The Outlaw’s Ransom: The Folvilles in History
I’m delighted to be visiting today, as part of a blog tour celebrating the publication of my medieval mystery, The Outlaw’s Ransom – a book which was inspired by my love of all things ‘Robin Hood.’
The earliest mention found (to date) of the name Robin Hood appears in the poem The Vision of Piers Plowman, which was written by William Langland in c.1377. This was a protest poem complaining about the harsh conditions endured by the poor in the Fourteen Century. Not only did it mention Robin Hood, but it also makes reference to the real outlaw gang, the Folvilles.
“And some ryde and to recovere that unrightfully was wonne:He wised hem wynne it ayein wightnesses of handes,And fecchen it from false men with Folvyles lawes.”
The Folvilles were a noble family from Leicestershire who, throughout the late 1320’s and 1330’s, ran Ashby-Folville and its surrounds within the Hundred of Goscote, as a base for criminal activity.
In 1310, John de Folville, Lord of Ashby Folville, died, leaving his widow Alice and seven sons. The eldest son, also John, inherited the Ashby-Folville manor. Historical records show that John lived largely within the bounds of the law. However, his brothers, Eustace, Laurence, Richard, Robert, Thomas and Walter formed a criminal gang which became notorious.
The first crime that brought the Folvilles to the notice of the authorities was the murder of the Baron of the Exchequer, Roger Belers. Over the following decade, the Folville brothers’ travelled the countryside assaulting those they considered deserving of such treatment, and holding people and places to ransom. They hired themselves out as mercenaries, willing to commit crimes for the right price. The most violent of the brothers, Eustace, is known to have committed murders, robberies and even rapes across Leicestershire and Rutland.
Like Robin Hood and his men, the Folvilles are often portrayed as the allies of the common people fighting a corrupt authority. Eustace’s crimes aside, their targets were all officials that had gone beyond the norm of taking advantage of their positions. For example, in 1332 the Folville gang kidnapped the judge, Sir Richard Willoughby, on the road between Melton Mowbray and Grantham, near Waltham on the Wolds. A ransom of 1,300 marks was demanded from his men. While the Folvilles waited for the ransom they stole over one hundred pounds worth of goods from Willoughby as they dragging him from ‘wood to wood.’
Willoughby was so hated by the people, that in 1340 another criminal gang made him the target of an attack, trapping him in Thurcaston castle. Later, Willoughby was imprisoned by King Edward III for corruption and was forced to pay 1200 marks for a pardon.
It is perhaps not surprising that parallels have been drawn between Robin Hood’s stories and the real life activities of the Folville brothers. It was these parallels that led me to use the Folville family as the central focus for my first ever medieval mystery, The Outlaw’s Ransom.
BlurbThe first in an exciting new series by acclaimed author Jenny Kane writing as Jennifer Ash.
When craftsman’s daughter Mathilda is kidnapped by the notorious Folville brothers, as punishment for her father’s debts, she fears for her life. Although of noble birth, the Folvilles are infamous throughout the county for disregarding the law – and for using any means necessary to deliver their brand of ‘justice’.
Mathilda must prove her worth to the Folvilles in order to win her freedom. To do so she must go against her instincts and, disguised as the paramour of the enigmatic Robert de Folville, undertake a mission that will take her far from home and put her life in the hands of a dangerous brigand – and that’s just the start of things…
A thrilling tale of medieval mystery and romance – and with a nod to the tales of Robin Hood – The Outlaw’s Ransom is perfect for fans of C.J. Sansom and Jean Plaidy.
You can buy The Outlaw's Ransom for your Kindle HERE
The many faces of Jennifer Ash
Jennifer Ash is the author of the medieval murder mystery, The Outlaw’s Ransom (Dec, 2016). Her second novel, The Winter Outlaw, will be published in 2017.
You can find detail’s of Jennifer’s stories at www.jenniferash.co.uk
Jennifer also writes as Jenny Kane
Jenny Kane is the author the contemporary romance Another Glass of Champagne, (Accent Press, 2016), Christmas at the Castle (Accent Press, 2015), the bestselling novel Abi’s House (Accent Press, 2015), the modern/medieval time slip novel Romancing Robin Hood (Accent Press, 2014), the bestselling novel Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013), and its novella length sequels Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), and Christmas in the Cotswolds (Accent, 2014).
Jenny’s fifth full length romance novel, Abi’s Neighbour, will be published in June 2017.
Jenny is also the author of quirky children’s picture books There’s a Cow in the Flat (Hushpuppy, 2014) and Ben’s Biscuit Tin (Hushpuppy, 2015)
Keep your eye on Jenny’s blog at www.jennykane.co.uk for more details.
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