Flash Fiction: “Lord, Grant Me Peace…” (Tribute to THE HOLLOW CROWN: THE WARS OF THE ROSES)

December 4, 2016 in Beth von Staats (REVELATION), Wars of the Roses by Beth von Staats

By Beth von Staats

Tom Sturridge as Henry VI in THE HOLLOW CROWN: THE WARS OF THE ROSES Photo Credit: British Broadcasting Company

Tom Sturridge as Henry VI in THE HOLLOW CROWN: THE WARS OF THE ROSES
Photo Credit: British Broadcasting Company

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Video Credit: Great Performances, PBS 

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In celebration of next Sunday’s release of The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses in the United States (PBS at 9:00 PM on December 11, 2016), enjoy some flash fiction from the point of view of King Henry VI, Episode One’s protagonist and reigning monarch.

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King Henry V

King Henry V

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“Of France and England, did this king succeed;
Whose state so many had the managing.
That they lost France and made his England bleed.”

~~~~ William Shakespeare, Henry V ~~~~

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My father, King Henry, fifth of his name, near conqueror of all of France, commander of the sea, warrior, diplomat, statesman, and ruler of a united nation, was the grandest king among all the kings of Christendom. While he reigned, there was peace within the realm. While he reigned, England was the jewel in the crown of Europe. While he reigned, crops were plentiful. The treasury grew abundantly. The arts flourished. While he reigned, the Lords were obedient, loyal to him above all. I heard all the stories. They were pounded into my head since a babe. “This would never happen while he reigned,” I hear them whisper. No, of course not, my father was God personified on earth.

Respite, I need thee respite. My Clarendon hunting lodge, though more humble than a palace, more humble than a castle, always soothed my soul. Quiet, peaceful, free of the stresses of the boulders laying hard and heavy upon my shoulders, Clarendon cleared my mind, relieved the weight of all the world that threatens to always smother me. God, so why not now? Why not now? All I seek is peace before I head on to Dorset. All I seek is quiet before I deal with the Lord’s most recent grievances. All I seek is escape from the failures of my life, escape from the shame of defeat, escape from the factions and infighting among the Lords and my subjects, some loyal to me, most not. Margaret, my beloved queen, bless her please God I pray. She in truth is the rightful King of England. She in truth is the strength upon the throne.  I am merely a scholar, a devout man of worship, a gentle man of the quill, a patron of the arts. God, you know me, all of me, the good and the bad. Why am I not a monk? Why am I not of your clergy, a servant of His Holy Father?  Worship is my calling, my greatest desire. Oh yes, this just can’t be. I am the only son of King Henry, fifth of his name.

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King Henry VI

King Henry VI

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They say the war with France has gone near 100 years now — near 100 years, battles fought, battles lost, battles won. Near 100 years, English kings maintained a stronghold, never French upon our shores. Near 100 years, we fought with glory, the war all but won when God called him home. Heir apparent to the thrown of France, he married the daughter of King Charles, inched his way across his land of fortune. The grand warrior king, he nearly won it all. God, is his seed really in me, Henry, fifth of his name? A quandary, yes a right quandary I dare say. I think not. I know not. I must be a bastard child unbeknownst, a changling. A failure of a king I am, losing all the monarchs of England gained through sweat and tears of their subjects these near 100 years, only Calais hanging on. The fool of Christendom, I rule not. The fool of Christendom, I lead not. The fool of Christendom, I heal the divides of my ever battling Lords and subjects not. I am but a pygmy king, a pretender.

As I sit by the hearth, wine full in my goblet, I watch the flames roar. Satan, there he is in the fire, urging me on. “Die, you bastard pretender, die. That’s what you want. Do it!”

I know Satan’s trickery. Yes, death comes easy to a man like me, good to no one. The seed is within her. The deed is done. Why stay now? “Die, you bastard pretender. Your realm is best without you.”

My mind spins with Satan’s words, his urging tempting me to do the deed. I am best gone. I am best invisible. The grandest sin is to follow Satan’s call. I shall go to hell. I shall rage in the fire, licking at my feet for all eternity. “Be gone, Satan, I command you!”

I am a Godly man, a pious man. Thou shalt not kill, even me. I take a long drink from the goblet, the wine warming the edge off my thoughts. I close my eyes, and rest my weary mind. Quiet and peaceful at last, the boulders lift, floating off me. My humors align, my soul is at rest. I think through scripture. It be surely a sin to kill the body, but is it sinful to kill the soul? Is it a sin to still be living, but dead? Gone, but still here?  No, I think not. I begin to pray in earnest, my mind and all within me intent on shutting down.

“Lord, grant me peace and release my soul. Lord, grant me peace and release my soul. Lord, grant me peace release my soul. Lord, grant me peace and release my soul. Lord, grant me peace…”

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

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Beth von Staats

Beth von Staats

Beth von Staats is a history writer of both fiction and non-fiction short works. A life-long history enthusiast, Beth holds a Bachelor of Arts degree, magna cum laude, in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth. She is the owner and administrator of Queen Anne Boleyn Historical Writers website, QueenAnneBoleyn.com.

Beth’s interest in British History grew through the profound influence of her Welsh grandparents, both of whom desired she learn of her family cultural heritage. Her most pronounced interest lies with the men and women who drove the course of events and/or who were most poignantly impacted by the English Henrician and Protestant Reformations, as well as the Tudor Dynasty of English and Welsh History in general.

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Gentle Spirit, Tortured Soul (Wars of the Roses)

October 14, 2013 in Wars of the Roses by Anne Neville, Duchess of Buckingham

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

Lord, Grant Me Peace… (Wars of the Roses)

September 16, 2013 in Beth von Staats (REVELATION), Historical Fiction, Wars of the Roses by King Henry VI

King Henry V

King Henry V

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“Of France and England, did this king succeed;
Whose state so many had the managing.
That they lost France and made his England bleed.”

