00LWFIO5K/

A selection of other books in the series and stand alone novels by Lucinda E. Clarke

Read the reviews and buy all the books: https://www.amazon.com/Lucinda-E-Clarke/e/B00FDWB914

And on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lucinda-E-Clarke/e/B00FDWB914

Read more reviews and follow Lucinda on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7996778.Lucinda_E_Clarke

Connect to Lucinda via her website: http://lucindaeclarkeauthor.com

Now one of the series from crime writer Sue Coletta who also shares her secrets in non-fiction writing guides. Marred: Grafton County Series Book 1. There are plenty of books by Sue to satisfy the most blood thirsty crime enthusiasts in your family.

About Marred

When a serial killer breaks into the home of bestselling author, Sage Quintano, she barely escapes with her life. Her husband, Niko, a homicide detective, insists they move to rural New Hampshire, where he accepts a position as Grafton County Sheriff. Sage buries secrets from that night—secrets she swears to take to her deathbed.

Three years of anguish and painful memories pass, and a grisly murder case lands on Niko’s desk. A strange caller begins tormenting Sage—she can’t outrun the past.

When Sage’s twin sister suddenly goes missing, Sage searches Niko’s case files and discovers similarities to the Boston killer. A sadistic psychopath is preying on innocent women, marring their bodies in unspeakable ways. And now, he has her sister.

Cryptic clues. Hidden messages. Is the killer hinting at his identity? Or is he trying to lure Sage into a deadly trap to end his reign of terror with a matching set of corpses?

One of the reviews for Marred

This is a compelling thriller that will leave you chilled to the bone. You definitely want to read this book with the lights on. The author weaves a spectacular web of murder and mayhem that holds you captive. It took a moment for me to adjust to the different POV styles but once I did, I found I really enjoyed the story being told this way. The author writes in first person for Sage’s POV and then alternates with her husband, Niko, and his partner, Frankie, in third person. The third person POV’s from Niko and Frankie added another level of intrigue and suspense to this harrowing tale. And the author’s detail and description of the heinous actions of the killer were vivid and scary and I found the case details and forensics fascinating. I also really enjoyed Frankie and her snarky comments and banter; it helped to lighten up some of the more intense scenes and tension-filled dialogue among characters.

From the beginning pages you are drawn to Sage and her plight. You can feel her grief and turmoil as she wrestles with her everyday life, trying to come to terms with the brutal assault she suffered, her struggling marriage and the closely guarded secrets she has kept from her husband as well as her desperation and terror knowing her twin sister has disappeared and is in the hands of a serial killer that has his sights set on her. It was also easy to connect with and sympathize with Niko as he struggles to come to terms with his wife’s attack and continued effect is has on him and their relationship as well as his ability to perform his duties as sheriff; including his worry for keeping Sage safe. The dialogue and drama of Sage and Niko’s relationship was intense and sometimes overwhelming as they worked through their problems and struggled to understand each other’s reasons behind their secrets and lies. It was definitely an emotional journey for them both. This is a disturbing, dark tale full of suspense, turmoil and twists and turns. It is a steady paced psychological thriller that keeps you engaged and wanting more. *I was gifted a copy of this book by the author and am voluntarily leaving my honest review.

A selection of other books by Sue Coletta

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Sue-Coletta/e/B015OYK5HO

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sue-Coletta/e/B015OYK5HO

Read more reviews and follow Sue on Goodreads : https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14078869.Sue_Coletta

Connect to Sue via her website/blog: www.suecoletta.com

If it is variety that you are looking fore, then you will find that in the books of Jack Eason an for those who enjoy stepping back in time his historical novella Autumn 1066: The End of Anglo-Saxon Dominance is definitely worth reading.

About the book

Down the centuries the British Isles has always been seen by invaders as a legitimate target for exploitation. This novella concerns the last few weeks of Anglo-Saxon occupation, ending on the 14th of October, 1066. In Autumn 1066, author Jack Eason gives a great sense of ‘place’, of detail. The reader is right ‘there’ in that poignant year, marching, shivering with September cold (as ‘…no warming fires were allowed lest ‘enemy spies would soon spot their approach.’) From the very first few lines, Eason, practising his unique drycraft, begins to weave his particular brand of magic on his reader.

Eason glamour’s with well-crafted dialogue, drawing his reader into the time and into the action. To accomplish this, the author proffers a gentle blend of informative nomenclature coupled with familiar speech, to ease the reader into his story without distancing with words too unfamiliar, which is a criticism frequently made of Bernard Cornwell’s epics. I long to read more Martin Bradley

One of the recent reviews for the book

I’m certainly no expert on British history, but after reading Autumn 1066 by Jack Eason my interest in this era was piqued and I found myself researching the battle of Hastings. Autumn 1066 presents as factual and well researched, looking at the battle from a “fighters” point of view gave a different perspective to the events. The read had me imagining the battle field and being part of the battle and the closeness of the fighting.
This is an enjoyable read which I have recommended to friends.

Read the reviews and buy the book  –  https://www.amazon.com/Autumn-1066-Anglo-Saxon-dominance-ended/dp/1546685308

And Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1546685308

A small selection of other books by Jack Eason

Discover all of Jack Eason’s books and read the reviews: https://www.amazon.com/Jack-Eason/e/B003MEA7AY/

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jack-Eason/e/B003MEA7AY

Follow Jack and read other reviews on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4026249.Jack_Eason

Connect to Jack via his website: https://havewehadhelp.wordpress.com/

And now something for science fiction book lovers from David R. Grigg with his recently published The Fallen Sun

About The Fallen Sun

A world where the sun never sets; where there is no day and no night; and where shadows never move. Beyond an oasis of light, the freezing outer darkness stretches far away.

