Jeremy Blackshaw

Jeremy Blackshaw is the central character of the novel. He was born in Stoke Lacy, the Blackshaws’ family estate, in the county of Shropshire in 1627. The early death of his mother, when he was only a child, kindled in him the desire to become a doctor. Even though his father was a member of the landed gentry, as a Catholic in Protestant England he had to pay heavy fines and therefore was not wealthy enough to pay for his son’s studies at a university on the Continent.
So Jeremy was apprenticed to a barber-surgeon in Worcester and served as a field surgeon in the King‘s army during the Civil War. After the execution of King Charles I he went into exile and studied medicine at the University of Padua. In view of the inadequacy of the medicine of his time, especially with regard to dangerous diseases, he believed that he could do more good as a priest and so went to Rome to join the Society of Jesus.
After some years of missionary work in India Jeremy was finally sent on the English mission. As Catholic priests are by law forbidden to enter the country, Jeremy works under the alias of Fauconer to save his family from reprisals.



Alan Ridgeway

The surgeon Alan Ridgeway is Jeremy’s best friend. He was born in 1628 and like Jeremy served as a field surgeon in the King‘s army, where they met for the first time. After the Civil War Alan went to London and became a Freeman of the Company of Barber-Surgeons. He is a sworn bachelor and a notorious lady-killer, but he is always eager to spoil the women he seduces.
His secret dream is to spend a night with Lady St. Clair.

A man wearing plain clothes.


Lady Amoret St Clair

Amoret is the daughter of William St. Clair, Earl of Caversham, and Louise de Rochechouart. She was born in 1641. Her father named her after a character in Edmund Spenser’s “Faerie Queene”. Amoret has known Jeremy since the Civil War, when after her father’s death in the battle of Worcester he took her to France to the family of her mother, who had died some years before.
In the hope for a good match Amoret’s family later sent her to the French court, where she met Jeremy again, who had stopped off there on his way to England. As a member of the retinue of Henrietta Maria, mother of King Charles II, she finally came to the English court and the King made her one of his mistresses.
Since then Jeremy has been her confessor.

A woman in court dress.


Sir Orlando Trelawney

Sir Orlando Trelawney was born into a Cornish gentry family in 1622. As a younger son he did not expect to inherit the family estate, so he studied law at the Inner Temple in London and became a barrister. After the Civil War he was made a Judge of the King’s Bench and knighted by the King.
He is a widower, but his most ardent wish is to marry again and have children. He and Jeremy have formed a close friendship which overcomes religious differences.


Breandán Mac Mathúna

Breandán was born in Ireland in 1638. He comes from a poor background. When he was sixteen he went to France and enlisted as a soldier in the French army. After the Treaty of the Pyrenees he fought in the Spanish army against the Portuguese, and then he came to England to look for work.
He is a master in the use of the rapier and firearms.


Armande de Roche Montal

Armande de Roche Montal was born in Auvergne in 1644. In autumn 1665 the young Frenchwoman took up the position of lady's maid to Amoret. But as she has always been more of a friend than a servant, Amoret finally makes Armande her companion. For some time Armande has had a turbulent love affair with Alan Ridgeway.