But enough about Mel Gibson – let’s talk about Sophie’s Marceau’s character in Braveheart, the beautiful French princess who is also Edward Longshank’s daughter-in-law. In the film she has an affair with Mel and then gets pregnant to him, breaking the royal English line.


Sophie Marceau in Braveheart (20th Century Fox)

It is a tale of adventure, romance and terrible butchery – with English and Scottish history being mutilated beyond recognition.

But who was the REAL Isabella of France?

She was born in 1295, so she was ten years old and still living in France when Mel Gibson – William Wallace – was executed, so she certainly never met him, or have an adulterous affair with him.

The facts of her life are far more spectacular.

Isabella in fact succeeded where Wallace didn’t; she raised an army, invaded England and deposed Longshank’s son, Edward II, and ruled as regent for four years.

So why doesn’t history remember her as Braveheart? 

BRAVEHEART, ISABELLA, EDWARD II Isabella’s father was Philip IV of France – Phillip the Fair.

Yes, she was beautiful, but she was royal, and raised to be more than Mel Gibson’s love interest.

She was highly intelligent and had great diplomatic skill.

At 12 she was married to Longshank’s son, Edward II, as part of a political alliance.

But Edward soon became notable for his lack of aptitude for kingship – as well as his lack of interest in women.

That doesn’t make him the bad guy in the story either – but for a bright and politically astute woman, it was a terrible match.

Roll the clock forward fifteen years …

Isabella is starved of affection and has been sidelined in the political arena by her husband’s “favourites”. Were men like Piers Gaveston and Hugh Despenser the Younger just his advisers – or were they more than that?


Isabella condemning the producers of Braveheart to a grisly death

Whatever the truth, by the time she was thirty, she faced a stark choice; retire to the country and spend the rest of her life with her needlework – or rebel.

She chose: Freedom!

When I went to school in England, I was told the last person to invade England was William the Conqueror in 1066. This was actually not true.

In 1326 Isabella and her lover, Roger Mortimer, raised a mercenary army in the Low Countries – by marrying her oldest son off to a the daughter of the Count of Hainaut.

As invasions go, it wasn’t quite D-Day.

Braveheart, Isabella, Edward II

Castle Rising photo: William M Connolley

The fleet got lost and landed miles from where she and Mortimer had planned.

Not that it mattered; by then, her husband Edward was so deeply unpopular that the barons of England welcomed her and Mortimer with open arms and the invasion became more of a bloodless coup.

She named herself Queen Regent and she and Mortimer assumed the rule of England – and not once did she have to wear a kilt and paint herself blue.

But it didn’t last.

Four years later Mortimer was himself deposed by Isabella’s own son and she was retired to Castle Rising in Norfolk and lived on for many years in considerable style, until her death in 1358.

Isabella, Braveheart, Edward IIPoor Sophie Marceau. History has repeatedly painted her as a beautiful ‘femme fatale’  – cruel and manipulative, and calling her The She-Wolf of France.

Braveheart was really the final insult.

And Edward II? Although he was an accomplished warrior – if not a very able tactician – he has similarly been portrayed as weak and effeminate.

Was that really how it was? It seems trite, doesn’t it?

I always imagined the truth to be less simple, and far more intriguing …






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 Jen Talty has made a new trailer for my best seller, “SILK ROAD”, which has just been re-jacketed.

I think the trailer’s fantastic, and I’d like to share it with you.




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NEW AMSTERDAM, NEW AMSTERDAM, (so good they named it Dutch)

Are you in a New Amsterdam state of mind?

New York, Dutch, VOC, spice trade, multinational

photo: Roy Googin

If you come from The City That Never Sleeps you could have been, it was a close thing. Because there was a time when the Dutch just about ruled the world.

In fact New York only became New York, New York when the British took over in 1664.

But there are plenty of reminders that the city was once a Dutch town; Brooklyn (after Breukelen), Flushing, the Bowery (from Bouwerij meaning ‘construction site’) and Harlem (after Haarlem).

Wall Street was named after a wall Dutch colonists built – unsuccessfully in the end – to keep out the British.

New York, Dutch, VOC, spice trade, multinational

a share in the VOC

The last Director-General of the colony of New Netherland, Pieter Stuyvesant, has bequeathed his name to a street, a neighborhood and a the town of Stuyvesant.

And that’s just New York state. Dutch explorers have left their footprint around the world; many of South Africa’s major cities have Dutch names; ‘New Zealand’ originated with Dutch cartographers who called the islands Nova Zeelandia, and the Australian island state of Tasmania is named after Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who made the first reported European sighting of the island on 24 November 1642.

