This is my first blog post, so welcome to the blog. My book – The King with the Iron Belt – is the first history book I have written, having been a writer for 17 years now. I really should remember when I first became obsessed with King James IV but I can’t really. I remember my husband buying me Macdougall’s book in 1998, just before we got married, so it must have been some time before then.
My love of history goes way back and I have an impressive book shelf of history books, mostly nonfiction , with some fiction. Generally British history interests me the most, particularly Scottish history, although obviously Scottish history links with the history of other countries, and currently I am reading Philippa Gregory’s book The Lady of the Rivers. I also have a passing interest in the Habsburgs and was impressed when a Hungarian friend told me that occasionally one of the Habsburgs is interviewed on Hungarian TV.
Social and Royal history interests me and I have to admit to enjoying watching Catherine Cookson movies for the insight they provide on 19th and 20th century history around the UK. Military history holds no interest to me and is probably the reason I gave up history at school at the age of 16. Wars are a part of history that I am not interested in.
So what is it about James IV that I find so fascinating? Of all the kings and queens who have ruled these isles I feel that James IV is one who has been unfairly glossed over the most. Yes. Mary Queen of Scots, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I are very interesting, but so too is James IV. The more I read about the man the more I became intrigued by him. The story of his romance with Margaret Drummond would make a great film, and he was quite a unique character, with his interest in science and alchemy. He also appears to have been a good king, a caring king, who was down to earth and made efforts to get to know the people he ruled.
Yes, he can be criticised for Flodden and this battle certainly had a huge impact on the country, but I do believe this was a much more complicated situation than it initially seems.
Searching through bookstores and online I was surprised how little there was written about this great figure, taking into account that it was his marriage to Margaret Tudor that eventually led to the joining of the two kingdoms. What I did find tended to be academic in nature, or, in the case of Mackie’s biography of him, more than fifty years old.
With this in mind I set out to write a biography that would appeal to the average person on the street who was simply interested in history not necessarily looking to study it. As my book shows, James IV had so many positive qualities, it seems a crime not to tell people about them. The result, I hope, is a book that people can learn from, at the same time being entertained.
I intend to blog here on a regular basis, both about my own writing and on history topics in general. Please feel free to follow, share and retweet.