1502 — Reuben Kane and Hildred Taferal born in Devon, Reuben in April, Hildred in August. Reuben is the child of poor fisher-folk in the coastal village of Salcombe, Hildred a scion of gentry living in a manor house outside Kingsbridge. Hildred is a younger son; Reuben has two brothers and two sisters.
1511-1516 — Reuben grows up on fishing boats and has acquaintance with the smugglers and pirates who abound along England’s southern coasts. His father, injured at sea and unable to fish thereafter, works in the Taferal stables. Reuben assists him. He and Hildred get into scrapes together, both being venturesome and bold. Hildred, as a matter of course learning horsemanship and the sword, shares this knowledge with Reuben. They practice fencing together with sticks. Reuben for his part aids Hildred to enjoy boyish adventures on boats, and to become associated with a gang of smugglers.
The 1520s — Hildred becomes a soldier and travels on the continent, taking Reuben with him as his second-in-command. He becomes a condottiere of note in the Italian Wars. Reuben, however, becomes the better swordsman. He studies with a master of the Dardi school, the great Achille Marozzo.
At one time Hildred and Reuben attempt a mission for Cardinal Wolsey. Its purpose is to establish an Anglo-French alliance to break the Emperor Charles’ domination of Italy so that the Pope can safely annul Henry VIII’s first marriage, to Catherine of Aragon. Despite this and other gambits, Wolsey fails and falls from power.
Hildred and Reuben encounter Agnes de Chastillon, the “Sword Woman”, and her comrade Etienne Villiers. The encounter is friendly. At the sack of Rome Reuben meets the hot-headed Benvenuto Cellini, hears him boasting of having shot the Duc de Bourbon, and challenges him. He beats Cellini but spares his life upon discovering what an artist he is.
At home, Hildred’s brother Martin marries Edwina Denham.
1528-30 — Hildred and Reuben return to Devon, as close as brothers or closer than most. They woo and win their respective wives, marry at the same time, and proceed to father children. Reuben soon has a son and a daughter, Nathaniel and Violet. They are born in 1530 and 1532, respectively. Nathaniel will be Solomon Kane’s father.
1531-34 — Francisco Pizarro conquers the Inca Empire.
1535 — Reuben Kane’s wife Susannah dies bearing their third child. Reuben is shattered.
1536 — Hildred Taferal’s nephew John is born.
The 1540s — Hildred and Reuben serve in Henry VIII’s wars against Scotland. They fight at Solway Moss (a disaster for Scotland) and in 1544 march with the Earl of Hertford, to enforce a betrothal between the infant Mary Queen of Scots and King Henry’s son Edward (later Edward VI).
They are also involved in the Italian War of 1542-46, in which Henry VIII takes part. An army of 40,000 men goes to Calais, but with little result. Politically, that is. Reuben Kane, eight years a widower now, does find his second wife, a Picardy girl of Protestant leanings named Lisette of Chauny. Given her religious beliefs, she’s safer in England. She will become mother to three of Solomon Kane’s aunts and two of his uncles.
1547 — Henry VIII dies early in the year. Hertford — now Duke of Somerset, with the title of “Protector” – continues England’s efforts in Scotland.
1548 — Reuben and Hildred return to Scotland as soldiers, under the command of Lord Grey of Wilton. The jocularly named “Rough Wooing” is a merciless, beastly business. The English relentlessly devastate southern Scotland, and the Scots play football with English prisoners’ heads.
Hildred gains the rank of baron; he’s now Hildred, Lord Taferal. He and Reuben Kane are both glad to return to their homes and wives. Hildred has children, but they die young and Hildred eventually passes away without issue. Reuben, on the other hand, has fathered (by his first wife) Nathaniel, Violet and Hester. Lisette, his second wife, bears Travers, Alcina, Joan (after Joan of Arc), and the twins Peter and Edith.
1549 — Franciscan monk Diego de Landa arrives in Yucatan to bring the Catholic faith to the Mayans. His first appointment is to the mission of San Antonio in Izamal. He’s a zealous man, to the point of fanaticism, which the Maya will have cause to lament.
1553 — Future English pirate and renegade corsair Jack Ward born in Faversham, Kent.
1554 — Solomon Kane is born at Salcombe, the son of Reuben Kane’s son Nathaniel and Nathaniel’s wife Dymphna, during the reign of Mary Tudor, or “Bloody Mary”.
1557 — The Portuguese gain a foothold in Macao. King of Spain bankrupt.
1558 — The Emperor Charles V dies. “Bloody Mary” also dies. Solomon Kane is now four years old. Mary’s sister Elizabeth ascends the throne of England. The magician John Dee, once well regarded at Mary’s court but then imprisoned for a time, has helped Elizabeth escape beheading by his arts, and will be much in the new monarch’s favor.
1559 — In June, at the betrothal of his daughter Elizabeth to Philip II of Spain, King Henri of France takes part in the jousting, wearing the black-and-white colors of his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. Jousting against Gabriel, Comte de Montgomery, he receives fatal injuries and on the 10th of July he dies. From that day his queen, Catherine de Medici, takes a broken lance as her emblem, and the motto, “Lacrymae hinc, hinc dolor.” (“From this come my tears and my pain.”) The king’s death was prophesied by Nostradamus, then living and in great favor with Catherine.
1560 — The Roman Church is overthrown and Protestantism is established as the national religion in Scotland.
Solomon Kane is taught the sword from an early age by his grandfather Reuben.
1562 — Diego de Landa conducts the infamous auto-da-fe of Mani, at which some forty Mayan codices and 20,000 cult images are burned. He is recalled to Spain on charges of excessive violence and overstepping his authority.
Read the rest of this entry »