Your Questions


At an early age I was told that William beat Harald (1066) because William's folk used stirrups and the Saxons did not. Much later during my fourth reread of the saga of Uhtred Ragnarson this moldy old concept came to mind. So what happened to all the Saxon stirrups between Uhtred and William? Did the Pope ban them as later the crossbows?

PS: I started with Sharpe and currently enjoy Uhtred's books the most. Thank you!

Paul Keller


Popes have done many stupid things, but banning stirrups was not one of them. So far as I know they were invented in the 7th Century and were in widespread use in Anglo-Saxon Britain.  What was not in widespread use was the use of cavalry as part of a fighting formation, though there is some evidence that Aethelstan deployed cavalry at Brunanburh in 937.  My suspicion is that William's army at Hastings had cavalry and Harold's didn't. Simple as that?


Which are your favourite and your least favourite books of yours and in both cases why, please?

Andrew S


My favourites? Sharpe's Company, Sharpe's Trafalgar, Waterloo (the non-fiction book), Gallow's Thief and the Arthurian trilogy beginning with The Winter King (coming to you as a TV series later this year).  Why do I like them? because they were all a joy to write. My least favourite is Sharpe's Devil, because it never turned out as I would have liked.


Hi Bernard,

Twenty years ago, somebody who knew I enjoyed the BBC series bought me Sharpes Tiger. Since then I have read and re-read the Sharpe, Arthur, Grail, Saxon, Stonehenge and Starbuck stories many times, I am currently again in 1812 with Sharpe and his enemy Hakeswill.

Your books sparked in me a love for learning about history and I always look forward to the historical notes at the end of each story.

I was recently wondering if you have ever thought to publish all the historical notes (and maps etc) together?

Looking forward to Sharpe's Command.


I've not thought about it, but I will now - thank you for suggesting it!



Hi Bernard,

Many lists of Britain's greatest generals frequently put the Duke of Marlborough at the top and Wellington second. Would you agree or would you be in Wellington's corner? Might you consider a book on Blenheim? After all, it has been argued that the beginnings of Britain as a true world power began about then.

Kind Regards



I'll stick with Wellington, mainly because I know so much more about him than I do about Marlborough.  Which is an unsatisfactory basis for any judgement, but there it is.

I'll consider it, but probably lay down until the temptation passes.


Mr. Cornwell,

Simply thank you for writing The Last Kingdom Series.

I greatly enjoyed it .."Destiny is all"

Why is this said ?, What is your meaning of it?

Thank you

Michelle Massa


Fate is inexorable....It comes from an Anglo-Saxon poem called ‘The Wanderer’,

here’s an excerpt with a crude translation.


Wyrd bið ful aræd!          Destiny is everything!

Swa cwæð eardstapa,     So spoke the earth-stepper (the wanderer),

earfeþa gemyndig,          mindful of hardships,

wraþra wælsleahta,         of terrible slaughters

winemæga hryre:            and the killing of kinsmen.


The poem was probably written in the 800’s or 900’s, and I’ve always liked that one line!



The first War trials were held after the US Civil War.

Henry Wirtz the Swiss born commandant of the Confederate Prison Camp : Andersonville was the only Criminal prosecuted. They were a small number of trials held in Leipzig 1921 resulting from the first World War.    War Trials gained in importance   after World War Two,  the   Nuremburg Trials were seen to try the surviving Culprits  and are held in The Hague currently.  Do you think Napoleon should have been tried as a War Criminal instead of being exiled twice?



I think exile was the right answer, and that punishment was achieved twice without any trial. The Prussians wanted to execute him in 1815, but the Duke of Wellington stamped on that proposal. There was no precedent then for 'war trials', which doesn't mean that they couldn't have happened, and the returning French government (royalist) held plenty of trials for treason which ended in death sentences - poor Marshal Ney who deserved better. I suspect it would have been difficult to have established a War Crimes Tribunal, and it's arguable that all sides were guilty - witness the British army's excesses at Badajoz and San Sebastian.  I would stick with exile for Napoleon - Saint Helena made him thoroughly miserable, which was punishment enough.



I have read most of your series, excluding Starbuck, and I love all of your main characters! Besides the fact that you made them up, is there a feeling that any of your main characters possess more of "you" than others? Do you feel close to them, or distant for any reason? Thank you for all of your work!




 I think it's probably inevitable that some of 'me' leaks into the characters, but it's not intentional. And yes, while writing them I feel very close - especially to Sharpe who has inhabited my life for over 40 years. The only trait I see in him that reminds me of me is his early morning grumpiness.


Dear Bernard

In Sharpe's Siege Sharpe mentions he'd been fighting on the Nive but Regiment ended with the Rhune attack. I wondered if you ever planned to fill in with the Battle of Saint Pierre as it was very much a near run thing and one of the few times Hill had sworn in his life.

Also I wondered if you ever though about doing a 1 off book on Sharpe's Son Patrick and the French War in Mexico  as it seems there were quite a few battles there and well he is in North America and it does seem like fate, which is inexorable to write about that conflict




I have thought about Saint Pierre, and as I seem to have drifted back into Sharpe's life it's quite possible I'll inflict that on him. Not a promise, but a definite maybe.

No books planned for Sharpe's son.


Just read Death of Kings

have you visited Cricklade as your knowledge of the town seems very good.

Town Crier of Cricklade

Chris Atkins

I have been to Cricklade several times and like the town a lot, but I think when I wrote Death of Kings that I worked chiefly from maps - so glad to hear they weren't misleading! Thanks - and keep shouting!



Thank you for the many hours of reading pleasure your books have given me over the years.

I've been listening to the audiobooks read by Rupert Farley and have really been enjoying them.

I've currently on Sharpe's Waterloo and have been reflecting on Jane Sharpe. I remember reading somewhere that you said Lucille was originally planned as a love interest for William Frederickson and then you changed your plans. Even if you hadn't, was the original plan for Jane still to have betrayed Sharpe at some point or did that only change once you decided Lucille and Sharpe were a better fit?

Thank you again.

Philip Lenton


Oh I don't know if there was an original plan!  I often do not know where my characters will lead me!