The Tenth Penny (Work in progress)
By R.E. Black

‘Cursed be the Tenth Penny and whoever invented it.

It is the cause of all this.’


Julián Romero de Ibarrola

Spanish Military Commander


The Tenth Penny (working title) is the sequel to my previous unpublished novel Council of Troubles. Continuing from where Council of Troubles ends in 1568, The Tenth Penny focuses on the tyrannical rule of King Philip II of Spain’s Governor in the Habsburg Netherlands, Fernando Álvarez de Toledo y Pimentel, third Duke of Alba. 

Spain is in crisis following the premature deaths of Philip II’s only male heir, the troubled Crown Prince Don Carlos and Philip’s beloved third wife, Elizabeth of Valois.  After a year of mourning, King Philip controversially announces that he is to marry his young niece, Anna of Austria, the daughter of his sister Maria of Spain and Maximillian II, Holy Roman Emperor.

King Philip’s young illegitimate half-brother, the commoner Juan of Austria, has returned to Madrid to atone for his grief stricken absence following the deaths of his two dearest friends at the Spanish court.  Juan is prepared to be punished by King Philip but is instead given his first major military assignment in the admiralty and is permitted to use the honourific prefix of Don before his name but he is still denied a royal title.

In France, William, Prince of Orange, and his fearless brother, Louis of Nassau, who the Duke of Alba has declared as outlaws in the Netherlands, are supporting the army of the Huguenot Queen Regent of Navarre, Jeanne d’ Albret, mother of the young Henry, Prince of Navarre against King Charles IX and his Regent mother, Catherine de' Medici. 

William of Orange, despite Louis’ pleas, decides to leave France to return to his ancestral home in Nassau, Dillenburg to plan his strategy to finally drive the Duke of Alba and the Spanish forces from the Netherlands.

The Tenth Penny will cover a period of approximately fifteen years, featuring many significant moments in Sixteenth-century Europe including:


  • The Duke of Alba implements the Tenth Penny Tax in the Netherlands to finance Spain’s many wars causing the people to revolt.

  • Don Juan’s rise to becoming a national hero in Spain following his command of the fleet of the Holy League in the Battle of Lepanto, resulting in him becoming the Governor-General of the Netherlands.

  • The St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in Paris during the wedding celebrations between the King of France’s sister, the Catholic Margaret of Valois and the Huguenot King Henry of Navarre. The brutal murder of the military leader of the Huguenots, Gaspard de Coligny leads to thousands of deaths of Huguenots across France and ended the fragile two-year Peace of Saint-Germain-en-Laye treaty.

  • William, Prince of Orange’s return to the Netherlands, his conversion to Calvinism and his quest to lead his adopted country to independence from Spanish rule.

  • The Duke of Alba’s inglorious return to Spain and eventual imprisonment due to a  family scandal which plagues him for the rest of his life.

  • The assassination of William of Orange.

Additional Information:

Seeking initial publication as well as Foreign Rights

102.000 words - World Rights Available (incl. World English)

KvK nr.:  60491833

VAT nr: NL002160634B54

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