Gentle Spirit, Tortured Soul (Wars of the Roses)

Margaret of Anjou
Margaret of Anjou

 

Anne Neville, Duchess of Buckingham

Exhausted, I am utterly exhausted, worn to my very bones, worn to my very core. These last weeks, I slept not, instead selecting and supervising those whose life’s mission, though pivotal to the realm, will be carried out in the strictest of secrecy under pains of death. The queen, Her Grace trusts me all, trusts my beloved Humphrey all, trusts Somerset all. In our care, along with those trusted few I selected personally with great caution, is England’s most glorious scholar, most pious noble, most shy gentleman, most gentle spirited soul to grace this very Earth, our lord and sovereign, King Henry VI, by the Grace of God, King of England, Wales, Ireland and France.

As the days pass, my heart grows heavy. The King, he pines and suffers, overwhelmed by his cumulative defeats both here at home and in France. As the Lords all bellow, one against the other, faction against faction, His Grace crumbled completely, reliant on others for his most basic of needs. All he ever desired is peace, peace among his people, peace among the lords, and peace among all nations. His gentle spirit just could not handle the stress of conflict and loss, so he defered, first to Suffolk, now to Somerset, and always to his beloved wife, the strong ruler and unspoken monarch of this blessed realm, truth be told. My trusted servants tell me His Grace still speaks not a word, must be fed, dressed and changed as if a babe in mind, though not in body. Between bleedings and potions and poultices and gargles and cleanings of the stool, His Grace’s days are spent in perpetual care, as a mother cares an infant weaned of breast. My heart breaks at the sight of him, at the sight of Queen Margaret, heavy with child, praying for a miracle.

I receive word from Queen Margaret that she has bid the Duke and Duchess of Exeter to court, and they will be arriving within a fortnight. As I think of my niece Anne, daughter of my sister Cecily, my heart fills. A Plantagenet and Neville born, she has a role to play within the House on Lancaster. With the Dukes of Somerset and York at odds for the power behind the thrown, she is cast in the middle, caught in a loveless marriage brokered for power, not her happiness. She too will rehearse her part, and as taught by her strong willed mother, the Duchess of Exeter will play it well.

Queen Margaret of Anjou

Here in my chambers, I have sent all my servants away and asked my Maid of Honor to bring the Duchess of Buckingham to me. I need to know if the King is still blind in his illness. Sometimes I wonder if this nightmare will finally have an end someday. The King needs to come back from that state of weakness! I feel in my heart that is time for me to move forward… to act as the ruler this Realm needs. I carry the future of England in my womb, and I must see for its destined wealthiness. The words of my mother and grandmother are haunting me, and at the same time encouraging me to be stronger, wiser and bold in these times….”A woman can rule, if the man is absent”. Should I put those words to test?

Anne Neville, Duchess of Buckingham

As I am checking in with His Grace’s physicians to see if their most recent bleeding show signs of progress, Queen Margaret’s Lady-in-Waiting arrives. I am to meet with the queen immediately. The physicians, seeing I have been called away, bid their farewell. Upon arriving at the Queen’s chambers, I am announced. I enter and curtsy deeply. ”Your Grace, I am honored to be called to you this morning. How may I be of assistance?”

Queen Margaret of Anjou

*I look at her, and I decide to go directly to my points of interest.* ”I am glad to see you. I need to know all about the King’s progress. What the physicians say? And above all…. are the servants loyal, diligent, careful and discreet in their attentions to the King?”

Anne Neville, Duchess of Buckingham

I swallow hard and take a deep breath, and as I do tears begin to well. ”I must speak truthfully. The king has made no progress, Your Grace. He speaks not and does not appear to understand what is spoken to him. He must be fed, clothed, and changed as if a babe.” Tears fall as I try and find the words I need to say. ”Your Grace, I am so sorry. The king is unable to do for himself, not a thing. Two men must carry him from chair to bed. He does not even know who I am.” Tears still falling, I collect my thoughts. ”The physicians fear they must increase the bleedings and cleansings of stool, and His Grace finds these treatments unbearable.” I lower my gaze demurely. ” Of course, my husband made your stipulations known to those servants selected to attend to his care, Your Grace. They are clear and are reminded daily that should a tongue wag, not only shall the servant die, but all those close. In exchange, they are paid richly and granted favor over other servants here and anywhere in this realm, just as we discussed.” I pray Her Grace find the strength to carry on and is not will disappointed by my efforts. God knows they exhaust me.

King Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou
King Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou

Queen Margaret of Anjou

*I feel rage rather than sadness… how can this be? My husband, the King, reduced to nothing and yet… the people believe they have a strong ruler behind the throne… this is pathetic! The more I think about it…. I still believe that I should take the reigns of this realm, not only for the crown… also for my child. I am so angry. I turn around, take a deep breath, and I try not to explode for the sake of my baby.* ”This obviously means that the King will not be able to make the normal and honorable performance when we meet Holland and Plantagenet!” *I try to hide my anger but is almost impossible.* ”Tell me how I will achieve my desire of seeing Anne Plantagenet kneeling before me… submitted to my will and command if the King is not in proper condition to carry the crown with dignity and power?!” *I take a deep breath* ”Do you have any plan to disguise the horrid condition of the King?”

Anne Neville, Duchess of Buckingham

Has she no heart? No soul? Queen Margaret, she can’t love him. She just can’t. I brush my feelings aside for my niece, and drop to my knees. I look up to her as she glares me down cold. ”Your Grace, there is no disguise for what ails my beloved King.” I look to her pleadingly. ”Your Grace, all now is in the hands of the physicians, and most in the hands of God, through our Savior Jesus Christ. I pray to the Virgin Mary, plead for her intercession, to make King Henry whole and to deliver you of healthy male issue.” I dissolve once again into tears. ”I beseech your favor and forgiveness.”

Queen Margaret of Anjou

*And now she cries and waits for a miracle. I keep looking at her.* ”Do you think this will be resolved by pleadings and tears? I am sure God is as angry as I am with this situation! An anointed King reduce to misery! What a spectacle! *I walk away from her* ”Listen to me, I do not care how you do it. I do not care for the means, or how long it takes!  You better find a way to prepare the King for this meeting…. I will not tolerate a scene of disgrace in front of those I want to see on their knees waiting to obey me as their Queen! And learn this…. I will not wait any longer. If The King does not show signs of recovery…. I will start to act for him as regent! My child is almost ready to arrive, and he needs protection… something the King his father can not give! Now leave, and conjure a miracle if you wish to see yourself with gray hairs in the future…. understood? Go!”

Anne Neville, Duchess of Buckingham

She bids I rise, and shaken by her words, I quietly retreat. Queen Margaret regent? All know no woman will be allowed this role. Though my husband, Somerset and the entire House of Lancaster will fight the inevitable, the rightful regent is the husband of my sister, the Duke of York.

Queen Margaret of Anjou

*I am so desperate… boiling with rage and desperation, but I must control myself for the good sake of my child. I caress my belly and take deep breaths. There is no use for me to threats… The King will not be ready. The fear in the eyes of the duchess are the most trustful fact. I must be wise… and play my cards well….I know what is best for England, for my child and for the sake of the King himself.  I must act as regent… soon. It will not be an easy task, but I will achieve this goal…Even if a blood bath is the call for success!*

~~~~~ Fade To Black ~~~~~

Written by: Mercy and Beth

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