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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Welcome Susan Higginbotham and THE STOLEN CROWN

Linda Banche here. Historical Hussies is delighted to host guest blogger Susan Higginbotham. Susan's latest historical novel is The Stolen Crown, set in 1400's England during the Wars of the Roses.

Welcome Susan!

Hi Linda, thanks for hosting me!

The Stolen Crown, my novel about Harry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham and his wife, Katherine Woodville, opens with a secret marriage between Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, Katherine’s older sister. But although Edward chose to marry Elizabeth in secret, he pulled out all of the stops the following year, when he gave her a grand coronation on May 26, 1465. Fortunately for the historical novelist, a detailed description of the ceremony exists and was printed by George Smith in 1935 in a book entitled, aptly enough, The Coronation of Elizabeth Wydeville.

Though references to my hero and heroine are relatively scant before 1483, when Buckingham first helped Richard III to the throne and later rebelled against him, we know, thanks to this document, that both Harry and Kate were present at the 1465 coronation. At the time, Harry was nine, and Kate was probably around seven. Since Kate is named in the record as “the yong Duches of Buk” (the elder duchess was Harry’s grandmother), she and Harry were probably already married. The youthful couple had a unique vantage point from which to view the ceremonies: both children were carried in the procession upon the shoulders of squires. For the sake of the squires, one hopes that Harry and Kate were not hefty children.

Kate, like all of the other duchesses and countesses, was clad in a surcoat of red velvet and ermine. The queen herself, naturally enough, wore a mantle of purple.

Unless the nature of small boys has changed drastically over the past five hundred years, Harry was probably thoroughly bored by the ceremony, but there was one compensation: he and his younger brother, Humphrey, had been made Knights of the Bath as part of the festivities leading up to the coronation.

Elizabeth’s mother, Jacquetta Woodville, the Duchess of Bedford, was one of the ladies following the queen, but Edward’s mother, Cecily, Duchess of York, was notably absent, perhaps because she did not approve of her son’s marriage to a commoner. Edward’s brother George and his sister Margaret were present, however. The king himself was absent, but this should not be taken as a snub: it seems to have been the custom for a fifteenth-century English king to stay away from his queen’s coronation, or at least to conceal his presence. Some rather arcane explanations have been offered for this, but I like to think that the reason could be more simple and pleasant: by staying out of view, the king allowed his spouse to have center stage on her very special day.


On May Day, 1464, six-year-old Katherine Woodville, daughter of a duchess who has married a knight of modest means, awakes to find her gorgeous older sister, Elizabeth, in the midst of a secret marriage to King Edward IV. It changes everything—for Kate and for England.

Then King Edward dies unexpectedly. Richard III, Duke of Gloucester, is named protector of Edward and Elizabeth's two young princes, but Richard's own ambitions for the crown interfere with his duties...

Lancastrians against Yorkists: greed, power, murder, and war. As the story unfolds through the unique perspective of Kate Woodville, it soon becomes apparent that not everyone is wholly evil—or wholly good.


Susan Higginbotham is the author of three historical fiction novels. The Traitor's Wife, her first novel, is the winner of ForeWord Magazine's 2005 Silver Award for historical fiction and is a Gold Medalist, Historical/Military Fiction, 2008 Independent Publisher Book Awards. She writes her own historical fiction blog and is a contributor to the blog Yesterday Revisited. Higginbotham has worked as an editor and an attorney, and lives in North Carolina with her family. For more information please visit and her blog,


Linda Banche said...

Hi Susan, thanks for your insight into the wedding of Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville. Great info!

Susan Higginbotham said...

Thanks, Linda!

Tiffany Green said...

Wonderful post, Susan. I love any form of English history, and you seem to have a wealth of knowledge about this subject. Also LOVE the book cover! Best wishes to you.

Susan Higginbotham said...

Thanks, Tiffany!

Margaret Tanner said...

Great post Susan,
Certainly an interesting period of time that you write in. One that I haven't delved into very much before, but now I will. Sounds an intriguing story.

StephB said...

Linda and Susan, it sounds like a fascinating read! Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville were such a rarity back then - marrying for love. Your story about Harry and Kate and how it plays out against the back drop of Edward and Elizabeth sounds very intriguing.


Jane Holland said...

I've always found the story of the two princes in the tower quite disturbing, and now having twin sons myself makes that worse. But it does sound like a gorgeous story, and isn't the cover lovely? I wish you all the best with it. If only English history wasn't quite so riddled with executions, murders and unpleasant deaths, lol!

prashant said...

I love any form of English history,
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