Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Worries of Charles VII of France: August 1453 to January 1455

The court of Charles VII was still reveling in the victory of the Battle of Castillon and the subsequent siege of Bordeaux when news of Henry VI’s death reached Paris.  As the French King and his advisors thought about how the turn of events in England would affect their enemy’s foreign policy, there was a bit of a mystery as no one knew exactly who would succeed Henry.  The fact that neither did the English wasn’t comforting to Charles as he learned that both York and Somerset were claiming the English Crown, he saw it both as an opportunity to fully push English forces out of France and a potential problem if York were to prove victorious in the certain civil war.  Soldiers were sent to join the French forces besieging Bordeaux as well as instructions to report the news of Henry’s death and the succession crisis unfolding in England then he wanted to know if it was possible to capture Calais from the garrison there.  Finally Charles thought about how his son the Dauphin, Louis, would react to the news considering their estrangement and what would Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, do now that England was on the verge of civil war.

The months past until 19 October when finally Bordeaux surrendered to French forces thus ending the 300-year English hold on Guyenne in southwestern France, the English soldiers were allowed to return to England on order by Charles.  The King would later learn that this decision had given York the numerical advantage that would prove decisive in the coming “Winter War” that would see York transformed into Richard III.  But at the time, Charles hoped the influx of defeated soldiers would escalate the chaos that seemed to be consuming England with two rivals claiming the crown.  Charles hoped to use this chaos to take Calais, however the French forces found that the garrison wasn’t about to surrender thanks to the efforts of Lionel de Welles, 6th Baron Welles, the deputy captain of the garrison charge of Calais.  When the Burgundians looked like they were about to interfere before the end of 1453, the French had no choice but to retreat and Charles wondered if the Burgundians activity was the result of Louis convincing Philip to intervene.

Early in 1454, news reached Paris that London had opened its gates to York who had been proclaimed Richard III.  To Charles the apparent ascension of York to the throne meant that English foreign policy would shift dramatically back to the “war party” that had been marginalized the latter half of Henry VI’s reign in favor the Somerset-led “peace party” that the French used to their advantage the last few decades.  As the French court continued to follow what was happening in England, Charles tried to find out what Louis was doing in regard to the situation as well as Philip and his son Charles in Burgundy.  But Charles also had to consider rumors about the Count of Armagnac and his sister, though only rumors it was disturbing on the surface and the King didn’t like the implications if they were true.

The news reached Charles on the result of Bosworth it did not surprise him and decided on a wait-and-see approach when it came to Richard’s actions in regards to the conquered territory of Guyenne.  In the months that followed, Charles tried to persuade his nephew Peter II, Duke of Brittany, to ally with him against the English if the need were to arise and also sent overtures to Philip in Burgundy.  Neither would give the King a clear answer resulting in Charles decided to make sure that he had enough forces to repel an invasion.  Throughout the summer of 1454, Charles tried not to think too much of the English and with no immediate threat seemingly on the horizon he decided to let down his guard.  Then when he heard that the Earls of Devon and Warwick had left Calais headed for Paris with a far too small entourage befitting their status made the King and his own councilors wonder why the two men were coming.

In their audience Devon and Warwick told of Richard’s wish to present Margaret of Anjou as a possible wife to Henry IV of Castile and hoped that Charles would not have any objections.  The King along with his advisors were surprised, but kept it from the Englishmen.  Although many of his advisors wondered what Richard was up to, Charles knew exactly what was going on.  The King reminded them that he still had two nephews in England after Henry VI’s death only to get bewildered looks in response; Charles explained that his sister Catherine had married one Owen Tudor and had given birth to Edmund and Jasper Tudor, the earls of Richmond and Pembroke respectfully.  Then he reminded them of the widow of John, Duke of Bedford, who married a minor English nobleman before stating that Richard was simply attempting to avoid another scandal by marrying his wife’s niece to a brother King in Henry IV.  To Charles it simply showed that Richard was not planning on launching a military campaign to reconquer Guyenne in the near future and decided it would be prudent to develop a good relationship with the new King of England.  The next day Charles told the two envoys that he approved of Richard’s plan to present Margaret to Henry IV for marriage, the French king told his English guests that his wife would be pleased that her brother’s daughter would once again be a Queen.  Charles appointed a trusted man to accompany Devon to Castile to help with the negotiations and suggested the men return to Calais to sail to Castile immediate so as the Dauphin wouldn’t interfere in their mission.

