Chapter 104: Cecil Spins A Web April, 1564 William looked at the papers before him and then at the man who had given them to him. “You are sure these are genuine?” He asked. “I am positive, my lord.” Francis Walsingham, the chief spy in the network William had developed whilst serving under the Duke of Somerset said. “I have had the network analyse them, they confirm them as genuine.” “Dee looked at them?” William asked. He did not like John Dee, but the King liked him and that was good enough for him. “He has. He confirmed their legitimacy.” Francis said. “Very well.” William said. “That means we were right to keep an eye on Northampton and Ms Stanley.” “Indeed, my lord.” Francis said. “I believe that being dismissed for questioning Her Majesty’s judgement on the matter of the inheritance has added a sting to Northampton. He has also been meeting with the Earl of Huntingdon and Lord Clifford to discuss ways to undermine the King and Queen.” William sighed. “Such a fragile man that Northampton, one would have thought he would not hold such views. Especially given his relationship with the Queen Dowager.” William had made it his business during his rise at court to keep an eye on the former Queen Dowager, Catherine Howard and her husband maintained a close circle of friends of whom Northampton was one, and the Queen Dowager was a strong lady, so this aversion to strong women that Northampton had was surprising. “If I might make a suggestion, my lord?” Francis asked. William nodded and the man continued. “I think that Northampton has no objections to strong women per say, I think he has an objection to the Queen and her family. Before the Queen’s father was sent to Scotland, he was given land that Northampton to this day believes was rightfully his. Furthermore, he believes the insult given to his sister, the Lady Catherine was done on the behest of the Queen.” “So, he is taking out his frustrations at his own foolishness on our Queen?” William mused. “How very foolish of him.” He made a note of that and then asked. “And what of other nobles, how have they responded to what the King did?” “The nobles at court applaud the King’s decision, they highly respect the Queen and believe that she is far more capable than Northampton. Those further away from court and closer to Northampton, such as the Earl of Warwick have their doubts though Warwick is keeping his mouth shut for now.” Francis said. “A wise decision given what his father did.” William said. “What of in Scotland?” He knew the King was keen to make England, Scotland and Ireland fall under one Kingdom known as Britannia, but that would not happen until Scotland’s administrators were in lock step with England’s. “Most of the Scottish lords do not seem to care. It seems they are more concerned with the administration of Atholl and Arran and how the King’s brother will turn out.” Francis said. “Good.” William said. “How did they respond to Article 1?” He had gotten the official response from Arran some days ago, murmurs of agreement and wanting to move things closer, but needing Parliament’s approval. But he needed to see where things went behind closed doors. “Arran is all in favour of it, my lord. he believes Scotland can only benefit from an increase in standing. However, Atholl and the Highlanders are nervous. They are worried that they will lose their way of life if it passes.” Francis said. “Very well, begin a rumour that Atholl is looking out for himself, and that any true thinking Scot would abide by their King’s wishes.” William said casually. “Yes, my lord.” Francis said. There was a brief pause, and then Francis added. “I have spoken with my friends in Bordeaux, the Prince of Conde is preparing for an assault on Paris in the new campaign season. He wished to know if we will be providing arms or money.” William said nothing for a moment, the King had never said directly if he wanted to support the Huguenots, he seemed indifferent and wanted only to protect Calais, but there were others in government who despised Rome and wanted to weaken Catholicism wherever they could. William was not one such, he did as the King bid, and the King had said nothing here. “We shall give them money. Give them the deposits from the granary stores.” He commanded. “Yes, my lord.” Francis replied before he bowed and left. William looked at the letters on his table and moved them slightly. “Soon enough.” He murmured.