Archive for January, 2011

The Nevills in February

Posted: January 31, 2011 in Nevents

A couple of battles and the Lincolnshire rebellion… Hmm – what to choose.

1454

9 Feb Margaret of Anjou submits a proposal to council that she be named regent during the king’s incapacity

13 Feb Richard duke of York named Protector and Defender of England

14-2 York’s first parliament assembles

1455 The duke of Somerset (imprisoned in the Tower on charges of treason) is released by Henry VI

1457 The duke of Exeter, Thomas lord Egremont and John Clifford attempt to ambush the duke of York and earl of Salisbury on their way to Westminster

24 Feb York, Salisbury and Warwick agree to fund a perpetual chantry in the name of the St Albans dead

1461

3 Feb Battle of Mortimers Cross  😀

16 Feb Second battle of St Albans  😦

John Nevill captured; Warwick and Edward earl of March (technically duke of York since his father’s death) meet in the Cotswolds and summon their chief captains for a conference

Margaret of Anjou’s forces fail to march on London

Warwick and March make for London

17 Feb Cecily Nevill, duchess of York, sends her younger sons, George and Richard, to Burgundy for safekeeping

London demands assurances from Margaret that her men will behave before they surrender the city, a delegation is sent to meet with her and a group of Lancastrian knights is allowed into the city

18/19 Feb Margaret sends the bulk of her army to Dunstable

23/24 Feb Margaret is in St Albans

26 Feb Yorkist advance party rides into London

27 Feb Warwick and March in London

1462

John Tiptoft, earl of Worcester, is appointed Treasurer

John de Vere, duke of Oxford, and his oldest son Aubrey, are detected in conspiracy and executed

13 Feb Warwick is appointed Keeper of the Seas and has the fleet in the Channel before the end of the month

1466

11 Feb Birth of Elizabeth of York (daughter of Edward IV and Elizabeth Wydeville); Warwick is her godfather, Jaquetta Wydeville and Cecily Nevill are her godmothers

1470

Lincolnshire rebellion stirred up against Edward IV by Warwick

Warwick and George, duke of Clarence, assure Edward that they are on their way to give him their support. Both are in secret communication with the rebels.

1471

Edward IV (in exile in Burgundy) prepares to return to England

Warwick begins gathering an army in the midlands

16-2 Treaty with France confirmed by parliament and signed

27 Feb Warwick goes to Dover to meet Margaret, Edward prince of Wales and Anne Nevill, princess of Wales – they don’t arrive

I have ore information about Gervase now. See here for an updated version.

Following up on my January calendar of Nevill-related events (or Nevents), I present to you the little I’ve been able to unearth about Sir Gervase Clifton, staunch Lancastrian, third husband of Maud Stanhope and an utterly elusive character. It’s one of the joys (and frustrations) of historical research – stumbling on a minor figure who turns out to be far more important than I thought at first glance, only to end up scrabbling for any tiny piece of information in order to flesh out their character and their lives. This is what happened with my very dear Henry Fitzhugh – he’s gone from a peripheral Warwick brother-in-law to (hopefully) the star of his very own book! I don’t think Gervase is likely to enjoy the same meteoric rise, but he’s pushed himself into the foreground, sending me on sporadic journeys through the internet and my own (small) library in search of more. But even his wikipedia entry is sparse.

Here’s what I know: Gervase Clifton, of Clifton Hall in Nottinghamshire. Some sources, following the wikipedia entry, have him born in 1415, others put his birth (probably more reliably) c 1426. I’ve just found another genealogy that puts his birth at 1405. While most internet sources correctly place his death after the battle of Tewkesbury in 1471, some genealogies have him fighting at Bosworth on the side of Richard III and dying in 1491. This is clearly an error. Gervase is a persistent Clifton forename, and this could well be the source of genealogical confusion. According to some sources, he was born at Clifton Hall, others say he was born in Derbyshire.

