Many former royalists were forced to take the road as highwaymen (James Hind being a great example) and it's against this background that Cryssa has set this story that begins in 1650. Highwaymen, royalists... what's not to love! (And I have a serious case of cover envy...)
As I do with all my guests I asked Cryssa to share an interesting snippet she found in research and here she is to talk about literacy and news...
Spreading the news in the 17th Century...
The significant increase in literacy over the previous century correlates with the explosion of printed material that floods the market in the mid-century. Broadsheets, newspapers and ballad sheets were all being turned out in record numbers. In fact the first newspapers, (e.g. Mercurius Politicus), were propaganda machines that helped fuel the civil war. Royalist and Roundhead each had their own publications pushing their agenda and that shaped public opinion. Really no different than today.
The explosion in print occurred not only because of the advances in print technology (cheaper, faster presses), but an increased consumer demand for it. Not just any consumer— looking at what was being printed, one could see that the lower to middling classes were now the new consumer. For example, following the Battle of Worcester the authorities captured the famous highwayman Captain Hind and accused him of helping Charles II escape. Leading up to his trial, Londoners were snapping up stories about him faster than publishers could produce them. One publication, the English Gusman, depicted Hind as a Robin Hood figure whose exploits could appeal to the common man.
Since the lower classes were the target market for these hot new publications, it’s a safe bet that more of them could read or had access to those who could read it for them.
About TRAITOR'S KNOT
Royalist officer James Hart refuses to accept the tyranny of the new government, and to raise funds for the restoration of the king’s son, he takes to the road as a highwayman.
Elizabeth Seton has long been shunned for being a traitor’s daughter. In the midst of the new order, she risks her life by sheltering fugitives from Parliament in a garrison town. But her attempts to rebuild her life are threatened, first by her own sense of injustice, then by falling in love with the dashing Hart.
The lovers’ loyalty is tested through war, defeat and separation. James must fight his way back to the woman he loves, while Elizabeth will do anything to save him, even if it means sacrificing herself.
Traitor's Knot is a sweeping tale of love and conflicted loyalties set against the turmoil of the English Civil War.
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Read an excerpt...
He halted his progress when she became rooted at the bookseller’s. While fancy ribbons and laces had not attracted her interest, a stack of pamphlets and chapbooks made the difference. She struck up a conversation with the bookseller, laughing at something he said. James rubbed his chin, engrossed. An unusual maid, he thought, and drew closer.
Leaning over the small collection, her head tilted to peer at the titles. Hair secured in a sedate knot, a wayward tendril escaped its constraint. The wind lifted and teased the stray lock, contrasting to the paleness of her nape. James fought the urge to reach out and twist the strand in his fingers.
He bent forward and addressed her in a low tone, “Are you looking to improve your mind, or to seek instruction?”
Elizabeth started in surprise. Her eyes widened, and for the first time, he realised how blue they were. Almost immediately they narrowed, as though she wasn’t sure how to respond to his boldness. He knew he was being forward, but he had never won a thing without pressing his advantage.
“I am looking for a book on good manners, sir. I would not expect you to recommend one.”
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