After the three men left Paris for Calais, Charles relaxed in his vigilance against a soon return of English soldiers.  Throughout the rest of 1454, Charles started to reinforce French rule in Guyenne and also thought about the legacy of his first great military captain, Joan of Arc.  Condemned and burned as a heretic, Joan’s tainted reputation also tainted Charles’ reign and as the aging King looked into the future and the possibility that his own soul would be in danger with such an association he did not want to leave anything to chance.  Then after Epiphany 1455, Charles learned that the Portuguese embassy led by the Marquis of Valenca that had escorted the Infanta Joan to England had arrived in Calais and was heading to Paris.  Charles put down the letter Margaret had sent him a few days previously and ordered preparations to be readied for the embassy’s arrival.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Scotland: August 1453 to December 1454

The news of Henry VI’s sudden death arrived in Edinburgh not more than a week after it occurred; the news that two men were claiming the English throne came a few days after that.  James II, who at the age of 22 had already ruled Scotland for 16 years, could see the potential that the quickly developing succession crisis had for Scottish interests along the border with England.  However, James also had to contend with the fact that he himself was dealing with an intense family feud between the so called “black line” of Clan Douglas and the royal house of Stewart.  The feud had been escalating in intensity since the 1440s during the minority of James and evolved into an intermittent civil war in 1452 when James personally stabbed William Douglas, the 8th Earl of Douglas, in Stirling Castle.  But as of last August 1453, only clans allied to the Black Douglas, as they were called, or loyal to the Stewarts had clashed with James Douglas, the 9th Earl of Douglas, and his brothers not openly challenging James nor he openly challenging his enemies.

Throughout the fall of 1453, James and the Scottish nobles looked on as the English nobility divided between York and Beaufort or stayed neutral.  Then in early November reports came to Edinburgh that Fauconberg had left Roxburgh Castle with at least half the castle’s garrison headed for Berwick.  Instantly the King thought of taking one of the last English possessions on Scottish soil and started to gather troops from those loyal to him.  As it turned out so where the Black Douglas and for a while James though he might face open combat with his rivals until George Douglas, the 4th Earl of Angus, of the “red-line” of Clan Douglas acted as an intermediary between his cousins the King and the Black Douglas along with their allies to temporarily set aside their issues for the good of the kingdom.

This temporary accord came just after news of the Battle of Durham drifted up from the English border along with reports that Fauconberg had taken half of the garrison of Berwick on his way to the battle.  On the heel of this news came the survivors from the Percy force including Henry Percy, the eldest son and heir of the 2nd Earl of Northumberland, plus his brothers seeking a haven now that the North had all but fallen to the Nevilles in support of York.  The Percys were hereditary foes of the Douglases, however James allowed them to stay in Scotland but sequestered them away from the border for the time being.  In the meantime, James and the Douglases started to organize a force for the vulnerable English possessions giving the command to the Angus as he was at that time a neutral party in the bitter family feud.

In late January 1454, after following the flow of events in England, a small Scottish army led by Angus quickly took the lightly defended Berwick.  Angus left a garrison to defend the newly conquered city and lead the army to besiege Roxburgh Castle.  However, Fauconberg before he had left provisioned the strategic stronghold so well that the light garrison that he had left would be able to withstand a siege for a long time.  It did not take Angus long to realize that even before he had campaigned that Fauconberg had practicably gotten the best of him.  As news came of Richard’s victory at Bosworth, Angus knew that a now unified England would send a relief force soon and started to double his effects in taking Roxburgh.  However, the fragile coalition between forces loyal to James and those to the Black Douglas was breaking apart and with it the cohesion of the Scottish army.  When news arrived that Fauconberg was leading a relief force into northern England, Angus attempted to pressure the Roxburgh garrison even more, however Black Douglas’ allies refused and marched to meet the English.  Fauconberg crushed the splinter force before maneuvering between Roxburgh and Berwick making Angus choose between facing the oncoming English with a garrison behind him without support from Berwick or retreat leaving Berwick to a siege itself.  When Fauconberg arrived at Roxburgh in late April, Angus had long since left.

After reinforcing the Roxburgh garrison, Fauconberg went to besiege Berwick.  James along with many of the nobles and clans were angry of the betrayal of the Black Douglas’ allies at Roxburgh forcing Angus to retreat.  In fact during the siege of Berwick, the Stewart loyalists and the Black Douglas’ allies were at each other’s throats on the verge of fighting a civil war inside while enemy troops waited outside.  Then as Fauconberg got reinforcements, the Black Douglas’ allies let the English into the city but in doing so the Stewart loyalists forced their way through their countrymen to a ship that had arrived at the town and sailed away.  The ship arrived in Edinburgh a few days later and the Stewart loyalists talked about what happened at Berwick.  Although some of the Black Douglas’ allies tried to refute the accusations, the events around Roxburgh had already set the stage for more nobles and clans once allied to the Black Douglas started to turn to James.  It didn’t hurt the King that he was also using patronage, titles, and offices to pick off other Black Douglas allies as well.