The Complete Peerage has no marriage for Clifton before his marriage to Maud Stanhope, at least one genealogy gives him a first wife (Isobel Herbert Finch) and one, possibly more, children. That particular family tree has Gervase’s sister Avelina marrying an Edward Stanhope, which would suggest that a connection between the two families already existed. This is an example of those tantalising little glimpses that may or may not reflect reality! If this information is correct, while it doesn’t quite answer the burning question (Why did Maud Stanhope, widow of a core-Yorkist, marry Gervase Clifton, a dyed-in-the-wool Lancastrian?), it may, along with several other equally tantalising factors, help me to formulate a sort of answer that might not be entirely incorrect.

If a sister of Clifton was married to a relative of Maud’s, that gives three points of connection between the couple. 1. If I’m right about Maud and Thomas Nevill’s principal home being at Rolleston in Nottinghamshire, they were fairly near neighbours. (Rolleston is about 38km from Clifton Hall). 2. Just at the moment, I don’t know how sir Edward was connected with Maud, but both the Cliftons and the Stanhopes were well established Nottinghamshire families, and probably had long standing ties. 3. If David Santuiste’s intriguing little hint is correct (and Clifton would seem to have had some connection with Calais c 1450), then Clifton and the Nevills – or at least Warwick – may have crossed paths in early 1460… 15 January, to be precise!

Here’s what Santuiste says: “In December a fleet was assembled at Sandwich to go to Somerset’s aid. Lord Rivers and Sir Gervase Clifton were in command.” (Edward IV and the Wars of the Roses, p26)

He doesn’t go on to say whether Clifton was dragged out of bed and taken over the Channel to be rated by the Calais earls.

I’m wondering whether Warwick made attempts to win Clifton over to his side, and if – along with the other confluence of relationships – that was a factor in Maud’s decision to take Gervase Clifton as her third husband. There’s no need for it to be, of course, but it throws up some interesting possibilities. If this was Warwick’s hope, it failed spectacularly.

In his 2003 Essential Histories volume, The Wars of the Roses, Michael Hicks has this to say of Maud Stanhope (here called Marjorie): “Fear for second husbands, the Lancastrians Sir Oliver Manningham and Sir Gervase Clifton, who were again exposed to treason charges, was used to induce the war widows Eleanor Lady Hungerford and Marjorie Lady Willoughby to surrender their own inheritances which were not actually liable to forfeiture to protect their husbands.” (p 79)

While there doesn’t have to be one single reason Maud married Clifton, I feel that I need to explore three broad possibilities:

1. the decision was based entirely on personal preference without any consideration whatsoever given to politics;

2. Maud’s predominant loyalty was to Henry VI – her marriage to Thomas Nevill predated the family’s support of the duke of York and his son – and her marriage to Clifton reflected this;

3. Though by no means under any obligation to do so, Maud was at least encouraged by her late Nevill in-laws to marry Clifton as part of a program to bring him (and that part of the fleet he commanded) into their sphere of influence.

I could, of course, just write Maud out of the picture after Thomas’s death – it would make my life so much easier – but there’s something about her third marriage that keeps drawing me back.

Apart from brief mentions of the marriage (January 1462) and Clifton’s death, little else turns up in the history books about this couple. After Clifton’s execution in 1471, Maud didn’t attempt a fourth marriage, though she was still relatively young, being somewhere around 40. Her first marriage (to Robert lord Willoughby) had lasted no more than five years, her second (to Thomas Nevill) seven and her third (to Clifton) nine. Maud eventually secured her uncle Ralph Cromwell’s baronetcy and recovered at least some of her inheritance. There were no children from any of her marriages and little likelihood of a later-life miracle should she attempt a fourth. Maud is as intriguing a character as Clifton and even more difficult to pin down.

The Nevills in January

Posted: January 28, 2011 in Nevents

Back to more serious stuff…

I’ve decided to raid my timeline book towards the end of each month to see what interesting things the Nevills, their friends, allies and enemies might have been up to. I thought I’d be quite radical and start with January.

January

1455 (early Jan) York resigns as Protector and Defender of England after the recovery of Henry VI.

