Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Blog Tour: Owerd the Briton by James Gault

Join The Coffee Pot Book Club on tour with…

Owerd the Briton

by James Gault

October, 12th 2022

*Book Blast*

Publication Date: 24th July 2022 
Publisher: self-published
Page Length: approx. 365 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

In Saxon England of the 1060s,
the prospects for Owerd are grim. 

He is a Briton; son of a miller; and looks like a Dane. The Church beckons, as does a warrior life but he must first learn his ‘station’ with frequent humiliation. 

Fate lends a hand in rewarding his courage but as his lot improves the Normans invade. Does he fight them or aid them? 

His loyalties are tested by events involving violence, loss, love and fate as he tries to manage the balance between security and oppression.

This title is available to read on #KindleUnlimited.

James Gault

James, or Jim by preference, was a successful mariner who spent much of his life at sea mucking around in ships and boats. That was the relatively adventurous part of his life, encompassing a good slice of the world and its ever-changing challenges and joys, from violent wars and cyclones to glorious sunrises and oceans of tranquillity.

These days the stability of reading and writing are preferred, especially writing about the fictional adventures of others. He enjoys the company of his wife Sally and Labrador dog Pippa in a small coastal town in Australia

Social Media Links:

Twitter • Facebook • 

Tour Schedule

Monday, August 29, 2022

#HistoricalFiction author M J Porter is talking to us about Elfrida, an Anglo-Saxon Queen accused of murder

The First Queen of England: Lady Elfrida

By M J Porter

Book Title: The First Queen of England: Lady Elfrida
Series: The First Queen of England
Author: M J Porter
Publication Date: 26th January 2017
Publisher: M J Publishing
Page Length: 238
Genre: Historical Fiction/Action and Adventure

England is united under Edgar, but twenty years of uncertainty and a dwindling royal nursery, have left the royal family vulnerable to extinction.

Edgar, a king at only 15 years old, has an acknowledged daughter and wife, but the dying ealdorman, Æthelwald, has commanded his wife to seek out the king, now in his early twenties. True to her husband’s wishes, Elfrida pursues the King, nervous of her husband’s intentions but trusting them all the same. When the king tries to make her his concubine, Elfrida refuses and withdraws from the court, only to find herself dreaming of the King, desiring his touch and his presence.

When the king seeks her out once more, she willingly follows him back to his court. She finds herself plunged into a world of politics and self-interest where her future happiness rests not only on the king loving her but also on the goodwill of others with much to play for at the king’s court.

Bringing alive the characters of tenth-century England; its young King, Edgar; its Ealdormen, Byrhtnoth, Æthelwine, and Ælfhere; the great reforming religious figures of Archbishop Dunstan, Bishop Æthelwold and Oswald and the great women of the period, Lady Elfrida, Lady Æthelflæd and Lady Wulfthryn, The First Queen of England evokes tenth century England at its most enigmatic, shining a welcome light on England’s first crowned queen, a woman who would go on to accomplish much, but who must first steal the heart of an amorous king and earn her place at court, and overcome the obstacle of the outcome of not only the King’s second marriage but also his first.

Did England’s first crowned queen, Elfrida,
kill her stepson, Edward the Martyr?

King Edgar the Peaceable of England (959-975) died a young man still, perhaps no older than thirty-two.

He left two surviving sons, (one of his sons, Edmund, having died in 971 at a young age.) Neither of his surviving children was an adult and they both had different mothers. Edward, the child of a woman perhaps named as Æthelflæd, and Æthelred, the surviving child of Edgar and his queen, Elfrida, who had ruled at Edgar’s side for about a decade. Edward was probably no older than fifteen in 975, Æthelred perhaps as young as eight. While the kingdom of the English might well have endured years of peace, the same could not be said for the royal court.

The factionalism of the great Benedictine monastic reform movement has much to do with this. As part of the reform movement, a huge amount of land changed hands. As ever, religion was a mask for what was happening at a more basic level. It could just as easily be interpreted as a land grab. In the wake of the death of the king, ‘Attacks on church property were widespread. From York to Kent and Sussex, from the Severn valley to the Fens the death of Edgar was a signal to those who wished to recover property.’ [1] Whether Edgar intended for his royal son, born to a consecrated mother and father to succeed after him or not might have been irrelevant when faced with two opposing parties – one supporting the older Edward and one Æthelred, both of whom had religious men as their supporters. 

