*Book Three of the Elizabethan Series
Tudor adventurer, courtier, explorer and poet, Sir Walter Raleigh has been called the last true Elizabethan.
He didn’t dance or joust, didn’t come from a noble family, or marry into one. So how did an impoverished law student become a favourite of the queen, and Captain of the Guard?
The story which began with the best-selling Tudor trilogy follows Walter Raleigh from his first days at the Elizabethan Court to the end of the Tudor dynasty.
Richmond Palace, 1582
Having wished to be a courtier for so many years, I fought against self-doubt now my chance had come. My mouth was dry as I waited outside the presence chamber. I believed I had more in common with the impassive Yeomen of the Guard, standing each side of the gilded doors, than anyone inside.
After what seemed an eternity of waiting, the doors opened and I was ushered into the presence chamber. The room reminded me of the stage of Master Burbage’s Theatre. Groups of men in rich clothes stood to both sides, like players waiting for their call. There at the centre, on a raised throne, sat Her Majesty.
I silently thanked Alice Goold for her training in court etiquette as my name was announced. Striding forwards with a confidence I didn’t feel, I kneeled, and waited for the queen to speak. All I could see was the embroidered hem of her gown as I breathed the unfamiliar scent of exotic perfume.
‘Welcome, Captain Raleigh.’
I looked up, and tried not to stare. She dressed in black taffeta and velvet, her gown matching the darkness of her eyes. A lace ruff framed her face, with a mantle of silk so fine it hovered in the air like the mist at dawn. A golden brooch, with the largest pearl I’d ever seen, was pinned over her heart. I wondered if this was looted from the Spanish by another Devon man, Sir Francis Drake.
Alice warned me the queen had ordered visitors thrown from the palace for staring at her, throwing whatever came to hand at them in a sudden rage. I’d thought it another of her teasing exaggerations, yet now I understood why people stared.
I’d often stared at her life-sized portrait, painted when the queen was younger, in the great hall of the Middle Temple. Although the work of a master, the painting failed to convey the power and intensity of her gaze. Her eyes glinted as if she knew my greatest secrets. When she spoke, her voice carried threatening authority in the strangely silent chamber.
‘We’ve heard of your exploits, and wish to know more of how we might best deal with the Irish.’ She gestured for a chair. One was brought for me, and placed uncomfortably close to the throne. I’d not expected such a personal welcome and had nothing prepared, but if there was one subject I knew more about than anyone present, it was the troubles in Ireland.
‘The key is to deal with the Earl of Desmond, Your Majesty. He’s a ringleader and stirs up discontent, but his followers are a fickle lot. They follow him from fear, not love, and will soon learn Your Majesty can be merciful, and generous with pardons.’ I saw her nod in agreement, and sensed others in the room listened in silence.
Her long fingers, thin enough to see her bones under the skin, played with her long string of perfect pearls.
‘Lord Grey demands more garrisons. He wishes to hunt down every one of the rebels. What do you say to that?’
About the Author
Tony Riches is a full-time UK author of best-selling historical fiction. He lives in Pembrokeshire, West Wales and is a specialist in the lives of the Tudors. He also runs the popular ‘Stories of the Tudors ’podcast, and posts book reviews, author interviews and guest posts at his blog, The Writing Desk
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Tony-Riches/e/B006UZWOXA
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Universal Link: mybook.to/Raleigh