Book Launch – Jasper, Book Two of the Tudor Trilogy by Tony Riches

I’m pleased to announce the launching of Tony Riches’ second book in his historical fiction trilogy series, Jasper.

Following the best-selling historical fiction novel OWEN – Book One of The Tudor Trilogy, this is the story, based on actual events, of Owen’s son Jasper Tudor, who changes the history of England forever.

England 1461: The young King Edward of York takes the country by force from King Henry VI of Lancaster. Sir Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, flees the massacre of his Welsh army at the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross and plans a rebellion to return his half-brother King Henry to the throne.

When King Henry is imprisoned by Edward in the Tower of London and murdered, Jasper escapes to Brittany with his young nephew, Henry Tudor. After the sudden death of King Edward and the mysterious disappearance of his sons, a new king, Edward’s brother Richard III takes the English Throne. With nothing but his wits and charm, Jasper sees his chance to make young Henry Tudor king with a daring and reckless invasion of England.

Set in the often brutal world of fifteenth century England, Wales, Scotland, France, Burgundy and Brittany, during the Wars of the Roses, this fast-paced story is one of courage and adventure, love and belief in the destiny of the Tudors.

“Without the heroic Jasper Tudor there could have been no Tudor dynasty.” Terry Breverton, author, historian and Television Presenter.

“Jasper Tudor was the greatest survivor of the Wars of the Roses. Whilst almost all his contemporaries suffered often brutal and bloody deaths, Jasper persevered against all the odds. That’s not to say it was easy, as you will discover.” Nathen Amin, Author of Tudor Wales

Book Two of The Tudor Trilogy

The book is available on Amazon UK, US and AU.

About the Author

Tony Riches is a full time author of best-selling fiction and non-fiction books. He lives by the sea in Pembrokeshire, West Wales with his wife and enjoys sea and river kayaking in his spare time.

For more information about Tony’s other books please visit his popular blog, The Writing Desk and his WordPress website and find him on Facebook and Twitter @tonyriches.

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The Henry VII Dassier Medal

By Tony Riches

Master goldsmith Jean Dassier was born in Geneva in 1676. He studied in Paris and became an assistant to his father, who was the official Mint Engraver for the Canton of Geneva. In 1720 he succeeded his father as the official engraver for Geneva and built a reputation as one of the most celebrated engravers of the eighteenth century.

Between 1731 and 1732 Dassier moved to London and engraved the dies for a series of the Kings and Queens of England, a continuous series of English sovereigns, from William I to George II. His work was sometimes criticised for being taken from unauthentic sources and some of the dates on the inscriptions being incorrect.

One set was presented to King George II, to whom the series was dedicated. He liked the medals and requested a special medal for his wife Queen Caroline to be added, so when the series sold in 1731 it consisted of thirty-four medals. Sir Edward Thomason of Birmingham issued copper medals from the dies around 1830.

The rendering of King Henry VII is considered one of the better portraits and one is displayed in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York:

http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/659084

Dassier Medal

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Tony Riches was born in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, and spent part of his childhood in Kenya. He gained a BA degree in Psychology and an MBA from Cardiff University and worked as a Management Consultant, followed by senior roles in the Welsh NHS and Local Government.

After writing several successful non-fiction books, Tony decided to turn to novel writing and wrote ‘Queen Sacrifice’, set in 10th century Wales, followed by ‘The Shell’, a thriller set in present day Kenya. His real interest is in the history of the fifteenth century, and now his focus is on writing historical fiction about the lives of key figures of the period.

His novels ‘Warwick ~ The Man Behind the Wars of the Roses’ and ‘The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham’ have both become Amazon best sellers. He is now working on The Tudor Trilogy, book one of which is about Owen Tudor, the Welsh servant who married Queen Catherine of Valois and founded the Tudor Dynasty.

Book Review – Jasper; The Tudor Kingmaker by Sara Elin Roberts

By Tony Riches

Welsh academic and author Dr Sara Elin Roberts has produced a fascinating and detailed account of the life of Sir Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke, Duke of Bedford, who was second son of Owen Tudor and the widowed queen Catherine of Valois. It was with Jasper’s support that King Henry VII returned from exile to defeat Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth, leading to the establishment of the Tudor dynasty, yet Jasper has become what Dr Roberts calls ‘the forgotten kingmaker:’

‘Jasper was central to the world of the Wars of the Roses. He was, at different times, a key player in the unfolding, political game: a warrior in battles; a rebel fighter; a threat to the crown and the powers running the country; a potential claimant to the throne; and an exile.’

Although this is an academic study of Jasper’s life, I found it highly readable with a strong narrative thread. Dr Roberts draws from a wealth of contemporary sources from England, Wales and France, several of which were new to me, referenced in twenty-seven pages of endnotes. The book also has thirty colour illustrations and an informative appendix on the Welsh poetry and contemporary law texts which still survive. As well as providing a documented account of the events of the key people and events, the Welsh poems allow an often colourful insight into the late medieval period.

Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in understanding the world of the early Tudors.

Jasper the Tudor KIngmaker

New Campaign for a Henry Tudor Statue and Visitor Centre in Pembroke

By Nathen Amin

A new campaign for a statue and visitor centre for Henry VII in Pembroke is underway, led by the town council in close conjunction with the Pembroke and Monckton Local History Society.

In November 2014 Pembroke Town Council agreed to commission a marquette and public consultation is now ongoing as to the details of the project. A site has been earmarked on the bridge which crosses the picturesque Mill Pond towards the rear of the castle. It is certain that should a statue be sited on this bridge, the backdrop of the castle would ensure this monument’s location would be one of the most spectacular in the country.

On 3 October 2015 the Pembroke and Monckton Local History Society hosted a coffee morning to invite discussion over the plans and to seek public opinion. A well-received talk on ‘Pembroke and the Tudors’ was given by prolific Welsh author Terry Breverton and also present was Tudor historical fiction author and Pembrokeshire native Tony Riches. A brief introduction was given by town Mayor Pauline Waters who stressed the importance of the statue to Pembroke and underlining the support of the town council for the project. A presentation was then given by Linda Asman of the local history society who has been responsible for the organisation of the campaign thus far.

It was announced that the town council had commissioned a small model of the proposed statue by local sculptor Harriet Addyman which was praised by those present. The model depicts Henry Tudor in his traditional full length robe and black cap whilst a greyhound stands loyally to his side, indicative of not only the earldom of Richmond but also the tradition of greyhounds in the local area. It was also further announced that Pembrokeshire County Council had agreed to match fund from their Town Centre Support Programme although the majority of the funds would still need to be raised.

In addition to the statue, those involved in the campaign also spoke passionately about their ultimate aim of opening a dedicated Henry Tudor Visitor Centre in Pembroke. A national appeal will be conducted to help fundraise and the hope is that the centre will serve as a must-visit location in the study of England’s Welsh king.

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Why Does Pembroke need a Henry Tudor statue?

The Tudor Dynasty is without doubt one of the Europe’s most infamous families; their story has been told and retold across the centuries and remains today a massive, multi-million pound industry centred around the key figures who once ruled England – Henry VIII and Elizabeth I to name but two. ‘Tudor England’ in itself has become a well-known phrase that covers many aspects of the era, particularly architecture, arts and the lifestyle. What is often overlooked however is that the Tudors, whilst coming to encompass all that is considered great about England, were a Welsh dynasty with their roots firmly entrenched in the hills across Offa’s Dyke.

A descendant of Welsh royalty through his paternal family, Henry Tudor was born in Pembroke Castle on the night of 28 January 1457. It was alleged by a later chronicler that Henry’s birth took place in one of the outer gatehouse towers, marked today by a wonderful exhibition featuring his young mother Margaret Beaufort. Henry it appears stayed at Pembroke until he was around four years old when he became the ward of William Herbert and relocated to Raglan Castle in Monmouthshire.

Nonetheless, this precocious young child was a son of Pembroke and a son of Pembroke he remained. With this in mind it is somewhat disappointing to note the lack of celebration towards the birth and subsequent life of Henry Tudor in West Wales. This isn’t merely a location with a tenuous link to the Tudors, it’s an integral part of the Tudor story as the birthplace of Henry VII, Father of the Tudor Dynasty. With the plethora of Tudor related places in the region it is very surprising and almost unacceptable to learn that this wonderful historical occurrence hasn’t been capitalised upon. There is a large and lucrative Tudor market in England which has proved to be provide a consistent income from tourism and it is galling that Pembrokeshire has yet to adopt such measures.

If people are willing to travel hundreds of miles, sometimes thousands, to visit Tudor locations throughout England then surely Pembroke and indeed Pembrokeshire should be marketing itself as the “Birthplace of the Tudor Dynasty”. It is difficult to overstate the financial benefits the Tudors bring to the UK touristy industry, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Americans alone regularly visiting the many palaces and castles in England to place themselves in the very spot history happened. Hampton Court. Windsor. Kenilworth Castle. Ludlow Castle. Even Stratford-Upon-Avon with its Shakespeare links. York has built an entire tourism industry by capitalising on its, admittedly unique, heritage. The list is endless.

