You might wonder why I want to change things again. That’s if you remember that I reedited Highwaypersons Book I, Debts and Duties, only a few weeks ago. That was just before releasing Book II, The King’s Justice. The answer is that I have been listening to feedback and doing what I can to ensure people really enjoy reading both books. Sorry if it’s too late for some of you. I promise that I will also apply the lessons to Book III before I publish it.
What did I change?
I have moved the list of characters from the front of the book to near the back, and reduced it. There will now bet a Contents page at the beginning. I have also made some changes to the cover.
What will not change?
The characters and the story are as they were. If you have already read either book, you will not be any worse off due to the changes. However, if you use Kindle, I believe you can download the new version(s) of Highwaypersons free. Check with the Kindle website. I hope you enjoy(ed) the read and will buy Book III, Stallion Man, when it comes out. Please let me have your feedback to help me make my next books better still. I also hope those of you who have taken me up on the recent offer to get both books free on Kindle, will be glad you did and will buy Book III.
The Catholic Church has been around for a long time
It is hard to imagine anyone writing historical novels without taking some interest in the role of the Catholic Church down the ages. That institution has been an influence on so many people’s lives and on so many of the great movements and events in history. Not only European history. Some people say that today it is in crisis and perhaps in terminal decline. They should read more history. The Church has been through a lot of crises and many periods of decline.
What’s the current crisis in the Roman Catholic Church?
Pope Francis has just issued an apology for the sexual and other abuse inflicted on a huge number of women and especially children by priests, monks and nuns. He has also apologised for the cover-ups and lack of action by the hierarchy. Many people say this is too little and too late. He is about to visit Ireland, where the scale of the problem has been particularly bad. How will he be received? Can he put right what is wrong?
Is there anything else to worry an Irish Catholic today?
The numbers attending church services and otherwise engaged with that institution have reduced dramatically this century, as is the case elsewhere. The abuse scandal is not unique to Ireland either. However, the change is the more dramatic and its impact more traumatic, because of the huge influence the church had in Ireland for centuries.
Should Protestants feel smug at Catholic woes?
Some probably do, but it would be a big mistake. There have been abuse scandals involving Protestant clergy, although not as widespread as among Catholics, as far as we know. Anyway, bad publicity for one church does not equate to good publicity for others. Today, some secularists regard Islamic terrorism as an argument against all religion.
Why did so much abuse happen within the Catholic Church?
I expect there are many answers and I don’t claim any special inside knowledge. However, one factor I can’t ignore is the structure and culture of that church. An authoritarian hierarchy and a deferential laity is a recipe for corruption and the misuse of power of one kind or another. There is one thing I can say from personal experience. When I have looked into the finances of Catholic schools and other bodies, I have found that people were often reluctant to question the actions of a priest. When I wanted to see receipts or asked for an independent check on money handled by clergy, I was met with gasps of horror by lay administrators. Whilst I do not say financial malpractice was absent from Protestant or secular organisations, I do say there was more of a tendency to regard vicars or ministers as accountable to others on Earth, not just to the ultimate Judge.
Does this matter if you are not a Catholic?
Yes. Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!
All power tends to corrupt: absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely – Lord Acton.
Pope Francis needs to address the whole structure and culture of the church he leads. He will need a lot of help. He will need to pray for a miracle. Fortunately, they do happen.
Abuse of any kind, whether the exception or the norm, needs to be condemned and steps taken to prevent it. There is also a need to help the victims. However widespread it was, it makes no difference to the message the Catholic Church, along with Protestants and other Christians, proclaims. The call to Love God and Love your neighbour is as relevant and necessary now as it was two thousand years ago. The example of Jesus and his teaching are worth following. I hope the Pope will say so.
Not all Catholic clergy are abusers!
I also hope we all remember the other victims of this scandal. The many thousands of loyal, honest, loving priests, monks and nuns who have worked hard to put Jesus’s teaching into practice, helping thousands of people with all kinds of needs. They will be ashamed of what they have heard and feel they are held guilty by association. May the Pope give comfort and encouragement to them.
An arquebus was one of the first truly portable firearms. It appeared in the early sixteenth century. It made a big difference in one or two battles on the Continent in its early days. In Britain, a few wealthy people, including Henry XVIII, owned some.
Did the musket replace the arquebus?
Yes. There were some intermediate variations, but by the seventeenth century the musket had arrived. In England, people produced thousands of these weapons in the 1640’s, as both sides used them in the Civil War. The proportion of musketeers, as opposed to pikemen, increased as the war went on.
The musket must have been an improvement on the arquebus then?
Not really! Most surviving specimens of the arquebus are finely crafted and of high quality from every point of view. They were more accurate and had greater range than most Civil War muskets. How come? In the Civil War, people produced weapons in a hurry. They did not intend to impress, to make items a king would be proud to own. Their aim (excuse the pun) was to equip as many men as possible, to give their side the advantage.
Didn’t the accuracy of a musket matter?
Not much. You were usually standing in a rank, shooting at an approaching horde of pikemen or cavalry, and, if you all fired at once, you were very likely to hit some of them. Ever man just had to keep his nerve and wait until the enemy were close enough.
You probably don’t want either weapon (unless you’re a collector)
If you don’t want an antique weapon, whatever you do want to buy, you need to be clear as to its purpose. Do you want the best, or is ‘good enough’ good enough? Similarly, if you are making something, think of your market. Are you aiming high (excuse pun again) or going for the mass market? As a writer, I want to sell as many books as possible and I want them to be cheap enough for most people to afford. In a different role, such as a consultancy, I would aim (!) at having a few high-value clients, paying top level fees. (I have always been, however, grateful for any clients, large or small, rich or poor.)
I am indebted to Professor Sam Willis for his recent series, Sword, Musket and Machine-gun, for reminding me of much of the information in this blog, and much else.