Monthly Archives: August 2014


Marie Mancini and Louis XIV

Portrait of three of the nieces of Cardinal Mazarin portrayed as goddesses, Venus, Juno and Diana, unknown artist. Photo: Musee de la Ville de Paris, Musee du Petit-Palais, France. One of my favourite characters while writing my seventeenth century novel Minette was the amazing Marie Mancini – she just seemed to light up every single scene that she deigned to appear in and made a perfect foil for my rather naive heroine. In fact, I was so enamoured with Marie and indeed her entire bevy of ridiculously drama queeny sisters that I may just have to give them their own […]


Windsor Castle

When I posted the other day about my forthcoming fortieth birthday (eek!), many of you expressed astonishment that I had ‘visit Windsor Castle’ on my Things To Do Before I Turn Forty List. Which is fair enough – after all, I am a history blogger and have been resident in the UK for my entire life so far so how come I’ve never managed to visit? The thing is that I HAD actually been to Windsor Castle before. Well, sort of. I spent a lovely afternoon in the private bit of the estate, near Frogmore House, there a couple of […]


Marguerite d’Anjou

As some of you may have discerned from various mumblings on my blog’s Facebook page, I am currently frenziedly working away on a novel about Marie de Guise, the mother of Mary Queen of Scots. It’s proving to be my most challenging work yet, but I am thoroughly enjoying writing it and hope to have it finished by the end of the year. Anyway, perhaps surprisingly, someone who seems to be getting quite a lot of mentions is Marguerite d’Anjou, Queen of England, who is an object of some admiration to the young Marie de Guise and was in fact […]


Salisbury Cathedral

Buoyed up by our amazingly successful visit to Wells, I decided to persuade my husband that we really ought to attempt a trip to Salisbury to take a look at THEIR cathedral the next day. Which would have been fine, except my husband’s enthusiasm for old things in general and cathedrals in particular is MUCH less than mine so this day out didn’t go quite so well as the previous day’s adventure. However! Thanks to Salisbury Cathedral being as amazingly photogenic as its sister in Wells, I still managed to come away with some really great, even if I do […]


Wells Cathedral

I don’t usually post very much about Medieval history here but due to getting really into the research for my sixteenth century novel (which has led me WAY back into the fascinating and often surprising French family tree of Mary Queen of Scots) and also FINALLY reading Helen Castor’s superb and completely gripping She-Wolves: The Women Who Ruled England Before Elizabeth, which is just so brilliant that I can’t BELIEVE that it’s taken me so long to read it, I have been on a little bit of a Medieval kick lately and what better way to indulge this than with […]


How to Ruin a Queen

‘On 5 September 1785, a trial began in Paris that would divide the country, captivate Europe and send the French monarchy tumbling down the slope towards the Revolution. Cardinal Louis de Rohan, scion of one of the most ancient and distinguished families in France, stood accused of forging Marie Antoinette’s signature to fraudulently obtain the most expensive piece of jewellery in Europe – a 2,400-carat necklace worth 1.6 million francs. Where were the diamonds now? Was Rohan entirely innocent? Was, for that matter, the queen? What was the role of the charismatic magus, the Comte de Cagliostro, who was rumoured […]