Chapter 1: Parliament
Albion Rising: A Henry Frederick Timeline
Chapter 1: Parliament
James Stuart, King of England, Scotland, Ireland and France, shifted from one foot to another. He was waiting for members of his Household to appear so that they could begin the ritual that would signal that Parliament was officially open for a new session.
James hadn’t wanted to do this, but pressure from both his eldest son and heir, Henry, and from his beagle Lord Salisbury had convinced him that the Crown needed the money that only Parliament could grant. Therefore, he’d bitten his tongue and gone for it. The writs had been sent out announcing the end of the prorogation and requesting the return of the Lords and the Commons to London.
James wasn’t sure how many people would attend given that it was early February and was freezing cold, but still, if people came, then they could get things underway. He blinked as a door opened and a servant announced the arrival of his Treasurer and Comptroller of the Household and the Vice Chamberlain. They carried their white staffs of office. One by one they knelt before him, offering their staffs to him.
James took a breath, then one by one he took their staffs, examined them and then handed them back to their holders. He then bid them rise, which they did. James looked at the Vice Chamberlain and asked. “Has the search been conducted?”
Since the Gunpowder Treason, it had become custom for each new session of Parliament to be started with a search of the Palace of Westminster to make sure that there were no suspicious peoples or items lurking within. Usually nothing was found, but still, it couldn’t hurt to be cautious.
“It has, Sire.” The Vice Chamberlain said.
“And?” James asked.
“All is well, Sire.” The man replied.
“Good.” James answered. “Then let us proceed.”
He turned around and walked to the other side of the room, a guardsman opened the door and James entered into a corridor where his wife and eldest son were waiting. Both of them bowed when they saw him.
“Let us go.” He commanded. He stalked forward, Anne came to walk at his side, the perfect example of what a devoted wife should be. Looking at her, you would never have thought that they had had an argument the night before. Anne had been furious that James wanted Robert Carr, his friend and groomsman to accompany them to the State Opening. She had said it was beneath him, and above Carr’s station. James had refused to agree to such blatant foolishness. Carr was his friend, his ally, and therefore worthy of this honour.
Back and forth they had argued until Anne had eventually given way, though she had insisted that Carr could not join them on the barge that would take them to Westminster, that he could only join them once they were within the Palace. Reluctantly, James had agreed. He had instructed Robert to oversee the search as a result.
He blinked as they stepped out into the world. It was cold. Thankfully he was wrapped up warm, they all were. It wasn’t raining now, but according to some predictions it was meant to. James looked up into the sky, and saw dark clouds gathering. That wasn’t good.
He pushed on ahead, walking straight across the pathway, and then down the steps that led to where the barge was docked. A guard snapped to attention, and another pulled down the plank that would allow them to get on.
James nodded his thanks and walked on the plank and then stepped onto the barge, and frowned.
It smelt horrible. Like a mixture of horse shit and rat droppings. Clearly it had been stuck in some faraway corner of the Royal Dockyards, again. He would need to speak with Robert Maunsell and John Trevor about that. Keeping the Royal Barge in such disgusting conditions would not do.
He looked down at the floor, thankfully it was clean. No doubt Petts had seen to that.
He walked forward and then stopped when he got to the front of the boat. He wanted to be able to see where they were going.
James turned around when he heard the slam that indicated that the plank had been lifted. His wife and eldest son were on board, as was the Earl of Arundel-serving as Earl Marshal-and the Earl of Salisbury, and other members of the Royal Household.
He glanced passed them to the barge’s captain, the elderly Earl of Nottingham and nodded. Nottingham barked a command and they set off. James turned back around, observing the dark and dirty water that made up England’s greatest river.
As the barge made its way down the Thames, James desperately hoped that this session of Parliament would be different to the two previous sessions that had gone before. He hoped it would be less acrimonious, that there would be less bickering and more doing. After the last session had ended in arguments, James had gone to Sir Edward Coke-Chief Justice of the Common Pleas- and asked him for advice on how to handle Parliament.