Essentially, both sons would have been too young to rule England. King Eadwig, their uncle, had hardly provided good and secure rule during his brief reign from 955-959, when he was no older than fifteen.

But, there was no other choice unless note was made of the family of Ælfgifu, wife to Eadwig, and her collection of brothers, the most famous of whom was Æthelweard, an ealdorman who is thought to have written a Latin translation of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle referred to as the Chronicon. The family claimed descent from Æthelred I (865-871), Alfred’s older brother. 

Edward was chosen to rule with the support of one of these two powerful factions, and Edward’s coronation was conducted by Archbishop Dunstan. Yet some believed Æthelred should be king, no matter his young age, and Æthelred’s support was led by Ealdorman Ælfhere of Mercia. Ealdorman Ælfhere had gained his position under King Eadwig, and had remained powerful despite the seeming division of England back into its constituent parts of Mercia and Wessex in 958 and 959. Perhaps this then, might have been a solution – a division of England once more. Yet ‘questions of division or underkingship were replaced by a straightforward struggle for the throne of the entire kingdom.’ [2] 

Young Edward was murdered. What we don’t know, as with the murder of his grandfather (Edmund (939-946) was murdered by Liofa, possibly a thief), is who killed Edward.

The A text of the ASC is the simplest version of the story for 978, ‘Here King Edward was killed.’ [3] 

The C text offers, ‘Here in this year King Edward was martyred, and his brother, the young ætheling Æthelred, succeeded to the kingdom; and he was consecrated as king the same year.’ [4]

‘Here King Edward was killed in the evening-time in 18 March at Corfe passage; and they buried him at Wareham without any royal honours.’ [5] The ASC E (979 for 978) text reads. 

Elfrida was known to live close to Corfe, but the E version of the ASC is one of the youngest manuscripts to have survived, dated to about 1121, when it was written in one hand. [6] It is possible then, that the entry in the E version of the ASC had benefitted from some much later additions, thanks to the Saints lives which portrayed Elfrida as the murderer of her husband’s oldest son! It is the A version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle which is the more contemporary of our surviving sources.

It was openly acknowledged that Edward was killed, and in his place, Æthelred, at no more than perhaps twelve years of age, became king. This can only have been possible with support for Æthelred. Those backing Æthelred’s claim must have been strong enough to counter any other bid for the kingdom. It no doubt helps that there were few others who could legitimately claim the kingship for themselves. Had they turned to any latent claim presented by Ealdorman Æthelweard, who by now was possibly a man in his late thirties or forties (his death is believed to have taken place in about 998 when he stops attesting Æthelred’s charters), then his sons might not have been deemed acceptable to rule after him, having been born to a man not consecrated as king, and a woman who was certainly not regarded as a queen. This, then, would have merely delayed the inevitable question of the succession once more after Æthelweard’s death. 

So, who killed Edward, or ordered his death? Did Elfrida, England’s first anointed queen, commit regicide in an attempt to win back the influence she unexpectedly lost on the death of her young husband, when her step-son was appointed as king?

There were certainly some who believed she had a hand in the murder of the young man. 

The involvement of Elfrida directly in the murder of her step-son is ‘derived ultimately from the Passio Sancti Eadwardi Regis et Martyris, an account of Edward’s life, murder and miracles probably written in the 1070s by the Anglo-Norman hagiographer Goscelin and itself based partly on an earlier account of St Edward which may have been written at Shaftesbury in the early years of the eleventh century.’ [7] 

‘When a certain day was nearing evening, the illustrious and elected king came as we have said to the house where his much-loved brother dwelt with the queen, desiring the consolation of brotherly love; there came out to meet him, as was fitting, nobles and chief men, who stayed with the queen, his mother. They formed among them a wicked plan, for they possessed minds so accursed and such dark diabolical blindness that they did not fear to lay hands on the Lord’s anointed….The thegns then holding him, one drew him on the right towards him as if he wished to give him a kiss, but another seized roughly his left hand and also wounded him. And he shouted, so far as he could: ‘What are you doing - breaking my right arm?’ And suddenly leapt from the horse and died.’ [8] So informs the Life of St Oswald written during the life of both Elfrida and Æthelred II, by Byrhtferth, although we will never know if they were aware of what was written. It does not specifically name Elfrida as responsible for the king’s murder.

