When I was young I idolised King Richard I of England, the Lion Heart. I loved the television series starring Dermot Walsh and was enthralled as my father carefully put together an Airfix model of my hero.
Later, when I found out that Richard spent only six months of his ten year reign in England I felt disappointed. Later still, when I found out how he had used the kingdom and people as a vast treasury to fund his dynastic wars and crusade I felt almost a sense of betrayal.
Yet now in that I am writing the third book in my The Lost King I begin to understand things a little better.
During the course of the third book Edgar has been forced to leave his sanctuary in Scotland. He spends several years in northern France, taking his war into William the Conqueror’s Dukedom of Normandy.
As I have researched it I began to see why William, like the later Richard, spent so little time in the kingdom he had so recently conquered.
It was because for both men the centre of their power and certainly the focus of their concerns lay not in England but in France. Normandy was only one of a number of powerful territories all owing suzerainty to France. There was constant warfare and conflict between the lords of these lands and with the king himself.
The conquest of England gave William the right to call himself King and therefore, believe he was in some sense the equal of Philip I of France. Yet the heart of his rule was and remained Normandy. Once he had quashed the resistance to his rule in his new kingdom he turned his attention to Europe once again and only returned to England for short and infrequent visits.
I realise now that Edgar can and will operate on a far grander canvas than hitherto.