1460 Commissions of array are sent out in the king’s name with orders to seek out traitors; Newbury town sacked by the duke of Exeter, earls of Wiltshire and Shrewsbury; the Master of the King’s Ordnance is murdered while bringing armaments to London; the earl of Wiltshire (according to PMK) leaves queen Margaret’s party in fear, fills five carracks with stolen goods, says he’s going after the Calais earls and buggers off to Holland

15 Jan John Wenlock and John Dinham raid Sandwich harbour at dawn, capturing all ships and removing Richard and Anthony Wydeville from their beds (and, according to Santuiste, Gervaise Clifton) and take them back to Calais, where they are soundly berated by the earls of Warwick and March.

1461 News of the battle of Wakefield reaches Edward, earl of March, possibly at Shrewsbury; news also reaches London; Warwick rallies his forces, appeals to council for a loan for the defence of the realm – he receives 2,000 (pounds? marks? didn’t think to note that down!) and a group of his servants, arrested for attacking a citizen’s house, are released; Yorkist captains are told to arm every man they can collect – Norfolk in East Anglia, Arundel & Bourchier in the south of England; Bonville, Kyriell and John Nevill call up their retainers; Chancellor George Nevill issues a stream of writs calling for order; rebels and rioters are arrested, as are people shipping food to the Lancastrians; armed men are pouring into the capital without summons; Warwick writes letters expressing confidence in the Yorkist government to the dukes of Milan and Burgundy and the Pope; Warwick receives a ‘reassuring’ letter from Louis XI; Coppini attempts to negotiate with queen Margaret

5 Jan Marie of Gueldres meets queen Margaret at Lincluden Abbey where Margaret offers Marie Berwick in return for support from the Scots

20 Jan Queen Margaret is in York with a force of Scots

Lancastrians are swarming south with the duke of Somerset in command; all lords are wearing the Prince of Wales’s livery

Warwick sends out commissions of array

John Nevill is promoted and takes the title lord Montagu (presumably this is so he can take command in the coming battle)

1463 Maud Stanhope (widow of sir Thomas Nevill) marries sir Gervaise Clifton

A force of Scots approaches Alnwick castle, led by the earl of Angus and Pierre de Breze; Warwick pulls his forces back

A memorial service is held at Fotheringhay castle for the duke of York and his son, Edmund earl of Rutland

5 Jan The Scots leave Alnwick taking most of the garrison north, the rest surrender to Warwick; Edward IV is in London

6 Jan Warwick occupies Alnwick

15 Jan Funeral held at Bisham priory for the countess and earl of Salisbury and their son, sir Thomas Nevill, in attendance are: George duke of Clarence, Elizabeth duchess of Suffolk (representing Edward IV), the Archbishop of York, lord Henry Fitzhugh, William lord Hastings, Alianor Nevill (lady Stanley), Margaret Nevill (later countess of Oxford) and Isobel Ingoldisthorpe (wife of John Nevill)

1464 Warwick negotiates a marriage treaty with Louis XI between Edward IV and Bona of Savoy; there is also an offer of marriage from Spain between Edward IV and Isabella of Castille

1465 Margaret Nevill marries John de Vere earl of Oxford

1468 Edward IV orders Warwick to Coventry; Warwick (up to his eyeballs in rebellion) writes to his brother John who says he is willing to speak with him if he comes to the Marches; Warwick sends word to James III of Scotland that he’d like to meet with him, James agrees

17 Jan Warwick assembles his men and prepares to ride north, saying “If the kings moves north, I shall spring to arms at once”

The Archbishop of York attends a secret meeting in Nottingham where a compromise between Edward IV and Warwick is brokered – Warwick will be warmly received at court if he comes ‘in a mood befitting his allegiance’; Warwick agrees to this

Warwick writes to Louis XI that he has Clarence on his side and goes to Coventry where he is warmly received by the king

Edward IV requests that Warwick put his name to a bond demanded by the duke of Burgundy as security for Margaret of York’s dowry (200,000 crowns); Warwick refuses and informs Edward that he is being misled by ‘false councillors’

1469 Edward IV gathers forces at Fotheringhay

16 Jan Earl of Devon and lord Hungerford are Hanged, drawn and quartered at Bemerton (I should remember why!)

1471 Duke of Burgundy allows the dukes of Somerset and Exeter return to England after they swear an oath to work against Warwick

2 Jan Edward IV meets the duke of Burgundy at Aire where the duke promises to provide Edward for money and men in order to return to England and retrieve his crown

Anne Neville threw the cloth back into the tub of greasy cold water with a bitter cry of rage. How dare he!