In this strange environment we follow the stories of three remarkable young people.

Together, these three must struggle to save their world. And in saving it, they change it and themselves forever.

Here’s what Bruce Gillespie, editor of the award-winning critical magazine *SF Commentary* says about it:

A real winner… Unputdownable… I found the characters instantly interesting, and the novel keeps on delivering surprises that undermine one’s expectations about the world they live in. And the landscape itself remains very vivid and interesting… If any novel deserves the top awards in the YA category, it is this one.”

One of the reviews for The Fallen Sun on Goodreads

Sep 30, 2018 Derrick Ashby rated it really liked it

This is an excellent book. It’s got interesting technology, good world building, a collection of characters that you care about, and some mysteries that keep you reading to the end. (And when you get there you want to start the next instalment straight away, except it hasn’t been written yet. Hopefully David Grigg is not the new George Martin.)

The world of Sunfall is one of perpetual day. The sun isn’t in the sky, but on top of a tower. Think Tolkien’s vision of Arda, except on Sunfall the power of the sun does not wax and wane, and there is no moon. So not really very similar, I guess… The locals believe that God put the sun there because it had been too far away from the planet to provide sufficient light, but it’s reasonably apparent that it’s an artefact of an earlier civilisation. I can’t help asking myself whether the people responsible for the “fallen sun” wouldn’t have contrived to make it wax and wane, but then the story would have been quite different, so it’s best to decide that they must have had a reason.

We don’t find out all there is to know about the science behind Sunfall and it’s entirely likely that more will be revealed in subsequent episodes. The planet is clearly orbiting a star that doesn’t provide a lot of energy. Is that because it has aged to the point where it is low on fuel? We are given evidence that at some point the planet supported more life. It has a breathable atmosphere, which suggests that a lot of plants expired a lot of oxygen over a long period. Is that atmosphere gradually bleeding off, as has been speculated was the case with Mars? Does the planet rotate? I’m curious about how much heat exchange goes on between the habitable area around the “fallen sun” and the rest of the planet. Is there a pattern of prevailing winds, and if there is, would the fallen sun system in fact work. Wouldn’t the heat just dissipate?

The human society on Sunfall is patriarchal and clan based. The clans are formed around industries or professions. The clan of the main character, for instance, is that of the Bellringers who are responsible for timekeeping. The society is also stratified; there are the “Brights”, or the aristocrats, and the “Dims”, who are the menial workers. Almost all the main characters are Brights. Among the Brights women are not allowed to do anything of any significance, but of course this doesn’t apply to the working class. There is gender-based tension and class-based tension.

It’s hard to say a lot about the social situation on Sunfall without giving away too much about the plot, so I won’t. Suffice it to say that change is imminent, and that the story is mostly concerned with what sort of change that will be, and whether it will be good change or bad change. “The fallen sun” is well worth reading, particularly if you like science-based science fiction. 

Head over and buy the book –  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07H1QSFP2

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fallen-Sun-David-R-Grigg-ebook/dp/B07H1QSFP2

And Amazon Australia: https://www.amazon.com.au/Fallen-Sun-David-R-Grigg/dp/0994256612

Also by David R. Grigg

Read the reviews and buy all the books: https://www.amazon.com/David-Grigg/e/B0053A9QIY

Read more reviews and follow David on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8080180.David_R_Grigg

Connect to David via his website: https://www.rightword.com.au/writing/category/blog/

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have found the selection of books interesting. Thanks Sally.

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New book on the shelves – Frolicksome Women and Troublesome Wives: Wife Selling in England by Barb Drummond


Welcome to a new author to the cafe and bookstore… Barb Drummond and her latest book released at the end of August – Frolicksome Women & Troublesome Wives  – Wife Selling England.

About the book

In the late 18th century, French travellers claimed an Englishman tired of his wife could dispose of her at Smithfield’s beast market. Examples can be found scattered through press records. Some were, as often claimed, brutal, sometimes drunken affairs. But others were civilised, even joyful events ending in marriage-style dinners. They varied widely over time, place, and practice. In England marriage was easily entered into, but was virtually impossible to escape. Sales took many forms to ensure they were legal, and rituals were often incorporated.

This book is about the nature of marriage itself, of what it meant to our ancestors, of how the public responded to disputes, and about the rights of women and children. Some sales were initiated by women, who were often nameless, but appear as intelligent, opinionated and who knew their rights. There were many men and women who believed there was an alternative to a life of misery, to be ended by death.

You can buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Frolicksome-Women-Troublesome-Wives-Selling/dp/191282907X

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Frolicksome-Women-Troublesome-Wives-Selling/dp/191282907X

A selection of other books by Barb Drummond:

A review for Stride, Shuffle or Crawl: A Glastonbury Walk

Gives you exactly what you want. I wanted to know more about the Tor and getting up there. I might crawl up one side but then I think I could walk on the easy side!

You can find all the reviews and books via: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Barb-Drummond/e/B0034PP5YY

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Barb-Drummond/e/B0034PP5YY

You can find all the books and follow Barb on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1244006.Barb_Drummond

About Barb Drummond

Barb Drummond has been researching and self-publishing books on British history for over a decade. She writes about art, architecture, civil engineering and abolition of the slave trade. She has appeared on local tv and radio, carried out research for the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum and is often consulted by researchers.

