Anna Belfrage in 'Exile'

Anna BelfrageI’m delighted to welcome Anna Belfrage back to the blog, this time to talk about her short story, The Unwanted Prince. Had Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a time-traveller. As this was impossible, she became a financial professional with three absorbing interests: history, romance and writing. Anna always writes about love and has authored the acclaimed time travelling series The Graham Saga, set in 17th century Scotland and Maryland, as well as the equally acclaimed medieval series The King’s Greatest Enemy set in 14th century England. 

More recently, she has published Her Castilian Heart, the third in her medieval The Castilian series set against the conquest of Wales. She has just released Times of Turmoil, the sequel to her 2021 historical fiction/time travel romance, The Whirlpools of Time.

Anna is one of the contributors to the recently released Historical Stories of Exile. She knows a thing or two about writing captivating historical fiction! Let yourself be entranced by a poignant story of heartache and exile. 

I have some historical periods I steer clear of.

Correction: I have some historical periods I used to stay clear of, because one of those periods is the 16th century—I am no fan of the Tudors—but there I was, considering just what to write about for the short story collection Historical Stories of Exile and who wormed his way into my head? A little 16th century prince. A real prince, by the way, not some invented character.

Banner for Historical Stories of Exile

Real prince?” My protagonist’s uncle—Johan III of Sweden—scoffs loudly. “How can you even call him that? His mother was the illiterate daughter of a sergeant!
True, that, and the hoity-toity Swedish nobility never let little Karin forget just how lowborn and insignificant she was.

Well, she was—is,” Johan says. “Not like my wife.” He beams at his lady—and I forgive Johan a lot for his constant affection for his Polish princess, Katarina Jagellonica. She was well past the first blush of youth when they met, but Johan knew a gem when he saw one, and these two very intelligent and well-educated peeps developed a strong and, by all accounts, good marriage. Even when they were locked up for years by Johan’s brother, Erik XIV. (Because Johan, naughty boy that he was, snuck off to marry Katarina without big brother’s permission. And Erik did NOT like that Johan ended up with a wife of such impeccable lineage as Katarina’s)

By now, I am thinking you’ve caught on to the fact that Erik and Johan weren’t exactly the closest of brothers. That’s what happens when Daddy (Gustav I of Sweden) instils ambition as one of the most important qualities a royal prince should have. If there’s just one kingdom, just one throne, it follows that all brothers will set their sight on the same prize, right?

Erik of Sweden courting portrait

Erik of Sweden – courting portrait

But Erik was firstborn, which is why he became king. Erik was handsome, a great dancer, witty, well-educated and quite convinced he was the best thing since sliced bread. He never understood how Elizabeth of England could turn him down, especially not given the absolutely gorgeous portrait of himself he sent her.

Erik was determined to marry for dynastic reasons—yet another of Daddy’s lessons. But the moment he met Karin Månsdotter, all sense flew out of him. Well, so said his brothers and his nobles. Erik, however, was entranced by this young girl, who was so soothing to be with.

Being anything but a fool, Erik at first installed Karin as his mistress. He was still planning on marrying an adequate princess with whom to beget an heir. But time passed and Karin presented him with a daughter and a son, so he began reconsidering. Plus, there was also the fact that Erik was . . . erm . . . somewhat unstable—and prone to see conspiracies behind every tapestry adorning his castles.

When he formally wed Karin, legitimised his children—three huzzahs for little Prince Gustav!—and had Karin crowned as his queen, every single one of his nobles concluded he’d gone bonkers. Not entirely untrue, unfortunately, because Erik was afflicted by bouts of madness. While under the grip of one such attack, our Erik stormed off to where he was holding some members of the Sture family captive and murdered them by his own hand. The Sture family was one of the most prominent in Sweden—which was why Erik had locked father and son up, suspicious they might want to retake a throne they had as much right to as he did.

This heinous act shocked Sweden. It also gave Johan (who had, in fact, been conspiring behind the tapestries) the perfect excuse to usurp the throne. Erik was bundled off to captivity, and with him went his wife and their children. At first.

1864 painting of Catherine by Erik Johan Löfgren

1864 painting of Karin by Erik Johan Löfgren

Years of being moved from one castle to the other—a living ex-king was a dangerous threat to the new king—ended for Karin and her children when, one day, they were forcibly removed from Erik’s presence and sent off to Finland. Karin had been given land there, and with the Baltic sea between them, Johan didn’t have to see his parvenue sister-in-law, or her children. Except of course that if Erik was a threat, well, then so was little Gustav, and Johan had his own son, Sigismund, to protect.

What happens to little Gustav, I leave for you to discover in Historical Stories of Exile. And as to Erik XIV, some years after having been separated from his Karin, he died. Just like that. Or not, as it turned out, because someone had laced his pea-soup with a very, very deadly dose of arsenic. And yes, I believe we can safely assume it was done on brother Johan’s orders!

And they say Romans were the arch conspirators!


Find out more about Erik XIV:

About Johan III and Katarina? (and Tsar Ivan. Quite the triangle, that . . .):

Connect with Anna
Book Bub:

Read Anna’s latest book (yet another story set in a time she never, ever intended to write about, namely the 18th century)

Times of Turmoil

1718, and Duncan Melville and his time traveller wife, Erin, are concentrating on building a peaceful existence for themselves and their twin daughters. Difficult to do, when they are beleaguered by enemies.

Erin Melville is not about to stand to the side and watch as a child is abused—which is how she makes deadly enemies of Hyland Nelson and his family.

Then there’s that ghost from their past, Armand Joseph Chardon, a person they were certain was dead. Apparently not. Monsieur Chardon wants revenge and his sons are tasked with making Duncan—and his wife—pay.

Things aren’t helped by the arrival of Duncan’s cousin, fleeing her abusive husband. Or the reappearance of Nicholas Farrell in their lives, as much of a warped bully now as he was when he almost beat Duncan to death years ago. Plus, their safety is constantly threatened as Erin is a woman of colour in a time and place where that could mean ostracism, enslavement or even death.

Will Duncan and Erin ever achieve their simple wish – to live and love free from fear of those who wish to destroy them?

Buy Times of Turmoil here:  (Goes to your local Amazon store and other retailers) and is also available on Kindle Unlimited.


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO, CARINA (novella), PERFIDITAS, SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA, NEXUS (novella), INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO,  and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series. Double Identity, a contemporary conspiracy, starts a new series of thrillers. JULIA PRIMA,  Roma Nova story set in the late 4th century, starts the Foundation stories. The sequel, EXSILIUM, will be out in January 2024.

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines and taste world the latest contemporary thriller Double Identity… Download ‘Welcome to Alison Morton’s Thriller Worlds’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email update. You’ll also be among the first to know about news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

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