I have previously campaigned for a statue to be erected of Henry Tudor in Pembroke, supported by the castle and the town council. It would give an overt and obvious indication of the importance of the castle to the Tudor story and could prove to be a lucrative marketing aspect for Tudor addicts. It is all very well having exhibitions inside, but the key is attracting people to the area in the first place, and a statue would certainly do that. As a comparison, the small North Welsh village of Corwen has a magnificent statue of Owain Glyndwr and as a result has been able to attract scores of Welshmen from all over to view it. Imagine tapping into only a mere percentage of the gigantic Tudor Tourism Industry and persuading them to come to Pembroke for a similar pilgrimage to the one they already make to many different locales throughout England.

The castle itself, under the managerialship of Jon Williams, has certainly done all it can financially do to increase tourism although their ambitions are drastically reduced by the economic issues of running such an enterprise without any outside funding. Jon once stated to me “we are gradually adding to and modernising our interpretation here and although we don’t lack ambition and ideas unfortunately it takes money to make things happen on a major scale“. Indeed Pembroke Castle itself is a small independent charitable trust “that needs to spend a lot of resources to simply maintain the castle as a visitor attraction“. Jon further stated “it would make perfect sense to have a statue although my opinion is that it would benefit Pembroke more if it were at the opposite end of the main street to the Castle. Firstly this would encourage Castle visitors to wander the town and secondly it would act as a good welcome to people arriving at East End Square“.

A statue or visitor centre of Henry Tudor would certainly benefit Pembroke and it would benefit Wales. Pembrokeshire’s most famous son deserves more than a couple of mere plaques and in an age of austerity any attempt to bring in tourism to boost the stuttering economy must be seriously looked at. Pembroke is the home of the world famous Tudor Dynasty and deserves recognition that would certainly place it on the global scale alongside other famous Tudor locations in England.

Book Review – Owen (Book One of the Tudor Trilogy) by Tony Riches

By Nathen Amin

As a matter of personal preference I do not often read historical fiction work. I find the focus on author creative licence over historical accuracy a distraction and as such I am therefore fairly unacquainted with works by writers such as Philippa Gregory. That being said, my interest was piqued when I came across Owen by Pembrokeshire author Tony Riches.

Owen Tudor was a fascinating character who led a remarkable life, a Welshman with a story that wouldn’t be out of place on the silver screen. Tudor was born in North Wales around 1400 to an ancient Welsh noble family from Anglesey. He was descended from the Princes of South Wales and his father was a cousin of the great Welsh warrior, Owain Glyndwr. After the collapse of the latter’s Welsh Wars of Independence the Tudor family were ruined and Owen found himself exiled to London. Although the specifics have become shrouded in myth it seems he worked his way into the household of Queen Katherine of Valois, Dowager Queen of Henry V, and eventually gain her trust to the extent they were secretly wed. Together it seems they had at least four children before her death in 1437, at which point Owen became imprisoned for his crime of marrying the king’s mother without the consent of the council. After his release he was intimately involved in the Wars of the Roses conflict, tied to the House of Lancaster through his sons, Edmund Tudor, Earl of Richmond, and Jasper Tudor, Earl of Pembroke. The earls were the half-brothers of Henry VI and Owen fought alongside his sons as the wars progressed. Aged around 60 Owen was captured during the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross in 1461 and led to Hereford where he was executed. His grandson became King Henry VII, the archetypal rags to riches tale.

indexThe story of Owen Tudor is always one worth recounting and in my opinion has been unfortunately underutilised in fiction and nonfiction alike. Therefore I was pleased to discover Riches has used Owen as the protagonist for the first install of his forthcoming Tudor trilogy. Riches’ story commences in 1422 with a dashing young Owen employed as a servant in the household of the recently widowed Dowager Queen of England, Katherine of Valois. The queen is beautiful but lonely and it isn’t long before Owen is enamoured with Katherine, although their affair is not an immediate plot device.

The story is told from the point of view of Owen and the narrative is short, sharp and to the point. Riches does not waste words and the result is a hard-hitting account of Owen’s life which moves a considerable pace. Some writers dwell on insignificant plotlines and often seem to be writing for writings’ sake at times, which makes Riches’ work a refreshing and captivating read. There are moments of humour, drama, tragedy and triumph and it seems Riches has captured the exhilarating life of Owen Tudor well. A passage at the beginning of the book, recalled by the adult Owen, certainly sets the tone for the enthralling read ahead.

 “‘Aim High, Boy’, my garrulous longbow tutor once advised me, his voice gruff from too much shouting. ‘It’s not the Welsh way to play safe and wait until you have a clean shot’”.

It’s fair to say Owen Tudor never played it safe and certainly Riches has aimed high like his protagonist. I look forward to following his Tudor trilogy as it progresses through Jasper Tudor and Henry Tudor’s lives.

You can buy the via Amazon – UK or US

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Tony Riches lives in West Wales UK, happily dividing his time between writing and sea kayaking. He has also penned Warwick – The Man Behind the Wars of the Roses and The Secret Diary of Eleanor Cobham.