On September 4 2018 she published a trio of quirky, original books:
Mr Bridges’ Enlightenment Machine: Forty Years on Tour in Georgian Britain
Frolicksome Women and Troublesome Wives: Wife Selling in England
The Midas of Manumission: Samuel Gist and his Virginian Slaves

Connect to Barb Drummond

Website: https://barbdrummond.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/texthistory
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/barb.drummond.92
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/barb-drummond-a8b54417/

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will explore Barb Drummond’s books further.. I do love the title of Frolicksome Women…..thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Writer in Residence – Barbara Villiers Part 2: Uncrowned Queen by Paul Andruss


That time of the month when we are given a fantastic glimpse into the lives of those celebrities who have gone before. In the last post, Paul Andruss introduced us to the infamous Barbara Villiers.. mistress of many.

You can catch up with part one here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2018/04/27/smorgasbord-blog-magazine-writer-in-residence-barbara-villiers-part-1-the-return-of-the-king-by-paul-andruss/

Barbara Villiers Part 2: Uncrowned Queen by Paul Andruss.

Barbara as the Virgin Mary & her rival Frances Stuart (Nation Portrait Gallery)

When Charles became king, the great and good of the land queued up to pimp their wives and daughters to him for political favour. Barbara had the brains to get in first and do it on her own behalf while he was in exile as the Prince of Wales. Perhaps this was the reason she was almost universally hated by her peers.

Barbara was an irresistible combination: womanly wiles and balls bigger than any man. Safe under the king’s protection as the mother of his children, she played male courtiers at their own game and won. Something no Restoration gentleman could easily swallow.

Despite her volatility and adultery with the king, the famous diarist of the age, Samuel Pepys, was besotted by her loveliness although even he admitted ‘while I admire her beauty I know she is a whore’.

Courtiers sourly described her as a woman of unremitting personal vileness and greed, who wasted little time on social inferiors. Even close friends described her as querulous, fierce and infamously rude. Yet she was fun and generous, with a heart to match her temper. When scaffolding collapsed in the theatre, Barbara was the only court lady to rush to assist an injured child.

Critics claimed Barbara held sway over the king because she was skilled in the arts of Aretino, a 16th century Italian erotic poet. The truth is probably simpler. While gentlemen of the time were expected to publically flaunt their mistresses, Barbara was probably one of the very few people Charles could be entirely himself with.

It was the same with Louis, the much admired Sun King, whom Charles modelled himself on. A King was the source of all bounty, splendour and favour, and as such could trust no one; especially those closest. Charles knew Barbara’s limitless ambition, rapaciousness and sexual appetite matched his own. The fact he understood her so well made her safe. It certainly amused him to use her to put down others.

Having given birth to their first child while Charles was in exile, Barbara became Charles’ uncrowned queen. Charles could not marry her as she was already married and divorce was out of the question. In need of cash and allies, he married the rich, plain, convent-schooled Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza to whom he was betrothed as a child.

In the process he gained a valuable ally against Spain in Portugal and a dowry rumoured to be £360,000 (over £29 million in today’s money) of which he lavished an annual income of £5,000 (£400,000) on Barbara. He also bought her expensive presents: £10,000 on a pair of diamond earrings (around £800,000 today).

Charles and Catherine were married less than a month after Charles’ coronation. He spent every night before the wedding in Barbara’s bed, despite the fact she was heavily pregnant with their second child. While the royal couple honeymooned in Hampton Court Palace, Barbara insisted she was also lodged there, on hand, so to speak.

Against Catherine’s wishes, Charles appointed Barbara a lady-of-the-Queen’s-bedchamber: allowing him easy access to his mistress. When Barbara was presented, the Queen fainted and refused her. But Catherine was no match for Barbara, who had a quiet word with the King: suggesting he rule his wife before she ruled him. Charles took her advice, dismissing all of Catherine’s Portuguese ladies and in effect isolating the queen until she complied. After this Barbara used every opportunity to humiliate the queen.

She flaunted her position by helping herself to money from the Privy Purse and taking bribes from the Spanish and the French. She meddled in politics and sold audiences with the King to those seeking advancement. When Barbara’s cousin, Charles’ most trusted advisor, declared her an embarrassment to the court and begged Charles to give her up, Charles replied Lady Castlemaine’s enemies were also his. Barbara never forgave her cousin and did not rest until he was dismissed from the king’s service.

Barbara loved to show off her wealth. She would go to the theatre wearing £30,000 in jewels. She thought nothing of losing enormous sums gambling; once losing £25,000 (or around two million) in one evening. The King in an attempt to cover her mounting debts gave her the old Tudor royal palace of Nonsuch in Surrey, which she proceeded to tear down, selling it off piecemeal.

The new broadsheet newspapers eagerly reported Barbara’s exploits. The public adored her. Her official portraits, in dresses revealing her bosom, were copied onto engravings and sold to a besotted public, making Barbara one of the most recognised women in England. In one famous portrait she cheekily posed as the Virgin Mary with her bastard first born as the infant Christ.

In 1663, the fifteen-year-old Lady Frances Stuart was appointed a lady-in-waiting to the Queen. Pepys described her as ‘the prettiest girl in all the world’. Frances was immortalised as Britannia on the obverse face of the old British Penny (until decimal currency arrived in 1971).

Charles was smitten with Frances. Her refusal to yield to him only inflamed his desire. Seeing the way the wind was blowing, Barbara abetted the king in seducing her young rival. She invited Frances to her rooms. As the evening turned silly, they played at marriage, with Barbara being the husband and Frances the bride. Unknown to the girl, it was arranged for Charles to surprise them and consummate the nuptials. Somehow Frances escaped.

Barbara was not pleased when a few later the Queen became so ill Charles believed she would die. He declared if she did, he would marry Frances, simply to get his way. Fortunately the Queen recovered and soon after Frances eloped with the Duke of Richmond, the King’s cousin: earning the queen’s undying gratitude. A furious Charles vowed never to forgive Frances. It says something for his temperament that he did. When Frances was widowed, he settled a life pension on her, and had his physician attend her when she suffered smallpox, which left her scarred for life.

