Your Questions

Q

Hey Bernard,

have you ever thought about make a book that goes on in medieval Portugal? The Battle of Aljubarrota in 1385 AD reminds me the battles that you like to put in your books.

Greetings from Brazil.

Elimar Côrtes

A

I have thought of that, yes, and I’m very tempted . . . so call it a maybe! No promises, but it’s on the list . . . .

 


Q

I have heard multiple theories of what would have happened had the US simply stayed out of WWI. I wondered what would have happened had McClellan not found Lee's battleplan but then wondered what would have happened had Lincoln simply let the South secede? Would the US have been able to become a world power or would Mexico have taken the West? I know alternate history isn't your thing but your characters lent a different, fallible, more human cast to that period.Oh yeah, you write good.

Dan Summerhill

A

Alternate history really is not my thing!! And history is so capricious that it’s hard to make out any watertight case for an hypothesis. I suspect the Germans would still have lost WW1 – the blockade had weakened them to such an extent, but who knows? As for McLellan – he needed all the luck he didn’t deserve – and northern victory was probably an inevitability, though doubtless it would have taken much longer. And it’s inconceivable that Lincoln would have allowed the South to secede, but if some other President had made that decision? Slavery was doomed anyway and probably in some messy compromise the Union would have been restored. Who knows? Not me!


Q

Dear Mr Cornwell

Italy's Modena Cathedral, has a decorated arch above one of its entrances ( http://www.unesco.modena.it/it/organizza-la-tua-visita/link-cattedrale/porta-della-pescheria ) . Some think it dates from the mid 12th Century . An Italian historian friend of mine says that roving minstrels, back then, were like the internet of today and would have widely spread stories of King Arthur.

The construction of Modena cathedral is well documented and began in 1099 A.D.

The information depicted in the arch above the Porta della Pescheria was significant enough to be presented at this important place, as it was both then and now.

Do you have any thought what the significance might have been?

The very fact that I am writing to you about this draws upon the existence of this arch. Do you think it also adds support to the existence of Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere?

Regards

Nick

London

A

It certainly supports the appeal of the stories about Arthur, and shows that those legends had travelled far beyond Britain.  I think your Italian historian friend is right that the minstrels were responsible for spreading songs, news, legends and stories, and it’s remarkable that the Arthurian saga had reached Modena by the 12th Century and presumably before Chretien de Troyes breathed new and brilliant life into the story-cycle. I don’t think it contributes to a confirmation of Arthur’s existence, only to the persistence of his legend. His story is immensely appealing – and the troubadours would entertain audiences with such tales. If he did exist (and I incline to think he did, though nothing like the man described in the tales) then he would have existed some six hundred years before the Porta della Pescheria was sculpted so beautifully! By then the real Arthur (whoever and whatever he was) had long been transmuted into legend.

 


Q

Dear Bernard!

I am very curious if your ancestor named Uhtred who was an inspiration for you for the Uhtred in the novels was also this keen on the Danes as is the Uhtred in the novels. Do you know any details about your ancestor's life that you wanted to picture in the books or you have made it all up? And if this is made up, then why did you want your ancestor to be associated with the Danes? Do you feel any connection with vikings or it is just to make the world in the novels more exciting? :)

I am really sorry if my question has already been asked by someone else, but I could not find it on the page.

All best!

Marta

A

To be honest, I have no idea!  I only know that a man of that name, from whom I’m descended, was the Lord of Bebbanburg and, though he was an Angle, he held onto his lands despite Northumbria being ruled by the Danes. Everything else is pure fiction! I suspect there was a great deal of collaboration between Bebbanburg and the Danes, but that, like so much else, is speculation!


Q

Apparently, in 1900 in Canada life expectancy for men was 45 years. Through your readings, do you have any idea what life expectancy in Europe was in, say, 1 A.D, 500 A.D., 1000 A.D. ,etc.? When, in novels, authors speak of old men, are they projecting current lifespans onto ancient times?

Darryl Rehel

A

I confess I’m being extremely kind to Uhtred (and Finan) in their life expectancy,  but other characters in the books must conform to the much shorter life span of early mediaeval Britain. I’m sure most authors of historical novels do the same. In Uhtred’s time a man was ancient by his mid forties! You can find more in this excellent Wikipedia entry:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy


Q

Hi Bernard.

Reading is my life. I have read thousands of novels..its my stress release..and fulfill my adventurous nature..i struggle to find books that satisfies my quest for reality etc. I have read 90 % of your books..some twice..i am a huge fan. I know that whichever new book of yours i find..that it will read easily and it will be fun. I used to think Wilbur Smith is the best..not anymore..you are. Keep up the brilliant work.