Another near contemporary source. The Sermon of the Wolf to the English  states that, Edward was betrayed and then killed, and afterwards burned and [Ethelred was driven out of his country].’ [9] This dates from 1014, and therefore follows Æthelred’s loss of the kingdom to King Swein of Denmark.

And later writers persisted with the story. Henry of Huntingdon, a Norman chronicler wrote. ‘It is said that his stepmother [Ælfthryth/Elfrida], that is the mother of King Æthelred, stabbed him with a dagger while stretching out a cup to him.’ [10] And so named Elfrida as the physical murderess.

William of Malmesbury, another Norman writer, also associates Edward the Martyr’s murder with Elfrida, despite that fact that Edward treated his ‘stepmother with proper warmth of feeling….The woman however, with a stepmother’s hatred and a viper’s guile, in her anxiety that her son should also enjoy the title of king, laid plots against her stepson’s life…On his arrival, his stepmother, with a woman’s wiles, distracted his attention, and with a kiss of welcome offered him a drink. As he greedily drank it, she had him pierced with a dagger by one of her servants….Ælfthryth [Elfrida] fell from her pride of royalty into a dire repentance, such that for many years at Wherwell she clad her delicately nurtured limbs in haircloth.’ [11]

It is perplexing to consider the alleged involvement of Elfrida in the death of her stepson with the cult of Edward the Martyr that subsequently developed. Indeed, it has been noted that in the will of Athelstan, Æthlered’s son who died in 1014, and who was raised by Elfrida, he makes a bequest to Shaftesbury to St Edward (where Edward was later buried).  ‘And I give to the Holy Cross and St Edward at Shaftesbury the six pounds about which I have given directions to my brother Edmund.’ [12]

This then seems more than a strange thing to do if the family were keen to dismiss the concerns that Elfrida was involved in the king’s murder. Neither, and despite the reports that Edward the Martyr was not a pleasant individual, has it been considered that the murder was carried out because ALL believed they would benefit from a new king. Edward the Martyr, in the written details about him, does not have a good reputation, as the Vita Oswaldi itself states.

‘Certain of the chief men of this land wished to elect as king the king’s elder son, Edward by name; some of the nobles wanted the younger because he appeared to all gentler in speech and deeds. The elder, in fact, inspired in all not only fear but even terror, for [he scrouged them] not only with words but truly with dire blows, and especially his own men dwelling with him.’ [13]

At such a distance in time, it’s impossible to determine what happened. Dismissing the later saints lives and aspersions cast on Elfrida, by Adam of Bremen, Osbern of Canterbury, Florence of Worcester and Henry of Huntingdon (all Norman writers) [14], one thing is clear. Whatever had happened to pave the way for Æthelred to become king, it was accepted by the vast majority of the witan and the holy men. Sometimes, mention is made that Æthelred’s coronation was delayed, taking place on 4th May 979, maybe while negotiations took place, but this delay was perhaps not that unusual – there was a delay in Edward the Elder’s coronation, and also Athelstan’s. Was it a delay because Æthelred was unacceptable, or merely one of politic? Or is it merely a confusion with the date, 979 for 978, or something else? Was Æthelred considered too young in 978 to undergo coronation? Was he ill? Sometimes, we forget the frailties of our forebears, too keen to see political intrigue everywhere.

What can be said is, no matter the alleged involvement of the royal family in the murder of one of their own, the words of later chroniclers and those who may have written at the time but with an agenda to tarnish the name of the Wessex royal family, no one faced murder charges for what happened. The murder was acknowledged, but those responsible faced no penalty for it (as far as we know – certainly, none of the prime suspects fell from favour).

