1 August 2019

Special Guest Post: Silent Water (A Jagiellon Mystery), by P.K. Adams

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon US

The Tudor era is one of the most popular in historical fiction, and for a good reason. The 1500s were the century of the Renaissance, a time when hundreds of years philosophy and art were turned on their heads. The European worldview shifted from the pursuit of earthy perfection and the focus on the afterlife to celebrating the temporal world and its beauty, as well as the possibilities of the mind and pleasures of the body. 

It was also the century during which the monopoly of the Catholic Church ended in the religious sphere. Henry VIII in England and Martin Luther in Germany both turned their backs on Rome, and millions of people followed their example. In many ways, it was an age of a radical transformation that laid the foundation for the modern world.

No wonder then that the men (and a few women) who made their mark on the 16th century continue to fascinate and excite the imaginations of so many authors of historical fiction. In my new mystery novel Silent Water, I propose to expand the scope of 16th century fiction. The novel, while dealing with the many familiar themes of the era—the dawn of the Renaissance and the rise of religious conflicts, to name a few—is set at the royal court in Cracow. 

While the Tudors and the Borgias are immediately associated with the 1500s, another powerful dynasty ruled over much of Eastern Europe at that time. I am talking about the Jagiellons (pronounced Ya-ghye-lohns), who ruled the union of Poland and Lithuania (as well as, at various times, Hungary, Bohemia, and several minor principalities and territories) for more than two hundred years.

Longer-lasting then the Tudors (founded in 1387 and dissolved in 1596), at its heyday the Jagiellon monarchy presided over a territory stretching from the Baltic in the north to the Black Sea and the Adriatic in the south. The reign of its last two kings– Zygmunt I (the Old) and Zygmunt II (August)—was the period in Polish history known as The Golden Age: never before or after, until the late 20th century, would Poland be so prosperous and peaceful as it was in the first seven decades of the 16th century. 

Interestingly, one of the most powerful and consequential Jagiellon monarchs was not actually Polish. Bona Sforza, who married Zygmunt I in 1518, was an Italian noblewoman who arrived in Cracow as a young royal bride, bringing with her new fashions, customs, and cuisine. But it was her ambition, forceful personality, and political astuteness that made the biggest mark on her adoptive country. She reformed its agricultural sector, patronized artists, founded schools, built roads and bridges, and in the process accumulated a massive fortune. She was by all accounts a fascinating but also a tragic figure. 

With Silent Water (A Jagiellon Mystery Book 1) I aim to bring to the English-speaking audiences a place that was just as dynamic, glamorous, and dangerous as the Tudor court. I also hope that it will help spur interest in Eastern European history and historical fiction. I would love to see more authors who write in English set their stories in Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, and many other countries whose pre-modern history was just as complex and multifaced as that of their Western counterparts. 

P.K. Adams 

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About the Author

P.K. Adams is a Boston-based historical fiction author, whose debut novel The Greenest Branch is the first in a two-book series based on the life of Hildegard of Bingen, Germany’s first female physician. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia and a master’s degree in European Studies from Yale. When not reading or writing, she can be found hiking, doing yoga, and drinking tea (though usually not at the same time). Find out more at her website https://pkadams-author.com/ and follow her on Twitter @pk_adams

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