Albion Rising: A Henry Frederick Timeline

Chapter 1: Parliament
  • Albion Rising: A Henry Frederick Timeline​

    Chapter 1: Parliament

    February, 1610

    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[1] 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.[2]

    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.

    [1] A strange nickname that James I gave to Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury from the moment he ascended the throne.
    [2] 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.
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    Chapter 2: Salisbury's Contract
  • Chapter 2: Salisbury’s Contract

    February, 1610

    The doors of the House of Lords slammed shut as the King departed. Robert, Earl of Salisbury had to admit, the King’s speech had been a fine piece of work. He had helped the King write it, or rather come up with the general gist of it, the King had perfected it himself. He knew how to work a crowd, when he really wanted to, did the King. It was a shame that he didn’t do it more often. If he did, Robert was convinced that his popularity would be much higher than it seemed to be now.

    Robert had had to almost twist the King’s arm to get him to recall Parliament and end the prorogation. The King’s spending was getting out of control again, his lavishing of Carr and the Howards was far too much, and as such, they needed some form of relief. Whilst the King would not dismiss the Howards or Carr from the veritable mountain of offices they held, he had eventually come round to seeing sense in calling Parliament. It seemed, something in his legal studies with Coke had prompted him into wanting to bring the body back.

    His speech had done wonders. Robert looked around the chamber, and saw that the Lords were murmuring amongst themselves, clearly animated. The Commons were beginning to file out of the chamber, and they too were murmuring amongst themselves. That gave Robert hope. Hope that this session of Parliament would be better than the last two, where a failed Union and disputes over Purveyance had dominated proceedings, and ended in animosity. Mainly from the Commons.

    Robert knew that the King’s debts were high, incredibly high, and that asking for the sum needed to pay those debts off wouldn’t come without compromise. He had put the case before the King and thankfully the King had agreed. Three things would be put before Parliament for abolishment in return for an annual lump sum. Robert just hoped it would be enough and that Parliament would go for it.

    The doors were slammed shut again, as the last MP departed the Lords’ chamber. Robert glanced at the Lord Chancellor, Ellesmere, to ascertain whether now was the right time to rise and speak. When the man looked at him and nodded, Robert rose. He winced slightly at a sharp pain in his chest, but ignored it. Ellesmere cleared his throat. “Quiet in the hall!” He boomed. It was a sign of how well respected he was that the entire chamber fell quiet. Ellesmere looked at him and said. “Lord Salisbury to speak.”

    Robert took a breath and then spoke. “Thank you, Lord Chancellor.” He glanced around the chamber, noting all the eyes that were on him. “My lords, as His Majesty the King said in his glorious speech earlier today, we must put the divisions of the past behind us. We must work together to ensure that England can reach her glorious potential. Let us not stoop to petty grievances as if we were washerwomen bickering over a new piece of soap. Let us instead work together to build a glorious Eden in our earthly home.”
    Robert looked around the chamber, and saw various Lords murmuring to one another, no doubt wondering where he was going with this.

    “To that end,” he continued. “It is imperative that we first turn our considerations toward His Highness Prince Henry’s investiture as Prince of Wales.” Robert had totalled up the costs of everything that both the Prince and the King wanted to happen in the ceremony. It would not be cheap. Neither man did things on the cheap.

    “The total cost as calculated by His Majesty’s treasury would come to roughly £25,000.” Robert said. That was at the extreme end, with all the finery, food, drink, and other assortments that would be needed. “Of that amount, His Majesty is willing to pay £15,000 from his own purse. Consequently, my lords, Parliament would need only pay the remaining ten.” Where the King would get that £15,000 from, Robert did not know. His Majesty had said something about using funds from his Scottish estates for it, but whether the Scottish Parliament would agree, Robert did not know.

    The Lords were murmuring now, they didn’t sound quite as happy about this. “It is something that has concerned me, my lords, the issue of how Parliament can pay the remaining amount, and that is what I have come to present to you today.” He pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket and held it up for all to see. “I hold in my hand an account of where I believe the money can come from.” He put the paper down on the lectern in front of him and continued. “If Parliament was to raise a tax on the number of hearths in a household across the land, that could raise roughly £3000. Another £3000 could come from raising a temporary tax on lands valued at over £150, and then the final £4000 could come from a one time Parliamentary grant.”

    It wasn’t perfect, Robert admitted. But at the same time, it was something. The King had been no help on that matter, but the Prince had. He’d scoured through the books to see how funding for previous investitures had been raised, and come up with the solutions. They might work.

    He glanced around the chamber again, and saw that some of the Lords, were murmuring to one another. Richard Sackville, Earl of Dorset was having a rather animated conversation with Robert’s own brother, Thomas, Earl of Exeter.

    Robert ploughed on. “It is His Majesty’s view that this amount is reasonable and the means chosen are acceptable. Having looked through the laws, I find no reason to think otherwise.” He glanced at Dorset. “Unless there are those who think otherwise?”

    The House fell silent then, all eyes were still fixed on him.

    Robert cleared his throat. “His Majesty also acknowledges that there has been cause for concern regarding the spending that has happened over time. At present, His Majesty’s debts are beyond the means he has for paying for them, consequently, it is His Majesty’s wish that a trade be engaged in with Parliament.”

    William Paulet, Marquess of Winchester was staring at him quite intently. Robert felt the pain in his chest again, but pushed it down.

    “His Majesty proposes a Great Contract between himself and Parliament. In exchange for abolishing the right to create new impositions alongside the right to Wardship and Purveyance, His Majesty expects Parliament to agree to an annual grant of £200,000 to enable His Majesty to efficiently run the Kingdom.” Robert said.

    The moment Robert finished speaking, the entire chamber erupted into sound. One person was shouting something that sounded vaguely like ‘treason’ another person was shouting in favour, and others were shouting a variety of other things. It was slightly overwhelming, Robert had to admit. If he were a weaker man he might be afraid, instead, he felt pain in his chest and put a hand to his centre to try and calm himself.

    Lord Ellesmere eventually quietened things down by banging his gavel against something solid, three times. “Order!” He roared. “Order!”

    When the House had fallen quiet, Ellesmere turned to him and asked. “Do you have anything else to add, Lord Salisbury?”

    Robert shook his head. “No, Lord Chancellor, I do not.”

    Ellesmere nodded and looked about the chamber. “Does anyone wish to respond to what Lord Salisbury has just said?”

    Immediately the Earl of Bedford rose. Ellesmere acknowledged him with a nod.

    A pause, then Bedford spoke. “Thank you, Lord Chancellor. My lords, Lord Salisbury, we have had quite an eventful morning.” That sparked some smatterings of laughter. Bedford continued. “His Majesty was right in his speech, we must work together to ensure the greatness of the Kingdom. If that includes partly paying for His Highness Prince Henry’s investiture, then I say we should do it, regardless of how.”

    “Hear, hear!” Someone yelled.

    Bedford continued. “However, on the point of this Great Contract that my Lord Salisbury mentions, I have two questions.”

    Bedford paused, looked around the chamber and then looked directly at Salisbury. “My Lord Salisbury mentioned that His Majesty would give up the ancient rights of Wardship, Purveyance and the right to levy new impositions, in return for an annual grant of £200,000. On the surface this seems a fair compromise. However, when one considers that the value of Wardship itself is roughly £250,000[1], one must wonder if it would not be better to increase the amount that Parliament grants. And if so, why has my Lord of Salisbury given such a low amount.”

    There were murmurs of approval at that, and Salisbury himself agreed, though he had deliberately put the figure at £200,000 so as not to scare anyone. He knew they would need agreement from the Commons.

    Bedford continued. “Secondly, what is the level of His Majesty’s debt?”

    That got even more people murmuring and Robert frowned. It was not good form for someone to ask about the debt, unless a minister had brought it up. Still, the matter had been raised, and now he would need to find a way to cover it, without mentioning it.

    Bedford sat down, Ellesmere banged his gavel and looked at Robert. “Lord Salisbury, do you wish to respond?”

    “I do.” Robert said. Ellesmere nodded and gestured for him to rise. Robert did so, wincing as pain shot through him again.

    He cleared his throat. Stared right at Bedford and spoke. “I thank my Lord Bedford for his reply, and acknowledge that the money raised from Wardship is approaching the amount he mentioned. However, that is on a good day. The times are changing and we must adapt to them. If Parliament feels it right to raise the annual grant then His Majesty shall accept, if they do not then His Majesty will also accept. £200,000 is a base figure for starting negotiations.”

    He saw Bedford nod, and then turned to face the rest of the chamber. “As to the debt, well, the debt currently stands at an amount slightly higher than the figure suggested for the annual grant. It is His Majesty’s desire that the annual grant alongside some other economies would go some ways toward clearing that debt.”

    There were murmurs at that, Robert could see his brother Exeter frowning at him, whilst Dorset whispered into Exeter’s ear. Robert ignored them and sat down.

    He waited to see if Ellesmere would call for anyone else to speak, and was pleasantly surprised when the man banged his gavel and said. “We shall adjourn for thirty minutes so that members may have their midday meal.” Ellesmere banged his gavel, as Lords started to rise. “Remember, thirty minutes. Thank you.”

    Robert exhaled. His chest was on fire.

    [1] A vast overestimation, something that was quite common in this era, and later eras of the Stuart period.
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    Chapter 3: A Prince's Court
  • Chapter 3: A Prince’s Court​

    March, 1610

    The reports Henry was getting back from Parliament suggested that this session was going far better than anyone could’ve expected. After the King’s opening speech-which Henry had to admit had been far superior to anything he’d ever heard the old man give before-Parliament had briefly debated the proposal that they fund part of his investiture as Prince of Wales, before voting unanimously-and that was incredibly rare for both houses to do so-in favour of the motion. The taxation had started this month.

    There were of course other matters being discussed, mainly the Great Contract that the Earl of Salisbury had put before Parliament. Henry wasn’t sure how he felt about it. On the one hand, he could see the sense in getting Parliament’s approval for an annual grant. It would be a much easier and cheaper way to raise money, and as Henry’s own studies of English law showed, it was increasingly the only legal way to raise money for the funding of government. On the other hand, willingly handing over parts of the Royal Prerogative as if they were something that could be bartered away in some market, and not something that had been divinely ordained, didn’t sit right with him.[1] And he was sure they didn’t sit right with his father either.

    He sighed. There was nothing he could do about it. Until he was invested as Prince of Wales and until he reached the age of majority he could not attend Parliament. Not in his own right. Though, the King had hinted that after the investiture ceremony, he might be named to the Privy Council, which would be a good thing unto itself. Giving him the chance to observe the workings of government, from a close angle.

    The sound of somebody coughing pulled Henry out of his musings. He turned slightly to his right and saw Henry Radclyffe, the son of the Earl of Sussex looking at him intently. Henry raised an eyebrow, and Radclyffe spoke.

    “My apologies, Your Highness, but I wondered if we might be able to discuss some of what has happened in Parliament?”

    Henry looked at Radclyffe, then glanced at his tutor Adam Newton. He didn’t want to risk saying something that might get construed as being against his father. Newton gave a slight nod of his head, and Henry looked back at Radclyffe and said. “Certainly, what is it you wished to discuss?”

    Radclyffe took a breath and then spoke. “Well, mainly about the Great Contract.”

    Shit. Henry thought to himself, and then he chided himself for swearing. [2]He made a note to himself to give money to David to give to the beggars opposite the palace. He couldn’t deny them the chance to speak about the Great Contract without making it look suspicious, therefore he simply asked. “What about it?”

    Radclyffe continued. “I don’t think it’s right that the King should have to bargain away elements of his prerogative in order for Parliament to do their duty.”

    John Paulet, the heir of the Marquess of Winchester spoke then. “But surely something must give if Parliament is to do their duty. After all, it would not sit well within the frame of reference for how our Kingdom works if there was not a give and take.”

    “Had Parliament demanded there be an exchange, I would agree with you, John.” Radclyffe replied. “But this just seems to me as though His Majesty is trying to avoid a scandal and is therefore giving way before the request has been made. It doesn’t sit right with me.”

    “So, what would you prefer?” John asked. “That Parliament force His Majesty to give something up before they grant him the monies he needs?”

    Edward Sackville, younger brother of the Earl of Dorset spoke up then. “Parliament cannot force His Majesty to do anything. They can only recommend.”

    Henry saw that Paulet was about to contradict Edward, but then it seemed the other man remembered that Edward’s knowledge of the law was far superior to his own, and thus he fell silent. [3]

    As if sensing that they were all waiting for him to say something, Adam Newton, their tutor spoke then. “Since you are all interested in discussing the Great Contract, let us discuss its merits and its faults, shall we?”

    Henry repressed a smirk at that. He could just tell everyone was dreading this conversation now. Mr Newton was a great tutor, but they were all reaching that stage in life where they’d rather be doing anything than be stuck inside listening to him speaking about things like this. Henry looked at the window and tried to catch a glance of what it was like outside. He didn’t manage to see anything before Mr Newton spoke.

    “Your Highness, why don’t you start us off? What do you make of the Great Contract?”

    Henry opened his mouth and then closed it. This was a difficult question. He had to be very careful about how he phrased his answers. No doubt whatever he said would get back to his father, but more importantly it would get back to that dog Carr, who would spin it however he saw fit. He took a breath and then spoke. “I think that the Great Contract is something that must be considered with great cautiousness. It is something that is needed. The state of Royal Finances being what they are, we cannot rely on the old feudal rights forever, we must bring things into the modern era. However, I would be cautious about expecting a complete turnaround from this immediately.”

    “And why is that?” Mr Newton asked.

    Henry knew he had to be exceptionally careful about how he replied to this particular question. The wrong wording could get him in deep trouble. He exhaled then inhaled then said. “There are those around the court who are like leeches. They suck away the good will and the finances of the realm, for their own nefarious purposes. They will still be there even if this contract passes.”

    There was a hushed silence at his response, as if everyone was waiting to see how Mr Newton would reply, the man smiled as he spoke. “And how would you ensure that the leeches are removed, for the future?”

    Henry took a deep breath; his tutor was asking him some seriously difficult and dangerous questions. He both appreciated and loathed the questions. They were making him think on his feet, which he supposed wasn’t a bad thing. “I would limit those who are able to get Royal Patronage. Those who bring something of value to the Kingdom, either through their brains, their military ability or their artistic value would be rewarded with Patronage.”

    “And how would you assess this?” Newton asked.

    “With mine own judgement.” Henry said. “And with the advice of those who have knowledge within these fields.” He smiled after he had finished.

    Newton smiled as well. “A good answer.” The man then looked around at the rest of his friends and said. “That is how you decide whether something is of value or not, gentlemen. Not by trusting your instincts alone, but the counsel of others as well. Remember you are all the future members of His Highness government and court, and Kingdom. You must hone your instincts to ensure you never give bad judgement.” Newton bowed to Henry, rose and then departed.

    There was a silence after he had departed, when they all shared a look with one another, wondering what exactly had prompted that particular speech. A silence that was only broken by Cahir O’Doherty[4]who quipped. “What the bloody daises was that about?”

    “Jar.” Henry remarked as he laughed.

    O’Doherty laughed and took out a small bag and emptied it out onto the table at the side, he then moved back. “But seriously what was that?” O’Doherty asked, his accent thickening.

    “Who knows.” Henry Radclyffe said. Radclyffe then grinned. “But enough about that.” A pause and then. “John Harington, you were awfully quiet during all of that. Were you too busy thinking about a certain Lady Manners?”

    Henry swivelled in his chair and looked at Harington, the man he was closest to, and asked. “Lady Manners?”

    Harington blushed. “Mary Manners. My father and the Earl of Rutland are discussing whether it would be right for us to marry.”

    “And?” Henry asked. “What do you think?”

    John sighed. “I don’t know.”

    Henry frowned. “What do you mean you don’t know?” They’d all met the Manners family, it was hard not to when the Earl of Rutland constantly hovered around court like a fly. Mary Manners was perhaps the most beautiful of all the Manners sisters. With long flowing raven hair, piercing blue eyes, and a smile that just smacked of mischief. Henry had seen John talking with the girl, there was a connection there. Of that he was sure.