Richard or Dickon, so frail and angelic® that her heart had nearly broken to see him, had thrown himself at her feet. Not literally, for which she was glad, because there was a huge puddle of dirty water down there and if they thought she was going to clean it up, they had another think coming! And she’d spurned him. Again.

He’d been to see her brother-in-law, the Duke of Clarence, his brother, who’d got her this job, and that was something she was going to have to have words with him about! Hygeine and Hydration Officer, indeed! Bloody dishwasher, that’s what she was. And not a very happy one.

Her father was dead, she’d told Richard or Dickon. Her mother bogged off into sanctuary. Her sister wasn’t being very nice to her and the king kept looking at her belly whenever he saw her. What, she thought sourly, did he think was going on in there? It made her want to scream.

“But I want to marry you!” Richard or Dickon said plaintively and ardently, love, want and need adding flames to his voice and filling the air with electricity, smoke and – he hoped – irresistible chemistry. “I adore you, I always have and I always will! You are the sunrise every morning, the moon that peeps in through my windowshade. The very thought of you makes my heart beat faster. Anne, without you, I am nothing!”

“I wouldn’t marry you,” she quenched coldly, cutting off her nose to spite her face, because she really did love him, whatever angry words came spurting out of her mouth, “if you were the last man in London! My bruhusband is dead because of you and for that I can never forgive you!”

And he turned away, his face a blank mask of hurt and shock, and left the cookshop. Which was why she’d just thrown the cloth back into the tub of cold greasy water with a bitter cry of rage. Splashing her dress in the process.

“Letter for you, Mistress Anne,” old Fat Agatha said. She took a crumpled piece of parchment out of her bodice and handed it to Anne who wiped her hands on her skirts, took the parchment gingerly between her thumb and forefinger because she’d seen some of the other things that were kept in Fat Agatha’s bodice and crossed to the window to open it and read it.

Dear Anne, it read, I’m not dead. Neither is your brother. Thought I’d get that out of the way first. I couldn’t tell you before, but we had it all worked out. And it all worked out! I’m on the Trinity now even as I write these words to you, almost ready to set sail with the woman I love more than my life itself to be a pirate in a brand new sea they’ve just invented called the Caribbean. Apparently it’s just crawling with French and Spaniards! I love you, my darling daughter, and wish you all the best. I go to a brand new life and give you this one last piece of parting advice: Follow your heart. Don’t let anything stand in its way. Grasp your happiness with both hands…”

Anne let the parchment drop, untied her apron and let that drop as well. She ran out of the shop.

She could just see him in the distance, threading his way through the crowd.

“Richard or Dickon!” she called out.

“And where do you think you’re going?” Fat Agatha said. “These dishes aren’t going to wash themselves, you know.”

Anne turned around just long enough to give the startled woman a kiss.

“I’m going to follow my heart, Fat Agatha!” she said. “I’m going to follow my heart!”

If she ran quickly enough, if love put wings on her feet, and if he didn’t walk too fast, and if people didn’t get in her way, and if she didn’t slip on something disgusting and fall over, she might just catch him up.

THE END

“Avast there, me hearties!” the pirate captain cried. “Weigh anchor and belay the mizzenmast! We set sail on the marning toid!”

“Oh, Reechar,” Mad Meg, who had once been Margaret of Anjou and was now a pirate queen said, her flaxen hair whipping around her head courtesy of the stiff seabreeze. “Let them get on wiz eet and come back to bed. My timbers could do wiz a bit more sheevering!”