In 1168 Charles became enamoured with actress Nell Gwynne. The King delighted in being called Charles III, as Nell had two lovers before him also called Charles. At 28 Barbara’s beauty was fading and her appeal coming to an end, yet despite being supplanted in the king’s bed she still held a lot of power. The King’s mistresses were expected to turn a blind eye to his dalliances and remain constant. Not so Barbara she was furious and jealously took lovers of her own, which only amused the King.

Young John Churchill (National Portrait Gallery)

Three years later Barbara took as a lover 21-year-old John Churchill, grimly ambitious and ten years her junior. She settled an income of £5,000 a year on him (£400,000): the same amount Charles initially gave her. Winston Churchill’s ancestor is another fascinating story but not one for here. The story goes when Charles surprised Barbara and John in bed, he laughed it off, telling the young man he knew he had to earn a living. The great whore now had a whore of her own.

In 1663, when Charles’ was pursuing Frances Stuart, 23-year-old Barbara became a Catholic. It is not known why; although Charles was a secret Catholic sympathiser. At the time it was laughed off by the Royal court who claimed the Rome gained nothing, and the Church of England lost nothing, by her conversion. The King joked he was interested in ladies’ bodies, not their souls.

It was to prove Barbara’s undoing when a decade later a new law forbade Catholics from holding official positions. At the age 33 Barbara lost her position as Lady of the Bedchamber, and the King cast her aside in favour of a new mistress Louise de Kérouaille.

The King advised Barbara to live quietly and cause no scandal, in which case he ‘cared not whom she loved’. Barbara did everything except live quietly. She lost everything due to her huge gambling debts. Happily she was briefly reconciled with the King. They spent a night together (for old times sake?) shortly before he died. Barbara died of dropsy aged 68 in Walpole House in Chiswick: a place she is said to haunt.

Barbara descendants include Prince Andrew’s ex-wife Sarah Ferguson and Prince Charles’ Lady Diana Spencer. One cannot help think, given the way things turned out, if would be far more appropriate for Barbara to have been an ancestor of Camilla Parker Bowles: Charles mistress and love of his life during his marriage to Diana, and now his current wife. Unfortunately Camilla is not. She is descended from Charles II through an illegitimate son to Louise de Kérouaille: the woman who replaced Barbara in Charles’ affections.

As I said previously: small world!

©Paul Andruss 2018

As Paul says… a very small world, and nothing new in history!  Thanks as always to Paul for his informative and highly entertaining post. Barbara Villiers was quite the woman….

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

Find out more about Paul and his books – Writer in Residence: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

and Paul’s Gardening Column: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-gardening-column-by-paul-andruss/

Paul would love to receive your comments and questions…. thanks Sally

Writer in Residence -Companion Post to Barbara Viliers – Plights of Restoration Women by Paul Andruss


Elizabeth Pepys by Rita Greer 2007 (Historical Painter)

The original title was Rights of Restoration Women, but I soon realised how brief that would be. In this companion to Barbara Villiers on Smorgasbord, I focus on how men saw women, and women saw themselves in Restoration England (1660-1690).

Despite having Queen Elizabeth I on the throne for 45 years a century earlier, a woman’s place in society did not really change from medieval times to the 20th century, except when convenient to plug the holes caused by plague and war. During the Civil War, as with other wars, women stepped into the breach running businesses and estates. Once war was over they were expected to step aside for men.

There were two careers for women during Restoration times. Both involved going into a man’s house; either through the front door as his wife or through the back door as his servant. The law required all single women, between 12 and 40, without visible means of support to go into service. Even middle-class diarist Samuel Pepys’ unmarried sister, was obliged to take a number of menial servant positions, until Samuel forked out £600 (around £50,000 today) for a dowry to persuade someone to marry her.

Although some London Guilds admitted the daughters as well as sons of members, records show pitifully few women registered in trade. At best women might be dressmakers or run a husband’s shop, as women did work in retail. Many women were unlicensed street vendors selling perishable foodstuffs. Women ran shops in the fashionable arcades such as the Royal Exchange, but this was to attract male shoppers.

Only guildsmen could own London shops, so it is likely those women worked for male relatives: although rights could pass to daughters as well as widows. The law ensured widows’ rights over her husband’s property. But this did not prevent a widow being forcibly re-married against her will, at which point her property became her new husband’s.

Once conducted by a clergyman marriage was legal, regardless of the circumstances. What God hath joined let no man put asunder. Divorce was not an option. There were no legal grounds- not infidelity, rape in marriage, brutality, syphilis or madness.

It is a myth Henry VIII divorced his wives. Henry dissolved his first marriage to Catherine of Aragon using the legal nicety of incest. Catherine was betrothed to his brother. He claimed they slept together. She denied it. With Anne of Cleves, the marriage was simply not consummated.

To read the rest of this fascinating post please head over: http://www.paul-andruss.com/plights-of-restoration-women/

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is the author of two books and you can find out more by clicking the image.

Finn Mac CoolThomas the Rhymer

Connect to Paul on social media.

Blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

You can find two directories for Paul Andruss on Smorgasbord – Writer in Residence: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

and Paul’s Gardening Column: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/the-gardening-column-by-paul-andruss/

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Sally’s Book Reviews – Owen: Book One in the Tudor Trilogy by Tony Riches


Today my review is for the first in the Tudor Trilogy – Owen by Tony Riches. I have actually just finished all three books in the trilogy and will review the other two books at some point in the near future. I can however recommend all three books and enjoyed reading them back to back.

About Owen – Book One of the Tudor Trilogy.

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, OWEN is the epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience as he changes the course of English history.