Whatever led to the murder of Edward, his absorption into the royal line of saints (and there were many, many royal saints in the Wessex family in the tenth century – Edgar’s mother was regarded as saintly, as was his only daughter, Edith, after her death, and indeed, that daughter’s mother, Wulfthryth) it was those looking back at the return of the Vikings throughout the last two decades of the tenth century and the eleventh, which resulted in not one, not two, but three Viking kings claiming England for themselves, who thought to tarnish Æthelred’s already tainted reputation as a failed military commander by adding the charge of ‘complicit in the murder of his step-brother’ to the already, very long list of charges levelled against him. But of course, none of these were contemporary accounts. And so, it seems, we might never know the truth of what befell Edward the Martyr, and certainly, there are no truly contemporary accounts to say Queen Elfrida either physically committed the murder, or ordered that it be carried out.

  1. Pauline Stafford Unification and Conquest p57
  2. Pauline Stafford Unification and Conquest p57
  3. Michael Stanton, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles (ASC) p122
  4. M Stanton, ASC p122
  5. M Stanton, ASC p123
  6. M Stanton, ASC pxxvi
  7. Simon Keynes, The Diplomas of King Æthelred the Unready, p168
  8. D Whitelock, English Historical Documents p841-3 It is believed that this work was written at Ramsey from 995-1005, and so in the lifetime of Æthelred, and indeed, his mother. 
  9. D Whitelock, p857 although Æthelred’s name is not included all of the manuscript versions.
  10. Henry of Huntingdon Historia Anglorum p325
  11. William of Malmesbury Gesta Regum Anglorum p265-7
  12. D Whitelock, English Historical Documents p549 (130)
  13. D Whitelock, English Historical Documents p841 (236)
  14. Simon Keynes, The Diplomas of King Æthelred the Unready, p168 for a discussion of the later sources.

All titles in the series are available from:

MJ Porter is the author of many historical novels set predominantly in Seventh to Eleventh-Century England, as well as three twentieth-century mysteries. Raised in the shadow of a building that was believed to house the bones of long-dead Kings of Mercia, meant that the author's writing destiny was set.

Connect with MJ Porter:
Website • Twitter • Facebook • LinkedIn • Instagram • Pinterest • BookBub • Amazon Author Page • Goodreads • Linktr.ee 

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Fabulous #BlogTours coming up in September 2022

Hello, lovely followers!

After a quieter month of August, you’ll find some enticing book blog tours coming your way this September.

Discover fabulous novels by award-winning and bestselling authors!

Just click on the banner to discover our exciting tours starting on September 5th, 2022.

Happy reading! 😊

Thank you from the Coffee Pot Book Club team! xx

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Have a sneak-peek between the covers of M J Porter's fabulous novel - The Last Seven #historicalfiction #TalesOfMercia #Ceowulf @coloursofunison

The Last Seven
by M J Porter

Book Title: The Last Seven
Series: The Ninth Century
Author: M J Porter
Publication Date: 25th August 2022
Publisher: M J Publishing
Page Length: c.250
Genre: Historical Fiction/Action and Adventure

He sent twenty men to infiltrate three hundred. 
It had to be enough.

While Archbishop Wulfhere of York begs for assistance against Jarl Halfdan, now living in Northumbria, Bishop Smithwulf of London is eager for Coelwulf to forge an alliance with King Alfred of Wessex. And the three Raider jarls continue to hold Grantabridge. Yet, Coelwulf has so far managed to dismiss all of these concerns, his worry only with his missing warrior, Pybba.

But while searching for Pybba, events overtake Coelwulf, his men are murdered, and his aunt taken, but by which of his enemies?

If Coelwulf fails to rescue his aunt alive, then what hope does he have for keeping his kingdom secure?

The year is AD875 and the men of Mercia must once more ride into the fray. The future of Mercia depends on them.

Now available on Amazon

Discover an enticing excerpt and more about the author 

Monday, August 22, 2022

Check out Elizabeth St.John's fabulous new novel, The Godmother's Secret #historicalfiction


The Godmother’s Secret

By Elizabeth St.John

Publication Date: 4th October 2022
Publisher: Falcon Historical
Page Length: 437 pages
Genre: Biographical Historical Fiction

If you knew the fate of the Princes in the Tower would you tell?
Or forever keep the secret?

November, 1470: Westminster Abbey. 

Lady Elysabeth Scrope faces a perilous royal duty when ordered into sanctuary with Elizabeth Woodville–witness the birth of Edward IV’s Yorkist son. 