The pirate captain, who had once been the Earl of Warwick, swept her up and kissed her heartily. He hadn’t quite decided on what his name should be because he balked completely at the idea of calling himself ‘Dick’ despite the fact that there were a lot of D words that went nicely with it, like dastardly and demonic.

“Then come with me now, Mad Meg,” he said. “And I shall shiver your timbers for you with my very own hands, amongst other things. I shall shiver them good!”

The Bastard of Fauconberg had tried hard to be good, he really had. He liked Dakota, and if she’d been just a little less insufferable, he might have waited for her to cave in to his masculine irresistibilities a little longer. Now he found himself in a quiet corner of the deck, his hands full of the flesh of a wench, the kind that one finds quite unaccountably on a pirate ship, her magnificent quivering bosom heaving and her skirts just itching to be lifted.

“I tried to be good,” he whispered hoarsely in her ear. “I really did. But I find that, after all, I much prefer being a pirate and a Bastard and an unequivocally heterosexual studmuffin. So, my dear, prepare to be boarded!”

Which she did with quite a practiced hand. The Bastard of Fauconberg was much relieved to find that he still preferred the company of women who made boarding them easy. Within seconds of his polite request, the gangplank had been lowered and his hand was closing in on the that part of the map that is customarily marked with an X, his unequivocally heterosexual manliness not far behind.

In the meantime, Dakota FitzPercy was searching for him high and low, her encounter with Anthony Woodville in Bruges still branded on her memory* and her need to be disarmed, disrobed and disshevelled stronger than ever.

When she found him at last her heart practically broke to see him brought so low by such a indiscriminate slattern! She kicked him in the arse, for which she was rewarded by a yelp and a big smile from the harlot pinned beneath him, and stalked to the other side of the ship.

“You don’t look very happy,” a rather fetching young man of about her age said.

“I’m not. My latest rehabilitation project has backslided rather alarmingly.” She sighed bitterly. “I was looking forward to letting him plunder my treasure box, if you know what I mean.”

Edward, late Prince of Wales and toying with the idea of calling himself something like Eddie the Elegant, fell silent for a moment. He was thinking.

Dakota thought he was even more better looking than she’d first thought and edged subtly closer to him until their hands were almost touching on the rail of the ship.

“Tell you what,” he said nervously. “I’ve never actually plundered a treasure box before, though it has been on my list of things to do for quite some time. So if you, you know…”

“Well,” she said shyly. “My entire horde is intact, so, well…”

He turned to her and she turned to him and they kissed each other. It was different than the Bastard of Fauconberg or Anthony Woodville and Dakota rather liked it. So she took his hand when he held it out to her and followed him to his cabin where he, rather surprisingly for one so inexperienced, plundered her treasure box with both enthusiasm and exuberance. And her breasts had spilled into his waiting hands more than satisfactorily.

Afterwards, they lay in each other’s arms, both of them stunned by what had just occurred and how very much they’d enjoyed it.

“I’d rather like to do that again some time,” Edward said finally.

“I could give you the key if you like,” Dakota said. “Then you could come and plunder me any time you wanted.”

Edward kissed her again and they did some more plundering on and off that day and pretty much the whole of the next. In fact, by the time they’d got to the other side of the ocean, there wasn’t an inch of her treasure box he hadn’t…

Oh, for pity’s sake, they rooted like rabbits the whole way across the Atlantic! And they weren’t the only ones.

_______________________________________________________________________________

*What encounter with Anthony Woodville in Bruges?” I hear you ask. Well, you’ll have to buy the book to find the answer to that one… Just be assured that it involved breasts straining at doublets, the prospect of them spilling into a pair of waiting hands, a tightness in a certain man’s breeches, mesmerising eyes and the backroom of a tavern…

William, Lord Hastings, was a little bit miffed. Even the trollop he’d found waiting in his tent, Ned’s note of recommendation clutched firmly in her hand, hadn’t managed to quite take his mind off the insult that had been dished out. Almost a reprimand, he thought. Was it his fault his wing had almost been utterly destroyed at Barnet? They’d won, hadn’t they? Why then had Ned relegated him to the back of the pack, as if he was some kind of liability?

