Interviewed by Maria Rochelle
My latest interview is with Dan Jones of London, England. He’s a historian as well as an author of four books. His second book “The Plantagenets: The Kings Who Made England” was published in 2012 and it became a New York Times bestseller. He’s also a TV presenter of “The Secrets of Great British Castles” as well as the writer for the show which is on Netflix.
Was there anyone in particular who inspired you to become an historian or was there an event that you read about?
I had a great teacher at school, who got me hooked on Tudor history and then sent me off to Cambridge, where I specialized in medieval history. A brilliant set of teachers there – Helen Castor, David Starkey, Christine Carpenter, Jonathan Riley-Smith, Christopher Clark and others – kept the fires stoked, and I seem to be still studying history now, two decades later.
I’m excited that there is going to be a second season of your show, what exciting castles will we get to see?
The full run will be Edinburgh, Cardiff, York, Lancaster, Leeds and Arundel – I think in that order. They’re all magnificent, and making the shows was a real pleasure.
Of the two who do prefer, Beatles or The Rolling Stones?
Stones. Come on.
Tell me three fun facts about you….
I have a perfect 100% record in boxing matches: fought one, won one, and retired unbeaten.
I have DJ-ed at the legendary London nightclub Ministry of Sound. (It was under-18s night, and the set was at about 9pm. But still.)
I have a tattoo of St Edmund, king of East Anglia, being martyred by the Vikings in 869AD. They tied him to a tree, shot him full of arrows and chopped his head off. A wolf found the head the woods, and miraculously led people to the site by crying in a human voice, ‘Hic! Hic! Hic!’ This was a talking wolf that could speak Latin. You know the type. The wolf and the head don’t feature in my tattoo, and even the Vikings are out of fame, as it were. But still, Edmund’s there, prickled with arrows like a porcupine and looking bloody displeased about it.
Who is your favorite King of the Middle Ages and why?
Apart from St Edmund the Martyr, you mean? Henry V. The perfect medieval king, who managed to balance foreign aggression with judicious government at home, and died at the right moment before it all started going wrong, ensuring that he left an appropriately heroic legacy.
I enjoy sharing motivational quotes with my readers do you have one that you would like to share?
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
to let it go.
(Mary Oliver, ‘In Blackwater Woods’)
Is there a particular individual in history that you would like to meet?
I’m writing about Saladin at the moment. He seems to have made quite an impression on the people around him, and he certainly made his mark on the middle east… so right now I’d take a meeting with him.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what book would you take with you?
‘Escaping Desert Islands For Dummies’
Are you currently writing any more books?
My new book, about the Templars, is coming out next autumn. That’s what I’m working on right now, and I’m loving every moment of it. It’s the most amazing story of medieval supermen: the Templars were like the Navy S.E.A.L.S with a sideline in international banking. And of course their downfall – tried for heresy on trumped-up charges at the instigation of a truly diabolical king of France – is pure drama. It’s a dream subject for me and for my narrative style. I’m looking forward to you all reading the book in 2017!
If you want to learn more about Dan Jones, please follow him on his social media.