When producing a documentary in 1994 I was privileged to film the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium. It was one of the most moving experiences imaginable.While there, I met the remarkable Bill Stone, Harry Patch and Henry Allingham - the last British survivors of the war. It was the beginning of a personal journey that eventually led me to write Shadow War. To mark the release of the book, Lucy & I have just taken our twin boys to Ypres.
I recently took part in the Battle of Hastings re-enactment weekend in the Literary marquee which was organised by English Heritage. I made 4 appearances where I talked about the great events surrounding 1066 and read some passages from my first novel ‘Conquest’. There was a Q&A which invariably led to a good deal of debate and banter! It was a great couple of days and Lucy and the boys came too. We saw the re-enactment of the Battle – what a thrill for Charlie & Jack! I wondered if history would be re-written, but no, the Normans won again! You can watch a promotional video for the day here.
We went on a family holiday to Tunisia this year and saw some wonderful sights: El Jem Coliseum where scenes from 'Gladiator' were shot; Carthage (Hannibal, of course!); as well as 2 days in the Sahara Desert including visiting one of the sets where part of Star Wars was filmed!
A defining place in Lionheart, it is the place where it all comes to an end. It was very moving to actually get to see the old place again and imagine what it was like all those years ago. The Abbey’s altar becomes the symbolic end of the series and the resting place of the ancient touchstone that keeps a mystical thread running throughout all four books. It really is a must-see destination for anyone interested in the era of Lionheart.
17th September 2013
Getting excited about my latest book - Great War. I'm up to July 1914. The tragedy is about to begin.
29th August 2013
I'm now moving on to the First World War. I'm hoping to do a quintet, one for each year of the war. The first one will be out in June next year. The working title is Great War, 1914, Farewell to Innocence.
"Towards the end of the reign of Henry II, the Plantagenet Empire stretched across a huge swathe of North West Europe. The Scots had declared their fealty to Westminster and Ireland and Wales both acknowledged the English King as their liege lord. Across the Channel, all French domains, save those of the King of the Franks in Paris and the Count of Toulouse, were part of a vast realm that stretched from the north of Scotland to the Pyrenees.
Like his father before him and his Norman predecessors before that, Henry was all-powerful, especially when aligned with his remarkable wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Fortunately, their lineage included sufficient sprinklings of the blood of their diverse subjects, including the English, to keep them at bay. However, Henry and Eleanor produced ten offspring who were so formidable they were soon called the Devil’s Brood and included two future queens and two kings. The most remarkable of all, was the sixth child, Richard, Duke of Aquitaine, who would be called ‘Lionheart’ before the age of 20 and 15 years before he would became King of England.
His physical presence, his domineering personality and his remarkable military prowess, not only as a general of armies but also in hand-to-hand combat, made him a legend in his own lifetime. His struggles against the Sultan Saladin during the Third Crusade, himself one of the most revered men in Muslim history, soon became one of the most compelling stories of the Middle Ages.
But there was more to Richard’s lineage than he realised. When he became King of England on July 6th 1189, there were two men with him who had been charged with protecting the young King and guiding his future. One of them was a knight of the realm, chosen for his martial skills and personal integrity, the other was a monk, a wise man of letters, who carried vital clues about Richard’s past, evidence that would shape his future and that of England. This is their story."
12th July 2013
13th May 2013
19th July 2012
It is currently being broadcast on various Discovery channels all over the world, including continental Europe, South America and the Far East.
I hope you find it to be a thoughtful and balanced summary of the kind of security dilemmas sport has to deal with in our increasingly challenging world. I am extremely grateful to the many people who made it possible and so readily offered their talents, insights and wisdom.
19th June 2012
5th June 2012
On Tuesday of this week I was asked to take part in a television panel discussion for ESPN Classic discussing the film ‘Olympia’. Together with Guy Walters (Author & Historian) and Danny Leigh (Author & Film Critic), we talked about the film itself and the effect it had on cinema.
For those who may have forgotten, ‘Olympia’ was a documentary film released to great acclaim in 1938 by German actress and director Leni Riefenstahl. It was the official film of the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. At the time it was considered groundbreaking, however it later became the subject of great controversy because of its Nazi imagery and its context within Hitler’s and Goebels’ fascist propaganda machine.
The film was released in two parts: Olympia 1. Fest der Völker (Festival of the People) and Olympia 2. Fest der Schönheit (Festival of Beauty).
The programme will be aired on ESPN Classic on Sunday 22nd July at 22.00 and will consist of our 15-20 minute panel discussion followed by the entire ‘Olympia’ film. Edited versions will also be transmitted on 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th July at 22.30. So keep an eye out (or two!) for it.
