King John didn’t wait long after agreeing to the provisions of Magna Carta to begin plotting revenge on his rebellious barons.
Magna Carta was signed at Runnymede in June 1215, and shortly thereafter, King John “sent letters to all the governors of his castles throughout England, ordering them each and all to furnish their castles with all kinds of provisions and arms, and to strengthen their garrisons with soldiers so as to be able to defend them at a day’s notice.”—Roger of Wendover’s Flowers of History, v.2
Marc Morris notes “The chronicler Matthew Paris later painted a memorable picture of the king during negotiations, publicly wearing a calm face and assuring everyone he was perfectly happy with the settlement, but privately raging like a madman, rolling his eyes and gnashing his teeth.”—Morris, M. King John: Treachery and Tyranny in Medieval England
King John is one of the antagonists in my novel Rogue, which takes place in 1216. But he is off screen, the just out-of-sight/off-the-page enemy of my main characters. His spectre hangs over Robin FitzWalter and the outlaw gang known as The Hood.
My band of ‘merry men’ in Rogue doesn’t quite align with the more well-known versions of the Robin Hood legends. My gang is led by Allan a Dale, who fled to Sherwood after King Richard’s death in April 1199. Robin has been lying low in Yorkshire since that time, training squires at the fictional Castle l’Aigle. Both men – and their friends – had been spies for Richard, and helped thwart Prince John’s attempted overthrow of the crown in 1193-94 while Richard was a captive of the Holy Roman Emperor. John, now king, has a long memory…
I look forward to sharing this tale with you, but I’m guessing that won’t happen until sometime next year. Round 2 of editing is underway, and I discovered a bit of a plot hole. AGH! Now it would have been easy to explain in just a couple of paragraphs why one character just disappeared from the last third of novel. But as I reconsidered that plot arc, I decided there were too many juicy bits that could add more tension and conflict. I’m adding new material and still need to figure out this character’s role as I move toward the climax. So I am two-thirds done, but adding new material now. There will be a third round of editing before this is ready for a few beta readers.
Charlene Newcomb is the author of the Battle Scars series, 12th century historical fiction filled with war, political intrigue, and a knightly romance of forbidden love set during the reign of Richard the Lionheart.
Char also writes science fiction. Echoes of the Storm was published in July 2020.
Download the free short story, A Knight’s Tale, when you sign up for Char’s Newsletter. You’ll also be first to know about book news before everybody else, and take part in giveaways and special offers.