    “I’ve heard she’s interested in someone else.” John said simply.

    “Who?” Henry asked.

    “Some minor knight’s son. A tenant of her father’s.” John said.

    “And you think she’d rather go for him than you?” Henry asked perplexed.

    “I don’t know.” John said, then before anyone else could speak about it, his friend turned the tables on him. “And what about you, Your Highness? Which of the litany of Princesses being discussed do you find the most attractive?”

    Henry laughed. “Well played.” He said to John, then looking around the room he said. “I am not marrying a Spanish Princess. Not in any lifetime.” He found the very thought repellent. Regardless of what his father or mother might say, Spain was the enemy.

    “Does His Majesty see it that way?” John asked.

    Henry laughed. “I do not know, but I will ensure that he does.” He could be persuasive when he wanted to be.

    “And what about France?” John asked.

    “I have heard it said that King Henri is willing to let his daughter come to England to be raised here under our influence.” Henry said. If he remembered correctly, it had been Lord Salisbury who had said that to him. “If that is so then she might well convert.” That would be good.

    “And if not her?” John asked.

    “Then you’re scraping the barrel.” Edmund Butler quipped.

    Henry laughed. “Then it would be the Polish Princess. And she does seem to be smart.” At least from what their ambassador to Poland had written to say.

    “But you would prefer the French Princess?” Robert Maxwell asked.

    “I would prefer a Protestant Princess, but yes, if it must be a Catholic Princess, I would rather it be a French Princess.” Henry admitted.

    “Well let us hope the Almighty agrees.” Colin Mackenzie said.

    “Indeed.” Henry said, convinced that God would not abandon his hopes to fate.

    [1] And here we have something that will go onto define Henry (minor spoilers), his desire to work with Parliament competing with his desire to protect the Royal Prerogative.
    [2] Another thing about Henry, he made those in his household who swore in front of him put money in a jar. The money was then donated to the poor.
    [3] Keep an eye on Edward Sackville, he’s going to be important.
    [4] Another small change from otl, in our timeline, O’Doherty started a rebellion the day his application to join Henry’s household was accepted. Here, he never rebels. You’ll see why in a little bit.
    Chapter 4: Queen
  • Chapter 4: Queen​

    March, 1610

    Anne looked around the grand banqueting room of the Palace of Whitehall and sighed. The one time that James had actually listened to her and she couldn’t enjoy it. Her nephew, Frederick Ulrich, Hereditary Prince of Brunswick Luneburg had come on a state visit on behalf of his father-her brother in law-and as such, James had deigned to use the banqueting room of the Palace to formally welcome him. He had spared no expense either. The fountains out in the courtyard leading to the banqueting room cost close to an ‘arm and a leg’ as her son Henry had put it when they’d been discussing this entire evening.

    The meals had been served and music was playing, and people were dancing, but as the hostess, Anne had to remain seated at the High Table, especially as her husband was off doing God alone knew what with Robert Carr and their associates. Carr, that man was nothing but trouble, and despite the argument she had had with her husband about him before Parliament had been recalled, he remained stuck to her husband’s side as he ever had been. Indeed, his influence seemed to grow ever more prevalent. James had mentioned that he was considering naming Carr’s arrogant friend, Thomas Overbury to be Charles’ secretary. Anne had vehemently protested, but James had ignored her. It had only been when Henry had learned about it and told James in no uncertain terms what he’d do to Overbury if the man came anywhere near his younger brother, that James had relented.

    James might not pay attention to her, but he still loved their eldest son, and that was good enough for her, for now.

    She glanced to her right, ignored the vacant chair where her husband was supposed to be and saw her nephew, Frederick, examining his wine cup. Her nephew was a tall young man, with a bristly moustache guarding his upper lip, and a strong chin. He also had eyes that constantly seemed as though they were laughing. He wasn’t handsome by most measures, but he had a good heart. That Anne knew. And that was why she leaned to her right and called out in French. “Nephew, stop examining your cup and come and speak with me.”

    Frederick looked up from his cup and smiled at her, he got up from his chair and walked toward her, hovering over her. “My apologies, Your Majesty, I did not mean to be rude.”

    Anne waved a hand dismissively. “Nonsense, you were not being rude. Though, I must ask, how was your journey? We did not have enough time before the dinner to speak.” That had been deliberate on her husband’s part she assumed. The moment Frederick had arrived from St James-where he was staying with Henry-her husband had pulled him off to one of the other chambers to talk ‘business.’ What that business was she had no idea. Not even Henry knew, because he had not been invited. Only the King and Carr and her nephew had attended.

    Her nephew smiled. “It was good, thank you, Your Majesty. Travelling via Bremen is always an interesting experience. Their ships are magnificent.”

    Anne nodded. Bremen, was an interesting place, Anne had visited there once, when she had been very small. “And what do you plan on doing whilst you are here?”

    How long her nephew intended to stay in England, she didn’t know. He hadn’t said anything, nor had James, and her sister Elizabeth hadn’t said anything either. Frederick shifted where he stood and said. “For a month or two, Your Majesty. I wish to explore this great Kingdom of yours.”

    Anne smiled. “Of course. There are a few places that you should most definitely visit if you get the opportunity.”

    “I am listening.” Her nephew replied.

    Anne smiled. “Well, firstly you must visit Oxford and Cambridge. They are two of the shining lights of this great Kingdom. There you will learn things that they will never show you back in Brunswick or elsewhere for that matter. Then from there you must visit Portsmouth, it has some of the best food and some of the most intriguing naval designs that you will ever see. And from there, I would recommend a visit to Cornwall. Indeed, I believe Henry intends on visiting Cornwall soon. You two should go together.”

    Her nephew smiled. “Thank you, Your Majesty, I will make sure to visit these places whilst I am here.” Her nephew opened his mouth as if to say something then shut it.

    Anne continued. “And whilst you are here, you might as well get talking with our Elizabeth.”

    Frederick’s eyebrows rose up at that. “Your Majesty?” He asked, sounding as if he’d misheard her.

    Anne smiled. “Do not look so shocked, Frederick. You are young, so is she, you two would get on well together.” Whether they actually would or not she didn’t know, but if they did, all the better. She didn’t want her daughter married to a son of a drunkard.

    “I…” Frederick replied, sounding unsure of himself.

    Anne looked away from her nephew, and down the hall to where Elizabeth was talking with her brother. She turned back, and looked at her nephew. “Go, ask her to dance.”

    Her nephew clearly took it as a command for he bowed, and then walked off. Anne watched as he walked down the steps onto the floor and then as he walked over to Elizabeth and Henry. She watched as he said something to Henry who smiled at him, clapped him on the shoulder and then walked away. She then watched as Frederick asked Elizabeth to dance. Her daughter, who at fourteen was the most beautiful lady at court, smiled and took his hand, and led him onto the floor properly, where a space was made and they began to dance.

    “You did that, didn’t you?” A voice to her left asked, in English.

    Anne turned around and saw her son towering over her, his skin slightly flushed.

    “And what if I did?” She asked innocently.

    Where James would scowl at her, Henry merely laughed. “You know that father isn’t going to be happy if something comes of this?”

    Anne laughed as well. “He can be as unhappy as he likes. Brunswick is not a bad marriage.”

    “Brunswick isn’t an Electorate or the leader of the Protestant Union.” Henry pointed out.

    Anne sighed. “And yet, the Elector Palatine has a problem with his drink and with his morals. That is not something I want Elizabeth to have to experience.”

    Henry frowned at her. “The problems of the father are not necessarily going to become the problems of the son.”

    Anne took her son’s hand in her own. “Of course not.” She knew Henry was terrified of becoming like James, reliant on a certain group of favourites, spending lavishly on them and doing God alone knew what else. The fact he hadn’t yet had his inauguration into manhood was another thing that concerned him she knew. After all, James hadn’t had his until perhaps a year before they’d been married.

    Henry sighed and then looked at his father’s vacant seat, and then at her. She got what he wanted and so she nodded. A few moments later, Henry pulled the chair back and sat down in it. A servant hurried to help him pull the chair in.

    Once he was seated, he looked at her and asked. “Where is the King?”

    “With Carr.” Anne said, trying and failing to keep the bitterness out of her tone.

    Her son exhaled. “Why?”

    She didn’t need him to elaborate on what he meant. She knew just as well. Why was the King so close to Carr? Why did he prefer Carr’s company to theirs? Why? Why? These were questions that Anne had gone over herself countless times. She couldn’t come up with a reasonable answer. “I do not know.” Was all she said.

    “We must remove him.” Henry said. “I’ve heard from my friends in the Commons, they intend to vote for the Great Contract soon, but the one thing that is holding them back is Carr. If they vote for the Contract, they want to know nothing will go to him.”

    “And of course, James being James that is not guaranteed.” Anne agreed.

    Henry nodded. “So, what do we do?”

    Anne sighed. “I do not know.” At the look of despair that overcame her eldest son, she felt her heart break. She wished with all her heart that she could provide an answer for him, but she couldn’t. She just couldn’t and she didn’t know how to.

    Henry rolled his shoulders then and said. “No matter, I will think of something. And when I do, I will make sure that Carr falls as far as one possibly can.”

    Anne nodded. “I have no doubt that you will, my dear.” She saw Henry’s jaw tighten then as his eyes turned from her to the hall. She looked to the hall and saw the King and Carr walking back in. She looked back at Henry and said. “Henry.” Her son looked at her. “Just be careful that this does not consume you.”

    “I will.” Her son promised.
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    Chapter 5: Carr
  • Chapter 5: Carr

    April, 1610

    Robert Carr shifted slightly in his chair. He was reading over some paperwork that the King had given to him and he was finding it rather hard to concentrate. All he could think about was what the King had said to him at the feast that had been held to welcome the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick to London. The King had told him that after Prince Henry’s investiture as Prince of Wales, he, Robert, would be created a Viscount in the English Peerage. Not only that but that the King would be granting him properties in and around Rochester to the value of £3000, in return for Robert handing over two of the offices the King had granted him, was something Robert found mind boggling.

    Robert had no qualms about handing over two of the minor offices the King had granted him, their total worth was only about £500, the reward he was getting for doing so was far more than he had thought. But then, the King was a generous man, when he wanted to be, and Robert was not going to say no. Of course, with that wealth, Robert knew he’d make more enemies than friends, and as such, he would need to move ever closer to the Howards, the Earl of Suffolk in particular. Which was going to leave a bad taste in his mouth. But he could live with it.

    “What are you thinking about?” A harsh voice asked.

    Robert looked up and saw his friend and secretary, Thomas Overbury looking at him intently. Robert sighed. “What the King told me.”

    “About the property he’s giving you?” Thomas asked.

    “Yes.” Robert answered. “It’s going to make me a very rich man.”

    Thomas nodded. “But it’s also going to make you enemies. Have you thought about how you’re going to avert that little disaster?”

    “I need to get closer to the Howards.” Robert said, his friend frowned and Robert ploughed on. “I know it’s not going to be good, but it needs to be done. They’re the ones who have the King’s ear, and they are dominant in a lot of the southern Lieutenancies. Hells, Thomas, the Earl of Suffolk agreed to have a game of that idiotic foot-ball played in the park outside his house between the English and Italian merchants on Saturday.”[1]

    “Yes, but he got criticised by the clergy for allowing that, and the King himself only consented because Prince Henry was insistent on allowing it to happen.” Thomas countered.

    Robert sighed. “So, what do you suggest I do?”

    “You’ve got to find some other way of ensuring that you don’t get more enemies.” Thomas said. “I’d go for pushing hard for the Palatine match.”

    “You would?” Robert asked surprised. He had thought his friend didn’t care about such things.

    “I would.” Thomas agreed.

    “Why?” Robert asked.

    “Because Prince Henry and the Queen seem to be leaning toward Brunswick, as does Salisbury. The mood amongst the merchant class is that Brunswick would be disastrous for their trade, whilst the Palatine with its ties to the Rhine is exactly what England needs. If you throw your weight behind the Palatine match, you will show them that you have your finger on the pulse. And if they think that, then they will tell their MPs and their patrons in the Lords.” Thomas said.

    “Which will make it far harder for the Lords to try and do anything towards me.” Robert said, realising what his friend was getting at. Despite being the most powerful men in the realm, the Lords were oddly sensitive to the views of the merchant community.

    “Exactly.” Thomas said smiling.

    “How long is Brunswick staying here for?” Robert asked. He was sure the King had told him, but he’d been quite drunk at the welcoming feast, so couldn’t remember.

    “Nobody is quite sure.” Thomas said. “Could be another month, could be another three. He’s currently in Cornwall, with Prince Henry, examining some of the tin mines.”

    “How fun.” Robert said.

    “Indeed. But the issue is, is that he’s been courting Princess Elizabeth, and it seems that she has taken a liking to him. That needs to be changed.” Thomas insisted.

    “And the only way for that to change is for the Electoral Prince of the Palatine to either come here or to write to her.” Robert said.

    “Which one is the King more likely to agree to?” Thomas asked.

    “He’s going to be better if they write to one another. But the question is how to get him to suggest it to his daughter or to the Electoral Prince.” Robert mused out loud. The King for all his good qualities was not someone who always thought on his feet. There was a lot of flailing around.

    “Put the idea into Prince Henry’s head.” Thomas suggested.

    Robert snorted. “How?” Prince Henry didn’t exactly like him.

    “Your cousin, Lord Kerr is a noted military man, isn’t he?” Thomas asked.

    “Yes, for keeping control over the borderers.” Robert said, which was no easy feat, given how strife seemed to be in their blood.

    “Well, Prince Henry’s got a thing for military men, and given he seems to be intrigued by Scotland, we could spin it that way.” Thomas said.

    “You mean get my cousin to speak with the Prince, get him to talk to him, impress him and then casually suggest that the Palatine shares more of interest with England than Brunswick?” Robert asked.

    “Yes.” Thomas answered. “And, then whilst that’s being done, get your cousin to casually suggest that the Princess and the Electoral Prince start writing to one another. The King will have the letters examined before they reach the Princess, therefore he can assess the character of the Prince, and Prince Henry can also see what sort of man the Electoral Prince is , as well as the benefits and negatives.”

    “Thus, making Prince Henry feel as if he’s got some influence, whilst also putting the King into a technical position of control.” Robert mused.

    “Exactly.” Thomas replied.

    Robert thought on this. It could work. But would Prince Henry put two and two together, and if he did, what then?

    It seemed that Thomas had caught onto what he was thinking, for he quickly said. “You don’t have to be the one to make the introduction. Get the King to invite your cousin down and then let nature take it’s course.”

    “Are you sure?” Robert asked. He wasn’t sure what the King made of his cousin. The man had only mentioned him once.

    “Yes.” Thomas said. “Trust me.”

    Robert took a breath and then said. “Very well.” After all, Thomas hadn’t been wrong before now.

    “But then there’s another issue.” Thomas said.

    “Which is what?” Robert asked.

    “The Howards, and the Queen.” Thomas replied.

    “I’d think they’re two separate issues. The Queen doesn’t particularly like the Howards.” Robert said. At least, he thought she didn’t.

    “Not right now no, but the Queen will push for her nephew to get Princess Elizabeth, and the Howards might start supporting such a move if they suspect they’re being outplayed.” Thomas said.

    “So, I do have to court them?” Robert asked, with some frustration. This was turning out to be more of a mess than he’d hoped for.

    “No, I don’t think you do. At least not properly.” Thomas replied.

    “What do you mean?” Robert asked frowning.

    “I mean you need to make them think you’re going onto their side, but in reality, you’re working on your own angle.” Thomas said.

    “And how would you suggest I do that?” Robert asked.

    “By going after the Earl of Suffolk’s daughter.” Thomas said.

    “Which one, he has four.” Robert replied.

    “Frances Howard.” Thomas said.

    “The Countess of Essex?!” Robert exclaimed. “Are you mad?”

    “Not at all. I’m merely saying what I think the most reasonable choice is.” Thomas replied.

    “Essex? Her husband will kill me. As will the Prince.” Robert said. Indeed, Robert wasn’t sure which one he feared more.

