Why should you care about 1066?

A fascinating series of posts from the BBC







"On the 28 September 1066, around 7,000 soldiers from Northern France landed on the Sussex coast. Led by William, the Duke of Normandy, they were soon to launch a battle that would become one of the most famous in all of English History – the Battle of Hastings.

The bloody day of fighting on the 14 October proved to be a cataclysmic event in English history: a decisive turning point which transformed England forever.

The legacy of this brutal conquest - the last time England was successfully invaded – pervades many aspects of our language and culture today."

Professor Robert Bartlett

Start the posts here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/zx2c4j6

History? Um, we know the ending...

Alison Morton looks at writing the 'backstory' to events, what we now called history...

 ... We know what happened in the past. We know who won, and lost.

 Look back at 1066. Much as we may dream/speculate about a Saxon England beyond that date (see 1066 Turned Upside Down), it didn’t happen. So when Helen Hollick wrote Harold the King, she couldn’t alter the outcome. But I was so caught up by the writing and characters, I was as optimistic as any Saxon that they would prevail. But in my logical brain I knew the outcome – it was probably the first date I learnt in school. However, it didn’t stop me enjoying the story.

Carry on reading...


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers, INCEPTIOPERFIDITAS,SUCCESSIO and AURELIA. The fifth in the series, INSURRECTIO, was published in April 2016. Find out Roma Nova news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways by signing up for her free monthly email newsletter.

Revolutionising 1066

1066 is the most known year in English history, and the most intriguing. Whether you support Saxon Harold or Norman William, it represents a key turning point: a year in which England’s historical story could have gone any number of ways – a year of ‘what ifs’. Turning the outcome of the Battle of Hastings on its head and considering other outcomes would be a revolution indeed.

Alison Morton explores some of the possible alternative outcomes in her guest post on Unusual Historicals...

The trouble with time travel (and writing about it).

The trouble with time travel (and writing about it).

By Richard Dee.


I'm ploughing a lonely furrow here, a Science Fiction writer surrounded by Historical Fiction of sumptuous quality. I chose to write Sci-fi for two reasons, first because it's always fascinated me and second because, being inherently lazy, I thought that it would need less research. After all, how can you research the future? I was wrong but that's another story.

Which brings me to time travel, now there’s a subject to set you thinking. Whether it’s Back to The Future, The Terminator or The Time Travellers Wife we all love the idea of time travel. After all, there are bound to be things in all our pasts that we would secretly love to change? 

There must be something you wish you had done differently; if you only had a chance. If you could invent some kind of machinery to transport you, or discover the knack, even better if you were born with the ability. And the possibility of actually observing history would get a lot of people excited. I suspect that a lot of textbooks would also need to be re-written.


The Time Machine (1960), H.G.Wells.

But would it be as simple as all that? Surely there must be rules to follow to stop you unwittingly destroying civilisation as we know it?

Everyone knows you can’t kill your grandparents before they became your parent’s parents and that anything that you might change can cause all sorts of things that you never expected. Watch The Butterfly Effect to see what I mean.

So care would be advisable if you actually could travel back in time. Things might not work out like you expect.

And how about writing about time travel, is it just another job for your average writer or is there more to it than that? 

If you want to know more; on my website I've written a longer article on the subject. As a bonus, there's another time travel short story available at the end of the post. Just click this link to go straight there.

Find out more about Richard Dee at richarddeescifi.co.uk


Read one of Richard's stories in 1066 Turned Upside Down available NOW as an e-book! Click here to be redirected to an Amazon near you CLICK HERE
(also available for other e-readers) 



OUT NOW

Let's raise a virtual glass of champagne 
and give three hearty cheers for 

1066 Turned Upside Down
released as an e-book today!



eleven 'what if' stories for the year 1066 
what more needs to be said?
Except
your copy is waiting for you!

(also available on other e-readers)  
$2.99  £1.99

we hope you enjoy our stories

Historical Novel Society Review
click here


longlisted, but exempt from the award




Who was Edith Swan-Neck? By Carol McGrath

We really do not know much about Edith Swan-Neck except that she was the handfasted wife of Harold II, set aside during the year he was crowned king. After all, women are the footnotes of history especially the history of the eleventh century. Edith Swan-Neck's sister-in-law, Edith Godwin, was famously married to King Edward whose death in January of that year caused all the trouble in 1066. He died childless. Edith Swan-Neck's mother-in-law, Countess Gytha of Wessex, will be remembered to history since she lost four sons in the year 1066 and, moreover, she withstood William throughout the three week siege of Exeter. Countess Gytha refused to pay King William's tax but after a ghastly siege the citizens made a deal with William by which he allowed the Godwin women and the ladies, who gathered around them, to depart into exile in Flanders.

Harold loved to hunt.


Although King Harold is described in The Vita Edwardii, commissioned by Edith Godwin, as tall, intelligent, experienced in campaign, prodigal with oaths and was accused by foreign writers of promiscuity and adultery, there are no descriptions of Edith Swan-Neck. She was romanticised in the nineteenth century because after the Napoleonic Wars the English sought a pre Norman identity.

Imagined Edith the Fair


Edward Bulwer Lytton, English poet, playwright and politician was very popular during the Victorian era with the reading public. He made a fortune with best-selling novels such as Harold, the Last of the Saxons. He made Edith King Harold's only love and suggested that the couple were handfasted as they were related in the fifth degree. In fact, Their marriage was a legitimate Danish marriage that took place around 1045 after Harold was created Earl of East Anglia.

Handfasting


Handfasting was legal and involved exchange of property. The ceremony is said to have taken place in the Hall by the whetstone. However, this form of marriage more danico was not recognised by the 11th century Gregorian reformed Church. Many nobles, married this way in their youth, later married a second wife in a church ceremony. Harold did this too but most likely for political reasons when he married the King of Wales' widow, Aldgyth of Mercia, to bring her brothers, the Northern Earls, closer to his cause, that of taking England's kingship and protecting the country from invaders-so he hoped.  At the time of their marriage, Edith was probably in her teens.



Lytton also suggested that she was raised by her grandmother, a witch and that she was a god-daughter of Harold's sister Edith, the Queen. The Victorians, especially the Pre-Raphaelite movement, held a passion for a nostalgic purchase on the past, harking back to a romantic and gothic medieval atmosphere.

Wills


Edith Swan-Neck, in truth, was most likely a Norfolk noble-woman. She was probably Edith the Fair/ Edith the Rich of The Domesday Book. Her singular mark of beauty was a long neck with pure white skin, like a swan. She was the daughter of a woman called Wulgyth who made a will in 1046 which reveals that she held lands in Hertfordshire, Bucks., Suffolk, Essex, and Cambridgeshire. Wulgyth left her daughter a huge endowment. Edith Swan-Neck inherited 280 hides and 450 acres of land. A hide is around 120 acres. These lands do tally with those attributed to Edith the Fair in the Domesday Book. They passed to Alan the Red of Richmond after the Conquest, another interesting story. In addition, Edith owned four houses in Canterbury and property in Kent.

The Burning House


Edith was of Scandinavian descent and five of their six living children had Scandinavian names. There was Godwin, the eldest, Edmund, Magnus, Gytha, Gunnhild and Ulf. It is possible that Ulf is the child on The Bayeux Tapestry in flight before the Battle of Hastings. Ulf was later taken as a child hostage into Normandy and not released until after King William's death. It is thought that The Bayeux Tapestry was designed by men but was stitched in abbey embroidery schools by women. Wilton Abbey, in particular, was a centre for needlework and Queen Edith was its patron. An aside here- Edith Swan-Neck was benefactress of St Benet's in Norfolk and could be the 1062 'Lady of Walsingham', as described in a late 15th century ballad. Walsingham is close by. These Norfolk lands at one time belonged to Harold.

Ulf and Edith?

I suspect that The Burning House vignette shown on The Bayeux Tapestry, depicting in realistic appearing embroidery a mother and child in flight, could represent Edith Swan-Neck and her youngest son Ulf just before the Battle of Hastings. Two women depicted earlier on the embroidery, which famously tells the story of 1066, are possibly identifiable as two of Harold's sisters, Queen Edith and Aelgiva (the abbess who died at Wilton before The Norman Conquest).

It is argued by Carola Hicks in her book about The Bayeux Tapestry that Dowager Queen Edith was involved in creating the embroidery. It is suggested by Andrew Bridgeford in his book The Secrets of The Bayeux Tapestry that the Burning House vignette indeed shows Edith and Ulf. The Tapestry is a many layered masterpiece shot through with the English point of view. It is tempting to see the woman and child as standing for actual people rather than simply representational images. She wears aristocratic clothes and the house is two storey. These were important figures.

Harold's Death


We hear from The Waltham Chronicle that two named monks, who followed Harold south from Waltham, fetched Edith to the battlefield to identify the king's broken body by marks only known to her. She did own properties in Kent! The image of Harold struck in the eye is one of the most enduring in history but it is not universally accepted as the correct reading. He may be the figure struck in the thigh below the words Interfectus Est- Was Killed. The Carmen, the Song of Hastings, composed for King William and written in 1068 suggests a named knight hacked off Harold's thigh and that another named knight removed his head. It suggests he was buried secretly overlooking the sea. The monks claim he was taken to Waltham Abbey and buried there. It is a mystery.

Edith Identifies Harold's Body


Still, if we believe the Chronicle, Edith Swan-Neck may have performed the last acts of love and it was her sons who led armies against William in the West. As for what happened later to Edith Swan-Neck, she may have fled to Ireland or travelled with Countess Gytha to Exeter and later into exile. There is no record of this though there are records for her daughter, Gytha/Gita, and another sister of Harold who ended her days at St Omer and for Countess Gytha herself.  My own feeling is that, like many heiresses at the time of Conquest, King Harold's beautiful handfasted wife ended her days in a monastery either in Canterbury or Hereford.


Statue of Edith and Harold at Hastings 


I write about Edith Swan-Neck and her daughters Gunnhild and Gita in a trilogy The Daughters of Hastings published by Accent Press and available in bookshops and for e readers.






Anglo-Saxons and their horses


by Helen Hollick

Until recently, it was widely accepted that Anglo-Saxon armies consisted solely of infantry formation, and horses being used only for transportation. But as Ann Hyland points out, "...this seems a complete waste of potential energy and resources" suggesting that while it is unthinkable that entire armies were mounted, wealthier men were more than capable of undertaking mounted fighting and of utilising the horse in a variety of offensive tactics, as circumstances of battle, terrain etc., dictated.

Mounted warfare during the Anglo-Saxon period is shown in sculpture and referred to in manuscripts. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for 937 is a record of Aethelstan's triumph over the Scots - the corresponding Croyland Chronicle on this campaign is very clear: "... and Singin unhorsed the Scottish king."


Exmoor Pony
The Native British pony (the present-day breeds of Welsh, Fell, Dales, Exmoor etc.,) were enhanced during the Roman occupation by the cross breeding of new stock and bloodlines, introduced into Britain through cavalry regiments raised from countries holding established equestrian cultures and known for breeds of superior quality. The most priced war horses being the Frisian, Burgundian and Thuringian. These Roman imports would have rapidly improved British stock by adding height, bulk and speed to the already established stamina, intelligence and ability to survive a poor winter climate and sparse food. Britain had - and still has - a rich wealth of these strong and hardy ponies, some around the 12 - 13 h.h. (hands high) mark, others reaching 14.2 h.h. It is significant that the modern day Fell and Dales breeds resemble the modern Frisian, a breed of horse that was much valued in antiquity and remained highly prized in later Medieval times.

want to read more? The full article is on the English Historical Fiction Authors Blog - where you'll also find lots of other interesting historical articles!

Part One Anglo-Saxons and Their Horses

Part Two  Harold II's Horses...

It seems likely that horses were used at Harold's victorious battle prior to Hastings at Stamford Bridge in September 1066. Although sagas cannot always be relied upon, the Saga of Snorri Sturleson, The Heimskringla, is accurate in its main points. The saga states that the English had cavalry and were not an infantry force.


   "Then, as a sign of victory, Hrothgar, son of Healfdene
     Presented to Beowulf ....
     Eight war-horses
     With glancing bridles, one with a saddle
     Studded with stones - battle seat of the Danes."

1066 - The Mercian Perspective



By Annie Whitehead


In 1066, when Edward the Confessor died, Harold Godwinson was declared king. Yet he felt the need to ride north to secure the pledges of the northern nobles, and thought it prudent to forsake his long-term partner and marry the sister of two powerful northern earls. Why?

Let’s go back a bit...

Readers of To Be A Queen will recall that in Aethelflaed’s day, Mercia was still a kingdom in its own right, albeit one which was fast running out of kings. Forty years later, in Alvar the Kingmaker, Mercia has become a powerful ealdordom (later known as earldoms.)

And there is a new problem: the Danelaw.

However much Aethelflaed, her father, husband, and brother fought against them, inevitably some of the Danes who came over in their dragon boats stayed, and settled in the north and east. In the 10th century, King Edgar was careful to preserve the rights and traditions of the Danelaw, as well as the erstwhile independence of Mercia.

Edgar’s dealings with the Danelaw can be found in the law code known as IV Edgar, or the Wihbordesstan Code. It has often been said that Edgar was creating something new with this code, but technically speaking this is a letter to the Danes, showing Edgar eager to respect an autonomy which was already a fact.


It is probable that Edgar became king of England in 959 with the help of a powerful group of magnates who wanted a king who would not encroach on the customary law. Edgar stresses five times that he has every intention of respecting the Danelaw. It is possible that although IV Edgar is a recognition of established fact, Edgar himself created the Danelaw, as there are no earlier references to it. In all probability these privileges were granted by Edgar in 957, in gratitude for the support given him in the north against his brother Eadwig (Edwy.)

Although Edgar’s reign was notable for being free of invasion - his epithet was ‘The Peaceable’ - it was a time of great change. As well as this identification and recognition of the Danelaw, there began a shift in the power and influence of the nobility. As ealdormen died, their lands were given to neighbouring nobles - Alvar (Aelfhere), already earl of southern Mercia, gained the northern portion when the earl of Chester died - until the earldoms were as big as the old kingdoms. By the time of Edgar IV, there were three principal noblemen, and in the law code he demands that:

“Earl Oslac (Northumbria) and all the host that dwell in his aldermanry are to give their support that this may be enforced” and that “Many documents are to be written concerning this, and sent both to ealdorman Aelfhere (Mercia) and ealdorman Aethelwine, (East Anglia) and that they are to send them in all directions, that this measure may be known to both the poor and the rich.” [IV Edgar 15. & 15.1]

Royal control was difficult to establish in areas with separatist feeling, and Mercia was another of these areas. Edgar was respectful of these regional differences, as his charters show - a land charter of 969 carefully states the ‘boundary of the Mercians’ - but his successors were not... Read on ...

Imagine Horses

by Eliza Redgold

Think when we talk of horses, that you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i' the receiving earth
For ‘tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings.
~ William Shakespeare: Henry V

Once upon a time, I visited Tintagel in Cornwall with my small daughter. Full of history and mystery, the cliff side town is steeped in Arthurian legend. As we made our way along the path towards the cliffs and the ancient site of Arthur’s castle, her hand in mine, I heard the sound of galloping hooves behind us. “Look, horses!” I swung her around to see them.

The path behind us was empty. There were no horses. Nothing was there.
Or perhaps not …

In Shakespeare’s Henry V the famous prologue that begins “O for a Muse of fire” encourages the audience to use their imaginations. To see Kings and Queens, instead of actors, to imagine battlefields instead of a wooden stage. In this collection of 1066 stories, readers are encouraged to go further – to imagine not only histories and fictions, but also alternate pasts.


I was so excited to be asked to contribute my story ‘The Needle Can Mend’ to 1066 Turned Upside Down. My connection to the historical period is through Lady Godiva – she of the famous horse ride. In 2015, my historical women’s fiction Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva was published by St Martin’s Press in New York. So the legend goes, Godiva of Coventry begged her husband Lord Leofric of Mercia to lift a high tax on her people, who would starve if forced to pay. He demanded a forfeit: that Godiva ride naked on horseback through the town.  Lady Godiva (or Countess Godgyfu, in the Anglo-Saxon version of her name) was a real person who lived in 11th century Anglo-Saxon England. Yet her myth goes even further back.  Her legend has been be transformed again and again, come down to us through the ages in a mix of fact and folk-lore.

In Naked, I told Godiva’s tale as ‘herstory’ – from the heroine’s perspective. The historical Godiva would have been alive in 1066, so of course I wanted to include her in my story for this collection. 

Godiva was the grandmother (or step-grandmother) to Queen Edith, the second wife of King Harold, and may well have figured in 1066 and its political aftermath, or so I imagined.   In ‘The Needle can Mend’ I wanted to capture the strength and power of women and the tales they weave. No more is this revealed than in the mysterious fabric of the Bayeaux Tapestry, which depicts the 1066 Battle of Hastings, and stitches together my tale.  It is a woman-made work of political art, secret and imagination that has stood the test of time.

In a recent speech in Vietnam, US President Obama commented on the importance of imagination in international politics. To imagine is to form a mental image, to think, to believe, to dream, to picture. It is both idea and ideal. Our dreams can take us from small acts of empathy to noble visions of equality and justice. Imagination charges the flame: it puts us in touch with our creativity, our life force. In a world of increasing global conflict, perhaps imagination has never been more important – just like it might have been in 1066.

Alternate histories. Alternate realities. Alternate futures.
Imagine.

Follow Eliza Redgold  on
Twitter: @ElizaRedgold
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ElizaRedgoldAuthor
Pinterest:  www.pinterest.com/elizaredgold
or subscribe to her newsletter at www.elizaredgold.com



Bringing God to the Vikings

...was not a mission for the weak-hearted. And still, someone had to do it, which is why an English monk named Sigfrid left everything he knew behind and set out on a long journey to a country where the masjority still held to Oden and Thor, having little patience with that meek and long-suffering dude, Jesus. Anyway, for the whole story - including Sigfrid's three nephews and ghostly lights over the lake - go here!

We have pre-order!




Huzzah! 1066 Turned Upside Down 
is now available for pre-order!

click the link for an Amazon store near you and get your 
e-book ordered today!





New Releases!

Announcing the release of two new books by our 1066 Turned Upside Down Authors!

First : Anna Belfrage



Welcome to a world of medieval intrigue! Follow Isabella of France and Roger Mortimer as they invade England and make war on Edward II – her husband, his king.

Watch protagonists Adam de Guirande and his wife, Kit, navigate a world in which loss is certain and survival is not.

The dice are cast – and there is no going back!
Released on July 5th!
Pop by Anna's Amazon Author page 





And should you want to know more about Anna, why not visit her blog where she showcases her passion for history, or pop by her website.

Next : Helen Hollick




Weighing anchor for the fifth Sea Witch Voyage to set sail:
the anchor cable is being hauled in,
the sails are being set....
On The Account, released 7th July





Helen's Amazon Author Page
to grab your copy of the swashbuckling adventure! (paperback or e-book)

Here's the first in Sea Witch's voyage around the blogs: The Anticipation of the New Book...
'I am happy to host Helen Hollick, writer of engrossing historical fiction, luscious series set in far ago times and fascinating places. Her creativity is only matched by her encouragement and support of other writers.' (my thanks to host Diana Wilder) http://dianawilder.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/do-fabulous-writers-make-you-nervous.html





Even a conquering bastard has a weak spot...

Or maybe that should be soft spot. Or maybe it shouldn't be either, because Matilda of Flanders does not come across as being particularly weak or soft. Women of her status weren't expected to be - they were educated to be fully capable of administering their husband's domains while hubby was off doing other things, like rapaciously grabbing another man's crown... In Matilda's case, this meant that while William set out to claim that English crown, she was kept busy managing his duchy. And their children.

Read more about Matilda here! 

Time and its alternative

Time, ah, that strange thing. Past time, which could be yesterday or fifty years ago, present time which we bumble through, and future time which fascinates and scares us. But what if time wasn’t quite what we think it is? What if we had made different choices at various points in our lives and our personal timeline had gone off in quite a different one from the one we’re in now?
On a grander scale, what if William the Conqueror hadn’t beaten Harold in 1066? Or Elizabeth I had married and had children? What if a piece of the Roman Empire had survived into the modern age?
Exploring ‘what ifs’ of history lies at the core of alternate history. Its two parents, history and science fiction, give a fiction writer the opportunity to take established history and speculate. Robert Harris did it in Fatherland, Kingsley Amis in The Alteration, Michael Chabon in The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.

Neil Gaiman looks at the cultural role of speculative fiction

Speculative fiction, including alternative fiction, isn't just fun but has a cultural impact. I'll leave it to Neil Gaiman to explain...

There are three phrases that make possible the world of writing about the world of not-yet (you can call it science fiction or speculative fiction; you can call it anything you wish) and they are simple phrases:

What if … ?
If only …
If this goes on …

“What if … ?” gives us change, a departure from our lives. (What if aliens landed tomorrow and gave us everything we wanted, but at a price?)

“If only …” lets us explore the glories and dangers of tomorrow. (If only dogs could talk. If 
only I was invisible.)

“If this goes on…” is the most predictive of the three, although it doesn’t try to predict an actual future with all its messy confusion. Instead, “If this goes on…” fiction takes an element of life today, something clear and obvious and normally something troubling, and asks what would happen if that thing, that one thing, became bigger, became all-pervasive, changed the way we thought and behaved. 


Queen In All But Name


By Annie Whitehead

Aethelflaed, who died on 12th June AD918 was not a Mercian. She was a West-Saxon, the daughter of Alfred the Great of Wessex. She was born around the year 869 - we don’t know where - and was the eldest child of Alfred and his wife, who was a Mercian princess of the Gaini tribe. Alfred’s sister was married to King Burgred of Mercia, so here, already, there was a double connection between the two royal houses, alliance cemented by marriage twice over.



There is evidence to suggest that Aethelflaed was fostered by her aunt and spent her early years in Mercia. At this time there were essentially four Anglo-Saxon kingdoms: Northumbria in the northeast and East Anglia in the east had already been overrun by the Danish Vikings and now those Danish invaders were pushing at the borders of Mercia in the midlands. Mercia could not hold them off, caught as it was in a succession dispute. Unable to stand united, the Mercians failed to arrest the advancing army. Wessex, in the southwest, was, as Bernard Cornwell called it, The Last Kingdom.

Read More....

Ferrari History

By Joanna Courtney




I’m thrilled to be a part of the writing team who will, this Autumn, be bringing 1066 Turned Upside Down to your e-readers. When I first dreamed up the idea of having a collection of ‘alternative 1066’ short stories I never imagined I would actually make it a reality, or that I would be lucky enough to do so with such a wonderful collection of authors. Huge credit has to go to the wonderful Helen Hollick for her energy and drive but everyone on the 1066 Turned Upside Down team has responded with such enthusiasm and imagination to the brief. But then, why wouldn’t they?

As historical fiction writers we are fascinated with getting to the truth of what happened in the past. That may not be a ‘truth’ in the way that academic historians would recognise it, substantiated by unassailable facts and backed up with sources, but an emotional truth – a narrative that makes sense of the past for us and, hopefully, for our readers. We are always, always aware that we are filling in gaps with fictional interpretation – so why not go one step further and fill in those gaps with pure fiction?

In writing stories for this project I have discovered that invented history, for me, is like driving a Ferrari, or hang-gliding off a cliff, or riding a roller coaster. It is not, perhaps, something I would like to do all the time but it’s wonderful to try every once in a while. I’ve found writing these alternative stories has been a challenge, a fascination and a pure joy – a giddy rush of almost illicit pleasure.

And what is truth anyway? We might be able to establish events but can we ever really pin down motivations? And what of belief – does that constitute truth? A question, perhaps, for more learned and philosophical minds than my own, but as a writer of fiction the nature of truth does fascinate me.

read more on Joanna's blog.....




The future of History and Historical Fiction.


You may think that I’m in strange company; that I’ve somehow wandered into the wrong group. After all, I’m a writer of Science Fiction, a dabbler in the future, in things to come. I base my work on things that have never happened and have to create not just the story, but also the setting. And to somehow make it all seem real.

In comparison; historical fiction writers have the ability to go and see the places where their stories are set, to read accounts by people who were there and to weave their magic around the tangible.

For me, the appeal of historical fiction lies in the fact that uncertainty about the past allows for so much freedom in the telling. There are so many possible outcomes to be imagined from one event. The fact is that the further you go back into history; there are fewer ‘facts.’ The accounts we have can be unsubstantiated and were after all written by the victors. They may not even have been written by observers of the events they describe; or at the time of the events when memories were fresh!

Everything is open to a wide range of interpretation. And the masters of the genre give their imaginations full rein, with stories that either stick to the recognised timeline or in some cases they create a whole new future in the past. And starting with what the reader knows, they take them on a journey.

Since I became involved with this project, I’ve been wondering how science fiction and historical fiction tie up. And I think I've got it. 


The question is, "how will the future see the past?" How will the great events that have yet to happen be recorded and written about by the historical fiction writers of the future?

To help me do just that, I’ve invented a magazine of the future and asked the editor to consider my problem. You can read the full story over on my website, richarddeescifi.co.uk


So, alternate history?

What if the Nazis had won the Second World War (Fatherland – Robert Harris, The Man in the High Castle – Philip K Dick) or England had remained Catholic (Pavane – Keith Roberts, The Alteration – Kingsley Amis)? Or perhaps if Roosevelt had lost the 1940 election and right-wing Charles Lindbergh had become US president (The Plot Against America – Philip Roth)? 

And the big one for 1066... Suppose William's ships had foundered, or Harold hadn't been forced to go north against Harald Hardrada, or a third party had intervened or William or Harold had died before the invasion? 

A new time line, diverging from the one we now live in, will have a opened up with new possibilities and consequences. Who knows what will happen next?

Called alternate, or alternative, history this type of fiction lets us explore these "what if" scenarios through our stories. Alison Morton writes exclusively in the alternative history framework and introduces us to the conventions of this genre. Read on...

Our Cover and the Helmet

Yes, we know that helmet on our cover isn't quite right for 1066. 
It probably - if you want to be picky-accurate - would date to about 150-200 years earlier.


The most famous Saxon helmet is the Sutton Hoo treasure:  a "crested" and masked helmet with  panels of tinned bronze and assembled mounts, the decoration is directly comparable to that found on helmets from the Vendel and Valsgärde cemeteries of eastern Sweden. The Sutton Hoo helmet differs from the Swedish examples in having an iron skull of a single vaulted shell and has a full face mask, a solid neck guard and deep cheekpieces. These features have suggested an English origin for the basic structure of the helmet; the deep cheekpieces have parallels in the Coppergate helmet, found in York. Although outwardly very like the Swedish examples, the Sutton Hoo helmet is a product of better craftsmanship. Helmets are extremely rare finds.



Sutton Hoo : Wikipedia :  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sutton_Hoo

Headgear at the time of the Battle of Hastings (i.e 11th century) would have been more conical and with a band of metal extending down to protect the nose - as depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry


so we know all this but ...

  • we wanted to use something eye-catching more than accurate on the cover
  • 1066 Turned Upside Down is a compilation of alternative stories, so most of the e-book isn't accurate anyway!
  • we wondered how many people would take note and complain (thus drawing attention!)
  • and well... one of our stories does involve time travel....


there's an interesting article here : Historic UK about armour from Ancient Britons through Roman to Norman

Have your say about how important is accuracy on a cover 
leave a comment and someone will answer as soon as possible 

Cover designed by Cathy Helms, www.avalongraphics.org
Original artwork ©wjarek - Fotolia

1066 Turned Upside Down

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1066 is the most known year in English history, and the most intriguing.  It represents a key turning point: a year in which everything was up for grabs, a year in which England's historical story could have gone any number of ways - a year of ‘what ifs’.

What if King Edward's great-nephew, Edgar, had been thought old enough to rule, and chosen as king? What if the Northern Earls has defeated the Norwegian, Harald Hardrada and King Harold's own brother, Tostig, at Gate Fulford - or what if Harald Hardrada had won the Battle of Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire? What if Harold had defeated the Normans at sea? What if Svein of Denmark had invaded or a European political power had intervened? What if William had died when he was unhorsed at Hastings or had been defeated at London Bridge in November? What if the Bayeux Tapestry carries a hidden, secret meaning about the truth of 1066 - or a time  machine could alter the past?

So much could have been different and now, at last, we can explore some of those 'what ifs' in this exciting collection of ‘virtual history’ short stories, written by known and loved writers of the period (and a few from outside it)  to celebrate the 950th anniversary of this incredible year.

Our authors are:

Helen Hollick, author of multiple historical and pirate novels, including Harold the King
Joanna Courtney, author of the Queens of the Conquest series 
and
Anna Belfrage, Historical Novel Society Indie Award Winner 2015, author of the Graham Saga 
Richard Dee, fantasy author of Ribbonworld 
G K Holloway, author of 1066: What Fates Impose 
Carol McGrath, author of The Daughters of Hastings trilogy
Alison Morton, author of the Roma Nova thrillers 
Eliza Redgold, author of Naked, a novel of Lady Godiva 
Annie Whitehead, author and history graduate who writes novels set in Mercia and Saxon England

with a foreword by writer and actor, C.C. Humphreys

The collection includes historical notes of what really did happen alongside the fictional re-interpretations, as well as authors' notes on what fascinates them about 1066 and why they chose to 'change' what they did.

Each story will also have a few suggestions for 'discussion' points for schools, writer's groups - or just your own curiosity!


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where to buy (when it becomes available) 
Expected Publication date: SOON

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