Chapter 291: Arthur’s Rise
Arthur sat down with a barely concealed huff. He was tired. So damned tired. He’d been working all the hours that God sent, trying to make sure that the task his father had given him months ago came to fruition. It seemed to have finally worked.
“Well?” The King asked, not looking up from whatever letter it was he was reading.
“The last bank that took direction from the Guild has shut its doors.” Arthur said. It had taken time, and a rather large stretching of the truth, but they’d finally gotten there.
“Good.” The King replied. “And the MPs?”
“All of them have denounced the Guild in Parliament.” Arthur said. He’d sat in the gallery watching the debate over the Guild, and he’d seen the MPs who’d previously been happy to take payment from them stand up and shout against the Guild, decrying it as Papist, as vile, as the spawn of the Devil. It would have been amusing if it hadn’t felt so grim.
“You seem concerned.” The King commented, still not looking up.
Arthur didn’t know how his father did that, or rather, he did. He did it himself with his own children. It was as if there was an extra sense that let him know when any of his children were concerned or worried. Or happy.
“I just wonder if there’s potential for this to come back and hurt us.” He said.
The King put his letter down-it was a letter, and it seemed to have come from Scotland, if he recognised the writing properly- “Why?” The King asked.
“Well, the Guild has ties to Madrid, we know that.” Arthur answered, that had been the first thing they’d discovered when this campaign had begun, though it hadn’t really been a surprise. There was not a chance that such a Guild could survive without some of that support “And we know that King Philip was heavily invested in its success.” That had been a surprise. A very big one. “How do we know that the man won’t try and salvage the situation.”
“Because King Philip is a smart man.” The King said. “He knows to abandon a dying situation when he sees one.”
Arthur wasn’t sure about that, if the letters-coded of course-that Mary had sent him were any indication, her father-in-law was not someone who knew when to let go. “I…”
“I know that Mary might paint a different picture.” The King said, Arthur was surprised that the King knew about what he was thinking, but then he really shouldn’t be, the King knew everything. “But Kings cannot afford to be so stubborn when an asset fails.”
“So, we won’t experience any pushback?” Arthur asked, hoping against hope that that was true.
“Not from Madrid at least.” The King said.
“But you think there will be some pushback?” Arthur asked.
“From the Guild, yes. No matter how defeated they are now, there will be some members who will try and do something. The whole is weak, the individuals may not be.” The King answered.
“Should something be done about them?” Arthur asked.
The King shook his head. “No.” Arthur wanted to ask why, but he knew the King had his reasons. “Now, how did the other merchants take your proposals?”
The proposals the King spoke of included increasing the franchise to even the lowest of merchants who earned roughly £60 a year, and to put two or three merchants onto the Privy Council, chosen from a selection put forth by the merchants themselves. Arthur had thought of these ideas after his conversations with the merchants where all of them had expressed support for the Central Bank but had worried that their concerns might not be heard in the push within Parliament.
“They were supportive, Sire.” Arthur said. “Indeed, Master Flowers said he had candidates in his head already for the positions.” Flowers was the most enthusiastic of the lot, alongside Rolfe. Both were making a fortune from the cotton trade that had started developing during Arthur’s grandfather’s reign.
The King snorted. “I am sure he was.” A pause, then. “Was there any outright opposition?”
“None, Sire.” Arthur replied. And none that his own spies had been able to detect.
“Good.” The King replied.
“What happens now?” Arthur asked.
“Now, the final draft of the Act for the Central Bank will be put before Parliament. Cromwell will introduce it in the Commons whilst the Duke of Norfolk introduces it in the Lords. With luck this thing shall be done before Christmas.” The King said.
Arthur nodded relieved.
The King smiled at him. “You have done very well, Arthur. I am proud of you.”
Arthur smiled. “Thank you, Sire.” Now if he could get George away from that Bess woman then all would be good.