England 1422: Owen Tudor, a Welsh servant, waits in Windsor Castle to meet his new mistress, the beautiful and lonely Queen Catherine of Valois, widow of the warrior king, Henry V. Her infant son is crowned King of England and France, and while the country simmers on the brink of civil war, Owen becomes her protector.

They fall in love, risking Owen’s life and Queen Catherine’s reputation—but how do they found the dynasty which changes British history – the Tudors?

This is the first historical novel to fully explore the amazing life of Owen Tudor, grandfather of King Henry VII and the great-grandfather of King Henry VIII. Set against a background of the conflict between the Houses of Lancaster and York, which develops into what have become known as the Wars of the Roses, Owen’s story deserves to be told.

My review for the book.

I loved history at school but it was never taught in depth. Central figures such as Elizabeth I, Queen Mary of Scotland and of course Henry VIII were mentioned, as were major battles or events in their lives. But you never got to know the person behind the crown or those around them in great detail.

I discovered Bernard Cornwell at an early age and have read all his books. And that is why I am delighted to have discovered Tony Riches, who writes his books with the people as the focus, with the events being incorporated into their story, rather than the other way around. This accomplished with not just superb story-telling but by giving Owen Tudor his own voice.

It is 1422 a few years after the Welsh rebellion led by Owen Glendower against Henry IV fails, and his supporters, including his cousins the Tudor family, have also lost lands and titles.

Owen Tudor has been a soldier serving in France, but is now a servant in a privileged position at Windsor castle when the young widow of Henry V, Queen Catherine of Valois arrives with her baby son, Prince Henry later to be King Henry VI. Their first meeting was to be fateful, and during the following years of civil war in England, would lead to the founding of the Tudor dynasty.

Tony Riches takes us through the next 40 years in this first book in the trilogy. It begins as a love story that would change the course of history, but it also provides a clear and engrossing background to the beginning of the hostilities between the Houses of York and Lancaster.

Alliances change rapidly with the English throne as the ultimate prize.  What might be dismissed as minor engagements are given the respect they deserve, as integral moves in a chess game that spans decades, and is played adjacent to, and part of the 100 years war between the English monarchy and the French House of Valois.

The characters, even those with a less regal role, are richly drawn and deliver a much enjoyed respite from the destructive and violent events of the time. Sympathy grows for the young royal brides barely in their teens who are traded for land, alliances and truces. The cost of disloyalty is harsh and usually brutally extracted, unless there might be more to gain from clemency.

I would recommend the book as one that brings the cast members of this long drawn out struggle for power into the spotlight. History is a wonderful subject; but can be very dry and indigestible in the wrong hands. That is not the case with the Tudor Trilogy and whilst Tony Riches has created additional fictitious characters and events within the story, they serve to bring the lead cast members to life.

I highly recommend the following two books in the trilogy as well.

Read some of the 300 reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Owen-Book-One-Tudor-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B011YBZU8U

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Owen-Book-One-Tudor-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B011YBZU8U

A selection of other books by Tony Riches

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tony-Riches/e/B006UZWOXA

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Tony-Riches/e/B006UZWOX

Read more reviews and follow Tony Riches on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5604088.Tony_Riches

About Tony Riches

Tony Riches is a full-time writer and lives with his wife in Pembrokeshire, West Wales. After several successful non-fiction books, Tony turned to novel writing and wrote ‘Queen Sacrifice’, set in 10th century Wales, followed by ‘The Shell’, a thriller set in present day Kenya. A specialist in the history of the early Tudors, he is best known for his Tudor Trilogy. Tony’s other international best sellers include ‘Warwick ~ The Man Behind the Wars of the Roses’ and ‘The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham’.

Connect to Tony Riches

Website: http://www.tonyriches.com
Blog: http://www.tonyriches.co.uk
Twitter: https://twitter.com/tonyriches
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tony.riches.9

Thank you for dropping in today and hope you have enjoyed the review as much as I enjoyed the books in this trilogy.

 

 

Smorgasbord Posts from Your Archives – Is history the agreed upon lie? by Christoph Fischer


Today begins a series of posts from the archives of author Christoph Fischer who in his research for books has found it difficult at times to discover the truth of events. History is usually written by the victors…. in the days before World War I and II the only source of information was state owned media in print and then in radio. If that is the only truth you are fed then it will colour your observations and also recollections of events.

Is history the agreed upon lie? by Christoph Fischer

I must say that this is an excellent question and one that I have often thought about before writing historical novels.

Image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin_Wall

When the Berlin Wall came down, the German press was full of Chancellor Kohl walking along a river with President Gorbachev and the myth was created that on this “walk-and-talk” only Kohl’s diplomatic skills led to the German reunification. Praise the hero and superman Kohl. But was it really likely that anyone wanted two separate German states or cared in the period that was Glasnost? At the times many bought into the story, after all, didn’t it sound nicer than the idea that Russia had no longer an interest in the broken satellite state? Still, the myth made its way to history books and has always slightly bothered me because in my view it was created for all the wrong reasons.

In my research for “The Luck of the Weissensteiners”, I came across quite a few sources that seemed politically coloured. One history book about Slovakia as a state from the middle ages to the present only had a short chapter about the entire WWII era and it pretty much painted a whiter than white picture of Slovakia, an axis power at the time. Although it appears that the author didn’t even speak the language and had not researched within the country archives, there was no dispute about the book since it agreed with the polished version of events that many people in present day Slovakia would prefer to agree upon.

Archives have been destroyed by the axis powers, collaborators of Hitler managed to find their way back into the important positions, Communist regimes tried to white wash the former fascist past to bring the nation in line with its policy and many other factors might have come into play and make efficient research admittedly difficult. Let alone human sentiment and forgetfulness.

