And A June Giveaway!  

To Commemorate the Wedding of Elizabeth of Lancaster, daughter of John of Gaunt, to John Holland, Earl of Huntigdon on 24th June 1386

As a close member of the royal family, there was no reason why Elizabeth of Lancaster, after the somewhat scandalous beginnings of her marriage to John Holland, should not have lived a life wrapped in royal approval and luxury centred on the glamorous court of King Richard II.  Her marriage to Holland, from all appearances, was a love match.  Holland was smiled on by King Richard who created him Earl of Huntingdon, then Duke of Exeter, and gave him land and authority.  Holland and Elizabeth were blessed with six children, five of whom lived to adulthood.

We have no contemporary portrait or illustration of Elizabeth, but here she is from the effigy on her tomb in the hamlet of Burford, Shropshire, with pale hair and long, fine features.

Blissful harmony was not to be the order of the day for the Duke and Duchess of Exeter, however promising the future seemed.  Because of her intricate royal connections, Elizabeth found herself in a hazardous position:

– Daughter to John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster.

– Sister to Henry Bolingbroke, the Lancaster heir.

– Cousin to King Richard II.

– Wife to John Holland, half brother to the King, as they shared the same mother, Joan of Kent.

When England was torn apart by uprising in 1399, family loyalties destroyed any chance Elizabeth might have had of happiness with Holland.  It was without doubt a family at war.  Furthermore the clouds had been building for some time.

It must have been difficult enough to preserve family goodwill when King Richard banished brother Henry from England for six years on a dubious charge of treason.  And then on the death of John of Gaunt, Richard extended the banishment for life at the same time as he snatched the Lancaster inheritance for himself.  Where were Elizabeth’s loyalties here?  I doubt that they were with Richard.

Here is Richard, magnificent in red and gold, from Froissart’s Chronicles, in the days before the challenge to his power.  Froissart is shown presenting a book to the King.


Even worse for Elizabeth’s sense of loyalties was when brother Henry returned from banishment with rebellion in mind and usurped the throne from Richard, imprisoning him in Pontefract Castle.

Here is Henry, crowned King of England while Richard was still alive but incarcerated.


Elizabeth might not have been averse to her brother becoming King, but where would John Holland stand in all of this?  Would he support his half-brother or his brother in law?  In past years John Holland had been in receipt of grants from John of Gaunt for his military support in the ill-fated expedition to St Malo, so there were undoubtedly a strong connection between Holland and the Lancasters.  But in the troubled months of the uprising, when Richard returned from Ireland to find Henry Bolingbroke on English soil with an army at his back, Elizabeth’s husband acted as mediator with Henry on Richard’s behalf.  With no success, and Richard being dispatched to Pontefract, would John continue to oppose Henry, at the cost of being in opposition to the new King of England?

Here is John, as Duke of Exeter, riding between Richard and Henry with his brother, magnificent in a blue patterned houppelande and hat.  Another little gem from Froissart.


With Henry holding the reins of power, all was smoothed over, at least on the surface.  John Holland gave his allegiance to Henry, taking his part in the celebrations at the coronation of the new king in October 1399.  Certainly Elizabeth must have breathed a heartfelt sigh of relief even though she must have pondered on the ultimate fate for her cousin Richard.

But then in December of 1399.  All change, and Elizabeth’s world must have shattered.  On the seventeenth of the month a group of men secretly met in the chamber of the abbot’s lodging at Westminster Abbey.  Probably the magnificent Jerusalem Chamber as shown below.  The plan was to assassinate the new King Henry, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and all four of Henry’s sons on the feast of the Epiphany – 6th January 1400 – when Henry planned  a great celebratory tournament at Windsor.  Richard would be released and restored to the throne.  Richard Maudeleyn, a young squire with some superficial resemblance, would be dressed in armour and would impersonate royal Richard and win over the armed support of the people of London until Richard himself could be restored to their midst.


Which ways would John Holland jump here?  Henry or Richard?

Holland, demoted from being Duke of Exeter to Earl of Huntingdon by Henry, joined the plotters in the Epiphany Rising, sometimes named the  Rising of the Earls.  He was one of the group of plotters who met together at Westminster to plan Henry’s assassination.