    “Not if you play it right.” Thomas replied.

    “And how exactly do I play this right?” Robert asked somewhat incredulously, had his friend gone mad?

    “By starting off small.” Thomas said. “Talk to her, get to know her, offer to help her around at court. Then go in for the kill and make her fall for you.”

    “Do you think it will be that easy?” Robert asked.

    “I think after her husband, the Countess will jump at the first sign of attention.” Thomas said simply.

    Robert took a breath and then said. “Fine, I will do it.” He just hoped this didn’t come back to bite him.

    [1] Couldn’t help myself.
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    Chapter 6: A New Gloriana?
  • Chapter 6: A New Gloriana?

    April, 1610

    Elizabeth fiddled with the letter, she knew it was silly, that she wasn’t a little girl anymore and therefore shouldn’t get so keen on someone just because of a letter. But she was. She had to admit that she was. Frederick Ulrich, Hereditary Prince of Brunswick and her cousin, was a good man. He was kind, charming, funny, and whilst not being stereotypically handsome, he was easy on the eye. And Elizabeth found herself wondering what it would be like to be married to him.

    His most recent letter had gotten her heart pounding, even though he’d barely said anything. She looked at it again.

    Your Highness,

    It fills me with joy to know that you received my gift and that you liked it. I must confess that I was nervous about whether it was the right gift for someone so magnificent as you. So, to know that you liked it means a lot.

    I am currently in Truro with Your Highness’ brother. We are experiencing the Cornish cuisine and I must say that it is quite intriguing. So many varieties of fish and other such delicacies.

    It will please you to know that His Highness Prince Henry is getting on magnificently with those who are to be his tenants. Indeed, he held a game of the foot-ball, here which was played between members of His Highness’ household and that of the merchants of Truro. It is good to know that we won.

    But enough about me, please, tell me more about what you are doing?

    I eagerly await your response.



    Elizabeth sighed and put down the letter. She looked up and saw her friends and companions looking at her. “What?” She asked.

    “What has he said, Your Highness?” Penelope Rich asked.

    “How do you know it’s a he?” Elizabeth replied.

    Penelope laughed. “Your Highness only sighs like that when you get a letter from His Highness the Hereditary Prince. It’s something we’ve all been making a note of.”

    Elizabeth blushed. “I do not!” The thought that she acted like little more than a girl experiencing her first crush horrified her. She was a Princess of England, not some common girl!

    “But you do, Your Highness.” Anne Drummond, sister to the Earl of Perth and one of Anne’s closest friends said, in her rather broad accent.

    “Do I?” Elizabeth asked looking at her friend.

    “You do!” Anne insisted.

    Elizabeth wanted to deny it, but she had known Anne, their entire lives, Anne would never exaggerate or lie. And therefore, she said. “Frederick has written to me from Cornwall. From Truro to be precise.”

    “And? What’s he said?” Frances Cecil, daughter of the Earl of Salisbury asked.

    “He’s told me about his time in Cornwall, about some game of foot-ball they played with the merchants.” Elizabeth said, wondering if Frederick truly was as keen about the game as he’d made out before, or if he was only pretending to be so because Henry seemed to have caught a bug for it.

    “And?” Frances asked.

    “And he asked me to write more about what I’m doing.” Elizabeth concluded.

    “Well, that’s good.” Frances said.

    “It is?” Elizabeth asked.

    “It is.” Frances said.

    “It means he actually wants to know more about you and isn’t just doing it because Her Majesty put him up to it.” Elizabeth Cecil, daughter of Lord Burghley said.

    Elizabeth nodded, that made sense. “So, what should I write back and say?” She asked. She didn’t want to bore him, she wanted to be interesting, to be someone who would captivate his interest when he returned to Brunswick.

    “Well, have you done anything of interest, lately, Your Highness?” Elizabeth Cecil asked.

    Elizabeth opened her mouth to respond, to say that she had, but then she shut it and thought. Had she actually done anything of interest recently? There had been that foot-ball game, but her brother and Frederick had been there. There had been the dinner and the ball, but again, Frederick had been there for that. She sighed. “I haven’t.”

    “Well then we’re just going to have to make sure that you say something interesting.” Elizabeth Cecil said.

    Elizabeth frowned. “You mean lie?” She didn’t want to think about the impact such a lie could have on her personally and on her family. Lies could ruin one’s reputation.

    “Not lie.” Elizabeth Cecil said. “Merely stretch out the truth.”

    Elizabeth frowned. “What’s the difference?”

    “Well, if we take the dancing lesson, we all had the other day, instead of simply saying it was a dancing lesson, we could say it was a dancing lesson on an old and traditional Scottish dance.” Elizabeth Cecil said.

    “Well, we did.” Elizabeth replied. They’d been having lessons on one such dance for the last four days, and Elizabeth was quite sure that she was getting better at it.

    “The dance doesn’t have a name though, Your Highness. You will need to provide a name.” Elizabeth Cecil said.

    “Why?” Elizabeth asked.

    “Well, if you don’t provide a name, His Highness likely won’t remember it.” Catherine Howard, wife of Lord Cranborne and Frances’ sister-in-law said.

    “What do you mean?” Elizabeth asked.

    “Men are simple creatures, Your Highness. They need to be able to associate actions with words.” Catherine said. “You enjoyed the dancing did you not, Your Highness?”

    “I did.” Elizabeth replied. She was looking forward to their next lesson.

    “Then you must provide a name for the dance when you mention it. If you want His Highness the Hereditary Prince to remember it and dance it with you.” Catherine said.

    “Ah.” Elizabeth replied, understanding now. “So, what should I call it?”

    “Macushla.” Anne Drummond said immediately.

    “My darling?” Elizabeth said, sounding the words out. Her understanding of Gaelic wasn’t quite as good as Charles’ was, but she knew more than Henry did.

    “Yes.” Anne said. “I think it fits. Especially given the music that forms the basis of the rhythm is quite romantic.”

    That was true. The music was very romantic. “Macushla it is then.” Elizabeth replied, hoping that Frederick would like it.

    “Don’t immediately talk about dancing though, Your Highness. Remember to lead into that point.” Catherine Howard said then.

    “Of course.” Elizabeth replied. She wasn’t an idiot; she knew not to just go into something from the off. One had to build into it, she’d learned that from both her mother and father.

    There was a brief pause as they all thought over what they’d just discussed, then Anne Drummond spoke. “When do you think we will leave here?” Here, meaning Greenwich Palace, where Elizabeth and her friends had been set up, alongside her mother’s household.

    “When Her Majesty decides to return to court.” Elizabeth said simply. Mother had gone to Whitehall for the feast to welcome Frederick and then returned back to Greenwich almost immediately after. Elizabeth and her friends had returned a day or two later. And then they’d travelled to the Suffolk estate in London to watch the game, before returning.

    Anne shifted slightly, indicating that she wanted to say something but wasn’t sure how to say it.

    “Out with it, Anne.” Elizabeth demanded.

    “It’s just, I wonder when we might be able to explore again, without needing Her Majesty’s permission.” Anne said eventually, though she immediately blushed after speaking.

    “Explore?” Elizabeth asked curiously. “Where would you like to explore?”

    “I…” Anne began before stopping.

    “Is there a man that you’re interested in, Anne?” Catherine Howard asked.

    “I…” Anne continued.

    “Who is it?” Elizabeth asked intrigued.

    “I…” Anne said, hesitating now.

    “Is it a certain Gordon?” Annabel Campbell, daughter of the Earl of Argyll asked.

    “A Gordon?” Elizabeth said, looking at Anne, intrigued. “The Marquess of Huntly?”

    “Yes.” Anne said softly.

    “Ooooh!” Elizabeth exclaimed in the most un-princess like fashion. “Anne, that’s very, very nice!”

    “I… Thank you, Your Highness.” Anne replied blushing.

    “How long has this been going on for?” Elizabeth asked, wondering why she’d not seen any indication of this before.

    “About a month, Your Highness. We’ve been exchanging letters for longer though. Encouraged by my brother.” Anne said.

    “And he’s in England now?” Elizabeth asked.

    Anne nodded. “He’s staying at Whitehall, Your Highness. He’s on official business.”

    “How long is he here for?” Elizabeth asked.

    Anne frowned, clearly trying to bring something to the surface of her memory. When she did reply, her words came out in a quick rush. “For around two months. He says he wants to meet.”

    Elizabeth thought about that. Two months? Unless there was some need for her at court, Mother would remain at Greenwich, which meant that she would have to remain here, as would her friends. But, if she found some reason to go to London proper, and to Whitehall, why then her friends would have to come and Anne would get to see her love. The thought of playing matchmaker appealed to Elizabeth.

    “I think we can make it work.” Elizabeth said. Glancing at Catherine Howard to indicate that the older girl should start making the arrangements.

    “You can?” Anne asked sounding surprised.

    Elizabeth nodded. “I think we can. And for you, my dearest Anne, we will.”

    Anne did something unexpected then, she got up and hugged Elizabeth, causing Elizabeth to blink rather rapidly. When Anne recovered her senses, she blushed even more and said. “My apologies, Your Highness, but I am so thankful for you.”

    Elizabeth looked at Anne and smiled. “Of course, it is my pleasure.” Huntly didn’t know how lucky he was.
    Chapter 7: Lovers
  • Chapter 7: Lovers

    April, 1610

    The doors of the council chamber were thrown open and James stalked out. He couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t believe that after everything that he’d said in his opening speech that the Commons would do this! How dare they?! Did they not understand what it was he was offering them?

    He stalked down the hallway, his beagle accompanying him. “How dare they!” He muttered to himself. “How dare they!” He said a little louder. “How dare they demand something of us! Do they not understand what it is we give them?”

    “I am sure they do, Your Majesty.” Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury said.

    James wheeled around, stopping in the middle of the hallway and glaring at his Lord High Treasurer. “You think they do? Then why are they demanding that I agree to their demand that the money they grant in this Great Contract, be spent on specific things? What gives them the right?”

    His Lord High Treasurer winced, whether it was in pain or in dismay, James didn’t know. All he knew was that Salisbury had proposed the Contract and now he seemed to be at a loss at how to handle the impudent demands coming from the Commons.

    Eventually, the man replied. “We can move them into a state of compliance, I am sure of it.”

    James snorted and turned around and kept walking. He could dissolve Parliament for this. He’d spoken with Sir Edward and the man had agreed that Parliament did not have the Constitutional right to demand he agree to state where the money would be spent. Nothing in the wording of the Contract had said that, and the Lords had passed it with an understanding that he would be free to spend the money how he saw fit.

    As they got closer to his private chambers, he turned around and looked at Salisbury. “Find a way. We do not care how you do it, but find a way!”

    He nodded to the guards who were guarding his private chambers, they opened the doors and he stalked in. He felt slightly better when he saw Robert Carr standing by the window. Carr turned around and bowed. “Your Majesty.”

    God, why are you so beautiful? James thought to himself. “Robert.” He said gruffly, disguising how happy he was to see the man. He turned around and looked at Salisbury. “You may go, Lord Salisbury.”

    “Your Majesty.” The other man said, bowing then turning around and leaving.

    James gestured to the guards to shut the door once Salisbury was gone. When he heard the doors shut, he moved to Carr, grabbed his face and planted a kiss right on his lips. Carr moaned, and James felt a little stirring in his pants. He pushed that thought to one side and let go of Carr. “It is good to see you, my dear.”

    “It is good to see you, Your Majesty.” Carr replied.

    James sighed. “You have no idea how much I needed to hear that.”

    Robert raised an eyebrow. “What’s the matter, Your Majesty?”

    James took a breath and then said. “My council and my Parliament are trying to force me into a position that is untenable.”

    “How so?” Robert asked.

    “The Commons want me to agree to state where the money they grant me in Salisbury’s Great Contract will be spent, before they agree to pass the thing. Salisbury seems as though he wants me to agree to the proposal, and others like the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Julius Caesar are also in agreement.” James said. “I cannot do that. Doing such a thing would be a massive erosion of my prerogative!”

    Robert, as ever, was quick to come in with soothing words. “Then do not agree to it, Sire. You are the King, you know the law, and you know where the Commons power actually lies. Push them toward that.”

    “How?!” James demanded. He needed solutions not just empty words, if he wanted empty words, he’d listen to Northampton.

    Carr didn’t say anything immediately, and James wondered if the man had been caught up in his own words before he’d spoken, but when he did reply, he did have something good to say. “Bring in new councillors, Sire. New people who will think of new ways. The Commons is demanding you state where their money will be spent, because some of the councillors you have currently are old and some are corrupt. You must remove them and bring in new councillors.”

    “Like who?” James demanded.

    “Like Thomas Howard. The man has a talent for numbers.” Carr said. “Like Edward Sackville, the man might be young but he is good with legal matters, according to his brother, and he is a friend of Prince Henry’s.”

    Howard was Suffolk’s son, that could work, James supposed. As for Sackville, the man wasn’t titled, but Salisbury had spoken highly of his legal knowledge, as had Coke. Indeed, Henry had even suggested that Sackville support the Lord Chancellor on a few cases in the Chancery before. But he was young, very young and James didn’t want someone that young anywhere near power.

    “Who else?” He asked instead.

    “The Earl of Huntingdon.” Robert said. “The man has good knowledge of the law, and is of a similar persuasion to many members of the Commons.”

    A Puritan?! James thought to himself appalled. He despised Puritans. They were no better than the impetuous Kirk Ministers of the Scottish Church. Still, he supposed it wouldn’t hurt having one of the enemy onside. “Very well, anyone else?” James asked.

    “Lord Clinton.” Robert said. “He has a good eye for numbers, and is someone who gets on well with everyone.”

    “Yes, I like Clinton.” James said. He’d met the young man before, he was charming, affable and good looking.

    James smiled, and kissed Robert again, then said. “What would I do without you?”

    Robert blushed. “I am just happy to be of service to my King.”

    James grinned. “And what have you been doing these past few days? Your friend Thomas claims you have been very busy.”

    Robert shifted slightly. “I have been meeting with merchants from our own Kingdom and from the Palatine.”

    “Why?” James asked curiously.

    “To get a sense of where their heads are, Your Majesty.” Robert said.

    “And? Where are their heads?” James asked.

    “The English merchants most definitely want closer ties with the Palatinate They believe such ties would stimulate trade and help the economy grow, which would bring lasting benefits to the Kingdom. The merchants of the Palatinate, believe that closer ties would ensure they have access to our ports and to our goods as well, something that their Elector is desperate to have.” Robert said.

    “Is he now?” James asked. He’d received word from the Elector’s ambassador, stating that if James went ahead with the marriage between the Elector’s son and Elizabeth, that the Elector would grant English merchants a 25% concession on trade with the Palatinate. Something that would greatly benefit them. He was curious to see whether Robert had learned the same thing.

    “Yes, Sire.” Robert said. “The leading merchants from the Palatinate all agree that the Elector is most desirous for an alliance.”

    “And how would he like that alliance to be arranged?” James asked.

    “Through the marriage of Her Highness Princess Elizabeth and His Highness the Electoral Prince.” Robert said.

    “Ah.” James said, pretending to be surprised, when in reality he had known this all along. “And I presume then that it would be reasonable for me to stop my nephew courting my daughter.”

    “Yes, I would think so, Sire.” Robert said.

    James nodded. He knew Elizabeth would not be happy, she liked the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick, and he seemed to like her back. But despite what Anne thought, Brunswick would not make a good husband. He had the beginnings of a drinking problem-as Henry’s tutor Adam Newton had reported to him before Frederick and Henry had departed for Cornwall-and he was from an insignificant Duchy in the Empire.

    “Very well. I shall make sure it happens.” James said. He would need to find a reason to send his nephew back to Brunswick and quickly.

    A moment’s pause, then James continued. “But enough about that. I have some good news for you, Robert.”

    Robert’s eyes widened. “Sire?”

    “Yes, I have found you a wife.” James said excitedly.

    “Sire?” Robert replied, sounding somewhere between cautious and enthusiastic.

    “Yes!” James said, bouncing on the balls of his feet now. “Margaret Howard, Suffolk’s daughter.”

