Tuesday 4 July 2023

The Book of Alys by Alan Gold BLOG TOUR #TheBookofAlys #AlanGold @Romaunce #AuthorGuestPost @RandomTTours #HistoricalFiction


King Henry II, exhausted from everlasting conflict with France and his sons rebelling against him finds love, solace, and passion after falling for the youthful beauty of Alys and makes her his mistress.

Henry II, now in his late 50s, exhausted from a lifetime of war remains one of the greatest Kings who ruled England. The founder of the ‘Devil’s Brood’, he and his advisors modernized England’s government and society and much more. But it was his jealous family life which caused his life to fall apart.

Alys was the timid 8-year-old daughter of the King of France when sent to England and ultimately forced into marriage with Henry’s violent son Prince Richard, but he ridiculed and rejected her. Within six years, Alys had developed into a ravishing beauty, who was suddenly appealing to the old King himself.

As they grew closer, Alys realised she could only save herself by becoming more powerful. She didn’t want to be a royal mistress like Rosamund, or a princess married to a violent and absent prince like Richard. No, her ambition was to become queen, to replace the formidable, feisty monarch, Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of the most beautiful powerful, and wealthy women in the world.

When a son, William, is born to old Henry and Alys, the young princess now has her life complete, but she needs desperately to succeed and protect him. England has become a maelstrom of baronial factions with Eleanor marshalling her sons, young Henry, Richard, Geoffrey, plus John who try overthrow their father and take possession of his empire. All want the right to rule their own lands, even before old Henry is dead.

The Book of Alys by Alan Gold was published on 31 May 2023 by Romaunce Books. As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour I am delighted to share a guest post written by the author with you today. 

Guest Post from Alan Gold - author of The Book of Alys

Here's a quick quiz.....excluding the past 250 years, think of a woman who was famous in her own right....not as the wife or daughter of some monarch, such as England’s Queen Elizabeth 1st or Russia’s Catherine the Great, but for her own achievements for which she was recognized by her society. Those whom history does record, such as the mathematician Ada Lovelace, author Jane Austen and Joan of Arc, are few and far between.

Until the past two centuries, women have been largely excluded from the records of history. Despite being half the population, and with very few exceptions, the role of women in the development of society has been ignored by historians, chroniclers, and biographers. The exceptions tend to be the wives and daughters of famous men, or women who became queens as a result of their birth, or women who are known to us as whores and seducers.

The reason for this omission of the achievements of half the world’s population, is because history was recorded by mankind, and not womankind.  

Which is the reason that I was drawn so strongly to finding fabulous women who’d lived amazing lives or had done astonishing things, and yet despite their status and achievements, had been written out of history. In their day, they were famous, but long after their demise, when the chroniclers came to write the narrative of their times, because they were women, they barely merited a mention.

Not the wives of rulers, women such as Cleopatra or Eleanor of Aquitaine or Victoria, the last two were queens in their own right. They are better known to us because of specialized history text books; but extraordinary women such as Grace O’Malley, the fabulous Irish pirate who commanded a fleet of ships and men, and who went head-to-head against Queen Elizabeth 1st when the English monarch captured Grace’s son....women such as Gertrude Bell, the woman who was the brains behind Lawrence of Arabia in the First World War and turned the tide against the Kaiser and his desire for Arab oil....women such as Flora Macdonald who played such a vital role in enabling Bonnie Prince Charlie to escape Scotland after the disaster of the Battle of Culloden.

Another such woman is Princess Alys, daughter of the insane King of France. She was one of the trophies given in negotiation to King Henry II of England. She was a child of eight when she was shipped off to England to become a ward of the court until she was old enough to marry Henry’s son, Richard.

When she was only eight, she was promised as the future bride of Henry’s third son, Richard, who would become Duke of Aquitaine on Henry’s death. So she was shipped over to England to become Henry’s ward. But Henry’s family, led by his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, fomented her four sons to rebel against Henry. His sons wanted their own lands, even before Henry had died, and Eleanor wanted power. Which meant that Alys was largely forced to grow into womanhood alone in a court which was in turmoil. Eleanor, Henry’s wife, knowing of the enormous power-play she could wield by controlling Alys’ future, took control of her and kept her in close confinement in Winchester Castle.

She barely met her intended husband, who would eventually become King Richard 1st when his two older brothers, Young Henry and Geoffrey died young. It’s also quite possible that Richard was a homosexual. Whether he was, or wasn’t, their marriage was so delayed that her brother Philip, now King of France, demanded that Richard marry Alys or return her with massive restitution. Henry and Philip met in December 1183 to discuss Alys’ situation. Henry wasn’t interested in her marrying Richard, because he knew that Phillip and Richard were close friends – perhaps even lovers - and was concerned that they could combine against him; so he offered her to his youngest son, John. Hearing this, Richard was concerned, thinking that Henry was going to make John heir, instead of him. Even the Pope threatened an Interdict unless the marriage took place. By now, Alys was 17 and had grown into a beauty.

Because of the delay in their marriage, rumours began to spread that Alys had become Henry’s mistress, and as a result was forbidden to marry Richard for the religious prohibition of ‘Affinity’. The rumours compounded because Henry’s current mistress, “fair Rosamund Clifford”, had become seriously ill, and retired to a Nunnery to live the rest of her life in penance.

Furious beyond measure that the rumours could be true, the future king of England, Richard, was now deeply concerned that his father would divorce Eleanor and marry Alys, disinheriting his sons with Eleanor, and nominating any son which he had with Alys as heir to the throne.

Alys never did marry King Richard, and become Queen of England. Instead, while he was on Crusade, and to the immeasurable fury of her brother King Philip of France, Eleanor compelled him to marry Princess Berengaria of Navarre. Historians believe that the marriage was never consummated, and Berengaria became the only British queen never to have set foot on English soil.

So what happened to Princess Alys? Well, eventually, after close confinement in castles controlled by Eleanor, she was allowed by King Richard to return to her brother Philip in France. By now, Alys was 35 years old, and Philip arranged her marriage to Count William IV of Ponthieu, who was 18 years her junior. She gave birth to two daughters and a son and then she disappeared from history.

My novel, The Book of Alys, is a re-telling of the details of Alys’ relations with the mighty King Henry, and the intrigues of the court in which they lived. Much was omitted from the history of the time and never recorded. Being a fiction writer, I have taken liberties with their private lives, but not with history. However, being one of England’s most belligerent families, whose emotions covered the entire spectrum, they are endlessly fascinating, and larger than life.

Alan Gold is an internationally published and translated novelist, whose books of historical fiction
bring back to vivid life some of the most fabulous women who have been written out of history. 

Alan’s first novel was a story which he uncovered working for Reuters International News Agency in Israel; because of its controversial themes, he didn’t write it until coming to Australia. The Jericho Files, which was published by HarperCollins was an international success. Since then, he’s written over thirty novels, with subjects ranging from the Bible to ancient and modern history.

His two latest novels are The Devil’s Apprentice, a fictionalised autobiography of the real Faust and his problems with the invention of the printing press, and His Head on a Platter, about the life of the Renaissance artist Artemisia Gentileschi due to be published by Romaunce late 2023.

No comments:

Post a Comment