Of the Editor

Of the Editor and the William Savage story

Tournai-sur-Dives, April 2018

The editor has had a passion for history since seeing a Map of the Battle of Naseby in a Reader’s Digest book of British History when he was seven.  As with some boys, this started an interest in military history, then it turned into Wargaming, to be transformed into historical re-enactment, ultimately becoming ‘Living History’.  As the hunger for knowledge grew, so did the reference library[1]. Although the editor tasted new historical dishes, the craving was always for more about the Seventeenth Century[2] or the Stuarts; from Jamestown to Blenheim, from Brandenburg to America, be it the weapons, fashion, buildings, art or typography, they all feed the appetite for more information.

Then came the Rebellion 2005 project in 2003[3], now the life and times of James, Duke of Monmouth became the editor’s addiction or sweet tooth. As the editor devoured each account, each piece of evidence, each ‘Life of Monmouth’, it became increasingly apparent the same common ingredients were being regurgitated in every book (or just copied on the Internet). Somehow the period had become a bland ‘meat and two veg’ diner. It was missing something, whilst others focused on the Rebellion or Monmouth, the editor started to look for the missing ‘something’ to spice the period up, especially for the mainstream reader. So, other aspects of the period, such as the politics, the international relationships, and the people became sources for new flavours. Then the part Monmouth played outside England fell into the mixer, finally the reasons and results of the Rebellion bubbled over the edge. Now the period gained new spices, improved flavours and turned from roast lamb, spuds, spinach and mint sauce into a Lamb Rogan Josh with Sag-Alo and egg fried rice (try it!).

What became so clear, was that the truth had been altered. Whilst the first-hand evidence pointed one way, the books all used the same altered truth. So, the Editor was faced with two options; try and change the established dish or use the same ingredients to create something new. Then along came William Savage, someone that has become a real part of the family[4], here was a way to tell the truth, without upsetting the apple cart or breaking the eggs. Through William Savage, the editor can re-tell the first-hand accounts; represent the facts, journey through the dates, and introduce the people. Through his story the truth can come out. The editor is working on a series of stories to wet the appetite of the historian and reader alike. Alongside each, will be memoirs covering the utensils (from weapons to fashion, from food to travel) and this site will add the ingredients (the facts). William Savage will be in the shadows, adding the spice. We will need to start with Lucy Walter, the mother of James, Duke of Monmouth.  Finally, the reader will, it is hoped, find out the truth for themselves over a number of fine courses.

Steve Carter

[1] For history homework or just a question, forget the internet, ’Daddy has a book on that’, is still what the editor’s daughters say.

[2] The Iron Age, World War II and Railways vying for second place.

[3] Rebellion 2005 recreated all the key events of the Monmouth Rebellion, on the original site and dates and was supported by the Sealed Knot and over 20,000 members of the public.

[4] William Savage has been part of the family for over 19 years. If fact, so long that when the editor tried to change his name, the family response was ‘you can’t do that he’s become part of the family’.