5th June 2012
But here are a few moans at the illustrious leadership of sport to dampen (metaphorically of course!) this summer’s sporting fest:
FIFA, UEFA, the FA:
Please apply the rules of the game.
1. Shirt pulling is a foul; done by a defender in the box, it’s a penalty.
2. Players feigning injury is bringing the game into disrepute and making it a laughing stock.
Your job is to govern the game – get on with it.
The Premier League:
Your ridiculous £3 billion windfall from television makes you the most influential force in the game – use some of your muscle to help the three governing bodies above do their job. Oh, and by the way, the PFA could help as well. As somebody said to me the other day – ‘who benefits most from the Premier League TV rights deal? – the shareholders of Ferrari’!
Put a stop to the female grunt in tennis. It’s now beyond a joke; two ‘grunters’ playing one another is like listening to the female orgasm in an echo chamber!
28th June 2012
I have worked in the media for 35 years and whilst working at IMG Media I pioneered TWI’s Olympic relationship, especially the establishment of OTAB, the International Olympic Committee’s film and television archive and directed the innovative Camera of Record at each Olympic Games from Lillehammer in 1994 to Athens in 2004. In partnership with the IOC, I created and produced The Olympic Series, over a hundred and fifty hours of historical programming, including Olympic Century, the IOC’s official centennial history and many other promotional films like the History of the Torch.
I also ran major programmes of archive acquisition, restoration and copyright retrieval on behalf of the IOC. I have an in-depth knowledge in film restoration, contract negotiation and the complexities of copyright law in many countries and brokered several sensitive deals, including the acquisition of Olympia, Leni Reifenstahl’s controversial film of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games and ran a very fractious court battle in Sydney on behalf of the IOC to win back the rights to the film of the 1956 Melbourne Games.
I have recently completed the production of a 1 hour tv special for Discovery called ‘Sport Under Threat’ which examines the increasing terrorist and political threats to sports events – including of course The Olympic Games.
25th June 2012
As a family, we had the opportunity to see the Olympic Torch pass through Illminster in Somerset recently; something that we will remember forever.
The London Olympic Games will be a very special occasion for many reasons, but what I am most intrigued about is the opening ceremony. With Danny Boyle as the artistic director, the theme is said to be ‘Isles of Wonder’ with the Olympic Stadium transformed into the British countryside containing real animals! There’s the risk that this might be somewhat clichéd; I hope there’s more to it than that! And of course there’s the finale when the last torchbearer lights the cauldron indicating that the Games have begun; can't wait!
Hopefully, Team GB will win lots of medals and make Britain proud.
18th June 2012
I am excited to take part in this wonderful two day event that celebrates everything historical. I am particularly looking forward to the battle re-enactments taking place in the main hall and the WW1 trench experience.
You can book tickets to attend this event and it is great fun for all the family!
For more information on this festival please Click Here
18th June 2012
24th May 2012
I launched Trans World Sport in 1987 and was the Executive Producer of it for 10 years. It is the world’s leading international sports news and features programme and the world’s most widely watched sports show being broadcast in over 120 countries globally. Originally broadcast on C4 in the UK, it is now broadcast on Sky. It consists of 52 episodes each year and has been in continuous weekly production ever since 1987 and is still voiced by Bruce Hammel and Sue Carpenter. I launched it whilst working at the Mark McCormack owned TWI (part of IMG).
The show was a ground-breaking programme in international sports television. It captures all the world’s sports news combined with fascinating features about a wide range of sports from the world’s most popular to the worlds most obscure. It specialises in finding rare and ancient sports and also high-profile interviews. Stewart has interviewed almost every major international sports legend including Sir Donald Bradman, Joe Montana, Jean-Claude Killy, Pele, Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods, George Best and countless others.
Congratulations to everyone who has worked on the show over the last 25 years. It’s a remarkable achievement that it is still going strong – a credit to you all!
15th May 2012
3rd May 2012
I talk about turning to my own time at school to find a heroic adventure from the 11th Century Norman Conquest.
Hope you enjoy!
30th April 2012
Here is the review of Conquest and Crusade by Robin Carter.
29th April 2012
24th April 2012
A few days ago I did an interview with Manx radio, based in the Isle of Man about the release of my new book Crusade. The interview will go out on Sunday 29th April between 3.00 and 4.00pm so make sure you tune in.