Mary Heimann learned Czech and did enormous research of her own for a book on Czechoslovakia as a state, but her findings are highly disputed, partially because they may not be totally waterproof and partially probably because they are painting a much less favourable picture of both Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

One example: Jews in Slovakia were safe for an extremely long time compared to other axis power states. The religious wing of the Fascist party claims credit for it. Others claim that the high price per head for each Jew that had to be paid to the German Reich had something to do with the reluctance of the then government to comply with Hitler’s demands.
Personal presidential exemption papers to save individual Jews from transportation allegedly were used in multiple thousands according to some sources but in much smaller numbers in others.

Admittedly, with so much original data destroyed and with such strong political and personal agendas to portray one’s country retrospectively, with eye witnesses dying away, who is to say which version is indeed true?

During my research for “The Luck of the Weissensteiners” I saw so many references made to the golden days of Vienna before WWI, the tolerant multi-cultural city and the Jew-friendly times. It was why I decided to set “Sebastian” in that period. My research for the new book however showed a much more complex and less favourable picture than I had anticipated. Particularly the work of Stefan Zweig, a Jew living in those times, challenges those assumptions strongly. Of course his work is mainly fiction and the history books can dismiss him easily as non-academic. So who do we believe?

Somewhere in my research a source wisely suggested that because of the horror that came twenty years later people’s memory changed their perception of the times and idealised the times in comparison, which makes a lot of sense.

The consequence for me as a writer is to keep checking data, to read all sides to a story and remember that history books are all relative when it comes to unquantifiable data. It is a continuous dispute and in most cases a wonderful challenge to think for yourself and maybe to find the occasional source material that brings in new light and aspects to what you think you knew.

I tried in my books to use the controversy in my favour, to let different characters make opposing statements, assumptions and predictions. Many of those characters didn’t have a television, radio or any type of reliable data to find out about what goes on beyond their own little corner of the world. And who can claim to have the comprehensive view, the complete information and can be sure to draw the right conclusions. All of this makes history exciting and a living process as long as it is not deliberately falsified. The line between misinterpretation and lie however are often more than blurred.

©Christoph Fischer 2013

About Christoph Fischer

Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years he moved on to the UK where he now lives in a small town in West Wales. He and his partner have three Labradoodles to complete their family.

Christoph worked for the British Film Institute, in Libraries, Museums and for an airline. ‘
The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ was published in November 2012; ‘Sebastian’ in May 2013 and ‘The Black Eagle Inn’ in October 2013 – which completes his ‘Three Nations Trilogy’. “Time to Let Go”, his first contemporary work was published in May 2014, and “Conditions”, another contemporary novel, in October 2014. The sequel “Conditioned” was published in October 2015. His medical thriller “The Healer” was released in January 2015 and his second thriller “The Gamblers” in June 2015. He published two more historical novels “In Search of a Revolution” in March 2015 and “Ludwika” in December 2015.
He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.

The Luck of the Weissensteiners: Book 1 of The Three Nations Trilogy

About the book

In the sleepy town of Bratislava in 1933 a romantic girl falls for a bookseller from Berlin. Greta Weissensteiner, daughter of a Jewish weaver, slowly settles into life with the Winkelmeier clan. The political climate and slow disintegration of the multi-cultural society in Czechoslovakia becomes more complex and affects relations between the couple and their families.
The story follows their lot through the war with its torment, destruction and its unpredictability – and the equally hard times after.

From the moment that Greta Weissensteiner enters the bookstore where Wilhelm Winkelmeier works, and entrances him with her good looks and serious ways, I was hooked. But this is no ordinary romance; in tact it is not a romance at all, but a powerful, often sad, Holocaust story.

What makes The Luck of the Weissensteiners so extraordinary is the chance Christoph Fischer gives his readers to consider the many different people who were never in concentration camps, never in the military, yet who nonetheless had their own indelible Holocaust experiences. Set in the fascinating area of Bratislava, this is a wide-ranging, historically accurate exploration of the connections between social location, personal integrity and, as the title says, luck. I cared about every one of this novel’s characters and continued to think about them long after I’d finished reading.

One of the many excellent reviews for the book

It’s THAT good on 9 September 2013

Following Greta from pre-WWII Bratislava through Carlsbad through Aschaffenburg and ultimately to post-war Frankfurt is a well-written journey. Fischer’s The Luck of the Weissensteiners had me hooked into the journey, turning pages and asking the same question Greta stumbles upon frequently, “Where were friends or enemies?”

The novel is a historically sound piece dealing with loyalty, stigma, love, loneliness and oppression set against a backdrop of Eastern Europe’s turmoil. The characters’ lives were confounded at so many intersections by the results of a powerful anti-Semetic propaganda campaign. They don’t go to an Auschwitz or Buchenwald, but you quickly see that avoiding the camps was not freedom for the articulately drawn and likeable characters. You want to see what happens next to them and can feel the tension Fischer relays so well.

Chapters 3, 10 and 13 capture Greta’s emotion, tragedies and near-misses so intensely I bookmarked and went back for a welcome re-read. The book accomplishes a lot in covering more than a decade and a half without making a reader feeling rushed or missing something in the timeline. It’s paced that well … and the Epilogue cleanly tied together the themes and characters of the entire novel as a great exhibit of Fischer’s talent.

Read some of the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Luck-Weissensteiners-Three-Nations-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00AFQC4QC

And Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Luck-Weissensteiners-Three-Nations-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B00AFQC4QC

A selection of the books by Christoph Fischer.