He looked around him. The sun was shining. He was still alive. The trollop had left his tent in the early hours, weak at the knees and with a smile on her face. Things weren’t that bad. Not really. And being stuck here at the back increased his chances of survival.

“Better than a smack in the face with a wet fish,” he said, just a second before he was smacked in the face with a wet fish.

Ned was wading through a knee deep squirming shoal of halibut, sighing heavily. He knew she thought she was helping, bless her addled little brain, but he could do without this, he really could!

Anne Neville thought there was something odd about her hybrid mother-in-law and stepmother, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. Probably stress, she thought. What with Dad dead and her son about to face his first battle. My brother, she thought, suddenly overcome by the horror of what was behind them and what lay ahead. Her father was dead! What was a little odd behaviour from Margaret of Anjou compared with that?

“Dis king vot tinks he can steal my son’s crown,” Margaret said. “Vill die dis day! Dere need be nuddings you can fear about dat.”

Anne nodded dumbly.

“Den, vunce ve haff der old konig ersticken, ve can rule Inglond!” And she laughed both coldly and maniacally, which made Anne shiver. Something was wrong, horribly horribly wrong.

“What did you say your name was?” Isobel Inglodsthrope said frowning prettily.

“William Norreys, at your service.” He flourished a bow and smiled.

To her horror, Isobel found herself smiling back.

“Why,” the stricken, confused and clinging onto a semblance of sanity by his fingernails Archbishop of York said, frowning, having the decided feeling that not only had he lost the plot but there had never actually been a plot in the first place, “does he insist on wearing that blue dress everywhere?”

“Well,” the gaoler of the utterly confused is he or isn’t he king Henry VI said, struggling himself to make sense of things. “It ain’t so much a dress per sigh, guvnah. More a… gahn sorta fing.”

“But it makes him look very silly!”

The gaoler shrugged. “Keeps ‘im ‘appy. And our lives is a lot easier when he’s ‘appy.”

It was a very elegant gown, the Archbishop had to admit, though it was shabby and worn and had seen better days. And, he thought, better bodies to show it off than the king’s.

“I can’t take him out looking like this!”

The gaoler shrugged again. “We was promised an ah roff. ‘e’s your responsibility nah, guvna.” And he turned on his heel and went back into the Tower where he was sure the kettle would be boiling by now.

The Archbishop looked at the king, who was smiling and humming softly.

“Well, come on,” he said with a sigh. “Might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb.”

Edward, Prince of Wales, in the thick of the fighting, was rather enjoying himself. Easy money this, he thought, pretending to be a prince. People had bowed and everything. He had a smile on his face as he whirled his weapons round his head, smacking them hard into the heads of others. But, as his mutter always told him, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. When a mace, whirled around by someone else, smacked into his head and he fell down hard onto the ground, his last thought was, No-one thought to mention this.

“My son is dead, tot, zerstort,” the increasingly unlikely and unconvincing Margaret of Anjou wailed. “And I am verklempt!”

Anne Neville, not quite so quick on the uptake as one might have hoped, shed a silent tear. She was going to miss her brother.

“So,” Ned said smiling heartily. “Looks like we’ve done it again!”

Richard or Dickon nodded. He needed to get to the Abbey so he could keep his promise to himself and take the Lady Anne into his arms. Once Hastings gets here, he thought. I can slip away and Ned won’t even notice and for once, this didn’t make him clench his frail and angelic® fists and grind his teeth with petty, but understandable, jealousy.

“So,” William Norreys said kindly, his gentle eyes twinkling. “I hear you’ve recently been widowed.”

Isobel dashed away a tear.“Yes,” she said sorrowfully.

Well, I’m here to take your mind off all that.” He leaned over and kissed her.

For a second, Isobel was shocked, then surprised and, finally, confused. That kiss! It seemed so… familiar. She looked into the man’s eyes. They suddenly seemed familiar, too. As did the rest of him. Could it be? Mentally, she wrote WILLIAM NORREYS down on a piece of paper in her mind. And suddenly it all came clear. It was an exact anagram of JOHN NEVILLE, if she used different letters. Her husband wasn’t dead! Ecstatically she threw herself into his arms.