23rd April 2012
23rd April 2012
St George's Day is celebrated by the several nations, kingdoms, countries and cities of which Saint George is the patron saint. St George’s Day is celebrated on the 23rd April as this is accepted as the date of his death. The date of St George's day changes when it is too close to Easter. According to the Church of England's calendar, when St George's Day falls between Palm Sunday and the Second Sunday of Easter inclusive, it is moved to the Monday after the Second Sunday of Easter. In 2011, for example, 23 April was Holy Saturday so St George's Day was moved to Monday 2 May. The Catholic Church in England and Wales has a similar practice.
St George's Day was a major feast and national holiday in England on a par with Christmas from the early 15th century.
The Cross of St George was flown in 1497 by John Cabot on his voyage to discover Newfoundland and later by Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh. In 1620 it was the flag that was flown by the Mayflower when the Pilgrim Fathers arrived in Plymouth Massachusetts.
The tradition of celebrating St George's day had waned by the end of the 18th century after the union of England and Scotland. Nevertheless this timeless link with St George continues today, for example Salisbury holds an annual St George’s Day pageant, the origins of which are believed to go back to the thirteenth century. In recent years the popularity of St George's Day appears to be increasing gradually. BBC Radio 3 had a full programme of St George's Day events in 2006, and Andrew Rosindell, Conservative MP for Romford, has been putting the argument forward in the House of Commons to make St George's Day a public holiday. In early 2009 Mayor of London Boris Johnson spearheaded a campaign to encourage the celebration of St George's Day. Today St George's day may be celebrated with anything English from morris dancing to a Punch and Judy show. Additional celebrations may involve the commemoration of the 23 April as Shakespeare's birthday/death.
A traditional custom on St George's day is to wear a red rose in one's lapel, though this is no longer widely practised. Another custom is to fly or adorn the St George's Cross flag in some way: pubs in particular can be seen on 23 April festooned with garlands of St George's crosses. It is customary for the hymn "Jerusalem" to be sung in cathedrals, churches and chapels on St George's Day, or on the Sunday closest to it. Traditional English foods and drink may be consumed.
One common misconception about St George is that he is English. In fact he was born in Turkey in the year 270 A.D!
At the age of seventeen he joined the Roman army and by his late 20’s George was promoted to the rank of Tribunus and stationed as an imperial guard of the Emperor at Nicomedia.
When the pagan Emperor Diocletian started persecuting Christians, St. George courageously spoke to the Emperor about his objections. It is thought that the Emperor Diocletian tried to make St. George deny his faith in Christ, by torturing him as well as bribing him. St George showed incredible courage and faith and was finally beheaded near Lydda in Palestine on 23 April, 303.
In 1222, the Council of Oxford declared 23 April to be St George’s Day and so he replaced St Edmund the Martyr as England’s patron saint in the 14th century. In 1415, 23 April was made a national feast day.
The English flag is St George’s emblem which is thought to have been adopted by Richard the Lionheart and brought to England in the 12th century.
Saint George was probably first made known in England by Arculpus and Adamnan some time during the early Eighth century when the "Acts of St. George," which recounted George's visits to Caerleon and Glastonbury while on Roman service in England, were translated into Anglo-Saxon. Many churches were dedicated to Saint George, such as one in Doncaster during 1061. He was adopted as the Patron Saint of soldiers after he was said to have appeared to the crusading armies during the Battle of Antioch in 1098. Many such similar stories were transmitted to the West by Crusaders who heard them from Byzantine troops. The tales were circulated even further by the troubadours. When Richard I (also known as "The Lionheart") was campaigning in Palestine during 1191 and 1192, he put his army under the direct protection of Saint George.
Much of this period is covered in both my novels Conquest and Crusade so please read them to find out more!
7th April 2012
Saint Sernin is the biggest Romanesque church in the world still standing….and without a doubt the most beautiful. It features in my latest book ‘Crusade’ - an incident in the crypt – so look out for it!
6th April 2012
Cowbridge Book Festival is based in the ancient and picturesque market town of Cowbridge, South Wales.
With more than forty authors participating there will be many events to attend covering many different books including historical, autobiographical, romance and poetry.
For more information visit cowbridgebookfestival.co.uk/
27th March 2012
With the release date looming, here is some information about the Crusades.
Thousands of crusaders thought that victory in the Holy Land would bring them salvation in the eyes of God and this drove them on against overwhelming odds and appalling conditions in what they thought was a noble cause until Jerusalem was finally captured.
Sadly, many terrible acts of cruelty were also committed in the name of the cross, leading to centuries of bitterness between Christian and Muslim, an enmity that is still all too apparent today.
20th March 2012
19th March 2012
Remember Crusade is out 26th April and I will be busy promoting the book around this time so keep a look out for more information.
15th February 2012