The Founding (Morland Dynasty Series #1)by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
"The yardstick by which all historical novels are measured."*
Seeking power and prestige, grim, ambitious Yorkshireman Edward Morland arranges a marriage between his meek son Robert and spirited Eleanor, young ward of the influential Beaufort family. Eleanor is appalled at being forced to marry a mere "sheep farmer"; she is, after all, secretly in love/h4>
"The yardstick by which all historical novels are measured."*
Seeking power and prestige, grim, ambitious Yorkshireman Edward Morland arranges a marriage between his meek son Robert and spirited Eleanor, young ward of the influential Beaufort family. Eleanor is appalled at being forced to marry a mere "sheep farmer"; she is, after all, secretly in love with Richard, Duke of York.
Yet from this apparently ill-matched union, Robert and Eleanor form a surprising connection that soon will be tested by a bloody civil war that divides families, sets neighbor against neighbor, and brings tragedy close to home.
What Readers Are Saying:*
"As a big fan of historical fiction, I found this to be one of the best in the genre."
"Brilliant, a definite page turner. They combine real historical events with fascinating fictional characters."
"The founding is a masterpiece of research into life in Middle-Age England. It is also a great start to a wonderful Dynasty-every time I buy a new book in this series, I read the whole lot again from the start."
"Well researched and well written, this book simply does not allow you to stop until you reach the last page-and then rush to find the next in the series."
"The detail was amazing. You really feel as if you are a part of the time period." - Books Like Breathing
"A great historical read with love, death disease and everything that can befall a family of this time period." - Celtic Lady's Reviews
"An entertaining and engrossing read that contains two intriguing elements...family drama and history. " - Passages to the Past
"A rather delightful read as well as an intriguing historical look into life during the middle years of the 1400s." - Rundpinne
"For readers who enjoy an ongoing family saga, you'll want to pick up this book. It's a very satisfying read and will be a great addition to your Historical shelf. " - Between the Pages
"Rich in historical details, populated by compelling and very real characters and a true page-turner... one of the true cornerstones of historical fiction of the late 20th century." - Thoughts From Lady Tess
"The Founding is a masterpiece of research into life in Medieval England." - The Historical Novel Review Blog
"I can see myself becoming very enthralled with this series. " - Readin' and Dreamin'
"This is truly an epic story, that I'm sure will entertain as I read through the years." - Jenny Loves to Read
Read an Excerpt
We leave before dawn tomorrow,' said Edward Morland through a mouthful of mutton. He was a tall, gaunt man of uncompromising aspect who had acquired manners too late in life for them to sit entirely easy on him. His movements as he helped himself to supper at the high table had a barely controlled violence about them and, but for his evidently expensive clothes, a casual observer might have been forgiven for thinking he had strayed by accident to the high table from the low.
His son Robert, the only other occupant of the high table since his wife and elder son had died, was quite different. Tall, like his father, and thin, and still with the gawkiness of youth upon him, he yet had an air of refinement about him: a gentler cast to his features, a quietness to his movements, an appearance of ease with the social aspects of eating. He was his mother's son, though he could hardly remember her; Edward Morland more coarsely said that he should sit to the distaff side of the fire-he resented, as far as it was possible to resent the ways of the Almighty, that it was the elder son that had died of the belly-gripes, and not the younger.
And now Robert looked up with that typically vague gaze and said to his father, 'Why such an early start? Where are we going?' 'We take the road to Leicester, my son. We are going south-and you know what the roads are like at this time of year. If we get stuck behind a wool train we'll be a fortnight on the road.'
'South?' Robert said in perplexity. 'South? What for? Not with the clip-?'
Morland smiled sardonically. 'No, not with the clip, boy.
The clip will take care of itself. No, we are going south to get you a wife.'
Robert's mouth opened at that, but he could find no word to say.
'Well may you look surprised, boy,' Morland went on unkindly. 'For all the interest you've shewn in women I might as well have found you a husband as a wife. Why God in his wisdom took my son and left me a daughter I'll never know.' Robert stiffened and clenched his teeth at the familiar, cruel words, but bore them in silence as he must. He wanted to ask a lot of questions, but he was afraid of his father, and could only wait and hope that they would be answered without his prompting. 'You don't shew much interest, boy,' Morland said irritably. He flung a scrap of fat to his dog, but the dog was too slow and the scrap disappeared under a welter of flying, growling bodies. 'Don't you want to know who it is I've managed to get for you?'
'Oh yes, of course, Father-'
'Yes, of course, Father,' Morland imitated. 'You've got a bleat like a eunuch. I hope you can manage to do your duty by this girl at any rate. Perhaps you'd better go and practise on the yows.' He laughed heartily at his own joke, and Robert forced a sickly grin to his face, knowing that if he didn't appear to laugh he would be cursed and perhaps cuffed for being sullen-and being cuffed by his father was rather like being kicked by a horse. 'Well, I'll tell you, since you press me so hard,' Morland went on when he had wiped the tears of laughter from his eyes. 'She's the ward of Lord Edmund Beaufort-a girl called Eleanor Courteney. She's an orphan-one brother-estate encumbered.