Australia was originally named New Holland.

New York, Dutch, VOC, spice trade, multinational

first slave auction in New York, 1655

Holland’s Age of Discovery began in 1595 when Jan Huyghen van Linschoten, a Netherlands merchant who had never been further than Lisbon, sailed to what is now Indonesia.

Astonishingly, he returned two years later, having established a trading treaty with the sultan of Bantam, in Java.

Soon about ten private vessels were setting off each year from the Netherlands to find their fortune in the east.

The newly independent Dutch republic decided that this unlicensed trading activity, in distant and dangerous waters, required both control and protection.

So in 1602 they created the curse of modern times when they formed the first trading stock company in history – the Dutch East India Company.

It was to become the first multinational corporation in the world.

New York, Dutch, VOC, spice trade, multinationalThe VOC, as it was known, was a tax-favored monopoly that possessed quasi-governmental powers, including the remit to wage war, imprison and execute convicts, negotiate treaties, strike its own coins, and establish colonies.

It was a government within a government; and it created a model that all contemporary democracies were to follow in the centuries to come.

By the middle of the 17th century , the VOC had overtaken Portugal as the dominant player in the spice and silk trade.

They also established trading posts in Persia, Bengal, Malacca, Siam, Formosa (now Taiwan), as well as the Malabar and Coromandel coasts in India.

New York, Dutch, VOC, spice trade, multinational

Dejima: illustration courtesy PHGCOM

The VOC also founded a colony at Cape Town on the coast of South Africa, as a way-station for its ships on the route between Europe and Asia.

It even had a trading post on Dejima, an artificial island off the coast of Nagasaki, and for two centuries they were the only Europeans permitted to trade with Japan.

They were so successful that in 1621 the States General in the Netherlands also granted a charter to the Dutch West India Company, giving it a monopoly to trade and found colonies along the entire length of the American coast.

An area of the Hudson river had already been designated New Netherland and in 1626 Peter Minuit purchased the island of Manhattan from Indian chiefs and called it New Amsterdam.

New York, Dutch, VOC, spice trade, multinationalAlthough the British finally took over in 1665, Dutch influence remained; there have been three American presidents of Dutch descent; Martin Van Buren, (whose first language was Dutch), Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, the only U.S. president to have served more than two terms.

An extinct dialect of Dutch, Jersey Dutch, was still spoken in Bergen and Passaic counties as recently as a hundred years ago.

New York, Dutch, VOC, spice trade, multinationalThe curtain did not come down on the Dutch Empire until World War Two with the Japanese invasion of Netherlands East Indies, although Indonesian sovereignty was not formally recognized until December 1949.

And the Netherlands Antilles were not dissolved until October 10, 2010.

The Dutch East India company may have disappeared into history; but the limited stock company now rules the world.


East India, Batavia, shipwreck

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COOLGUS are giving away 3 copies of EAST INDIA!

If you want to win a copy JUST GO HERE!!

If you want to know what it’s about, here’s the wonderful trailer Jen Talty made for me …


Someone has to win them.

What are you waiting for?

East India, Batavia, shipwreck




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So in my upcoming novel I tried something a little interesting.

I made the romantic hero completely unromantic.

Can someone who thinks they are unloveable be loved? It’s a question that other books and films have tackled, though I didn’t become aware of this one until after I’d written  A GREAT LOVE OF SMALL PROPORTION.

This is how Jean-Luc Besson tackled it in his 2005 film, ‘Angel-A.’ The film was a bit clunky, but I loved this scene. It has a timeless truth in it.

A GREAT LOVE OF SMALL PROPORTION comes out on May 10 but Amazon are taking pre-orders now. You can get yours here.

Meanwhile here’s the wonderful trailer that Jen Talty at COOLGUS made for me.

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historical fiction, spain, seville, granada, Colin Falconer, reconquista, love


My big book with CoolGus is released this year on May 10!!

It’s called A GREAT LOVE OF SMALL PROPORTION. I’m really excited about this one …

We’ve just released the trailer.


And if you’re on my newsletter you’ll be able to read the first chapter. You can join the newsletter here.

And if you want to know why I wrote it, and some background about the novel, you can find out at The Falconer Club on Facebook … (You can find out how to join in my newsletter.)

You can pre-order your copy here: just follow this link!


