Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York:
Richard Plantagenet, the Duke of York, had been holed up in Ludlow for months and had not been to Fortheringhay in quite some time to check on his family. The situation at court was changing rapidly and he needed to discuss the possibilities with his wife, Cecily, whose Warwick connections would prove most valuable now. He tired out 3 of his best steeds, but the hard ride helped ease his frustrations and alowed him to arrive in a better disposition. He saw Fortheringhay in the horizon and urged his steed to gallop faster. The dirt from the roads had stuck to him and with each gallop from his warhorse, the debris would rise to his face and clothes. He was in need of a warm meal, clean clothes and the welcoming company of his family. He finally arrived and dismounted, giving all of his men the commands and left them to tend to the horses and bring in supplies. He rapidly stepped into the corridor and called out to the chambermaid to fetch his wife.
Cecily, Duchess of York, appeared immediately with a large goblet of ale. Richard kissed her dainty hand and greedily drank the ale. “I thank you wife, you always anticipate my needs. I will go to my chambers and change out of these filthy clothes. I am not fit to be in your presence like this. I would like to dine alone with you, we have much to discuss and you can give me details of the progress of the children, especially Edward. I will see them all before I retire for the night.” He took her hand and kissed it again, before heading to his chambers.
Cecily Neville , Duchess of York:
I smile down upon my husband’s dusty head as he kissed my hand, his hair lightly coated with dust from the long journey. “I am so glad you have returned to us Richard, our home is never quite the same without you.” I turn to my Lady’s maid with instruction for the bath to be filled immediately, and supper to be prepared for my lord husband to follow. Our second son Edmund bounds up the stairs behind his father, flushed from his first major journey from home to the estates in Wales. I hug my boy, Edmund, before sending him to his chamber to clean; a mothers relief floods through me.
I ensure that my husband’s clean clothes have been laid out in his chambers with the hearth lit and crackling merrily before turning my attention to our children, who were gathered in the hall per my instructions.
I cast a hawk-eye over my children who are looking for their mothers praise. Dressed in their good clothes to greet their father, our eldest son Edward, a tall, strong, eleven year old young man, who I kiss fondly on the head I soon will no longer reach; Elizabeth, Margaret and little three year old George follow, I straighten their clothes and bid them to smile at their lord father, their nurse loitering behind them nervously. Baby Richard is held by his wet nurse; I kiss his beautiful head and nod sternly with my approval. Our beloved Anne is with her wretched husband Henry Holland, 3rd Duke of Exeter, much to a mother’s dismay. A good marriage, pity it is not a happy one. Edmund all but swaggers in, to the jealousy of his brothers, and the delight of his sisters and my brood begin to chatter, distracted by the impending arrival of their lord father.
Richard Plantagenet, Dukie of York:
I kiss Cecily again and wearily go to my chambers. Just as my wife said everything was laid out and waiting for me. It felt good to get out of my dirty clothes and soak in the hot bath. Cecily even had the water steeped with medicinal herbs and as the tension left my body; I felt the herbs work and my muscles now felt invigorated. I scrubbed with the soap till I was red but now all the filth from traveling was removed. I take this time as I relax and think about my blessings. My union with Cecily Neville turned out to be a happy one. She has given me 4 fine boys and 3 beautiful daughters. She can run my estates as efficiently as any man, nay if I am honest, she is better at it then most men. She is devoted to my cause in all matters, but especially with all my political dealings and upheavals. On top of all that, she is just as beautiful as when we wed. I saw her grow from a child to the determined woman that she is and I pity the person who gets on her wrong side. She will always be my rose, my Rose of Raby. I quickly dress and drink the ale as I walk to greet the children. I smile to myself seeing how Cecily had the chambermaids clean Edmund; I hardly recognize him. The only one missing is my Anne, who is now married. It was a good alliance, but from some of the comments Cecily has made she is not treated well. I will address that laster at supper with Cecily. I smile as I speak to each child formally; Edward my heir, Edmund, George, Richard, Elizabeth and Margaret. I am well pleased by each one. Cecily’s father had over 20 children between his two wives. I am lucky that we have so many children that survived. I will spend some time informally after I dine with my wife. I know what it was like to not to grow up with a father and I have been away too long. I take Cecily by the hand as the servants tend to the children and sit to dine.
” My wife, I am well pleased by you. You have managed the estate better then I could do. The children look well and greeted me with much dignity.” My mouth waters as dish after dish is served. I spear the venison and eat greedily, as the boar is served with the swans following with their plumes elegantly displayed”. I have much on my mind wife and feel a change in the direction that the wind blows. My position may well change if the she-wolf can deliver Henry a male. I have committed to peace but where is the king? How long can he meditate and pray while his kingdom is ripped apart by his French wife and her close friend Somerset? A plague on him and his house. Once England goes in the right direction, he inserts his influence and we are worse off then we were before. Suffolk damaged England by giving up so much French territory for this despicable marriage and now we have lost all of France except for Calais. All that Henry’s father fought for, all those lives now wasted. Eight years it has taken the queen to carry a child in her womb. It all smells like rotting fish! She is Somerset’s lap dog and keeps the king away from us. But now due to Somerset’s greed, your nephew, Warwick has become his enemy and will now support us in trying to get the king out of Somerset’s grasp. If Margaret would not meddle in the business of men, we would not continuously be in this position. I received your letters telling me about Anne’s complaints against Exeter. What news do you have of our daughter? Exeter is a fool and will pay for any misuse of my Anne. . Give me your wise council, Cecily. I wish to hear your thoughts; you know the mind of the she-devil.