Greetings

Alwyn.

MSc Psychology Stellenbosch. South Africa.

Have you been to the Kruger National Park in South Africa? And Cape Town. Please consider writing a book using these areas as the setting. It will be my privilege to show you around ..if ever you visit SA. I might even have a story line for you. My uncle were heavily involved in the bush war with Angola. Afterwards he build up a huge private Big 5 Game Reserve ..where i grew up..he had an adventurous life..special forces soldier type..american saddle horse trainer..big game hunter and Professional hunter..pilot..etc. he was my hero. True South African adventurist and hero..charismatic and intelligent..the type of person one will follow blindly..

 

A

I’ve visited Capetown, and even had the great privilege of being expelled from South Africa – that was during the apartheid era. I wish I could claim that I was expelled for being a trouble-maker, but it was merely because I worked for the BBC and we (Jeremy Paxman and myself) were suspected of having dangerous liberal tendencies. Which was true enough. I revisited SA when Nelson Mandela was President and had a very good time, but I’m afraid I’m not inclined to set any stories there. Not out of distaste, I assure you, but simply because I’m more at home writing about places I know much better. Besides I’m getting too old and far too lazy to start a whole new world of research! Apologies.

 


Q

I am a volunteer at my local archive.  I am currently transcribing volumes relating to the napoleonic era.  I am finding regularly multiple entries for enlisted men.  They are appearing once as being put into, for example, the Royal Marines and then the same person appears again a couple of days later as being put into Col. French’s Levy.  I can find only scant reference to Col. French but he does appear to have been involved in some fraud relating to his activities in finding potential recruits (12 Guineas a man!) and I was wondering if Sharpe's regiment is based on this activity.  If so may I be very cheeky indeed and ask you if you have any suggestions as to how to conduct some further research?  If you do recognise the name of col. French, can you help me to find out more?  I have not been able to throw any light on this using the internet other than some references in parliamentary papers from ca 1804.  Grateful thanks for reading this!

Very kind regards,

Kate Deans

A

Sharpe’s Regiment is certainly based on the practice of ‘crimping’, which was a fairly widespread fraud. I really hate to disappoint you, but I’ve never heard of Colonel French, and my Sharpe researches are so far in the past that I can’t  remember what sources I used. I wish I could be more help! You might find some pointers in Richard Holmes’s magnificent book Redcoat, but I could be wrong. I’m so sorry!

 


Q

I am an avid reader of the Saxon Tales and have just finished War of the Wolf. Every book in this series has been my favorite and War of the Wolf did not disappoint! I was wondering, what year would you estimate that it is at the close of this last novel? Thanks for your time and I greatly look forward to the next book!

-Bo Ashmore

 

Hi Mr Cornwell,

I’ve read most of your Sharpe novels, all of your Grail quest ones and I’ve just put down War of the Wolf, which was excellent. My favorite books have got to be Stonehenge and Azincourt. Your characters are all original and interesting. Your books are gripping and I think it’s great that you’ve got a historical note at the back, which is very helpful. I can’t wait for the next one. Just a question though, what year is War of the Wolf set in?

Sophie Parkes

A

923 AD


Q

Hey there Bernard, my brother got really addicted to your Saxon Stories series and I really enjoy it, particularly the setting, but would like to know if you plan on writing maybe about Uhtred making it to Valhalla, since you mention how he is worried about not making it there and feasting with enemies(I quite liked Cnut), would also like to know if we are going to get more narration from another perspective like when his son narrated, I enjoyed looking at the world back then with a different pair of eyes and how men saw Uhtred.

Hope you can respond to this and thanks for all the good times

Guilherme Maebara Bueno

A

I’m not planning on that!  Let’s assume he gets there and is living happily ever after!

 


Q

Curious as to how you view the differences between Season 3 of Last Kingdom and your Saxon Stories Books. Seems like Season 3 had many more significant differences, such as Ragnar, how Skade, died, Athelwold, and so on. The battle thread seems consistent but almost sounds like they were trying to increase Plot drama. Also, have you ever considered putting out a timeline (maybe in the form of a book) about the historic thread and you Saxon Stories.?

Mark Weston

A

I don’t mind the differences!  The TV producers have constraints I don’t have and so they streamline the story – I often admire how they do it!  I enjoyed the series a lot and look forward to series 4!  A timeline is a good idea – I’ll try to devise one. Thank you!