My second work of historic fiction, For King and Country, is told from the eyes of Charles Stuart, the Prince of Wales. Set in England during its Civil War, Charles must help his father regain the throne of England.
When Charles, the Prince of Wales departed on a trip north to confront the rebellious Scottish Noble Archibald Argyll, he realizes the British Isles were neither as prosperous nor as loyal as he had thought, and that he must grow up and lighten his father’s load, or risk losing the Stuart throne in a Civil War.
In the 87,000 word historical fiction For King and Country, Prince Charles Stuart seemed to have his future laid out for him in 1637, when he was the heir apparent to the English Throne and his father ruled over a “prosperous” and “united” British Isles. Then, a religious discord originating from Scotland uprooted old sentiments between the English Parliament and the English Crown, evolving into a rebellion that threatened to encompass Charles’s entire world.
In a tale of trials and hardships, Charles must persist through his humility and find his new place in society in order to have any chance of becoming the King of England.
Charles II, the Prince of Wales (Later King of England)
The Novel is told entirely from Prince Charles’s perspective. Things start off when Charles is 10, when the King takes the boy outside London for the first time, in order to participate in a meeting with several rebellious Scottish nobles. The king had expected the trip to be Charles’s first lesson to be mild, a brief peek into the art of diplomacy that all kings must master. Unfortunately, things swung rapidly out of control and the meeting turned into a full fledged rebellion. Charles’s first lesson had turned into a brutally upfront wake up call, effectively ending his childhood as England is consumed in a civil war. As readers will find out, Charles starts out as a well intentioned young man, eager to find out more about state craft and the affair of things outside the royal palace, but is by no means ready for the ordeals and trials that lie ahead for him; his warm heart and likable nature, however, wins him over many new friends that will eventually help him regain the throne of England.
Charles I, the King of England
The homily, loving, head of the house of Stuart, Charles I faces an unusual predicament. Upon taking up the throne in 1630, Charles disbanded the English Parliament, whom he depended on for the granting of new taxes. By 1640, religious rebellions are springing up all over the isles. The Catholic Irish, long incensed at being ruled by protestant kings, rose up in a massive rebellion in 1639 that drew huge chunks of the royal Army into the bogs of Ireland. To the north, the fierce Scots, led by Archibald Argyll, rose up in protest of King Charles’s unpopular implementation of the Book of Common Prayers. A Protestant King with a Catholic wife ruling over a divided people, King Charles must look to parliament to raise new taxes in order to crush the rebellions against his rule, while at the same time keeping unity amongst his fragile family and attempting to preserve the innocence childhood of his young son. These tasks would soon prove impossible to handle.
George Villier, the first Duke of Buckingham
Childhood friend and right handed man of King Charles, Buckingham does much of the dirty work that the king does not have the patience to perform. Ruthless against his opponents, yet lineant and even boyishly playful around the royal children, George Villier represents, in many ways, a mediating figure, both within the royal family, and in the royal court. Although often mistaken in his decisions, Villier is an important friend and assistant to the king in court. With Villier at his side, King Charles would remain committed to making the right decisions for England. Yet Villier had made too many enemies in his long political career, and he may not be able to help his beloved king as much as he wanted to.
“Thumbs” Villier, the 2nd Duke of Buckingham.
Just as the elder George Villier was the childhood friend and right handed man of the King Charles, the son of Villier, also called George, has known Prince Charles since their infancy. Only two years older than the prince, George is affectionatly known to Prince Charles as “Thumbs”, because he still sucked on his thumb years after Prince CHarles had stopped. Slightly plump and readily indulging in pleasures and enjoyments, Thumbs may very well be the least able of Charles’s inner circle, but is easily the most stubbornly loyal.
Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon
One of King Charles’s most capable advisers, Edward Hyde always successfully understood the political results of every one of King Charles’s actions. Insightful and brilliant, Hyde is also undyingly loyal to the king. Unfortunately, he is too much of a honest man and not used to the devious maneuvering and bribery of the royal court, and thus lost the royal favor several times. After the disposal of the King, Hyde continued serving Prince Charles, despite the latter’s initial reluctance to champion the King’s cause. Taking the place of the disposed King Charles and George Villier of Buckingham, Edward Hyde became a father figure to Prince Charles, and his insightful decisions ultimately helped the Prince succeed.
Prince Rupert of the Rhine
The dashing, young, brilliant commander of the royalist cavalry, Prince Rupert was by far the most successful general of King Charles. His teenage years spent in Europe, (engulfed in the 30 years war) exposed him to some of the most innovative weapons and military tactics of the time. The terico formation used by English armies was by that time rapidly becoming obsolete, as muskets had become so dominant on the battle field they no longer needed pike men to protect them from cavalry. Prince Rupert, cousin of the King and uncle of Prince Charles, would bring his military brilliance as well as his princely attitude to the royal court. In many ways he was like the cavaliers he commanded: flamboyant, flashy, and well versed in chivalry, he and his horsemen are very much like the knights of the old. Successful and well received at first, they, and their temper, would later prove hinder some and a huge factor in the King’s downfall.
Henry Wilmot, 1st Earl of Rochester
Another one of King Charles’s generals, Wilmot was capable both on the field and in the royal court. Having spent much of his teenage years a page of the king, Wilmot knows the royal family well and is a personal friend of Prince Charles. Well mannered and of few words, Wilmot is extremely loyal to the royal house, continuing to fight for the Stuarts even after the Stuarts themselves seemed to have given up. The only man in prince Charles’s inner circle with military experience, Wilmot was instrumental in rebuilding and leading the new royal army.
Anthony Ashley Cooper
An adopted son of a previous speaker of the English Parliament, Anthony is an unlikely friend of Prince Charles, knowing the hostilities between parliament and the king. Indeed, the first meeting between Anthony and the Prince turned into a heated discussion. Anthony’s likable nature, however, makes him compatible to Prince Charles, and instead of becoming bitter enemies, the two began exchanging ideologies and gained insights over the views of the other. Anthony eventually began to support the king against parliament, while Prince Charles was able to get a glance of the political nature of England from the parliamentary point of view, something that may perhaps allow the royal house to coexist with parliament once again.
The nemesis of King Charles, Oliver Cromwell is different from even his parliamentary peers in terms of his hatred for the king. While most of his peers would like to see the king weakened, and more willing to share power with the English Parliament, Cromwell would rather see the King dead, his head on a pike. A cold man with an iron will, Cromwell has an unyielding temper, and his demands for perfection would allow him to create one of the most disciplined army in Europe, a force able to contest with the best of Prince Rupert’s cavaliers.
Archibald Campbell, the Marquis of Argyll
The old, scheming leader of the Scottish Covenanters, Argyll is the King’s main foe in the north. Wrinkled and charismatic, Argyll commanded the undying loyalty of many Scots and was known for perching like an old eagle. With no real loyalty to anything except the survival of Scotland, Argyll led his supporters to switch sides several times in the crisis that awaits England. The beginning of the novel saw him in the crucial position as the most influential noble in Scotland. With the Scots clamoring for the abolition of King Charles’s unpopular implementation of the Book of Common Prayers, and the King traveling north to examine the unrest, Argyll could potentially set things in motion for the downfall of the house of Stuarts.