As Richard settled into his reign in England, James had to considering the English exiles in his country.  Besides the Percy brothers and other nobles that had fled after Durham, James had allowed Oxford and Edmund Beaufort to stay in Scotland upon their arrival after fleeing from Bosworth.  The news of attainders, fines, and death warrants from England worried the exiles however James thought they could be of use against the Black Douglas.  He allowed the Percys to travel freely within the country though they and the other English exiles preferred to stay around Edinburgh with Edmund Beaufort acting as head of a court-in-exile.  The welcoming and harboring of the English exiles did nothing to improve relations with the new King of England; however James knew his rival Douglas would not find a friend in Richard due to the Douglases being hereditary foes with Nevilles just like they were with the Percys.

As 1454 ended in Scotland, James II found his nemesis, Douglas, losing support throughout the country from nobles and clans.  Even though the Scots lost the opportunity to gain permanent control of Roxburgh Castle and Berwick, the failures were blamed on Douglas’ allies while his decision to oppose the English and foment a potential Beaufort resurgence was highly thought of.  The only thing that concerned James was that Richard and France were cooperating on a potential marriage between Henry IV of Castile and Margaret of Anjou along with some disturbing reports from Ireland that he hoped would not force Richard’s hand.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Christmas 1454

The return of the court to London on 6 December was greeted with cheers from the populous especially as Prince Edward and Lady Joan rode together in the procession before it broke apart to several locations within the city.  The majority of the procession accompanied Richard III to Westminster Palace as preparations for Christmastide had to be taken care of as well as several decisions when it came to governing the kingdom.  Bishop Kempe along with some retainers was the first to separate from the procession, proceeding to his residence and return to the business of governing his diocese.  Worcester was the next to leave the procession, riding to the Tower of London to take up his position as Constable, a message from Richard having arrived a few days before notifying the officer in charge of the appointment of Worcester.  The rest of the procession not going with the King was headed for Baynard’s Castle as Prince Edward escorted Queen Cicely and Joan there along with the many ladies-in-waiting accompanying them.  Upon their arrival at Baynard’s Castle, the Princes George and Richard greeted their mother and were introduced to Joan.  After ensuring everything was in order, Edward and his knight escort rode for Westminster Palace.

The weeks leading up to Christmas were not without events occurring; one of the most important things on Richard’s mind was the restoration of Ludlow Castle, which had been sacked the previous year.  Although some repairs had been done since his coronation, Richard knew Ludlow still needed a lot of work especially if he wanted to serve the purpose he planned for it.  Ludlow had been the seat of the Earls of March, the most powerful lords in Wales before it became a part of Richard’s inheritance including his right to the crown.  Now it would be the seat of the Prince of Wales and as the residence of the heir apparent like Westminster Palace had become, but for that to happen Richard need to ensure it looked the part.  Already money had been set aside from lands confiscated that spring and Richard was getting the work organized as he wanted Ludlow finished by the time Edward and Joan were officially married when they were could officially begin their duties as future King and Consort.

As Richard set about restoring Ludlow, he also set about to fully secure the support of Buckingham by literally buying him off.  The Buckingham was the senior descendant of Thomas of Woodstock, the fifth son of Edward III, through Thomas’ daughter Anne of Gloucester.  Buckingham was also the senior heir of the Bohun inheritance through Thomas’ wife Eleanor de Bohn the eldest daughter of the last Earl of Hereford.  However when the last Earl of Hereford died without a son, his estate was divided between his daughters, the aforementioned Eleanor and her younger sister Mary.  Mary de Bohun had married John of Gaunt and was the mother of Henry of Bolingbroke later Henry IV, thus incorporating Mary’s portion of the Bohun inheritance into the lands of the House of Lancaster that later passed into Richard’s hands as part of the Crown while the title of the Earl of Hereford fell into abeyance.  It was with this portion of the Bohun inheritance and the Earldom of Hereford that Richard meant to give Buckingham with the consent of Parliament.  Buckingham was surprised when he received Richard’s writ of issue and heard the bill presented on the King’s behalf in Parliament.  The resulting outcome would be what Richard hoped, Buckingham would be truly loyal.

Beyond the material and political events Richard was concentrating on was entertaining the Portuguese party lead by the Marquis of Valenca.  The King did not have to worry about many of the Portuguese knights as various English knights or prominent families set about to entertain them as well as potentially wed a daughter to one of them.  This allowed Richard along with Salisbury, Buckingham, and others time to talk with the Marquis.  Afonso, the eldest son of the Duke of Braganza who was the natural son of King John of Portugal, informed them of the political goings on throughout various Iberian kingdoms as well their relations with France in particular.  The Marquis was forthcoming that Afonso V had instructed him to visit the French court before returning to Portugal as the potential marriage between Henry IV of Castile to Margaret could result in an alliance against either Aragon, Navarre, or both as they were under a personal union under the worst circumstances that Portugal might have to involve itself in.  Richard appreciated Afonso’s candor and the Marquis also understood Richard’s wish to prevent another scandalous marriage in regards to Margaret.  The issue of Margaret was a worry for Richard as the former Queen had sent her reply to the preliminary agreement she had been sent, the King did not know anything about either in detail as Devon and Warwick in Valladolid only gave summaries as the French led the negotiations with the Castilians.

