Enter Captain Raúl Calderón’s world of danger, intrigue and romance of 1760s Spain. Inspired by true historical events, The Spanish Exile is Book One of the swashbuckling series Islands of the Crown.
Several years ago, an elderly relative sent me a thick sheaf of papers documenting the family history of my paternal grandmother’s family in Cuyo, Palawan, Philippines. The pedigree chart harkened back to a Spanish duke and an officer in the army of the Bourbon King Carlos III.
King Carlos III was an austere man, some would even say dull, passionate about hunting but caring little for the frivolities of his European cousins. What he lacked in social graces, he made up for as a ruler. He surrounded himself with forward-thinking men, the likes of Esquilache and Count Pedro Pablo Abarca de Bolea. Historians refer to King Carlos III’s reign as “the Age of Enlightenment” for he transformed Madrid to its former glory, with garbage collection and street lights. He believed in the free market and deregulated the price of staple foods.
In 1766, discontent erupted in the land. After a period of drought and hoarding, grain merchants began selling bread at astronomical prices. To add insult to injury, the king declared a ban on the national dress of slouch hat and cape, as a security measure.
On Palm Sunday, the people revolted, demanding price controls on grain, the expulsion of foreign ministers and the overturning of the clothing ban, among others. The king acquiesced from his balcony, then fled to Aranjuez. For a time, a military junta tried to maintain order in the capital. Supposedly, my ancestor may have played a key role in protecting the king from advancing rioters.
The less I found online about this ancestor, the more I became obsessed with this desire to know more about his life and times. I began reading voraciously about King Carlos III, royalty, military life, manners, art, customs, and architecture in eighteenth-century Spain. Every week felt like Christmas, as books and articles I had requested from our small bookmobile arrived through interlibrary loan. I tried to read as many books as I could about the subject, but as far as I could tell, no one had yet written about an officer in King Carlos III’s army, honorably exiled to the Philippines for his role in the expulsion of the Jesuits.
Thus, Raúl Calderón, the Spanish exile, came into being.
In the summer of 2014, I experienced the dream of a lifetime by traveling to Madrid, Spain, with my sister and oldest daughter. We started in Barcelona and took the train to Madrid. On the morning of our third day, my daughter Sierra and I set out to sample the famous churro y chocolate, and to visit the Palacio Real de Madrid, which was reportedly decorated from King Carlos III's time. After churros, my daughter and I queued up for an English-language tour at the Palacio. Our guide would say, charmingly, "Have a look..." And we did.
Many characters in my novel existed in real life, such as the king and his key ministers who served on the Council of Castile. But the heroes – Raúl and Conchita – and the villains are all a product of my imagination woven into the rich tapestry of history.
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About the Author
Jewel Allen is an award-winning journalist, author and ghostwriter who grew up in the Philippines and now lives in Utah. She has a bachelor’s degree in English from Utah State University and runs a memoir publishing company, Treasured Stories. She is the author of a young adult paranormal mystery, Ghost Moon Night; a political memoir, Soapbox: How I landed & lost a columnist gig, fought a prison, and got elected; and the first of a historical swashbuckling series set in 1760s Spain, The Spanish Exile. Find out more at Jewel’s website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter @jewelallen87.