    Robert’s face fell flat then. “I…I do not know what to say, Sire.”

    “I know she is young.” James said, ignoring the tone of his favourite’s voice. “But she is mouldable, and willing and the marriage can be consummated within a few years. Plus, Suffolk has promised to hand over two Manor Houses to you as part of her dowry. They are worth a total of £2000. Which will make you even wealthier.”

    That seemingly brightened up Robert’s mood. For he grinned and said. “Thank you, Your Majesty.”

    James smiled, moved forward and kissed Robert again, this time more forcefully, he then moved him back against the wall, and started undoing his shirt buttons.
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    Chapter 8: Tilting
  • Chapter 8: Tilting

    May, 1610

    Henry watched as the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick missed Dermod O’Brien on the tilt, and as their horses galloped passed one another in the yard. They were in the tiltyard of Richmond Palace, and Henry was observing his cousin and his friends tilt against one another. He would have joined in, but a pain in his arm prevented him from doing so. No doubt that consequence of engaging in a bit of friendly shoving during a game of foot-ball against some of the Cornish merchants when they had been in Cornwall.

    “What do you think?” He asked, turning to look at his friend John Harington.

    The other man nodded. “His Highness has good posture and he holds the lance in a good manner. But he seems overly confident.”

    “In that he moves too quickly and doesn’t give himself enough time to get the measure of his opponent?” Henry asked.

    “Exactly, Sir.” John replied. “Dermod is far too clever to fall for the bait and switch, and I’m not sure if His Highness knows that.”

    “It’s like with his sword play.” Henry said. “He moves quickly at first but quickly tires out.” Henry looked back to the tiltyard.

    John remained silent as the Hereditary Prince brought his horse into position again and raised his lance. The ground shook as the two horses moved toward one another. Henry’s cousin’s lance hit O’Brien’s shield and caused it to rattle. O’Brien didn’t drop though and instead their horses moved on.

    “I think he might have been drinking, Sir.” John said then.

    Henry frowned. “What makes you say so?” He wouldn’t be surprised if he were honest. When they had been in Cornwall, his cousin had never gone long without having a drink in his hand. And often the longer they were out meeting people, the longer he drank. Henry had had to help him into bed one night, because he’d had far too much wine. The man had then proceeded to vomit everywhere.

    “Look at how he’s sitting in the saddle, now. You see how his back shakes slightly.” John said.

    “Yes.” Henry said noticing it now that John had mentioned it. “He’s had a few.”

    Henry sighed. “That isn’t good.”

    He watched as his cousin righted himself and then moved out to charge at Dermod.

    “What do you make of him, Sir?” John asked.

    “Of the Hereditary Prince?” Henry asked. Watching as his cousin finally managed to hit Dermod, square on the chest. Dermod swayed in the saddle, but then straightened and rode on.

    “Yes.” John said.

    “I think he’s a good man. He’s kind, charming, smart, and good at fighting. All things that one needs in a Prince. But he drinks.” Henry said. The man had almost caused a scene in Truro when he’d had a drinking competition with one of the leading merchants, one Sidney Godolphin, and had then threatened to stab the man, for some imagined slight. Henry had had to smooth feathers over, with a quick word and then a foot-ball game. The same game where he’d hurt his arm.

    “Do you think the King will mind that?” John asked.

    Henry snorted. “The King would probably be very happy about that. But, no, I think the King has his heart set on the Palatinate.”

    “How do you know, Sir?” John asked.

    Henry looked away from the tiltyard for a moment to where Lord Cranbourne was talking with Lord Essex. “Cranbourne told me. It seems the King spoke with Lord Salisbury and insisted that they start opening negotiations with the Palatinate.”

    “Ah.” John said. “And, how do you feel about that, Sir?”

    Henry sighed. “I do not know. I think Frederick could be a good husband, but he doesn’t offer anything of value. Not really. Especially not with the trade and political considerations that the Palatinate match would come with.” If he had his way, Henry would have Elizabeth and Frederick betrothed before the latter left. But then he remembered the man’s drinking and said. “And besides, I do not think Elizabeth would like Frederick, if she knew how much he drank. He was on good behaviour at the welcome dinner, and drunkenness does not get reflected in letters, but in person? I think in person it would be incredibly hard for him to not be drunk.”

    “So, what will you do, Sir?” John asked.

    “I will prepare for the disappointment that my sister will no doubt feel, whilst also trying to maintain a good relationship with Frederick.” Henry said.

    As he said that, his cousin finally knocked Dermod off his horse. The Irishman landed with a solid thump and laughed as he did so.

    “Well played, Your Highness.” Dermod said, extending his hand to the Hereditary Prince. Frederick took Dermod’s hand and shook it from his horse, then let go.

    “Who’s next?” Frederick called out in his heavily accented English.

    Henry looked around and saw that his friends were all looking at him, seeking his approval. Whilst he wanted to give them the chance to go against his cousin, he also wanted to talk about something he’d heard with his cousin, and therefore he called back in French. “Cousin, perhaps it is time for you to give my companions a rest? Let us talk?”

    His cousin snorted. “Fine.” He replied in French. His cousin gestured for a stable hand to come and take the reins of his horse, he handed his lance to another servant, and then dismounted and dusted himself off before he walked over to Henry.

    Henry nodded to him, and as he looked at the other man, he saw the slight blurriness in the man’s eyes, the slight sense of sleep that hung to him like a shadow. Henry sighed, then turned and said. “Walk with me.” He put one foot in front of another and walked out of the tiltyard, where he was going, he didn’t really know, but he just wanted to walk.

    “I received a letter from my father today.” Frederick said.

    Good. Henry thought to himself. Lord Salisbury had been the one to tell him that the Duke of Brunswick might write to his son and heir, and thus Henry had told David Murray to keep an eye out on all post that came here. Murray had found the letter, read through it, and copied it out, before re-sealing the letter and making it look as good as new. Henry knew what the contents were, and thus was waiting to see what his cousin would say.

    “He says that things are getting a lot more tense in the Empire.” Frederick said.

    “Why?” Henry asked.

    “It seems that the Emperor is being bullied by his younger brother, Archduke Matthias, into allowing the Bavarians to keep Donauworth entirely Catholic. This combined with the Emperor’s decision to give the Duchy of Julich-Cleves-Berg to the Elector of Saxony is causing a great deal of anger and tension.” Frederick said.

    “Can the Emperor do that? Especially if there are two claimants with valid claims nearby?” Henry asked. He knew a bit about the law of the Empire, but not everything.

    “I am not sure. The matter is up in the air. The Emperor himself has a claim to the Duchies, but he doesn’t want to press for them in case it erodes his neutrality. Furthermore, I believe there are tensions developing between the Count of Neuburg and the Margrave of Brandenburg as well.” Frederick said.

    Henry nodded; he’d been incredibly frustrated when he’d read that. Why couldn’t the Protestant powers remain united. The Emperor and his allies were the threat, not other Protestant states! “What do you think will happen?” He asked then.

    Frederick sighed. “It could go either way. Either it is agreed that Saxony gets the Duchies and nobody is happy, or it goes to war, and there is a brutal and bloody struggle.”

    “And which would be better for our fellow Protestants?” Henry asked, trying desperately to remain calm, whilst also trying to get across just how seriously he took this entire matter.

    “I think war.” Frederick said after a long pause. “We must make the world see just how degenerate and demagogic the Emperor and his followers are. We must make the world see that only struggle can prevent them from restoring the great Anti-Christ to power.”

    Henry nodded, he agreed with that. “And what about France?” France was their great hope, of that, he was sure. If they had King Henri’s backing, then the Emperor and his allies were finished.

    “I think he will join.” Frederick said. “He might not go and fight himself, but he will send French forces.”

    Henry nodded. “I agree.” He would believe nothing less of the man he saw as a second father.

    They stopped once they came to the entranceway for the Palace proper. Henry took a breath and then nodded to the guards who opened the doors, allowing them to enter. Henry looked around and saw various servants bustling this way and that, some were preparing for the investiture ceremony that would be held next month, others were people he’d only just admitted into his household-on his father’s orders (though he suspected they were reporting back to Carr)- they stopped when they came to a painting of Henry’s great-grandfather, King James V of Scotland, in the painting he was dressed in armour, his hand pointing eastward, a smile on his lips. It was a good painting, perhaps done during Henry’s father’s reign, when the King had been obsessed with his namesake.

    The silence was broken by Frederick who asked. “And what of you, cousin? Are you going to join the fight?”

    Henry sighed. That was the powerful question. He wanted to. With everything in his body, he wanted to join the fight, but he wasn’t sure if his father would let him. The King was obsessed with maintaining his image as a peacemaker. “I would love to.”

    “But the King won’t let you go until you’re married?” Frederick asked.

    Henry glanced at his cousin and sighed. That would be the easier answer to give than to have to explain his father’s complex rationale for everything. “Yes.” He said simply.

    Frederick nodded. “Has His Majesty decided on who he wishes you to marry?”

    Henry laughed. “Yes. He wants either a Spanish Infanta or a Polish Princess.”

    “Not a French Princess?” Frederick asked sounding surprised.

    Henry shook his head. “No, unfortunately, the girl he wanted is already betrothed to the Prince of Piedmont, and the other girls are too young.”

    Frederick nodded. “You’d prefer the Polish girl, wouldn’t you?”

    “Yes.” Henry said simply.

    “What will you do?” Frederick asked.

    Henry looked back at the portrait of his ancestor and said. “Ask for an image of her from the Polish ambassador, and then make my case to the King.” He just hoped that worked. Otherwise, he’d find his own wife.
    Chapter 9: Assassination
  • Chapter 9: Assassination

    May, 1610

    Henri, King of France and Navarre looked out onto the street and felt a sense of contentment. For the first time in perhaps thirty years, he felt as though everything was under his control. His wife, Marie, had just been crowned Queen of France, which meant that when he went off to war, she could serve as regent without too many issues. The Habsburgs were on the backfoot, what with that buffoon Matthias pushing his brother the Emperor to grant a town to the Bavarians and thus violate Augsburg, and that other buffoon Leopold trying to claim one of Julich or Berg as well. Yes, Henri was quite sure God was smiling on him.

    The carriage came to a juddering halt, causing Henri and his companion to jerk forward. “Mon Dieu!” Hercule de Rohan, duc de Montbazon muttered.

    Henri snorted. “Now, now, Hercule, such language is not befitting a Duke.”

    Hercule looked at him and snorted. “As you say, Your Most Christian Majesty.”

    Henri leaned back against the headrest and peered to the right. “There’s a lot of blockage on this road.” He supposed that made sense. Everyone seemed to have come to Paris for his wife’s coronation. And now that it was over, they were no doubt either trying to leave or venture to other seedier parts of the city.

    “How long will it take?” Hercule asked.

    “Probably about twenty to thirty minutes.” Henri said, going off what one of his guards had told him.

    Hercule sighed, and then asked. “You must be happy, Sire. Now that the Queen has been crowned.”

    Henri snorted. “Happy is one word for it. Relieved is another. Maybe now she’ll stop bothering me about it.” That was true, his wife had been going on and on about being crowned Queen since they’d been wed. He’d managed to hold her off for some time, but not now. Now the deed was done.

    “And the Queen will be satisfied?” Hercule asked.

    Henri frowned. Hercule was the only man he’d allow to ask such pressing questions, but even then, the way the man was asking them didn’t sit right with him. Still, the man had asked a question and as his mother had told him time and again, it was rude not to answer. “Yes, she should be. Though I suspect she will be going for a Spanish marriage for one of our children again.” Why Marie was so keen on a Spanish marriage, Henri did not know. Especially since Henri considered the Spanish King a mortal enemy. The man’s father had spent most of Henri’s early reign trying to prevent him ascending the throne, and if Saint Germain was to be believed, the Spanish King himself was still in touch with a variety of underground groups.

    “And who would you rather Their Royal Highnesses marry, Sire?” Hercule asked.

    “Anyone but Spain.” Henri said simply. “Elisabeth will marry Piedmont; Louis might marry Lorraine’s girl. Bring that Duchy into French hands at last.”

    “And your remaining children, Sire?” Hercule asked.

    “Christine will go to Poland, and Henrietta will go to Tuscany. My younger son will go to Montpensier’s daughter.” Henri replied. He wanted his second son to have the wealth that could allow him to live comfortably and not off the teat of the state.

    “Wise choices, Majesty.” Hercule said. “Though I take it that the English marriage has floundered?”

    “Yes.” Henri said, he saw no point in lying about that. “The King of England wanted Elisabeth, and considers Christine too young for his son. I had thought about offering Louis for the man’s daughter, but given the angle that the man seems to be playing, I decided against it.” And besides, having an older woman married to you was never a good idea.

    “So, what will happen to the English alliance?” Hercule asked.

    “It remains.” Henri said. “England seems to be considering a marriage to Poland. I will speak with the Polish ambassador tomorrow and offer to contribute toward the dowry for Sigismund’s daughter, in return for trading concessions.”

    “And will the Polish go for that?” Hercule asked.

    “They will if they know what’s good for them.” Henri said.

    Their carriage started moving again, albeit slowly. As it moved, Henri glanced to his right and saw various people milling about on the street, some cheered when they saw him, others merely nodded. Paris would move with people tonight, of that Henri was sure. That would be good, it would mean that the people had overcome their fear and were enjoying the peace he had given them.

    “I am glad to see people out on the street.” Henri said then, turning back to look at Hercule. “Some of the men will need a good celebration before the war comes.”

    Hercule nodded. “It will lift their spirits, Sire.”

    “Indeed.” Henri said. “We shall march out in June.” He had spoken with his commanders and that was what had been agreed on. La Chatre was already in the north-east, if Henri joined him, they could finally make their move.

    It seemed Hercule had also had the same thought, for he asked. “How many men would you take with you, Sire?”

    Henri frowned. “Chatre has twenty-two thousand men with him already. I think another ten thousand should be enough. They’ve already been raised and trained. We just need to figure out how to divide them appropriately.”

    “You mean who will command each subdivision, Sire?” Hercule asked.

    “Exactly.” Henri replied. There was a brief pause as their carriage juddered to a halt again. Henri leaned out and saw that there were at least five or six carriages in front of them. What the cause of delay was he didn’t know. “Jacques,” he said to the driver then. “Go and see what is causing this delay.”

    “Sire.” Jacques, a rather portly old man answered. He stood up, bowed once then got down and walked off to see what the issue was.

    Henri turned back to Hercule and said. “Any move to sort out the Julich issue will involve antagonising Spain through marching through the Spanish Netherlands. Therefore, we need to be prepared.”

    “Do you think they will try and invade Southern France?” Hercule asked.

    “It is a possibility.” Henri said. It was what he would do after all. “Therefore, we will need our garrisons in the south to work with Marie, which means I need someone I can trust commanding them.”

    Hercule seemed to get the hint, for he immediately bowed his head and said. “I would be honoured, Sire. Truly honoured.”

    Henri smiled. “Good.” He frowned as he heard something creak. Jacques hadn’t come back yet, at least Henri didn’t think so. Still, he turned to see whether Jacques had indeed returned, and instead found himself face to face with a rather dishevelled looking man.

    “Who are you?” Henri exclaimed.

    “Your death!” The man exclaimed before he launched himself at Henri. Henri punched him, but that didn’t seem to stop the man. For he got up and moved at him again. Hercule tried to stop him and got thrown to the side for his efforts.

    The man roared an oath and then Henri felt something sharp plunge into him. He looked down and saw blood beginning to pour out of him. He looked up. The man was roaring at him, Henri staggered forward, tried to punch the man and failed. Instead, he ended up getting pushed back into his seat.

    “Hercule!” Henri groaned.

    Vaguely he could see Hercule get up, only to be pushed out of the carriage by the man. The man then advanced on him. He lunged forward and Henri felt something plunge into him again. He grunted. He felt cold.

    “For His Holiness and for all of mankind, die, you devil!” The man bellowed, lunging forward once more.

