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.

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