Here's a peek at the historical backdrop for the novel.
A NEW KING
On January 1, 1515, Louis XII died with no male heir, so his daughter, Claude, became heiress to the Duchy of Brittany and essentially, the Queen of France. This meant her husband; Francis of Angoulême became king of France, considered as Francis I. Francis is a major character in Iron Will Rust.
The novel begins essentially a week before Louis XII’s death. Francis I is young and ambitious. Educated by the best, he embodies modern views on art, architecture, and the Renaissance. He’s athletic and competitive, tall, boyish, idealistic, and anxious to do something dramatic to build his legacy. When the ambassador of Venice comes calling, he seizes the opportunity to form an alliance. This gives Francis the additional military power he needs to do what he dreamed of - conquer Italy all the way to Rome.
Francis sets his sights on the city of Milano, the center of the Sforza family’s power, now under the youthful guidance of Massimiliano Sforza. Massimiliano is also quite young at this stage of his life, like Francis. In essence, this is to be war between two nations, each under the crowns of young men less than twenty-two years old, but with deep history, heritage, and power.
His father was Ludovico Sforza, a well-known figure in history who was captured by Louis XII years prior in the year 1500. He eventually died in a French prison in town of Loches. Massimiliano was on his own for most of his life and most of his political guidance came from Cardinal Matthäus Schiner, who oddly enough, is a visceral leader of Swiss cantons with plenty of military battle experience. Both play important roles in Iron Will Rust.
Francis I with his new Venetians allies forms grand plans to invade the Duchy of Milano. To pull this off, he has to cross the Alps. His predecessor, Louis XII, earned a reputation for war mongering across Italy and The Duchy of Milano and Republic of Genoa, both of which were previously under French possession. Francis has a surprise however in the form of over seventy bronze cannons. Up until now, no general in history has crossed the Alps with heavy artillery.
CANNONS & PHALANX
In fact, cannons are a new thing in military history in 1515. Most warfare in continental Europe relied on the phalanx, where soldiers wield long eighteen-foot pikes, devastating to cavalry. This tactic dates back to the Ancient Greeks. The side of Francis I's Tomb gives us a glimpse of this and is also a scene in Iron Will Rust, the climactic battle just outside Milano, The Battle of Marignano.
HANNIBAL & NAPOLEON
Prior to Francis I, only Hannibal crossed the Alps with armies and for him that included elephants in 218 BC while battling the Romans in the Second Punic War. Later on in history, we see Napoleon do a similar feat at Saint-Bernard Pass, on November 9 1799, probably inspired by the achievements of Hannibal and Francis I.
IRON WILL RUST
The story in Iron Will Rust has our hero, Lazzaro Dominici and his family, embroiled in the grand invasion plans of Francis I, but not by choice. Murder strikes close to home and an assault on his daughter Mercede, sparks this adventure that takes you across Italy, France, The Mediterranean, and the Alps with the climax at the famous battle of Marignano itself. Characters both historical and fictional weave in and out of the tale, settings the stage for a continued series of showdowns that only rapiers can resolve.
History in Iron Will Rust serves as a backdrop for conflict for the characters. The real story lies in the challenges facing Lazzaro as he goes head to head against contract killer Alessandro Dumaine.