Today, it is with great pleasure that I welcome a colleague, who specializes in the time of Queen Elizabeth I. I know you will find Barbara Kyle’s story of deception and courage very interesting.
The Elizabethan period is considered a golden age. We picture England bursting with confidence and vigor, her queen triumphant and proud. But, in fact, at the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign in 1559 England was a small, weak country, standing alone. Philip II of Spain, the most powerful monarch in Europe, whose empire spanned half the globe, itched to conquer the island nation. By the second year of the young Queen Elizabeth’s reign, Philip set out to destroy her. Within a few years, she was fighting for her life.
My new novel, The Queen’s Exiles, is set in 1572 when Spain’s armies were feared and triumphant throughout Europe. Nowhere were they more feared than in the Netherlands, which was suffering under Spain’s brutal occupation. To strike at England, Philip’s troops would sail from there, less than a hundred miles off Elizabeth’s shores.
With no standing army and a small and underfunded navy, Elizabeth’s only weapons against her powerful Spanish adversary were her cleverness and courage. Taking a gamble, she extended safe conduct to a motley little fleet of Dutch privateers, who had fled Spain’s occupation. These rebels called themselves the Sea Beggars and carried out raids on Spanish shipping. They play a major role in The Queen’s Exiles when my heroine, Fenella Doorn, joins their fight.
For several years Elizabeth allowed the Sea Beggars to make Dover and the creeks and bays along England’s south coast their home as they continued to harry Spanish vessels. This infuriated Philip. When his fury grew dangerous, Elizabeth ordered the Sea Beggars to quit her realm. It was assumed she expelled them to placate Philip, but it turned out she had struck a powerful blow at Spain: by forcing out these fierce privateers she unleashed their latent power.
For a month, the Sea Beggars wandered the Channel, homeless and hungry. Then, in April 1572, on the verge of starvation, they made a desperate attack on the Spanish-held Dutch port city of Brielle. They astounded everyone, even themselves, by capturing the city. The Sea Beggars’ victory provided the opposition’s first foothold on land and launched a revolution: the Dutch War of Independence against Spain. It took many more years, but the brave Dutch people finally gained their independence.
The rebel Sea Beggars’ fight is the backdrop of The Queen’s Exiles. I hope you enjoy the adventure.
Barbara Kyle is the author of the acclaimed Thornleigh Saga novels The Queen’s Exiles, Blood Between Queens, The Queen’s Gamble, The Queen’s Captive, The King’s Daughter and The Queen’s Lady which follow an English middle-class family’s rise through three tumultuous Tudor reigns. She is also the author of the contemporary thrillers Entrapped and The Experiment. Over 450,000 copies of her books have been sold in seven countries.
Barbara has taught writers at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies and is known for her dynamic workshops for many writers’ organizations and conferences. Her Fiction Writers Boot Camp and her Master Classes have launched many of her students’ novels to publishing success.
Before becoming an author, Barbara enjoyed a twenty-year acting career in television, film, and stage productions in Canada and the U.S. Visit Barbara Here.