Friday, 30 September 2016

The Summer of Discontent

     The king was dead. After 37 years of monumental forced change Henry VIII's vice-like grip was no longer on the tiller. Power lay in a council of peers. A council divided between men wanting to turn the clock back and others convinced that Henry's Reformation had not gone far enough. While England's leaders jostled for power the nation was in turmoil. Scythe-brandishing mobs ranged the countryside, demanding redress of grievances, ready to take the law into their own hands.
     Everything came to a head in the middle of 1549 - the Summer of Discontent. Exeter was under siege. Norwich, England's second city, was captured by rebels led by local landowner, Robert Kett. London's citizens braced themselves to face a march on the capital.
          Image result for Robert Kett images
     In that same summer, life - and death - went on as usual in the Tower of London. Two of the prisoners held there were of particular concern to the nation's leaders. William West was accused of trying to murder his uncle, Lord de la Warre, one of the pillars of society. Robert Allen was no less a threat to the peace of the realm. He had been caught practising black magic and prophesying the death of the king.
     So much for the facts. How are they - or how might they have been - related?  
   That is the subject of The Devil's Chalice, a novel that 'perfectly balances fact and enhance the tense, rebellious atmosphere of 16th century London' (History of Royals).