Coke had sat down with him, every Wednesday for the last two and a half years, bringing him up to date on the laws of the land and the customs, dating all the way back to the Norman Conquest. Now, James felt he had a good understanding of Parliament, and he felt he knew how to get the body onside. He just needed to ensure that nothing else happened to derail it.
“They have come.” A voice said to his right. James turned and saw his son Henry staring at something to his right.
“Who?” James asked his son.
“The people, Your Majesty. Look.” Henry said, nodding his head.
James looked past his son and sighed. There were flocks of people lining the embankment. Commoners, merchants and perhaps even some of the nobility. They were all there cheering, and shouting. He couldn’t understand it. They had done this before, seen this before. Some had even witnessed the many parliaments of his predecessor’s reign. Still they came.
James raised a hand and waved at them, as did Henry. He could hear their cheering getting louder.
“That is good.” Anne said to his left, her English still heavily accented after all this time.
“Indeed.” James said. He knew why it was good, even if he found these big displays of people somewhat unnerving.
Footsteps behind him drew James’ attention. He found himself looking at Charles Howard, Earl of Nottingham and Lord High Admiral. The man’s face was a craggly mix of lines and broken skin. His eyes looked as if they had sunk into his face. It was a horrifying sight; James took a breath and then asked. “What is it Admiral?”
“We are approaching Westminster, Your Majesty.” Nottingham said.
James nodded, and turned back to face the front of the Barge. A few moments later the Barge docked, and the plank was lowered. James let his guards go first, then he walked onto the plank and onto solid ground. He stayed where he was and extended his hand to help Anne walk off, then they walked forwards toward the Palace of Westminster. The Abbey loomed to their right as they walked, James wondered if he might step into it after he’d given his speech. Perhaps say a prayer that everything worked out as it was meant to.
There were people on either side of the place where they walked. Some were cheering, others were standing in silence. Either way, James found it greatly unnerving-he had never liked such things-and was greatly relieved when they stepped into the Palace itself.
He smiled as Robert Carr, a dashing young man stepped forward and bowed. “Your Majesties.”
“Robert.” James said affectionately.
“Please, follow me.” Robert said, turning and walking down the hallway, James and Anne followed, as did Henry, the others ventured off to their own robing room. It was a solid five minute walk to the Royal Robing Room, and once they were there, they all separated, James moved to the far corner, where Robert and other members of his household helped him into the State Robes, whilst Anne ventured to the centre where her ladies helped her. Henry only had to put on a small cloak and his George and garter sash.
When they were done, they ventured out. The Lords Salisbury and Arundel, and others who had come with James were there waiting. James nodded to them and then walked onwards, turning right at the end of the hallway, then a sharp left, then he stopped.
The Earl of Arundel, as Earl Marshal stepped forward then and with a mighty heave opened the doors of the House of Lords. A herald stepped forth then and announced. “His Majesty King James!”
James stepped into the hall and walked forward, not bothering to look at anyone on either side of the hall. He was their King, they would acknowledge him one way or another. Anne walked at his side, her hand in his and together they walked majestically down the hall until they came to the steps, There, James helped Anne up and then walked up himself. He lifted his robes and sat down. Anne then sat. Henry took his place on the steps leading up to the throne.
“My lords, be seated.” James commanded.
There was a great flurry of movement as the Lords hurried to obey.
Once they were seated, James looked around the room, assessing who was here and who wasn’t. Pembroke, Exeter, Southampton and Sussex, as well as Suffolk from court were all here, which was good. Rutland, Bedford, Derby and Dorset from the faction that hovered outside of court were also here which was also good. And then there were others like Hertford and Lincoln who were here who might be useful. James’ eyes eventually settled on the Earl of Oxford, who as Lord Great Chamberlain bore the responsibility of summoning the Commons.
