Looking to fill in time during lockdown, Mike Fairley, the founder of Labels & Labeling and the Label Academy, has turned his hand to writing his first historical novel based on the life of Herleva de Falaise, something very different to the many technical books he has written for the Label Academy.
Herleva de Falaise was born in Normandy, France, in 1012 and became the mistress of Duke Robert I at the age of just 16 and mother of an illegitimate son and daughter by him. A son who was subsequently crowned Conqueror and King of England, in turn bringing almost 300 years of Norman rule and the French language to the country.
Married to a Count, and one of the Duke’s closest friends, after her beloved Duke was forbidden by the church to marry her, she had five more daughters and three further sons, one of whom became an outstanding military leader, a bishop and an Earl, the other a key army figurehead and Count. Both were key to the successful invasion of England in 1066. Together, three sons of Herleva were to become the wealthiest and most powerful men in England. Their uncle and cousins also played an influential role in, first, the Conquest and then the development of Norman England.
The story that unfolds is an interesting and important historical insight into the life and times of a relatively unknown tanner and fur trader's daughter from Falaise in France, whose impact on the long-term history and evolution of England and France has previously been very little known and largely undocumented.