Cecily Neville, Duchess of York :
“You pay me a great compliment husband, I thank you. I trust you find supper to your liking, the estate has been bountiful this season.” I delicately bite into the capon in a savoury lemon sauce and listen to Richard as he relays news which cannot be trusted to couriers, and I listen in dismay as the wreckage of the French alliance comes to the forefront. I am pleased my nephew Warwick has come to his senses and joined his uncle and his family. Margaret does not know how to play with the men of England- which is to work behind the scenes and not be obvious with our feminine power which makes men nervous, which is causing a riff through the land.
“Margaret is digging a large hole for herself by solely focusing on Somerset and parading her power over her husband – she is a passionate yet wilful woman. Are our eyes and ears trustworthy at court? Do we have someone close to the queen? She will become infatuated with the child once it is born and will show cracks in her armour.” I try another dish the push my plate away as the cheese course follows. I nod to the server to keep our cups full, as Richard is silent as he eats his way through the courses, hungry after the long journey.
“Our dearest Anne… Henry Holland is not a kind husband it would seem.” I knot my napkin in my lap, trying to control my temper over my son in law. “He is quarrelsome, husband. Tis a good thing he has not received the entirety of Anne’s marriage portion. I do not trust that man. Perhaps Anne can stay at court? You must try to keep Henry out of their home as much as possible. It will be safer for her, he dare not be too nasty in front of the court.”
Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York:
I slam my goblet on the table, angry that Exeter would dare treat my daughter in this manner. He may think he is safe in the den of Lancaster but these winds constantly bring change. The king’s foolish reliance on Somerset and his French queen does nothing but turn nobles against him. This peace will not last long while Somerset continues to make a mockery of his position. Platters of pungent cheese are now served with a warm crusty bread and I eat as if I had not had a meal for a month.
“Cecily, now that Exeter has forced our Anne to serve the queen, perhaps we can use it to our advantage. Our daughter is smart and sees more then most. Write to her and ask her to be our eyes and ears at court. She can use a code to send you details in letters. What suspect can come from letters between a loving mother and daughter? Maybe she can find out how long the king will be cloistered in prayer. This king, who is more monk then king, nothing like his warrior father. He ignores the council of wise men and is constantly led astray, first by Suffolk and now by Somerset. ”
” Your nephew, Warwick, has now pledged his army to our cause but will not show his cards till the right moment. His allegiance has come at the perfect time. He is an excellent soldier and we have Somerset to thank for this gift, his greed will be his undoing. There are many who believe that the child the queen carries in her womb was begotten by Somerset’s seed. True or false, it only benefits the house of York for Somerset’s bastard shan’t ever take the throne.” I pop some small confections in my mouth and
rub my stomach, for I cannot eat one more morsel of this delicious feast. I pat Cecily’s hand, “twas a meal fit for a monarch my dear. You do know how to make a man happy to be home.” I caress her cheek thinking of the other delights we will share this evening. ” So what say you if Anne keeps her eyes open for anything suspicious at court? When the child is born the she-wolf will want everyone at court. ”
Cecily Neville, Duchess of York:
I smile, satisfied at my husband’s response. Unlike my daughter, I was lucky in my family’s choice of my husband.
”Of course, Anne will be the perfect choice, I will relay that she must play the docile wife so no one will suspect.” I sip my claret thoughtfully. ”I am sure Anne will not disappoint you husband. She knows her duty to her family. She is well bred and can ingratiate herself well with the she-wolfs household. I will write to her immediately. A task will keep her mind busy from her current circumstances.”
I smile, relaxing in the return of Richard. ”Will we go to court, my lord, when the babe is born? Or is it not safe for us? Or is it worse to stay away if we do not show our fealty to the new heir?” I drink deeply from my cup. I cannot imagine knowing England at peace.
Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York:
” Cecily, after eight long years without a child, I can assure you that the woman will have everyone at court. She will dangle that child as if it was Christ himself. Now the taint of being barren will be gone and she will be gloating to the world. Anne will do a good job of letting us know what is happening at court till we see with our own eyes. ”
I rest my hand on Cecily’s, “No more talk of politics, I want to spend my time here with you and the children. Come my dear, it has been too long, ” I kiss her tenderly, “Let us retire for the night and in the morrow you can give me all the news of the estate and I can see the children, especially Edward. I want to see with myne own eyes how his and the other boys studies have come along. ” I nod to the servant to refill our goblets and take Cecily by the hand so we can enjoy the delicate claret alone in our chambers.