    Henri braced for another blow to his stomach but instead, the blow came to his throat. He coughed and spluttered. Feeling himself get soaked. Marie is going to be regent now. Henri thought to himself, and that both intrigued and terrified him.
    Chapter 10: A Mother's Concern
  • Chapter 10: A Mother’s Concern

    May, 1610

    Anne barely acknowledged the guards or the courtiers as she stalked through the corridors and the hallways of the Palace of Whitehall. She’d ordered her Mistress of the Robes, Lady Walsingham to ensure that her daughters Elizabeth and Mary were taken safely and securely to their rooms within this gigantic fortress. She’d also given orders for her sons to be notified of her arrival. Once that had been arranged she’d left and gone on her current journey.

    She was annoyed that her husband had not even bothered to meet her at the quay, that he’d sent one of the Howard lapdogs to greet her instead. Especially as his message had sounded harried and scared. Anne had not appreciated that. Her heart was still racing. As it rightly should be.

    A King had been assassinated in broad daylight in his capital!

    Anne had read the words of the missive that her husband had sent her, and she’d scarcely believed it. King Henri had seemed so popular, so charming, so loved, that it didn’t make sense that someone would try to assassinate him. And yet that was what had happened, and now they were all panicking.

    Memories of the Gunpowder Treason floated around in her head as she turned left, then right, then left again. Remembering the fear and anxiety she’d felt when the news had been broken. Could something like that happen again? She hoped not. But given the excitement that such events stirred within the lesser orders, who knew what might happen.

    Anne stopped when she came to her husband’s private chambers. There were two guards on the door. Both were handsome young men. She looked at them, and then slowed her heartbeat down and listened. She could hear noise coming from her husband’s chambers. No doubt he was entertaining that dreadful Carr. She suppressed a groan at that and then said. “Announce me.”

    The taller soldier on her left nodded, and then turned and banged on the door. The noise stopped and the soldier called out. “Her Majesty the Queen.”

    There was a moment of silence and then. “Come.” Her husband said, his distinct voice coming through the walls.

    The guards opened the doors and Anne entered. The first thing that greeted her as she entered was a jug of wine on the table, a table she’d gotten her husband for his birthday last year. There were two wine cups next to it.

    “Anne.” Her husband said.

    Anne looked from the wine cups to her husband, he was leaning against one of those new inventions from France, a sofa[1], she thought it was called. His hair a mess, his eyes wide.

    Anne bowed her head to him. “Your Majesty. I have come as you asked.”

    James straightened. “Ah yes, of course. You brought the girls with you?”

    “Yes. And I ordered the guards that were kept at Greenwich not to let anyone in or out without first referring to Sir William Cavendish.” Anne said. “As you asked.”

    “Good.” James said.

    “Where are the boys?” Anne asked.

    “Charles and Robert are safe in their usual rooms. Henry has come up to St James, I ensured the sense of urgency was conveyed appropriately.” James replied.

    Anne nodded, she worried about how Henry would have reacted to the news. She knew how much he idolised King Henri, and how close the two men had been. She looked at James and asked. “Are you planning on going to see him?”

    “Who?” James replied, his eyebrows rising.

    “Henry.” Anne said, rolling the R a habit she’d never quite been able to get out of.

    “Why would I do that?” James asked, sounding perplexed.

    Anne heard someone snort, and turned slightly to see Robert Carr sitting on another sofa, his shirt hanging out of his trousers, and his hair a mess. She turned back to face her husband. “You know how much he cared for King Henri.” She said.

    James snorted. “Nothing more than a childish adoration. Henry will not be impacted by his death. They’ve not even corresponded with one another for a year.”

    Anne knew that wasn’t true. Henry sent his letters for Paris through her letters now, as he knew that the Postmaster General didn’t search through her correspondence. She didn’t say that though, instead she changed tack and asked. “What about our security?”

    Here at least, James seemed more aware. “I have spoken with Salisbury and we have agreed to increase the number of guards around Whitehall and St James. I have also instructed Adam Newton to keep Henry at St James for the next month. Their provisions will be shipped up the river from Richmond. Nobody will be allowed to leave or enter London without permission from myself or from Salisbury.”

    Anne nodded, that last one was highly impractical, not everyone would be able to get through to the King or to Salisbury, and that would just cause more chaos.

    James continued. “The investiture will still go on though.” Anne nodded. “However, our nephew is going to depart right after it.”

    Anne raised an eyebrow. “Why?”

    “It seems he is rushing off to join Maurice of Orange’s army.” James said.

    Anne felt something sink in her stomach. If the Dutchman was massing an army that would only mean one thing. “When?” She asked.

    “In a month’s time, after the ceremony. He’s already arranged for passage to The Hague.” James said.

    “And what will you do?” Anne asked.

    “I will remain out of the war.” James replied stubbornly. “It does not impact England, Scotland or Ireland.”

    “And you will make Henry see that?” Anne asked. She knew her eldest son had harboured dreams of fighting alongside King Henri and she was worried that now with Henri gone, her eldest might decide to take up the mantle himself.

    “He already knows that.” James said dismissively.

    “Are you sure?” Anne asked. “You know how much he wants to fight.”

    James waved a hand dismissively. “He cannot go.”

    Anne sighed. “You know saying that won’t stop him.”

    James frowned. “If he disobeys me, I will throw him in the Tower.”

    The way her husband said that, as if it was little more than an inconvenience horrified her. That was their eldest son they were talking about, the hope of the nation! If James threw him in the Tower, God alone knew what would happen.

    She was about to say just that when Carr spoke. “Perhaps it would be better if Her Majesty went to St James to speak with the Prince.”

    Anne turned to look at Carr, eyes narrowed. What’s your game? Anne thought to herself. She’d heard the rumours that Carr was to be married to Margaret Howard, and be created a Viscount. She’d also heard rumours that he’d been courting the Countess of Essex. Something about him suggesting this didn’t sit right with her.

    “What?!” The King asked, clearly confused.

    “Her Majesty will be able to make Prince Henry see things clearly. Mothers always know how to talk to their sons.” Carr said. Anne saw Carr smile, but doubted whether it was sincere. She turned back to look at her husband.

    James was frowning. Seemingly contemplating this, and whether it offended his honour. When he eventually sighed, she surmised that he’d concluded that it didn’t. “Fine. You may go to St James now. Robert, tell Sir Oliver to get the carriage ready.”

    “Yes, Your Majesty.” She heard Carr say. She heard him get up and leave the room, which left Anne alone with her husband.

    “What?!” James demanded.

    “Nothing.” Anne replied.

    James snorted. “Everything will be fine.” Whether he was saying that to himself or to her she didn’t know. She didn’t really care.

    After what seemed like an eternity, Carr returned. “The carriage is ready, Your Majesty.” Anne nodded, dipped her head to her husband, turned and then walked out of the room. Thankfully, Carr didn’t follow her, and instead, one of the guards from before did. They walked in silence, down the hallway, left, right, down another hallway, down a flight of steps, right, then left, through a set of doors and then they were in the courtyard.

    Sir Oliver Cromwell[2], one of her husband’s grooms of the chamber was there waiting. “Your Majesty.” He said with a bow.

    Anne smiled at the man. “You are taking me to St James?”

    “I am, Your Majesty.” Cromwell replied, he opened the carriage door for her and helped her get in. Once she was in, Cromwell moved to the front and then the carriage started moving.

    As they left Whitehall for the streets, Anne found herself wondering just how it was possible that Henri had been assassinated. Where had his guards been? Where had his men been? She looked out of the window and saw her guard riding a horse next to the carriage. Was that a good idea? Would it be better to keep the guard on the carriage itself? She didn’t know.

    She hoped James had a clear plan for this, she truly did. Anything else would be unbearable. Especially if Henry decided to argue.

    Her son, her brave, brave son, he held ideas of bravery and glory in his head. He was smart and courageous, but he did not know what war entailed. None of his friends did. What his tutors, Newton, Murray and Edward Cecil, were teaching him she didn’t know. They’d all fought in a war, why did they not tell her son the truth?

    Perhaps it did not fit in with their vision of England or what a Prince should be? She didn’t know, and frankly that worried her.

    She would need to assess her son’s household once he was invested as Prince of Wales. She could not allow him to die in some foolhardy scheme.

    Anne looked out of the window and saw the gateway to St James Palace approaching. She heard murmured voices and then they were moving. Under the archway and into the courtyard. A moment passed and then the door opened. “We are here, Your Majesty.” Sir Oliver said.

    “Thank you.” Anne replied. She got out of the carriage and then walked toward the main entranceway. Once she got there, she nodded to the guards and continued down the hallway, she went up a flight of stairs, then turned left, then right, and then left again, before stopping before a set of doors.

    The guards immediately banged on the door and announced. “Her Majesty the Queen.”

    The doors opened and she found herself looking at David Murray, her son’s body-man. He bowed. “Your Majesty.” Anne nodded to him and entered the room. She turned and saw Henry sat at a table, his eyes red.

    He looked up at her. “Mother.” His voice broke.

    Immediately, Anne walked over to him and embraced him, she kissed the top of his head. “My sweet boy.” She murmured. She’d talk to him about the other things later. Now she’d comfort him.

    [1] In our world, the earliest sofa that survives is believed to have been invented in England in the 1690s. Though I have found some evidence to suggest there were prototypes being built in France during this period.
    [2] The namesake of his more infamous nephew.
    Chapter 11: First Crush
  • Chapter 11: First Crush

    May, 1610

    Elizabeth took a deep breath to try and calm the butterflies floating around in her stomach. She glanced at the man who was walking to her left, and then looked at their arms-linked together-and took another deep breath. She tried to chastise herself for being silly. She was a young woman, not a silly girl. She shouldn’t be feeling so happy about walking with her cousin, and yet she was.

    Frederick had asked her, and then her parents if they could go for a walk in St James Park, at dinner yesterday, and she’d given her parents her best pleading look and had been delighted when they’d agreed. Of course, there was a chaperone.

    Lady Rich, wife of Lord Rich, who was one of her father’s groom’s of the chamber, and someone who both her parents trusted, was walking two steps behind, as were four guards. There were four guards in front of them as well. Given what had happened with King Henri, she supposed that made sense, but still.

    She pushed that thought to one side and looked at her cousin. “How have you found your time here?” She asked in English.

    Her cousin looked at her and smiled. “Enjoyable. It is truly a lovely Kingdom.”

    “Did you enjoy a particular part the most?” Elizabeth asked.

    “I did.” Frederick said, he paused and then added. “Receiving your letters, and now, being here with you.”

    Elizabeth felt her heart flutter a little at hearing that. “I am glad to hear that.” She said, softly.

    “There is so much more of this beautiful Kingdom that I would like to see. It is cruel that that chance may not come for another few years.” Frederick said wistfully.

    Elizabeth knew why her cousin couldn’t stay longer, and so instead of focusing on that, she asked. “Which parts of the Kingdom would you like to see more of?”

    “Oxford, Cambridge, I’d even like to visit Wales and Scotland one day.” Frederick said.

    Elizabeth nodded, she’d heard Wales was beautiful and what little she remembered of Scotland also seemed like it was beautiful. “When you next come, we should go and see Scone.” Elizabeth said then, surprising herself, as well as her cousin.

    She glanced at him, and saw his eyes widen. “Scone?”

    “Yes.” Elizabeth replied. “It’s where the Scottish Kings were crowned before my father became King of England. It is a lovely place.” She had visited it once, when she’d been a little girl, gone there with her brother and mother. It had been a happy time.

    “Then we shall go there.” Frederick replied smiling.

    “Good.” Elizabeth said. “There’s some very good hunting to be had in Scotland as well. Especially around the woodland around Perth.” She remembered her father had waxed lyrical about that, once, a few years ago when he’d been in his cups and missed Scotland.

    “Truly?” Frederick asked.

    “Yes, there’s lots of deer there that can be hunted, as well as wolves, apparently.” Elizabeth said.

    “Wolves?!” Frederick exclaimed.

    “Yes.” Elizabeth replied smiling, she frowned as she noticed her cousin’s hand start to shake. “Are you well?” She asked then.

    Frederick saw where she was looking and frowned, he pulled his left hand back away from her view and said. “Yes, quite well.” They continued walking then. Elizabeth simply enjoying the walk with Frederick and wondering if she should put forward her views, or whether that was too forward.

    Frederick was the one who broke the silence. “I am sorry to have to depart so soon.”

    Elizabeth looked at him. “I know why you must go.” She said reassuringly.

    “I know.” Frederick replied. “But still, it is not ideal timing.”

    Elizabeth’s heart quickened. “It isn’t?”

    “No.” Frederick replied, stopping to look at her properly. Elizabeth stopped as well, feeling her heart quickening even more. “I would very much like to get to know you better, Princess.”

    “You would?” Elizabeth asked, wanting to say something witty, but her brain had turned to nothingness. The way Frederick was looking at her with such intensity was making her feel weak.

    “I would.” Frederick replied.

    Elizabeth was about to say something, when someone cleared their throat behind them. Elizabeth turned and saw Lady Rich staring them both, rather pointedly. Elizabeth blushed, she glanced at Frederick and saw that he too was blushing. He cleared his throat and then started walking, and so she did as well.

    As they walked, he spoke again. “Would it be too much trouble for us to continue writing when I am gone?”

    “Not at all.” Elizabeth said, trying to be calm, but inside, she was rather excited. “I would love that.”

    “Excellent.” Frederick replied. “I promise that I will try not to bother you too much with details about the war or anything like that.”

    “I don’t mind.” Elizabeth said. Truly, she didn’t. She’d grown up reading Henry’s letters about the battles he’d acted out with his companions, and had even given him suggestions. That had stopped a few years ago, of course, but still, she felt she could handle it.

    “You are sure?” Frederick asked, his voice rising in question.

    “I am.” Elizabeth said. “I wish to know how you are feeling, what you are thinking. I can handle it.”

    “I am very relieved to hear that.” Frederick replied.

    “Are you nervous?” Elizabeth asked then, the moment the question had left her lips she regretted asking it. You never asked a man if he was nervous, her governess had instilled that in her from a young age.

    She glanced at Frederick, worried that she had crossed a line, and instead, was surprised to see that he was smiling at her. “I am. I think any man would be. You would be foolish not to be.”

    “How will you fight?” Elizabeth asked.

    “I will think of why I am fighting, and that will give me strength.” Frederick answered.

    Elizabeth’s eyes narrowed as she looked at Frederick. “And why are you fighting?”

    Frederick laughed softly, and stopped again, Elizabeth did as well, wondering what he’d say. “For my family, for you, for the Protestant religion.”

    “For me?” Elizabeth asked surprised.

    “Yes.” Frederick said, seriously. “You are worth fighting the entire world for.”

    Elizabeth blushed furiously. “I…I do not know what to say.”

    Frederick smiled at her. “Will you grant me your favour, before I leave?”

    “Yes.” Elizabeth said immediately, of course she would. How could she not?

    Frederick’s smile widened, and he leaned in. “Thank you.”

    Elizabeth leaned in as well, her heart thumping, and just when their lips were about to touch, she heard someone clear their throat again. They pulled apart, Elizabeth glanced behind her and saw Lady Rich frowning at her. Elizabeth blushed, but she didn’t apologise. Why would she?
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    Chapter 12: Prince of Wales
  • Chapter 12: Prince of Wales

    June, 1610

    Henry picked at a spot of fluff on his collar and shifted. The day had come. It had finally come. He was to be made Prince of Wales, with it, he would finally gain a hold on the lands of the Duchy of Cornwall and the Earldom of Carrick that had been his right since birth and since his father’s ascension to the throne. It was long overdue, and to say he was excited was an understatement. There was opportunity to be had, once the finances were reformed. He had travelled to Cornwall, seen his people, met with them, drunk with them, fought with them, and he was sure that things could be improved.

    Once the ceremony was over, he would, with the King permission traverse the other parts of his Duchy, to Wales, to Gloucestershire, to Herefordshire, to Hertfordshire and to the other counties where the Duchy’s writ extended. He would see it all and he would understand it. Henry took a breath and watched as the doors opened. His father had already entered, and his mother and siblings were in a Royal Box in the right-hand side of the hall.