Margaret Beaufort, Elysabeth’s sister, is desperately seeking a pardon for her exiled son Henry Tudor. Strategically, she pressures Lancastrian Elysabeth to be appointed godmother to Prince Edward, embedding her in the heart of the Plantagenets and uniting them in a destiny of impossible choices and heartbreaking conflict.

Bound by blood and torn by honour, when the king dies and Elysabeth delivers her young godson into the Tower of London to prepare for his coronation, she is engulfed in political turmoil. Within months, the prince and his brother have disappeared, Richard III is declared king, and Margaret conspires with Henry Tudor to invade England and claim the throne. Desperate to protect her godson, Elysabeth battles the intrigue, betrayal and power of the last medieval court, defying her husband and her sister under her godmother’s sacred oath to keep Prince Edward safe.

Were the princes murdered by their uncle, Richard III? Was the rebel Duke of Buckingham to blame? Or did Margaret Beaufort mastermind their disappearance to usher in the Tudor dynasty? Of anyone at the royal court, Elysabeth has the most to lose–and the most to gain–by keeping secret the fate of the Princes in the Tower.

Inspired by England’s most enduring historical mystery, Elizabeth St.John blends her own family history with known facts and centuries of speculation to create an intriguing story about the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower. 

Now available to pre-order at:

Elizabeth St.John

Elizabeth St.John spends her time between California, England, and the past. 

acclaimed author, historian, and genealogist, she has tracked down
family papers and residences from Lydiard Park and Nottingham Castle to Richmond Palace and the Tower of London to inspire her novels. Although the family sold a few country homes along the way (it's hard to keep a good castle going these days), Elizabeth's family still occupy them— in the form of portraits, memoirs, and gardens that carry their legacy. And the occasional ghost. But that's a different story.

Having spent a significant part of her life with her seventeenth-century family while writing The Lydiard Chronicles trilogy and Counterpoint series, Elizabeth St.John is now discovering new family stories with her fifteenth-century namesake Elysabeth St.John Scrope, and her half-sister, Margaret Beaufort.

Connect with Elizabeth:

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Check out Chris Bishop's fabulous novel - Bloodlines

By Chris Bishop

Publication Date: 11th of February 2021)
Publisher: RedDoor Press
Page Length: 304 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction


As the threat of yet another Viking invasion looms over his troubled realm, Alfred, King of Wessex, reviews and strengthens his defences.

Among his many concerns is the fate of Edward, his stable boy, who he believes to be the bastard son of revered warrior Matthew, who died serving the Saxon cause. If his heritage can be proved, Edward is not only heir to vast fortune but, more importantly, he has the blood of a warrior in his veins - something the Saxons are likely to need in spades.

Find out more about this fascinating novel here!

Monday, August 15, 2022

Blog Tour: Island of Dreams by Harry Duffin

Join The Coffee Pot Book Club on tour with…

Island of Dreams

by Harry Duffin

October 24th - October 28th, 2022

Publication Date: December 2022
Publisher: Cumulus Publishing
Pages: 420
Genre: Historical Family Saga

In May 1939, when Professor Carl Mueller, his wife, Esther, and their three children flee Nazi Germany, and find refuge on the paradise island of Cuba, they are all full of hopes and dreams for a safe and happy future. 

But those dreams are shattered when Carl and Esther are confronted by a ghost from their past, and old betrayals return to haunt them.
The turbulent years of political corruption leading to Batista’s dictatorship, forces the older children to take very different paths to pursue their own dangerous dreams.

And - among the chaos and the conflict that finally leads to Castro’s revolution and victory in 1959, an unlikely love begins to grow - a love that threatens the whole family.

Having escaped a war-torn Europe, their Island of Dreams is to tear them apart forever.

Harry Duffin

Harry is an award-winning British screenwriter, who was on the first writing team of the BBC’s EASTENDERS, and won the Writers’ Guild Award for Best TV serial for CORONATION STREET. 

He was Head of Development at Cloud 9 Screen Entertainment Group, producing seven major television series, including ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ starring Richard ‘John Boy’ Thomas, and ‘Twist in the Tale’, featuring William Shatner. 

