Author Interview: Katherine Ashe
I would like to introduce Author Katherine Ashe the winner of the B.R.A.G Medallion for her novel, Montfort.
Read the entire interview at:
Katherine, please tell us about your novel, Montfort the Founder of Parliament the Early Years.
Montfort The Early Years is the first of four novels, all now in print, on the life of Simon de Montfort. The book begins with his arrival in England from France as a near penniless youth in the winter of 1229, and it follows his rise as he becomes the closest friend of King Henry III, the son of the notorious King John.
Few people have experienced the “spin of fate’s wheel” as dramatically as Simon, and this first book follows him from hapless petitioner to favored courtier, to exile, to candidate for Viceroy, to hapless petitioner again, to military hero and ultimately back to high favor with King Henry III. All this in fourteen years.
This is not a fictional character. Simon was very real and these things, beyond question, really happened to him. Why his fate during this period was so tumultuous has been a matter of speculation from his lifetime onward. I offer a theory, which I cannot and do not claim as fact, but which, if it were true, would go far to explaining King Henry’s erratic behavior toward him—behavior that sent him into exile. His own extraordinary abilities and meticulous conscience account for the rest.
Montfort The Early Years is, of necessity, the most speculative of the Montfort books, but I’ve supplied each volume with a thorough bibliography and an Historical Context section that gives my sources, page citations and the reasons for my interpretations – which are at times unconventional but are the products of my 34 years of research.
When did you first become interested in Simon de Montfort?
I discovered Simon in 1976 while doing a little research for my first book, which I was writing as an escape from the demise of my fine art print publishing company. That book, a fantasy titled The Fairy Garden, was inspired by my visit to Salisbury and its cathedral. The date of the cathedral’s consecration was 1258. I thought I ought to know what was happening in England that year. Out came my old Britannica, and there was an article on The Barons War led by Simon de Montfort. I looked up Simon and thought the article on him oddly hostile for the Britannica. Soon afterward, accidentally coming across more about Simon in the 19th century, multi-volume Greene’s History, I was stunned that so little was commonly known of this man who apparently was pivotal in the founding of modern democracy, and I decided the next thing I would do was seek more information on his life. That search hasn’t ceased.