    Henry exhaled. The nerves started to rise inside him. He muttered a prayer, hoping he didn’t trip on his own feet, then he put one foot in front of the other and began to walk. Slowly but surely, he walked into the Court of Requests, a grand hall in the Palace of Westminster, and he looked around. The Lords were to his right, the Commons to his left. And there in the far end of the hall was the dais where the King was sat. To the King’s right below the dais was a chair occupied by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Ellesmere. To the King’s left, also below the dais was a chair that stood empty, that was the chair that would be occupied by the Lord High Treasurer, Lord Salisbury.

    Henry continued on his journey, aware of the heavy purple clothes that he wore, and how they glittered in the light. He walked past a chair that was occupied by the Speaker of the Commons, nodding to the man. Music was playing, and somewhere in the distance a choir was singing. Henry’s heart was beating rapidly. He took another breath. He didn’t look behind, he knew what he’d see, the Knights of the Bath who’d been created in a ceremony last night, in Westminster Abbey, a solemn ceremony, where Henry had rewarded those who he’d grown up with and those who’d offered him great service.

    The dais came into view. Henry stopped at its foot. He noted the chair that was to his father’s left, but still on the dais. That would be his seat, and where he would sit when it came time for him to take his seat in Parliament. Henry murmured a prayer, and then walked up the steps of the dais before stopping at the foot of the throne. He knelt before his father.

    The music and the singing stopped. Henry didn’t look up as he heard footsteps, he knew who it would be. To his left, Lord Salisbury spoke in a loud and clear voice, first in Latin and then in English. “My lords and Honourable Gentlemen, welcome to this most gracious ceremony. It is His Majesty’s pleasure to welcome you all to the investiture of the Prince of Wales.” A pause then Salisbury continued. “By letters patent, His Majesty King James, King of England, Scotland, Ireland and France, Defender of the Faith does hereby create his son, His Highness Prince Henry as Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay, Earl of Chester, Carrick and Dublin, Lord of the Isles and Baron Renfrew. These titles are confirmed as part of his hereditary right, and shall come with the hereditary lands associated with them since their very first creation. It is His Majesty’s pleasure to do this as a gift to his beloved son and heir.”

    Salisbury finished speaking and walked away. Henry looked up at his father, he knew what would come next. The oath-swearing ceremony.

    The King was dressed in his Royal Regalia, a crown atop his head, and the royal robes around his shoulders and person. In a loud, booming voice, the King spoke. “Henry, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay, Earl of Chester, Carrick and Dublin, Lord of the Isles and Baron Renfrew, do you promise to serve and protect the people of the three Kingdoms?”

    “I do.” Henry replied.

    “And do you, Henry, Prince of Wales, promise to uphold good counsel and the righteousness of this Kingdom’s ancient and most venerable constitution?” The King asked.

    “I do.” Henry replied.

    “And do you, Henry, Prince of Wales, promise to serve and protect the King, your Lord Father, with every fibre in your being?” The King asked.

    “I do.” Henry replied.

    Then came the final question. “Do you, Prince Henry, swear to defend the faith, to protect it and nourish it, so that this Kingdom might become a true Albion and Avalon amongst all the lands?”

    “I do.” Henry said.

    The King clapped his hands and a servant appeared carrying a ring on a cushion. The servant handed the cushion to the Lord Chancellor who got up and walked to the dais, he lifted the cushion up so that the King could lean over and take the ring. The Lord Chancellor then sat back down and handed the cushion back to the servant.

    “Give me your right hand.” The King commanded.

    Henry extended his right hand, trying hard to stop it from shaking. He was nervous.

    The King leaned forward and as he placed the ring on Henry’s ring finger, he said. “With this ring, I, James, King of England, Scotland, Ireland and France, do hereby wed you, Henry, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay, Earl of Chester, Carrick and Dublin, Lord of the Isles and Baron Renfrew, to the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, Ireland and France. Her good fortune is your good fortune, her bad fortune is your bad fortune. In sickness and in health, from this day forth, your fates are tied together.”

    Once the ring was placed on his finger, Henry took a breath and then loudly said. “I accept this honour.”

    The King remained where he was, such that Henry could actually hear him breathing. It was slightly unnerving. He blinked and tried to push that thought to one side. Henry glanced to his left and saw Sir William Segar, the Garter King of Arms approaching with a crown. It was a smaller version of the one that his father now wore, and its meaning was quite symbolic. Sir William Segar stopped on the left-hand side of the dais and bowed, extending the cushion with the crown on it toward the King. The King leaned to his left and took the Crown. He held it up high and said.

    “With this crown, I, James, King of England, Scotland, Ireland and France, do hereby formally proclaim you, Henry as Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay, Earl of Chester, Carrick and Dublin, Lord of the Isles and Baron Renfrew.”

    Henry felt the crown get placed on his head, he felt its weight, and he took a deep breath, then said. “I, Henry, do hereby accept this crown, and swear to uphold all that it stands for.”

    The King smiled, leaned forward slightly to press a kiss to Henry’s brow, then he rose up off the throne and helped Henry rise. Henry rose, worried that the crown was going to fall off, and infinitely relieved when it didn’t, took another deep breath. The King called out for the sword of King Edward I to be brought forward, a member of the Garter strode forward with the sword, the man strode to the foot of the dais and then got on bended knee, with the sword raised high for the King to take.

    The King took the sword from the knight and then presented it with the blade facing up, to Henry. Henry took the sword in both hands-it was incredibly heavy-and said “With this sword, I swear to defend the King and the people of the three Kingdoms, to ensure no foe can dare threaten our shores ever again.”

    The King smiled. “Lords and Honourable Gentlemen, it is our honour to present to you, His Highness Henry, Prince of Wales!”

    A loud roar went up in the hall then, and someone shouted. “God Save the Prince of Wales! God Save the King!”

    A chant that was taken up by everyone. Henry looked around the room, and smiled. This was it; his destiny had arrived.
    Chapter 13: Game of Marriages
  • Chapter 13: Game of Marriages

    June, 1610

    Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury and Lord High Treasurer felt conflicted. On the one hand he was delighted with how the investiture of Prince Henry had gone, there had been a real sense of unity and divinity about the whole thing. Indeed, such was the impression that the ceremony had made, that the Commons had dropped their demands from the Great Contract and were now, debating it whole-heartedly. Robert hoped that they would agree to pass it, and that it would soon become law. The Crown’s debts were starting to get out of control, and they desperately needed the money.

    On the other hand, the pain he experienced in his chest was becoming far more regular now. Indeed, there were days when he woke up with the pain, and sometimes coughed up blood. What the reason was for this, he didn’t know. But it terrified him. His doctor advised him to take a break from work, but he knew that if he did that, things would fall apart. The rest of the King’s Council were either too old, as Northampton was, or too vain and idiotic, like Suffolk, to really make it work. Though he supposed now that the Prince had been formally declared of age, and was to start attending Privy Council meetings perhaps that could change.

    The Prince had been asked to attend this meeting by the King after all, and so Robert pushed down his complaints for now, and focused on the task at hand.

    “You have word from the Spanish ambassador?” The King asked.

    “I do, Sire.” Robert answered.

    “And what has the man said now?” The King asked.

    A spasm of pain shot through him, causing Robert to wince, he quickly cleared that wince from his face and replied. “The Spanish King has considered Your Majesty’s offer, and has returned with another counter. In return for increasing the dowry to £600,000, His Majesty wishes that his daughter the Infanta be granted freedom to worship, that there be a Catholic chapel opened for her and her household, and that her fellow Catholics within England be able to worship there as well, without facing fines.”

    “What?!” Prince Henry exclaimed. Robert glanced at the Prince and saw him glowering.

    Robert focused on the King then. The King didn’t seem too outraged by the demands which was concerning.

    “£600,000 you say?” The King asked.

    “Yes, Sire.” Robert replied. “And they would be able to pay it in two large instalments of £300,000 each.” How they would do that, Robert didn’t know. Especially as the Spanish had so recently declared bankruptcy-well thirteen years ago, but still.

    “No, this isn’t right.” The Prince said.

    “It’s a lot of money, a good dowry, one deserving of your status, son.” The King said.

    “But at what cost?” The Prince asked, Robert saw him raise an eyebrow at the King. “The Spanish King wants his daughter to worship in a Catholic chapel freely, and for us to allow her household and other Catholics within England to be able to do the same. That won’t end well.”

    “It will if it is managed properly.” The King said.

    “And how will it be managed properly?” The Prince demanded. “The Spanish aren’t known for following rules at the best of times. How do you think they’ll react when this happens?!”

    Robert agreed with the Prince, allowing the Catholics to so freely worship would end horribly for all involved. He could already hear the ministers in their parishes giving sermons about the end of days. It would not be a good thing for the monarchy. He could tell the King was formulating some response, and so he quickly spoke. “I think His Highness is right, Sire.”

    The King immediately turned to face him, and Robert felt another spasm of pain. He took a breath and listened as the King asked. “And what do you mean by that, beagle?”

    “What I mean, Sire, is that whilst the monetary gain from the marriage is large, it comes at a great cost. A cost I do not think Your Majesty should pay right now. Not when things are as they are.” Robert replied.

    “Is it truly that bad? Would the people truly react in such a negative manner?” The King asked. “The Catholics of England are loyal; I know they are. It is only a few who are bigoted and extreme.”

    Robert doubted that, but still, it would not do to antagonise the King so much, so, instead he said. “That might be true, Sire, but it was a Catholic with Spanish ties who assassinated King Henri of France.[1] Marrying the King of Spain’s daughter to the Prince of Wales would look terrible, it would look like a betrayal and a possible declaration of war.”

    Robert knew that invoking the spectre of war was the easiest way to get the King onside. The man hated anything to do with violence. “War?!” The King exclaimed. “Would it truly come to that?”

    “It is possible, Sire. The French are angry at the Spanish, and they view anyone allied with Spain as an enemy, hence their continued preparations for intervention in the Julich dispute.” Robert said. Only half of that was true. The French were antagonistic to the Spanish, but their army was slowly being disbanded. The King didn’t know that though.

    Prince Henry spoke then. “I would rather not marry someone who might start a war between us and France, Sire. It would not be good politics, and would not go well with all the lessons that you have taught me.”

    Oh that was skilfully done, Your Highness. Robert thought to himself. If there was anything that the King loved, it was being flattered or praised, and the Prince had just given him the highest praise possible.

    It seemed that that had worked, for the King sighed and asked. “Very well, what of the Polish option?”

    Here Robert was actually able to paint quite a positive picture. “The Polish King is willing to pay £350,000 in a dowry for his daughter, under the condition that she be able to worship in private.”

    Robert saw the King and Prince exchange a look with one another. “The Polish King is able to afford the dowry?” The King asked.

    “Part of it will come from France I believe, and another part might come from Vienna.” Robert said.

    “How much?” The King asked, his eyes narrowed.

    “A small fraction, maybe ten thousand pounds each.” Robert answered.

    “And when would the dowry be paid?” The King asked.

    “Almost immediately.” Robert said, or as close to immediately as was possible.

    “And would there be any consequences to accepting this condition from the Polish King?” The Prince asked.

    “None, as long as the condition is kept quiet, and the Princess publicly attends Anglican ceremonies, which, from what I can gather from our man in Poland, should not be an issue.” Robert answered.

    The King spoke then. “A marriage to Poland would be advantageous to us, as it would grant us a say in their dispute with Sweden, and perhaps help formulate an alliance between us, them and Denmark to prevent Sweden infringing on the traditional routes of trade within the Baltic.”

    “Exactly, Sire, and it would help show Your Majesty as a true peacemaker, keeping fractious and warring states from one another. Furthermore, it would help increase trade, and profit, especially as the King of Poland has agreed to reduce tariffs.” Robert said, appealing to the King’s vanity and good sense.

    Robert saw the King exchange a look with the Prince, and then heard the King ask. “Do you have a portrait of the Princess for the Prince to examine?”

    “I do, Sire.” Robert replied. He bent down, wincing in pain as he did so, and pulled out a miniature from a bag. He handed it to the Prince. “The Polish ambassador gave this to me, yesterday, Your Highness.”

    Robert watched as the Prince opened and looked at the miniature, he heard the sharp intake of breath and smiled. The Princess did look quite beautiful according to that miniature, with long flowing hair, beautiful eyes and good skin. She would be the perfect Princess for the Prince, if what Robert had heard about her was true. She was smart, well-read and beautiful.

    As the Prince handed the miniature to the King, he looked at Robert and said. “I am inclined to agree to this proposal, Lord Salisbury.”

    Robert smiled and said nothing, he would wait for the King to give his verdict. The King examined the miniature thoroughly, his mouth shaped into a frown, until he shut the thing and handed it back to Robert. “She is agreeable to you?” The King asked his son.

    “She is, Sire.” The Prince replied.

    “You sent a miniature to Poland, we trust?” The King asked of him.

    Robert nodded. “I did, Sire.”

    “Good. Then if it is agreeable, let us accept their proposal.” The King said.

    Robert smiled. “I shall inform the Polish Ambassador.”

    [1] This isn’t actually true, the assassin insisted until his dying breath that he had worked alone.
    Chapter 14: Arbella
  • Chapter 14: Arbella

    June, 1610

    Arbella Stuart, cousin to the King and sixth in line to the throne, took a breath. She knew what she needed to say, but as ever when facing her cousin, the King, she needed to calm herself before she said anything. Things had definitely changed in the seven years since her cousin had ascended the throne. He’d gone from being something of a country stranger, to a calm and assured presence, though his continued favouriting of Robert Carr boggled her mind. Arbella also knew that his relationship with his wife was not what it had been seven years ago.

    Still, things had improved. The Prince of Wales’ investiture had shown her that. The response in the streets and at court and at Parliament was as if King Arthur had returned to save them all from hell. It was strange, and somewhat intimidating, she could only imagine what it was like for her cousin and his son.

    The King broke through her thoughts. “You wished to meet, and we have granted your request, cousin.”

    “Thank you, Your Majesty.” Arbella replied.

    “What is it you wished to discuss?” The King asked. He didn’t sound impatient, not exactly, but Arbella got the sense that he would rather be somewhere else.

    Therefore, she decided to start off with a bit of flattery. “I firstly wanted to congratulate Your Majesty on the investiture ceremony, it was the stuff of legends. I know that the entire court was in awe of how well it went, and how both Your Majesty and His Highness the Prince of Wales looked and acted. I also know that the people are in awe of Your Majesty for the ceremony.” Her cousin Grace had said as much.

    The King smiled at her, hopefully, she’d managed to stroke his ego enough. “Thank you, cousin. We appreciate that, and we also appreciate that you attended.”

    “Of course, Majesty.” Arbella said. She had sat in the Royal Box with the Queen, the Duke of York, the Duke of Gloucester and the Princesses Elizabeth and Mary. She had witnessed everything, whilst casting eyes at William.

    “Now, tell us, what is it that has brought you here?” The King asked.

    Arbella was slightly surprised that the King had gotten to the point so suddenly, she was used to him either meandering or asking for more flattery. “Sire?” She replied.

    The King laughed. “Come now, cousin, we know one another well enough to know when the other wants something. I know that you did not come here simply to congratulate me on the ceremony. So, tell me, what is it you want?”

    Arbella sighed, she supposed the King was right. She took a breath then said. “I wish to marry William Seymour, Sire.”

    “Lord Beauchamp?” The King asked, he didn’t sound surprised, which surprised her.

    “Yes, Sire.” Arbella said.

    “Why?” The King asked.

    “Because I am in love with him, and he is in love with me, and there is nobody I would rather marry.” Arbella said. It was true, their love for one another had snuck up on her, she’d initially just taken to flirting with him and occasionally fooling about, but then she’d started developing feelings for him and well, she knew what that meant.

    The King shifted in his seat. “Love is a strong word. Tell me more.”

    Arbella shifted slightly, how was she supposed to explain what she felt about William, to the King, when she barely knew how to put it into words for herself? She opened her mouth and then just said the first thing that came to mind. “William is kind, he is generous, he is someone who makes me laugh. I know him and he knows me. And most importantly I trust him. Which, as I am sure Your Majesty knows, for our family has never been an easy thing to come by. We are people who work well together, which is something that all marriages require to work. And I think that it would be hugely beneficial to the court and the Kingdom.”