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photograph: Nelly1974

photograph: Nelly1974

If only they taught history like this when I was at school I would have shown an interest much sooner …

A few months ago I showed a video of Beefeater Bill Callaghan showing a group of tourists around the Tower Of London. In fact he’s become so famous for his tours he is now a renowned – and very funny – after dinner speaker.

Did you notice the mention of William Wallace.?

According to Braveheart he had an affair with Isabella of France … history tells us she was 9 years old when Mad Blue Mel met his end …

Here is the real truth about Isabella – I think it’s a lot more interesting …

She was taught to obey. Now she has learned to rebel.

Isabella, Edward II, Braveheart12 year old Isabella, a French princess marries the King of England – only to discover he has a terrible secret. Ten long years later she is in utter despair – does she submit to a lifetime of solitude and a spiritual death – or seize her destiny and take the throne of England for herself?

This is the story of Isabella, the only woman ever to invade England – and win.

“This is phenomenal historical fiction that is highly recommended. Once you read Colin Falconer, you’ll want to read everything he has ever written as well as what he will craft in the future!”

– Crystal Book Reviews

AMAZON buy3._V192207739_Nook_BuyiBookstore_buyKobo_buy


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We all remember Kevin Costner’s best movie, Dances with Wolves, in which Mary McDonnell played a white woman who had been captured and raised by the Sioux.

final boy nov. 12This wasn’t the product of a Hollywood scriptwriters’ imagination. It was a fate shared by many, the most famous was  Cynthia Ann Parker.

Which leads us to this book: The Captive Boy.

I don’t do usually run posts promoting anything, and I don’t do reviews or interviews – so don’t ask me! But in Julia’s case, I’m making an exception.

Because it’s just a fantastic book. Her writing style reminds me of Cormac McCarthy, she’s that good. So after I read it, I asked her over for an interview.

A little about your writing background. You were a journalist for many years, right?

DSC02968I was a journalist for twenty years; I covered everything from cops to features to investigative stories.

One of my most memorable stories involved following the blood trail made by a drug dealer who was fleeing another drug dealer.

The guy (I refuse to call him a victim) burst into a stranger’s house, seeking refuge, but his assailant tackled him and cut his throat.

I didn’t know anyone could bleed that fast.

Well, the throat’s a sensitive area, I guess. Now one sentence: what’s The Captive Boy about?

Col. Mac McKenna recaptures August Shiltz from the Comanche and becomes his foster father, only to see August flee back to the tribe and become his greatest enemy.

What inspired you to write this novel? Is this based on a true story?

final boy nov. 12Inspiration? I wanted to show readers that America’s frontier army was a brave group of men. We should be proud of them. I know I am.

Boy is based on the lives of many white captive children, taken here in Texas. They ended up as sad people. Many witnessed the murder of their families, and were then forced into a culture completely different from anything they had known.

Many adjusted and were even happy with the Indians. Most Comanches loved their children and did not draw a line between the adoptive kids and their birth kids.

But when the army recaptured the children (or they were, in some instances, traded back) they lost the Indian culture, and those parents, and were again bereft.

Most of these kids, if not all, ended up as unhappy and unstable people who were unable to keep jobs or maintain relationships.

August Shiltz, my captive boy, tried to recover his balance after the cavalry took him back. The reader can decide if he was successful.

How did you research this?

I read everything possible, and had a 100-page research book compiled before I even started writing.

I owe a lot to Scott Zesch, who authored The Captured, a non-fiction account about the fate of captured white kids.

What was the hardest part of writing The Captive Boy?

frederic-remington-indian-in-headdressThe research.

Every organization is detailed, but the Army runs on routine and rules and uniforms and bugle calls and so much I can’t even make a list.

And the Comanches lived in a traditional, rigid environment, so the writer better get it right.

Your favorite quote from the book?

I liked two places especially well. Here is part of the scene in which Asha (August’s wife) has been captured and is living (chastely) in McKenna’s house, and he discovers her in a revealing situation.

The scene is narrated by Eliza, Asha’s chaperone.

21d215c4b41b5ad5ee5c5e6eae92fbda        A few weeks ago, I offered to help Asha wash her buckskin dress. She’s a smart person and learns fast, so she took her dress off and dropped it in a tub of soapy water, and put on a chemise I brought for the occasion.

        The chemise is very thin white cotton and clings, and Asha is dark, so it was possible to see things that a man should never see, and it also left her ankles and shoulders bare.

        Between her braids and bare feet and her womanly aspects, she looked very fetching.

