Fact Versus Fiction
This book is a work of fiction, but wherever possible, I have tried to adhere to the actual course of historical events. However, as I am a novelist, my overriding goal has been to provide my readers with a fast-paced and compelling drama. Therefore, I have exercised poetic license whenever necessary for the sake of my story and characters.
All of the main characters in this book, with the exception of Hugh Barry, Mary Stanley, Katherine and Liam, did exist, and I have enjoyed portraying them as I thought they might have actually lived. Please note that I took great liberties by using the Barry family name in the manner that I did. But while Mary Stanley is a fictional character, the Stanley family, with it’s connection to Queen Catherine Parr, is not.
Leicester and Ormond were both the queen’s favorites, possibly her lovers, too. Elizabeth frequently called Tom “my Black Husband.” Leicester finally married Letice, the countess of Essex, in 1578, and weathered the Queen’s great wrath, although his wife was not allowed at court during the rest of her life.
Ormond’s mother, Joan did indeed marry FitzGerald, a man twenty years her junior, after carrying on with him much as I have described. Joan and Queen Elizabeth were, at one time, good friends.
Gerald FitzGerald did attempt to rule southern Ireland in a despotic fashion, without interference from the queen. Ormond captured him after the battle at Affane, Historians are divided about whether he was returned to Ireland after being brought in chains to London in 1565, or remained a prisoner there for almost eight years. He was tried and convicted of treason, and exiled to St. Leger House in Southwark in 1568.
FitzGerald married his second wife, Eleanor, less than a month after Joan Butler FitzGerald died. Eleanor was a headstrong, capable beauty who spent most of her time lobbying at court to gain support from Gerald’s cause.
FitzMaurice was Gerald’s cousin. Eleanor claimed to all who would listen that he sought to usurp her husband’s authority in Desmond. Some historians have suggested that FitzMaurice and Fitzgerald were secretly allied. In any case, FitzMaurice quickly proved himself a far more capable leader and antagonist than Gerald had ever been. By the time he was captured in the spring of 1573, it was obvious to Elizabeth and her advisors that Gerald was the lesser of the two evils and that he should be restored.
FitzMaurice continued to wage his war against the queen and her heretic religion from the shores of France and Spain. Eventually he invaded Ireland with a small force and continued his campaign of guerrilla warfare. In 1579, FitzMaurice was killed by a peasant in an argument over a horse.
Gerald Fitzgerald resumed his defiant ways almost immediately upon his return to Ireland. He had not learned his lesson from his long imprisonment. By the time of his cousin’s death, he had taken over full command of the rebellion and was up in open arms. The British retaliated with a scorched earth policy that was so devastating that thirty thousand Irish died from starvation. In 1583 the great Desmond rebellion ended—for Gerald FitzGerald was finally run to ground and killed. His head was sent to Kilkenny for Ormond to view, and then to London, for the queen to see, too.
Shane O’Neill was clan chieftain and barbarian who spent most of his time hunting down O’Donnell’s and murdering them. He submitted to the queen in 1562 much as I have described. Historical records do not show that he had a wife or children. He probably had many bastards—sons like Liam forced by circumstances to live on the very edges of civilization or even outside of it. Shane was finally murdered himself in 1567—by an O’Donnell.
The records also seem to indicate that Gerald and Joan FitzGerald did not have any children. Which is not surprising, for when they married, Joan was about forty years old. However, even if they had a daughter, it is unlikely that her birth would have been recorded, for the birth of daughters was often ignored by noble families—and thus forgotten by history.
Websites of Interest
Explore the history section of this website it is full of archives with a timeline dating back to the year 897 with King Alfred fighting the Danes.