Read all the reviews and buy the books: http://www.amazon.com/Christoph-Fischer/e/B00CLO9VMQ

and on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Christoph-Fischer/e/B00CLO9VMQ

Read more reviews and follow Christoph on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6590171.Christoph_Fischer

Connect to Christoph

Website: http://www.christophfischerbooks.com/
Blog: http://writerchristophfischer.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CFFBooks
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/christophffisch/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=241333846
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WriterChristophFischer?ref=hl

My thanks to Christoph for sharing this post from his archives. Today with televised news on the spot in most countries it is more difficult to subvert the truth, despite some governments best efforts.  It will be interesting to come back in a hundred years to see how present day events have been manipulated!

I am now looking for assorted Festive posts for December, recollections of Christmas past, family, humour, short stories, poems, recipes etc.. Have a delve through your previous December posts and if you are not planning on re-using.. pop them over to me at sally.cronin@moyhill.com

Writer in Residence – The Thirteenth Apostle (and his mum) by Paul Andruss


Today part one of the story of The Thirteenth Apostle (and his mum) from Paul Andruss.  As with any legend, there is usually some variations on the origins and plenty of embellishments by later historians, that need to be resolved. Paul takes on the task and unravels the stories to reveal the probable truth behind Constantine the Great, the first Christian Emperor.. and his mother Helena.

The Thirteenth Apostle (and his mum) by Paul Andruss

Statue of Constantine the Great at York (source: schoolworkhelper)

This is about an illegitimate boy, who grew up to inherit a shattered empire and changed the world; who overthrew pantheons of gods for the one his old mum worshipped.

Although he was not baptised until on his deathbed, he claimed to be Christ’s most favoured disciple. At one time he was believed to be a British king who became emperor of the Romans; and his mum, Helena, a British Princess who found the true cross of Jesus and became a saint, which ain’t too shabby for a barmaid.

Constantine the Great, the first Christian Emperor, was once considered British born and bred. The legend went something like this. His dad, Constantius, was a Roman senator who came to Britain to meet old King Cole in Colchester. Yes, that old King Cole, although he wasn’t such a merry old soul when he thought the Romans were coming to knock him off his throne. When Cole died, Constantius took the throne for himself and married Cole’s daughter, the beautiful Princess Helena. In due course their son Constantine became king and sometime later took his army off to the continent to thrash the perfidious Romans and ended up becoming Emperor.

Head of the Colossus of Constantine in the Courtyard of the Palazzo dei Conservatori of the Musei Capitolini, (source: jacabook.it)

As with all legends, there are nuggets of truth mixed with fool’s gold. There probably was an Old King Cole (in legend called Coel Hen meaning Old Cole), but nothing is known of him except he wasn’t king of Colchester, which is named from the Roman words for ‘colony’ and ‘fort’. He probably was a warlord working for the Romans beyond Hadrian’s Wall, around 350 AD: a quarter of a century after Constantine died.

Part of Constantine’s legend is mixed up with another Roman General who left Britain to become Emperor almost a century later. Magnus Maximus, which modestly translates as Greatest of the Great, was married a British Princess called St Helena of Wales, and they had a son named Custennin (Welsh for Constantine).

Constantius Chlorus (Source: Alchetron)

Our Constantine’s dad was Constantius Chlorus, meaning pale or literally green. He may have been suffering from chlorosis: a pernicious anaemia, or even leukaemia. He was a member of the emperor’s bodyguard who worked his way up to Caesar. At this time the Empire was divided between four rulers: the Eastern and Western senior emperors called Augusti and their juniors named Caesars. Constantius came to stop the Scottish Picts raiding the Roman province of Britain.

Constantine’s mum was not a princess. She was an inn keeper’s daughter from the Black Sea and probably his common-law wife as the army did not approve of soldiers marrying.

By the time Constantius became Caesar he had dumped her for a political marriage to his Augustus’ daughter.

Constantius recognised Constantine as his son and heir meaning the lad grew up as a hostage to his father’s loyalty in the Emperor Diocletian’s court, where he became a favourite due to his military prowess. When Diocletian abdicated in May 305, rather than take his chances in the bloodbath that invariably accompanied a new Emperor’s reign, Constantine fled to his dad in Britain.

When his father died at York six months later, the soldiers elected the 32 year old Constantine to the rank of Caesar. While this was by no means unusual, you still had to fight for it. Constantine spent the next 20 years killing off his rivals to emerge as sole emperor.

His first major battle, and miracle, was at Milvian Bridge outside Rome, in 313 AD, against his rival Western Emperor. Details are sketchy. The story goes he had a dream before the battle advising him to make his soldiers paint their shields with the Chi Rho (two Greek letters X=CH & P=R) used as an acrostic for Christ. Later, this became a vision of a cross in the sun with the words ‘by this conquer’ witnessed by Constantine and his army. That story first appears in his biography written by Bishop Eusebius long after Constantine’s death.

The Chi- Ro Source: (clker .com)

The story is a good example of the propaganda obscuring Constantine’s reign. As the first Christian Emperor instead of history we have hagiography (holy-writing), usually reserved for the miraculous lives of saints. In part, this might be due to Constantine’s own influence.

Eusebius also states a year later Constantine issued the Edict of Milan, recognising Christianity as a legal religion. This is another gloss. The edict did not promote Christianity but merely affirmed the previous Edict of Toleration ending Diocletian’s Christian Persecution. It had been rescinded by the Eastern Augustus, enemy of Constantine and his Augustus Licinius. Although Constantine may have been responsible, the edict was issued in Licinius’ name. Yet when Eusebius wrote Constantine’s biography, Licinius’ was demonised.

After their victory, Licinius made Constantine the Western Augustus; taking for himself the more prosperous East. Constantine carried on the civil war. In 323, at the age of 50 he emerged as sole ruler after his sister had persuaded her husband Licinius to surrender in return for his life. Two months later Constantine had him murdered: no one knows why.