He was the co-creator of the UK Channel Five teen-cult drama series ‘THE TRIBE’, which ran for five series. 

He has written three novels, CHICAGO MAY, BIRTH OF THE MALL RATS [an intro to the TV series THE TRIBE], and ISLAND OF DREAMS which will be published in December 2022.
CHICAGO MAY is the first book of a two-part series.

Social Media Links:

Tour Schedule

24th October, 2022

25th October, 2022

26th October, 2022

27th October, 2022

28th October, 2022

Friday, August 12, 2022

Blog Tour: The Muse of Freedom by Jules Larimore


Join The Coffee Pot Book Club on tour with…

The Muse of Freedom

a Cévenoles Sagas novel

By Jules Larimore

September 12th – September 16th 2022

Publication Date: September 13th 2022
Series: Cévenoles Sagas
Publisher: Mystic Lore Books
Pages: 398
Genre: Historical Fiction / Historical Renaissance / Sagas / Cultural Heritage 

First in the series from The Cévenoles Sagas is THE MUSE OF FREEDOM.

A French Huguenot apothecary’s legacy of secrets, a mystic healer’s inspiration, a fateful decision.

In the mysterious Cévennes mountains of Languedoc, France, 1695, Jehan BonDurant, a young nobleman forcibly held in a Dominican prieuré as a child, comes of age only to inherit a near-derelict estate and his Huguenot family’s dangerous legacy of secrets. While he cherishes his newfound freedom apprenticing as an apothecary, his outrage mounts over religious persecutions led by King Louis XIV’s Intendant Basville, who is sent to enforce the King’s will for “One King, One Law, One Faith”. 

The ensuing divisions among families and friends and the gradual revelation of his own circumstances lead Jehan to question his spiritual choices. A journey deep into the heart of the Cévennes in search of guidance, unfolds in a way he least expects when he enters the enchanting Gorges du Tarn. There he discovers his muse, Amelia Auvrey, a free-spirited, mystic holy woman who reveals ancient healing practices and spiritual mysteries.

Together they quest for peace and spiritual freedom by aiding the persecuted until the Intendant’s spy reports their activities and the King’s dragoons are sent out after them. To retain their freedom, they must choose to live in hiding in a remote wilderness, join a festering uprising against the persecutions, or flee their cherished homeland with thousands of other refugees in search of hope.

Inspired by the true story of Jean Pierre Bondurant dit Cougoussac, distilled and blended with Cévenole magic lore, this is an inspiring coming of age story and family saga of courage, tenacity, and the power of love in a country rife with divisions under the control of an authoritarian king obsessed with power. 

Fans of Poldark, Magic Lessons, The Lost Apothecary, and The Huguenot Chronicles will find thematic elements from those stories melded into this thrilling and obscure slice of French history.

Praise for The Muse of Freedom:

"Brilliantly told, a story that will stick with you long after you've turned the last page . . . fresh and compelling, as relevant now as it was then."
~ Janet Wertman, award-winning author of The Seymour Saga trilogy

Find the 5* Editorial Review from The Historical Fiction Company here.

Jules Larimore

Jules Larimore writes emotive, literary-leaning historical fiction to inspire positive change for the oppressed and refugees, and to encourage an intimate relationship with the natural environment.

Influenced by a background in freelance travel writing, Jules uses captivating historical settings as characters. Then distills and blends them with a dose of magic, myth, and romance to bring to life hopeful human stories. A previous career in marketing offered an outlet for creative writing used to romance brands with mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life.

With a Bachelor of Arts from Indiana University, Jules has studied medieval history, ancient Greek culture, anthropology, folklore, narrative composition, and architectural design, and has trained under writing geniuses Libbie Hawker/Olivia Hawker and Roz Morris. While investigating the ancestor who inspired The Muse of Freedom, Jules researched late 17th century Languedoc customs, politics, and spiritual traditions specific to the little known Cévennes mountains of south-central France, culminating in a rich repository to feed future novels about the Cévenol people and culture.

Jules lives primarily in Ojai, California, with time spent around the U.S. and in various countries in Europe gathering more treasures in a continued search for authenticity.

Social Media Links:
Website • Twitter • Facebook • Instagram 

Tour Schedule