I have made haste as I traveled here, to this meeting with the Duke of York. York is a fair man, but oft over worried with his dignity, and I fear he would interpret tardiness as a slight against him. My decision to attempt to treat with him does not sit well with my brother Edmund, but I see naught but trouble in any other path. York has complaints, and I wish to hear them from the man himself, to see if there is an accord that can be reached. I do not know that I can sway him, yet I must try. As the door opens behind me, I turn to greet him, “Your Grace, I thank you for this opportunity to speak with you. As we both love the king, I feel it meet that we should work together at this time.”
Richard Duke of York:
“Ah, Jasper, I see your travels have suited you? Have you found food and drink? May I offer you some wine?”
The almost full flask of malmsey red wine starred at me as I walked by it, begging me to pick it up and share its lush taste with the disheveled, seemingly weary traveler in my presence. Jasper Tudor rumored to have had made great haste in his journey here. I wondered what stories or rumors he had been told about me. Did he know of the plans I was wanting to instill? I studied Jasper Tudor’s face….. Wondering and questioning the Welshman’s loyalty…. Lancaster the name is like a thorn in my side. It is so obvious for us to sense where other’s loyalty lies. I had no doubts of his. Yes, I had heard why he had made the journey to see me. The king,… Henry. Rumors have been spreading across the countryside, that his health is ailing, and he had slipped into some form of “madness.” A part of me wishes, Jasper and his Welshmen, would just stay out of English business. This country cannot handle another bout of lack of proper authority. Even the thought of letting Margaret of Anjou be Regent, is completely unacceptable. My mind ran with thoughts, as I poured his goblet full of malmsey wine. My family, my kingdom, the Plantagenet and York line had to secure the throne. My lineage is flawless compared to even the king who sits on the throne now. Tudor… what claim does he have? Illegitimate they say and it is probably true. Family, Duty, Honour. Can I trust Jasper Tudor? This will be interesting, or very entertaining.
“Henry, they say, is mad again….and I worry the condition of the King will be of great consequence to us all…”
At least there will be no pretense here. The Duke is a direct man, and I decide to answer his frankness with candor. “Your Grace, the realm has need of your wise council at this time. I feel it meet that all parties must put aside personal slights or gains to support our king and his realm in this most troubling matter.” I taste the wine, it is of fine vintage, and think that this is a man I could call friend, were this another time. “I think there are matters that you and I agree upon, and I speak for my brother, as well. We have recognized the advancements of certain favorites, while more able men are passed by.” I have his interest now, it seems, and I hope to gain his trust. “No one can deny the losses in France, and I know you have much reason to complain. I ask you to join the next council meeting, that all voices may be heard, and all discord be remedied for the sake of the realm.” I look at the Duke, unimposing in stature, but a power to be reckoned with, all the same. Will he take me at my word? Or has he been so offended that he will not extend his trust?
Richard Duke of York:
So Jasper seeks my advice and possibly my camaraderie in this matter. I cannot ignore Somerset intentions though, for they have been made known to all. It has already been suggested to Parliament that there needs to be a “Lord and Protector” and Parliament knows of my linage. I become heir to the throne in light of Henry’s inability to rule, which seems to be getting worse, especially now, it will put an end to Somerset’s obvious scheming. How can Parliament ignore his inability as a commander? Five years past, Henry must have been loosing his wits even then… having Somerset replace me to watch over England’s men in France. France would still be ours if I still were commander. England needs to be under Plantagenet rule again. But I don’t feel this is the time to let Jasper know of my intentions. Cecily needs me, as well as my family. There are other matters that are pressing.
“Jasper, we know Henry has lost the crown’s lands in France. His family’s lands. The people close to him, the ones that pull the strings of his puppet form, and Margaret his wife; all I feel cannot be trusted. They seem to have Henry’s throne in their sights. Somerset, who was supposed to be of aid to Henry, lost.”
Somerset needs to go, and Henry’s inner circle…. I need men… many men.
“If I am to trust you in this conquest Jasper, perhaps I can reward you well. We need to make Somerset disappear, and his henchmen. We need men. I will work on a document telling of Somerset’s betrayal, for this cannot be ignored. When we have the men, we march. Then we leave the decision of whom should rule while our king is indisposed, to Parliament.”
“Aye, it is true. The realm requires a strong hand and virtuous heart at this time. The Queen cannot rule, Parliament will not stand for it.” I feel a certain trepidation, as if this Duke and I are about to step down a path from which there may be no return, so I continue carefully, “And of course, Your Grace, even after the King regains his health, he will need good council.”
The Duke has been listening intently, scrutinizing my face for any sign of deception, any hint of falseness. I pray he sees that I am not his enemy, and that we must find some accord that will bring satisfaction to all. If we cannot, I fear for Henry, and for all of us. If we can find no common peace, it is almost certain, the realm shall bleed.
I decide to turn the conversation to matters more agreeable, as I think the Duke and I are of one mind. We both seek to protect my brother’s realm from further trouble, all that remains is to settle the details. “How fares Duchess Cecily? And your children? Your sons are hale and hearty I hope?”
Richard Duke of York:
“We defiantly cannot have Margaret as Regent or even the possibility of being Queen at this point. England ruled by a French woman. The idea is preposterous, and reeks of devastation…. The last thing England needs is to be ruled by the French. And when Henry comes to his senses…. Is a big question many have…including myself… what then?”
Suddenly distracted, my eye is drawn to a lone ball rolling into the room. Then half way from the door to the table is a scurrying disheveled child with dark hair, pale yet rosy cheeks. He has the look of a deer that has been discovered. Richard. My namesake, perhaps one of my most treasured sons. Blessed be the mother Mary for watching over my Cecily and gracing our lives with him and his joy. I stride over and pick him up, as it isn’t exactly what he obviously intended. Fussy they are at this age as small hands reach out to object and search for his toy.
“Jasper, this is Richard, but we call him Dickon, my youngest son. Fine boy he is. He will make a good knight one day.”
Margaret flustered is now standing at the door, and I have her small charge. Jasper looks as if he is either going to laugh or cry, so much for political planning….
I cannot hide my amusement, nor my relief, at this most timely diversion. “You have been fortunate in your children, Your Grace. I hope someday to raise sons of my own.” Seeing the man like this, at home with his family, assures me that he can be counted on. What man would wish to leave a war torn country to his sons? The affection he bears this small one is evident, and all have heard him praise his daughters’ beauty, and his sons for their strength.
As I prepare to depart, I assure him once more that all shall be well. “I thank you for this audience, but I regret that I must be off yet again. My dear brother might better have ennobled me as Earl of Road Dust, as I seem to spend more time traveling of late, than seeing to mine own estates!” Reaching for the duke’s hands, I continue, “When next we converse, I hope we might sit and congratulate ourselves on our good work in council.”