What would Elizabeth do?  Support Brother or Husband?  A terrible choice for her to make.

Read The King’s Sister.

What was the outcome of the Rising of the Earls for Elizabeth and her marriage to John Holland?

Read The King’s Sister.


Live the emotion with Elizabeth of Lancaster, through rebellion and vicious power struggles, through betrayal and death in The King’s Sister

“Anne O’Brien evokes the spirit of the age in full colour with all the detail and drama needed to fully engage the reader. Her characters are well developed and appealingly real, their choices are not clear-cut and the consequences are devastating adding up to an exciting and intriguing story of love and historical politics.” –

Leave a comment below to have a chance of winning a signed copy of

The King’s Sister.


92 responses to “The King’s Sister: A Family at War

  1. Love your books. I can really get involved in them and they are so colourful and real. You have amazing talent 🙂

    1. Great books ,i cannot put them down.! As i have traced my family back to 1488 in a straight line and disjointedly back to the12th century, i am intrigued to discover the times my family lived through.

  2. It looks like a story that has everything a historical novel should have, intrigue ,divided loyalties set in perhaps the most interesting period of medieval England.Fact often has some exciting twists and turns certainly places one would not dare to go in fiction.

  3. I love to read the stories of the women who were embroiled in all the politics of this time. I can not imagine what it would be like to be part of a family that was so entwined that they married within family. I am fascinated to find out what became of Elizabeth of Lancaster and how she supported her family and husband in these turbulent times. It would be a wonderful addition to my book collection, some of which consists of Anne o Briens very fine work.

  4. Interesting family with so much history would love to read Elizabeth story. I love reading about our Royal women from the past.

    Kind Regards

  5. Love your books always page turners so hard to put your books down house work has to wait, And Wow to win a signed copy would be the icing on the cake for me, and would take pride of place in my collection x

  6. I think this Lancaster family would do well with a tv series. Between John’s marraiges, his brother the Black Prince, his father and his parents, Joan, the women in John’s life, his children, the boy king and peasant revolt. It really is stuff of legends. I enjoy seeing the different stories about these people. Cannot wait to read your book.

  7. I have read Anne O’Brien ‘s books from the beginning, and absolutely love them. The King’s Sister holds a special place in my heart. Elizabeth could never win. Should would lose husband or brother. Anne brings all these medieval women who normally are just footnotes in history, to life. I would love this book, in particular, sitting on my shelf signed by Anne herself.

  8. I really would like a signed copy of this intriguing book. The books I have already read truly transform the reader back in time – both the good times and bad times through a very turbulent period of English history.

  9. It looks a wonderful story. I love the historical insight and when reading your books I feel I am there part of the fabric of the time. Women did indeed live in perilous and exciting times not knowing which way to turn for the best. I would love to win this book and can’t wait to read it.

  10. I adore historical books & yours are so good. I am a great fan. Signed copies are even better! It is bringing back Medieval history for us & I am hooked.

  11. I’m fascinated by the Plantagenets and Tudors, particularly Eleanor of Acquitaine! Love your novels about the forgotten women of history! Far more interesting than the men! Have read The Queen’s Choice and The Devil’s Consort, and am looking forward to reading The Virgin Widow and The Forbidden Queen, purchased for 99p on my kindle! To win a signed copy of The King’s Sister would be an excellent addition to the series! Also recently purchased Queen of the North half price from Tesco! Lots of great summer reading!

  12. Looks a very interesting read ,I know the story of Henry and Richard but didn’t know about Elizabeth’s husband . Can’t wait to get a copy of this book . Am a fan of your books . Thank you

  13. I find these books totally engrossing. I have followed your royal protagonists through the years from the King’s concubine to the queen’s choice. Would love a signed copy and really find the fact that there are family/house trees makes understanding the motives and relationships so much easier to understand.

  14. I’ve just been to Waterstones in Epsom to buy another of your books and the only one they had was one I already have. How sad.

