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.

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