There's Always Two Sides to Every Conflict, part 1
It’s been a while since I’ve touched base. Sorry about that! First off, I’d like to thank you again for subscribing to my newsletter. I had intended to write at least once a month. If all roads were paved with good intentions, they’d all be paved with gold (or in Tucson, at least with asphalt)! I hear that Oracle Road is finally being paved. It is the main road running north-south on the NW side of town, and when I left for the summer, it was so bad, it felt like off-roading to drive to church on a Sunday.
Now that I am retired from teaching, my goal is to get back on track. To that end, I intend to email you once a month to discuss historical events surrounding my books, historical fun facts I came across in my research, progress on upcoming books, or anything else you would like to discuss within my ability. So, if you have any questions or anything you would like to know, let me know. Likewise, if you find that you are on this email by mistake, or no longer wish to subscribe, no worries, just scroll to the bottom and hit unsubscribe. I won’t hold it against you. We are all too busy to waste time on things that don’t interest us.
When I was teaching, one of my top priorities was to approach each period or topic in history by examining various perspectives to that event. It was difficult for my students at first, because often they had been conditioned to search for the “right” answer. But there are always different points of view about a particular conflict, discussion, or occurrence. How many times have you remembered an event differently than your family members? But in examining these various perspectives, I believe that we can get closer to understanding a more complete truth of what happened.
This is at least one thing I am trying to accomplish in writing my historical fiction. Life is complicated now, and it was for our ancestors too. In Thrown to the Wind, I was tracing Etienne Gayneau’s emigration from La Rochelle, France to the Dutch colony of New Netherlands. The historical backdrop was the Religious Wars of 17th century Europe. This was a period of theological and often violent conflict between Catholic and Protestant Christians. Since I wrote the book from Etienne’s point of view the Protestant perspective was most dominant, however, I did try to provide glimpses of the Catholic perspective through Etienne’s conversation with the Musketeer and in his relationship with his Catholic cousin.
Our hero’s father, Etienne Gayneau, Sr., was a devout Protestant follower of John Calvin, known as a Huguenot, while his wife’s brother (Nicolas’s father) was an equally devout Catholic. Neither man was evil. Both lived as they believed was best for themselves and their families, which led to the struggle that ensued within their greater family. It was the same struggle occurring in many other families and throughout France.
Underlying this uneasy tension, was the larger historical context. In 1660/1 when the book opens, Louis XIV had recently assumed the throne in his own right. He had inherited the throne at the age of four, and so the kingdom had been ruled by his mother, Anne, as regent and his godfather, Cardinal Jules Mazarin. Louis was crowned in 1654, but he didn’t start to wield absolute power until his godfather died in 1661.
A note about dating is important here. In my book I used the dates listed in the historical records, which used the old Julian Calendar, which did not account for leap years. Modern histories use the Gregorian Calendar, which does account for leap years. So, in fact, with the death of his godfather, Louis, started to assert power in his own right. He did this in several ways, one was to assert his control over the Catholic Church in France, and along with this, to unify the country beneath it by stamping out the Protestant heresy.
Another method involved the building of the Palace at Versailles, in which to house the nobility so that they could be watched, preventing rebellion. A third method of gaining control, was to take on their rivals for control of the Atlantic trade by inciting a war between England and the Dutch, known as the Anglo-Dutch Wars. We will get glimpses of both methods in future books in this series.
As a history teacher, I am often asked who drives history – great (or at least famous) historical figures, or the common people, who did the bulk of the work. My answer is – both. We study the great historical figures because they were the driving forces, but the common folks also had a great influence too, in how they reacted to those driving forces. This is the basis of my stories.
I will close for now. Next month, I will talk about the multiple perspectives that appear in book two and how differing understandings of land ownership led to the conflict which is the historical backdrop of Etienne’s continued journey in A Home in the Wilderness.
For those of you interested, A Home in the Wilderness, is finished and is available for preorder on Amazon. The release date is September 15th. Take care and see you next month!