    “How so?” The King asked.

    “Well, it would remove us both from the marriage board. It would prevent anyone from trying to claim either one of us.” Arbella said. She knew that either the King of Poland or the King of Spain had at one point sought her out as a bride, and that someone had been sniffing around William, hoping to use him to cause trouble.

    “I suppose that is true.” The King replied. “Go on.”

    “We are both incredibly loyal to Your Majesty. Indeed, William has on more than one occasion offered to command forces for Your Majesty against disreputable forces either in Ireland or in Scotland. He has also always ensured to give good counsel when asked for it, and he is someone who gets on well with Lord Salisbury and Lord Carr.” Arbella said. She didn’t like Carr, but William made it a point to keep the man onside, which she was sure would win him points with the King.

    “In short, I think this is the most sensible and long term solution to the issue that both myself and William present, Sire.” Arbella said.

    “I see.” The King replied. He was silent for a time after that, which forced Arbella to shift around on her feet. She had never liked having to wait for things. Having always found it quite annoying. Perhaps that was her father’s influence. She had been told by her grandmother that her father had always been slightly impulsive.

    She was about to say something else, when the King spoke. “I understand where you are coming from, cousin, and I am happy for you.”

    Arbella’s heart started to quicken, was the King going to grant her, her request?

    “Your reasoning is sound, it would be reasonable to allow you and William to marry, especially as your place in the succession is not so adaptable as it once was.” The King continued, Arbella nodded, holding her breath. “However, we have one request.”

    “Sire?” Arbella replied, waiting and hoping against hope.

    “In return for us granting you permission to wed William, you wait for a year until you marry.” The King said.

    “A year?” Arbella asked, wondering why the King had given a specific limit.

    “Yes. The Prince of Wales will soon be marrying, and we wish for him to have a child first. Then once he has done that, you will be free to marry.” The King said. “Can you do that for me?”

    Arbella wanted to say no, she wanted to scream and shout, but instead, she took a breath and said. “Of course, Your Majesty, thank you, Your Majesty.”

    “Good.” The King replied smiling. Arbella smiled in return. It was a year; a year could fly by.
    Chapter 15: Siblings
  • Chapter 15: Siblings

    June, 1610

    “You know, it’s quite odd.” Elizabeth said, looking straight ahead as she and her brother, the newly made Prince of Wales walked through St James Park, with guards walking in front of them and behind them.

    “What is?” Henry asked, his voice deep.

    “That we’ve both become good friends with our cousin, Frederick.” Elizabeth replied. What she felt for Frederick was perhaps a bit more than being good friends, but still, it was true. The last person she and Henry had been close to had been one of the Erskine siblings, back in Scotland.

    “Truly?” Henry asked. “We’ve always had similar friends.”

    “Yes, but not to this level. Not to where we’re both going to be writing to him after he departs.” Elizabeth pointed out. Though she suspected the content of her brother’s letters would be vastly different to what she herself wrote.

    Henry chuckled. “I suppose you are right.”

    “Why is that?” Elizabeth asked.

    Henry sighed, and stopped, Elizabeth stopped as well, and looked at her brother. He was looking at her intently. “What do you make of Frederick?” He asked then.

    Elizabeth was slightly caught off guard by the question, but answered honestly. “He is good, charming, not handsome, but rugged, and he is kind. That is the most important thing.”

    “Why?” Henry asked.

    “Why what?” Elizabeth replied.

    “Why is the fact that he’s kind the most important thing?” Henry asked.

    Elizabeth laughed. “Because kindness is a virtue. Something that you rarely find in people.”

    Henry whistled. “I’ll need to let Gordon know then.”

    “George Gordon?” Elizabeth asked, what did Anne Drummond’s love have to do with this?

    “Yes.” Henry said. “He’s trying to be mean and harsh to Anne because he’s gotten it into his head that that is how you woo a lady.”

    Elizabeth groaned, so that explained why Anne had been so upset recently. “Why does he think that?” She asked.

    Henry laughed again. “Damned if I know.” Her brother then changed the topic. “But yes, so you like Frederick because of these qualities then?”

    “I do yes.” Elizabeth said. “Why do you like him?”

    “For a vastly different reason to you, I imagine.” Henry joked, smiling. “He’s good fun to be around, he knows when to be serious, and he also has a wealth of knowledge about the continent.”

    “So, you’re using him?” Elizabeth asked, unsure if she agreed with that. Using someone was not nice.

    “In a manner of speaking yes.” Henry said simply. “As he is using me.”

    “What do you mean?” Elizabeth asked, she couldn’t imagine Frederick using anyone.

    “He is getting close to me, so that he has an ally in England that he can turn to when his time comes to rule Brunswick. He wants to ensure that we have good relations, and he also wants me to put in a good word with father, if he decides to court you.” Henry said simply.

    “He’s already started.” Elizabeth replied. At her brother’s raised eyebrow, she added. “Courting me.”

    Henry smiled. “Ah, I see. And how do you feel about that?”

    Elizabeth blushed, speaking about it would make it real, and she wasn’t sure if that was something she should do just yet. “I…I like it.”

    “You are a very appealing lady, it seems.” Henry quipped.

    “What do you mean?” Elizabeth asked.

    “Well, I heard a rumour that the Elector Palatine wants his son to marry you as well. Indeed, I heard that the King has encouraged the man’s son to write to you.” Henry said.

    Elizabeth felt her blush deepen. “I did not know that.” At least not yet anyway, she’d suspected something might occur.

    “And what do you make of it now that you do?” Henry asked, grinning.

    Elizabeth did something very unladylike; she stuck her tongue out at her brother and then said. “I think it’s something that comes and goes. But it does go to show that England is in demand.” Which was a good thing after all. Marriages were needed to expand the stature of the Kingdom.

    “Indeed, it does.” Henry said simply.

    A momentary silence fell over them then as they started walking again. Elizabeth glanced to her left and then to her right, and noted the guards who were shadowing them. All of this was because the King of France had been assassinated. Father was paranoid that someone might try to do the same to one of them, and so, they had guards shadowing them always. Even when they went to the toilet.

    She broke the silence as they came to an old oak tree, one which had supposedly been planted during the reign of Edward I. As she stared at it, she asked. “And what about you? You are to marry a Polish Princess; how do you feel?”

    The King had broken the news during a session of court two days’ ago, and there had been a lot of chatter about that. The Spanish party led by the Earl of Northampton had been terribly disappointed-they hadn’t shown it but Elizabeth could tell-and the opposition party, led by the Earl of Huntingdon-who’d taken leadership over from the Earl of Salisbury-seemed delighted. That was odd given that the Polish Princess was still Catholic.

    Henry sighed, which prompted her to look at him. “I don’t know.” He said simply. “On the one hand I think it is a good marriage, and brings us a useful ally in the Baltic against Sweden. On the other hand, the girl is still a Catholic, though Salisbury seems convinced that she will attend Anglican ceremonies.”

    The way her brother spoke then made Elizabeth raise her eyebrows at him and asked. “You do not agree?”

    “I do not know. I think it is odd that we hear so much about how devout the Catholics are, and how they will never recognise anything other than Rome, and yet a Polish Princess, who’s mother is of the Habsburg line, is somehow supposedly willing to abandon that. It makes me wonder where she actually stands and what sort of person she is.” Henry replied.

    Elizabeth considered that, she supposed she could see where her brother was coming from. He was a devout Protestant, like her, and he had never wavered in his faith, never. So, to think that his future spouse could be someone who might well waver, was perhaps not reassuring. She didn’t know what to say to reassure him, so instead she simply said. “I suppose you will need to wait until she is actually here.”

    Henry nodded. “Indeed, I think so.” Her brother took a breath and then said. “That is something I’ve been meaning to speak to you about.”

    Elizabeth felt her eyes widen in surprise. “Oh?”

    Henry nodded. “What should I do to prepare for when she comes?”

    Elizabeth was slightly surprised by this question. Her brother had always seemed as if she knew what to do, and how to do it, but then she supposed, his contact with women, apart from her and their mother was limited. Therefore, she took a breath and then said. “Find out what she likes, write to her before you get married, figure out who she is and what she likes, and what she wants, and act accordingly.” She then remembered something she’d read about in a book and added. “And make sure you tell her or show her a bit about you as well.”

    Henry nodded. “I will remember that, thank you.”

    Elizabeth smiled. “Of course.” She hoped it worked for her brother, there was nobody more deserving of happiness than him.
    Chapter 16: A Prince's Request
  • Chapter 16: A Prince’s Request

    July, 1610

    Henry shuffled around as he waited to be let in to see the King. He thought over the letter he’d just sent for Poland, and hoped that it didn’t come across as too desperate. He’d struggled through writing it. He had so much to say and had not known how exactly to put the words down on the page. He hoped it made sense and didn’t read like he’d just thrown up words.

    He blushed slightly as he thought of some of the things he’d said. As he’d talked about his hopes and his thoughts about what was to come. Hopefully, the Princess didn’t think him a fool. Not for the first time, Henry wished he had his brother’s gift with words. Charles might only be ten, but he was already writing poems and other such things that showed such great detail and thought. Henry was both proud and jealous of his brother.

    It wasn’t that he himself was an idiot, he knew his Tacitus, and his Dee, and the classics, but getting that all out onto the page was something he struggled with. He always had.

    He stopped shuffling as the doors opened and that oaf Carr bowed before him. “His Majesty will see you now, Your Highness.”

    Henry nodded and walked forwards, he pushed past Carr and entered into the privy chamber. The King was sat lounging on a sofa, a cup of wine on the table before him. “Henry.” The King said.

    Henry bowed. “Your Majesty.”

    He turned as the door closed, and he frowned. Was Carr going to remain here? It seemed so for the King made no move to dismiss the man. “You wished to speak with me?”

    Henry nodded. “I did, Sire.” He took a breath, preparing himself for the words he had to say.

    “Well, what is it?” The King asked.

    “I wish to command the force that Sir Edward Cecil is taking to Julich.” Henry said.

    “You do?” The King asked, an eyebrow raised.

    “Yes, Sire.” Henry replied. “I think that I am the right person to command it. I am your eldest son and heir; it is only right that a force being sent to keep the peace in Julich be represented by a member of the Royal Family. After all, it is important that we maintain a presence on the international stage.”

    Henry took a breath, he’d thought long and hard about this, he’d bounced his thoughts off his tutor Adam Newton, and off of Sir Edward himself, and come to this conclusion. “If Your Majesty is worried about what the Spanish might say, you need not be. Spain has not entered the conflict, as of yet, and therefore has no reason to complain at my presence there. Furthermore, we are also not antagonistic toward the Emperor, and thus have no reason to fear reprisal from Vienna. The purpose of the force is clear, to ensure good conduct and harmony from both sides. A role that the English army has played previously during the wars between Spain and the Dutch Republic.”

    Henry took a breath and then continued. “Finally, it would look odd if after swearing to defend the three Kingdoms, I did not do all I could to ensure that they are protected. After all, as Your Majesty has previously said, what happens in Europe can reverberate here as well, therefore it is necessary to bring everything into order and to ensure we know what is happening. The only way we can do that is by having eyes and ears on the ground. And given that the continentals will only respond well to one of their own rank, it is imperative that I go there.”

    Henry took a deep breath as he finished speaking. He’d said a lot, but he didn’t think he’d said anything wrong. Indeed, as he looked at the King’s face, he got the impression that he’d said the right things. The King looked thoughtful; his fingers were steepled against his chin. When the man responded, his voice was soft.

    “You speak sense, Henry.”

    Henry exhaled, and the King continued. “It would make sense for you to go and ensure that our interests are looked after, particularly if the force that is getting sent out is one that is meant to ensure good conduct between the two forces in this war. And you are right to say we have no quarrel with Spain or Vienna, and that neither could take umbrage at our involvement.”

    Henry listened, waiting for the other shoe to drop. His father was going to shatter his hopes, he could just tell.

    “However, there is one thing that you are missing.” The King said.

    “Sire?” Henry asked, steeling himself.

    “Sir Edward Cecil is not going in the capacity of our representative; he is going as a private individual who is raising a force of men to fight in the war on behalf of the Protestants.” The King said. “That is to say, he is an aggressor.”

    Henry took a deep breath, feeling his cheeks heat up. Had he gotten Cecil wrong? Misinterpreted him? Or had Cecil lied to him?

    “Consequently, if we were to let you go for this expedition, we would be making it an English contingent supported by us. That would not do well with what we are trying to achieve. It would not bring peace; it would bring war. Spain would declare war on us, and that would not end well.” The King said.

    Henry opened his mouth to protest, to say that perhaps that was no bad thing, that perhaps they needed to go to war with Spain to stop it from causing chaos and havoc everywhere. But he looked at the King and saw something in the other man’s eyes that told him doing so would be foolish. Therefore, he shut his mouth and waited.

    The King continued. “Furthermore, sending you off would be quite foolish when you are needed here.”

    Henry frowned. “Sire?”

    “Your marriage.” The King said.

    Henry felt something like a lead weight settle in him. What did his marriage have to do with anything? Poland was not interested in what was going on in Julich, as far as he could tell.

    “A proxy marriage will take place in Warsaw at the end of this week with the actual marriage taking place at the end of the month. Consequently, you could not have gone off to Julich, either way. And additionally, we need you here to look over a few things.” The King said.

    Henry took a deep breath. He was getting married far sooner than he had expected. He had thought that there might be at least a few months of a betrothal, so that he and his betrothed could exchange letters and get to know one another a bit more. But no, they were being thrown right into the fire. He wanted to ask the King why it was happening like this, but decided against it. Instead, he took a deep breath and said.

    “I understand, Your Majesty. My apologies for causing a scene.”

    The King waved a hand dismissively. “You are young, you will learn.” A pause and then. “You may go.”

    Henry bowed, turned and departed, but before he did so, he saw Carr’s grin, it seemed like the man was mocking him and took every inch of his self-control not to punch him. He walked out of the room and then stormed down the hallway. He needed to blow off some steam.
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    Chapter 17: Poland
  • Chapter 17: Poland

    July, 1610

    Anna Maria read through the letter and smiled.

    Your Highness,

    I hope that this letter finds you well and that it is not presumptuous of me to write to you.

    I wished to get to know you a little better before our marriage.

    I have started reading up on a variety of things such as the right dish to serve with Polish ale, and various Polish phrases, to ensure that it is easier for us to communicate when you arrive.

    The ambassador has mentioned that you like music, therefore, I have asked that the musicians of my household learn a few of the more traditional Polish songs to welcome you when you arrive.

    Please let me know more about yourself, and about what you like, so that I can make you feel as welcome as possible.


    Prince Henry

    The letter was written in French-a language she spoke and read in quite well, though she knew some English-she thought it was quite sweet if not that romantic. At least her betrothed-or husband she supposed given the proxy ceremony that had occurred last week-was writing to her.

    “What are you smiling about, Princess?” Catherine Radziwill, her best friend and main lady in waiting asked.

    “The letter I received from Prince Henry.” Anna answered honestly.

    “Oh?” Catherine replied, her eyebrows rising. “What’s he said?”

    “He’s said that he’s learning Polish, and that he’s getting the musicians of his household to learn a few of our songs, so that I can be welcomed by them when I arrive.” Anna said.

    Catherine’s eyebrows lowered back to their normal level. She seemed disappointed. “That’s…that’s good, I suppose.”

    “What?” Anna asked.

    “Nothing.” Catherine said hurriedly, which just convinced Anna that something was wrong.

    “No, Catherine what is it?” Anna demanded.

    Catherine sighed. “It just seems, a little, I don’t know…”

    “Boring.” Eleonora said.

    Anna turned to face the older girl and asked. “Boring?”

    “Yes,” Eleonora said simply. “There’s no flair, no spark of excitement. He’s telling you what he’s doing instead of surprising you with it.”