    1. I am almost finished Queen of the North, and as always have been immersed in the story! I look forward to reading the King’s Sister very much. I have read all of your books and always am eager for the next.

  15. I enjoy all of your books and I have them stored on my kindle , you weave history into believable and enjoyable expierence while giving the reader a chance to go on and find out more about the character s in your novels as I have done , and yes I would be honored to win a signed book of yours.

  16. Yet another one of your fantastic books. .. truly fascinating and intriguing. As always thank you for all your wonderful books.

  17. I am sat reading this email in Portugal. I started my history passion from reading about the Tudor’s however that quickly reached further back and have read most if not all of your books . I am also fascinated in the historical links between the UK and Portugal . I was so excited to read your summary of the novel and I would love to have a chance to read a free copy. However it’s definitely on my reading list .Keep Writing , Praia Da Luz Portugal

  18. Hello Anne,

    I am Pierre from Belgium. I enjoy your books and I am a big fan of yours. They offer fabulous and intriguing stories and combine with a lot of historical background.
    Thanks a lot and best regards,

  19. Thank you Anne!
    I have had so much pleasure reading all your books and learning about these amazing Medieval woman lost to History until now!
    I would be thrilled to receive a signed copy of “The Kings Sister”!

  20. Sounds like a fabulous read. Elizabeth had an eventful life. Would love to read more about her. Thank you for the chance to win one of your fantastic books.

  21. Loved reading about this tumultuous family!
    Poor Elizabeth, torn between the man she loved & her family.
    Fabulous read!

  22. The King’s Sister was the first of your books which I read, spotted in my local library a few years ago. Since then I’ve read many of your other marvelous stories of medieval women. To own my own copy of the story of my namesake would be wonderful. Keep up the good work Anne!

  23. I love your writing and I would absolutely love a signed copy of your book. Thanks so very much for this chance!❤

  24. The King’s Sister is the only one of your books that I haven’t read. It would be wonderful to receive a signed copy.

  25. Although I’ve already read The Kings Sister, along with all your novels, I would love to win and own a signed copy that could sit proudly on my bookcase along with all your other historical novels. You bring history to life and i can immerse myself into the stories I’m reading often losing hours, but so worth it. Fingers crossed I’m lucky and good luck to everyone else.

  26. I cannot lie! I already have this wonderful book! It’s one of my absolute favorites, but to have a signed copy would be awesome. I’d promise to give my original copy to someone else! Lol It’s a tribute to Anne to read all these heartfelt comments.

  27. Cynthia Wright
    This particular author is one that I am unable to purchase on my kindle in America. I have some of her stories but have most in hard copy. So I would love and appreciate this new one with her signature. As a matter of fact. I just returned from the UK and made a special visit to Hereford Cathedral and several other areas mentioned in her stories. Loved the landmarks and the history.

  28. If the men had behaved the women might have lived more peacefully. Except for the women who instigated intrigue on their own. Woul love to read this. Thank you for the opportunity.

  29. Anne,
    I think you are wonderful. I’ve read 6 of your books, and just started on the King’s Sister. Again thank you

  30. This is a story of my family, at least a part of it. I’ve been doing genealogy and working on our family lineage for over 10 years now, finding not only my ancestors but also their stories so I can get to know them. They are a part of not just myself, but my children and my children’s children. I would love to read your book and learn more of them.

  31. Hello! Is this chance open to US readers too? I am a fan and would love the opportunity to read this one!

  32. I enjoy your books and would very much like to win a real copy of this, to compliment my kindle version. Thank you for the opportunity.

  33. It would be amazing to win a copy of this book. I love all the intrigue surrounding these characters. I love reading your books cannot put them down.

  34. Anne,
    I cannot even imagine living in such a time of intrigue, but am so very interested in this history! Looking forward to reading ALL of your books!

  35. Very enjoyable read. Being a descendant of John of Gaunt, I am always on the lookout for books about him and his family. You bring the people in your books to life and for that I Thank You.

  36. I have read and enjoyed all your books, and have just finished the Queen of the North. I am learning a great deal about the Kings and Queens of England and their family members, whilst enjoying a great story, thank you.

