I have to thank the late, great Dorothy Dunnett for my fascination with the sixteenth century.
She wrote (amongst others) a series of six novels about Francis Crawford of Lymond, a true Renaissance man — poet, courtier, soldier, musician, linguist — whose fortunes and misfortunes take him from Scotland to England, France, Malta, Turkey and Russia. Though Lymond and his family are fictional, the novels abound with real historical characters and incidents — and the more I find out about the period, the more I admire Dorothy’s impeccable research.
Most of all though, I love the richness of the language and the literary allusions and quotations. And the more I read them, the more I want to understand about the world that Lymond and his friends and enemies lived in.
For the last few years I have been seeking out works written during, or before the sixteenth century, and biographies of sixteenth century individuals. I am particularly interested in the historical characters who appear in the Lymond books, and with their wider connections — so not just Henri II of France, who appears in two of the books, but also his children, his courtiers, his parents, and the events of his life that made him the person he was.
I want to know about the literature and music that a cultured individual of this period would have known, and about the minutiae of their daily life — about their pastimes and the objects they would have had in their houses or on their persons.
As I find works like this in the public domain, I prepare them for Kindle, spending a lot of time on formatting and proof-reading, cleaning up images and adding links, to produce something that is pleasant to read. I enjoy doing it, and I hope people will enjoy reading them.
As another way of finding out about the period, I’ve been collecting contemporary images — people, places, furniture, clothing, events, and pretty much anything you can think of — which you can see on Pinterest. There are more than 3700 pins arranged on 150+ boards, so I’ve tried to organise them logically.
To help you find your way round: after “Lymond’s World”, the boards are alphabetical by country, then come the sovereigns in date order, then families (A-Z), ending with a generic board for portraits and one for buildings. Following the countries are boards for the Russian World and Islamic World (currently not broken down any further), followed by topic based boards covering things like furniture, clothing, military, religion, maps, games, representations of events, etc., etc.
And for the ultimate Dunnett Connection, check out the Dorothy Dunnett Society at