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Christopher Gortner – The Tudor Conspiracy

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My interest in the Tudor era stemmed not from my history teacher (who was a teacher of the most excellent sort), and not from books (I was not reading history texts at that age), but from two things: My first visit to the historical sights of London – including the Tower and Hampton Court – and the Royal Armouries (then in the tower) with the magnificent armour of Henry VIII. Needless to say, as a lover of history, the interest that triggered has never left, and though my focus is primarily on the ancient world, I still love a little Renaissance culture from time to time.

If, like me, you’re fascinated by the intrigues, plots, wars and religious troubles of the Tudor era, you’re probably already aware that Christopher Gortner, author of a number of excellent novels, including The Queen’s Vow – Review here, has a fabulous novel out, named The Tudor Conspiracy, already available in hardback but now in paperback release. The sequel to The Tudor Secret, and second in the ‘Elizabeth’s Spymaster‘ series, this novel sees Mary Tudor, new to the throne of England, facing plots and threats. Her half-sister Elizabeth is in grave danger as one of Mary’s perceived enemies, and only the resourceful Brendan Prescott can save her by plunging into a world of danger and plots.

I am privileged to have been asked to be part of Christopher’s Blog Tour for the release of the new book, and there follows a guest post by the man himself, in which he delves into the rivalry between the two sisters who sit at the heart the novel’s plot. Read and enjoy:

The Tudor Conspiracy

Mary and Elizabeth: Sisters and Rivals

There is something fascinating, and disturbing, about family members who turn on one another. The Tudor dynasty is no exception. Though Henry VIII did not sire many children, considering how often he wed, history has perhaps no sisters more famous for their rivalry than his two daughters, Mary and Elizabeth.

Born of the king’s marriages to his first and second wives, respectively, Mary and Elizabeth were both declared bastards in turn after Henry divorced Mary’s mother, Catherine of Aragon, and had Elizabeth’s mother, Anne Boleyn, beheaded. The rivalry between the two mothers, each determined to hold onto their crown and defend their child, set the stage for a legacy of mistrust between the daughters, who were as different in temperament as any sisters could be.

The eldest by seventeen years, Mary went from an adored childhood to a horrifying adolescence in which she saw her beloved mother supplanted by another. Humiliated and relegated to the status of a servant in her baby sister Elizabeth’s household, the scars of Mary’s teenage years can’t be underestimated.

Elizabeth, on the other hand, was barely three when her mother died and she was made illegitimate. A famous quip from this time is attributed to her when informed of her new status: “How is that yesterday I was Princess Elizabeth and today only Lady Elizabeth?” Young as she was, Elizabeth had a keen grasp of her situation. She grew into womanhood surrounded by danger and became adept at the rules of survival, aware that one misstep could lead to her doom, her mother’s example always before her.

Both sisters understood the perils intrinsic to royal life, but while Elizabeth learned to play the cards dealt to her, Mary remained steadfast in her right to stand above the crowd. They both had courage but their experiences couldn’t have been more disparate. Elizabeth was born into, and raised, in the Protestant Faith; like their brother Edward, she embraced it. Mary resisted, both from a deep-seated belief inculcated in her as by the rigidity of her own character, which was not given to change even when circumstances called for it. In the end, whatever rapprochement the sisters found as outsiders uncertain of their place, denigrated into savage rivalry when Mary became queen against all odds and they found themselves pitted against each other.

Mary could not forgive the insults tendered to her by Anne Boleyn and in time, she came to see Elizabeth as the very incarnation of her late mother. In turn, Elizabeth began to recognize the stony threat that Mary’s hatred posed to her and her fragile position as the sole hope for the Protestant cause in England. Their pasts had made them who they were; and their struggle for supremacy would divide the country, sisters and rivals unto death.

This rivalry is the core of my new novel, THE TUDOR CONSPIRACY. Thank you for spending this time with me. To find out more about me and my books, please visit me at: www.cwgortner.com

* * *

My thanks again to Christopher Gortner.

The Tudor Conspiracy by Christopher Gortner is published by Hodder & Stoughton in paperback and ebook, £8.99.

Go buy it. Amazon link here.


Written by SJAT

January 23, 2014 at 11:25 am

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