  37. Her tomb is so beautiful, wow! Anne O’Brien is one of my favorite historical authors. I really need to get caught up on all her books, I’m behind! Ah! lol

  38. I love all of your books, and I love your portrayal of the women behind the men who were at the forefront of history – it is empowering to read about how strong and determined these women were. They come alive when I read your books, and I find myself ‘seeing’ them, and ‘hearing them’, and becoming embroiled in their lives. Thank you for that, Anne.

  39. Definitely a family at war. Oh the intrigue I wonder how it ends?
    Another of your brilliant books Anne.

    Thank you again for many hours if enjoyment.

  40. Currently reading about her sister, Philippa, who was married off to Portugal, so this book next would be excellent.

  41. Elizabeth lived through very turbulant times yet, despite all the turmoil and upheavels, she seems to have found love and a successful marriage in their early years together. I would love to learn more of Elizabeth and her husband John Holland in your book, it sounds really interesting.

  42. How great that my ex history teacher and friend can share her knowledge of women’s history with a wider audience. Keep up the good work Anne.

  43. This is the type of book I love to read. Although an American, I am in love with medieval England. I am even trying to learn Old English to try to immerse myself even more. I would love to read this book as it is about one of the important players not usually written about.

  44. I have read and enjoyed all your books and look forward to my next trip back to England next year to find my ancient family ancesters the “Halsteads”. I would love a signed copy of The King’s Sister!

  45. I would love to win one of the books. I have read others of yours and really enjoyed them ! This is by far my favorite time frame in history.

  46. I love reading history and especially when a writer makes the past come alive on the pages. It’s a pleasure to read anything from this author and learn about people from history I would never have had the chance of doing so b4

  47. Hi,
    I just want to say that I have enjoyed reading your books and would be thrilled to win this one to add to my collection!

  48. Wow I just love your books, I read them over and over again, you ignited an interest in history I never knew I had, and can’t wait to read this one x

  49. I am new to your books Anne but having recently read The Queen of The North and very much looking forward to reading your new book which will be out just in time for my birthday. I hope I will be lucky to win this one to keep my going until August!

  50. I have just started reading your books 📚 and I am thoroughly enjoying them. Just started The Shadow Queen really enjoying it shame that work and housework gets in the way!!

  51. Love reading about this period and especially the descendants of John or Gaunt , they all have had such impact on British history . I have read read bits about Elizabeth Lancaster and she is past due a whole book dedicated to her story ! Real history is much better then any romance fiction from that period ! I’ve love a copy.

  52. Sounds like another brilliant book. I love this period of history and would be overjoyed to win a copy to add to my bookshelf next to my other Ann O’Brien books!!

  53. I love all your books, bring history to life… I can see the people, colours, life etc the way you describe them.
    I would be over joyed to win a copy of the Kings sister as its the only one I haven’t read. X

  54. Such an interesting time for the country . The start of the Lancastrian dynasty with all the political intrigue surrounding the family, this book would make an excellent read . It’s nice to find out about other members of this powerful family and not the men on the throne. Would love to read more about this strong women

  55. This looks like another fascinating read. Love this historical period. Looking forward to reading this book and having it on my bookshelf with your other books.

  56. Oh how I’d love to win this wonderful book! Raised in her father’s (John of Gaunt) royal household under Katherine Swynford (who needs no introduction), Elizabeth’s story features Kenilworth Castle (her first marriage). Put those three factors together and I’m already riveted! Elizabeth was independent and spirited; she sounds incredibly interesting. I can’t wait to read about her.

  57. I was never very good in History classes at Beverley High School (sorry) but have since developed a huge interest in these sort of books and amazingly just came across you on line today. I’d love to win a copy but if not I’ll buy some of your books anyway. Looking forward to reading, so happy to find you here, amazing. 🙏

    1. This giveaway is now closed, Joanne, but if you are a fan of Kindle and ebooks, many of my back list are on special offer until next month. here’s the link:

  58. Just finished watching the last of Shakespeare’s histories at a festival. I would love to compare your book to what Shakespeare thought of everything.

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