I am thrilled to have author David Pilling as guest today and tomorrow, talking about his latest book, THE WHITE HAWK, and the fascinating period of English history in which it takes place. Without further ado, here’s David.
“A Bolton, a Bolton! The White Hawk! God for Lancaster and Saint George!”
England, 1459: the kingdom stands divided and on the brink of civil war. The factions of Lancaster and York vie for control of the King, while their armies stand poised, ready to tear each other to pieces.
The White Hawk follows the fortunes of a family of Lancastrian loyalists, the Boltons, as they attempt to survive and prosper in this world of brutal warfare and shifting alliances. Surrounded by enemies, their loyalties will be tested to the limit in a series of bloody battles and savage twists of fate.
“This period, with its murderous dynastic feuding between the rival Houses of York and Lancaster, is perhaps the most fascinating of the entire medieval period in England.”
Having lost the Hundred Years War, the English nobility turned on each other in a bitter struggle for the crown, resulting in a spate of beheadings, battles, murders and Gangland-style politics that lasted some thirty years.
Apart from the savage doings of aristocrats, the wars affected people on the lower rungs of society. One minor gentry family in particular, the Pastons of Norfolk, suffered greatly in their attempts to survive and thrive in the feral environment of the late 15th century. They left an invaluable chronicle in their archive of family correspondence, the famous Paston Letters.
The letters provide us with a snapshot of the trials endured by middle-ranking families like the Pastons, and of the measures they took to defend their property from greedy neighbours. One such extract is a frantic plea from the matriarch of the clan, Margaret Paston, begging her son John to return from London:
I greet you well, letting you know that your brother and his fellowship stand in great jeopardy at Caister… Daubney and Berney are dead and others badly hurt, and gunpowder and arrows are lacking. The place is badly broken down by the guns of the other party, so that unless they have hasty help, they are likely to lose both their lives and the place, which will be the greatest rebuke to you that ever came to any gentleman. For every man in this country marvels greatly that you suffer them to be for so long in great jeopardy without help or other remedy…
The Paston Letters, together with my general fascination for the era, were the inspiration for THE WHITE HAWK. Planned as a series of three novels, TWH will follow the fortunes of a fictional Staffordshire family, the Boltons, from the beginning to the very end of The Wars of the Roses. Unquenchably loyal to the House of Lancaster, their loyalty will have dire consequences for them as law and order breaks down and the kingdom slides into civil war. The ‘white hawk’ of the title is the sigil of the Boltons, and will fly over many a blood-stained battlefield.
Tomorrow: an excerpt from THE WHITE HAWK.
In the meantime, take a look inside THE WHITE HAWK at Amazon and be swept away into the war and intrigue of fifteenth-century England.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Pilling was born in West Wales, where he lived for eighteen years imbibing tales of the Mabinogion and Arthurian legend, as well as dragging his parents up and down ruined castles. This history and fairy tale-fixated childhood, along with early exposure to The Once and Future King, sparked his imagination and stuffed it full of castles, kings, knights, swords and jousts etcetera. After a lengthy stint working in various archives in London, including Tate Britain and The Royal Opera House, he is now back in Wales and settled down to write as many historical and epic fantasy tales as his mind can churn out.
As well as writing, David is also a freelance proofreader/copy editor and offers a private family history research service. For details of all this and more, please see his joint website: