Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Blog Tour Guest Post: The Cold Light of Dawn by Anna Belfrage

Please join me in welcoming Anna Belfrage back to Let Them Read Books! Anna is touring the blogosphere with her newest novel, The Cold Light of Dawn, fourth book in the King's Greatest Enemy series. I had the pleasure of offering Anna some editorial assistance on this emotional tale of a man torn between his lord and his king during the final days of Roger Mortimer and Queen Isabella's rebellion. I'm thrilled to have Anna here today with a guest post about medieval homage and the tangled web it was during the early reign of Edward III. Read on and enter to win the entire King's Greatest Enemy series or a paperback copy of The Cold Light of Dawn!

After Henry of Lancaster’s rebellion has been crushed early in 1329, a restless peace settles over England. However, the young Edward III is no longer content with being his regents’ puppet, no matter that neither Queen Isabella nor Roger Mortimer show any inclination to give up their power. Caught in between is Adam de Guirande, torn between his loyalty to the young king and that to his former lord, Roger Mortimer.

Edward III is growing up fast. No longer a boy to be manipulated, he resents the power of his mother, Queen Isabella, and Mortimer. His regents show little inclination of handing over their power to him, the rightful king, and Edward suspects they never will unless he forces their hand.

Adam de Guirande is first and foremost Edward’s man, and he too is of the opinion that the young king is capable of ruling on his own. But for Adam siding with his king causes heartache, as he still loves Roger Mortimer, the man who shaped him into who he is.

Inevitably, Edward and his regents march towards a final confrontation. And there is nothing Adam can do but pray and hope that somehow things will work out. Unfortunately, prayers don’t always help.

The Cold Light of Dawn is the fourth in Anna Belfrage’s series, The King’s Greatest Enemy, the story of a man torn apart by his loyalties to his lord and his king.

I pledge myself to thee—of medieval homage 
by Anna Belfrage

When William the Conqueror invaded England, he brought a major legal novelty with him: feudalism. Feudalism essentially means that everyone owes fealty to someone else, a neatly constructed hierarchy which ends with the king, who officially owns all land in the kingdom, albeit he would become VERY unpopular if he didn’t respect the laws of inheritance.

A man who entered into his inheritance had to pledge his fealty to his overlord. If he didn’t, his lands could be seized. In general, this was a solemn but relatively straightforward affair: the overlord promised to protect his vassal, the vassal promised to serve his lord in war if so required. Problems could arise when a man held lands in two kingdoms. Or, to really complicate things, if one king held lands from another king.

In 1329, the English king, Edward III, held lands in France. Edward’s mother, Isabella, was the daughter of Philippe IV of France, so Edward could claim kinship with the French kings. In fact, Edward could do more than that: he could claim the French throne through his mother (which he went on to do at a later date). Unsurprisingly, the French were not overly enthused at the idea of an English king and anyway, the French crown was already firmly placed on the head of Philippe Valois, a nephew of Philippe IV.

Philippe was well aware of Edward’s Capet blood and had reason to fear the young impetuous English king would some day challenge him over France. (Have I mentioned he did? Yes, I have, haven’t I. In 1337, Edward proclaimed himself rightful king of France, thereby starting the Hundred Years’ War.) So, being a capable and rather savvy king, Philippe devised a little strategy to firmly remind young Ned who was top dog: he demanded that Edward do homage for Gascony.

Was Edward delighted at the thought of popping over to France to kneel at Philippe’s feet? No. Did he have a choice? No—not unless he wanted Philippe to deprive him of his Gascon lands, the last remnant of the Angevin empire once created by Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. Thing was, a man who pledged fealty was generally considered foresworn if he took up arms against his overlord and as Edward had every intention of claiming the French crown at some point, this required a very careful wording of his oath.

With the help of the bishop of Lincoln and probably a lot of input from Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer, Edward presented himself before Philippe, knelt at his feet and did homage. Rather neatly, his wording included nothing about serving Philippe in a military capacity. This caused a number of raised brows, but because Edward was a king, Philippe did not insist on military service. More fool him, as it would turn out…

     “A farce,” Edward spat as they walked back to their lodgings. He’d belted up his robes to stop them from dragging in the filth and had tucked the golden circlet he’d worn in Philippe’s presence into some fold or other. “My dearest cousin,” he mimicked. “At last, my young English kinsman. A pleasure to welcome you to the grandest court in Europe.” King Edward kicked at a stone. “Pah!”
     Adam shared a quick look with Thomas. Philippe of Valois had been at his most resplendent, a mountain of silk and precious furs seated in his magnificent chair. Bejewelled hands had gripped the armrests, the lanky frame had half risen from the throne in some sort of greeting, and then he’d sat back down, forcing King Edward to cross the entire length of the chamber to exchange the traditional kiss. A subtle signal, telling the upstart young English king to remember his place—at the bottom of the pecking order.
     “Dignity comes from within,” Bishop Henry said. “You carried yourself as a warrior prince, my lord.”
     He most certainly had. Their liege might be young, but he was taller than average, with the width of shoulders and chest that came from many hours in the tiltyard. A comely man, he’d turned every female head present as he’d walked slowly up the length of the room, each step seeming to echo in the silent room.
     “What do you think?” Edward asked, looking at Montagu.
     “I think English lions beat French lilies any day,” Montagu drawled. “You, my lord, are a lion. Philippe, on the other hand, is not even a lily, more of a pansy.”
     Adam raised his brows. Lily or not, Philippe of Valois was no mean warrior—he’d learnt the art of warfare from his father and had proved his skills a year or so ago when he’d intervened in Flanders.
     They turned in to their lodgings, two of Adam’s men standing guard at the gate.
     “As bloated with pride as a toad,” Edward muttered. “A Valois, sitting on the throne of France when there is an heir of Capet blood.”
     “Yes, yes,” the bishop said. “And now you and I must go over just how to phrase that oath of fealty you have to swear.” He smirked. “Lord Mortimer and your lady mother have been quite creative.”
     “Have they?” Edward scowled. “Now why does that not surprise me?”
     “A ruse, my lord. All of this is to keep Philippe happy—for a while.” Bishop Henry cleared his throat. “The tricky part is to ensure you don’t promise something that you then break. Remember how things went for Harold when he broke his oath to your illustrious ancestor, William the Bastard.”
     “Doesn’t sound all that illustrious when you name him thus,” Edward replied, but he was smiling.      “So no perjuring.”
     “Precisely.” Bishop Henry grinned. “Once you land in France to claim the throne of your grandfather, you don’t want anyone saying you broke your vow to Philippe of Valois.”
     “Do you think he will?” Adam asked Montagu and Thomas once the king and the bishop had retired. “Claim the French throne?”
     “Does the sun rise in the east?” Montagu laughed. “Of course he will. And for those that ride with him, it will be glory and riches.”
     “Assuming he wins,” Adam said.
     “Win?” Thomas clapped him on the shoulder. “What other outcome is there?”

Edward was wise for his age, recognising the need to pander to Philippe’s vanity until he had the strength and experience to take on the French king. When he began hostilities in 1337, Edward was still in a weaker position than his French cousin. But over time, the English lion would stomp the French lily into the ground – at least for a while!

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The Cold Light of Dawn is on a blog tour!

About the Author:

Anna was raised abroad, on a pungent mix of Latin American culture, English history and Swedish traditions. As a result she’s multilingual and most of her reading is historical- both non-fiction and fiction. Possessed of a lively imagination, she has drawers full of potential stories, all of them set in the past. She was always going to be a writer – or a historian, preferably both. Ideally, Anna aspired to becoming a pioneer time traveller, but science has as yet not advanced to the point of making that possible. Instead she ended up with a degree in Business and Finance, with very little time to spare for her most favourite pursuit. Still, one does as one must, and in between juggling a challenging career Anna raised her four children on a potent combination of invented stories, historical debates and masses of good food and homemade cakes. They seem to thrive…

For years she combined a challenging career with four children and the odd snatched moment of writing. Nowadays Anna spends most of her spare time at her writing desk. The children are half grown, the house is at times eerily silent and she slips away into her imaginary world, with her imaginary characters. Every now and then the one and only man in her life pops his head in to ensure she’s still there.

Other than on her website, www.annabelfrage.com, Anna can mostly be found on her blog, http://annabelfrage.wordpress.com – unless, of course, she is submerged in writing her next novel. You can also connect with Anna on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads.


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a complete set of The King’s Greatest Enemy series to one winner & two winners will win a paperback copy of The Cold Light of Dawn! To enter, please enter via the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules:

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on March 30th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
The Cold Light of Dawn


  1. Sounds like another excellent read from Anna Belfrage. Thanks for the post.
    Carol Luciano
    Lucky4750 at aol dot com

  2. Thank you, Jenny, for allowing me to pop by with a guest post and for doing such a splendid editing job on The Cold Light of Dawn :) Apologies for the late comment - I have been out of commission for some days due to a surgical procedure.


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