    “And that’s a bad thing?” Anna asked. She didn’t mind surprises when they came from people she knew, but when it was someone like the Prince, who she didn’t know, she didn’t really want to be surprised. It could go horribly wrong after all.

    “Yes.” Eleonora said. “Marriage should be about surprises.”

    Anna was about to ask Eleonora about how she would know that, given that she was still without a husband as she approached thirty, but decided against it. Instead she asked. “So, what would you want a suitor to write to you?”

    “Surprise, I don’t want to know what they’re going to do next, I want to guess, and see whether I’m proven right or not.” Eleonora said.

    Anna sighed. “That sounds absolutely exhausting.” She couldn’t imagine having to constantly guess what her betrothed-husband-was going to do next. If she wanted that, she’d go and resume the little dance that she and Wladek had been on when she had been younger, before she’d abandoned it.

    “It’s fun.” Eleonora replied. “It keeps things fresh.”

    “Besides, there will be plenty of time to be boring and repetitive when you’re in England.” Catherine chimed in. “Especially under Urszula.”

    Anna frowned at the mention of her governess, who it seemed would be accompanying her to England. Urszula was a strict lady, someone who insisted on following the rules at all times, even when the rules made no sense. “Surely, she won’t be able to enforce anything on us once we are married?” Anna asked. She hoped not, but knowing the governess who knew?

    Catherine laughed. “It’s the governess, we all know that nobody can get in her way if she wants something. You remember what she did to Sophia last year?”

    Anna sighed. Sophia had been one of Anna’s closest friends before she’d fallen in love with a knight of her brother’s household. Urszula had mocked her and laughed at her and then belittled her in front of her angry parents. Sophia had disappeared since then. She hadn’t come to Warsaw in April, which was most unusual. “She wouldn’t dare do that in England.” Anna said, hopefully. Not with England being Protestant.

    “Who knows.” Catherine replied. “She might if she thinks it would be worth it. You know how stubborn she can be, Princess.”

    Anna sighed. “That’s true.” That was very true, Urszula was one of the reasons that Anna wasn’t as devout a Catholic as she perhaps should be. Oh, she attended mass and did the prayers and all of that, but she found the excessive devotion that Urszula demanded to be redundant and as such, strove to be her own person. It was why she had murmured something to one of the servants who wrote to the Polish ambassador to include the mention that she’d be willing to attend Anglican services. Not even her father knew she’d included that.

    “So, how should I respond to this letter?” She asked then, holding up the piece of paper and looking at her friends expectantly.

    “Acknowledge the work that His Highness is doing and mention some of your interests, mention something interesting that you did, and ask him about himself. See what he says.” Catherine suggested.

    “Ignore everything he’s said and ask him pointed questions.” Eleonora said.

    “Like what?” Anna asked, half amused.

    “About himself, about his desires, about his temptations.” Elenora said.

    “But that is oddly personal and specific. Besides, the Postmaster will likely be reading the letter before it gets sent out and I’d rather he not read that.” Anna replied, especially as the man would report it straight to her father.

    Eleonora laughed. “Well, if you want to be boring, that’s on you, Highness.”

    Anna frowned at Eleonora. “I will try and find some middle ground.” How she would do that she did not know, but she might as well try.

    “How should I start?” Anna asked.

    “With a thank you, and then move right into it.” Catherine and Eleonora said at the same time.

    Anna laughed. “Very well, that’s what I shall do.” She just hoped she wrote in an appropriate manner. She couldn’t stand the embarrassment that would come if her father asked her about the letter.
    Chapter 18: A Father and A King
  • Chapter 18: A Father and A King

    July, 1610

    Sigismund Vasa, third of that name, and King of Poland, took a deep breath, and then in the clear German of his youth spoke. “Ambassador, we thank you for coming on such short notice. There are two main issues we wished to discuss with you.”

    “Of course, Your Majesty.” Count Olaf, the Danish Ambassador replied.

    “The first matter is the war effort.” Sigismund said. “Currently our forces are doing the majority of the work against both the Swedes and the Russians. Indeed, we are closer to bringing Russia under our control than at any point in the past year.” For that, they had a victory at the beginning of the month to thank. “However, we wish to know whether King Christian is still committed.”

    He had been getting mixed signals from his ambassador in Copenhagen. Apparently, King Christian seemed happier to drink and wench than to fight.

    Count Olaf, to his credit didn’t flinch or bristle instead he said. “King Christian is committed as ever, Sire. Indeed, with King Carl’s latest provocation, the time has come for the Danish army and fleet to move into primacy once more.”

    Sigismund was intrigued by this, he had heard rumours of something happening between Denmark and Sweden, but what they were had never been made clear. “Go on.” He said.

    Count Olaf smiled. “The Swedes are attempting to completely go around the sound tolls, and as such have violated an old treaty that was signed with them during the reign of Your Majesty’s father.”

    Sigismund nodded. Olaf continued. “Consequently, King Christian has asked me to present a strategy to Your Majesty.”

    Sigismund was intrigued now. “Continue.”

    “Firstly, His Majesty proposes that the Danish fleet would secure the route to England and elsewhere for Polish merchant ships, and our navy would also engage in harassing Swedish vessels. Our army would engage with the Swedish forces in Scania and elsewhere.” Count Olaf said.

    Sigismund nodded, that was a good offer, though it would no doubt come with a catch. “And in return, what would King Christian have us do?”

    “Continue as Your Majesty has been doing. Driving the Russians to their knees. Once Russia is removed from the field, then Sweden can be destroyed.” Count Olaf said.

    Sigismund nodded. He doubted that it would be quite as easy as Count Olaf had made out, but he was willing to give it a go. Therefore, he said. “Very well, we accept.” Count Olaf smiled, and Sigismund pushed on ahead.

    “Now onto the other matter we wished to discuss with you.”

    “Sire.” Count Olaf replied.

    “Trade.” Sigismund said, noting how Olaf’s facial expression didn’t change.

    Count Olaf nodded, but said nothing. Sigismund continued. “In our initial discussions, it had been agreed that we would bring down tariffs to 28%. However, given the work and effort that both sides are putting in, we would suggest a reduction down to 20%.”

    He had gone over this proposal with his ministers and they had all agreed that it was a sensible move to make. Denmark could well become a beneficial trading partner, if they played their cards right.

    Count Olaf’s facial expression remained the same. Indeed, he remained expressionless. And when he replied his tone didn’t give away any indication of his feelings. “I think that would be an excellent idea, Sire.”

    Sigismund nodded. “Perfect, then let us sort out the finer details at a later date.” He rose and dismissed the ambassador with a wave of his hand. He had to see his daughter now.

    Sigismund got off the throne and walked down the steps, then walked straight down the hallway, nodding to the guards as they opened the doors. He continued walking straight down the hallway, turning right at the end of it, then taking an immediate left, he then walked up a flight of steps, turned right, and then nodded to the guards at a set of doors. The guards announced him and then opened the doors.

    His daughter Anna stood up when he entered. She curtseyed. “Your Majesty.” She said in Polish.

    “Anna, sit.” Sigismund commanded, replying in Polish.

    His daughter sat down. Sigismund remained standing. “How are you feeling?” He asked. His daughter was leaving for England tomorrow, her things were all packed, and her ladies were all ready to go. There would be a farewell feast for her later tonight, and then tomorrow he’d see her depart.

    “I am…” Anna began, before stopping. She frowned and then she said. “I am both nervous and excited.”

    Sigismund smiled. “That is normal.”

    Anna nodded. “I received another letter from Prince Henry today.”

    “Oh?” Sigismund replied. He still didn’t know how to feel about the fact that his daughter and her betrothed/husband had been communicating with one another before they had actually met. When he’d gotten married to Anna’s mother, the first time he’d spoken to her had been on the day of their wedding. Still these young people today did things differently, the rest of them had to catch up.

    Anna nodded and smiled. “Yes, he said that he’s looking forward to meeting me.”

    Sigismund nodded. He could tell from the way that his daughter was smiling that she already liked the Prince. That was a good thing. It would make their lives together that much easier. “Are you going to respond?” He asked.

    “I have.” Anna replied. Sigismund didn’t ask her what she’d said. He was old enough to know that it was rude to ask a lady what she’d written in a private letter.

    Anna surprised him then by saying. “I looked up some information on St James Palace, as well.”

    “Oh?” Sigismund replied, he wasn’t sure why he was surprised. His daughter was someone who would always want to find out more about where she was going. Unlike her brother who didn’t seem to care.

    “Yes, it’s one of the bigger and more organised Palaces in England. It has some two hundred rooms, and Prince Henry has started work on a new gallery for his art collection.” Anna said.

    “I see.” Sigismund replied.

    “That’s not all.” Anna added. “St James Palace also has one of the best sets of musicians in all of Western Europe. Better than what the French court has.”

    Sigismund raised an eyebrow at that. England having something better than France, he wasn’t sure if that was possible.

    “Do you think they’ll be willing to learn a few things?” Anna asked.

    Sigismund grinned. He knew his daughter; he knew what things she’d ask those musicians to learn. “I’m sure they would, Anna.” He replied.

    Anna grinned. “Excellent.” There was a brief pause and then Anna said. “I will miss you, Father.”

    Sigismund nodded. “And we will all miss you, Anna, but we shall write to you as often as we can.”

    “Thank you.” Anna replied solemnly.

    Sigismund took a breath and then said. “I am proud of you, daughter, I am so very proud of you. And I know your mother would be as well.”

    Anna looked at him and smiled, it was a watery smile. “I love you, Father.”

    “And I, you.” Sigismund replied, trying to keep his composure, for his daughter’s sake more than his own.
    Chapter 19: Scotland's Home
  • Chapter 19: Scotland’s Home

    August, 1610

    George Home, Earl of Dunbar adjusted the collar of his shirt. It was damnably hot. Some predicted that this would be the hottest month of the summer ever. In the current sweltering heat, George could see where they were coming from. He breathed a sigh of relief when the door at the far end of the hall opened and the King walked in. George suppressed a frown when he saw who was following the King. It was that upstart Carr. He seemed ever present still.

    George took a breath and then bowed when the King came into his direct line of vision. “Your Majesty.” He said.

    “Lord Dunbar.” The King replied, taking his seat. The King didn’t ask him to sit, which was fine by George, he couldn’t imagine having to sit in this heat. “I trust your journey southwards was fine?”

    “It was, Sire.” George replied. Indeed, such was the flow of people coming and going at the border, that this had perhaps been the easiest journey he’d made in the seven years since the King had moved south.

    “Good.” The King said. “So, tell me, what is it that you wished to speak of?”

    George took a breath. He needed to phrase what he had to say carefully, to ensure that the King didn’t fly into a rage. With Carr present, that was doubly important. After all, who knew what nonsense the other man might whisper to the King. “There have been some concerning reports from the roads between Edinburgh and Glasgow, Sire.”

    “What reports?” The King demanded sharply, and from the way the King’s tone changed, George knew he was thinking that someone like Bothwell had come back.

    “There is a minister of the Kirk who has started preaching in the villages along the Edinburgh to Glasgow road. He preaches against the Kirk’s established structures with Bishops, he denounces the Church of England as something heretical and close to Rome, and finally, he says that Your Majesty has been possessed by the Devil.” George said.

    “What in the name of God?!” Carr exclaimed.

    The King exhaled and then asked. “What is this man’s name?”

    “Richard Cameron, Sire.” George replied.

    “Is he affiliated with that Clan?” The King asked.

    George shook his head. “No, Sire. He is not. Nobody is quite sure where he is from.”

    “Have you been able to find him?” Carr demanded.

    “Not as of yet, no. The man is able to disappear with relative ease.” George said.

    “You mean you’ve not been able to find him because he’s figured out a way to elude your network of spies. Are you losing your touch, Lord Dunbar?” Carr asked, with a hint of bite.

    George ignored the man, and instead spoke to the King. “I believe there might be some within the old Kirk network who are aiding him, Sire. Consequently, I think there are two options that can be used to deal with this problem.”

    “Find them, torture them and then burn him out.” The King said.

    “Indeed, Sire.” George said.

    “That’s the method I would use.” Carr said.

    And you would end up getting murdered in your bed if you did. George thought, Carr wouldn’t survive in Scotland. He was made for the weaker climes of England. George focused on the King. “The second method is to challenge the man to a debate, to expose him for the fool that he is.”

    “You would have me debate this insolent dog?” The King asked.

    “Not you, Sire. That would be far beneath you.” George said.

    “Then who?” The King demanded.

    “The Bishop of Dunkeld, Sire.” George said.

    “Dunkeld?!” The King exclaimed. “You want me to entrust that man with the rebuttal of this traitor?”

    “Yes, Sire.” George replied. “I know that Dunkeld is not the most savoury character, but I feel that that is exactly the reason for why he should be allowed to debate Cameron. Let Dunkeld present the arguments for the Church and let him dissect everything Cameron says. Nobody is as good as Dunkeld at such things. Apart from Your Majesty, of course.”

    “What is there to say Dunkeld won’t just agree with Cameron?” Carr asked. “After all, Dunkeld is not in support of increasing the power of Bishops despite being one himself.”

    That was true, the Bishop of Dunkeld was an odd man in that he didn’t want more power for himself, instead trusting the Presbytery to exercise good judgement. But, that was a strength rather than a weakness. “That is why he will win, and won’t agree with Cameron.”

    “How?” Carr demanded.

    “Cameron stands for everything that Dunkeld finds unpalatable about the radical Presbyterians. He thinks that whilst Bishops should not have complete power, they should still exist. He also thinks the existing Church system works. Cameron wants to tear it all down. He is not wanting a return to the Church of old, but some anarchic new structure. And that is complete anathema to someone like Dunkeld. Dunkeld will be incentivised to destroy Cameron.” George said.

    “And Cameron will come out of his hole?” The King asked.

    “To debate someone like Dunkeld?” George replied. “Most definitely.”

    The King seemed to be contemplating what George had said, he hoped the man agreed, otherwise, George was at a loss at how to handle Cameron. Eventually, the King replied. “Very well, set things up. We give you our official approval.”

    “Thank you, Sire.” George replied bowing. He tugged at his collar, wondering if that was it.

    The King spoke once more however. “There was one other thing we wished to speak to you about, Lord Dunbar.”

    “Sire?” George replied.

    “How much progress has been made with getting the main Scottish Lords in favour of a Union?” The King asked.

    George took a breath. This was the King’s pet project, after the failure of earlier union talks a few years ago, the King had abandoned proceedings, only to take them up again about a year or so ago. George had been tasked with getting prominent Lords like Argyll, Atholl, Erroll and the Earl Marischal onside. It had been a difficult task, but one that he thought he had managed reasonably well. Especially as the King had made his job easier, by agreeing to a few concessions.

    “Argyll and Atholl are both very happy with the proposals, Your Majesty. The Earl Marischal is also very happy. Erroll will need a bit more convincing, but he will come around.” George answered.

    “And the others?” The King asked.

    “Well, most are happy with the terms. Keeping Scottish Law in place, ensuring that there are no tariffs for trade between the two Kingdoms, and of course, voting rights to a joint Parliament for those who meet the requirements. There is one issue that the Earl of Eglinton mentioned though, Sire.” George said, wondering how the King would respond to this.

    “And what was that?” The King asked.

    “He wondered if it would be possible to increase the number of MPs elected to the Commons from 40 to 50, to better reflect the numbers in the Scottish Parliament.” George said.

    “And what would Eglinton bring if he got this?” Carr demanded.

    George frowned at Carr, the man was impertinent. The King waved a hand dismissively at Carr to get him to be quiet. The King then looked at George and said. “I will speak with my men here, and see what they say.”

    “Thank you, Sire.” George said. Wondering who it was that the King had gotten to assess the English willingness for Union.

    “Your next task is to choose five men who will work with the English on a Commission to hammer out the finer points of the Union agreement.” The King said.

    “Of course, Sire.” George said.

    “Good, you may go.” The King said.

    George bowed. “Sire.” He then rose, turned and walked out of the room, hoping that he didn’t faint from the heat.
    Family Tree of James I and VI
  • Family tree James I of England, VI of Scotland.jpg