She hasn't a groat by way of dowry, but she brings Lord Edmund's patronage, and she's cousin to the Earl of Devon. Do you understand?'
'Yes, Father,' Robert said automatically, though he didn't, quite.
'Think, boy, think,' Morland prompted him. 'The girl's got family and patronage. I've got money. It's a fair exchange, isn't it? Lord Edmund's trying to raise money for the wars, and he wants to keep on the good side of me. And I-well, I've got plans.'
Robert understood. It was the way of the world he lived in. Edward Morland had made a lot of money during the wars under King Harry the Fifth, as had so many people who followed the young King into battle. He had bought up land and stocked the land with sheep, and he was now one of the biggest sheep farmers in Yorkshire, and one of the richest. And on the throne was a boy King, while the kingdom was ruled by his uncles, my lord of Bedford, and the good Duke Humphrey.
And amongst the powerful men who helped to rule was the great Beaufort family, also kin to the King. To them had fallen the task of carrying on the war they had inherited from the former King; not a profitable war any more, but a very expensive one.
These great men needed money: Morland had money. It was the Earl of Somerset himself who suggested to his brother Edmund that his young ward would make a suitable wife for Morland's son. The marriage would ally Morland to one of the great families of the land, and would give him the right to the protection and patronage of the Beaufort family-the 'good-lordship' as it was called. On the other side, it would hitch Morland and his gold firmly to the Beaufort wagon, give them the right to his money and service whenever they needed it. That's how bargains were made: that was what marriage was for, as both Robert and the unknown Eleanor Courteney had been aware since early childhood.
'Aye, I've got plans,' Morland went on. He banged his wooden cup on the table and at the signal one of the kitchen boys who did duty as page ran to fill it again with ale. 'I'm a rich man. I've got land, sheep and gold. And I've one son, just one son. What do you think I want for that son, eh boy? Do you think I want to see him a rough country farmer like me? Do you think that's what your mother-God rest her soul-' he crossed himself piously and Robert followed suit automatically-' what your mother wanted? No, lad, no Robert. It's too late for me-but before I die, I'll see you a gentleman.'
'A gentleman?' Robert said.
His father cuffed the side of his head, but gently. 'Stop repeating everything I say. Yes, a gentleman. Why do you think I've chosen this girl for you, instead of a rich farmer's daughter to bring me more land? Because this girl will bring you family.' He mused for a moment, and then said with unwonted gentleness, 'Aye, and maybe it was for the best it was you who lived. You can read and write and play music. Edward couldn't. Mayhap you'll make a better gentleman than he would. Your sons will be gentlemen born. Too late for me-you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Your mother did right to teach you to read.'
'Lots of gentlemen can't read, Father. And lots of yeoman can.'
'Well, well,' Morland said impatiently. He didn't like to be comforted by his own son. 'Anyway, this girl can read, so I'm told. So you'll have a lot to talk about. But never forget where your wealth came from.' Robert knew what was coming next. His father would quote the little rhyming tag dear to the heart of all sheepmen. '"I thanke God, and ever shall; it is the sheep has payed for all".'
'Yes, Father,' Robert said dutifully.
Meet the Author
Cynthia Harrod-Eagles was born in Shepherd's Bush in London. The birth of the Morland Dynasty series enabled her to become a full-time writer in 1979. Cynthia Harrod-Eagles still lives in London, with her husband and three children.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I read this first book of the Morland Series after I read book two "The Dark Rose". Sourcebooks has done a wonderful job with the re-issue of this series. The covers are much improved over the earlier editions that would have previously fallen into my "bodice ripper" if I had been asked to judge the books at that time. This book covers the founding of the Morland Dynasty. The year 1434 during the War of The Rose. Eleanor Courtney, a young and beautiful ward of Lord Edmund Beaufort and his wife - another Eleanor, is betrothed to Robert Morland of York - heir to a stapler fortune (wool merchant) and a family of good standing. high standing. Eleanor is shocked that she, whose blood is royal stick, would be sent off to marry a man who she considered to be a mere 'farmer'. Her sights had been set higher - towards Prince Richard - an heir the England's throne. The story weaves it's way through Eleanor's eventual love for Robert, the births and deaths of children, grand children and great grand children. The lives of the family are intertwined with the rise and fall of princes and kings during the turbulent years of the War of The Roses. Loyalties are tested severely, lives and loves are lost and found again. I found this book to be a excellent read. Fast moving, well developed characters, and fascinating history all tinged with love stories that are well presented and not at all "bodice ripperish' ! I am now hooked on this re-issued series and can't wait to read volume three " The Princeling". If you go in search of these fine books - be aware that the older versions may have different titles - since they were originally published in Britain. Stick with the Sourcebooks editions and you can't wrong. Another word of caution - they are highly addictive and you will not want to read just one! Enjoy
