When I started research on Jacquetta Duchess of Bedford I found pretty much nothing. There was a chapter in a PhD thesis, and one essay. And yet this is the mother and grandmother of queens of England, and a major player at both royal courts of Lancaster and York. There was more magic in this story than any I have written since the more fictional novel The Wise Woman and this was because Jacquetta was descended from a family who claimed to have a water spirit in their family tree, and she was associated for all her life with the practise of witchcraft. I found her to be utterly fascinating, and I hope that historians go on to research her life in detail.
Henry VI is a child king, only nine years old, crowned before his first birthday after the death of his father Henry V on campaign. England is in the midst of the Hundred Years' War in France, however life in England is peaceful for most. Sensing an opportunity to overthrow the weakened House of Lancaster, the House of York led by Richard Duke of York claim a stronger link to the throne. This rivalry brings about a series of devastating battles which would come to be known as The Wars of The Roses and would turn neighbour against neighbour, cousin against cousin.
You can read the history behind this book in The Women of the Cousins' War, a series of non-fiction essays on the lives of Jacquetta Duchess of Bedford, her daughter Elizabeth Woodville and Elizabeth's great rival, Margaret Beaufort.
Jacquetta features in the BBC and Starz television drama The White Queen (2013); she is played by Janet McTeer.