Early in January 1455 after celebrating Epiphany, the Marquis and the Portuguese knight took their leave of Richard.  The King insisted that they take the short trip to Calais to ensure the quickest and safest across the Channel, which the Marquis graciously accepted.  After a visit to Joan and the Portuguese ladies-in-waiting, the Marquis and his party were escorted to Dover by the Buckingham and Essex where they boarded a ship and shortly arrived in Calais.  Richard then started planning for his first progress through the Midlands where the Beaufort cause had been the strongest and where most of his soldiers had come from.  The plan was to travel north through Middlesex, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, and Rutland before stopping for a long stay at Fotheringhay Castle in northern Northamptonshire.  Fotheringhay was one of Richard’s favorite residences and it had survived the succession crisis unscathed, both Richard and Cicely had not been to the castle in years and both wanted to return for a long extended stay.  The return journey to London would go south through Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, and Buckinghamshire.

The reign of Richard III seemed to be going well as a major succession crisis had been soundly defeated and a diplomatically important marriage had been made for his heir, the future looked bright however to the west there was a storm about to rise on the horizon.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Good, Bad, and Unknown Arrivals

It was late-October when Richard III rode to Windsor Castle along with several of his Council to talk with Margaret of Anjou, the King had waited until Devon and Warwick reported from the Castilian court to know Henry IV’s response.  To Richard’s relief the King of Castile had responded favorably and negotiations had begun the next day with Henry’s representatives ensuring that Margaret’s monetary dowry would remain in her possession throughout the marriage as well as providing a number of estates she would be entitled to upon the Castilian monarch’s death.  Warwick also informed Richard that he had not given the amount Margaret was to receive to Henry’s representatives, a fact Richard was very satisfied to learn before he headed to see his former political rival.  Upon their arrival at Windsor, Richard and the Council members partook in a meal with Queen Margaret, Sir John Grey of Groby and his wife, Elizabeth.  Afterwards Richard informed Margaret that Henry IV of Castile had expressed interest in her to be his new Queen and had entered negotiations with his representatives and those of her uncle, Charles VII of France.  The King also told Margaret the amount she would receive in compensation of her lands in England if she agreed to the marriage contract being negotiated and added that Henry’s representatives had already stipulated that her “dowry” would remain in her possession throughout the marriage.  Margaret took the announcement well and acted graciously, though Richard sensed she was not pleased as he and the Council left for London.  Upon his return a letter from Portugal had arrived telling Richard that Worcester and Bishop Kempe would escort Infanta Joan and a Portuguese party to England within a fortnight.

In early November, Richard and the Council got a trickle of news from Ireland that James Butler, the attained Earl of Ormond & Wiltshire, was in western Ireland talking to clan chieftains and stirring up trouble outside The Pale.  Richard ordered William Bonville, 1st Baron Bonville, and Sir William Oldhall to meet with Thomas FitzGerald, 7th Earl of Kildare, and James FitzGerald, 6th Earl of Desmond, to determine what was going on.  It might have been around this time that Salisbury and Buckingham fully learned about what Richard planned for Ireland, however the timing would be determined by what Bonville and Oldhall were to find about Ormond’s activities.  Even as Ireland was creeping into his thoughts Richard’s first priority was the arrival of his future daughter-in-law, whose official welcome was being planned by Queen Cicely.  It was assumed that the ship carrying Infanta Joan was to land somewhere on the southern coast, though it would depend on the weather in the Channel as to where, though it did not matter as Cicely had already planned for Joan to be welcomed by mayors and city councils from Plymouth to Dover as well as informing them as to where Joan was to be escorted to where she was to for her formal welcoming by Richard and herself to England.  Before Joan’s arrival, Devon and Warwick sent a report from Valladolid including a preliminary agreement for Margaret to examine that the King sent to Windsor without looking at it.

