The Audacious Crimes of Colonel Blood: The Spy Who Stole the Crown Jewels and Became the King's Secret Agent
Robert Hutchinson

The Audacious Crimes of Colonel Blood: The Spy Who Stole the Crown Jewels and Became the King's Secret Agent

Thomas Blood, that INFAMOUS Irish ‘bravo and desperado,’ attempted to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London on 9 May 1671, escaping with St Edward’s crown and the coronation regalia hidden in the breeches of his accomplices. He had already been involved in an abortive coup d'etat in Ireland and the attempted murder of the duke of Ormond outside Clarence House in St James'. Blood also planned to assassinate Charles II while the king was swimming in the River Thames, but had held his fire as his ‘heart [stopped] him, out of awe for His Majesty’.

Why was the colonel not immediately executed for treason? The plain truth is that this brash adventurer was more useful to Charles alive than hanging from the Tyburn gallows. Smooth-talking and brimming with Irish charm and wit, he assured the king that he fully deserved a reprieve, adding: 'If my life is spared, [I will be] your dutiful subject whose name is Blood, which I hope is not what your majesty seeks after’. He  was generously pardoned for ‘all treasons, murders, felonies, assaults and batteries' committed by him.

But the monarch’s munificence did not stop with wiping his sheet clean of every crime. The king also granted him property in Ireland providing an income of 500 pounds a year for life. The colonel had now become a spy for the king eavesdropping on the gossip within the feverish atmosphere of court and , as a double-agent, regularly informing on those conspiring to overthrow Charles and restore Catholicism to England or return it to the austere, God-fearing republic it was only a few years before under Oliver Cromwell. Blood was also employed by politicians to bring down their rivals. From his base at White's coffee house, near London's Royal Exchange, he proundly proclaimed" 'It's no matter if one lets me fall, another takes me up. I'm the best tool they have'.

Book Details:

  • Author: Robert Hutchinson
  • Published Year: 2015
  • Rights Sold
    • UK: Weidenfeld
    • US: Pegasus
    • Chinia: New World

Robert Hutchinson

Robert Hutchinson, author and broadcaster started his working life as a reporter on regional newspapers before joining The Press Association, (the news agency for UK and Irish media) as a night sub-editor. He returned to reporting, later becoming Defence Correspondent. In late 1983 he joined Jane’s Publishing Company as one of the team that successfully launched Jane’s Defence Weekly and became Publishing Director of Jane’s Information Group in 1987, responsible for its magazines, newsletters, books and digital products.Leaving a decade later, he compiled and edited two ed...
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Book Reviews

  • "A rigorously researched account…a colourful tale of life in the shadow of the gallows ."
    Spectator
  • "  ...rattling but carefully researched piece of popular history… Yet not only does Hutchinson end up expressing his undisguised admiration for the ‘astonishing effrontery’ of a ‘true adventurer’ — but his often eye-popping book makes it difficult for the reader not to feel the same way."
    Daily Mail
  • "A rigorously researched account... a colourful tale of life in the shadow of the gallows."
    The Spectator
  • "A rattling but carefully researched piece of popular history… Yet not only does Hutchinson end up expressing his undisguised admiration for the ‘astonishing effrontery’ of a ‘true adventurer’ — but his often eye-popping book makes it difficult for the reader not to feel the same way."
    Daily Mail
  • "Robert Hutchinson's latest book is proof that truth really is stranger than fiction. The story of Colonel Blood not only introduces us to one of the most audacious men in history, but uncovers a much darker tale of spies, conspiracy and murder. A must-read for lovers of history, biography or simply a good yarn. "
    Tracy Borman
  • "Robert Hutchinson paints a compelling portrait of a country hectic with sedition.... a rambunctious but richly researched biography. This book's real strength lies in conjuring up the subversive world of hidden motives, whispered confidences and  madcap schemes to overthrow the government."
    Sunday Telegraph
  • "...nail-biting chronicle of a thoroughly unrespectable life…Robert Hutchinson, thoroughly at home in the smoke-and mirrors world of Tudor and Stuart espionage ...Television mini-series material… the clash of blades, the whizzing bullets and galloping hooves guarantee nonstop adventure.  "
    Jonathan Keates
  • "The book’s highlight is the well-planned, if comically implemented, heist of the crown jewels. Hutchinson’s story operates more as a series of vignettes than as a fully fleshed-out biography, but Blood’s remarkable tenacity shines through, illuminating a surprisingly efficient official spy ring and a wealth of other dark secrets behind the flamboyant and seemingly carefree court of the Merry Monarch. "
    Publishers Weekly
  • "A good history of difficult times in England and Ireland."
    Kirkus
  • "Relatively brief and with a sprightly text, Robert Hutchinson’s works are always more entertaining than one would expect. Recommended."
    http://www.bookgasm.com/
  • "A raffish and intrepid adventurer, Blood led one of those colorful lives that people who read too much secretly wish could be theirs. In fact, his exploits partly inspired two of the favorite swashbucklers of one such owlish reader: Rafael Sabatini’s thrilling “Captain Blood” andGeorge MacDonald Fraser’s hilarious “The Pyrates.” If you know either of those masterpieces or enjoy action-packed history, this biography should be in your beach bag. "
    Washington Post