The King’s Command

16 year old Lidie Brunier has everything; looks, wealth, health and a charming suitor but there are dark clouds on the horizon. Lidie  and her family are committed Huguenots and Louis XIV has sworn to stamp out this ‘false religion’ and make France a wholly Catholic country. Gradually Lidie’s comfortable life starts to disintegrate as Huguenots are stripped of all rights and the King sends his brutal soldiers into their homes to force them to become Catholics. Others around her break under pressure but Lidie and her family refuse to convert. With spies everywhere and the ever present threat of violence, they struggle on. Then a shocking betrayal forces Lidie’s hand and her only option is to try and flee the country. A decision that brings unimaginable hardship, terror and tragedy and changes her life for ever.

‘One of the very best historical novels I have ever read’ – Sandra Robinson, Huguenot Ancestry Expert

This book is a delight to read and so informative. I had only a vague understanding of the Huguenot oppression and escape from France when I started. The terrible nature of the pressure to abjure and the dangers of flight to England are brought to life in this fabulous book.

The central character is Lidie Brunier who turns sixteen at the start of the story. The book can be divided into three parts. First, the removal of laws protecting Huguenots, leading to their increasing oppression. Then, the gradual realisation of the difficulties facing them if they remain in France trying to keep their faith. Finally, the dangerous flight to England where they hope to be free to practice Protestantism.

King Louis XIV is determined to make France a Catholic country, and as a consequence the lives of Huguenots come under increasing threat. Troubles unfold, following Lidie’s progression from teenager to married woman and mother. Relatively minor interruptions and irritants in Lidie’s family life become more severe. Many, including Lidie’s sister, convert to Catholicism rather than face unbearable hardship. Others decide to risk an arduous journey to another country facing the threat of discovery and possible death.

Eventually, Lidie has no option other than flight. The terror of her departure from France and crossing to England presents a vivid climax, and a situation that holds parallels with the present day: intolerance; persecution; and a perilous journey by sea to an unknown reception in a foreign land.

This book is a tremendous tribute to the author, Rosemary Hayes. The story is based around facts she researched into her own ancestry. Not only has she produced a wonderful work of fiction, but she has managed to pack in a ton of historical detail without slowing down the storytelling.

Rosemary Hayes has written over fifty books for children and young adults. She writes  in different genres, from edgy teenage fiction (The Mark), historical fiction (The Blue Eyed Aborigine and Forgotten Footprints), middle grade fantasy (Loose Connections, The Stonekeeper’s Child and Break Out)  to chapter books for early readers and texts for picture books. Many of her books have won or been shortlisted for awards and several have been translated into different languages.

Rosemary has travelled widely but now lives in South Cambridgeshire. She has a background in publishing, having worked for Cambridge University Press before setting up her own company Anglia Young Books which she ran for some years. She has been a reader for a well-known authors’ advisory service and runs creative writing workshops for both children and adults.

Rosemary has recently turned her hand to adult fiction and her historical novel ‘The King’s Command’ is about the terror and tragedy suffered by the French Huguenots during the reign of Louis XIV.

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3 thoughts on “The King’s Command

  1. As a fellow author who enjoys writing and reading historical novels, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It starts calmly and Lidie’s privileged life seems perfect, but soon there is a hint of dark clouds on the horizon. I knew nothing about the Huguenots before, but this story was the perfect way to learn. Well-researched by an accomplished writer.

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