#OTD 25 March 1194 – Richard the Lionheart arrives at the Siege of Nottingham

Nottingham Castle
Nottingham Castle, circa 1250

King Richard I, the Lionheart, had taken the Cross and journeyed to the Holy Land in 1190. He led his army of approx. 15,000 men to within 12 miles of Jerusalem, but did not re-take the holy city. After a truce with Salah-al-Din, Richard attempted to return home, but was faced with enemies on his path. He was captured by Duke Leopold of Austria outside Vienna around the 20th of December 1192, and by early spring 1193, had been turned over to Heinrich VI, the Holy Roman Emperor. The emperor demanded a huge ransom of 150,000 silver marks – more than twice the annual income of England!

Richard was kept imprisoned while his brother Prince John plotted with King Philip of France – the two of them offered the emperor monies to keep Richard in prison for another year! Despite their subterfuge, Richard finally was freed from his German prison in February 1194.

Prince John’s supporters in England capitulated on hearing this news, with the exception of the castles at Tickhill and Nottingham. However, when word spread that Richard had landed on English soil in early March, the castellans at Tickhill verified the story and then surrendered. Nottingham was a different story…

“The garrison, however, of the castle of Nottingham did not send any of their number to meet the king. The king, being consequently much exasperated, came to Nottingham . . .with such a vast multitude of men, and such a clanger of trumpets and clarions, that those who were in the castle, on hearing and seeing this were astonished, and were confounded and alarmed . . . but still they could not believe the king had come, and supposed that the whole of this was done by the chiefs of the army for the purpose of deceiving them. The king, however, took up his quarters near to the castle, so that the archers of the castle pierced the king’s men at his very feet.”
–The Annals of Roger de Hoveden

For Richard’s incredible journey back from the Holy Land see my post on the English Historical Fiction Authors (EHFA) blog, Richard the Lionheart’s Ordeal, October – December 1192. A second contribution on EHFA details the siege of Nottingham.


men_full-sideCharlene Newcomb is currently working on Book III of Battle Scars, 12th century historical fiction filled with war, political intrigue, and a knightly romance of forbidden love set during the reign of Richard the Lionheart. There will be more to come, so sign up for Char’s Newsletter. It will be used – sparingly – to offer exclusive content and and to let you be the first to know about special offers.

For King and Country official launch day!

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Traitors to the crown pit Henry de Grey and his friends against dangerous enemies.

For King and Country

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Let me take you away to life in 12th century England.
Henry de Grey has come home a changed man.


Political intrigue, family loyalties tested, forbidden love
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About For King and Country

England 1193
Civil war threatens as battle-scarred knight Henry de Grey returns from the Crusades. King Richard languishes in captivity, a prisoner of the Holy Roman Emperor. Traitors to the crown pit Henry and his friends against dangerous and unknown enemies.

Loyalties will be tested, families torn apart. Friend or foe? It is hard to tell one from the other.

The king’s brother John and his allies plot to usurp Richard’s throne. With the knights Sir Stephan and Sir Robin, Henry fights for king and country. But he must keep his feelings for Sir Stephan l’Aigle secret. Sure as arrow or sword, their forbidden love could destroy him.

War, political intrigue and passion… heroes… friends and lovers… and the seeds for a new Robin Hood legend await you…



Faced with a scene that just isn’t working? What’s a writer to do?

Lincoln Castle

Battle Scars Book 2, For King and Country, centers on events in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire from April 1193 until Richard the Lionheart’s return from captivity and the subsequent siege of Nottingham Castle in 1194.

I am about 2/3rds through edits on my first draft, and approaching a mini-climax that I have been stewing over for weeks. I had laid the basics of the scene in my rough draft, but the concept left me wanting.

When I know the end result of a scene, I’ll often work backwards to determine how that scene needs to unfold. Have you ever found yourself doing this? I’ll ask the ‘what if?’ questions. What are all the possible options? What characters need to be on stage?

I knew a character was going to die. (Oh no!) The death seemed meaningless the way I’d written the original draft. Oh sure, it was sad. But predictable? An easy solution? Ugh. I wanted and needed a meaningful death, a heroic death. Will this doomed character be revealed as friend? Or as foe? The scene must explode on the paper (er, computer screen). It needs to leave the readers’ hearts racing. Henry de Grey’s family lives near Lincoln. Lincoln Castle kept looming in my thoughts. Underlying political intrigue. Conflict.

The ideas came together on Sunday morning. I jotted down a dozen ‘what ifs’ and suddenly everything jelled. Gotta love those Eureka! moments. The first 550 words are written. Onwards…

On a slightly unrelated note, Joel Friedlander, the Book Designer, commented on the design of Men of the Cross in his monthly e-Book Cover Design Award post: “A strong and attractive cover that implies enough to get us interested. Not sure you really need the red sash but, overall, a very nice job.”


Image attribution:  “A view of the observatory tower of Lincoln Castle” by LysNanna – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 via Wikimedia Commons


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work in progress Wednesday… The End

Nottingham Castle
TitleBattle Scars: For King and Country
(book 2 of a series)
Word count: @109,780 words

It is done.

Time to rest, but only for a few days. I’ll start revisions to Book 1 this weekend. I haven’t looked at Men of the Cross since mid-August, except to share the opening with my MOOC classmates in Plagues, Witches, and War: The Worlds of Historical Fiction, and with Janice Hardy, who will graciously provide her feedback in her column, Real Life Diagnostics, later this month or in December. Eeeek!

So I’ll leave you on this note with the siege of Nottingham Castle, which sets the stage for the climax of my novel:

“The apparent refusal of the Nottingham Castle garrison to seek out Richard to treat with him and obtain his terms angered the king: “But those who were in the castle of Nottingham did not send anyone to meet the king. Whereof, the king, angry, came to Nottingham on 25th March with so great a multitude of men and the sound of horns and trumpets, that those who were in the castle, hearing and seeing this, were astonished, perturbed [and] upset; fear overcame them and yet they were unable to believe that the king had come but hoped that all this [noise] was being made by the leaders (principibus) of the army to have sport with them (ad illudendum eis)”” –by Trevor Foulds quoting chronicler Roger de Hoveden; In Transactions of the Thoroton Society of Nottinghamshire, Vol. 95 (1991)