On 23 November 1454, the ship carrying Infanta Joan, Kempe, and Worcester along with several Portuguese ladies-in-waiting and knights led by her cousin Afonso of Braganza, Marquis of Valenca, arrived in Southampton.  The mayor and the city council when informed of her arrival sent a courier to London then went to greet her to the city and escorted her to Southampton Castle to rest a few days.  The mayor and councilmen informed the Infanta of Queen Cicely’s instructions that when Joan was ready that she along with her party would be escorted by several knights to Winchester where she would be formally welcomed to court by the King, Queen, and her future husband the Prince of Wales.  Upon receiving word of Joan’s arrival in Southampton, preparations began immediately with Richard sending an advance party to Winchester Castle to prepare for it to host Court as well as house the royal party.  On 27 November, the Infanta took her leave of Southampton to great cheers from the citizens and journeyed to Winchester arriving late in the afternoon to a welcome party of the mayor, councilmen, and William Waynflete, Bishop of Winchester.  Wayneflete led the assembly to his residence at Wolvesey Castle where he was honored to host a banquet for Joan and hosted her stay until her formal welcome at nearby Winchester Castle.  After the public affairs were ended Bishop Waynflete meet privately with the Infanta along with Bishop Kempe, Worcester, and the Marquis of Valenca to show her a letter from Queen Cicely that revealed that a ceremony would take place a day or two after her formal introduction in which Prince Edward and Joan would be technically wed, but due to the youth of the Prince of Wales and Joan’s recent arrival they would not have a formal marriage ceremony until Edward was ready to take up his duties as Prince of Wales.  Waynflete further stated that during this time a household for Joan would be established as part of the Queen’s and that tutors had been arranged so that Joan could learn the language and customs of England to better prepare her for her role as Queen.  The same day that Joan left Southampton, the Court left London headed for Winchester by way of Guildford.  It was late in the day on 29 November when the royal party arrived at Winchester Castle and took up residence.

The next day, 30 November, Bishop Waynflete joined Bishop Kempe and the Earl of Worcester in escorting Joan and the Portuguese party to Winchester Castle.  In the Great Hall, Richard welcomed the returning Bishop Kempe and the Earl of Worcester back to court thanking them for their near nine-month service to the Crown in their successful mission.  Bishop Kempe and Worcester thanked Richard for his welcome and expressed their gratitude for entrusting them with such an important matter.  They then introduced the Marquis of Valenca sent by his cousin, Afonso V of Portugal, to head the Portuguese party accompanying Joan to England whom Richard gladly received.  The Marquis of Valenca, who was followed into the Great Hall by Joan and the party of Portuguese knights and ladies, communicated to Richard the personal greetings of Afonso V to the King, the Queen, and his future brother Prince Edward at this most joyous occasion and by his authority presented the Infanta Joan to the Court.  Richard warmly welcomed Joan to England as well as Cicely who greeted the Infanta as a daughter, the King then called for the Prince of Wales to come forward.  Edward presented himself to Joan, personally welcoming her to England and pledging to treat her with honor as a Prince and husband should to a lady of such noble birth.  Joan pledged to be a worthy wife and consort so as not to bring shame upon Edward.  The Infanta then thanked the King for his wisdom in giving the matter of her marriage to the Prince of Wales into the hands of Bishop Kempe and the Earl of Worcester and on behalf of her brother and herself beg the forgiveness of keeping them so long away from presence of the King as any and all delays in negotiation and their departure were not of their doing.  Edward thanked Bishop Kempe and Worcester by asking Richard if he could be allowed to reward them for their service to Joan and himself.  Richard approved his son’s gift and added a sum to the Bishop Kempe and made Worcester the Constable of the Tower of London.  Joan then thanked Cicely for her warm welcome and hoped she would be a worthy daughter to the Queen as well as to live up to her example as consort.  Cicely thanked Joan and expressed that Joan was free to bring those ladies-in-waiting she had brought on her journey into her household so as to ease her transition into her new home to which the Infanta thanked her.  Richard then asked Edward and Joan to join him and the Queen on the dias, after which he welcomed the Portuguese ladies-in-waiting and knights to Court before inviting them to join a banquet in honor of Joan.  The Marquis of Valenca accepted the invitation and Richard dismissed Court to the banquet hall.  The next day, 1 December, Bishop Kempe assisted by Bishop Waynflete presided over a small ceremony witnessed by Richard, Cicely, the Marquis of Valenca, a Portuguese noblewoman, and Worcester in which Edward and Joan were wed.  After the ceremony, Joan was styled as the Lady Joan, Prince of Portugal, until her more formal wedding to Edward upon his full installation as Prince of Wales.  A few days later, the entire Court along with the Portuguese party started back for London.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dynastic Diplomacy

On 21 August 1454, Richard III and Queen Cicely joined Queen Margaret and the Earls of Richmond and Pembroke in Westminster for a mass in honor of Richard’s predecessor, Henry VI.  After the solemn occasion, Margaret officially ended her sanctuary in Westminster Abbey and was given rooms at Windsor Castle by Richard.  A few days afterwards, the 23-year old Pembroke petitioned Richard for permission to marry Lady Anne Wydeville, the 15-year old daughter of Baron Rivers, Richard Wydeville.  Although the marriage would not take place for a few years, Pembroke had heard of Richard’s concern with Margaret’s future considering the examples of Pembroke’s own mother Catherine Valois, the Queen of Henry V, and Anne’s mother Jacquetta of Luxembourg, formerly Duchess of Bedford and now Baroness Rivers, and did not want to surprise the King with news of this marriage agreement.  Richard knew that Pembroke had been having contact with the Wydeville family as Baron Rivers’ eldest daughter Elizabeth Grey had been one of Margaret’s ladies-in-waiting and had been one of the former Queen’s on-and-off companions in sanctuary and now along with her husband, Sir John Grey of Groby, was serving Margaret at Windsor Castle.  All involved had taken no sides during the previous winter and Richard permitted the marriage.  But with Margaret out of sanctuary, Richard decided it was time to prevent another scandalous marriage before he would have to deal with the consequences.

