Volume One: The Origins, Rise and Fall of an English Family, 1066-1550

Rochford of Fenne and Stoke Rochford, Volume One coverOn 23 April 1430, Sir Ralph Rochford III set sail for Calais with the nine-year-old King Henry VI of England and an imposing retinue of lords, knights and bishops. They were heading for Reims, where they intended to crown the boy as king of France behind enemy lines, and put an end to the Hundred Years’ War. As Henry’s personal guardian and mentor in chivalry, Sir Ralph’s task was to get him there alive.

Ralph was not the only member of his family to lead a remarkable life. Through a series of individual biographies, this book tells the story of a family who emerged from a dank and swampy corner of Lincolnshire in the early 1100s, and rose over the course of 300 years to become pre-eminent knights of the royal household.

The story involves much medieval savagery – an almost continuous churn of battles, sieges, coups d’état, feuds, murders, plagues, imprisonment and even hostage taking. But there were peaceful moments too. Family members travelled across Europe, made pilgrimages to the Holy Land and led embassies to negotiate peace treaties. They studied the histories of the Romans and the Jews, they built monuments to the departed, and they left gifts of gold, rubies and sapphires to loved ones.

Yet within just 100 years of Ralph’s momentous journey to France, the family name was obliterated by a tragic sequence of events, and their lives all but forgotten.

Read online below, or download Volume One as a PDF

Read Volume One online





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