        I heard something and looked up from the tub and was shocked to see Col. McKenna standing in the shadow of the door, wrapped in darkness, so rigid and still.

        Had I not been there, he could have done anything and my dear, I know it’s indecent to say such things, but I felt he would have done something; if you know what I mean.

        He never returns for the noon meal, and I had left the door ajar, as no one was in the house but myself and Asha.         She stared at him like a bird hypnotized by a snake.

        My dear, she didn’t even make an attempt to cover herself.

        It seemed the colonel would stand gazing at her forever, his eyes traveling to places they should not have traveled, then he turned on his heel and left the house.

I really enjoyed that because it was fun to introduce sex and sexual feelings into the book.

Then, I also enjoyed the place where August, who was having a parley with Mac, threw a scalp at him.

Hair-raising scene, that one. Sorry. Now most people would classify The Captive Boy as a western. What do you say to people who say: Westerns don’t sell?

Well, it’s not a Western. A western has strict rules (as do all genres), none of which I’ve obeyed for this book. The Captive Boy is an historical novel, meaning it explores the reason why things happened in this time period.

You have a lot of Cormac McCarthy about your writing. How do you feel about that?

6a0133f2e9fdbf970b019aff271024970d-800wiI’ve been told that, but I guess it’s just happenchance; I’ve only enjoyed one of Mr. McCarthy’s books, and that is All the Pretty Horses, which I consider an American classic, and perhaps the best American novel written in the last 25 years.

That said, I’m flattered anyone would compare me to him.

The scene in Horses where the protagonist crosses the Rio Grande and happens on the radio station is brilliant, and Jimmy Blevins, one of his minor characters, is one of the best characters in American fiction.

Are you working on another novel?

Yes, I’m deep in thought about another historical novel set in 19th Century Texas–but there’s not an Indian in it, thank God.

What’s your future direction – do you have a plan? What are your dreams for your writing career?

I don’t have a plan. Each time I come up with something, I end up saying, dash it, foiled again. But I can honestly tell you that I want what every other writer on earth wants and the ones who deny it are liars: I want sales, respect and eternal fame.

What are your favorite writers. Who inspires you?

1785937One of the reasons I write is to repay all the writers who have gone before me by helping to replenish the treasure house of books. They have saved my life; literally.

I can even remember books that enthralled me as a child. I remembered The Adventures of Remy (after fifty years). I searched for it on Amazon, read it again and loved it again.

I wish I had the room to wax eloquent about all the wonderful books in existence.

However, if anyone surpasses Lord Jim, by Joseph Conrad, I hope it’s me.

What makes you laugh? What makes your cry?

51eZ1sBtaYL._SX331_BO1204203200_Mrs. Duchek made me laugh. She’s a minor character in Del Norte, a novel I published in 2013.

Mrs. Duchek tried to stop Thomas, my hero, from capturing her husband and when Thomas failed to catch her husband, Mrs. Duchek said:

“Well, I guess that shows you.”

Many things make me cry.

I love Mac McKenna (from The Captive Boy) and his fate made me cry.

What are they going to write on your headstone, Julia?

Read my novels, you can find them at Amazon, or at your local library. Thanks, Julia.




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Now although I write historical novels, I don’t write about history as such, and I have no especial fondness for the past.

JapaneseAmericansChildrenPledgingAllegiance1942-2I write stories, and as such I am interested in people, and why we do what we do, and why we feel as we do.

So this post and this following video is not about politics.

If you want to vote for a man with a deranged hamster sitting on his head, that’s your choice.

The freedom to express your opinions freely is called democracy.

What I want to draw your attention to here is story, particularly this story: the story of the human race. How chapters of that story are repeated over and over.

So I’m tagging a link to a news interview you won’t find on YouTube. It’s only 3 minutes long and it’s essential viewing.

Look out for what George Takei says at the end of this short three minute clip: “We don’t know our history and when we don’t know it, we don’t learn from our history.”

“We don’t know our history and when we don’t know it, we don’t learn from our history.”

The one thing that impressed me after many years as an historical novelist is not that Viking helmets didn’t have horns or that people in the Middle Ages really didn’t think the world was flat, it is this:

We do not know our history and that is the reason we keep repeating it.

We do it over and over and over. There is nothing in any way novel about Donald Trump or ISIS.

Knowing what has happened in the past is the only way we will ever find our way forward.

But George says it better. Click here for the link:



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Posted in HISTORY | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

the funny, bloody history of the Tower of London

I wish this guy had taught me history at school … I might have stayed interested!

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