Early in September, Essex and the committee of the Commons and Lords presented their plan for the repayment of debts via the usage of forfeited lands.  Richard endorsed the plan and Parliament in both the Commons and Lords, passed it without a hint of disagreement.  Richard then brought his council together and inquired about what to do about Margaret.  Buckingham suggested that since Henry IV of Castile was looking to marry that they should attempt to present Margaret as a suitable candidate.  Salisbury, while supporting the idea, cautioned that since Margaret was niece to Charles VII of France that it might require that he be consulted.  Richard was loath to work with the man who had just conquered all the English possessions in France save Calais, but accepted that it was a price to pay at the moment.  The King delegated Devon and Warwick, who had taken up his position in Calais, to go to Paris and meet with Charles about presenting Margaret as a candidate for the hand of Henry.  If successful, Devon was to proceed to Castile and present Margaret as a candidate for marriage.  Within the week, Devon had left for Calais.  Soon after he left, Richard finally received a letter from Pope Nicholas V; the Pope apologized for the delay in his response as his concern for Christendom after the fall of Constantinople to the Turks had preoccupied him tremendously.  Nicholas thanked Richard for the concern to Cardinal Kempe’s bodily remains and eternal soul even though Kempe erred inserting himself in a political situation against Richard.  The Pope affirmed Thomas Bourchier as Archbishop of Canterbury and named him Cardinal as befitting his position.  Richard welcomed the news and sent his congratulations to Cardinal Bourchier as well as letter to the Pope thanking him for his response and also his concern about the fall of Constantinople.

Near the end of the month, news from Portugal arrived that negotiations for the marriage of the Prince of Wales to Afonso V’s sister, the Infanta Joan, had been successfully concluded.  Once the preparations for Joan’s journey were finalized she and the delegation would depart Lisbon, but not before Worchester would as instructed be proxy for the Price of Wales in a ceremony before the Portuguese court.  Parliament and the country as a whole welcomed the news of the royal marriage; however the 12-year old Prince of Wales was apprehensive when Richard told him the news though the King knew it was just because of his son’s age.  Richard told the Prince of Wales that it would be several years until he and Joan would be truly married, until then he should treat the Infanta like an honorable Prince should.  Queen Cicely began preparations to have the Infanta join her household beside her younger daughters as well as selecting acceptable ladies-in-waiting and a tutor to help the future Queen of England learn the language of her new country.  A few days later, Warwick sent a message that stated Charles VII sent his warm regards to Richard and supported Richard’s care for his niece by presenting her to Henry IV as a candidate for marriage.  Warwick also wrote that Devon had returned with him to Calais along with a French diplomat before heading to Castile on account that Charles felt the Dauphin might attempt to prevent them from their mission.  Richard replied that Warwick was to join Devon and the French delegation to the Castilian court in Valladolid as well as explaining that he had promised Margaret a large dowry and provided the amount.  For the King, everything seemed to be progressing well as he started to wade into the realm of international diplomacy.  However, Richard needed to find a way to tell Margaret that he was presenting her as a candidate for marriage.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Seeds are Sown

With the coronation finished, London returned back to normal even though Parliament was still in recess until the middle of May 1454.  With a significant amount of the members of Parliament departing back to their homes after the coronation to check on their estates before Parliament started again, the King and the majority of the Council remained in London to work on the affairs of state.  While working on state matters, Richard III was active in looking after the vast estates that he had brought to the Crown as well as those he now controlled via his ascension including the immensely rich Duchy of Lancaster.  As he continued to gain control of the bureaucracy, Richard III found himself dividing his time between state and estate matters that would continue throughout the rest of the summer and fall as he tried to develop a system of management that would work for him.  However, even as the King worked on current situations he was actively thinking about the future of the country in terms of his dynasty.  And with that in mind, Richard III started working on the composition of various regional councils and the creation, or elevating, of peers.

As Parliament came back into session, news came from Baron Fauconberg’s successfully relieving Roxburgh from the Scots and that he was actively besieging a Scottish garrison in Berwick.  The King ordered a few hundred troops from London up to Berwick to join Fauconberg’s forces to help in his campaign and requested in Parliament that the government’s debt to Fauconberg be given high priority as well as granting him an income to for the upkeep and defense of Roxburgh.  Parliament quickly approved the King’s request and the members working with Lord High Treasurer Viscount Bourchier took note.  Even as Fauconberg was putting the Scots in place, there were rumors from Ireland that the Earl of Ormond, though attainted and with a price on his head, was actively traveling around the island and meeting with chieftains that had not submitted to the Crown.  Richard III had already said that he had plans for Ireland, but he told Salisbury and Buckingham that he would be moving up his plans for Ireland if the rumor about Ormond was true.