During his struggle for ultimate power, Constantine was careful to avoid any mention of Christ. Instead he used Sol Invictus – the Unconquered Sun (whose holy day was Sunday) – as the symbol of the supreme god. Yet while he was careful not to upset the Senate or citizens of largely pagan Rome, he refused to attend a victory sacrifice to Jupiter and spent a lot of his own money restoring Rome’s damaged churches.

Once Constantine was sole emperor he issued a proclamation, in the name of Christ, saying all citizens regardless of religious belief, should be able to enjoy a life of peace and concord. Despite this he had no compunction consulting pagan oracles or displaying himself as Sol Invictus when it suited.

It is often said Christianity’s appeal for Constantine was its unity and organisation. Different peoples united in belief are easier to control than those divided by a plethora of gods. Christians were obedient to the elders and priests, who were in turn subject to an Overseer (the original meaning of Bishop). Christians also willingly paid church taxes.

Paganism was certainly nowhere near as organised, as evidenced some 50 years later when the emperor Julian the Apostate was ridiculed and possibly assassinated for trying to reintroduce the old gods. Yet the words vicar and diocese originally came from pagan Roman politics. (Pagan is a Christian word meaning a sort of country bumpkin.)

After almost a century of civil war Constantine’s main priority was an empire united by one church and one god, under one emperor. Yet he found Christianity riven by schism. The latest dispute concerned whether Christ had the same or a similar nature to God.

Constantine wrote to the bishops concerned asking them to bury their trivial differences for the sake of the empire.

When he was ignored, he summoned all the bishops to a Synod at Nicene to thrash out their differences. Constantine flattered them, pandered to their arrogance and in the end threatened them into agreeing a common creed. Although he thought he succeeded, Christians have continued to be at each other’s throats ever since. A millennium later Roman and Greek Orthodoxy split. Soon afterwards Protestant dissidents split from Catholicism.

In 326 Constantine had his wife and eldest son executed amid rumours they had an affair. Constantine was jealous of his son’s popularity with the army and people, and may have feared for his life. Constantine’s wife, and mother of his 5 children, was killed a few weeks later in bathhouse sauna. It is unknown if she was stabbed or locked in to be suffocated by the steam and broiled alive.

One of Constantine’s first acts as Emperor was to send for his mother. He renamed her birthplace Helenopolis and awarded her the title of Augusta Imperatrix instead of his wife. It was no empty title. An Augusta could issue her own coinage, wear imperial regalia, and rule her own courts. No wonder his wife was furious; perhaps this is what prompted her, possibly real, and certainly alleged affair with his son. Finally he gave his mother unlimited access to the imperial treasury to locate holy relics.

At the age of 72 Helena enthusiastically set off to Jerusalem where, according to legend she discovered the crosses of Jesus and the two thieves and was able to distinguish the true cross when a dying woman recovered after touching it. Strangely, the normally sycophantic Bishop Eusebius fails to mention this.

Helena sent the true cross, along with some thorns from the crown of thorns, and nails from the crucifixion to aid her son; who allegedly placed one nail in his helmet and another in his horse’s bridle. She took full advantage of the imperial treasury by endowing churches at Bethlehem, in the Sinai Desert at the place of the burning bush, and the Holy Sepulchre after having the area levelled and cleared.

It is not certain what happened to Helena, some historians report she brought the treasures back in person. Others, by their silence, indicate she died in the Holy Land on pilgrimage. I rather hope it was the latter and she died enjoying thoroughly herself. Helena was declared a saint.

The Relics of St Helena were on loan in Athens from the Vatican in 2017 (Source : http://www.keeptalkinggreece.com)

Part Two next Friday.. same time.

©Paul Andruss 2017

About Paul Andruss

Paul Andruss is a writer whose primary focus is to take a subject, research every element thoroughly and then bring the pieces back together in a unique and thought provoking way. His desire to understand the origins of man, history, religion, politics and the minds of legends who rocked the world is inspiring. He does not hesitate to question, refute or make you rethink your own belief system and his work is always interesting and entertaining. Whilst is reluctant to talk about his own achievements he offers a warm and generous support and friendship to those he comes into contact with.

Paul is a modest but very talented author and he has two books currently available. Thomas the Rhymer – a magical fantasy for ages 11 to adult about a boy attempting to save fairy Thomas the Rhymer, while trying to rescue his brother from a selfish fairy queen.

I have read and reviewed Thomas the Rhymer earlier in the year, and here is the link to download the epub version of the books for FREE.

Thomas the Rhymer Paul Andruss

Paul also has a pdf file available and you can read for FREE by obtaining a copy from Barnes & Noble for Nook readers and also from Kobo.

You can find out how to download from Paul’s site and also links to the other options at this link. http://www.jackhughesbooks.com/amazon-links.php

It would be amazing if you do download and enjoy the book as much as I did. If so then it would be great if you could put a review on Amazon by adding in a sentence at the beginning – Disclaimer: I was gifted with a copy of this book from the author..  Or you can leave a review on Facebook and tag Paul in the post by using his full name Paul George Boylan.

Finn Mac Cool

Paul’s second books is Finn Mac Cool – rude, crude and funny, explicitly sexual and disturbingly violent, Finn Mac Cool is strictly for adults only.

Connect to Paul on social media.

Blog: http://www.paul-andruss.com/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/paul.andruss.9
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Paul_JHBooks
Google+  https://plus.google.com/s/+jackhughesbooks

You can find all of Paul’s posts in this directory: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/writer-in-residence-writer-paul-andruss/

Thank you for dropping by today and please feel free to share the post on your own blog and networks. Thanks Sally