“Wear Her Thin Lad…” (Wars of the Roses)

Cardiff Castle, Cardiff, Wales, UK
Cardiff Castle, Cardiff, Wales, UK

 

Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick

Raining, it’s raining again, and this damn castle is damp, cold and musty. Is there ever any sun in Wales? Does God ever shine his favor upon this forsaken place? I look around, and a pathetic crew of Welshmen work on the reinforcements needed if this damn awful place will keep an army safe. I bark orders, and they scamper, scallywags they are, lazy as all the men in Wales. Cymru am byth, my arse. I will work them until they are dead, I swear. Why? Cardiff Castle, it’s mine damn it! It’s the rightful lands earned to me by marrying the plain and ugly daughter of the Earl of Warwick, the title and all that goes with it now mine. Do you hear that Henry? T’is mine, not Somerset’s!

I pace back and forth as I watch the Welshmen work, becoming increasingly angry as I do. Why does the king show Somerset such favor? If court rumors are true, the Duke is laying the French whore, Henry’s queen. Can’t Henry see Somerset’s debauchery? No, the King is blind, his head filled with religion and the arts at the expense of simple common sense. Deep in thought, I hear, ”Lord Warwick… Lord Warwick, I have an urgent message.” I turn and bellow, ”Can’t you see I’m busy, you little toad? Give me the damn parchment!” I open and read, a smile growing across my face. ”Ahhhhh, a new daughter I see. No problem, it’s the Duchess that needs birth the heir. I’ll ride out on my way back to Warwickshire.” Looking back at the workmen, I yell, ”Ewch yn ôl i’r gwaith, rydych c?n diog! Yn awr, neu yr wyf yn eich taflu yn y ffos!!”  (“Go back to work, you lazy dogs! Now, or I will throw you in the moat! “)

Coat of Arms, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick
Coat of Arms, Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick

Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset

The rain persisted. The coach lurched sickeningly once more first left then right as it negotiated the treacherous muddy ruts of the country roads. Inside the Duke of Somerset was complaining bitterly. “Does it ever do anything but rain in this god forsaken country?” He asked. Somerset pulled back the leather curtain and looked out of the coach window. The rain was easing, but this did nothing to ease his ill temper. “If I have to travel to every damned legitimate inheritance rightfully given me, I shall die an old and much travelled servant of his majesty!” In the corner of the coach, huddled up in his cloak against the chill, Somerset’s captain of the guard agreed with his master’s situation. “Yes, my Lord” he consented, with a nod of the head but without stirring from within the warmth of his cloak. Somerset was largely musing to himself, “the king rightfully found in my favour. Must I evict Warwick forcibly? It can be done.” The rain drummed down on the roof of the coach, Edmund sat back in his seat, the curtain closed once more upon the sodden sight outside. “Eleanor is my wife and so rightfully those lands belong to me!” Once more the captain stirred, “yes, my Lord, we shall see an agreeable outcome. Warwick shall not resist the will of his majesty.” From outside the coach came a commotion. “Out of my way, now you pig!” an angry voice demanded. The captain threw back the blind at his window and bellowed “be still out there! What is the meaning of this? A horseman was struggling to keep his animal beneath him from throwing him, as a foot soldier held him at bay with a vicious looking halberd. The horseman shouted above the baying of his horse, “I have a message for his lordship; it is from his majesty’s…”

At this the Duke leapt up and urged the captain step to one side. He threw open the door and called up to the driver, “stop the horses! You there, bring me that message!” The messenger steadied his horse, skittering about as it was in the treacherous mud, “it was not written down, my lord, there was not time.” Somerset jumped down from the coach, “then tell me, quickly now, what it is that can be so urgent you stop my journey?” The horseman dismounted and faced the Duke, “Bordeaux is lost sire. Worse still, His Majesty has been taken ill!” Somerset was dumbstruck, ill! What could this mean?”

He knew just one thing now, if he was to defeat Warwick he needed to see the king.

Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick 

As the sun begins to set, I look around and I am right pleased. So I was not allowed to plead my case before the council? Damn them, I’ll plead it here, in blood if I must. The castle reinforced and my armies at the ready, let that Beaufort bastard come my way. I walk out to my troops and invite the Welsh scallywags that slaved the last fortnight rebuilding reinforcement to the walls to join us, Cardiff so poorly maintained these many years. ”Men… my jolly good men, I come bearing news from the scouts! Somerset in on route!” I take a long breath and look out to these men who will lay their lives on the line for me, for my family, for the Nevilles. ”So men, are we going to lay down this castle, clearly Warwick land, to a French whore’s cod piece?” One man yells out, ”Lord Warwick, we are with you! Death to the Queen’s cod piece!! The men, rallied by their mate, cry out.. ”Death to the Queen’s cod piece! Death to the Queen’s cod piece!!” I laugh heartily, ”To you all, I give my thanks and farthings a’plenty!” I decide they are riled enough, so calm things down. ”Listen men, my prayers are that Somerset will see my force to be reckoned. With God’s grace, this will be settled peacefully yet.” I motion over to the Welshmen who toiled on the castle walls… ”And to these men, I give my steadfast Lordship, always.” The troops begin cheering the Welsh workmen, and I cry out, ”Extra rations to all this night, mates! Tomorrow, if Somerset does not bend, we’ll meet out fate, together!” They cheer, the wave of excitement moving row to row. ”Carry on mates! Eat, drink and be merry this night, and may we celebrate a’plenty once we rule the day, God willing with no blood shed!!”

Coat of Arms, Beaufort Earls and Dukes of Somerset
Coat of Arms, Beaufort Earls and Dukes of Somerset

Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset 

Somerset gave the order to make camp swiftly. He was beside himself with rage and grief. The king! Lord God in Heaven what hast thou done to him?! Somerset could never have foreseen this! One thing he knew and one thing alone; the King must live; he must! The rain had eased but the mud was cloying around his boots as he made his way around the fledgling campsite. Men were erecting tents everywhere, orders being shouted above the wind that threatened to bring more rain and with that the urgency was all the more keenly felt. “Damn this filthy weather, and damn this filthy country!” he bellowed into the wind. “And you too my lord Warwick,” he spat contemptuously, “I know where you are skulking! And where you skulk is rightfully and fitfully mine, as so ordained by His Majesty King Henry. And by the good lord justice shall prevail and that which is so awarded to me by Royal Decree shall be given up unto me; with or without bloodshed, Warwick, I care not! But if blood is to be shed I swear I shall see your head stand tallest spitted on a pike outside my castle, my castle you hear me at Cardiff!” Unseen by him Somerset’s men had listened and as he finished his rage into the wind and rain bearing down on them from the direction of what was his goal they rose as one and gave a mighty cheer. He knew he would prevail.

But as for how he knew not, for if the king did not live; he dare not contemplate how he was to claim what had been awarded him. He turned and left his still cheering men to seek out his bed for the night. In the morning they would break camp and he shall make for the King’s side with all haste.

Whatever happens he needs the king to live, yet either way he swore the king’s state of health would be revealed to no man.

Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick

After a long day preparing for Somerset’s arrival, I sit by the fire, whore by my side, and drink down this poor Welsh ale. How do these frogs live on this swill? ”Undress wench.” As the Welsh lass strips down, a young scout, exhausted from his ride, rushes in. Distracted by the whore’s large titties, the lad finally spits out ”Lord Warwick… Lord Warwick, Somerset turned back. He turned back.” Stunned, I look at the lad and ask, ”Any clue why, mate?” He shakes his head and replies, ”No, not yet, but a few of the scouts are following, seeing what they can learn. All I know is a King’s messenger came, and they turned back quickly.” Something is a’miss at court, and it’s big. I smile broadly. Did the Queen lose the heir, mayhaps? In fine spirits, I look to the wench and throw her a mark. I point over to the lad, and justly reward him for work well done. ”Service him, whore. Service him as he commands.” I slap him on the back as I take my leave. ”Wear her thin, lad. She’s paid well enough.”

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

Written by Beth and Andy

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