As June 1454 arrived so did news from the Berwick in which Fauconberg had taken the town with the reinforcement the King had sent him and was holding several Scots as hostage for ransom.  Word arrived from Portugal in the form of two letters, one personally from King Afonso V and one from the English emissaries.  Afonso’s letter was formal in sending his condolences upon the death of Henry VI, congratulated Richard for his victory against Edmund Beaufort to show, and welcomed interest in the hand of his youngest sister.  However, the letter from his emissaries, Bishop Kempe and the Earl of Worchester, revealed that Afonso was very relieved when they inquired about a marriage because at the time there had been inquires by Henry IV of Castile who had divorced his first wife because he had not consummated his marriage.  Kempe and Worchester relayed that negotiations were preceding and went over some of the generous terms Afonso was willing to give at the beginning.  The King and Council quickly composed responses to the letters, the first was giving Kempe and Worchester instructions about upon limits as well as the King giving Worchester the authority to act as a surrogate groom for the Prince of Wales upon a successful completion of marriage negotiations and the second in response was a friendly and diplomatic reply to Alfonso’s letter.  By the end of the month the letters were on their way to Portugal.

With the marriage for his heir looking well on the way to a successful completion, Richard III made his second son, the 11-year old Edmund, the Duke of Bedford.  Also the King created his brother-in-law Henry Bourchier, Viscount Bourchier, as the Earl of Essex with the title of Viscount Bourchier being used as a courtesy title for Henry’s eldest son, William.  The King then arranged with Salisbury and Warwick the marriage of his youngest son, the nearly 2-year old Richard Plantagenet, to Warwick’s nearly 3-year old daughter Isabel Neville.  None of the three men expected more than the establishment of a cadet branch of the royal family and rewarding Neville support, none would have dreamed the impact this marriage would have on the future.  Queen Cicely had originally hoped that young Richard would have gone into the church, however with her husband’s ascension to the throne that was out of the question.  But Cicely was determined that her two youngest sons’ education and training would be the best possible for the benefit of the realm and in support of their eldest brother, Edward, when he succeeded his father.  Since the King had been overseeing his two eldest sons’ education for years and would continue to do so, especially that of the Prince of Wales.

As August approached, Richard III requested that the Earl of Richmond send his ward, 11-year old Lady Margaret Beaufort, to Queen Cicely at court.  Although it was unclear what the King’s plans for Lady Margaret were, the formal order styled her Countess of Somerset as was her right before Henry VI awarded her uncle Edmund the Earldom and later Dukedom of Somerset.  Some suspected that Richard was planning on marrying Margaret to the young Duke of Bedford while others thought that the King wanted the young woman secured until he had a grandson via the Prince of Wales.  However, Richard then named both the Earl of Richmond and his younger brother, the Earl of Pembroke, to the Council of Wales along with William Herbert to help administrate and provide justice in the Principality while the Prince of Wales was still a minor then to help advise him once he was old enough to take on more responsibility of governance.

With the first year of his reign ending, Richard finished the summer of 1454 in high spirits especially as Parliament was about to pass various Acts that would help bring law and order to the realm after the corruption brought about by Edmund Beaufort under the reign of Henry VI.  However, the King did not know that his actions had sown seeds that would harvest both good and evil for himself and his family.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Coronation of Richard III

By noon on 1 May 1454, the city of London was bursting with excitement as the procession to Westminster Abbey began.  The King began from the Tower of London, after spending the night before within its walls as per tradition, and was joined by the Queen, the Prince of Wales, and the rest of his family along the route to the Abbey.  Upon arrival at Westminster, Richard III remained on his mount while everyone else dismounted and entered the Abbey showing great dignity and poise to the commons, though inside he thought about the meaning of the rituals he was about to partake.  Once everyone had entered the church, the King dismounted and proceeded to the entrance of the Abbey where he was met by the Lord Bishops of Durham and of Bath.  The King was then accompanied on either side by the two Bishops to the Chair of Estate, upon being seated the ceremony began.  Although Thomas Bourchier had not yet been confirmed by the Pope as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Richard had insisted he preside over the ritual’s ceremonies.  He along with the highest ranking Great Officers of State precede to the east, south, west, and north of the Abbey and called for the Recognition of Richard as King to which the people acclaimed on each side wholeheartedly.  Bourchier then administered an oath to the King and afterwards the Bishop of Winchester presented Richard with a Bible then the Eucharist was celebrated, only to stop after the Nicene Creed.