~~~~ William Shakespeare, Henry V ~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My father, King Henry, fifth of his name, near conqueror of all of France, commander of the sea, warrior, diplomat, statesman, and ruler of a united nation, was the grandest king among all the kings of Christendom. While he reigned, there was peace within the realm. While he reigned, England was the jewel in the crown of Europe. While he reigned, crops were plentiful, the treasury grew abundantly, and the arts flourished. While he reigned, the Lords were obedient, loyal to him above all. I heard all the stories. They have been pounded into my head since a babe. “This would never happen while he reigned,” I hear them whisper. No, of course not, my father was God personified on earth.

Respite, I need thee respite. My Clarendon hunting lodge, though more humble than a palace, more humble than a castle, always soothed my soul. Quiet, peaceful, free of the stresses of the boulders laying hard and heavy upon my shoulders, Clarendon cleared my mind, relieved the weight of all the world that threatens to always smother me. God, so why not now? Why not now? All I seek is peace before I head on to Dorset. All I seek is quiet before I deal with the Lord’s most recent grievances. All I seek is escape from the failures of my life, escape from the shame of defeat, escape from the factions and infighting among the Lords and my subjects, some loyal to me, most not. Margaret, my beloved queen, bless her please God I pray. She in truth is the rightful King of England. She in truth is the strength upon the throne.  I am merely a scholar, a devout man of worship, a gentle man of the quill, a patron of the arts. God, you know me, all of me, the good and the bad. Why am I not a monk? Why am I not of your clergy, a servant of His Holy Father?  Worship is my calling, my greatest desire. Oh yes, this just can’t be. I am the only son of King Henry, fifth of his name.

King Henry VI

King Henry VI

They say the war with France has gone near 100 years now — near 100 years, battles fought, battles lost, battles won. Near 100 years, English kings maintained a stronghold, never French upon our shores. Near 100 years, we fought with glory, the war all but won when God called him home. Heir apparent to the thrown of France, he married the daughter of King Charles, inched his way across his land of fortune. The grand warrior king, he nearly won it all. God, is his seed really in me, Henry, fifth of his name? A quandary, yes a right quandary I dare say. I think not. I know not. I must be a bastard child unbeknownst, a changling. A failure of a king I am, losing all the monarchs of England gained through sweat and tears of their subjects these near 100 years, only Calais hanging on. The fool of Christendom, I rule not. The fool of Christendom, I lead not. The fool of Christendom, I heal the divides of my ever battling Lords and subjects not. I am but a pygmy king, a pretender.

As I sit by the hearth, wine full in my goblet, I watch the flames roar. Satan, there he is in the fire, urging me on. “Die, you bastard pretender, die. That’s what you want. Do it!”

I know Satan’s trickery. Yes, death comes easy to a man like me, good to no one. The seed is within her. The deed is done. Why stay now? “Die, you bastard pretender. Your realm is best without you.”

My mind spins with Satan’s words, his urging tempting me to do the deed. I am best gone. I am best invisible. The grandest sin is to follow Satan’s call. I shall go to hell. I shall rage in the fire, licking at my feet for all eternity. “Be gone, Satan, I command you!”

I am a Godly man, a pious man. Thou shalt not kill, even me. I take a long drink from the goblet, the wine warming the edge off my thoughts. I close my eyes, and rest my weary mind. Quiet and peaceful at last, the boulders lift, floating off me. My humors align, my soul is at rest. I think through scripture. It be surely a sin to kill the body, but is it sinful to kill the soul? Is it a sin to still be living, but dead? Gone, but still here?  No, I think not. I begin to pray in earnest, my mind and all within me intent on shutting down.

“Lord, grant me peace and release my soul. Lord, grant me peace and release my soul. Lord, grant me peace release my soul. Lord, grant me peace and release my soul. Lord, grant me peace…”

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

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