“How did you…” she started to say but he cut her off with another kiss. “Doesn’t matter. We’ll have to get married soon, though not too soon. Wouldn’t want to raise any eyebrows.”

Thank you, God! Isobel prayed silently. I really hoped I wasn’t the only one who didn’t deserve a happy ending.

“But seeing as we’re betrothed, at least in the eyes of God,” she said. “Well, I think there’s something wrong with my bed. It keeps rocking. As I don’t have a man around at the moment…”

William stood up. “Leave it to me, my dear. I’ll give it a good workout and see if I can’t find the problem.”

“I’d best show you the way, in case you get lost, seeing as you’ve never been in this house before. Ever. You can give me… it a good seeing to.” Isobel led the way up the stairs to her bedchamber. Her maidservant followed. Isobel turned to her with a smile. “William’s just going to see to something for me,” she said. “If the bed starts rocking… Well, you know the rest.”

And she followed William into the room and closed the door behind them.

“Anne,” Richard or Dickon said.

She turned to him, her eyes flashing. Suddenly he felt about as frail and angelic® as a man can get.

“Leave us!” she hissed.

“But Anne, my love…”

“I said go! I don’t want to see your face again. Ever!”

In the corner of the room, Margaret of Anjou was rocking back and forth muttering under her breath.

“See what you’ve done! She’s so unhinged with grief that’s she’s started speaking Yiddish. You… you… monster!”

Richard or Dickon was left standing, opening and closing his mouth like one of his sister-in-law’s fishes. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go.

Back in London. after sorting out the terribly sad, unexpected but really probably very much for the best death of the old king, Ned and Elizabeth had a nice supper together, then she showed him the son she’d had while he was away and had, till that very moment, forgotten about, and he was very pleased with her.

“All over now,” he said, stroking her silver gilt hair. She smiled at him. She really rather liked being queen again. “Nothing can possibly go wrong now.”

“I could help, you know,” Elizabeth Woodville Grey Plantagenet, queen and witch, said to her husband the king.

She stabbed the needle into her embroidery as if she were stabbing a pin into a voodoo doll, which gave her a whole new idea, but one she’d have to set aside, as she now set aside her sewing, to give her entire attention to her tall, handsome and, above all, blonde husband.

“And what could you,” the king smiled fondly, “a mere weak woman, whose gentle mind would recoil to even think upon the horrors of war, whose soft hand is better suited to the tending of fevered children and the calming of the furious flesh of manic manhood, whose tender thoughts are more at home contemplating kittens and household accounts than the brutalities of battle, whose very nature would sicken and wither to meddle in the affairs of men, do?”

“Well,” she said cogitatively, “I am a witch. I could maybe do a spell. There’s a rather good one in mother’s spell book.” Her eyes twinkled wickedly at the thought. “I could raise a mist to confuse your enemies!”

“Ok, good,” Ned nodded. “But let’s just think that one through. Confusing my enemies is an excellent idea, really it is.” Ned never liked to just squash new ideas, even if they did come from weak, gentle, soft and tender minds. “Now, a mist would confuse my enemies how?”

“Well, they wouldn’t be able to see, would they?”

“Excellent, excellent! That would be useful, of course. I wouldn’t be able to see either, but, you know, maybe you don’t realise quite how important that might be. In a battle.”

Elizabeth the queen and witch looked at her tall, handsome and above all, blonde husband and sighed impatiently. His trouble was he had no imagination. “Ok,” she said. “Boils. The Earl of Warwick will hardly be able to sit on his horse if he has a backside covered with boils.”

“Fights on foot,” Ned said dismissively waving his hand dismissively.

“That three suns thing,” she said. “I’d have to look it up, but…”

“Been done,” he gainsaid her. “Anyway, I’d never get away with it a second time.”

“I could make it rain fish.” Now she was clutching at straws.

