York is Protector and Defender of England, Salisbury is Chancellor and the duke of Exeter is conspiring with Thomas Percy lord Egremont.
This was quite a difficult chapter to write, as so very much was going on. I had to make a decision to ignore everything that was going on in Devonshire (the Bonville-Courtenay feud) and focus my attention on Yorkshire. I can do this because the book isn’t called Courtenay, or even York.
A marvellous document in my possession is the council meeting minutes of 3 April 1454. A great many lords have gathered and Salisbury asks them one at a time if they’ll serve on the council under York. There is excuse after excuse, until finally John Tiptoft earl of Worcester (Treasurer but not yet Butcher of England) starts to ask some very practical questions and the lords begin to come round. As the minutes give quite detailed and almost colloquial accounts of what each man said, I’ve been able to crib from it shamelessly. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s looking like maybe York will have the support he needs to do the job…
York’s first decisive set of actions as Protector involved going north (with Warwick and Cromwell) to deal with the Percy followers and retainers who have been arrested for their part in the attack at Heworth on Thomas Nevill and Maud Stanhope’s wedding party, and to quell the unrest and nascent uprising of Exeter and Egremont. In this, he gets the support of local lords. Thomas Stanley (whose son is about to marry Alianor Nevill), is sent into Lancashire; lord Bonville (whose son is soon to marry Katheryn Nevill) is active in Yorkshire. Clifford (soon to be dead at St Albans) is also enlisted, much to the surprise of Thomas and John Nevill, who are still prowling the countryside looking for their cousins.
Ailie Fitzhugh, Katheryn Nevill and Maud Stanhope accompany Henry Fitzhugh to York, where he’s been called to sit in judgement. We hear some important gossip through them, though Maud’s more concerned with finding the right gift for her husband, and Katheryn’s plain irritated that she’s been sent to York to get stuff for her sister’s wedding when really she’d rather just sleep in. In York, Maud finds out that, yet again, she’s not pregnant, which sends her into a bit of a funk.
Exeter, realising the jig is up, bogs off back to London and Westminster sanctuary, sending his wife a curt letter demanding that she join him. This part is pure speculation, but I couldn’t work out how they managed to conceive their daughter, Anne, otherwise. I haven’t come across anything that suggests she joined him in his later captivity in Pontefract, and it just doesn’t sound right. Also, it allows Anne to observe some rather unpleasant byplay between Exeter and his half brother, Robert (Bastard of Exeter – don’t worry, he’ll get his later on!). Anne begins to grow a bit of a backbone and starts to give back as good as she’s getting from her husband.
In an earlier scene, Cecily Nevill and her daughter Elizabeth discuss Anne’s predicament. Bess can’t understand why she’s going to join her husband if she doesn’t like him. (“Wouldn’t you choose to be with John if he was locked up?” “But I like John,” Bess says. “It’s easy to be locked up with someone you like”. Aaaaw!)
Meanwhile, in London, Buckingham isn’t happy that Somerset still hasn’t been brought to trial and Salisbury does his best to hose him down.
York and Warwick follow Exeter to London, where he’s hauled out of sanctuary and sent to Pontefract castle. Anne goes to Baynard’s castle for a while, where she learns – to her horror – that she’s pregnant.
Salisbury takes the Great Seals of England to Middleham, which sends the normally unflappable countess into a panic. (“What if we’re robbed?”) York stays for a few days and announces to everyone that not only is his daughter Anne expecting a child, so is his wife. This does nothing to ease Maud’s growing despair.
Thomas and John finally get their hands on their cousins, take them back to Middleham where – to the consternation of the countess and the breathless excitement of some of the household women – they’re locked up. You know the affect these bad boys can have on impressionable minds! Egremont is fined a ridiculous (extortionate?) amount for his actions against the Nevills and the two Percy brothers are taken to London and locked up in Newgate.
Alianor marries Thomas Stanley, though we only know of it through Ailie’s recollections that her husband had promised to get home for it and didn’t! (I’ve done a dumb thing here, and I can’t figure out how to fix it. The wedding took place in December, but Ailie’s remembering it in November! I’ll sort it, but it’s a bit of a pain.)
The chapter ends with the king’s recovery and York’s not Protector anymore. Salisbury resigns the chancellorship (though he really has no choice) and the three lords leave London, it slipping their minds completely that they really ought to take their leave of the king.