The Plantagenet Legacy Book 1
Richard II found himself under siege not once, but twice in his minority. Crowned king at age ten, he was only fourteen when the Peasants’ Revolt terrorized London. But he proved him-self every bit the Plantagenet successor, facing Wat Tyler and the rebels when all seemed lost. Alas, his triumph was short-lived, and for the next ten years he struggled to assert him-self against his uncles and increasingly hostile nobles. Just like in the days of his great-grand-father Edward II, vengeful magnates strove to separate him from his friends and advisors, and even threatened to depose him if he refused to do their bidding. The Lords Appellant, as they came to be known, purged the royal household with the help of the Merciless Parliament. They murdered his closest allies, leaving the King alone and defenseless. He would never forget his humiliation at the hands of his subjects. Richard’s inability to protect his adherents would haunt him for the rest of his life, and he vowed that next time, retribution would be his.
KING RICHARD TUSSLES WITH THE ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
An excellent meal and new loan went a long way toward settling Richard’s temper—that is, until they returned back to Westminster, taking the royal barge up the Thames. The king and his uncle were accompanied by Sir John Devereux and Thomas Trivet—more old campaigners of the Black Prince—whose company Richard liked. As they passed the mouth of the Fleet River the spring breezes brought with them a stench of excrement and muck. The king covered his nose with a handkerchief.
“This is outrageous,” he grumbled. “There is such an abundance of dung and laystalls along the banks that it is surely a peril to everyone who must work on the river. We must bring the matter before the council, uncle.” He was turning toward Woodstock when his face changed, becoming hard. “Oh, no,” he said with a groan.
“What?” Thomas looked around. Then he saw it. Coming from Lambeth Palace, the archbishop’s barge—smaller but gilded and painted like the king’s—was approaching from upstream. No wonder Richard groaned; he was still irritated about the unpleasant council meeting earlier that day. Thomas thought for a moment. “Sire,” he said carefully, “we cannot have you at odds with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Let us take advantage of this opportunity to reconcile the two of you.”
Courtenay was the last person Richard wanted to talk to right now. He’s an interfering old goat and he always sounds like he’s complaining. The man’s voice never failed to irritate. Still, he would never get anything done without the cooperation of the Church. Feeling petulant, Richard reluctantly gave in and Thomas flagged the other boat. The royal barge dropped anchor and the other pulled aside. Archbishop Courtenay was grasping a cloak around his shoulders. His discomfort was unmistakable.
“What is it?”
“Your Grace, come aboard and speak with the king.” Thomas turned toward Richard. “I guarantee the archbishop’s safety,” he said loudly, more as an admonishment to the king than reassurance to Courtney. Richard nodded.
Some of the bargemen grasped the gunnel of the royal boat and pulled them together while others helped Courtenay clamber ungracefully over the side. He risked an exasperated glance at Thomas before regaining his composure.
“I thought I would take the air this evening,” he said lamely. Richard didn’t answer and Courtney decided to quit wasting time. “Sire. I consider this unexpected meeting a Godsend, for it gives me the chance to speak with you as a father to a son.” He paused, waiting for a response and still receiving none. While he was talking the king had gradually turned, observing the far bank; the archbishop was so disconcerted that he opened and shut his mouth like a gasping fish. If he had seen the expression on Richard’s face, he surely would have gone back to his own barge. But, deprived of that warning, he felt committed and pressed forward, hoping to make himself understood. “I know you are young and inexperienced in the ways of the world. I would recommend you follow the advice of those who are interested—nay, committed—to your wellbeing. A man of your authority should surround himself with—”
“With what?” Richard shouted, whirling around. “Who are you to correct me like a child? How dare you?” He was so angry that spittle flew from his mouth. Throwing back his cloak, the king tugged his sword free, pointing it at the archbishop’s breast. If he had been closer, he might have followed through but Thomas of Woodstock was quicker, seizing his wrist. Sir John threw himself between the two while Trivit wrapped his arms around Richard’s chest, heaving him back.
“Let go!” shouted the king, but no one obeyed. The archbishop scrambled over the side of the barge while Trivit disentangled the king’s hand from his sword. He handed the blade to one of the household pages before releasing his grasp.
Richard turned on him in a righteous fury. “Traitors! Betrayers! You deserve to die for this! How dare you lay a hand on your sovereign! You shall answer for this!” His three guardians backed off and then, as one, scrambled into the other barge as the rowers pushed it away.
“Come back here! Stop those men! Traitors!” Throwing himself against the gunwale, he leaned over so far he nearly fell into the river. No one dared interfere. Breathing heavily, Richard glared at the receding barge; his eyes practically bulged out of his head. Then he pushed himself up and turned around. Everyone on the boat was staring in shock, unable to move. He rearranged his circlet then held out a hand for his sword. Kneeling, the page returned it. Inspecting it for a moment, Richard carefully lined the blade up with the scabbard and pushed it in gently. “It’s all right. Take me to the Palace.” Breathing a sigh of relief, the bargemen went back to their business and raised the anchor.
Richard sat on a bench, annoyed with himself. Once again he had lost control of his temper. He knew that everyone would be talking about him, calling him young and foolish and much worse than that. He had heard all about his grandfather’s temper—and Edward I—and all his forefathers back to Henry II. He was heir to their rage every bit as much as heir to the throne! But for some reason his wrath didn’t seem to have the same effect on others. Maybe someday it would, when he was older. And stronger. Some day he would show them all he was a true Plantagenet.
Thank you, Mercedes Rochelle and The Coffee Pot Book Club
About the Author
Mercedes Rochelle is an ardent lover of medieval history, and has channeled this interest into fiction writing. Her first four books cover eleventh-century Britain and events surrounding the Norman Conquest of England. The next series is called The Plantagenet Legacy about the struggles and abdication of Richard II, leading to the troubled reigns of the Lancastrian Kings. She also writes a blog: HistoricalBritainBlog.com to explore the history behind the story. Born in St. Louis, MO, she received by BA in Literature at the Univ. of Missouri St.Louis in 1979 then moved to New York in 1982 while in her mid-20s to “see the world”. The search hasn’t ended! Today she lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they had built themselves.
Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/mercedes-rochelle
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Mercedes-Rochelle/e/B001KMG5P6?
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