As he rode to Barnet, the king reflected on what had befallen him since last we saw him in the boat heading across the channel with his best friend, his brother and his brother-in-law, William, Richard or Dickon and Anthony. He’d got the boat to drop him off at Ravenspur and told everyone he was just there being Duke of York which, everyone agreed, he was entitled to be.

“No, I agree with you, really,” he said, smiling his genial smile and getting everyone to believe him, despite the fact that they weren’t entirely stupid. “I’m not king anymore. I’m cool with that.”

And he rode all the way to London saying the same thing and everyone nodded and said. “He’s just the Duke of York.” and “I must say, he’s taking all this rather well, considering.”

But now he was on his way to Barnet where he was going to stop just being Duke of York and start trying to be king again.

The other thing he reflected on was his younger brothers – the one, George, Duke of Clarence, and recently, despite his serial treachery and being not ten days ago firmly in cahoots with his father-in-law, that well known cousin and traitor, the Earl of Warwick, now on his side and the other, Richard or Dickon, Duke of Gloucester, frail and angelic® but quite unshakably loyal. He didn’t quite trust Clarence and had left him in a tavern within easy reach of a large jug of wine. Even if he did take it into his fuddled head to betray his brothers even now at the very last minute, he’d be so drunk, Edward hoped, that he wouldn’t get very far before he forgot what he was doing and lay down and had a little sleep. He smiled grimly, which he seemed to be doing a lot of these days, even his best friend commented on it. and kept on heading towards Barnet.

When he woke up in the morning, he couldn’t believe his eyes. And that was mainly because he couldn’t see his hand in front of them, so thick was the mist. Bloody hell! he thought. Does the woman not listen to a word I say?

Richard or Dickon, looking a little less frail and angelic® in armour than usual, came to him, lumbering through the mist in his armour.

“You ready, little brother?” Ned said grimly clasping his little brother’s frail and angelic® hand.

“I am indeed, my liege lord, brother and king.”

Ned clapped him on the shoulder, which was a little lower than the other one, not at all deformed or hunchbacked, despite what the Tudors were one day going to say, and smiled. Grimly. “You are a good brother and I’m glad I have you by my side.” His voice trembled with emotion and he noticed that Richard or Dickon blinked back sudden tears, which wasn’t at all weak and womanly but endearingly frail and angelic®.

Despite the mist – and he really was going to have to have a word with Elizabeth about that – Edward won the battle and looked down at the dead body of the slain Earl of Warwick and his brother, John.

“Ah, Richard or Dickon,” he said to his little brother who was standing nearby shedding yet another manly tear. “I wish it had been other.”

So did Richard or Dickon, who really had been fond of the Earl of Warwick.

Ned sighed wearily. “Well, no point hanging round here. I suppose we’d best get up to Tewkesbury.”

Richard or Dickon’s eyes glittered. The bitch’s whelp would be there, he trowed, and there would be a reckoning. Before the day was out – not actually that day, but the day he was thinking about – he’d have the lady Anne in his arms, both their heels grinding the face of her late husband into the dirt. I’ll show him who’s frail and angelic®, he thought.

At Sandwich, when she heard the news that her husband was dead, the pale and insipid Countess of Warwick thought. “I’d better go into sanctuary now. Just in case.” So she went into sanctuary and didn’t come out for a long time.

In Bristol, when Margaret of Anjou heard the news that her secret lover and real father of her son, Edward, Prince of Wales, was dead, she fell to the floor in a dead faint.

In Seaton Delaval when Isobel Inglodsthrope heard the news that her husband, who she truly loved, was dead, she rummaged in the back of her wardrobe and took out the sexy dancer outfit she’d surprised him by wearing and doing a sexy dance one night in the castle her husband was beseiging, ran her hand over the feathers and sighed. Now she’d have to find another husband and she bet he wouldn’t even be half as good.

In the English Channel, when the Bastard of Fauconberg heard the bad news from Barnet, he smiled secretly and called for Dakota FitzPercy. “Plan B.” he said to her, leering slightly because old habits have a habit of dying hard.

She nodded. Plan B, she thought, was perhaps her… Best. Plan. Ever.