James nodded at the man, who got up and walked over to a man at the door, the Black Rod. Words were exchanged then the doors opened and the Black Rod stepped out.
James shifted on the throne. Going over the speech he had prepared for today. Trying to make sure he remembered all of it and struck the right tone. Somewhere between humble and Kingly. He would get the words right, but he would not make it seem like he was begging. He despised begging. He glanced to his right, where Sir Edward Coke was perched. Coke nodded to him, the man had had a hand in writing his speech after all. His words would reflect on Coke as well.
He faced the front when the herald announced. “The Honourable Members of the House of Commons.”
The Commons were led by the Speaker of the House, Sir Edward Phelips, a man James liked, if not admired. He was a good speaker, but someone who had failed to shape the Commons into something James could tolerate before. Hopefully, with what he had learned from Coke, James would not need to rely on Phelips as much.
The members of the Commons filed in, stopping and bowing, before taking their places at either side of the bar of the Lords.
James took a breath and then spoke. “My lords, and most honourable gentlemen, welcome to a new session of Parliament. There is much for you all to discuss and debate.” He took another breath. “But, before that can happen, we have something we would like to say.”
He glanced at Coke quickly, saw the man nod encouragingly, then continued. “We would like to say that we were hasty and rash in the previous sessions. We were ill-tempered and misjudged you all. We acknowledge that you were all looking out for our welfare and that of our Kingdom, and we should not have snapped as we did. We understand too that your concern regarding our expenditure is only to ensure that we are not led astray by rogues and ill-begotten creatures.”
James took a moment to let his words sink in. It seemed that some of the members of Parliament were shocked by what he’d said. Some of the MPs were looking at him with wide eyes.
Others were turning to murmur something to one another.
James carried on, fighting a smile. “We wish for this new session to be one of harmony. Let us not bicker over things that are irrelevant in the long term. Let us instead work together to forge a Kingdom that lives in harmony as the Almighty intended. We are all one, King and Parliament. We work best when we work with one another. Let us step forth into the glorious era that the Almighty has promised us!”
There was a collective pause and then someone started clapping, then someone else started clapping, and then the whole Hall was clapping. James smiled, his heart racing, his blood thundering. That was perhaps the best speech he had given in his entire reign. Now, he would need to slowly bring them toward why he had actually called them here.
He raised a hand, and the clapping stopped.
“In the spirit of that request, we have one request from you, our most loyal and valued subjects.” James began. “Let us work together to ensure that our son, Prince Henry, has the investiture that he deserves. He is of an age now to assume the great responsibilities that come with being the heir apparent to our great Kingdoms. Let us work together to ensure that his investiture as Prince of Wales is something that all shall remember.”
He could tell by examining the faces of some of the MPs that they were wondering where he was going with this. James was not so foolish that he did not recognise the need to sell them on the vision that he had, and therefore he continued. “It has been almost eighty years since last a Prince of Wales was invested with the title. In that time much has changed. England has become a glorious nation, with the capacity to bring greatness to the world. Is it not right that we ensure that this time, the investiture is something grand and magnificent? Something that will show our glory as a Protestant nation? A nation of God before all who think to see us as weak and behind?”
Some members of Parliament were starting to nod in agreement.
James continued. “Think of what it will look like when we show Spain and France, just how powerful and glorious we are, when we invest our Prince with full regalia and honours. No longer will they dare question our might. We are England, a Kingdom whose history stretches far beyond their own. Our glory shall be reflected in our son and Prince.”
James paused, waiting to see what the response would be.
A moment passed and then another, then suddenly someone shouted. “God Save the King!”
Another person shouted. “God Save Prince Henry!”
And then the whole house erupted into cheering and shouting. James looked around and felt his skin flush. Clearly, he had hit the right note.
 A strange nickname that James I gave to Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury from the moment he ascended the throne.
 Here’s our first proper POD, otl, James remained ignorant of English law and tradition, here he’s made an effort to change that. Keep an eye out for this, it will have big effects later on.