Richard III’s outer robes were then removed leaving him in his white anointing robe and he proceeded to King Edward’s Chair that was positioned atop a dais with a canopy raised over it.  The Dean of Westminster poured concentrated oil into a spoon that Bourchier anointed the King with on his hands, head, and heart before blessing the King.  Richard was then enrobed again though with two different robes not the one he had previously worn, and was presented with spurs by Baron Cobham in his role as the Lord Great Chamberlain.  Bourchier, assisted by other bishops, presented the King with the Sword of State and Richard was enrobed again with two new garments on top of what he had already been enrobed with.  The Archbishop then delivered several of the Crown Jewels to the King, starting with the Orb which Richard received then returned so it could be placed on the Altar. Next, the King received a ring to signify the marriage between he and the nation, followed by the Sceptre with the Dove and the Sceptre with the Cross.  As he held the two sceptres, the Archbishop placed King Edward’s Crown on his head.  “God Save the King” was cried by all in attendance.

Richard III was then borne to the Throne and watched as his wife of almost 21 years entered the ritual.  Cicely was crowned Queen Consort in a simple ceremony then seated next to Richard III before the continuation of the ceremony.  The Archbishops and Bishops in order of precedence came before the throne and swore their fealty to the King.  Next in order of rank came the peers of the realm to pay homage, each set of peers led by their Premier member.  The clergy, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, followed next in paying homage.  Finally, the last to pay homage was the King’s own family members, each doing so individually first with Prince Edward and ending with Prince George.  Two of Richard III’s did not pay him homage, his eldest child Lady Anne Duchess of Exeter due to her marriage and his youngest Prince Richard who was barely 18-months old.  Once Prince George was finished, the Eucharist was continued from where it had been interrupted and completed.  Afterwards, the King proceeded to St. Edward’s Chapel within the Abbey preceded by the Bearers of the Sword of State, the Sword of Spiritual Justice, the Sword of Temporal Justice, and the Sword of Mercy.  The Sceptres and the Crown were laid upon the Altar before Richard was stripped of his two outer robes and enrobed in a purple one before placing the Crown back upon his head.  Richard then took up the Sceptre of the Cross and the Orb in each hand before leaving the chapel.  Richard III, accompanied on either side of him by the Bishops of Durham and of Bath, proceeded out of the Abbey followed by his family along with the prelates and peers of the realm.

The King was escorted to Westminster Palace by several guards as the crowds cheered, once in his own chambers he changed his attire from solemn to formal and festive.  Richard III went to Westminster Hall where his family, the peers of the realm, prelates of the church, and all members of Parliament were present awaiting his arrival.  As he entered the hallway, the crowd bowed and shouted “God Save the King” as he walked to the High Table where his family and the majority of his Council with their wives were awaiting him.  He took his place at the center of the table then sat down beginning the banquet celebrating his coronation.  The amount of food that was brought out that the guests ate was astonishing, but hardly had the meal begun when the door to the Hall opened and in walked a herald proceeding three men in full armor on horseback.  The Garter King-at-Arms challenged the lead knight about their presence; the lead knight announced himself as Sir Philip Dymoke then commanded his herald to announce his purpose.  “If there be any person, of what estate or degree so ever he be, that will say or prove that King Richard the Third is not the rightful inheritor and King of this Realm, I, Sir Philip Dymoke, here his Champion, who say he lie, and is a false traitor, offer my glove to fight in his quarrel with any person to death!”  Sir Philip then threw down the gauntlet making a loud sound in the quiet Hall.

After a few moments, Sir Philip’s herald picked up the gauntlet then marched towards the High Table as the Garter King-at-Arms stood aside however they stopped in the center of the Hall.  The herald made his announcement once again with Sir Philip throwing down his gauntlet at the end, again no one answered and the herald retrieved the glove.  The party marched up to the High Table in front of the King, on either side of Sir Philip was the Duke of Buckingham and the Duke of Norfolk as the Lord High Constable and Earl Marshal respectively.  Once again the herald made his announcement with Sir Philip throwing down his gauntlet, when no one answered the King stood and drank to the Champion from a gold cup then handed it to Sir Philip.  Richard then requested the three men to disarm themselves and to sit at his table to take part in the banquet; the three men accepted the King’s invitation and dismounted.  The three men walked out of the Hall to remove their armor as their horses were led back towards the door as the celebration began again in earnest.  A short time later, the three men returned to the Hall and sat at the High Table.

The banquet continued throughout the afternoon until twilight when the celebration finally ended, the King and Queen with the rest of the royal family departed the Hall to their chambers in the Palace.  While Cicely made sure that their children were in bed, Richard took time to look at several documents of news and intelligence that had arrived during the previous night and during the day.  Then the King went to his bedchamber with the Queen, as he lay in bed Richard finally relaxed as he reviewed the events of the day before realizing that he was trembling.  Neither the news of Henry VI’s death, nor his victory at Bosworth, or Parliament acknowledging him as King had made him tremble, the thought that he has been anointed in the sight of God as King made him feel a crown weighing on his head.  It was different when one wore a crown.