In my latest historical mystery, The Templar and the True Cross, my protagonist, Sir Jean-Marc de Montpellier, is purely fictitious. There are, however, several true characters in the story, such as Philip IV, King of France. Also known as Philip le Bel, he appears frequently in my story, along with his daughter and his three sons.
Philip and Jean-Marc have a history, but their current relationship is a bit turbulent. After all, Philip IV is known for disbanding the Templars (Jean-Marc’s order) and having its leaders burned at the stake. Now the King wants Jean-Marc to discover who has stolen the True Cross of Christ, Christendom’s most holy relic.
It is always a challenge to put an historical person into a work of fiction. For myself, it is important to get the character right, so historians don’t balk and say, ‘That person would never do that!’ or ‘That person would never say that!”
It would have been ideal to have found actual quotes from Philip IV, but such was not the case. All a writer can do is research the character, and as best he may, give the character some... well, character.
It was easier to portray Philip’s physical nature; he wasn’t called le Bel for nothing. He was a handsome king, as well as strong-willed, resolute and commanding; you know, kingly.
I believe readers will be happy with the way King Philip was portrayed in The Templar and the True Cross, for as he says in the book; “Stet pro ratione voluntas—let my will stand as a reason!”
The Templar and the True Cross