The Founding, set in Yorkshire in the early 1400s, is the start of an engrossing historical saga. The Founding is the first in the Morland Dynasty series, and in it we meet Edward Morland, a wealthy sheep farmer, who pairs his only son with a well connected but orphaned Eleanor Courtney. Though Edward Morland is unpolished, he is ambitious and has a long view that holds him and his family in good stead. Though Eleanor never fully warms to her gruff and bullying father-in-law, he teaches her well and they, along with the gentle and industrious Robert, the three of them lay the foundation for one of the largest fortunes in England. Vast wealth is only one part of the Morland legacy. Arguably, the Morland's greatest asset is Robert Morland's beautiful and spirited wife, Eleanor Courtney. Though Eleanor had initially resented being forced to marry into trade, she proved to be an astute businesswoman in her own right. Robert's steadiness and industry and Eleanor's ambition and connections gave the Morland family an edge which they used to go forward. The Founding takes us from the very start of the Morland's rise to their early ties to the House of York and to their place in King Richard III's court. One of the longest and most successful family sagas, Morland Dynasty saga draws you in and you soon find yourself caring what happens to Robert, Eleanor, Job, and the other members of their extended family. Cynthia Harrod-Eagles weaves historical figures and events into the dramas, failures, and successes of the Morlands. Reading the first in the series, gave me much the same feeling that I had when I first discovered R.F. Delderfield's trilogy of the Swann family, but while Delderfield's series captured the Industrial Age in the UK, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles's is 34 volumes and spans five hundred years. The Founding is a fascinating read and I'm eager to dive into the next book in the series. ISBN-10: 1402238150 - Paperback Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark; Reissue edition (April 1, 2010), 560 pages. Review copy provided by the publisher.
My Synopsis: The Founding (Moreland Dynasty series - Book 1) by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles 15th century women were often betrothed from childhood or to men they hardly knew. Eleanor Courteney was no different when she was sent to marry a sheep-farmer from the North. Marriages were not based on love but on family alliances and what the new wife would be able to bring to the marriage. Eleanor marry's Robert Moreland, a commoner when her heart truly lies with Richard, the Duke of York. Eleanor and Robert begin to build a dynasty as they fall into a kind of companionable partnership. Eleanor holds on to her love for the duke and even as her family expands she holds true to her allegiance. With the War of Roses as a backdrop, Moreland family faces many struggles of their own involving betrayal, disease, honor and even death. Will Eleanor be able to lead her family through this chaotic time period? Will her love for the Duke of York, blind her to devotion and love of her husband? Who will be heir to the Moreland dynasty? Who will be chosen the rightful King of England? My Thoughts: The Moreland Dynasty series covers expansive periods of history in over 30 volumes. It is one of the largest series I have personally ever heard of and I was really interested to see what made it so popular. The first book in the series, The Founding is over 500 pages and some might consider it a difficult read. However, I think this gave the author the ability to really define the characters of the book. It was very sweeping type of saga, similar to the expanse of a book like The Thornbirds. We are able to see the history as well as the family develop throughout several generations. Eleanor was a very strong woman who didn't always make the right decisions but yet she stood by those decisions and made the best of what happened. She may have seemed heartless at times, but based on the time period she was probably just very tied to the old ways and ran her family accordingly. Historical Fiction is one of my favorite genre's and I felt that this book really epitomized my feelings about the genre. It is more than just a book set in a particular time period. These characters are a part of that time period. They are moving through it as history moves around them and that in my opinion is what makes Historical Fiction great. The author could just basically give bits and pieces of the history of the 15th century and then go on to tell the story and just leave the reader to take what they can from what they know of that time period, but in The Founding, Cynthia Harrod-Eagles makes the time period almost a character in the story. It was very prominent and very well researched. I loved the book and can't wait to see how the Moreland's fair during the Tudor period.
It's not often I get to start a series with the first book. So I was thrilled to receive The Founding by Cynthia Harrod Eagles to review. This book begins the epic Morland Dynasty Series. For readers who enjoy an ongoing family saga, you'll want to pick up this book. It's a very satisfying read and will be a great addition to your Historical shelf. Eleanor Courteney is a character I thoroughly admired for her courage and sensible approach to whatever life put before her. But, to be truthful, I also wanted to strangle her at times. And at one particular point in the book, I wanted to slap her silly. She's one of those characters that, no matter how good or bad she is, you have to keep reading to see what outrageous decision she'll make next. Of course, in a book of 539 pages, there are loads of other characters to keep you turning pages. The author blends these characters into a fifteenth century English tapestry and weaves in the historical threads by placing them in royal households, influential families, and important battles of the time. Be prepared to keep up with a lot of characters and to step forward in time quite quickly. While I don't think these elements detract from the book, they may be confusing to some readers. Description and dialog are well done and add another enjoyable dimension. Book Disclosure on my blog at http://betweenthelinesandmore.blogspot.com/